Tag Archive | party

Decadent Chocolate Ganache Cake

Hello Darlings!

February is here and love is in the air. Shops are overflowing with flowers and big boxes of chocolates. It seems as if the whole world is swathed in pink and red hues. Don’t you just love l’amour?

One of my favorite things about the Valentine season is baking up something special for my one true love (who, by the way, has one serious sweet tooth). This year I made him the richest, most decadent, ooey-gooey, chocolate ganache cake. I’d love to share it with you for you to share with someone you love…or just eat it all yourself. It’s that good.

dollymarloweganachecake

Decadent Chocolate Ganache Cake

Prep time: 25 minutes

Start to finish time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Serves: 12

Ingredients:

(Cake)

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour or 2 1/2 cups cake flour

1 2/3 cups sugar

3/4 cup butter, softened

2/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa

1 1/4 cups water

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

(Ganache)

2/3 cup whipping cream

6 oz semisweet baking chocolate (chopped, chips work as well)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350* F. Grease bottom and sides of two (9″) or 3 (8″) round cake pans; lightly flour.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat all the ingredients (except for those for the ganache) on low speed for 3 minutes, scraping to bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for an additional 3 minutes. Pour equal portions into pans.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until each cake passes the toothpick test. Let cool 10 minutes. DO NOT ALLOW TO COOL COMPLETELY IN THE PANS!!! Remove from the pans and allow to cool for 1 hour.
  4. While the cakes are baking, heat the whipping cream in a 1 quart saucepan over low heat util hot, but not boiling.
  5. Add in chocolate and stir obsessively, do not let it burn (chocolate can burn quickly). Once the chocolate is melted, remove from heat. The ganache will thicken as it cools. It’s ready when it mounds slightly when dropped from a spoon.
  6. Spoon cooled ganache between the cake layers. Pour over the top layer and allow it to drip over the sides of the cake. Spoon as much as you like to cover the cake.

**Tip: for an extra gooey cake, pour the ganache between the cake layers whilst it is still relatively thin, allowing the cake layers to absorb the moisture. Top the rest of the cake once the ganache has thickened up a bit.

Serve warm with a scoop of homestyle vanilla ice cream and a glass of cold milk.

Enjoy!

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

New Year, New You

Hello Darlings!

The new year is almost here and I am giddy with anticipation. Not because I have any exciting plans, mind you (well, other than the Sherlock season 4 premier). My romantic NYE celebration aboard the Queen Mary plans were waylaid by a very costly auto repair (insert sad face here). No, I am giddy because I love the New Year holiday! I love the hope that comes with the turn of the calendar page. I love the promise of a fresh start. I love new year resolutions!

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Jayne Mansfield counting down the New Year

I know some people do get a bit grumpy about such things: “January 1st is just another day”, “You don’t need a holiday to change your life”, “Things won’t magically get better when the clock strikes midnight”, etc. While those are all very true statements, they ignore the thing that makes the new year so special… community. For this one day in the year, it seems the whole world is looking out to the horizon with eagerness and hope. We can do better, be better, we can make small but meaningful changes in our lives and the lives of others if only we dare to try.

Silly and cliche as it may be, I make New Year’s resolutions every year, and every year I get better and better at keeping them (making them public also helps keep me accountable).

My 2017 New Year’s Resolutions!

  1. Concentrate on my health. Like most people, my past resolutions have been something to the effect of “get in shape”, “lose weight”, etc. Those are great goals, and if they are your goals, I say go for it! For me, however, things aren’t that simple. You see, I live with chronic illness, and as such, my weight can fluctuate quite dramatically throughout the year. I can’t always go to the gym. I can’t always get out of bed! BUT I can focus on making healthier choices both mentally and physically by eating better, exercising everyday (even if its only a few minutes of stretching), clearing out negative influences from my life, focus on personal growth.
  2. Be more productive. This one always manages to make it onto my resolutions list. Maybe because I’m a creative and a perfectionist (a dangerous combination, indeed). I’ve made significant progress in the past, but I’ve also seen a steep decline recently. We moved to a tiny town, in the middle of nowhere, where I don’t know a soul. It can be a little depressing (and boring). When the gloom sets in, I stall out. So I resolve to do something productive everyday, something creative, something active, something constructive, it doesn’t matter as long as I’m doing something.
  3. Explore more. Especially in my new home. Apparently my new little spot on the map is full of rich history: old western mining towns, Nazi spies, classic western filming locations, and even Star Wars was filmed out here. Who knew? Not me, and that’s why I resolve to get out to do some exploring. This will be a tall order for an introvert, but I plan on writing about my adventures, so maybe that will push me over the social hump.
  4. Get organized. This is another one that lands on my list every year, and I have made improvements years past, but again, this move has really thrown a monkey wrench in the works. Nevertheless, I remain undeterred. This will also help me with my other resolutions, so organization will likely forever be on my list.
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The lovely and talented Debbie Reynolds, who we sadly lost this year.

And there you have it. I really do look forward to this coming year, and I hope to share my progress with my readers. What are your resolutions? Any hopes for the new coming year? I’d love to hear about them.

Happy New Year!

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

Holiday Greeting Etiquette

Hello Darlings!

Now that Hallowe’en is over, my thoughts wander to family feasts, snow, and sugar plums. As joyful as the holidays are for many people, there are also some humbugs out there. Between the over commercializing of Christmas, Black Friday extended into Thanksgiving, and some very recent political ugliness in the US (and abroad), I thought this would be an excellent time to talk about holiday greeting etiquette.

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For the last few years there have been a number of silly controversies popping up, from the color and style of coffee cups to exactly what greetings people are allowed to offer to wether or not there is a cultural war on Christmas. I honestly believe these controversies are given life because too many people are unaware there are actual standards of etiquette that go along with the holidays, well, that and some people could benefit from a hobby.

So, let’s discuss appropriate holiday greetings. Its important to remember there are many holidays reflecting many religions and cultures during the latter part of the year. Good manners dictates we be mindful of the person we are greeting. The greetings we offer are for them, not us.

 

What to Say to Whom

Verbal greetings are by far the trickiest of the holiday greetings. Unlike cards, we offer verbal greetings to everyone, friend and stranger alike. Because holidays are rooted in religious and cultural traditions, holiday greetings for strangers take a moderate amount of presumption. Some presumptions are safe, others not so much.

Before Thanksgiving, usually starting the week of, I say “Happy holidays” because I am including the pending holiday of Thanksgiving as well as the following holidays of Christmas and the New Year. A simple “Happy Thanksgiving” is also appropriate. Most Americans observe Thanksgiving in some fashion, and because it is the cultural norm, it is an appropriate greeting for friends and strangers.

Once Thanksgiving is over, we then greet with the coming holidays in mind. Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Al-Hijira, Ashura, and Yule are all observed at the end of the Gregorian calendar year, making greetings to a stranger a bit more difficult. Remember, your greeting is for the benefit of the person to whom you are speaking, so it should speak to their point of view.

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There are some things we can safely presume. If you live in the western world, Christmas is the predominant holiday. In modern times Christmas has taken on a more secular role in society. I come from a multi-faith family (Christian and Jewish). Many of my Jewish family members  send Christmas gifts, have a Christmas tree, and so on. To them, Christmas is more of an American cultural holiday than a Christian one. The majority of the American population observes the Christmas holiday in some way, whether it be religious, secular, or a mixture of both. It is ,therefor, perfectly fine to wish someone a “Merry Christmas” if there is no obvious indication the person you are greeting celebrates something else.

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The Kwanzaa Kinara

If you do see an obvious indication that Christmas is not the holiday they observe, feel free to greet them with something specific to their worldview. For instance, if you meet a man wearing a yarmulke, it’s ok to wish him a “Happy Chanukah”. It is worth noting the Jewish yarmulke and the Muslim taqiyah may look similar to those unfamiliar with those particular headpieces. When in doubt, a friendly “Happy holidays” is good option as well as the non-holiday related “Have a nice day”. Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Al-Hijira, Ashura, and Yule are their own holidays with their own religious and cultural significance. They are not stand-ins for Christmas and should not be treated as such.The thing you certainly do NOT want to do is assume a holiday preference based on a person’s color or ethnicity! Do not assume because a person is black they celebrate Kwanzaa. Likewise offering up a “Happy Chanukah” to someone because they “look Jewish” is deeply offensive. Again, the greeting isn’t for you, it’s for them.

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A Finnish Yule Card

Offenses

What if you are the person offended by a misguided greeting? Suck it up. No, really. Most people don’t mean any offense when they say the wrong thing and should not be punished or made to feel embarrassed for it. Etiquette is all about making those around us feel comfortable. You can either graciously accept the greeting and return it or offer something neutral like, “Happy holidays” instead. NEVER reprimand or admonish a greeting and NEVER use a greeting as a verbal weapon, EVER! If you do, YOU are the Grinch, no one else.

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Last year I was doing some Christmas shopping when I overheard a cashier give out a cheerful greeting, the woman to whom she was speaking promptly snatched her receipt from the cashier and snapped, “It’s (insert holiday here)!”. **Im intentionally leaving out the exact exchange for two reasons. #1. It doesn’t matter, slide in any number of greetings and retorts, but the outcome is still the same. The person rebuking the greeting was in the wrong. She was rude. Period. #2. I don’t want your personal bias, and we are all of us biased, to taint the way you view the transaction. A friendly, but (unintentionally) incorrect greeting was offered. It was rebuked. While the greeting may have been incorrect, there was no malice. The rebuke, however was full of malice, and therefor the one that violates the laws good manners. 

What if you have inadvertently offended someone? Apologize as you would any other time, even if the other party is behaving in a particularly nasty way, still offer up a sincere apology. “I’m terribly sorry. I meant no offense. I hope you have a very (happy, merry, etc)…” is a nice way to defuse a potentially uncomfortable situation. Don’t flog yourself. Apologize, smile, and them move on.

The holidays are meant to be a time of generosity and goodwill to our fellow man. We can all do our bit by just being friendly. I hope your holidays are full of laughter, good food, and good cheer.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours.

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Lighting the menorah with my little boy.

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe

 

 

 

 

 

Atomic Pasta Salad

Hello Darlings!

Well, summer is finally upon us. It’s time for BBQs, picnics, and all sorts pot-luck of frivolity. Being a vegetarian, the ubiquitous summer gathering always poses a bit of a challenge. I love food, and I do not eat like a bird. There is nothing worse than smelling bbq and watching everyone stuff themselves while I gnaw on carrot sticks and mellon balls. Mama wants to EAT! Well, I’m sure there are some things worse than that (war, cancer, reality TV), but starving at a bbq is up there. I also feel it is bad form to expect the hosts to arrange their party around my dietary needs. Yes, that is part of good party planning, but when I am a guest, I need to be prepared.

So, I came up with this little dish to fill any veggie voids left by my carnivorous hosts… Atomic Pasta Salad. Tasty, filling, and always a welcome addition to any summer soirée. Don’t worry it isn’t spicy. The name “Atomic” doesn’t come from the flavor, but from the atomic age. In the 1950’s convenience foods were all the rage, bottled, canned, frozen… plastic was in! This salad is a reflection of that. It is not organic or “from scratch” by any means, although the recipe can be tweaked to make it so. It’s easy to make last minute with what you’ve got hanging around the kitchen already. I last brought this salad to an Easter bbq and egg hunt, and it was one of the most popular dishes of the party. It’s quite the complement when you go home with an empty dish!

The delish sandwich in the background is a BLT lovingly hand crafted by my Mr. with soy bacon!

Atomic Pasta Salad

Prep time: 10 minutes

Total cook/chill time: 1 hour

Servings: 6 – 8

Ingredients:

12oz Rainbow Rotini Pasta

1/2c diced red onion

1/2c chopped red bell pepper

1/2c finely chopped carrots

1/4c green onion

1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tbsp minced garlic

1/4c Olive Oil (light)

2 tbsp Strawberry Basil Balsamic Vinegar

2 tbsp Brianna’s Homestyle Blush Wine Vinaigrette Dressing

Shredded Parmesan Cheese to taste

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/2c Ken’s Steak House Creamy Balsamic Salad Dressing

*optional add ins: I like to add sliced grape tomato and black olives. My Mr. hates both of those things, so I put them on the side and add them to my individual plate.

Directions:

1) Bring 4 to 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add pasta. Boil pasta for about 9 min. stirring occasionally.

2) Drain pasta and set it aside in a large glass mixing bowl.

3) Mix in olive oil. Be sure to coat all of the pasta to prevent sticking.

4) Add in red onion, green onion, carrots, rosemary, and garlic. Mix well, but be careful not to disturb the shape of the pasta. The spirals will be somewhat fragile until they cool.

5) Fold in the Ken’s Steakhouse Creamy Balsamic Salad Dressing. Be sure to coat every last bit of pasta and veg!

6) Add in the Strawberry Basil Balsamic Vinegar and Brianna’s Homestyle Blush Wine Vinaigrette Dressing. Again, stir well, but carefully.

7) Add parmesan, slat, and pepper to taste.

8) Cover and refrigerate for about an hour or until cold.

Fresh rosemary from my garden. 

I do hope you enjoy!

xoxo

Dolly Marlowe

Save the Date! 2014 Social Calendar

Hello Darlings!

My lovely friend, Sara Ellen, and I getting frisked by a couple of coppers at the Great Los Angeles Air Raid last year

My lovely friend, Sara Ellen, and I getting frisked by a couple of coppers at the Great Los Angeles Air Raid last year

I am thrilled to be writing to you from my new diary home! This new format gives me a great deal more freedom to be interactive with my readers. As always, I struggle with all things tech, so bear with me as I fumble my way through the new format. Most things improve with time, and I hope this will be no exception. On to the topic at hand!

I make no apologies for being a red-blooded American girl, and living in Southern California is an absolute dream! I can drive one hour in any direction and have just about anything my little heart desires… mountains with snow, falling leaves, the ocean, HOLLYWOOD! You name it, and I have it at my disposal. But even with all that, I can’t help but feeling the slightest twinge of jealousy when reading my favorite blogs and periodicals from across the pond. Jolly Old England boasts all sorts of Glorious events like the Tweed Run and The Chap Olympiad, not to mention all the dances, reenactments, and weekenders! We have a good bit of fun and entertainment here in the states as well, but so much of it is lacking in, shall we say, cultural refinement? There is nothing wrong with a good rockabilly show. I cut my teeth on rhythm and blues… literally (my daddy was a blues man and I chewed on his records and music equipment as a wee babe). But I just don’t see myself as a rockabilly girl. I prefer a gimlet over a Pabst any day. I’d swoon over gents like Bogie and Sinatra before giving Elvis a second look. And I like my music to swing rather than bop. In sunny california one can stand on any street corner, throw a rock, and hit a rockabilly show. So, what is a highbrow vintage loving gal to do? Sure, I’ve been to Viva Las Vegas and had a perfectly lovely time, but I want something more! I don’t mind telling you all that when I want something I generally find a way to get it. Like the old saying goes, If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself!

I submit for your approval my 2014 Social Calendar! I’ve scoured the interwebs and contacted every Art Deco mucky-muck I could find to bring  you the most wonderful events in the greater Southern California area! For those of you not residing in the southland, please feel free to visit or use my little calendar as some inspiration to find events in your neck of the woods. There will be a dearth of rockabilly events, save for those of some significance, not because they’re awful (they’re not), but because there are SO MANY of them!! I’ll also be adding events as I hear of them, so if you know of an event, drop me a line and I may add it. If you’re an event coordinator and would like to have me cover your shindig, you may also contact me to set things up.

So where is this wonderful almanac of social gatherings? For ease of use, it is located on the side bar of my posts, and there it will remain. Just give the “Google” button a click and it will whisk you away to the full screen version with all the details! Be sure to visit often as new things will be added on the regular. Also, you can subscribe to my posts via electronic mailing, that way you won’t miss a thing! I hope you find it useful and keep an eye peeled for yours truly as I am sure to pop up at a gathering or two!

XOXO

Dolly Marlowe