October 29, 2015

Cakes to Die For

It's almost Halloween, and although some of you are probably over it, I can't pass up one more chance to share some holiday-themed cakes. I'm not going to post the recipes here, but I will post links to the recipes so you can find them if you're interested in baking one for yourself.

You'll find the recipe for this cute layer cake on Taste of Home. It's made using cocoa and orange extract, and it's perfect for a family dinner. Start your own Halloween tradition by making this one every year.

The recipe for this Boo-tiful Chocolate Marshmallow Ghost Cake is found on marthastewart.com. Make sure you click through to the recipe for the two kinds of frosting (Vanilla and Chocolate Cream Cheese). You'll need some marshmallows (large and miniature) for decorating, and a few chocolate sprinkles too.

Poke cakes are fun and easy to make, but they look great when you cut into them. For a little dramatic flair without a lot of work, try this recipe at Taste of Home. You'll need a marble cake mix (or make the batter from scratch) and two boxes of orange-flavored gelatin. Add some candy pumpkins or candy corn on top for extra flair and you're good to go!

This one isn't a cake recipe, but isn't this adorable? Whether you're entertaining kids or adults, everybody would love this. Complete instructions are on The Cake Blog. You'll need a cake, frosting (white), Oreo cookies, Mini Oreo cookies, Junior Mints and M&Ms. I'd make this one right now if I had the goods in my kitchen! 

Have a safe and Happy Halloween everybody! 

October 16, 2015

The Week I Had

As anyone who is following my posts on Facebook and Twitter probably knows, I've spent the past week in Missouri. Actually, I've spent the past two weeks here and have one more to go. My daughter is in Texas, helping prepare for and attending a friend's wedding as her Maid of Honor, and I'm here with my grandkids, getting them up and ready for school, helping with homework, dealing with the social anxieties that come with being a kid, and making sure they get to bed on time.

No complaints here. It's glorious work. I love, love, love spending time with my precious granddaughters and learning about what makes them happy and what makes them sad, watching the turn from babies to little girls and now watching the oldest morph into a young lady. I love being a daily part of their worlds. Since we now live so far apart, I miss it more than I can say.

But I'm not going to lie, I'm worn out. Keeping up with kids who still have a full tank of energy at all times is challenging.

We went to a parade last weekend, followed by a shrimp boil. We've taken walks with the dog and walks to find fall leaves for a school assignment. We've played four-square so the girls could practice and I could prove that four-square existed way back when I was a girl.

I spent yesterday with the oldest grand-girl and her school class on a field trip at a local corn maze. Those kids raced from a corn box (like a sandbox but filled with dried kernals of corn) to a 40-foot slide to a volleyball court, to a bouncy house, to a "hay" ride, to the corn maze without breaking stride. They could barely sit still long enough to eat lunch before launching themselves back into the fray.

They followed the corn maze adventure with time at a local university where they got to see a "ginormous" snake, a turtle, a few other exotic creatures, along with some other very cool things. And they followed that up with a dance. And they were up and at it this morning as if yesterday just created more energy for them.

I'm still trying to find enough oomph to look at the pictures I took.

Exhausted? Yes. Absolutely. But also filled with gratitude for the week I had and grateful, too, that I have one more action-packed week before I go home to my quiet existence in Florida. I'll be glad to get back to my own bed, but as for the rest, I'm going to miss it. But I don't want to dwell on that. I want to remain grateful for the chance to be here and enjoy every moment of the time I have left!

October 14, 2015

Meet Zoey Jergens

Zoey Jergens, a new employee at Zydeco Cakes (and Estelle's niece), is blogging today at Killer Characters. Zoey swears she's not saying a word--not a single word--about recent exciting events at Zydeco. But Zoey likes to talk, so who knows? 

If you have a minute, stop by and say "hey!"  

Rebel Without a Cake, book #5 in the Piece of Cake Mystery Series, is available at your favorite bookseller now! Book #6, The Cakes of Monte Cristo, (cover coming soon!) is scheduled for release Jan 5, 2016, and available now for pre-order.

October 09, 2015

Green Chicken Enchilada Meatballs

If you've been following me on Facebook and/or Twitter, you probably know that I'm in Missouri this week (and next) taking care of the grand-kids while their mom is away from home attending a friend's wedding. It's been a while since I had all the after-school brouhaha that comes with two school-aged kids, and the hours get away from me far too easily. Luckily, my son-in-law is in town, so once he gets off work and finishes whatever other commitments he has for the evening, he's here to do all the things a dad needs to do.

One of the fun things about visiting my daughter and her husband is that they always have new-to-me recipes on the menu. Tonight's was really good, so I decided to share. My daughter pinned the recipe from a blog called iBREATHE, I'm Hungry. You can go there for the recipe, the pictures, the detailed instructions, but the basic recipe is here: 

Green Chicken Enchilada Meatballs 

(Low Carb & Gluten Free) 

A low carb and gluten free Mexican-inspired meatball. Ole!
Makes 16 meatballs


1 lb. ground chicken or turkey (you can also use ground beef, which makes it a bit less healthy, I suppose, but it's still delicious ~JB) 
1 egg
¼ cup almond flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp garlic powder
¼ cup queso fresco, crumbled (We used Feta. It was delicious! ~JB)
oil for frying

To Serve
½ cup salsa verde
¼ cup queso fresco, crumbled


Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. Form into 16 meatballs. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large, nonstick saute pan. Add the meatballs and cook thoroughly - about 3 - 4 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.

To serve:

Spread a few tablespoons of salsa verde on the bottom of a large serving dish. Place the meatballs on top, then spoon the remaining salsa over each meatball. Top with crumbled queso cheese. Serve immediately - or place under the broiler for 2 minutes until the cheese melts and turns golden brown. (Which would be amazing, but it's also great to serve the meatballs with the salsa on the side and let people dip as much or as little as they want. ~JB) 

Approximate nutrition information:
Per meatball: 85 calories, 7g fat, .85g net carbs, 8g protein
Per serving (4): 341 calories, 28g fat, 3.4g net carbs, 32g protein

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 4 meatballs

October 02, 2015

Where it All Began

An Excerpt from A Sheetcake Named Desire

first in the Piece of Cake mystery series


The Mississippi riverboat cake tilted on the table in front of me, its fondant paddle wheel askew, gashes of lemony yellow cake gaping in its once-smooth white surface. In the five years I’ve been working as a cake artist, this was the worst disaster I’d ever seen. Repairing the badly damaged three-foot cake would have been a daunting task under ideal conditions. In my current situation, the job was almost overwhelming.

Trickles of nervous perspiration snaked down my back as I studied the wreck from every angle. I could feel the staff of Zydeco Cakes watching me intently as I sorted through possible ways to proceed.

First priority: stay calm. Not easy under the circumstances. The stakes were as high as they got in the world of professional cake decorating. The cake was due in less than three hours at the grand opening of a new riverboat cruise line, for folks with money and influence. Failure to deliver on time would have a far-reaching impact on Zydeco’s reputation. For a cake artist, reputation is every bit as important as talent.

The staff at Zydeco had already suffered a blow today. I couldn’t let them down again.

The air conditioner was cranked up to keep the work area cool, but the intense heat and humidity of New Orleans in July still managed to creep into the building somehow. The undercurrents of tension that ebbed and flowed through the room didn’t help me keep my cool either.

My name is Rita Lucero, and I’m a trained cake artist, a graduate of the French Pastry School in Chicago. Currently wasting my fancy training by working as sous chef in my uncle Nestor’s Mexican restaurant in Albuquerque. So what was I doing sweating over a cake in New Orleans?

It was the same pending divorce that had left me chopping onions by the bushel that had brought me to the Crescent City for a few daysBut now, instead of getting my ex’s signature on our divorce settlement, I was standing in his bakery, shaking the dust off my cake decorating skills.

Taking a deep breath to calm my nerves, I closed my eyes and counted to ten—a trick my aunt Yolanda had taught me when I was thirteen and angry with the world. It didn’t always work, but I hadn’t given up trying. I needed to focus, but concentration was hard to find in a room full of tense, anxious people.

When I opened my eyes again, Zydeco’s manager, Edie Bryce, was staring up at me, a deep scowl accentuating her round face and the almond-shaped eyes she’d inherited from a Chinese grandmother. To the uninformed, Edie resembles the stereotypical porcelain doll, but I learned a long time ago not to underestimate her.

“So?” she demanded. “Can you do it or not, Rita?”

“I’m thinking.”

“Think faster! That cake is due for delivery in less than three hours.”

Not helpful. “Nobody’s more aware of the clock than I am,” I assured her. “Just back off a little, okay? Pushing through this too quickly is guaranteed to make things worse.”

Edie’s frown deepened, and impatience flashed in her dark eyes. She muttered something under her breath and turned away, but I knew she’d be back soon. Patience has never been one of her virtues.

I glanced around at the others, some of whom I’d known since pastry school. The rest I’d met just a couple hours earlier, and I was still struggling to remember their names. “We’re going to need buttercream,” I said to no one in particular. “Lots of it.”


Berkley Prime Crime: ISBN-13: 9780425242742