Monthly Archive for July, 2010

Neverland Cocoa With Hundreds of Thousands

When I think of Neverland I am transported in time to when I was a young girl of 8, sitting on her grandfather’s lap, eagerly lapping up every single word of Scottish novelist and playwright, J. M. Barrie’s, Peter Pan. The live theatrical performance put in the 360 theater was truly an experience worth savoring. It was filled with magic and whimsy, laughter and imagination. And as the British would tout, “It was lovely.”

The flight over London proved a memorable moment for me as an adult, as I relived my childhood. Playwright Barrie is genius, capturing the childlike sense of joy and mischief that captivated me, oh so many years ago. I left with a greater sense of childhood, one which can be easily forgotten amidst a heavy work schedule and endless activities with the little ones out of school. I was thankful for the opportunity to remember all the antics of Peter Pan, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, and his arch nemesis, Hook, and devoted pixie, Tinker Bell.

I encourage you to go and rekindle your inner child and while your imagination runs wild- perhaps a nostalgic cup of cocoa? Often mentioned during the play, I couldn’t resist the recommendation of Actress Shannon Warrick who plays Mrs. Darling. We met after the show and I asked her for her thoughts on a Pan-like food. She remarked, “Well it must be cocoa! We talk about cocoa the entire performance and then back stage we eat marshmallows – it would be perfect for your blog.”

She was spot on! And to up the anti, this is one of my coveted recipes for true yummy-ness in a cup.

Frozen Hot Cocoa with Marshmallows & Hundreds of Thousands

Cocoa Ingredients

6 half-oz pieces of a variety of your favorite chocolate, chopped or chips are fine too
2 tsps store bought hot chocolate mix
1 1/2 TBS sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk, set 1 cup aside
3 cups ice
whipped cream (optional)
chocolate shavings (optional)

Marshmallows with Hundreds of Thousands Ingredients

I bag large size marshmallows
6 oz milk chocolate, chopped or chips
sprinkles (British nomenclature is Hundreds of Thousands)

Marshmallow Decoration

Line a baking sheet with wax paper and set aside. Set sprinkles in small bowl and set aside.

In a small-size microwave safe bowl, heat the milk chocolate, stirring every 15 seconds to make sure chocolate does not burn. When chocolate is melted, take marshmallows and dip top of candy in chocolate and then quickly dip in the sprinkles.

Note: Large sprinkles do not melt as easily in the chocolate and are much easier to work with when dipping the marshmallows.

Frozen Hot Cocoa Directions

Take 1/2 cup of milk out of refrigerator and bring to room temperature.

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in an microwave proof bowl, stirring every 30 seconds until melted.

Add the cocoa and sugar, stirring constantly until thoroughly blended.

Slowly add 1/2 cup of the milk and stir until smooth.

Let the mixture sit and cool completely until it is room temperature.

Place the cooled chocolate mixture, remaining cup of milk and the ice in a blender. Blend on high speed until the mixture is smooth and slushy.

Pour into a wide mouth glass or cup and top with whipped cream, marshmallows and/or chocolate shavings. Suitable for eating with a spoon or a straw.

Milena, \’Wendy\’ (Abby Ford), Gina, \’Peter Pan\’ (Nate Fellows), Secondo and Prima at the after party with cast members.

More about the play…

In this production of PETER PAN:

• 12 projectors, delivering 360 degree projection
• 400 square miles of virtual London were rendered
• The world’s first fully 360 degree projected movie for live theater performance
• The tent, which stands 100 ft high was shipped via boat, 6,000 miles from London to San Francisco.
• 100 computers took 4 weeks to create the images – it would have taken 8 years for a single computer to render

A few of my favorite Peter Pan quotes:

Second to the right and straight on until morning
.. (location of Neverland and corresponding stars on the chocolate dipped marshmallow in the photo)

To live would be an awfully big adventure.

Your saving my life, what a great thing to do.

When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.

Rainbows, Bunnies & Puppy Dog Tails

When Disney decides to do something – they can’t help but to do it right. I was invited to a great performance, the opening city tour of Disney California Adventure’s newest attraction “World of Color Road Show“, at the San Francisco Palace Legion of Honor. The World of Color Road Show has four different cities and four different theme shows on tap. Since San Francisco is bursting with Amore alla Tony Bennett’s unforgettable song “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”, the theme du noir was L-O-V-E. And love it was, as I admired the all that Disney’s Sr. Show Director, John Addis, and his team created. (While I didn’t manage to capture great images, I did find these wonderful images by Photographer Matthew Kajoika)

It was 12 minutes of incredible optical and auditory transformation which completely metamorphosed this historical building within seconds. It was memorizing and memorable. The only thing missing to complete this experience was a meal of color; and despite the yummy themed cookie bestowed upon me, when I reflected upon this experience I wanted to share with you my favorite colorful dessert growing up. Rainbow finger Jell-O.

Rainbow Finger Jell-O


1 (14 oz can) sweetened condensed milk
7 sm packages Knox gelatin
1 (3 oz) package strawberry Jell-O
1 (3 oz) package orange Jell-O
1 (3 oz) package lime Jell-O
1 (3 oz) package blueberry Jell-O


Using non-stick cooking spray an coat a 9×13 pan.

Filling layers:
Dissolve 2 envelopes gelatin in 1/2 cup cold water. Add 1 cup boiling water to condensed milk. Mix dissolved gelatin with milk and add 1 cup more of boiled water.

To make these fabulous rainbow layers: Use 1 box Jell-O at a time. Mix 1 envelope Knox gelatin with 1/4 cup cold water. Add 1 cup boiling water, and 1 box Jell-O. Remove any bubbles that may have formed. Pour Jell-O in pan. Refrigerate 15-20 minutes until set.

Pour 3/4 cup filling over set Jell-O. Chill 15-20 minutes. Continue Jell-O, filling etc., ending with Jell-O on top. Chill until firm. Slice into squares and serve chilled. And there you have it, 7 layer Rainbow Jello. Should take approx 2 hrs to chill and make all of the layers.

Note: Do not make the Jell-O as directed on the package. Make each package as directed above – for each package of Jell-O, add 1 package or 1 TBS of gelatin and 1 cup boiling water. Mix each layer separately in containers. Let stand till room temperature, stirring occasionally.

And if you would like to watch the World of Color Show, while eating your rainbow Jell-O, click away….

I enjoyed spending time with fellow-gal bloggers
The Silent I, Chalk and Cheese Chronicles, Tippytoes & Tantrums, Who’s the Boss?, and Xiaolinmama. And the other great ladies I had the honor of spending time with Techmama, Dear Bad Kitty, and Garza Girl!

Scratching That Summer Itch

With summer in full swing, tomatoes on the vine and cup cakes on the brain – I was craving a funky combo that I sampled last summer. It was not a culinary feat, but sometimes comfort food is the best way to scratch that itch, and today was THAT day. This simple, yet tasty recipe, Tomato Bisque Spiced Cup Cakes, may sound bizarre but this seemingly healthful recipe will impress your constituents and critics. (Just in case you don’t want to confess that your serving cup cakes with tomato in them, I’ve switched up the name to give it an Italian flair.)

Torte Piccolo Con Pomodoro

Cupcake Ingredients

1 box (18 oz) spice cake mix
1 can (10 3/4 oz) Campbell’s® Condensed Tomato Bisque Soup
1/2 cup water
2 eggs
18 (2 1/2-inch) cupcake liners

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

1 cube butter, softened (not melted)
1 cup cream cheese (room temperature)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 TBS vanilla
pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)

Cupcake Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place liners into 18 muffin-pan cups.

Combine the cake mix, soup, water and eggs in a large bowl and mix according to the package directions.

Spoon the batter into the muffin-pan cups, up to the rim of the liner.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Let the cupcakes cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pans and let cool completely.

Frosting Directions

In a medium-size bowl, mix butter, cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar on high for 2 minutes.

After frosting, you can sprinkle the cupcakes with toasted chopped pecans or walnuts.

Yields: 18 cupcakes

The Island Life & Corn and Black Bean Salad

There is a small island in the Delta Region of Northern California that conjures up wonderful childhood memories for me. It is a simple, yet special location, and the closest I manage to kinda-sorta ‘camping’ – boat camping. While it may not seem like reality, the scope of ‘tents’ range from mega yachts to small sail boats. No cell phones are allowed, and there is only one TV on the island for the guests that make reservations well in advance to stay in the ‘light house’ (there are approximately 4-5 rooms in this locale). There is no grocery store on the island, and guests typically have their own small run-about or take the complimentary ferry over from King Island. This year, as a new addition, we found that there are now weekend bar tenders walking around to take your drink and/or snack bar order – but for the most part you have to bring what you want to eat and drink.

As a child I often wondered if this was anything like all of the posh East Coast spots I had heard the yachties speak about – Maratha’s Vineyard, The Cape, or Newport Rhode Island. Having grown up sailing on San Francisco Bay and taking a few summer sailing camps at the island I have spent a nice amount of time at this hide-away during the summer months. As I have grown-up, my love for this place has also grown deeper. Since returning as an adult, I recall all of the fond times spent with my Dad, Step Mother and brother running around with large bamboo sticks for the bonfire marshmallow roast, swimming endless hours in the pool, writing in my diary, playing dominoes (Dad’s favorite- don’t beat him he just isn’t made for loosing), backgammon, fishing, hunting crawdads (BTW-they like salami or other meat), water skiing, sailing, reading books and listening to music…..the memories abound! I’ll close the chapter on this aspect of memory lane, and not bore you further, as it truly is time to talk food. The focus of this post is on meal planning – while my friend Jane Maynard, of This Week for Dinner, does a great job of posting weekly menus, I felt inspired to share my humble attempt at this camping menu. The menu worked well and we ended up with very few things to take home with pleased fully bellies all around.

Camping doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a bit of gourmet, au contraire.

– dinner: Kobe steak kabobs with zucchini, red bell pepper and Maui onions (the vegetables were bushed with olive oil and rosemary. The meat was seasoned with salt and pepper only), field greens and whole wheat baguette served with a crisp white wine from Portugal
– dessert: watermelon au natural, ice cold

– breakfast: cheesy scrambled eggs with fire roasted veggies and skillet butter toast
– lunch: honey roasted turkey grilled cheese sandwiches
– appetizers: salami with cream cheese, roasted garlic hummus with carrots and celery
– dinner: honey marinated chili chicken breasts; Yukon gold potato/onion herb packets; white corn on the cob brushed with paprika butter; romaine salad with carrots, Capri tomatoes, and home made croutons served with a crisp white wine from Portugal
– dessert: s’mores and coffee

– breakfast: steel cut oatmeal with caramelized bananas served with fresh fruit salad (plums, white peaches, nectarines, apples) oh yes, and left over s’mores because it is vacation!

Upon leaving the island, we drove to our favorite spot in Stockton for lunch and had killer sweet potato fries, decadent milk shakes, delicious burgers with grilled onions and secret sauce- Moo Moo’s Burger Barn.

But when we arrived back home, we just couldn’t let the vacation feeling escape us, so we immediately invited some family over for dinner. The menu was simple, yet fresh and reeked of summer! BBQ’d sword fish, baked potatoes and some fresh greens.

Oh wait, what’s that you say? You wanted a recipe? Well, I had a feeling…but it is summer and I like to keep things on the simple side.

Photo Credit: Butteryum Blog Spot

Corn & Black Bean Salad


5 ears of corn, shucked (approx 2 cups)
1/2 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
3 TBS cider vinegar
3 TBS olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
4 whole bell peppers, sliced in half (this is your serving bowl, parboiling them is a plus if camping equipment permits)
1 (14 oz) can black beans, rinsed
1 lime, juiced
1 (4 oz) container, crumbled Feta (optional)
1/2 cup basil, finely chopped plus additional basil (garnish, optional)


Husk corn and rinse. Heat grill to 350F.

Shuck corn and remove all strings, place in foil and crimp edges tightly to retain moisture. BBQ corn packets for 20 minutes, turn every 10 minutes. Remove corn from foil for the last 10 minutes and allow to brown, turning regularly.

Note: Length of cooking time will vary depending on the tenderness, variety and age of the corn – some types of corn may be done in half the time.

Immediately immerse corn in cold water to stop the cooking and to set the color. When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob.

In a large-size bowl, add all remaining ingredients and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.

A bit more history I dug up while writing this post that I wanted to share for those of you still interested in learning/reading more about Tinsley Island.

Trivia: the lighthouse was one of a chain of seventeen stations that started at the entrance to San Francisco Bay (Point Bonita) and ended at Roe Island in Suisun Bay.

In 1955, the U.S. Coast Guard automated the light and fog horn mechanisms, and the main building of the Carquinez Strait Lighthouse was sold to a private party who, in 1957, moved the building by barge up the Strait to its present position at Elliot Cove, overlooking the scenic marina. Of the seventeen original lighthouse buildings, only two others remain in existence: the St. Francis Yacht Club on Tinsley Island, and the East Brothers lighthouse in San Pablo Bay (now a bed and breakfast establishment). Tinsley Island is located at latitude – longitude coordinates of N 38.0377 and W -121.49578

More great photos and historical information can be found at California’s Majestic Lighthouse’s blog.