FONDUE Birthday Dinner for 6 with Steak, Chicken, & Orangr Dreamcicle Cake

All set for a fondue birthday dinner for six.
Our oldest grandchild turned twenty last week and asked Grandma for a Fondue  birthday dinner.  So after a hunt for what was left of our 60's fondue pot!  Success, I found it.  Easily I set up a large flat tray with the heat source, the stand, and the pot with lid.  Ours is stainless steel, ideal for a meat based cool.


Beef, Chicken, and Shrimp Fondue
Baked potatoes
Vegetables with dip
Homemade sour cream vanilla bread
Orange Dreamcicle Cake

There were some contamination issues to solve as you need to ensure the participants NEVER handle the raw chicken, shrimp, or beef.  This was easily solved by me loading long bamboo skewers by threading the steak accordion style and the chicken securely on the skewers and pushing it an inch up from the pointed end.  This was dome well ahead of time and the skewers placed in a long glass baking dish, covered with plastic wrap, then refrigerated until about 30-40 minutes prior to cooking.  I removed it to bring the meat to room temperature before cooking.  Just remember to remove the cooked meat with your fork from the skewer onto your plate.  Do not put the hot skewer into your mouth please!

I purchased a sirloin steak and placed it in the freezer for 45 minutes in order to partially harden it for slicing.  Next using my husband's filleting knife I trimmed the fat and sinew then sliced off long slender pieces just right to thread on the skewers and to ensure quick cooking.

Next I partially thawed a boneless skinless chicken breast and sliced 1/2"-3/4" pieces.  Cleaned and shelled shrimp can be done the same way.

Ingredients for Fondue Meat Course for Six;

1 1/2 pound Sirloin steak
1  pound boneless skinless chicken
1 pound cleaned shelled shrimp
3-4 C. peanut or grape seed oil
1 stick butter
1 t. salt
Sterno (heat source)

Prepare the meat and shrimp as indicated above and refrigerate.  This can be done a day ahead.
30-45 minutes before eating bring the prepared meat and shrimp to room temperature.  Combine the oil, butter, and salt in the metal fondue pot and heat to 375 degrees F. on the stove.  Light the Sterno and situate it under the pot stand.  Carefully carry the hot pot of oil to the stand.  You are ready to cook.  Each skewer will take from 1 to 3 minutes to cook based upon your liking.

The Sauces are a wonderful addition.  We especially like to dip the steak and chicken into a Horseradish Sauce.  Combine 1 C. sour cream, 2-3 T. horseradish, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Garlic Butter is also delicious, especially for the shrimp and chicken.  Combine 1 stick of melted butter with 1-2 cloves smashed garlic and let it meld at last an hour ahead.  1-2-3 Spicy Tomato Sauce  is made by combining 1 1/2 C. spicy hot catsup, 3 T. vinegar, 2 t. celery seed, and 1 clove smashed garlic.  Chill and remove the garlic pieces prior to serving.  It is GREAT with everything. We also set the A-1 Steak Sauce and the catsup on the table for the plain Jane's!

Emily's Dreamcicle birthday cake.
The cake, veggies and dip, and yeast bread links are listed her if you would  like to see how they are made.

Make your own Ranch dressing mix.

Delicious yeast bread, make in or outside the bread maker. always good.

Happy Birthday Sweet Emily.


Watermelon Pops

Summer is here in Indiana and the watermelons are sweet.  This is the second one we have had and both were as sweet and juicy as they can be!  Somewhere, and I can't remember where, I saw the melon cut in a grid and tried it.  The light bulb came on and "Why didn't I think of that?" flashed across my brain!  You get an "icicle" of a slice of watermelon and a nice little square of rind to hold on to!  Handy to pop into your mouth with little muss or fuss.

Just halve the melon.  Place half cut side down and slice across one way at 1 1/2 (or thereabouts) inch intervals.  Than repeat slicing the opposite direction.  AND THERE YOU HAVE IT!  Simple and ready to serve. 

If I am making it ahead of time I store in an extra large plastic bag with the rind ends all pointing out away from the center of the bag.  Easy as can be.


Refreshing Lemon Layer Cake

This is as refreshing as can be for a summer treat or anytime!
While visiting family last weekend we got busy baking some desserts.  My twin grandsons helped with a batch of sugar cookies and my son Chris wowed us with this beautiful and delicious Lemon Layer Cake from "BEST EVER DESSERTS" offered by Cook's Illustrated.  All 3 of my sons and my husband cook.  In fact my husband made one of my Mother's birthday cakes and really WOWED her early on in our marriage.

The twins like to help make cookies with Grandma too!
Ingredients for Lemon Layer Cake:


1 t. unflavored gelatin
1 C. lemon juice (6 lemons)
1 1/2 C. sugar
1/8 t. salt
4 large eggs + 6 yolks room temperature (Save whites for the cake.)
8 T. unsalted butter cut into 1/2" dice size cubes and frozen


1 C. whole milk at room temperature
6 large egg whites at room temperature
2 t. vanilla extract
2 1/4 C. cake flour
1 3/4 C. sugar
4 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
12 T. room temperature unsalted butter cut into 12 pieces


1 C. sugar
2 large egg whites
1/4 C, water
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. corn syrup

Be sure to use two 9" x 2" deep cake pans. 

Picture perfect slices!  
Make the filling.  Sprinkle gelatin over 1 T. lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside.  Heat sugar, salt, and remaining lemon juice in a medium pan over med-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot but NOT boiling.  Whisk eggs and yolks together in a large bowl.  Whisking constantly slowly pour the hot mixture into the eggs, then return the mixture to the saucepan.  Cook over medium low heat stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 170 degrees F. , 4 to 6 minutes.  Mixture should be thick enough to leave a trail when stirred.  Immediately remove from the heat and stir in the gelatin.  Stir until dissolved and add the butter and stir until it is melted and the mixture is cooled.  Pour into a container through a mesh sieve.  Press plastic wrap against the surface and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Make the cake.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and adjust the rack to the center of the oven.  Butter the cake pans and fit parchment paper into the bottom of the pans.  Butter the paper and dust well with flour.   Using a 4 C. measuring cup whisk together the milk, egg whites, and vanilla.  Using a stand mixer with the paddle, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until well combined.  Add the butter one piece at a time mixing until pea sized pieces form, about 1 minute.  Add all but 1/2 cup of the milk mixture, then increase speed to med-high.  Beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.  Reduce speed to med-low and add the remaining milk mixture and beat about 30seconds longer.  Give the batter a final stir by hand. 

Divide the batter evenly between the 2 prepared pans.  Bake about 24-25 minutes until testing with a toothpick it comes out clean.  Cook the cakes 10 minutes then remove cakes from the pans and finish cooling on the cooling racks for about 2 hours.  Slice each cake layer evenly in half. 

Place a layer on a serving plate lined with paper around the edges.   Spread 1 C. lemon filling evenly across the layer to the edge. Repeat with the next two layers and top with the remaining last one.  Cover and refrigerate while preparing the frosting.

Make the icing.  Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and place the bowl over a medium pan with 1" of barely simmering water.  Make sure the bottom of the bowl does NOT touch the water.  Whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F.  (5-10 minutes) Remove the bowl from the heat and place back on the stand mixer.  Mix at medium speed until soft peaks form.  Increase the speed to medium high and whip to stiff peaks form and the mixture is cool.  Spread the entire portion of the frosting onto the top of the cake and spread down over the sides of the cake.

Yield 10-12 servings and may be refrigerated up to 24 hours before serving.  It may be helpful to dip a long serrated knife into hot water before slicing.