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Rubber Duckie, you’re the one…

6 May
You make bath time lots of fun…

Hi folks. Sorry I’ve been so sporadic with posts lately — it’s shower & wedding season, which means I’m busy with custom cake orders. Which is a good problem to have, especially if you like cake decorating as much as I do. 🙂

I thought I’d share some photos of a recent order to keep in touch until I have time to write up the recipe posts I’ve been sitting on lately. This is a Rubber Duckie bath tub cake I created last weekend for a baby shower. Everything on the whole cake is edible. If it’s not frosted, it’s made out of marshmallow fondant. (You can find my recipe and tutorial on using marshmallow creme fondant by clicking here.)

Thanks for hanging in there until I get back in the blogging swing again! You know I miss it. And without further ado, here are some more pics of the rubber duckies. If you have any questions on how I made something (or want to order a cake!), please leave me a comment and I’ll get right back to you. 🙂

Duckie Magellan. (Fondant duckie, buttercream water swirls, sprinkle-and-food-coloring eyes, cupcake sprinkle “hair” feathers. The boat is sporting the ONLY non-edible thing in the whole cake — it is held up on the inside by a wooden toothpick. Sue me.) 🙂
This one has a towel wrapped around her head. How girly. 🙂
Front view of the towel duckie.
Feathers-up diving duckie. Some of these pics were obviously before I went back and added the bubbles. BTW, that’s a life preserver in the bottom left corner. 🙂
Another pre-bubble shot. I really think the bubbles pulled it all together in the end. But you can get a good view of the fondant boat with this one.
Close-up of my fondant faucet works. Dark gray fondant was dry-painted with light silver-colored edible petal dust. That’s a red washcloth in the foreground.
Cupcakes. The ones topped with life preservers are homemade strawberry cupcakes and the duckie-topped ones are sour cream fudge cupcakes.
Duckie sugar cookies. I love these. They tasted great.
Cookie close-up.
The back side with little rolled towels and tile floor between drippy frosting “suds” and bubbles.
…And one more picture of the final product. My client let me know later that the cake had gone over so well they ran out early! I love getting feedback like that.
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Holiday Recipe: Meringue Mushrooms

21 Dec

For a text-only version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

So you’re looking for a fun guy? Hey — I’m a fungi! (Lame. Sorry.)

The experience of biting into a perfectly created meringue mushroom is similar, I think, to biting into the center of a Pepperidge Farms Milano cookie, except on the best day of a Milano’s life, because instead of dampish shortcake, you have this wonderful crunchy meringue as your segway to the perfectly hardened chocolate morsel in the middle. (Divine.) Continue reading

Winner: The Great Dinner Party Giveaway AND an extra surprise holiday discount from Pistoulet & Pfaltzgraff!

17 Dec

Hello everyone!!

I apologize for not getting this posted yesterday — Southern Illinois got smacked with an ice freeze Wednesday night and I kept the boys home yesterday. (Jamie’s birthday was Wednesday and he got new light-up sneakers, so he was SO indignant that he had to stay home from school Thursday and not show them off! Needless to say, it was *quite* a day for us holed up in our house after that!)

But you don’t want to read about THAT — you want to know who the winner was of The Great Dinner Party Giveaway, don’t you??

Well, I am proud to announce…

…the WINNER of the beautiful 16-piece stoneware Pfaltzgraff Pistoulet dinnerware set

…not to mention the BONUS Hostess Set including lidded sugar bowl, spouted creamer and adorable polka-dotted butter dish…

…IS…

Donna Sigler! Come on down!!!

Donna has left so many supportive comments on the Spirit of Pistoulet and Pfaltzgraff Facebook pages since this contest began! I was so happy to read her name after the random drawing. I’m sure she’ll be celebrating the spirit of Jana’s wonderful books very soon! Meanwhile, here was a comment Donna wrote on Pfaltzgraff’s wall of why she’d love to win the dishes:

“I would like to to win the Pistoulet dishes by Pfaltzgraff because not only are they just beautiful, but I have no dishes since my divorce. I eat off of paper plates.”

Well, throw away those paper plates, Donna! Santa’s bringing you some fancy new ones! Merry Christmas, and congratulations from The Red Kitchen Project, The Spirit of Pistoulet, Pfaltzgraff, Lifetime Brands and TheGreatDinnerParty.com!

I’d like to also say a big thank-you to everyone who entered and shared our links with others. As a wonderful surprise, you don’t have to walk away empty-handed, either! Read on!

Due to all of those happy wall posts from Red Kitchen readers cropping up all over the The Spirit of Pistoulet’s Facebook page, all friends of the Pistoulet page are eligible to receive an additional 10% off Pfaltzgraff’s holiday prices on all Pistoulet from now through December 24th! (Visit the The Spirit of Pistoulet FB page for the coupon code) PLUS, today is also NATIONAL FREE SHIPPING DAY with no minimum purchase  at Pfaltzgraff.com!

So if you’ve had this beautiful dinnerware in your head ever since you entered, don’t despair — Pfaltzgraff still wants to help you have a Pistoulet Christmas!!

The continued enthusiasm of Red Kitchen guests is what makes it possible to have these fun giveaway events (which always keep me so excited!), and I appreciate all of you so very much. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you, and Merry Christmas. Here’s to a great 2011 for all of us!!

–Gracie

The Great Dinner Party Giveaway!

9 Dec

Hooray, hooray!

The great folks over at Lifetime Brands have decided to have another fun dinnerware giveaway just for you lovely readers here at RKP. In celebration of their newest website launch, The Great Dinner Party, one lucky Red Kitchen guest will be enjoying the holidays with a fancy new 16-piece dinner service and bonus hostess set from Pfaltzgraff. Whee!!!

What’s this, you say?

So what’s The Great Dinner Party all about, you ask? Basically, it’s like one giant online scrapbook of every fancy meal anybody has taken photos of and posted! And it’s growing every day with more and more table decor ideas. Sponsored by Mikasa, photos of any and all brands, patterns or themes are welcomed and admired at TGDP, just as it should be. BTW, here’s a link to my favorite page. (Of course.) 🙂 So click on over there and see what I mean! (Don’t worry; I’ll still be waiting here for you when you get done drooling at all of those beautiful photos. Promise.)

Start the New Year with new dinnerware!

The Prize:

If you’ve been holding out for some really beautiful china since our last Pfaltzgraff giveaway, now’s your chance to throw your hat into the ring again! Once again, our contest features the beautiful Pistoulet pattern designed by (my personal hero) artist/author Jana Kolpen.This time, our giveaway will come from the blue Pistoulet palette. (You can click here to browse the ever-expanding line of available products from Pfaltzgraff Pistoulet. )

I couldn’t choose when I picked out my kitchen china back in 2003, so I actually have both the salmon and blue sets in my kitchen (four settings of each), and I have to say how much I love the little green salad plates that come with the blue set. I use them for everything! (As evident by the many, many snapshots of them holding yummy recipe creations all over this website.)

In addition to four beautiful place settings, the winner will receive the matching Pistoulet covered sugar bowl, cream pitcher and covered butter dish. Just because we know you’ll be dying for them. 🙂

We’ve got the rest of your tabletop covered, too!

This would make for a fantastic starter set, or a great excuse to update those old dishes in the cabinet, or even serve as an inspiration to redecorate your kitchen!

And the best news is yet to come: you can enter this contest multiple times! Hooray! (You know I wouldn’t hold out on you like that.)

So How Do I Enter??? 

There are several ways to enter, and you can enter as many ways as you like:

1.) Head over to Facebook and “Like” both The Spirit of Pistoulet (www.facebook.com/thespiritofpistoulet) AND Pfaltzgraff (www.facebook.com/pfaltzgraffdinnerware) and write on both walls that you are “Visiting from the Red Kitchen Project.” Stop back to this Red Kitchen post and comment to let me know you liked both pages to be entered!

2.) If you are already a fan of both pages, you can still enter by writing why you want to win Pistoulet on both walls, followed by “Visiting from RKP” and comment here to let me know you did so.

My son, Jamie, leaving cookies for Santa in December 2009 atop a Pistoulet green salad plate. (Insert your child's face here! Haha.) 🙂

3.) Share “The Great Dinner Party” and “The Red Kitchen Project” websites with your friends on your Facebook wall and come back here to comment that you did so!

4.) Bonus Entry: Upload a photo of your beautifully set table (Thanksgiving, dinner party, Christmas, etc.) at www.TheGreatDinnerParty.com and stop back by the Red Kitchen Project to comment that you’ve done so. Important: When you upload your table photo, select “The Red Kitchen Project” in the “Sponsored By” drop-down menu in Step 1 of the table upload page.

*Remember, The Great Dinner Party is not only a great website for showing off your creative table spreads, it’s also a fantastic resource for getting new ideas for your next entertaining event, large or small!

Good luck! The winner will be selected by the Random Number Generator and remember, this contest closes at 12:00 p.m. (noon) Central Time on December 16th! Note: This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Disclosure Statement: I, Gracie Ritter, am not an employee of Pfaltzgraff or Lifetime Brands, Inc, nor is the Red Kitchen Project a brand affiliate. I occasionally receive items from Pfaltzgraff/Lifetime Brands for my review (at no cost) and as prize awards for RKP contests. The opinions reflected at the Red Kitchen Project are my own personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Pfaltzgraff/Lifetime Brands.

 

Halloween in Review (Continued): Ghost Cookie Cups

19 Nov

Okay, so this is Day 2 of posting things I’ve been up to in the last month. Today’s project is very easy to pull off in an afternoon and made for a great classroom treat for my younger son, Oliver, and his preschool friends. Because he is just shy of a year old, Eyeball-on-a-Stick didn’t seem like a great idea for the kids in his room, so I devised a softer, more new-teeth-friendly party treat: Ghost Cookie Cups.

These are a pretty straightforward design, with lots of little built-in escape routes for saving time & energy. In all honesty, by the time I got around to making these, I’d already made a million candy eyeballs and a batch of cupcakes, and I still had to stitch together an entire costume for Ollie, who was dressing as the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man to complement his older brother’s Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray’s character in Ghostbusters). I was beat.

Thanks to premade chocolate chip cookie dough in the fridge and a tub of cream cheese frosting in the cabinet, these were banged out in the few minutes here-and-there when I needed a break from cursing loudly at my sewing machine. 🙂 Continue reading

Halloween Eyeballs: A Retrospective…

18 Nov

Well, howdy again!

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post, but i have truly been up to my…well…eyeballs in projects for the kids. This included making…well…eyeballs…for my son’s Halloween class party. (But lots of other fun projects, too, some of which I am finally getting around to posting…so stay tuned.) Meanwhile, I give you today’s incredibly-out-of-date feature presentation:

Eyeball-on-a-Stick

   

Continue reading

Kid-Friendly Recipe: Punchy Cakes

10 Aug

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Jamie told me his Punchy Cakes were, “SO beautiful, Mommy!” Hey, at least one person on this planet marvels in awe at my gifted ability to mix cake batter with Kool-Aid packets. Guess Christmas will be easy this year, huh?

So…the house finally cooled off last Saturday just long enough for me to go on a baking frenzy and heat it all back up again. But at least it meant that in the wake of my white dust bender (flour, that is) were several goodies to keep our mouths occupied the rest of the weekend.

I always wanted to bake a cupcake that looks exactly like a cartoon one.

...and then I made one that looks like a Muppet for no apparent reason.

These were a quick and easy project, and Jamie (almost 4 years old) had a ball helping me with them. The recipe’s pretty simple, but they’re so kid-friendly and much easier than dealing with Jello cake (aka “Poke Cake”) that I thought I’d share it anyway. Here goes:

Start out by whipping up a batch of plain old white cake batter. Just use the boxed variety (doesn’t matter).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (or whatever the box recommends), add whatever amount of water/oil/eggs it calls for, and don’t for one second feel bad that you didn’t make the cake from scratch. Unless you’ve been planning on changing your name to Laura Ingalls Wilder, no one cares if you made it or Poppin’ Fresh did. Seriously. Just move on.

Cake batter from a mix--I won't tell Martha if you don't.

When the batter is mixed evenly, divide it into 2 bowls or batter cups.

Add the Kool-Aid.

Empty a packet of unsweetened Kool-Aid mix (we used Tropical Punch and it was terrific) into one of the batter bowls and mix well until the batter is a bright, glowing red. Slightly radioactive-looking batter is just right. Perfect.

If you feel like mixing a second Kool-Aid flavor into to the other half of the batter, feel free. Lemonade flavor would probably work well, or Orange. We left it at one flavor, though.

(I’m not entirely sure what the blue and green ones would do in the oven, but there’s only one way to find out. I personally will not be using the blue Kool-Aid at any point because I don’t like buying it. It looks too much like 1980s-era toilet water back when everyone was obsessed with those horrible blue tank pellets. But hey; life’s short. Eat toilet cupcakes if your heart’s set on it. They will be DELICIOUS.)

Alternate spoonfuls of white and colored batter into muffin cups.

Spray or line muffin tins (somewhere between 14 – 24, depending on whether you beat it by hand or with an electric mixer.) My mixer finally met its maker this summer, so we hand-whisked them and therefore didn’t get as many cupcakes out of our batch. (Which was absolutely fine with me, because Jamie was bouncing off the walls after eating the first one.)

Oven-ready.

Spoon a dollop of the plain batter into the bottoms of each muffin cup. Then, go back and spoon a dollop of the Kool-Aid batter into the cups. Alternate back and forth until cups are about 3/4 full.

Pop the cupcakes into the oven, bake for about 18-20 minutes or until inserted fork/toothpick comes out clean, and cool completely on a wire rack.

A word to the wise: do your spoon lickin' from the white-batter-bowl, or everyone's going to know when you wind up with a Kool-Aid mustache from the other batter bowl. Just sayin'.

In the meantime, prepare your frosting. You can use homemade buttercream, canned, whatever.

If you want, you can mix a packet of unsweetened Kool-Aid (maybe a different flavor from what you used in the batter) into the frosting and cream it well. Pipe onto cupcakes and decorate with your lovies. 🙂

The great thing about Punchy Cakes versus Jello Cake (besides the fact that there’s no straw-pokin’ and Jello-funneling ) is that these suckers don’t have to hang out in your refrigerator between munches. As far as I’m concerned, that makes them far easier hot-weather, outdoorsy treats than Jello or pudding cake!

But, as always, you be the judge…

Encore Pistoulet Dinnerware gift from Pfaltzgraff!

15 Jun

Photo courtesy of pfaltzgraff.com

Greetings!

Gracie here again, delighted to post an encore to the Pfaltzgraff contest-winner of service for eight in the beautiful Pistoulet pattern designed by Jana Kolpen and used daily here in the Red Kitchen!

Photo courtesy of pfaltzgraff.com

Congratulations (and also pats on the back) go to Kim G, who entered the Pfaltzgraff contest not for herself but rather on the behalf of another family, whose home burned down in a recent fire. The folks at Pfaltzgraff, and its parent company, Lifetime Brands, Inc., were so moved by Kim’s entry that they have decided to send an identical 40-piece, service-for-eight Pistoulet dining set to this North Carolina family!

It is in the face of staggering loss that the importance of life’s simplest blessings, such as sharing a meal with loved ones, becomes truly illuminated. I’m charmed to learn that the folks at Pfaltzgraff, as well as the guests of the Red Kitchen, feel the same way.

Those familiar with Jana Kolpen’s illustrated books will agree that this truly is the “Spirit of Pistoulet.” (Visit The Spirit of Pistoulet on Face Book!)

I love it.  I feel honored that the Red Kitchen can serve as a conduit for such compassion from caring, conscientous businesses like Pfaltzgraff.

Congrats again to Bev, our original PFZ contest winner, and now also to Kim G and her friends/neighbors as well! Enjoy your lovely new china, and dine in good health! Cheers!

–Gracie

P.S.–Bev B reports that she is thoroughly enjoying her new china set and is already poking around on Pfaltzgraff.com to make a wish list of serving pieces to accompany her new dishes. Hooray for Pistoulet!

Exclusive Giveaway: FREE Pfaltzgraff Pistoulet china service for EIGHT to one lucky RKP reader!

1 Jun

Service for 8 in this beautiful pattern can be yours! Enter now! (Photo courtesy of Pfaltzgraff.com)

Howdy, folks!!

Gracie here, happy to announce that one lucky Red Kitchen Project reader will soon be winning FREE Pfaltzgraff china, in the form of service for EIGHT (you heard me!) in the very beautiful Pistoulet pattern, designed by artist Jana Kolpen and used daily in the recipe photos here in my Red Kitchen.

In celebration of the wonderful friendship with Ms. Kolpen that this website has serendipitously blessed me with, Pfaltzgraff is honoring this star-struck kitchen hostess by letting me award one lucky RKP reader with an all-inclusive, 40-piece, GORGEOUS Pfaltzgraff Pistoulet dining service for eight.

In other words, if you didn’t already have a set of “good china” for entertaining on special occasions, you certainly will now! (Although I consider EVERY meal a special occasion, and eat off of my fancy Pistoulet every single day!)

Pfaltzgraff Pistoulet place setting

Picture this...EIGHT TIMES! In your very own dining room! Hooray! (Photo courtesy of Pfaltzgraff.com)

Or maybe you are a young person visiting this site to learn techniques for saving money on the kitchen budget before you move out on your own after college? Well, win this prize and you just stocked yourself a beautiful dining room of china straight in the door! 🙂

Maybe you are a newlywed who didn’t get any of the china you registered for? Batta bing! You’re all set!

Whatever the reason may be, I can’t believe many who read this will turn down entering when you read how easy and simple it is to win!

There are three different ways to enter, so you can increase your odds with each entry! Limit 7 entries per person, as broken down per method below. Here’s how to enter:

 
 
your RKP hostess

Me.

1.) Leave a comment on this post telling me why you’d like to win this china set.

Good for one entry. Additional response or followup comments do not result in additional entries, but are quite welcome anyway!

2.) Subscribe to this blog. Good for one entry. It’s free, it’s super easy (see widget on the righthand side of the page, or comment if you’re having trouble finding it), and there’s absolutely no risk. You will NEVER receive a single bit of junk mail or spam as a result of subscribing to the Red Kitchen Project; just a quick, happy little email each time a post/recipe is published on the RKP site, letting you know what that day’s post is about, so you know if you’re interested in checking it out. You can unsubscribe at any time just as easily as you signed up (or email me the request and I’ll remove you from the list if you prefer, no questions asked.) How handy is that? Just click on the subscription widget, enter your email address and confirm your subscription! (Current subscribers will automatically receive one entry per person for this method!)

 
 

Mademoiselle J.

Jana.

3.) Get a friend to subscribe along with you! Limit 5 additional entries, and please be honest and don’t sign up for fake hotmail or gmail accounts to get additional entries. The entire point of this contest is friendship, goodwill and happiness, so please don’t ruin it! For every friend who subscribes to this blog at your recommendation, not only will you receive an additional entry for yourself, but that person will automatically be entered once as well (see #2 above) and thus eligible to earn additional entries as described here.

To receive “credit” for your subscribers (your additional contest entries), email me the names/emails of each subscriber referred by you OR have the subscriber email me himself/herself naming you as the referral. Send emails to: redkitchenproject@gmail.com before the contest deadline for eligibility.

Contest ends Wednesday, June 9th at 12:00 pm (noon) US central time. Prize can be shipped to US residence only. Contest sponsored by Pfaltzgraff (a division of Lifetime Brands, Inc.) and brought to you by Jana Kolpen, author of The Secrets of Pistoulet.

Good luck!

–Gracie

Low-Carb Recipe: Inside-Out Egg Rolls!

19 May

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Asian-flavored cabbage rolls

This ain't your grandmama's homemade cabbage roll. Unless she was a low-carb dieter back in the old school, of course. And also possibly Chinese.

Yesterday I couldn’t stand the cravings I had all day for a Chinese egg roll–a real, honest-to-blog, greasy, salty, chewy, “carby,” restaurant-style, deep-fried, now-I-can-meet-Jesus egg roll dinner.

But alas! I’m low-carbing it right now and eating such a sinful goodie;was a complete non-option.

Nonetheless, by the time I picked up the family and pulled into the driveway last night, I knew I had to try–one way or another.

An hour later, I was sure glad I did.

Cabbage leaves.

Cabbage leaves.

I’ve never been much on the standard Italian-seasoned, soup-covered, vintage beef & rice cabbage roll. But these…these were something else entirely. Not to brag or anything, but DANG was this a great idea!

Shredded core.

Shred the remaining cabbage core.

Not only was the filling in these cabbage rolls a dead ringer for regular egg roll centers, it was easy to make, low-carb, lowfat, low-cal, and even vegetarian! And cooking them uncovered at half-time meant in addition to being speedier than their traditional counterparts, the rolls’ outer “shells” kept a wonderful firmness that separated them from your average, soggy, run-of-the-mill stuffed cabbage.

Toss the filling veggies.

Toss cabbage, carrots, celery and green onions.

Chef’s Note: It is infinitely easier and produces infinitely prettier results if you freeze a head of cabbage overnight and then fridge-thaw & core it before peeling the giant leaves off for roll wrappers. Plus, you don’t have to waste time boiling the cabbage then, either.

Stir-fry filling mixture.

Add eggs to filling and keep stir-frying until less wet.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and warm 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a large skillet over MEDIUM heat. While stove heats up, core a thawed, previously-frozen head of cabbage and remove stem.

Place spoonfuls of filling into each cabbage leaf.

Spoon filling mixture into each cabbage leaf.

Slowly peel away 8 to 10 large cabbage leaves, keeping them as much intact as possible but cutting away any stiff parts that were near the stem. (You want the leaves to be kind of floppy all around.)

Take the remaining portion of cabbage left on the head and shred it with a large knife. (You’ll get about 2 or 2-1/2 cups left on a medium-sized cabbage after stripping the best leaves.) Throw shredded cabbage in a large bowl.

To shredded cabbage, add about 1/3 cup shredded carrots (♥see note!), 1 petite-diced celery rib and 4 petite-diced green onions (scallions). Toss all of the chopped vegetables together.

Stuffed cabbage leaf.

Roll leaf around filling mixture.

Note: While carrots are generally discouraged during the induction phase of many low-carb diets (Atkins, South Beach, etc.), the small amount (1/3 cup or about 1-2 small handfuls) I used in this recipe is fairly benign, particularly when you look at a bag of shredded carrots and notice how much empty space is actually in that bag.

Meanwhile, if you feel uncomfortable having them in there during induction phase, just leave ’em out. It’s no biggie. They just add a little bit of extra texture and some welcome color to the filling, but they’re still expendable. Throw the veggies into your warm, oiled skillet. If you’re making this vegetarian (I did), add 1 cup dehydrated texturized vegetable protein (TVP)♥ (What’s TVP, you ask?) to the skillet, along with 1 cup of water.♥Chef’s Note: If TVP isn’t available at your discount store, you can easily make this recipe using a pound of ground turkey or other (ground) meat instead; just add it to the skillet first and throw in veggies once meat begins to brown.

Sprinkle stir-fry mixture with: 2 teaspoons ginger, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 1 teaspoon Oriental 5-Spice Blend (or your own choice of cinnamon/nutmeg/anise/whatever), and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Shake in about 2 tablespoons soy sauce and crack 2 eggs into skillet. Break yolks immediately with spoon and continue to stir-fry until vegetables are tender but firm and TVP or meat has fully browned. (No pieces of egg should be discernible.) Remove skillet from heat.

Mix oil & soy sauce for basting.

Place 2-3 spoonfuls stir-fry mixture in the center of each cabbage leaf, stopping to roll each one before moving onto the next. To wrap, first roll leaf like a tube around the filling and then tuck each cabbage end underneath the “tube” you just made. Place rolls side by side, tucked side-down, in a greased baking dish.

Raw, basted cabbage rolls.

Baste the tops of the uncooked wraps with a mixture of 1 tablespoon oil & 1 teaspoon soy sauce before placing UNCOVERED into hot oven.

Browned & ready to eat!

Bake approximately 25 minutes, or until cabbage glows bright green and filling mixture can be seen through the now-translucent leaves.

Remove from oven; use tongs to distribute rolls onto plates. Allow to cool about 2 minutes before eating. Freeze or refrigerate leftovers.

Inside-out egg rolls.

Inside-out is very delicous!

Make a pouch.