Saint Patrick's Day Chocolate Pound Cake Pistachio Trifle

What to do when your Saint Patrick's Day cake doesn't turn out as planned? Trifle it! My delicious dreams of chocolate pound cake strips filled with pistachio cream and topped with a special green buttercream frosting were dashed when my cake was undercooked in the center, just at the top where it cracked. The rest was great.

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My grandmother whipped out perfect buttery, rich, vanilla laden pound cakes without a fancy Kitchen Aid mixer for years. I have made her recipe many times with no problems, until recently. I could blame it on the oven but other cakes turn out fine. Once I got a new mixer I thought that would solve the problem. I could be facing worse issues than baking more pound cakes though, so no complaining.

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Even with a list of simple ingredients, the perfect pound cake can still be tough to accomplish. Using powdered sugar, like in my grandmother's, produces different results than granulated sugar, which is found in most recipes. The dense structure is not cooperative with much added liquid. Then there's loaf pan versus bundt versus tube pan. Each conducts heat in a distinct way. Conclusion - Practice practice practice.

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I believe my grandmother's basic pound cake is the best but I've yet to discover its chocolate equivalant. I do enjoy tweaking and experimenting so this isn't the end of this cake's story. It's full of that signature buttery flavor that pound cake is famous for, along with a deep chocolate melt-in-your-mouth decadence!   You break a slice and the texture is dense and solid, moist, not spongy. Definitely worth pursuing.

Chocolate pound cake

Now for our trifle...

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Pumpkin Pasta With Pecan Beer, Country Ham And Peas


As an online chef you juggle pots, pans, camera and computer in order to churn out culinary creations to keep your followers drooling for more.


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Fall is such a fabulous time to be in the kitchen. The colors, aromas, and brisk cleansing air breathes new life into your recipes. A time for warm flavors, spicy foods, and fresh starts! I unapologetically add another pumpkin dish into the culinary cybersphere.  To the naysayers of the numerous recipes that incorporate the orange squash I say, tis the season, taste, and go with it. The holidays are brief and breeze by quickly.


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Let's talk alcohol. The emerging variety of craft beers is a home chef's paradise! Often a recipe and shopping list begin with the adult beverage and then I develop edibles around that. Pecans are an all year long staple in my kitchen, so I was intrigued by this Abita Pecan Harvest Ale. Smooth nuttiness with a sharp finish to cleanse the palate. Salty ham brought out the floral blossom notes and it made a rich amber sauce similar to the shade of pecan.  A fantastic contrasting affect on this full-bodied fall pasta. 


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Creamy sauce coats tender pillows of Panarese, an Italian pasta. It's more meaty and smooth than regular noodles or spaghetti. A pop of green peas, earthy sage, and decorated with snippets of country ham that provides a salty bite to slice through that decadent cream. Each crunch of pecan brings autumn to mind.


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Now on to the real star of this culinary show, pumpkin. For this type of dish, I prefer the milder squash flavor of fresh pumpkin rather than canned. Just slice little pie pumpkins in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake skin side up for approximately 30 to 45 minutes or until fork tender. Then scrape the flesh into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Fresh fall squash flavor without the aluminum can taste. But canned is more convenient so use which ever fits into your schedule.


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I freeze in 1/2 cup increments in plastic containers to use throughout the year. My African Grey parrot loves it. Make your own pumpkin oatmeal and of course this pasta meal anytime!


Either way, blended together with mascarpone cheese, the result is richness surrounding that substantial bite of pasta. Take to your next fall potluck, holiday party, or enjoy as a comfort food weeknight dinner!


With crazy schedules, it's also an important time to remind you that The Queens Empire encourages home chefs to join the Create More movement, which celebrates creative multi-tasking and helps artisticpreneurs pursue all of the right brain endeavors you desire without boundaries or being forced into a traditional box. 


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Pumpkin Pasta With Pecan Beer, Country Ham And Peas


Printable Recipe




Prep Time – 1 hour (if using fresh pumpkin)

Cook Time – 1 hour (if using fresh pumpkin)

Total Time – 2 hours

(subtract 30 to 45 minutes if using canned pumpkin)

Servings – 4 to 6




- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

- 2 teaspoons dried sage

- ½ of small onion, chopped small

- salt and pepper to taste (go light on the salt because the ham is salty)

- 3 slices of Red Eye country ham, divided. Have this sliced thin at the deli, then you cut it into ½ inch slices. Add 2 slices into the sauce pan and hold back 1 to stir into the pasta at the end. (this is less salty than traditional Smithfield ham)

- ½ cup Abita Pecan Harvest Ale (if you cannot find this one, use another fall or pumpkin beer)

- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese

- 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (I recommend the name brand stuff here for the best flavor)

- 1 cup pumpkin puree (freshly roasted has the best flavor but you can use canned)

- ¾ cup frozen peas, unthawed

- 4 cups cooked pasta, which is about half a bag of Pasta Panarese. Cook according to package directions but al dente, as it will finish cooking in the sauce. (I used Pasta Panarese, sold in the specialty Italian section at most grocery stores, but you can use whatever you like) Reserve 1/3 cup of pasta water

- strips of the third ham slice for garnish

- 1/2 to 1 cup of pecan halves for garnish

- 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for garnish




1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

2. Add sage and stir for about 30 seconds to release the fragrant oils. Be careful not to burn it.

3. Toss onions in along with salt and pepper. Cook until tender.

4. Add 2 slices of the ham and cook for just a minute or 2 or it will be chewy.

5. Pour in beer. Raise heat to medium high briefly until alcohol evaporates.

6. Turn heat back down to medium or medium low. Melt in the mascarpone cheese, whisking until smooth.

7. Then blend the pumpkin in, again whisking until incorporated with the cheese.

8. Next stir in the Parmesan until melted.

9. Add peas and cook for another 4 or 5 minutes until tender.

10. Toss pasta in and coat well with the sauce.

11. Pour in pasta water, a little at a time. You may not need all of it. Just enough to loosen the sauce up a bit.

12. Spoon into bowls, top with remaining ham, pecans and cheese. Serve immediately.


Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


If your grocery store doesn’t have Redeye country ham you can use traditional Smithfield ham. It just has a little bit stronger, saltier flavor.


Here are the instructions again for fresh roasted pumpkin that I outlined in the blog post:


Wash and slice little pie pumpkins in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake skin side up for approximately 30 to 45 minutes or until fork tender. Then scrape the flesh into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze in well sealed plastic containers for 6 to 8 months.


What kind of pumpkin dishes are you whipping up in your kitchen this holiday season? Share in the comments below and connect with us on:


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Use Changing Seasons To Develop And Organize Blog Posts


Organization is a forced trait to a creative mind but to enjoy and prosper from your natural artistic talents you do need to bring order into your life and business.


To The Writer Who Is Also An Artist




If you are a writer who divides your right-brain focus between words, whisks, wildlife art and wet paint brushes, you understand the daily challenge of not being able to choose one artistic desire over another. You are pulled in multiple directions and closing any one of those roads would stifle your creativity, threaten your entrepreneurial mission, and leave you feeling like something is missing.


You can keep files and lists of ventures to pursue in the future but eventually you realize that time is too limited to live any life but the one that makes your heart sing to a steady beat...Now!


How To  Gain One Year Of Blog Posts


I've done the,  notebook for each blog or subject, plastered the desk and walls with sticky notes, and continue to keep file folders filled with post ideas.


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All have merit. Use whatever system works for you. One beneficial strategy I like is arranging your blog posts according to the change in seasons. Sketching out your writing in this way gives your blog topics structure and relevance so you always have an agenda for what's next.


Plan according to the weather, educational trends, holidays, special events, seasonal interests, and hobbies. For example:


1.  Do have smart climate related tips?

2.  Are you a nature lover?

3.  Do you like to garden?

4.  Maybe you're taking a fall vacation?

5.  Love holiday baking?

6.  Is your business centered around Christmas sales?

7.  How can you make a product launch more successful by scheduling it for a particular time of the year?


You can start today without having to wait for the beginning of a year. I have spring, summer, fall and winter to work with. Adapt for your area's weather. This method softens the pressure of scheduling, makes planning fun and gives you something to look forward to.   Let's begin with fall!



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Bake up some thank you love for your clients. It's a time to shift your focus to holiday book sales and balancing time with friends and family.


Fall And Holiday Blog Topic Ideas


1.  How to prioritize writing around the craziness.

2.  A plan for wrapping up your year that helps your audience with theirs.

3.  Writing makes a fantastic homemade gift, especially of you pen poetry.

4.  Use your books as gifts.



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At the beginning of the year we're recovering from the holiday madness and excited to embark on a fresh year full of possibilities. Cozy fireplaces and comfort food coincide nicely with creative writing.


Winter Blog Topic Ideas


1.  Writing goals - put an original spin on this concept.

2.  The changes you're going to make from the previous year.

3.  What books do you want to write throughout the year?

4.  Creative planning for blog posts.




In spring the birds begin to sing, you start to emerge from your cold weather cocoon. As the days stretch longer, you feel more productive. Infuse this surge of energy into new writing ideas and your profits will blossom along with the spring flowers.


Spring Blog Topic Ideas


 1.  Gardening, herbs, vegetables. What are you planting?

2.  Nature - relate the transition from winter to spring into your own life.

3.  Spring cleaning your writing space or creating a new one.



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Life lightens up. You have your choice of outdoor writing locations. Nature is so inspiring and entertaining. Head outside with a notebook. Relax, breathe, and absorb some vitamin D. I see July as a turning point. Look  back on the year and forward to fall (my favorite season).


1.  Halftime of the year.  How's your progress so far?

2.  Listen to conversations around you. I'm not encouraging eves dropping but observing people interacting with each other can give you a new idea or an add on to an existing post.

3.  Like to cook? What nourishes your inner scribe?


Here you have at least one year's worth of blog post topic ideas! I've given you the initial brainstorm. Take your favorites, tweak them to portray your personality, and adapt each one to meet your reader's expectations.


I love hearing from my readers! Do you like this method of developing and organizing blog posts? Please share in the comments below which topics you try and how it works for you.


You can also subscribe to The Queens Empire from the sidebar and connect with us here:

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How To Use A Creative Economy To Build The Lifestyle Of An Artisticpreneur

What does it mean to be an artisticpreneur?


Being an artist is complex, infinite, and non-negotiable. People, usually with the best of intentions, will coax you into settling for normal, But the craving to create is not quieted.

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It rumbles from deep in your soul like hunger from the pit of your stomach. The only way to quench the need is to feed your inner artist with freedom and the fierceness to shake off criticism and judgemental attitudes, so you can forge ahead towards the only life that will fulfill you.

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You are not tamed or tied to a strict daily schedule, where your mind competes for time between what you want to do and what you must do. Oh, the restlessness and boredom that sets in. Working for others does help you develop the will to thrive on your own terms because that alternative becomes unbearable and stifles your creative soul. 


Living the creative life in bits and pieces around other commitments can satisfy you temporarily. But when you're able to free yourself from the stress of job confinement and squelch the conflict between your right and left brain, possibilities open up and you can create again. 


It's so refreshing to walk back into your home office and re-familiarize yourself with what you were in the middle of working on. Propel yourself back into acting on the plans you made with a, 'this is my do or die moment' attitude. Resolve to make this time different, better than ever before!


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Art is a natural part of my life. Feeding and caring for wildlife, cooking a meal, baking, capturing those times with photography and video, and then expressing the feelings, emotions, and stories in images and words. You draw inspiration and ideas from ordinary days. An amusing wildlife moment begs to be caught on camera.


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A scrumptious dinner beckons a repeat performance with a placement on the blogging stage. Unlimited creativity is vital for an artist. You do not need to choose one original endeavor over another! It's okay to multi-task. You're going to be amazing, do phenomenal things, and accomplish your dreams!


Why did I develop The Queens Empire blog and the Create More Movement?


The Queens Empire site is a business hub. A home for the Queens. A house for our products. A haven for artists to connect and collaborate!


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I am great at creating content. I have books full of words and quotes. Drawers full of folders that contain ideas for more books. Photo CD's, envelopes of pictures and negatives...yes, I mean 35 millimeter film :) I also have an iphone packed with media! Recipes to try for every season paired with delicious wine. There are fall beers and cozy cocktails awaiting their turn in the test kitchen. Ideas and creating are the first steps, and probably the easiest, for many artists.


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Creating without connecting means no one sees your work. This doesn't mean sign up for every social media site you see. Yes, sales is a numbers game but you will waste a lot of precious time weeding through the wrong people in order to reach the right ones. You are not attempting to rob from creation time, just compliment and advance the effort with mutually beneficial connections.




If you do not collaborate, you will limit your forward and upward mobility. How and where you portray your personality on the web is important. A brand identity that's fun and flexible but consistent (not an easy or automatic right-brain concept) helps to promote your story. Be open to new opportunities that take your creative and business goals to the next level.


How do you use your abundance of content, gain the best exposure for your work, and partner with a creative and innovative team?


Selling products online with my original designs printed on them is not an avenue I'd considered until recently.  Ecommerce sites like Gearbubble and Redbubble that perform the heavy lifting of online shop, printing, and shipping provide the perfect creative economy for artists. Companies like these advocate for the independent artist, designer, and small business owner who want to dive into the large pool of ecommerce, previously reserved for large companies that could invest substantial sums of money and house big inventories.


It's very exciting to see my stores with big eye catching banners and products with my own artwork on them for purchase! Creating a website and beginning an ecommerce business at the same time with no html experience, oh boy, what a challenge. I'll be posting on my method for accomplishing this, things I learned along the way, and what I'd do differently next time. It was a monster task because I was branding the website/blog and stores in a consistent theme. That's why it deserves its own post. I think it's going to be a rewarding adventure and a chance to connect with other artists and customers. Check out my stores here, QueensVoice  TipsyCulinaryQueen  ShutterQueenink 


From the navigation at the top you can visit each Queens page, products (still being developed) and read about my books as well!


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So I launch into the madness of ecommerce sales. Throw myself heart and soul into the mobs of other artists vying for a piece of the profitable online pie! If you're searching for a niche market method to lend longevity to your words, images, and artwork, look into this burgeoning opportunity! Subscribe, so you receive updates on the process, my progress, lessons learned along the journey, and results.


The Queens Empire is a champion for artists. We'll prove that you can live out of your right brain, love your life, and conquer the challenge of being both an artist and a business person to develop a winning and wealthy artisticprenurial spirit!


Artists deserve a movement that is driven to Create More! We're excited to share posts on writing, cooking, photography, and painting, along with tips, tricks, trials, tribulations, and triumphs of living the artisticpreneurial lifestyle.


I'd love to hear all about your experiences, your artistic past, future path, and how you've benefited from a creative economy.

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Are you dedicated to connecting, collaborating, and profiting from your craft? Then I invite you to subscribe and join us in the Create More Movement!