Category Archives: Bella Magazine

Opera Roanoke Presents Sweeney Todd

Opera Roanoke launches its Ruby Anniversary season with Stephen Sondheim’s musical thriller Sweeney Todd. Audiences can see performances of this popular drama on Friday, October 30 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, November 1 at 3 pm at the Jefferson Center’s Shaftman Performance Hall.
Sweeney Todd is an alias used by the main character, Benjamin Barker, who returns to London to seek revenge on a judge who banished him to life imprisonment fifteen years before. Below his former barber shop, he finds a struggling meat pie shop, inhabited by proprietress Mrs. Nellie Lovett. She recognizes him and, together, they form a plan of murderous revenge against the judge who sentenced him based upon false charges.
In this production, Carla Dirlikov makes her role debut as Mrs. Lovett, opposite young baritone Corey Crider, who will play the Demon Barber of Fleet Street title character. Dirlikov is widely- known for her roles in Carmen, The Flying Dutchman, and Julius Caesar. Crider was praised by Opera News for his “seductively sympathetic” portrayal of Sweeney Todd. Together, they are sure to deliver an unforgettable performance.
Visit www.operaroanoke.org for additional information on how to purchase tickets for this event.

Serve It Up Sassy: Caramel Apple– Delicious!

Recipe Development, Food Styling, Photography and Article by Liz Bushong

With a dash of cinnamon or a sprinkle of sugar, the apple is the favored fruit for fall. Would you like to smell the aroma of nutmeg, cinnamon and apples baking in your kitchen? These apple recipes will show you some of the sweetest ways to enjoy the autumn season.

Caramel Apples settingMemories of fall always include caramel and apples.  A big golden delicious apple on a stick covered with sweet chewy caramel and peanuts is just one of three apple-delicious recipes that you can make this season for your family and friends. Have you had problems with caramel staying on the apple after you dipped them? This homemade caramel recipe and ways to prepare your apples will keep your caramel from slipping off. Now you can make gourmet caramel apples with loads of caramel, chocolate, and various toppings without the caramel pooling at the bottom of the pan.

Caramel Apple Walnut Cookies are individual mini pies filled with a layer of caramel and thick homemade apple pie filling. The cookie is topped with a piecrust woven lattice that resembles an apple pie. As you bite into this little bit-of- heaven, the apple filling with its cinnamon and walnut bites ooze from the sides of the cookies. The cookie top is sprinkled with a generous amount of cinnamon and sugar.

Skillet Caramel Apple Pie (2)Another all time favorite is the apple pie, but this time it is baked like grama used to make it, in a cast iron skillet.  What makes this pie special is the caramel layer in the bottom of the skillet before you add the piecrust and filling. The caramel bakes through the two-layer crusts and rises to the top of the pie making this pie, caramel apple-delicious all the way through.

Apple treats are comforting desserts that should make a regular appearance at your fall get-togethers and meals. The sweet scents of apples and cinnamon baking in your oven will make your home cozy, warm and inviting. Decorating with apples is an inexpensive way to create pretty tablescapes and fall décor for your home.

For a dazzling fall table display bring out your favorite autumn accessories, pumpkins, gourds, leaves, and wooden bowls of granny smith or assorted red and yellow apples. Choose flat bottom pumpkins for stacking, mix colors that will make your display more eye appealing. Ornamental kale, mini pumpkins, mums, potted pansies and sunflowers create a simple but beautiful table and porch presence. For more ways to help you serve it up sassy go to www.lizbushong.com. Be sure to get your free downloadable copy of the Top 5 Fall Favorite  recipes when you subscribe to the Serve it up Sassy blog.

October harvest brings bushels of apples and plenty of apple and caramel-infused desserts. Surprise your kiddos with an after school snack and bake a batch of Caramel Apple Walnut Cookies. For the upcoming harvest party, dip and design Caramel Apples.  For supper tonight bake a little bit –of- happiness with the Skillet Caramel Apple Pie.  Don’t skip the vanilla ice cream on the warm pie.  It is truly apple-delicious!

 

Caramel Apple singleCaramel Apples

6 medium Gala apples, wax removed
1 cup butter + 4 tablespoons
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup corn syrup
1-14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon maple syrup or vanilla
Chopsticks or craft sticks

Toppings:
Diced peanuts, walnuts, pecans, mini m & m’s, white bark, chocolate morsels

Prepare apple toppings and place in bowls, set aside.
With 4 tablespoons of butter grease parchment paper or wax paper, set aside. Remove wax on apples by placing apples in boiling water for 40 seconds, remove and rinse. Dry apples, remove apple stems and add sticks. Place apples in refrigerator to chill while you make the caramel. (You will thoroughly dry apples with a towel before dipping in caramel.)
In large saucepan on medium heat, melt butter, sugars and corn syrup until smooth, but not boiling. Add condensed milk and stir with wooden spoon until candy thermometer reaches 178 degrees.  Remove from heat and add syrup or vanilla, let caramel cool for 3-4 minutes before dipping apples.
To dip apples; make sure apples are completely dry. Dip apple in caramel and allow caramel to drop off the bottom so it will not pool,  roll apple in desired toppings, place on buttered wax or parchment paper to set. Melt white bark and chocolate chips in separate containers and place in individual disposable piping bags. Pipe  white bark and chocolate around tops of apples in a drizzle design. Keep apples refrigerated.
Yield:  6 caramel apples

 

Caramel Apple Walnut CookiesCaramel Apple Lattice Cookies

2 refrigerated pie crust* tested Pillsbury
3 medium granny smith apples
4 tablespoons butter
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon – divided
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg- divided
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup caramel ice cream topping
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts-optional

Peel, core and dice apples, place in saucepan with butter, brown sugar, salt and 1 teaspoon of each spice. On medium heat, cook apples until soft and thickened. Remove from heat and cool. Unroll one crust, using a 2 ½” round cookie cutter, cut out 12 cookie rounds.  Place rounds on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush tops of pie crust cookies with caramel topping. Add a ½ teaspoon apple filling over top of cookie round. Sprinkle with chopped nuts if desired.  Unroll remaining crust and cut long strips of dough ¼ “ wide. Weave dough strips to create a lattice design. Cut cookie lattice with round cookie cutter to create clean edges. Mix ¼ cup sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Brush tops with egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Bake cookies for 30 minutes at 350. Drizzle cookies with caramel sauce if desired. Best served warm.
Yield:  12-13 cookies

Skillet Caramel Apple PieSkillet Caramel Apple Pie

5 medium gala apples, peeled and sliced ¼” thick
¼ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
1- teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 – unbaked pie crusts* tested Pillsbury Refrigerated Crust
8 tablespoons butter- divided
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed, light or dark
2 teaspoons corn syrup
1 cup chopped walnuts-optional
1 teaspoon sea salt-divided

In 10”cast iron skillet, over medium heat, melt 6 tablespoons butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir caramel mixture together until smooth and bubbly around the edges of the skillet. Add walnuts, stir to combine. Remove from heat and cool 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add apples, flour, sugar, and spices,  mix to coat apples.
Unroll one crust and place on top of caramel –walnut mixture in skillet. Pushing the crust up the sides of the skillet. Add coated apples and 2 tablespoons of butter diced into small pieces. Unroll remaining crust and place over the apple pie filling. Pinch and crimp both crust edges together.
Brush top of crust with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.  Bake pie on a parchment lined baking sheet for 55-60 minutes at 350 degrees.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream drizzled with caramel sauce if desired.
Yield:  8 servings

 

Liz Circle 2013 smallHelping you Make a Statement, Make it Sassy and Make it Yours!®

Liz Bushong is an expert in the three-dimensional art of entertaining. She transforms simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments by adding a touch of her own “sassy” style. For the past several years Liz been entrusted to decorate the White House for several Holidays. She is a featured monthly guest chef/designer on Daytime Tricities, Daytime Blue Ridge and other television shows. Liz is the author of the Just Desserts and Sweets & Savories cookbook as well as a contributing writer for VIP SEEN and Bella Magazine. For more information about Liz go to www.lizbushong.com/www.serveitupsassy.com

Staycations!: An End-of-Season Home Vacation

RECIPE DEVELOPMENT, FOOD STYLING, PHOTOGRAPHY, and ARTICLE BY LIZ BUSHONG

Pack your bags, it’s time for the best end-of-season vacation you have ever had and you don’t have to leave home to take it!   Vacations don’t have to end just because a season ends, take a relaxing and enjoyable vacation at-home or in your hometown anytime you want.

A true staycation is more than just a week or weekend at home; it is a planned intentional time of events for relaxation and fun for your entire family.

Here are a few planning tips for a successful Staycation:

1. Brief-your-case for having a vacation at home by including your family with the planning process.  See Step 4.

2.  Decide what kind of vacation you want to take. Gather brochures just like you would when you plan a travel destination.

3.  Create a budget for activities and food.  Plan your menu for the week and make-ahead a few meals related to your themed vacation.  No one really wants to cook while on vacation, unless it is a culinary destination.

4. Inspire the family with the staycation idea and plan a “staycation idea” dinner party/meeting.  Good food always brings people together and a pretty tablescape will reinforce the excitement that a  home vacation could be fun.

5. Clean your house before you begin your staycation. Get caught up on laundry, dishes, and the everyday duties that can be stressful.  Place special scents and music in your home that reflect the type of vacation you are taking.  Select special guest room items in each bedroom to mimic a bed and breakfast vacation.  Set up and stock a beverage center with your family’s favorite snacks or snacks that you would have on a travel destination.  Set up a continental breakfast buffet for each day of your vacation.

6. Unplug for a day!  Develop a plan that the entire family will unplug all technical devices including cell phones, computers, pads, and even watches during this vacation week.  Make it a game and give a prize at the end of the week to the family member who stayed true to the technical shut down.  Select a prize that excites everyone and announce the no –tech challenge at the beginning of the vacation week or during your family planning meeting.

7.  Maybe your staycation is an outdoor adventure, plan for day trips to zip lines, white water rafting or hiking the mountain trails.  Other ideas for a staycation include: Spa day or week, a culinary international tour , Hawaiian or Caribbean cruise with different ports of call or create a DIY room, you get the idea.

Here is one Staycation Dinner Party-meeting inspiration to get you started:

mini suitcaase-www.lizbushong.comYour planning meeting could be a trip to a tropical beach.   Begin with a suitcase as the centerpiece.  A backyard profusion of blooms-hydrangeas, pink geraniums and verbena- overflows the open suitcase centerpiece.  Simply line the vintage suitcase with plastic then add a water- filled rectangular dish to hold the fresh cut flowers and potted plants in place.  Plank the sides of the suitcase with tropical photos or scrapbooks.

Bright and bold colorful placemats serve as a runner for the center of the table. At each place setting create mini suitcase favors that are made from cardstock.  Cover the suitcase with cute stickers and fill boxes with candies or surprises for each family member.  See mini suitcase how to at www.lizbushong.com.

A quick and easy healthy menu includes make-a-head black bean burgers, sweet potato fries and a peachy apricot parfait for dessert.  Your family will be surprised and excited about taking a home vacation.  Remember, planning is key, we don’t want this satiation to be all on mom and dad’s shoulders, this is a family affair.  Make this staycation fun and a time for reconnecting with the family.

Peach Parfait www.lizbushong.comPeach-Apricot Cream Parfait       www.lizbushong.com 

1 -12 oz. ounce can apricot nectar
1-3oz. package lemon flavored gelatin
2 -16 oz cans unsweetened apricot halves and peach halves, drained
1-8oz package sour cream
Whipped cream and mint springs to garnish if desired

In small saucepan, bring to boil 1 cup apricot nectar. Remove from heat.
Add lemon gelatin, stir until dissolved, stir in remaining cold apricot nectar. Set aside.
Place peaches and apricots in electric blender, process until smooth. Divide mixture.
Add sour cream to one part of divided fruit mixture.  Process to blend.
Pipe or pour fruit mixture into decorative parfait or serving dishes. Garnish with whipped cream/mint sprig.

Yield:   8 parfaits

Bean Burger recipe www.lizbushong.comSpicy Black Bean Burgers      www.lizbushong.com

2 cans black beans, drained but not rinsed
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs
¼ cup slivered green onions
¼ cup diced celery
¼ teaspoon grated ginger
½ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon each paprika, red pepper, cumin, oregano, parsley, dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon grated lime peel
2 teaspoons lime olive oil
Olive oil and butter for cooking

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Pat mixture into a 4 x 6 inch rectangle and score into 3- 2-inch sections making 6 burgers.  Shape into 6 patties.
Heat skillet with 1- teaspoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon butter.  Fry burgers until browned 3 minutes on each side.  Can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight before cooking.

Yield:  6- 2” burgers

For a seasoned potato buns recipe, visit www.lizbushong.com!

Helping you Make a Statement, Make is Sassy and Make it Yours! ® 

See staycation ideas http://www.livingwellspendingless.com

Liz Circle 2013 smallLiz Bushong is an expert in the three-dimensional art of entertaining. She transforms simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments by adding a touch of her own “sassy” style. For the past several years Liz been entrusted to decorate the White House for several Holidays. She is a featured monthly guest chef/designer on Daytime Tri-cities, Daytime Blue Ridge and other television shows. Liz is the author of the Just Desserts and Sweets & Savories cookbook as well as a contributing writer for VIP SEEN and Bella Magazine.  For more information about Liz go to www.lizbushong.com/www.serveitupsassy.com 

Bella Loves–August Edition

The products we use on a regular basis should contribute in a positive way to our overall health. The comprehensive list of ingredients on many household products is a little scary. Fortunately, there are alternatives out there with less potentially harmful chemicals that work just as well (if not better) than those filled with things you cant pronounce. Here are some of our favorites:

fatface_fat_stick_1__34358.1432945057.500.340Everyone in our office bought a Fat Face Fat Stick. Order one and youll wonder how you went through your daily activities without it. A multi-purpose stick, you can carry it with you to help combat dryness in three ways. Its a lip balm, cuticle repair, and lotion stick ALL IN ONE! www.fatfaceskincare.com

mollys_dryer_balls-1There are a lot of chemicals in dryer sheets. You’ve heard about them for years, but it’s hard to ditch the dryer sheet when you want to eliminate static from your laundry and make sure your clothes come out smelling fresh from the dryer. We recommend replacing them with Mollys Suds Wool Dryer Balls. They last up to three years depending on your dryer model and reduce drying time by 15-30%. Visit their website to learn why the switch might be easier than you think.  www.mollyssuds.com

51vIBQSQVUL._SY355_Knock out fruit flies fast with Aunt Fannies Fly Punch! A powerful, non-toxic fruit fly formula, it safely and effectively eliminates fruit flies. We love fresh produce, but it often attracts these pesky, uninvited guests– regardless of the cleanliness of our kitchens and produce providers. No one wants to surround themselves and their family with toxic chemicals, so get rid of the pests naturally and enjoy your apples and bananas in peace! www.auntfanniesco.com

Visit our Facebook page this month for a chance to win these items and be sure to pick up our August issue for more products you are sure to love!

 

Back to the Basics

At various points during the day, I check Facebook and my email like many of you— my feed flooded with products and programs promising happiness and fulfillment, for a price. The thing is— whether your happiness is temporarily increased by clothes, electronics, or fast food— the high is soon over. It is followed by the heavy burden of guilt over purchasing something you didn’t actually need or the feeling of pure exhaustion after a grease-covered meal.

If you want to take control over subtle influences in your daily routine (and live life just a little lighter) consider the following options:

  1. Live below your means.

    Coupon queens everywhere are about to really hate me, but understand that I do mean well. Stocking up on items you will definitely use with coupons is a fantastic idea— as long as you really do use them. Otherwise you end up with a large amount of food you have to throw out because it expired, and the money you thought you saved becomes money you could have put towards existing debt or a vacation.

    Do some research on minimalism and see what parts of it you can apply to your own life. Minimalism gives less power to the objects that surround us— but it doesn’t take away the meaning of the important things in our lives. Instead, it allows us to consciously choose what is important and why without being bogged down by meaningless objects that hurt our health, relationships, and hold us back from reaching our full potential. Visit www.theminimalists.com to see if you can benefit from any of their suggestions and tailor them to fit your needs!

    Donate items that you don’t use to people who really need them. The obvious choice is Goodwill, but you can also post free items on websites like www.freecycle.org. They have a specific section for Roanoke already, so it is as easy as going on their site, creating an account, and posting what you have to give away.

2. Take charge of your diet.

Organize your kitchen to encourage your family to spend more time cooking, cleaning, and eating healthy. Place items in drawers where they will be convenient to reach when you need them and get rid of extra dishes, cups, and utensils that no longer serve a purpose. When you have more space, your kitchen looks clean and welcoming after a long day of work or running errands. You may even look forward to getting there and spending time with your family rather than waiting in line at McDonalds to pick up dinner.

While we are talking about fast food, it is also important that you try to spend your food budget wisely. Make a list of things you need before you go grocery shopping and stick to that list. We have fallen into a habit in which we place very high value on convenience. Therefore, if it is on an end cap and on sale, we are far more likely to add $3 here and $5 there to our basket without thinking twice about it. Unfortunately, many of those products are not healthy and can include chemicals and preservatives that leave you hungry, tired, and even sick. Commit to the list— accounting for every meal during the week. You’ll save money AND feel better at the end of the day.

61VWkE9iEPL._SX419_BO1,204,203,200_Consider growing your own fruits and vegetables— it’s possible, even in the city! Look into making some of the staples in your pantry by yourself. With a little practice, you can make your own cheese for 1/3 of the store price and bake your own bread for about fifty cents per loaf. No matter how committed you are to the idea of sustainable living, Woman-Powered Farm by Audrey Levatino is a great book to add to your library. From teaching you the basics on raised garden beds and farm animals to operating farm machinery, it is perfect for the woman who wants to become more self-sufficient.

3. Reorganize your schedule

Completely banning electronics from your house is unreasonable, but cutting down on your TV time and opening a book is better for your brain. Get out of the house with your family, or on your own, and hike one of our area’s beautiful trails. See the world around you without a camera phone lens. Choose activities that will inspire you to be a healthier, happier version of yourself. Very often, happiness is just outside of your comfort zone.

Make time for energy-saving activities like hanging clothes on a line or chopping wood for a wood stove this winter. Not only will you stay active, but you will save money on your electric bills. If these ideas are too extreme for you, ease yourself into it. Bike to work or carpool if you can, keep those lights turned off, and set the temperature in your house to a comfortable but reasonable number. Little changes now can make a huge difference over time.

Choose any of these suggestions and tweak them to apply to your circumstances. At the very least, you may find that it is easier to identify the subtle influences that challenge your happiness and follow your own path instead.

Lazy Summer Afternoons

We have to be honest— after an amazing weekend on the mountain, our minds and hearts are still in Floyd. Whether you are missing FloydFest like us or you just need a little relaxation and reprieve from Monday, here are a few great products to enjoy from the comfort of your hammock:

unnamed-6Recharge your body with a nutritious smoothie as you relax. Daily Harvest’s ready-to-blend ingredient packs work with any blender. Add water or milk and enjoy the beauty of no prepping, no mess, and no leftovers! Also, because they are frozen, you won’t need to add any ice and can enjoy their blends whenever you want. These ingredient packs are also free from sweeteners or preservatives— so you can be sure you are putting only the best nutrients into your body. Visit their website, www.daily-harvest.com, to choose a few blends and start a subscription today.

Protect your skin with Vi Derm SPF 50+ Sun Protection. It provides broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection with 10% Zinc Oxide and 7.5% Octioxate, Aloe Barbadensis Gel, Pueraria Lobata Root extract and Chamomille to soothe your skin. The included Green Tea extract protects from UV damage and inflammation. This lightweight formula dries weightless on the skin. For more information, go to www.vipeel.com.

51mlX8WegtL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Take a trip back in time with Behind Every Great Man: The Forgotten Women Behind the World’s Famous and Infamous by Marlene Wagman-Geller. This book tells the remarkable stories of forty captivating females who stood behind their legendary partners, often at the cost of their own careers, reputations, and happiness. The untold stories include spouses of Alfred Hitchcock, Salvador Dali, Nelson Mandela, Ian Fleming, Bernie Madoff and more. Through fame and its attendant ills— alcoholism, infidelity, mental illness, divorce, and even attempted murder— these powerful women quietly propelled their men to the top and changed the course of history.

And, if you’d rather spend your afternoon listening to music while reading— check out some of our favorite bands from the weekend:
Annabelle’s Curse
First Aid Kit
Skribe
Chamomile and Whiskey

So relax and enjoy your summer afternoon– we won’t judge you if you pretend you are on the mountain too!

Exploring Roanoke

River_Rail_Lunch_138c4cb7-60f9-4405-affe-ae021a310c05Whether you are a Roanoke native, or perhaps you are visiting for the first time, everyone is sure to love Roanoke’s Food Itinerary for Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Their three-day itinerary provides enough stops for a day trip where you can visit the valley’s best restaurants, breweries, and wineries.

Go on excursions unique to Roanoke like the City Market in Downtown and the Mill Mountain Star. If your guests love the outdoors, you can find information on hiking trails like McAfee Knob, as well as provide locations to sightsee like the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail. 

Arrange your own day trip that will suit each and every one of your guests. Choose your check-in/check-out dates, as well as the attractions you would like to see. What you choose is up to you, so make it unforgettable!

 

Written by Lani Maddox

Favorite Summer Reads (June Edition)

Ok, so we would be lying if we told you we didn’t start our summer reading list in May. We LOVE a good book (or three) and we want to share a few of our favorites from this summer with you:

510K4Y1r7LL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Center of Gravity

by Laura McNeill

Ava Carson is a newlywed with a baby and a stepson when she realizes that her new life is not what it seems to be. Her husband, Mitchell, becomes more controlling every day. His behavior becomes recklessly erratic, and when she begins to question his past he files for divorce and custody of their boys. The story follows her fight to defeat Mitchell at his own game and save her children.

Center of Gravity weaves a chilling tale, revealing the unfailing and dangerous truth that things-and people-are not always what they seem.


51p+GbfjSoL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Imaginary Things

by Andrea Lochen

Burned-out and broke, twenty-two-year-old single mother Anna Jennings moves to her grandparents’ rural home for the summer with her four-year-old son, David. The sudden appearance of shadowy dinosaurs forces Anna to admit that either she’s lost her mind or she can see her son’s active imagination. Frightened for David’s safety, Anna struggles to learn the rules of this bizarre phenomenon, but what she uncovers is completely unexpected– revelations about what these creatures truly represent and dark secrets about her own childhood. As David’s visions become more persistent and threatening, Anna must learn to differentiate between which danger re real and which are imagined, and who she can truly trust.

 

23014603Those Girls

by Chevy Stevens

Three sisters live on a remote ranch in western Canada where they work hard and try to stay out of the way of their father’s temper. One night, a fight gets out of hand, and the sisters are forced to go on the run, only to get caught in an even worse nightmare when their truck breaks down in a small town. They are left with no choice but to change their names and create new lives. Eighteen years later, one of the sisters goes missing, followed closely by her niece, and they are pulled back into the past. This time, there is no where left to run. Those Girls is an unforgettable portrait of desperation, loyalty, and evil. A story of survival… and revenge.

 

Stay tuned because we are giving away a copy of each of these over on our Facebook page soon!