Tag Archives: dinner

Meet The Pie Lady

In late 2015, Cindy Bailey became an empty nester. Her daughter was a student at Virginia Tech, and her son would soon be leaving for West Virginia. As the reality of these changes began to set in, Cindy looked around her family’s home and thought it might be time to make a few changes of her own.

“I was a stay-at-home mom and worked part-time across the street at Ikenberry Autumn Adventure. My friend, who works at Ikenberry, told me that The Pie Lady was selling her business. She encouraged me to buy it,” Cindy recalls.

Cindy and her husband met with the original owner of The Pie Lady, Lisa. They decided that a business out of their home was ideal and convenient. In the fall of 2015, they began transforming their family room, initially a garage with a beautiful fireplace, into The Pie Lady kitchen. Perhaps it is the lingering family atmosphere, or the fact that Cindy and her husband live in the house adjacent to the kitchen, but it is reminiscent of a simpler time when families gathered around stovetops to share recipes and secrets. The large, open space is welcoming from the moment you walk through the door.

Although Cindy enjoys the cooking aspect of The Pie Lady, her passion is in the marketing of the product. Selling the pies gives her an opportunity to connect with her customers. As Cindy explains, people don’t feel guilty about spending money on food. Not only is it something they will use and enjoy, it often encourages their family to gather around a table together—free from the distractions of daily life.

Of course, The Pie Lady’s pies are different than the ones you will find boxed up in the freezer section of your grocery store. While they are convenient to prepare, they are also homemade. Cindy’s friend, Debbie, is her kitchen manager. Together, they work hard to produce quality products made from scratch.

“They are not the American Chicken Pot Pie,” Cindy explains. “They are a meat pie, like the French variety. It is more meat-based than gravy-based. The chicken is shredded. It is kind of like a quiche.”

There are nine varieties of dinner pies including Just Chicken, Buffalo Chicken, Chicken Fajita, Chicken and Vegetables, and Chicken Cordon Bleu. Customers can also purchase a Chocolate Pecan dessert pie.

You can find Cindy at events throughout the area, and her pies may soon be in some of your favorite local stores.

“Ikenberry’s wants to carry them, and so does Heritage Family Market. We have locations in Lexington and Radford that want to carry them too. We just have to be able to keep up with the supply,” she says.

That said, they are open to wholesale and fundraising opportunities. If you are interested in purchasing a pie for your family, or simply want to learn more about The Pie Lady, check out their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/thepieladychickenpies.

 

 

A Thanksgiving to Remember

Our office is an even split between people who plan their Thanksgiving menu weeks in advance and those who are now realizing that (oh my!) Thanksgiving is THIS THURSDAY.

If you’re like the latter half of us, don’t panic (like we MAY have this morning). We’ve found some great recipes that will make this Thanksgiving one to remember for years to come!

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Photo from How Sweet It Is.

First, a Bacon Butternut Squash Risotto. How Sweet It Is, you had us at bacon! We may even skip mashed potatoes this year and serve this instead. (Just kidding!) But seriously, this dish is the perfect combination of all things delicious and all things autumn, and we can’t wait to try it!

 

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Photo from I Am A Food Blog.

Next, no table is complete without a Pumpkin Loaf. Give in to the pumpkin craze that always peaks during this time of year (don’t worry, this is a much better alternative to SOME pumpkin flavored dishes). Try this yummy recipe from I Am A Food Blog.

 

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Photo from A Pinch of Yum.

A few of us have family staying in our homes from out of town this Thanksgiving weekend. Breakfast is often forgotten in the craziness of planning the evening meal, but our guests won’t be disappointed with that we have waiting in the kitchen on Thursday morning! Check out these Strawberry Oat Crumble Bars from a Pinch of Yum!

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Photo from How Sweet It Is.

And finally, after all of this last minute planning, we could use a glass of this Cranberry Chai Sangria from How Sweet It Is. Don’t forget to start this one before you start cooking everything else. Mostly because it’s nice to have on hand, just in case.
Now, sit back, relax, and get through the short work week. We’ve got this!

Written by Nicole Brobston

Welcome Spring!

As the ground awakens from the wintertime slumber, tulip and daffodil stems push through the soil about to burst open with colorful fresh blooms.  Bright yellow forsythia bushes and cherry blossom branches begin to pop open profusely with small breathtaking delicate flowers. The scent of sweet hyacinths and greening new grass alert our senses that spring has arrived.  In the early morning hours, we listen to chirping robins singing their joyful songs as they gather twigs to build their nests. Bunnies can be seen here and there as they hop across the fresh new lawn.
What says “Spring” better than flowers?  Whether you are hosting a luncheon or Sunday family dinner, a lovely springtime arrangement of your favorite floral can take center stage on your dining room table.  For an easy, breezy centerpiece, embrace your spontaneous spirit and head to the floral department of your local grocery store or favorite greenhouse.  Most merchants will showcase potted tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, primrose, moss, ivy and many types of ferns that you can place in a basket for a stunning and simple centerpiece.
Spring Table-top Arrangement-www.lizbushong.comTo create a springtime centerpiece for your table, gather some of the season’s best blooming potted bulbs, primrose, and ferns. Place three to five potted blooms at different levels inside a plastic lined basket at various heights. There is no need to remove the plants from the pot. Cover and tuck moss over the potted flowers and between spaces inside the basket. A good mix of flowers would include two to three colors with different textures and heights. Leafy green ivy and low-packed ground cover with reindeer moss will add to the fullness of the arrangement. For a bit of whimsy, add a small bird sitting on a faucet with a dripping water crystal. An empty bird nest would also be a great touch to this spring arrangement.
After the flowers are spent, you can plant the bulbs in your garden for next spring. A note about tulips, you can plant Gladiolas and Dahlias this spring for flowering this summer. In September, plant tulip and daffodils for next spring. Spring bulbs should be planted in the fall or early winter because they require a long period of cool temperatures in order for them to flower.  In the fall, it is important to get the bulbs in the ground before the ground freezes. They need time to develop strong roots. You could also plant bulbs in individual containers as the merchants do forcing the bulbs to grow.
JJ posing with arrangement- www.lizbushong.comMy sweet bunny JJ was excited about spring too! He is an adorable New Zealand white bunny with red eyes. JJ allowed me to take a few photos of him checking out the floral arrangement while I was putting it together. He looked out the window, chewed a few willow branches, smelled the flowers by standing on his hind feet, and finally lay down beside the finished arrangement.
With spring’s earliest blooms, you can celebrate everyday dining with ambiance that is fresh and vibrant. Royal blue, bright yellow, and shades of green create a beautiful springtime palette. Evoke this palette with white and cobalt blue square plates and accessories. Yellow tightly rolled napkins look like flowers blooming as they stand in water glasses. For a take home favor, a small cobalt blue vase with a single rose sits pretty at each place setting. To continue the color scheme of cobalt, yellow and white, the Lemon Almond mini tart greets each individual guest at their place setting for an after dinner dessert. The crust is made with ground almonds and filled with a tangy lemon curd-type filling then baked to perfection. When serving this dessert, add a dollop of fresh whipped cream and lemon zest.
Invite springtime into your home with this creative and fanciful setting that boasts this season’s vibrant scents and colors. You don’t have to be a green thumb to enjoy the beauty of the season. Bring the outdoors in with a beautiful potted arrangement. Like a breath of fresh air, after the morning dew, breathe in the cool breeze of this new season with a living arrangement that will linger in memories.

Lemon Almont Tart-white ruffled plate -wwwlizbushong.comLemon Almond Tart|www.lizbushong.com

1 unbaked almond crust recipe-chilled 1 hour
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons   all purpose flour
1/3 cup lemon juice from concentrate
3 large eggs
½ cup butter, melted, no substitutes
1 teaspoon lemon zest, optional
Garnish:  lemon zest, mint or parsley leaf, assorted berries

Almond Tart Crust Recipe
¼ cup slivered almonds
1 cup all purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup butter, softened, no substitutes
1 egg
1 teaspoon lemon juice from concentrate
In food processor, process almonds until ground. Add flour, sugar and butter, process until crumbly. Add egg and juice, process until dough forms a ball. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, chill one hour.
Prepare Almond Crust, press pastry into lightly greased 4-4” tart pans with removable bottoms. Set aside. In large mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour and lemon juice. Beat to combine. Add eggs, one at a time, beat after each addition.  Add melted butter and mix to blend. Pour into Almond Crust shells. Bake at 325 for 30-35 minutes or until set. Cool on wire rack.
To Serve: Remove sides and bottom of tart pan,  top cooled tart with fresh whipped cream, fruit, or mint leaves.
Yield:  4-4” tarts

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.

Stylish Thanksgiving Dinner Necessities

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and we want to share our favorite dinner party necessities with you! Check out this list of unique kitchen and dining items to put the finishing touches on your holiday meal:

runnerHeat Resistant Table Runner with Removeable Magnetic Chalkboard Labels: 
The perfect accessory to decorate your table AND offer functionality! This heat resistant table runner from GUS is filled with heavy duty polyester batting to accommodate hot dishes while protecting your table. Place all of your dishes along the runner and write the name of each or its ingredients on the removable chalkboard labels. Chalk pencils sold separately.

Casserole Carrier with Insulated Lining: 

Made of Recycled Coated Cotton, with sturdy rope handles and faux leather trim, this Carrier is perfect for transporting all your favorite dishes from a large lasagna to Grandma’s recipe for everyone’s favorite stuffing! Insulated interior keeps food hot and is easy to wipe clean.

cozysWine Bottle Cozy Set of Two:
Made of felt, elastic and chalkboard fabric, these wine bottle cozys help preserve the ideal temperature of your favorite red, white, or bubbly. You can even write the wine type on the chalkboard fabric so you don’t need to take the cozy off to see what you’re about to pour! Perfect for dinner parties and events. Chalkboard pencils sold separately.

All of the above items can be purchased at www.greatusefulstuff.com.

And, for your cooking needs, you have got to check out this Dual Grater from Kuhn Rikon. You can do two types of grating using this tool and it is collapsible for easy storage! It sports a textured handle for a safer gril and an ultra sharp stainless steel grater. It is available on Amazon.

 

Hosting a Dinner Party

Some might call the dinner party a lost art, but gathering family and friends around the table to eat great food, drink fantastic wine and enjoy each other’s company is the perfect way to celebrate. Creating an elegant, effortless evening to remember is easier than one might think.

Perfecting the dinner party is about putting people at ease and creating an environment that encourages conversation and laughter – the two most important elements of a successful dinner party. So, instead of trying to impress guests with fancy culinary skills or decorating prowess, focus on five simple tips:

1. Light can be the life of the party

From glowing centerpieces to sparkling votive candles, elegant party lighting is always a bright idea. Candles set the mood and create ambiance – and allow your guests to truly shine.

2. Let the wine flow

The right wine can perfect the moment and no dinner party would be complete without it. Greet guests with a bright and beautiful sparkling rose and keep it flowing during the cocktail hour. During dinner, offer one red and one white wine.

3. Of course dessert is a food group!

Dessert is the perfect way to end an amazing meal. Leave your guests floating on air with angel food cake topped with a Prosecco-infused frosting.

4. Don’t let guests leave empty-handed

Giving guests a little something to take home when they leave extends the good vibes. Say goodnight in a unique way by sending guests home with a bottle of wine or votive candle to re-create the magic in their own home.

New Image365. Remember to breathe

If you’re having fun, your guests will too. Take a deep breath and, while you’re at it, give your red wine a little air, too. Aerators open up the aromas and flavors, making every sip better.

Set the Scene for Spring!

Written Liz Bushong

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Setting the scene for spring, whether you are decorating tables for the prom or hosting a casual get-together, this bold and bright sassyscape is about making a statement: making it sassy and making it yours!

Presenting a lovely table bursting with color, using every day dinnerware and cheery flowers will create a beautiful table and a lasting impression for dinner guests.

The spring 2014 color forecast has several new colors ready to burst out in brilliance. According to the Pantone Fashion Color Report, one of those colors is Freesia.  It is a bright, citrus yellow that can be paired with black and white for a stunning and eye-catching color combination.  You will see this combination in clothing and in home décor.

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Nothing makes more of a statement than the color scheme of black and white. There are three different ways to use black, white, and citrus yellow for setting a festive and fun table. First, the large black and white table with the white branches and hanging orbs would be a lovely dessert table or dinner table for six. However, if you are using this color scheme for a table of six, I would recommend that you create a smaller centerpiece and limit the mix of patterned plates. You want to see your guests while seated at the table so the grand centerpiece would be best served on a buffet or large side table. You could still use the centerpiece ideas at a smaller scale, or if you do want the large centerpiece, make sure it is higher than the seated guests or above their heads. The goal is to be able to see the person seated across from you or adjacent to you. After all, you are looking great and you want to be seen as well as heard while enjoying your dining experience.

This grand and stunning black, white, and citrus centerpiece draws your eyes and attention to the table.  A large brandy shaped glass bowl is filled with black licorice to hold the white tree branches in position. Glass round orbs fitted with yellow Gerber daisies seem to float in the air as they hang effortlessly on the white branches. The refreshing accent color, citrus yellow called Freesia, adds energy and a burst of brilliance to this overall black and white color scheme. lizmar4

To keep the black and white balanced, a checked hounds-tooth patterned placemat and solid fringed black napkins with the classic white dinner plate set the tone for two of the place settings. To mix it up a bit, two of the six place settings are the same while the four in the center are uniquely different, all in the same color scheme but different patterns. As long as you keep the color scheme in the same tones and family, you can add layers of pattern.  Your eyes will tell you when there is too much “mixing and matching” of color, pattern, and texture. Standing at attention and waiting to get noticed beside the large airy arrangement stands two large hurricane pedestal glass bell jars that are filled with fresh lemons then topped with blooming yellow and white roses as the complimentary floral arrangements.  The center of the table is dressed with a black and white striped table runner that is draping horizontally over a yellow polka dot paper runner.

Clever containers with fresh bright flowers will always “sass-up” a centerpiece. Adding to the mix are black and white zebra and damask-patterned salad plates.

Serving up a little bit of sunshine at each place setting are Lemon Blossom cookies that are neatly tucked into each standing bishop napkin fold.  These cookies are shaped like tiny flowers that are power-punched with a citrus lemon flavor and destined to become a spring favorite.

There are two additional looks to create different sassyscapes using the black, white, and citrus color scheme. Make a table sassy and fun by selecting a bold yellow and white polka dot table cloth as the backdrop for additional white and black dinnerware.  A square glass container is home for fresh green onions and bright yellow Gerber daisies for a whimsical and intriguing floral centerpiece.  Using fluffy white napkins loosely gathered or flared in a drinking glass adds to the frilly fun.  For more of a contemporary look, use black and white dinnerware with no pattern, just bold and strong solid pieces.  A clever napkin ring using two large wooden buttons and coordinating elastic cording holds the napkin neatly in place.  Another way to show your eye for detail is to serve food that coordinates with the overall color scheme. For example, serving a three-layer Lemon Crème cake or the Lemon Blossom cookies present well because they are the accent color of your table décor. Choosing a monochromatic or complementary food color scheme will always be your best option for serving it up sassy.

Now to make it yours, show your true colors!  If you don’t like yellow, select your favorite color and use the same techniques to create your own beautiful table presentation and memorable occasion.

 

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Lemon Crème Cakes-
Makes ~15 three layer mini cakes

1 package lemon cake mix
1 package lemon instant pudding and pie mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon extract

Filling:

1-3 ounce package cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons lemon curd + 1 cup
2 tablespoons butter, tested Land a Lakes
1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Whipped topping:

1 cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
Mint leaves and fresh raspberries

 Instructions:

1        Line 15 ½ x 10 inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Fill cupcake pan with liners for extra cake batter. Spray parchment paper on both sides. Set aside.

2        Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixing bowl, beat together all cake ingredients for two minutes. Pour batter into baking sheet leveling batter by shaking pan side to side.  With remaining batter fill cupcake liners. Bake cake and cupcakes for 20 minutes or until cake center is done.  Allow cakes to cool.  Freeze cakes for 20 minutes or longer.

3        Meanwhile, prepare filling.  Beat softened cream cheese, butter and 3 tbsp. lemon curd together until smooth.  Fill pastry bag fitted with tip 1 M or shell tip with mixture.  Set aside.

4        Using a clean and very cold mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream on high with wire attachment.

5        Beat until soft peaks form; add ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar. Beat on high to form stiff peaks.

6        Place whipped cream in pastry bag fitted with star tip or 1 M, refrigerate until assembly.

 Assembly and Presentation:

Remove cakes from freezer and baking sheet.  Spread top of cakes with thin layer of lemon curd.

Using a square cookie cutter or sharp knife cut out cakes.  Place one cake on serving platter curd side up, add another cake layer on top of first cake, curd side down or sandwiched together.  Pipe cheese filling on top of sandwiched cakes.  Add third and final cake layer, curd side up.  Last, pipe whipped cream dollop on top of cake.  Garnish with mint leaf and fresh berry.  Make it yours by serving it with other berries between cake layers on your favorite serving dish or platter.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Lemon Blossom Cookies

¾ cup butter, softened- tested Land a Lakes
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1-3oz box lemon gelatin dessert-dry
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup vanilla butter cream frosting

 Directions:

1. Cream butter, sugar, extract, gelatin powder and egg in large mixing bowl of electric mixer on medium speed.  On low speed, gradually add flour. Beat until mixture leaves the sides of the bowl. Shape dough into 1 ¼ inch balls. Cover and refrigerate one hour or overnight.

2. Heat oven to 375 F. Place balls on parchment lined baking sheet 2 inches apart. With sharp knife, make 5-6 cuts in top of each ball about three-fourths of the way through to make 6 petals.  Shape wedges with fingers and place each wedge together to form a flower. Make sure center of flower is closed.  Refrigerate 20 minutes to set shape.

3. Bake 9-11 minutes or until set and edges begin to brown. Do not overbake.
Cool 3-5 minutes. Remove from baking sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.

Fill pastry bag or zip lock baggie with frosting, clip 1/8 inch corner and pipe centers.

Cookies can be frozen before frosting.
Makes:  24 cookies

Serve it up Sassy! TM   Liz Bushong developed recipe.  www.lizbushong.com

 www.pantone.com/pages/fcr/default.aspx?season=spring&year=2014

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. She makes elegance easy for her audience and encourages them to add their own Sassy touch to make it unique .Liz is famous for creating her own version of a beautifully presented tablescape – which she calls a Sassyscape ™ .

In 2009,10,&13, Liz was selected from thousands nationwide to be part of an elite team of 100 professionals entrusted with decorating the White House for the holiday. In 2011, she was part of seven-person team selected to decorate the Tennessee governor’s mansion for the holiday.

Liz has been featured as the monthly guest chef on Daytime Tri-cities, television show on WJHL, the CBS affiliate for the Tri-cities area of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, WSLS-Daytime Blueridge in Roanoke, Virginia. She is also the creator and host of her own one-hour seasonal television show called “Serve it up Sassy!” for the same market, which aired in 2011.

She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Consumer and Family Sciences from Purdue University and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She is also certified in Decorative Finishes and has been trained as a master gardener. Liz is the author of Just Desserts and Sweets & Savories cookbook. Liz makes her home in Johnson City, Tennessee. She continues to perfect her sassy approach to turning simple dining occasions into beautiful and memorable moments.  

To purchase cookbooks, see recipes, cooking, and decorating ideas go to www.lizbushong.com

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

 

 

 

Etiquette to Survive Holiday Gatherings

Whether you are hosting a fantastic holiday gathering or you’re the gracious guest, ask yourself this question: Are you comfortable with your knowledge of etiquette? Are you confident in your table manners or do you admit you take your cue by watching those around you?

“It seems so many people only think about etiquette during the holidays and then the pressure is on to be perfect,” says etiquette coach Dubravka Vujinovic. “But proper manners should be important at every meal, whether you are sitting down to a formal gathering or casual dinner with friends.”

Vujinovic is one of the etiquette experts at North Carolina-based Replacements, Ltd., the world’s largest retailer of old and new china, crystal, silver and collectibles. This time of year the company is bombarded with inquiries from those needing a crash course in proper social graces and entertaining. Questions range from how to set the table, to the best way to serve the perfect meal.

Vujinovic offers these suggestions for your next event:

BREAK OUT THE BUFFET

Buffets settings are becoming increasingly popular. In this style of setting the host places the food, dinnerware and utensils on a sideboard or table and guests serve themselves.

“I love buffets, because they are so stress-free for me as a hostess,” says Vujinovic. “Since the food is already on the serving table, I don’t have to keep running back and forth to the kitchen to keep bringing out different courses or dishes; I can relax and enjoy the evening. On the other hand, as a guest, I like buffets because this setting allows me to eat the food I want; I don’t feel obligated to have to sample everything that is being passed around the table.”

If you’re hosting a seated buffet, water glasses should be filled and on the table before your guests sit down to their meal. Guests should be guided to pick up their dinnerware and place it at their individual setting.

SET THE PERFECT TABLE

If you opt to set your table in advance or if you’re a buffet guest setting your own place setting, remember, forks go to the left, knives then spoons to the right. The sharp side of the knife blade should be turned toward the dinner plate. And remember, only include utensils in your place setting that will be used for the courses you are serving; extra pieces may confuse your guests.

The bread plate goes on the left of the dinner plate, glasses on the right.

Don’t panic if you aren’t sure about the proper place setting for each meal. Vujinovic says you can find “cheat sheets” or place setting guides for various meals on the company’s website, replacements.com, under the site’s “neat things” tab.

TIPS FOR HOSTS & GUESTS

Remember, the host/hostess always sits last. That person will let you know when it’s OK to begin eating. They may offer a blessing or statement or perhaps start by passing a dish.

Always pass food around the table counter clockwise to your right and refrain from serving yourself first. Pass the salt and pepper as a set, even if you’re only asked for one.

If you’re not sure which utensil to use with each course, start on the outside and work in toward the dinner plate.

Don’t cut more than one or two bites of food at a time, and never butter an entire roll or piece of bread. Instead, pinch off pieces small enough for one or two bites and butter those first.

If you need to excuse yourself temporarily, place your napkin on your chair to indicate you will be coming back. Signify you’re finished with the meal by placing your napkin to the left of the dinner plate, and your fork and knife side by side diagonally across your plate with the sharp side of the knife blade facing inward and the fork tines up.

Turn your cellphone on vibrate or don’t even bring it to the table. Enjoy the company of those around you.

Still hungry for more tips? You can find additional etiquette dos and don’ts on the Replacements’ YouTube channel.