Tag Archives: eats

Serve It Up Sassy: Color Splash!

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

color splash  1Splashes of color set the stage for a simple dessert garden party. Polk-a-dots and clay pots bring to life the bright colors of this spring composition. The color-rich palate includes hot pink, purple, yellow, terra cotta, lime and tangerine.
This sunny celebration takes the party outdoors where the flowers are beginning to bloom and the smell of fresh rain still lingers in the air. A natural rock wall lends the perfect background for the flower-filled and garden themed table- setting. The centerpiece of this garden landscape features clean hand trowels, garden gloves, early blooming grape hyacinths and terra cotta pots. A child’s pair of polka-dot rain boots stake out a planted position on the table.
color splash mousse closeupDesserts for this garden party are Lemon Cupcakes and decadent Chocolate Mousse Brownie Cakes. The Lemon Cupcakes are color-splashed with hot pink, orange or yellow butter-cream flowers. Serve these cute little flowers in a decorative small flower vase that coordinates with your overall color scheme. Chocolate Mousse Brownie Cakes are made with chocolate mousse, brownies and covered with chocolate ganache. The secret baking tool is a silicone baking mold. For recipe go to www.lizbushong.com
Shop now for cute rain boots and gather new colorful gardening tools to host an impromptu garden dessert party. Color-splash your friends with bright colors of spring from the garden to the table. 

118Flower Pot Cupcakes  

1-16 oz. pkg. lemon cake mix
1-3oz pkg. lemon instant pudding/pie mix-dry
1-1/3 cups water
½ -cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 cups White buttercream frosting-purchased or homemade

Buttercream Frosting
½ cup butter, no substitutes
½ cup shortening
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
½ teaspoon clear vanilla
2-3 tablespoons whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare cupcake pan with liners. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients, except frosting. Beat on medium speed. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop cake batter into cupcake liners 1/2 full.
Bake 22-28 minutes. Cool cupcakes.
Frosting: Beat softened butter and shortening together in mixing bowl. Add salt, vanilla and confectioner’s sugar along with cream. Mix until light and fluffy. Frost cupcakes with white buttercream frosting. Divide white frosting into four bowls, tint with desired colors, hot pink, orange, yellow and green. Fill 3 disposable pastry bags with tip 104- orange, yellow, hot pink frosting and green frosting-leaf tip 352. Pipe green leaves on top of each cupcake and tip 104 pipe flowers in desired colors. Flower instructions on www.wilton.com

Liz Circle 2013 small (2)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. In 2009, 2010, 13, 14 she was 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, Daytime Blue Ridge in Roanoke, Virginia and Daytime Tampa, Tampa Florida. 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 is also a contributing writer for the regional magazine VIP Seen and Lovely Bella magazine in Roanoke, Virginia. Liz makes her home in Johnson City, Tennessee.

Liz Bushong, Serve it up Sassy! ™
To purchase cookbooks, find recipes, cooking, and decorating demonstrations, go to www.lizbushong.comor blog, www.lizbushong.com
Like and Share Liz on Facebook, tweet @lizbushong and pin on pinterest.com/lizbushong.

Macarons: The Trendy Dessert

Silpat_Macaron Kit open copyMacarons are French-based, delightful confections that add personality to any party. They come in a variety of flavors. The most common include raspberry, vanilla, lemon, coconut, and chocolate. However, recipes exist to create hundreds of combinations.

Consisting of two meringue-based layers stuffed with a jam, cream, or ganache, these desserts are in high demand. In their original form, macarons are gluten-free. For those of us not gifted in the kitchen, many bakeries and boutiques sell them year-round. They are also becoming easier to find in the freezer aisles of grocery stores.

With a little food coloring, you can make these dainty creations complement your decor. They also make an excellent gift (whether you buy them or spend time making them yourself). Replace messy cupcakes with macarons this year. Your guests will appreciate how easy they are to consume without leaving crumbs everywhere and you will love the tasteful contribution they make to the appearance of your party.
If you are feeling adventurous, try this recipe, from Chef Francois Payard, for a vanilla macaron shell with vanilla ganache:

Vanilla Shells:
2000 grams sugar
600 grams water
650 grams egg whites
2250 grams confectioners sugar
2000 grams almond powder
800 grams egg whites

Combine confectioners sugar, almond powder, egg whites and mix with a paddle attachment.
In a separate bowl, begin to whip egg whites on the 2nd speed. After, bring sugar and water to boil until mixture reaches 121C. Increase the speed on the egg whites to the 4th speed for 1-2 minutes.
Pour sugar water mixture over the egg whites and continue to mix on the 4th speed for 6 minutes (50-60C after mixing).
Once the second mixture has reached 50C, add the first mixture to it. Fully combine mixture by hand for semi firm/fluffy texture.
Pipe out macarons and let them sit out so skin forms on top.
Preheat oven to 180C, put macarons in the oven to bake and drop the temperature to 148C for 12 minutes.
Remove and let cool.

 

Vanilla Ganache
9 ounces white chocolate, chopped
¾ cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, scraped

Place the white chocolate in a metal bowl.
Bring the heavy cream and vanilla to a boil
Pour hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until smooth
Let ganache cool for at least two hours or overnight

 

To finish macarons:
Pipe ganache onto the flat side of one of she shells.
Place a second shell, flat side down, on top like a sandwich.

 

Visit www.mrmacaron.com for more recipes and stay tuned to our Facebook page for your chance to win a Silpat Macaron Kit!

Host a Chocolate Tasting Party!

485x485_wine_pairing_kit_closedThis holiday, host a chocolate tasting party!

What is a chocolate tasting party? We’re glad you asked. It is a unique celebration in which you and several friends gather together to pair high quality chocolate with wine, discuss the pairings and jot down notes. You and your guests will learn more about the items you are tasting in an inexpensive and fun way!

If you don’t know where to begin, try a helpful wine pairing chocolate kit from TCHO. It includes chocolates and tasting grids for four tasters. All you have to do is add a pairing wine (or two), mild crackers (for cleansing palates between samples), and pens.

box_sf_heart_485_1They also offer great gifts for those of us not attending a chocolate tasting party. Let’s be honest, no party is complete without chocolate! TCHO sells several gift boxes, but our favorite is “I Left My Hearts in San Francisco.” It comes in two sizes and contains pure notes paired with chocolate, nutty, berry, and bright notes.

For more information on the products TCHO offers, visit www.tcho.com.

Jam Packed with Flavor

New ImageWith the holidays approaching, picking out the right gifts for your friends can be tricky. All natural jams by Department of Sweet Diversions can be a quick and easy sweet treat to give out or even keep for yourself!
All ingredients for the jams are handmade, organic and completely free of preservatives. No processed foods are added and fruits and herbs are bought from the local farmer’s market only a few miles away from their commercial kitchen.
Each jam comes in a 6 ounce jar. Currently, they are available in nine flavors– but they change seasonally. Their most popular options are The Suite Surprise, which is their custom apple butter and The Grand Scheme, their strawberry jam.
“In a world where so much of our food is full of preservatives and mass produced, I’m glad to be able to bring a level of delicious simplicity to our jams that I remember as a kid,” says co-owner, Virginie Strub.
The jars can be ordered individually or gift sets are available. You can also request your jar to be wrapped as well to make it easier for gift giving! To purchase one of Department of Sweet Diversions’ jams head over to their website and get your favorite flavor for the holidays!

Written by Kristi Hall

 

Snacking with Sara

bellawebsarasnackEnjoy your snack time with an all-natural gourmet cookie safe for you and your whole family! Sara Snacker, a milk and cookies company, has just the natural and satisfying treat for you.

The business began as the desire of Sara, a mother of three, to give her kids wholesome but yummy snacks. Sara Snacker Cookie Company bakes with only the freshest, finest and all natural ingredients.

The cookies never contain artificial flavors, colors, additives, or preservatives and are now peanut-free. All of Sara’s products are also certified Kosher and will retain their freshness in the original bag for two months. However, it is recommended that you store the remainder of the cookies in a sealed container once the bag is opened to keep them fresh and crisp.

Sara’s cookies are available in a variety of flavors including vanilla milkshake, lemonade, s’more, ice cream cone and hot chocolate. Also, for those who want to satisfy their sweet and salty cravings simultaneoulsy, there are two flavors made with potato chips and pretzel bits!

Locally, you can find these yummy treats at Kroger. If you cannot find them in a store near you, or you simply want more information, check out the store locator on their website.

 

Written by Kristi Hall 

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.

Summer Cookout: Sultry Sides

Whether it’s hot dogs, chicken, or hamburgers, nothing is better that an entrée done right over a flame. Everyone has the entrees down, but what is there to do about the sides? Of course there are always the classics of potato salad and baked beans, but every now and then don’t you want to switch it up?

The first side to try is a twist on a classic: grilled corn. You’re going to want to remove the silk, but keep the husk and soak in cold water for ten minutes before grilling. Once you’ve done this, lay the corn on a piece of aluminum foil and spread a thin layer of butter over the ear(s). Then sprinkle the ear(s) with a little pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. Wrap the corn tightly and lay on the grill and cook for ten minutes or until soft.

This next item is sure to have your mouth watering for more. Get a few sweet potatoes and slice them like French fries as thick or as thin as you like. Place the wedges on aluminum foil and sprinkle with paprika, lemon juice, salt, and a dash of pepper then coat with a tiny amount of olive oil. Wrap the foil around the wedges and make sure it is securely sealed at the top and place on the grill. Let these cook for about ten or fifteen minutes, let cool for a few minutes, and enjoy with ketchup or your favorite dipping sauce.

You know of grilled vegetables, but a well-kept secret is grilled fruit. Take a wooden spear and soak it in water for about thirty minutes. Chop up fruit like apples, mangos, pineapple, oranges (with peel still attached to side that will touch the grill), and cranberries that will make this treat even more delicious. Place the fruit pieces on the spear according to personal preference and grill for seven to ten minutes each spear.

These quick and easy sides make even the most cliché grilled dinner full of life. Adding semi-sweet touches to your favorite grilling classics can send your taste buds soaring and wanting more.

 

Veggies, Vitamins & Kids

There is no denying that most kids cringe at the mention of anything healthy. Since this is often the case, it is difficult to find the necessary balance between pleasing kids and giving them a healthy diet at the same time. Below are some tips to get your tot on the right track:

1)  Appearance, appearance, appearance!

Make fruits and veggies look fun. Every now and then it’s okay to play with food and if kids can have fun with it, then they’re more likely to want to eat it.

2)  Let them help.

“Mommy’s little helper” is a merit badge of awesome for kids. If they have a part in making the meal, then they will be excited to eat it.

3)  Show ‘em how to shop.

Kids like to feel independent; show your children fruits and veggies and let them pick the ones they that the think are “cool.” This way, it won’t be as much of a struggle when the food is on the plate.

4)  Make it easy.

One reason junk food is so popular is because it’s quick and kids can grab it easily in their downtime or between activities. Simple changes like making healthy fruit smoothies and having them ready and accessible can drastically improve kids’ diets. Also, small vegetables (like mini carrots) that have been pre-portioned are great for a kid on the go.

5)  Don’t make junk food an option.

The occasional Oreo is okay, but leaving cookies, chips, and other unhealthy foods around conditions kids’ pallets to crave that type of food. By feeding kids healthy things from the start and limiting the amount of junk food that they’re allowed will help them become familiar with healthier foods, thus training their pallets to crave what’s good for them.