Tag Archives: lemon

Spring Cleaning Tips

It’s time to open the windows, take in a breath of fresh air, and bust out those buckets, mops, brooms, and rags because spring is here! We all know that with spring comes spring-cleaning, which some of us dread and some of us anticipate, but those pesky dark corners of our homes that get neglected every winter aren’t going anywhere. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of spring-cleaning tips that will ensure your home is left spotless!
It always feels good to declutter and deep clean after the painfully long winter and an easy place to start is your closet! Whether you’ve kept your weight loss resolutions and you can’t wear a lot of your clothes anymore, or you’ve changed up your look, we all have clothes that we bought and hate or just don’t wear anymore. When cleaning out your closet try to be as objective as possible. Don’t say “what if” or “but”… if you haven’t worn it in the past sixth months, put it in the donate bin! If you’re honest with yourself, when you’re done there will be a huge difference! The great thing is, after you’re done you’ll have an excuse to go shopping and get a new spring outfit to celebrate!
Another great way to get a jump start on your spring cleaning is to tackle those baseboards that have collected a startling amount of dust and grime over the cold months! We all hate grabbing that bucket of soapy water and a rag only to get down on our knees for the thankless task of scrubbing the baseboards, but you’ll notice a huge difference when you’re done! Even your floors will look cleaner after scrubbing your baseboards until they’re squeaky clean. If crouching down on your knees for what seems like forever is just too much, check out Pinterest for all kinds of creative ideas on how to avoid squatting!
Next on our list is ceiling fans… out of sight out of mind, right? We always seem to forget these guys until one day, after we’ve opened up those windows and it’s a little warm, we turn them on full blast only to receive in return a prompt rain of dust on the entire room. Don’t let this happen to you! Just grab a small step stool and a warm damp rag and wipe off the tops of the blades. Depending on how long you’ve neglected them, you might have to go over them a few times, but it’s worth it knowing that you’re keeping dust out of the air and off of your clean floors!
One of the more creative ideas that we’ve come up with is to, while your scrubbing those baseboards and ceiling fans, take your AC vent covers, place them in the dishwasher without soap, and hit “start” to get them squeaky clean*. You don’t even need soap, the hot water will be enough to wash away the grime from the winter! Then, by the time you’re done with your other projects, all you’ll have to do is take them out of the dishwasher and put them back in place!
slice-of-lemon-953987_1920Lastly, don’t make spring cleaning harder than it needs to be! To cut grease and grime in those extra tough places, use a lemon wedge! After you go over the area with the lemon, wipe with a damp rag to clean up any extra. We love this for areas like stovetops and microwaves. It’s especially nice to know that you are using something totally natural and free of harsh chemicals to clean the areas where you prepare food for your family!
As you start to dive into your cleaning don’t forget those tough spots, be objective, and keep in mind that it is SO worth it when you’re done! There’s no better way to kick off spring than with a clean and refreshed space for you to spend time with your family. The Bella girls would love to hear what your favorite spring cleaning tip is, so share with us on Facebook!

*Only do this if your AC vents are metal.

Written by Kathleen Duffy

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.

Set the Scene for Spring!

Written Liz Bushong


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.


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.



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


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


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


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


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





Crème Brûlée

Crème brûlée is one of my favorite desserts and I’m always trying out new flavor combinations, like these blueberry lemon cuties.  Crème brûlée is a dish some people are intimidated to make, but this recipe is really simple and impressive to entertain with.  You can make these a day ahead and flame the sugar on top in front of your family and friends for some extra “ooohs” and “aaahs”!


Makes 3 crème brûlées


½ cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
3 egg yolks
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup fat free sour cream
¾ cup heavy cream
1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons brandy
Sugar topping (fine granulated sugar or raw/turbinado sugar) – about 1/3 cup total


Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.


Place 3 standard size ramekins in a baking dish.  Add a small handful of blueberries to the bottom of each ramekin, reserving some for topping if desired.


In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until pale yellow in color.  Add the granulated sugar and whisk to dissolve.  Add the sour cream, heavy cream, lemon zest and brandy and whisk to combine.  Pour equal portions of the cream mixture into each ramekin.


Pour warm water into the baking dish until it covers the bottom half of the ramekins, making certain not to get any water into the ramekins.


Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the centers are just set and jiggle slightly.


Remove the ramekins from the water bath, and set aside to cool for about 30 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 6 – 7 hours until completely cooled.


To serve, top each ramekin with some of the refined or raw sugar, and brown with a kitchen torch or broil just until the sugar is browned and caramelized on top (brûlée = burnt).


Check out more on my food blog, Leave a Happy Plate.