Tag Archives: summer

Serve It Up Sassy: Celebrate It!

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

What are black, white, and red all over? Are you guessing?  Nope… it’s not a newspaper, it’s not a sun-burned penguin, and it isn’t Santa, it’s a dessert buffet!  Time to Celebrate-It! what-ever the “it” occasion may be. Whether you are hosting a graduation party, bridal shower, or anniversary reception, celebrate the occasion with a black, white and red dessert buffet table.

Any time is an occasion to host a sassy soiree with simple elegance and delicious sweets as with this dessert buffet.  A dessert table is a festive and fun table that is spread with luscious little bites of small desserts usually in the same color family as the overall color scheme of the event. There are candy buffets, pie and cookie buffets, chocolate buffets and many other wonderful creative buffets that can be featured as a dessert table.

Tred-3his dessert table features all décor and food in black and white with accents of red. Behind our dessert table is a festive wall of hand-made tissue and paper flowers that bloom like a summer garden.  Each flower bursts open with red, black, or white centerpieces and is arranged on the wall touching other flowers for impact and drama at the dessert table.

The large tissue flowers are made from tissue paper that is accordion pleated, paper clipped, and edges cut to resemble flower petals. Each petal is spread open into a blooming flower and glued to a cake board round for support and attached to the wall with Command Strips.  For more information on the tissue and card stock flowers go to lizbushong.com.

The table top is draped with a solid black damask linen table cloth.  For the centerpiece and height, two different cake stands in black and white are used interchangeably to create a graduated large to small tiered stand that holds decorative mini chocolate cupcakes with tiny candied red roses. Black and white polka dot to stripes in cardstock, wrapping paper, and cupcake liners supports the overall black and white color scheme. Mixing pattern on pattern in the same color family will add interest and intrigue to your table.

red-6Desserts for this table are variations of the black and white color scheme. Black and white butter cookies, Pecan Honey Bites dusted in confectioner’s sugar, small round red and black macaroons with white butter cream frosting, and a pure chocolate Whippet, a “cloud-like marshmallow cookie coated in pure dark chocolate.” This cookie was purchased and accented with white butter cream stripes. You don’t have to be a baker or decorator to make everything for your table. Purchased little treats from your local bakery or specialty shop can be transformed by placing in decorative cupcake liners, paper cups and other decorative containers for a pretty presentation. Paper lanterns, flowers, pennants, and other party décor can be ordered online or purchased at a party shop. Just keep your theme and color scheme in mind and run with it.

whippet cookies-www.lizbushong.com (2)A dessert in small bites and variety keeps your buffet easy and elegant. Three to four mini desserts per person is the recommended serving size if the guests are not eating a slice of cake, as in a wedding. You don’t want to overwhelm your guests with too many choices so offer 2-3 desserts per person with 5-6 dessert varieties.  Serving large cake pieces on the dessert buffet can prove to be messy and unattractive. To solve this challenge, precut the slices into a 1 X 2 inch slice and serve it up sassy on a special individual small plate or other decorative container. Decorative cakes are beautiful on a cake stand, but not really practical for a dessert buffet. Although, it is your party and if you want them to eat cake and see your masterpiece, let them eat cake. Weddings will have a separate cake table with someone cutting and serving the cake.

Presentation for any party is important. People eat with their eyes first so your desserts will need to be garnished with special details and displayed at various heights on the table. Take the time to think through how the guests will approach the table and how to serve each item. Provide small plates and utensils if your desserts require the assistance. Decorative paper napkins are appropriate and necessary. Small labels at each dessert will notify guest what the dessert is and if it has nuts or other allergens. These labels can be decorative with flourish and sometimes as simple as chalkboard stickers.

Beverages can be served, but on a separate beverage table. Colorful punches, small water bottles with decorative labels, and fruit juices make delicious drinks for simple receptions. Creating a beautiful table for your special events will bring great joy to you and your family and friends.

Celebrate some good times!  Find a reason to celebrate, be a clever hostess, and turn an ordinary day into a special occasion; just remember to “Celebrate It” with a lovely dessert buffet.

 

red-4Mini Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Roses|www.lizbushong.com

1-18.25 ounce package dark chocolate fudge cake mix
1-3ounce package chocolate instant pudding and pie mix-dry
1 1/3 cup water
½ cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
½ cup mini chocolate morsels
1-teaspoon vanilla

Garnish:
2 cups dark chocolate butter cream frosting*purchased
¼ cup dark cocoa for dusting-optional
Pre-made tiny rose Icing Decorations-tested Wilton

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Prepare cupcake pan with liners. Combine all cake batter ingredients. Beat batter for 2 minutes to blend.
Fill plastic zip lock bag with batter, clip end of bag to ¼ “.  Pipe batter into mini cupcake liners.
Bake cakes 20-25 minutes.  Remove from oven.
Frost cooled cupcakes with dark chocolate butter cream frosting. Pipe frosting using small round tip or opening. Dust with dark cocoa powder in a small sieve if desired. Garnish with tiny rose icing decoration to center of each cupcake.  Serve the mini cakes in a decorative regular sized cupcake liner for presentation.  Do not remove mini cupcake liner from baked cakes.

Yield: 50 mini cupcakes /24 regular cupcakes

 

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.
Additional information: Black, White and Red riddle: http://wikipedia.com; Command Strips: http://www.command.com/3M; Whippet Marshmallow Cookies-Dare company http://www.darefoods.com/ca_en/brand/Whippet/17

Fashion: Printed Shorts for Summer!

As the weather continues to get warmer, jeans shorts don’t seem to do the trick anymore. Printed shorts are the perfect alternative to all your summer plans. They can keep you cool and stylish all summer with their up-beat patterns.

Printed shorts can be more versatile than jeans themselves (yes, I said it!). They offer flare and style that jeans can never offer. From a night on the town to running errands, these shorts are a summer must wear!

Finding ways to wear these outspoken shorts can be difficult, however they pair with almost everything in your closet.

prints shorts1Casual

Throw on your favorite t-shirt or tank top and make your outfit explode with printed shorts. Your everyday wear can now come to life with fun patterns. Just simply throw on sandals or canvas shoes and rock this look!

Dress Things Up
Who said you can’t wear a blazer with some shorts? This is the ideal combination for a day at the office or a nice dinner. You’ll be the talk of the office with your fun mix of color.

night outNight on the Town
Tired on wearing dresses that reveal too much when you walk? Try printed shorts this Friday night instead. We love this look from Pumps and Iron! Put on a solid color blouse and some statement heels to make a lively night!

 

 

Written by Stacy Shrader

Summer Wedding Style

Prepare yourself, wedding season is just around the corner and you know what that means… your mailbox is about to get stuffed with invitations. Whether you’re just going for the party or you’re going because you’ve been friends for ages, we have your go-to advice on what to wear!

First, do a once over on the invitation for a specified dress code. This is usually at the bottom of the invitation or sometimes even on a separate card. If you don’t see a requested attire listed, then you can go by the time of day for which the wedding is scheduled. The later in the day, the more formal the occasion! If it’s a noon wedding, it’s assumed it’s going to be casual unless otherwise noted. However, if it’s 5 o’ clock or later it’s considered a formal wedding. Or, if the dress code isn’t listed and you’re just not comfortable assuming what the couple wants, ask!

Now, you know what the dress code is but, what on earth does it mean?! Calm down, we got you covered. White tie is the most formal dress code that you’ll see. This means that men should be wearing a tailcoat, white vest, white bow tie, and white shirt. For the ladies this means a floor length ball gown. You don’t see this dress code very often any more, but you never know!

Black tie is what you are more likely to see for a formal wedding. A dark colored floor length gown or formal cocktail dress is appropriate for the ladies, while the fellas should be dressed in black tuxedos with a black bow tie. Formal attire, or evening attire, is usually requested for a wedding that takes place in the evening, but is less formal than a black tie wedding. Dressy separates for the ladies are totally acceptable for a formal attire wedding! The men in attendance should wear a dark suit with a conservative tie.

Lastly, casual is what you would see for an afternoon wedding or an outdoor wedding. This is also what you would most likely wear to those ever-popular barn weddings. Casual for men means a button down shirt with khaki colored slacks. A sports jacket is optional for these occasions! Ladies, this is your chance to debut one of those sundresses you bought on sale last fall!

However, no matter the dress code, be sure to dress in a way to keep all of the attention on the newlyweds! This means leave your white dresses, light-up bow ties, red gowns (yep, red too!), and feather boas at home! Pay attention, ask questions, and raise a toast to the married couple on their big night!

Written by Kathleen Duffy

Summer at Chateau Morrisette!

We all recognize “the dog” while walking through the grocery store and can’t help but wish that we were spending the afternoon at one of the prettiest wineries in Virginia, Chateau Morrisette! Since first crafting wine in 1978, Chateau Morrisette has made a name for themselves through their involvement in the community and their dedication to excellence. Whether you prefer red, white, sweet, or dry they have the perfect bottle just for you. If you’re celebrating, they have extra-dry sparkling wine for that too!

13062912_10154186638468410_9010191299281807122_oA short drive to Floyd is all that stands between you and one of Chateau Morrisette’s weekend-long festivals. Be sure to check out the entire calendar of events on their website so you don’t miss out on some of the best happenings of the summer! If you would rather do something a little more low-key than one of the music festivals, then you can pay them a visit for lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch and enjoy a flawlessly prepared meal with a perfectly paired glass of wine. Or, if you really just want a day away from all of the hustle and bustle, you can make a reservation for a tour of the wine cellar or vineyard with a tasting of ten different wines of your choice.

These tours are so beautiful and enjoyable as you get a better insight into the hard work that is put into making a great product. Lastly, during the warmer months many wedding and private parties are hosted at the vineyard because of the beautiful scenery and great atmosphere. Chateau Morrisette is unique because any and all well-behaved dogs on a leash are always welcome in the tasting rooms! You’re more than welcome to bring your K9 friend to keep you company as you sip some of the Valley’s finest.

11695375_10153513433463410_8644791396166027466_nChateau Morrisette also has great suggestions for specific flavor profiles to pair your selected wine with at home. If you have purchased a bottle and you just don’t know what to serve it with, you can find suggestions on their website, or you can use one of their recipes that they have published for the sole purpose of taking your meal to the next level. However, if you have visited the winery and you don’t live close enough to pay a visit or pick some up at the store, you can order it directly from them to arrive at your doorstep!

For the Bella girls, we love the fact that whether we’re entertaining friends, enjoying an afternoon at the vineyard, or just drinking a glass on the couch, we are spending our money locally. Book a tasting now and tell us what you’re drinking!

 

Written by Kathleen Duffy

A Hero for Your Super Hero!

“Look, up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, …its Superman!”  When it comes to super hero’s we often think of mighty men of valor fighting evil vigilantes combating threats against humanity.  To honor your super hero make them a supersonic hearty meat and cheese filled hero sandwich, guaranteed to make them think they can “leap tall buildings in a single bound!”

No matter who your hero is they will love this hearty meat and cheese filled sandwich.  Crusty sesame seed bread is spread with mayonnaise and Ranch jalapeno dressing with layers of peppered turkey, black forest ham, hard salami, thinly sliced sopressata, hard salami, mortadella, and provolone cheese.  Shredded iceberg lettuce sprinkled with dried oregano, salt and pepper is drizzled with an oil and vinegar dressing.  Thinly sliced ripe tomatoes and fresh raw red onion rings are added to the meat layers then covered and smothered with the dressed lettuce.  To keep this monstrosity of a sandwich together, a cherry tomato with sweet pickle chip are skewered with a long toothpick equally spaced on top of the sandwich.

A note about Sopressata and Mortadella; both are Italian cured sausages to make a pepperoni style meat that is found in genuine Italian hero sandwiches. These meats are usually made from pork fat and other miscellaneous sources of pork pieces. The sopressata is becoming the new pepperoni on pizzas in large city pizzerias.  If your local deli does not have sopressata or mortadella, select the hard salami and pepperoni for a wonderful Italian hero sandwich.
Served with the hero sandwich are spiced potato chips. Heat potato chips on a baking sheet for a few minutes until the chips begin to shine, add your favorite herbs and spices toss and coat. Our chips were coated with Montreal steak seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. The steak seasoning on the chips compliment the jalapeno dressing on the sandwich.

Every super hero has to have a dessert and what hero doesn’t love a rich dark dense caramel coated chocolate brownie?  Melted caramel bits, chopped pecans and dark chocolate morsels are added to the ‘just out of the oven’ warm brownies. The brownies are refrigerated until set and cut into 2 x 2 inch squares before serving. These brownies will be eaten in a flash!

Who is your super hero?  I’m sure it is not a sandwich, but a true super hero.  A super hero is a person who is admired for their achievements and noble qualities, a warrior, or it can be an ordinary person facing extraordinary circumstances that acts with courage, honor and self-sacrifice. Sometimes a super hero lives in the hearts of children fighting big battles. Be determined to be someone’s super hero.

 

151Super Hero Sandwich
1 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons Newman’s oil and vinegar dressing
1-14 “ loaf Italian bread with sesame seeds
2 teaspoons Hellmann’s mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Lite house Jalapeno Ranch dressing
2 cups finely shredded iceberg lettuce
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 small red onion rings, separated
5 oz. thinly sliced hard salami
5 oz. thinly sliced peppered turkey
5 oz. thinly sliced black forest ham
5 oz. thinly sliced Sopressata
5 oz. thinly sliced Mortadella
5 oz. thinly sliced provolone cheese

In a small bowl, whisk together Newman’s oil and vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper. Add shredded iceberg lettuce, toss to coat. Set aside.
On a work surface, place a long piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper and position the bottom half of the cut loaf over the wrap. In small custard cup, mix together mayonnaise and ranch dressing. Stir to combine and spread over the bread. Layer ham, turkey, sopressata, mortadella, and salami, provolone cheese, tomato slices, onion rings and shredded lettuce. Top with sesame seed top crust. Wrap sandwich in plastic wrap or parchment paper and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 4 hours to develop the flavors.
To serve, unwrap sandwich and garnish with cherry tomato with pickle slice skewered with a frilly toothpick. The picks will keep the sandwich together while cutting. Cut sandwich into desired portions.
Yield: 4- 6 servings

Spiced Potato Chips 1-www.lizbushong.com - CopySeasoned Potato Chips
1-8.5 ounce package wavy potato chips or kettle chips
2 teaspoons Grill Mates Montreal Steak seasoning
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons chili powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spread potato chips on a large baking sheet.  Bake in oven until chips are slightly heated and appear to be shiny.  In small bowl, combine spices to blend. Remove chips from oven and sprinkle with seasoning mix.  Toss to coat. Store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  Serve as desired with or without a dip.
Yield:  6-8 servings

Caramel Pecan Brownies-www.lizbushong.comCaramel Pecan Brownies
1-18 ounce package Brownie Mix, eggs, vegetable oil as per package
1-11 ounce package Kraft Caramel Bits or 25 unwrapped caramels
2 teaspoons half and half
2 cups chopped pecans
1- cup dark chocolate morsels

Line an 8 x 8 inch square pan with aluminum foil. Lightly grease foil and coat with flour. Remove excess flour and set aside. Follow instructions on brownie mix and pour into prepared pan. Bake brownies 50-55 minutes. Remove brownies from oven and keep warm.
Meanwhile, melt caramel bits and half and half in microwave for 1 minute or until melted. Pour melted caramel over warm brownies covering entire surface. Garnish caramel with chopped pecans and dark chocolate morsels. Refrigerate brownies to firm before slicing.
Yield:  16-2” brownies

 

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.

Product Spotlight: Little Passports

Help your little explorer learn fun facts about the United States and other countries with Little Passports’ Explorer Kits for Kids!

Choose from Early Explorers (for ages 3-5), World Edition (ages 6-10), and USA Edition kits (ages 7-12). The first month you will receive an introductory kit complete with everything your child needs to get started with the program (based on which one you choose). For the USA introductory kit, customers will receive a USA Field Guide, Scratch Book, a wall-sized USA map, a welcome letter, and a disposable camera.

Subsequent kits in the USA Edition include information about the two states featured each month. Enjoy a 32-page activity journal, stickers and postcards, pop-out models, and access to more information and activities online.

You can win The Discovery kit AND one State Adventure kit from the USA Edition on our Facebook page!

 

 

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!

It’s OK to Be Bitter

Summer and cocktails go hand in hand. Whether you are relaxing at home or enjoying an evening on the town with your friends, you are doing yourself a great disservice if you are drinking classic cocktails like the Manhattan or the Old Fashioned without bitters.
We are still experimenting to determine our favorite brand, but we do have a couple that we prefer so far:

The first is Bittermilk. Founded by husband and wife team Joe and MariElena Raya, it is a line of cocktail mixers made for cocktail enthusiasts by bartenders with real ingredients. Our personal favorite is Bittermilk No. 2, Tom Collins with Elderflowers & Hops. The bright and refreshing taste feels perfect for a relaxing by the pool on a Saturday afternoon. They are crafted and bottled by human hands in Charleston, South Carolina. You can purchase them online at www.bittermilk.com.
cgjuly1
We also love Crude Bitters. Don’t be fooled by the name— it is a reference to the rudimentary origins of bitters that included exotic roots, herbs, and spices aged in various liquids with beneficial (and unverified) claims attached to them.

In truth, they are very careful to make sure their methods are not crude and that their ingredients are all natural. Their selection, preparation, maceration, bottling and labeling is done by hand in Raleigh, North Carolina. Our personal favorite selection from Crude Bitters is “Sycophant” Bitters. This flavor starts as a sweet, citrus taste and finishes with earth tones and vanilla bean. It pairs well with gin or bourbon. For more information on purchasing Crude Bitters and trying them out for yourself, visit www.crudebitters.com.

Pick up our July issue (while you still can!) for more information on the history and uses of bitters. Visit our Facebook page to win samples of a variety of bitters from the above mentioned companies! Good luck!