May 11th, 2010 |

Lunch at Home with Friends

lunch at home with friends

My social life has definitely changed over the last year….we moved to the suburbs, I work from home, and all of my friends have multiple children.  So a lot of times, we find time to spend together right smack in the middle of the day – for me it’s a much-appreciated, quick break from work – for them it breaks up their routine!  Lunch ideas have been on my radar more and more lately…..especially simple, one dish meals.

This recipe for a salad nicoise sandwich is the perfect choice!  It’s fresh, different….and you get your salad and your protein all in one dish!  It looks pretty too!  The perfect compliment to a simple table setting (toddler-proof, of course!).

Images: table setting (hgtv.com), candles (potterybarn.com), drinks (inthenowweddings.com), sandwich (bhg.com), cheese plate (annstratton.com)

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April 30th, 2010 |

8 Must-Have Recipes: Cinco de Mayo

cinco de mayo recipesLast week I showed you ideas for decorating for a Cinco de Mayo party…..today, we’re talking food!  Better Homes and Gardens has an endless supply of fabulous, Mexican recipes….here are 8 that I consider “must-haves” for Cinco de Mayo:

  1. Mango Salsa
  2. Chicken Quesadillas with Peppers
  3. Chicken Flautas with Black Beans
  4. Skillet Tostadas
  5. Tequila Lime Shrimp
  6. Steak Fajitas with Peppers
  7. Avocado-Feta Salsa
  8. Barbecue Quesadillas

Is your mouth watering yet?!  What do you plan to make for Cinco de Mayo?

April 27th, 2010 |

Triple Crown Cocktails

triple crown derby cocktail recipesIt’s getting to be Derby-time!  Whether you are throwing a huge bash, or watching the game at home with a couple friends….nothing makes a party festive like a few themed cocktails, right?!  Southern Living has the perfect combination of recipes for whatever your gathering may be…..  A Mint Julip for the Kentucky Derby, a Black-Eyed Susan for Preakness, and a Long Island Iced Tea for the races at Belmont Stakes.  The perfect trio!

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April 14th, 2010 |

Giada Love

I took a little break from my typical work day yesterday to go to a Giada book signing with my best friend and her 5-year-old, Emma.  We both love Giada’s recipes – but Emma, oh, Emma absolutely LOVES Giada!  She watches her show (which has inspired her to cook at the mere age of 5) and until yesterday didn’t actually know Giada was “real”!

She’s “real” alright – and was absolutely darling as she greeted Emma and I.  Gave her a hug, asked her if she liked to cook – couldn’t have been sweeter!  It was a welcome break in my week and I am so happy that I have this wonderful memory with Emma and Teresa!

If you haven’t flipped thru Giada’s new cookbook, Giada at Home, definitely pick up a copy – great, fresh recipes for Spring!

April 6th, 2010 |

Dress-Up Your Cake Plates!

It’s not just for cupcakes anymore!  You can now dress up your cake plates (round or square) with these lovely paper, filigree wraps.  Hmmm….my cakes just got a little bit prettier!

April 6th, 2010 |

Lemon Tarts

 

With the weather getting nicer everyday, I find my self suddenly craving my very favorite dessert….a lemon tart.  It’s light, citrus-y flavor makes this the perfect Spring/Summer dessert and I always find myself counting down the Winter months until it’s “appropriate” to bring this favorite dessert back into rotation!

I’ve tried numerous recipes over the years – but I have to say that my two favorites are from Tartine and Barefoot Contessa.  What about you?  Do you have a favorite recipe you wish to share?!

P.S. With the dessert table craze still going strong, I absolutely love the idea of making mini lemon tarts – they would be perfect for a dessert table with a yellow color story!

Images: slices of lemon tart (annstratton.com), individual lemon creme tart (bonvivant.wordpress.com), bowl of lemons (cafelynnylu.blogspot.com), mini lemon creme tart (foodbeam.com), individual lemon blueberry tart (lemonmeringue.com)

 

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April 1st, 2010 |

Trend Alert: Spring Artichoke Season

 

One of my favorite parts of Spring is that artichokes are in season!  Not only are they delicious to eat (we’ll get to that later!), but they can also make for fabulous decorations in your home, or accessories on your table.

Images: bowl (thedailygreen.com), votive placecard (blogs.glam.com), pitcher of artichokes (midwestliving.com), purple artichokes (lidiasitaly.com), egg cup (thekitchn.com), spinach artichoke dip (horchow.com), basket of artichokes (delallo.com)

 

March 31st, 2010 |

Buttercream Frosting Technique

buttercream frosting technique

The most frequent question I get asked about cupcakes is regarding how to make buttercream frosting.  I get told it turns out too runny or too thick.  So I thought I’d share with you a buttercream recipe that I use, that works like a treat each and every time.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

250 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature

400 grams icing sugar

1 tbs milk (optional)

2 tbs vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and cream for 5 minutes.  Scrape down sides of bowl occasionally.  Add sifted icing sugar, milk and vanilla.  Beat for a minute further.  Add food coloring as desired.

Buttercream can be stored to up to three days in an airtight container in a cool place.  Do not refrigerate.

Now that you have perfected making buttercream, it’s time to decorate.  A really simple, yet effective way to decorate cupcakes is to pipe the buttercream in a rose or flower design.

First, you’ll need a closed star piping tip.  I like to use a Wilton 2D tip.  Pop the piping tip into a piping bag and fill with buttercream.  Starting from the center of the cupcake, work your way to the outside in a circular motion.   If you don’t get it the first time, please keep practicing, you will get the hang of it in no time and be producing beautiful cupcakes like these!

~Sharnel, My Life My Loves

Images: yellow cupcake with pink butterfly (by me!), cupcakes (shamsD via flickr.com)

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March 25th, 2010 |

Cupcake Topper

I came across this darling cake on epicurious.com – talk about a darling cupcake topper!  This would be so cute for an Easter brunch, a birthday party or shower.  If you aren’t up for making a cake and cupcakes from scratch – cheat a little!  Order the cake from your local bakery, and bake your own cupcakes (the cupcakes don’t have any special decorations….just different colored frosting!).

March 25th, 2010 |

Bunny Cupcakes

I wish you had all been sitting with me when I first saw these cupcakes….I couldn’t hide my “ooh!!” if I had tried!  They are so cute, so unique….and are sure to get rave reviews from guests young and old.  Here is the recipe from All You:

Ingredients

  • 1  16.5-oz. roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 3/4  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 2  cups  confectioners’ sugar
  • 2  tablespoons  egg-white powder (such as Just Whites)
  • Red and green food coloring
  • 1/2  cup  each light and dark pink decorating sugars
  • Large flower décors
  • 2  cups  chopped sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1  16-oz. can vanilla frosting
  • 24  cupcakes, any flavor

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Knead dough and flour together until smooth. Roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out bunny shapes using a 3-inch cookie cutter. Transfer to baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Reroll scraps; continue cutting to get 24 bunnies.

3. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Make cookie frosting: Stir confectioners’ sugar, egg-white powder and 3 Tbsp. warm water until smooth. (If frosting is too thick, stir in more water, 1 tsp. at a time.) Spoon 2 Tbsp. frosting into a ziplock bag. Tint remaining frosting light pink with a drop of red food coloring. Keep frosting covered to prevent drying.

4. Working on 1 cookie at a time, spread a thin layer of pink frosting on top. Sprinkle top of frosted cookie with light or dark pink decorating sugar to coat, shaking off excess. Snip a small corner from bag with white frosting. Pipe a few dots of white frosting on cookie; attach décors. Repeat with remaining cookies. Allow cookies to dry, 1 hour.

5. Place chopped coconut in a ziplock bag. Add a few drops of green food coloring; massage to tint coconut evenly. Put coconut in a shallow bowl. Spread vanilla frosting on cupcakes. Roll edges in green coconut. Press a cookie on top of each cupcake.

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