February 24th, 2010 |

Modern Cupcake Design

I wanted to share one of my new product obsessions with you: Ticings, thin sheets of edible icing printed with contemporary designs using food-grade inks.  They are made in the u.s.a., gluten-free, FDA approved and kosher certified.  Best when applied to fresh buttercream frosting; just peel and press to give your cakes and frosted desserts modern decorations in minutes!  They are offered in multiple designs (for large orders, you can also request a custom design!) – and are such a simple way to dress up your cupcakes!

Tip: They would also be darling on round sugar cookies!  Wrap them up in a cellophane bag, and voila!  You have yourself a pretty cute party favor!

February 17th, 2010 |

Purple Dessert Table

Since purple seems to be the trend today….I thought this beautiful dessert table sent to me by Shauna Younge was the perfect fit!  Shauna Younge Dessert Tables is a high-end dessert buffet design firm in Minneapolis. Each dessert table incorporates beautiful, delicious sweets and meticulous details.  As you can see from this example…exquisite work!

This particular table featured a chic, grey cake with floral details to mimic the bride’s beaded Monique Lhuillier gown. Two macaron towers were used to create a beautiful backdrop for hand-painted grey truffles, gourmet marshmallows, and custom cookies.

This is a great example of how you can spin the color purple into a very sophisticated color palette, perfect for a wedding or special event.  I love that Shauna paired the shades of purple with grey.  It’s a sophisticated neutral that is getting a lot of play time recently!

Images via Tricia Little of Sweet Shibui Photography

February 16th, 2010 |

Tartan Dinner Party

tartan dinner party ideas

These late winter months always have me at a bit of a loss when it comes to setting a pretty table for a dinner party.  I mean, what I am really craving are bold, Spring colors, fresh flowers, and light dishes.  But when there is 10 inches of snow on the ground….that concept just doesn’t look right!  One of my go-to ideas for February is the use of tartan plaid.  A lot of people tend to only use tartan plaid around the holidays….but I think it’s a warm accent to use throughout winter.  Try using a plaid runner or napkins at your next dinner party!

And although I am totally craving those light, Spring-like dishes….I made a warm, yet delicious meal of herb-crusted beef medallions, mashed potatoes with bacon and garlic, and cranberry martinis.  If you are looking for some menu inspiration, definitely check out those recipes!

What ideas are getting you thru these long winter months?!

February 12th, 2010 |

Mardi Gras: A Fat Tuesday Feast

mardi gras fat tuesday recipes

Fat Tuesday is coming up!  (Tuesday, February 16th)  Here are some fabulous recipes to help you host your own Mardi Gras feast!

Jazz fest cocktail, cajun corn maque choux, citrus-marinated shrimp with louis sauce, shrimp and chicken etouffee, fried crawfish salad, king cake and buttermilk beignets.

February 9th, 2010 |

Valentine’s Day Treats for your Sweets!

valentines day sweet treat recipes

If you are still searching for a sweet recipe to make for Valentine’s Day, Better Homes and Gardens has tons of ideas!  Here are a few of my favorites: Chocolate pistachio heart cookies, tiny raspberry cheesecake tarts, red velvet cupcakes, sparkling sorbet floats, cherry baby cakes, and a chocolate cherry stack cake.

February 4th, 2010 |

Chili: Styled with a Twist

If you plan on making chili this weekend for the big game, check out this idea:

Serve up smaller portions (perfect for snack food or an appetizer) by scooping out the center of a dinner roll, and filling it with chili and toppings to create a mini-bread bowl.   Too cute, right?!

If you are looking for some chili ideas….check out our post on a chili cook-off.  Great ideas, great recipes….perfect for a cold, winter weekend!

Image via My Recipes

February 2nd, 2010 |

Super Bowl Sunday: Brunch with the Girls

super bowl brunch party ideas

Super Bowl Sunday is a great opportunity to entertain.  Some may want to gather friends for a traditional party, serving beer and appetizers, and others…..well, they may want to run for the hills at the first sound of a Super Bowl party.  Hey…it’s okay if football isn’t your thing…I totally get it!  If you are one of these girls, and your husband is going to be occupied with the game and some male-bonding on Sunday, take this opportunity to entertain a bunch of girls!  (football-free, of course!)

Brunch is a great activity for Sunday morning.  It’s an easy meal to prepare, very little prep-work involved, and your guests are in-and-out, and you go about your day!  So, let’s talk brunch….

Set a simple table.  White dishes, a patterned napkin, and maybe a little vase of spring flowers on the table.  Serve up a picture of bloody mary’s, and have a bowl of fresh berries for people to pick at while sitting around chatting.  Brunch wouldn’t be complete in my mind without eggs benedict.  Switch things up by serving a killer tomato benedict (tomato, pesto, roasted peppers and hollandaise sauce…..YUM!), and an apple-citrus salad with avocado and bacon.  It’s light, fresh and delicious!

If you are looking for another finger-food option, consider putting a new twist on deviled eggs:

I love the idea of putting a fresh spin on this old favorite!  Serve up a couple different variations, and serve them on small appetizer plates, or 3 in a row on a rectangular-shaped plate.  Try an asian-inspired version,  or a three-herb recipe…..just remember, it’s all in the presentation!

Images: invitation (tinyprints.com), dishes (williams-sonoma.com), place setting (projectwedding.com)

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January 28th, 2010 |

Pretty Pears

Sunset Magazine has a great feature on pears this month.  Light, refreshing and perfect for an early Spring party, these recipes will add a nice new assortment to your repertoire!  They offer up 6 ideas (and each one is more irresistible than the other!):

Pear Sidecar
This sweet (but not too sweet) drink should be made one at a time in a cocktail shaker. Energetic shaking and a proper drink-to-ice ratio ― possible only in a shaker ― are key: The ice dilutes and softens the “edges” of the cocktail, encouraging the otherwise sharp flavors to meld together.

Caramelized Pear and Sage Crostini
Sweet pears and sharp blue cheese create an exciting yet homey appetizer. Serve them with the pear sidecar cocktail (recipe precedes), sparkling wine, or a slightly sweet white wine.

Braised Pork with Pears and Chiles
The gentle heat of the dried chiles is highlighted by the sweet pears, which become soft and a bit savory while cooking in the pork juices. With a side of greens, this is one of our favorite fall dinners.

Asian Pear, Fennel, and Walnut Salad
The quality of the walnuts can make or break this dish, so be sure to taste them first (farmers’ markets are an excellent source of fresh nuts; store in the freezer after buying).

Pear Upside-Down Cake
A rich flavor and soft crumb made this cake a favorite in our test kitchen.

Pear Sorbet
Light and refreshing, this sorbet is a delightful way to end a heavy meal. If you want to serve sparkling wine with the sorbet, choose one that’s sweeter than the one in the sorbet.

January 27th, 2010 |

8 Healthy (yet Tasty!) Recipes

healthy and tasty recipes for winter

I don’t know about you, but I have been trying to eat light these days.  Between the holidays and my lack of activities during the winter, keeping meals light and healthy is important (especially so that I can keep eating chocolate like it’s my job!).   My husband and I have been making salads for dinner lately….and to tell you the truth, they are BORING me.  So, I have been searching the web looking for some healthy, yet tasty recipes to keep me satisfied during these long winter months!

Here is what I came up with: (clockwise from the top left) citrus tuna pasta salad, spinach, pear and parmesan salad, scallops with tarragon cream and wilted butter lettuce, watermelon-tomato skewers, vietnamese noodle rolls, peach and brie quesadillas with lime-honey dipping saucemelon and prosciutto salad, and avocado pesto-stuffed tomatoes.

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January 25th, 2010 |

Chocolate-Tasting Party

chocolate tasting party valentines day party

This very well may be my “dream” party!  With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I decided it was time to start throwing some ideas out at you!  A couple of things come to mind when I think of this fuzzy, feel-good holiday….flowers, hearts and CHOCOLATE!  As you all know by now, my name is Kelly Lyden and I AM a chocoholic!  So in trying to come up with a unique party idea for Valentine’s Day, I decided instead of a traditional cocktail party or sit-down dinner, wouldn’t it be more fun to host a chocolate-tasting party?!  Um, that’s a big, fat Y-E-S in my book!

In theory, this is actually a very simple party to organize (especially if you are a baker!).  Compile a collection of chocolate treats to assemble an outstanding buffet.  I picture bowls of truffles, plates of chocolate-covered toffee, and a few other decadent treats.  In my search for new and delicious chocolate recipes, I came across these: triple-chocolate mousse (these look oh, so elegant in champagne flutes), chocolate-raspberry tarts, brownie-ice cream mini sandwiches, heart-shaped macaroons, and sugared chocolate beignets.  What I love about this selection of desserts is that there is a pop of color.  The raspberries on the tarts, the red macaroons…it helps to break up the brown color of chocolate!

Throw in a red, signature cocktail, some cute plates and napkins…..and you have one tasty party on your hands!

Images: centerpiece (styleathome.com), cocktail (traditionalhome.com)

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