Monday, December 19, 2011

It's A Family Tradition!

Besides the spirit of giving that fills hearts around the world (and all the clearance sales,) the reason why I love the holiday season so is because of the repetition of tradition! Traditions are constants we can count on, despite what the year has given or taken away from us- we can find a sense of comfort and routine in our family traditions that we hold so dear. For those of you who know me, you are aware that I live in a Hallmark card. Every day is a holiday and every day deserves to be celebrated! Between me and my tremendously talented teacher of a mother, the Dostal/Thornton household has acquired a bountiful bevy of holiday traditions and cultural customs throughout the decades. Some stem back from my mother's childhood, growing up in a modest country home in rural Georgia while some were passed down from ancestor to ancestor in my father's Czech lineage. One tradition that my sister and I developed as youngsters is that we would spend the night under the Christmas tree every December 23. We loved falling asleep in our flannel PJ's, tucked away in our Coleman sleeping bags in the electric glow of thousands of multi-colored lights. That to us was Christmas Magic at its finest...Granted with changes in our lives such a marriages and babies, this routine has been tucked away for the years but not forgotten. We hope that one day; we can pass along this tradition for our children and their children to uphold. Food is generally a huge part of family traditions and holiday get-togethers. The recipe below I am sure has been re-written and re-vamped throughout the years to personal preferences but the ritual ultimately stays the same. As soon as everyone is awake (we are not morning folk), we all gather at the breakfast table still in our pajamas for Mimosas and Christmas Morning Breakfast Casserole. Take a peek at the recipe below- hopefully it may appear in a new family tradition for you!

Christmas Morning Breakfast Casserole


1 can of crescent rolls

1 cup grated cheese, (Swiss is my mother's preference, but I like a Sharp Cheddar/Mozzarella blend)

1/2 cup grated cheese, additionally for topping after casserole is cooked

1 sleeve of hot breakfast sausage, cooked and drained of fat

1 sleeve of mild breakfast sausage, cooked and drained of fat

2 cups of milk or half-n-half

6 eggs

Butter for greasing casserole dish

Cracked salt and pepper, to taste


Pre-heat oven to 350*. Grease casserole dish with butter. Press crescent roll dough in the bottom of the casserole dish, forming a crust. Dump both drained sausages into casserole dish and top with 1 cup of grated cheese. Beat eggs, milk and salt and pepper together, pour over sausage and cheese mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes and top with remaining 1/2 cup of grated cheese before serving. Casserole is best warm!

Cherish your own special traditions you share with your family- hold them close to your heart. Even though every day is not a calendar holiday, there's no excuse not to celebrate it! Life is so precious and goes by so fast...Enjoy the magic and wonder of this Christmas season and here's to creating some new traditions of your own! Happy Holidays, Y'all!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Successful Soirees of the Season

Like the song says, here we are in the most wonderful time of the year! Parties, people and presents- can it get any better? The holidays hopefully are a time of joy, appreciation and reflection for you, but for many it can mean STRESS! There are gifts to be wrapped, stockings to be hung and of course, family to be entertained and celebrations to be thrown! With so many things to tend to in the month of December, it's no wonder sugar plums are dancing in our heads! We have included a few pointers below that will hopefully make your holiday party planning just a little bit merrier and much less hairier!

You Are Cordially Invited: Holiday party invitations can be offered up in paper post, email blasts, or a warm phone call to your favorite friends. No matter the media, ideally a party invitation should be sent out no less than 2 weeks prior to the event date. A good tip is to invite 20% more than the number of guests you wish at your gathering. Since the holiday season is already busting at the seams with parties, get-togethers and family vacations, you can safely count on 70% to 80% of your invitees attending. Invitations are the perfect way to set the theme and style of your fabulous fete! If you find yourself in a Christmas conundrum and just can't settle on a theme, first find an invitation that tickles your fancy. You now have a color palette, design and motif for your event- let the invitation be your inspiration!

Don't Shop Till You Drop: Plan your party shopping in a couple of trips so you can start with food preparation days in advance. This will also allow you to keep track of how many RSVP's you are actually shopping for to prevent over spending. Lists are so necessary! Plan your menu, and then devise your shopping list based off of your pre-selected recipes. Group the products together in order of the aisles they appear in the supermarket. If possible, avoid weekend shopping excursions or the after-work dinner rush. Orchestrating your grocery run during "off-times" will save you time and a holiday headache!

Food for All: Prepare a menu around a variety of dietary needs. So many people have food allergies and a gracious hostess is sensitive to these needs. Acknowledge guests who may have nut allergies, gluten free diets, vegan/vegetarian life styles and even dairy intolerance. If you have a guests attending whom you know has one of these special dietary needs, you may want to give a courtesy call to review menu with them and let he/she know you have made arrangements for them. Not only will they feel warm and fuzzy, but you can rest assured that everyone will be able to eat, drink and be merry at your holiday bash!

Safety First: Be mindful of food safety by keeping platters small and replenish often. Consider covering platters with plastic wrap right until the very first guest arrives. One rule of thumb in catering is that food held outside of temperature, either hot or cold, must be used within 3 ½ hours or discarded. That means your clams casino cannot hang out on the buffet all evening. Offer hand sanitizer in the restroom and encourage your guests to pick up a clean plate before hitting up the food table again.

Liquor Laws: Everyone likes to imbibe in a cup or two of "Christmas Cheer" during the holidays! When serving alcoholic beverages, be sure to include a variety of food that will prevent punch-drunk party guests. High-protein foods and complex carbs are your best bet. Consider offering an antipasti tray with a variety of meats and cheeses, a carving station with lean proteins such as turkey or pork tenderloin, or a crowd favorite, jumbo shrimp cocktail. Fruits and vegetables containing Vitamins B and C are also great defenses against ho-ho-horrible hangovers. Towards the end of the your swinging soiree, offer rib-sticking treats such a mini-grilled cheeses, breaded mozzarella sticks, hamburger sliders, etc. as send off snacks. These naughty nibbles will be much appreciated by your guests that night and their morning after. Consider ordering custom water bottle labels and setting up a tub of chilled bottled waters by the door. Encourage your guests to take two or three as "party favors" as you send them off. If a guest is not capable of driving home, set up the Aero bed for them in the spare room or arrange for a taxi to take them home. As always, safety first!

Be YOUR Guest: This will be a hard pill for all of my divas to swallow! We sure do love our D.I.Y. projects and concocting all of our favorite recipes, but sometimes you just have to surrender! Consider paying a maid service to come in both before and after your party to take care cleaning out all those hidden nooks and crannies. You may also want to look into having your party catered or perhaps you provide the dessert or your family favorites and entrust a caterer to provide food and service. During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, find some time for you to relax and enjoy the company of your family and friends. This will be money well spent.

We hope these soiree suggestions help make your yearly yuletide gathering a memorable and stress-free occasion for you. Keep in mind however, if the pigs in a blanket burn or if the cupcakes collapse, let it go. Do not stress! Try to focus on the positive and remember, at the end of the day it's all about creating the friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.

Happy Holidays, Y'all!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Turkey Day Table Talk

The feasting and festivities of Thanksgiving are a week away and even though I know you have talked turkey, have you talked table? As you thumb through the pages of your heirloom cookbooks and seek out the newest recipes from Alton and Emeril, dedicate some of your time to the design of your dining room table. Creating the perfect place setting is key to a well-remembered dinner party as we all know we feast first with our eyes! Our suggestions below will not only entertain but engage your guests at this year's Thanksgiving Day table.

Table Linen- Do you really need one? If your table is a modern glass top or a sumptuous hardwood, you may not require linen. If you are however working with a hand me down dining room set, covered with few water rings and pizza grease stains, let your linen lead the way. Table coverings can be inviting and inexpensive! Better Homes & Gardens has a lovely cost-effective line of linens offered at Wal-mart Stores for under $10.00 a cloth! The Hera of Holidays, Ms. Martha Stewart has her own bevy of brocades and damasks available at K-mart and Macy's for reasonable prices as well. Before you begin looking for linen, be sure you have your table measurements in hand. The same goes if you would like to make your table covering. Stop by the local fabric shop and pick up a few yards of rustic burlap or ecru canvas for a fast cover-up. You may even want to bolster your table in brown butcher's paper. Give your dinner guests colored pens and they can write what they are thankful for this year on the covering. You will be grateful for all the sincere sentiments and the ease of clean-up.

Napkins- Want to really make an impact? Napkin folds! Simple and solid to over-the-top origami, napkin folds can be found all over the web. The secret to making a beautifully folded napkin is your napkin needs to be steamed and starched. This will give it a "back-bone" and aid in keeping its shape. If fanciful folds are out of your league, fret not! This is when the napkin ring is king! Thick gold, orange or brown floral wire twisted and turned in your own circular creation works wonders. No, it's not 1993, but scrunchies with a delicate gold button or small crystal embellishment glued to them will keep your napkin and your crimped pony-tail in place!

Chargers- These over-sized glammy plates are a wise investment for the frequent hostess. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the charger concept, they are large decorative plates placed under your actual dinner plate. Charger plate etiquette and use varies among caterers and restaurants. Chargers can be removed as soon as the guests are seated or after the salad course or entree course are taken away. Since the plates are not actually used to serve food on, we leave the charger removal at your own personal discretion. Creative chargers come in hand-blown glass, rattan, wood, steel, etc. Melamine and plastic are practical and durable options for a charger. They are not dishwasher safe but can be easily wiped down after the big feast with a damp rag and a dose of elbow grease. Melamine or plastic will also be the most cost efficient option- a huge impact for the slightest charge.

Centerpieces- I like the old adage low and long for holiday and formal gatherings. Since Thanksgiving dinners are usually a time for catching up and conversing with your closet family and friends, you don't want your centerpieces to block your line of vision with your dear ones. Varying sizes of pillar candles with apples and leaves intertwined down the middle of the table will give you a clean and classic look. Gold-painted twigs, branches and acorns add some shimmer and shine to your Turkey time. Trust your family florist to design something elegant and traditional using autumnal colored Chrysanthemums, berries and wheat stalks. You may want to forgo the centerpiece all together and let your food be the focus of your fete.

Place Card Holders- Put them in their place! The best way to personalize a table and make your guests feel a part of the gathering is place cards. These cleverly crafted cards are fashionable and functional. Please consider these "gourd-eous" place card holders we have pictured here. All we did was take a mini pumpkin (this one is actually plastic so I can use them for years to come but the real thing is preferred) and very carefully, slit the stem deep enough to hold a place card. The same concept could be applied to a small piece of Indian corn, a Bosc pear or even a pinecone. A freshly fallen leaf with your guest's name written in gold or silver paint pen is a pleasing place card as well.

Hopefully, these tableside tips will guide you in creating a marvelous and memorable holiday for all. We wish you and your families a delightfully decadent Thanksgiving and are grateful to have your love and support throughout the years!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Night of the Living Bread

Gather around, boys and ghouls! Halloween may be a kiddy and candy filled holiday for the majority, but what better time to host a party so lively, it will raise the dead! I think the child in all of us gets a little more mischievous and playful around this time of year. Whimsy and wonder lurks around every corner with collections of costumes, cauldrons of candy, and big-grinned jack-o-lanterns watching your every move! Even though we may be a little too old for the tricks, let the treats and eats be your focus this year. Offer to throw a ghastly get-together  for your closet friends. Throw a few cob webs on the wall, turn up the “Monster Mash”, and offer a bewitching buffet that will have those goblins screaming for more! The “Skeleton Bones” recipe below is more than easy and won’t “break” your bank for this year’s frightful fete!


1 tube of refrigerated breadstick dough

Coarse sea salt


Unroll a tube of refrigerated breadstick dough and separate the rectangular pieces. Working with one piece at a time, stretch the dough to lengthen it a bit and then use kitchen scissors or a knife to cut a 1 ½ inch slit in the center of each end. Roll or shape the resulting four flaps of dough into knobs that look like the ends of a bone. Place the dough bones on an ungreased baking sheet, spacing them a few inches apart, and sprinkle on a little coarse salt. Bake the bones until they are light golden brown, about 12 minutes. Makes 12 bones.

These bonafide breadsticks will look just darling on your spooky spread! Serve with "slimy” spinach dip, "macabre” marinara or spine-chilling cheese sauce. Let your menacing mind run wild this Halloween!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Perfect Paper Posies

As the summer sun sets, and the leaves begin to turn, what will you miss most about these wonderfully warm and welcoming months of summer? Me personally, I will miss the bright blooms of my Zinnias, Marigolds, Gardenias and Hibiscus. These are all floral harbingers that signal the commencement of vacation season and remind me to slow down a bit- it is time to enjoy life! Don’t get me wrong, the seductive gold, bronze and copper hues of the autumn leaves are simply stunning, but every now and then in the midst of a cool fall breeze, I long for the beauty of a bright summer bloom. Through a little ingenuity and imagination, we have found a way to capture the sight and shape (unfortunately, we haven’t mastered the smell) of summer’s finest floral.


6 large sheets of tissue paper in varying colors

1 pipe cleaner




For each flower, stack 6 different-colored sheets of tissue paper, then fold the stack accordion style the long way. Twist a pipe cleaner around the center. Round both ends of the stack with scissors. For a frilly flower, cut a point at the ends of the stack with scissors. Open the flower by gently pulling up 1 layer of tissue paper at a time toward the center. To add leaves, turn over the flower and use the pipe cleaner ends to attach two 6-foot strips of crepe paper streamers to the bottom of the flower. To add a stem, add your bloom to a bamboo garden stack with a bit of Scotch tape.

From here, feel free to use your fanciful flowers any where you please! Your tissue Tulips and paper Pansies look great as décor for spring time bridal teas, baby girl showers, or any bold birthday bash. Party or no party, may these paper posies keep the spirit of summer living in your heart and soul all year long!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Berry, Berry, Quite Contrary!

Divas, can you believe how incredibly fast this summer is flying by?! Despite it's prompt passing, I hope you have managed to squeeze in a few juicy snow cones and sand castles somewhere along the way! Whether it's today, tomorrow or this weekend, take a moment to really relish in the "easin' of the season" with our sweet "Berry Bubbler" cocktail. Bright and ripe berries are synonymous with the joys of summer time and are usually at their peak during the warm weather months. We added a "POP" of Champagne and a splash of vodka to this cocktail in hopes that it quenches your thirst! Enjoy this sip of summer before summer slips away!

Berry Bubbler


Bottle of Brut Champagne or Prosecco

Strawberry puree or strawberry daiquiri mix

Vanilla flavored vodka

Fresh berries to garnish- blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc.

Assembling the Drink:

Fill a chilled Champagne flute 1/4 of the way full with the berry puree and a splash of vanilla vodka. (Unlike most situations in life, more vodka is not always better! :) Gently combine mixture at the bottom of the glass with a drink stirrer or straw. Top mixture with cold Champagne or Prosecco and garnish with fresh berries. Serve pool or picnic side, sip slowly...

"Here's to the bright sunny days and dips in the pool, here's to walking barefoot through green grass that is cool, here's to sleeping in late between the sheets, here's to baseball games and impromptu volleyball meets, here's to early morning fishing with a cane pole, here's to grilling and chilling; can't you smell that charcoal? Here's to watermelon, ice cream and road trips to the beach, here's to enjoying this sweet summer time before it is out of reach!"

Monday, July 11, 2011

Don't Spill the Beans!

When a dear friend of mine recently asked for some ideas for an inexpensive centerpiece for a bridal shower, my mind began to race! I concurrently was gorging out on a half-eaten bag of Jelly Belly when I found my muse! From jelly beans to coffee beans to black beans, these petite pellets can sure make a statement! When making a floral centerpiece using any type of beans, be sure to double up! What I mean by this is start your design with (2) transparent vessels. You will need a large container and then a smaller container that can nestle inside the larger container. The large container will hold your lovely legumes while the smaller container will actually hold the flowers and the water. Once you have both containers in place, slowly pour your beans of choice into the space between both containers; keep the smaller vase centered as best as you possibly can. As soon as the beans are snugly set, let your imagination run wild! This versatile vignette can be used in conjunction with any party theme or holiday. For instance, vibrantly colored jelly beans and freshly cut daffodils would make an "egg-ceptional" display on your Easter table or at a spring shower. Consider Tulips or even blooming branches as an alternative too! Perhaps at a "wine-down" pairing & dinner, you can use a selection of smaller and larger vases filled with different types of beans- ranging from red kidney beans, to black beans to green peas. Instead of doling out the dollars for flowers, work a few votives and colored candlesticks into the beans for rustic, old-world charm ambiance. One of my favorite centerpieces I have ever contruscted was a selection of vintage coffee mugs (which I bravely bargained for at a local flea market), filled to the brim with whole coffee beans. We placed a square of floral foam underneath the beans so a trio of hot-colored Gerbera Daisies could "bloom" from each mug! Take it a step further and  before placing these buzzy beauties on the tables, add a tiny tag to each arrangement reading "Thanks A Latte!" Once the party ends, invite your most cherished guests to take these java-themed keepsakes home with them! Your couture coffee creations will now serve two purposes- how much more financially savvy can you be?!

Limited budgets are almost more fun to work with than unlimited ones as it forces you to use your creativity.
Next time instead of ending up in a soup pot or a candy dish, all of your favorite beans will be gracing your tables in a different way!

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Egg-ceptional" Egg Salad

Happy Easter, Y'all!

I sure hope this post finds you all basking in the after-glow of a beautiful Easter weekend spent with the ones you love and cherish the most. Another Easter Sunday has come and gone, but as you sweep up the chartreuse green Easter grass and polish off the remaining yellow chick Peeps, you may find yourself contemplating what to do with all those EGGS?! If Peter Cottontail left you with a bevy of brightly hued hard boiled eggs, put those Easter icons to good use! Behold, "The Best Egg Salad EVER!!!" OK, I may be a bit biased but hey, what could it hurt? Only until I got a little older, did I appreciate Egg Salad. In my childhood days, it was always one of those sandwiches that you PRAYED would not be in your lunchbox that day. Now, as my taste buds have matured and ripened, I can appreciate the simplicity of this perfectly composed salad. The recipe below has a few little twists and turns and is definitely not your momma's Egg Salad! Give it a go!

Easter Egg Salad


12 bacon slices

8 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup finely chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

12 slices "Texas Toast" sandwich bread, toasted

12 Butter lettuce leaves

Fresh Tomato Slices (if desired)


Sauté bacon in skillet over medium heat until brown and crisp, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Combine chopped eggs, celery, and olives in bowl. Mix in 1/4 cup mayonnaise and mustard. Season with seasoning salt and pepper. ( Add a pinch of Cayenne for a little rabbit kick!) Place toast slices on work surface; spread lightly with remaining mayonnaise. Divide egg salad among 6 toast slices. Place 4 bacon pieces, then 2 lettuce leaves atop egg salad on each. Cover with remaining toast slices, mayonnaise side down. Cut sandwiches diagonally in half.  Serve immediately.

What are you waiting for? Hop to it and get cracking with this "egg-travagant" version of Egg Salad.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Face It!

Facials are a guilty pleasure for me. I can count on one hand how many times I have had a facial professionally administered. Actually, I can count on one finger to be exact...My first facial encounter was right before I walked down the aisle as a little pre-bridal splurging is always acceptable! Yep- big mistake! For some reason, the idea of a licensed Esthetician poking, prodding, and pinching my enlarged pores (3) days before I hosted the largest party of my life seemed logical?! Fortunately for me, the gal at the M.A.C. counter had seen this all too often and was a pro at covering the after math with a heap of concealer and a stroke of Bronzer. Magic, I tell ya! Ever since then, I have taken my business to SPA de le Casa! I know the idea of an at home facial is not as glam and gilded as a day at the Ritz Carlton SPA, but it is cost-effective and done in the privacy of your own home. Plus, no 22% gratuity necessary and no awkward waffle weave robes! I have included a few of my fave at home facials which can be made from food and other natural items. Take a peek in your pantry or fridge for these treatments that will leave your face fresh and your wallet weighty.
Honey-do: Everyday honey is the "bees knees" for anyone with dry or damaged skin. This syrupy solution is a "humectant" which means it aids in retaining water and moisture. Use a cloth damp with warm water and pat skin to open pores. Smear honey onto skin and leave on for 30 minutes. Rinse off with warm water, then pat skin with a cloth dampened with icy water to seal your newly hydrated pores closed.

Avocado Aid: It's not just for Guacamole any more! This bumpy and lumpy green fruit is rich in vitamins, A, C, E, iron, potassium, niacin, and pantothenic acid. All these components make it a miracle fruit! Mash the avocado, apply directly to skin, then leave on skin for 15 minutes. Scrape off with a crispy Tortilla Chip ( I am kidding!) Rinse your face with cool water and allow to air dry. You can also use the miracle fruit to strengthen and condition your hair or throw a swinging Fiesta! Ole!

Younger with Yogurt: Your daily pre-lunch break snack is packing some major "skinefits!" Yogurt contains alpha-hydroxy acids, including lactic acid, which are commonly used to help reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles. (Yes, please!) It's also rich in B-complex vitamins, including B-5, or panthothenic acid, which aids in the skin's healing process. Clean face thoroughly, removing all make-up and excess oils, then apply a think coat of plain, non-flavored yogurt to your face and neck. Leave on for 20 minutes and rinse clean.

Egg-ceptional Results: Egg are high in vitamin A, a common ingredient in acne-fighting products. How do you think the Easter Bunny has kept up his good looks throughout the years?  For dry skin, spread the  egg yolk on your face and neck, leaving it on the skin for 30 minutes. Rinse with cool water. For oily skin, do the same with only the egg white. Wait until it dries and rinse off with warm water. FYI, I am actually yolking it up as I type but now I suddenly have a strange craving for bacon...
 Going Grape: These globes of goodness contain powerful antioxidants, called poly phenols, which help combat aging. Grape seed oil or extract is now found is the world's most cutting edge anti-aging products because of it's healing capabilities. Skip the Lancome counter and simply cut one grape in half and rub lightly all over face. Prepare for yourself for a slight tingle as the grape extract gets to work!

Banana Beauty: No monkey business here! Bananas are one of the most nourishing fruits available because they contain magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, iodine, folic acid, and vitamins A, B, and E, all of which benefit the skin. Mash one overripe banana and spread onto face. Rinse off after 15 to 30 minutes with warm water. This is a guaranteed facial that will leave your skin simply "appeeling."

Rosie Glow: Your Royal Highness of Egypt, Cleopatra kept her skin youthful and glowing with the application of a natural astringent of rose water. To make your own sweet smelling splash, place 2 cups of firmly packed fresh rose petals in a saucepan and cover with 2 cups of distilled water. Simmer over low heat until water is reduced by half. Let cool and strain out the petals. Store in sterile jar or bottle. Your house will smell heavenly and who knows, with skin as good as yours will be, your very own Marc Anthony just may sweep you off your feet.

As they say, "beauty is only skin deep" so nourishing from the inside is very necessary. Be sure to always drink lots of water, take your vitamins and wear sunscreen moisturizer. Take some time out of your day to experiment with these homeopathic hints. Just think, one fabulous and frugal facial is only a grocery run away!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Blooming Brews

A little impish twinkle starts to appear in my eyes this time every year as my fondest holiday swiftly approaches. March 17th, Saint Patrick's Day in Savannah, Georgia is truly at sight to be seen. The spouting waters of our majestic Forsyth Fountain are dyed green, doggies don leprechaun hats and emerald hued eggs and grits are something you would want to consume. For many Savannah Sons and Daughters, Saint Patrick's Day is a time to share in revelry with your closet family and friends and is a time to pay homage to our gorgeous city and rich heritage. Even though we live in Orlando now, I am hoping the Luck O' the Irish will get us a few days off of work next week so we can make it up for the merry-making of the holiday. If not, you can bet your last Irish pound that we will celebrate here in Sunny Florida with sass and style. As I sat here surfing the internet, virtually preparing my Saint Patrick's Day dinner table, I originally desired a centerpiece that exuded class, elegance and panache! Memories of past March 17ths came flooding back to me and oddly enough, the words "class and elegance" just didn't seem to fit...Almost instantaneously, this frothy floral mug caught my eye on 1-800 Flowers and I squealed with delight. I genuinely love the products and quality put out by 1-800 Flowers, but I had to figure out a way to make this myself or what kind of blog would this be?! Here are your DIY instructions for a Saint Patrick's Day Brew that will have all Irish Eyes Smiling!

Blooming Brews

Materials Needed:

* Glass or Acrylic Beer Mug

* Colored Crystals

(Gold for a Traditional Lager, Brown for a Guiness, or Green for a TRUE St. Patrick's Day Brew!)

* 1 Dozen Carnation Heads with 3/4" Stems (White or Green Tinted)

* 1 Block Oasis Floral Foam


Cut floral foam into a (1) 1/2" thick circle the diameter of the beer mug. Soak this circle for 2 to 3 hours in water. Fill your beer mug (I found mine at the Dollar Tree) to the top, leaving about 1" for the wet floral foam with your crystals or glass marbles. Top with water and wet floral foam disc. Gently begin pushing your carnation heads into the wet foam until disc is covered. Finish off the presentation with a printed theme tag and ribbon with a Saint Patrick's Day wish or a witty Irish limerick.

I hope this Saint Patrick's Day finds you amongst friends and family and those who love you the most. Where ever you are raise your glasses and sing with me this Irish Toast.

Saint Patrick was a gentleman,
Who through strategy and stealth,
Drove all the snakes from Ireland,
Here’s a toasting to his health.
But not too many toastings
Lest you lose yourself and then
Forget the good Saint Patrick
And see all those snakes again.
'Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!'
Happy St. Patrick's Day, Y'all!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

The fattest of all Tuesdays is upon us and as the French (and the fancy) say, Laissez les bons temps rouler! For those of us who have never had the chance to experience the bevy of beads and booze on Bourbon Street, home-thrown Mardi Gras parties are a great way for us to relish in the fanciful festivities even though we are miles away from NOLA. A featured dish at many Mardi Gras celebrations is the tri-colored, tear apart King Cake. The origins of the King Cake dates back to pre-Christian religions of Western Europe however, the King Cake is now most synonymous with Epiphany and Mardi Gras. Many moons ago, French settlers brought this cakey custom to Louisiana in the 18th century where it remained associated with the Epiphany until the 19th century when it became a more elaborate Mardi Gras custom. In New Orleans, the first cake of the season is served on January 6, Epiphany Night. A small ceramic (or new age plastic) figurine of a baby is tucked away in the sweet, decadent layers of the cake. The baby hidden in the cake speaks to the fact that the three Kings had a difficult time finding the Christ Child on that fateful night in Bethlehem. By tradition, whoever finds the baby is given the honor of hosting the next "King's Cake Party." The chromatic colors of the King Cake are also rich with sugary symbolism. The royal purple denotes justice, the true green represents undying faith and the bright yellow symbolizes power. Now that we know the roots of this "custom cake", let's get to baking!

King Cake


2-8 oz. cans crescent rolls

4 oz. cream cheese

2 tablespoon confectioner's sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoon butter

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Purple, Green, Yellow Icing


Preheat oven to 350*. Coat a 10-inch round pizza pan with cooking spray.

Separate crescent rolls at perforations into 16 pieces. Arrange crescent rolls pieces in prepared pan in a circle, with points in the center. About halfway down from points, press seams together. Beat cream cheese, confectioner's sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until creamy. Spread over dough where seams have been pressed together. In a small bowl, using a fork, combine butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over cream cheese. Fold dough points over filling, then fold bottom of dough triangles over points, forming a circular roll, like a king cake. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly. Drizzle King Cake with Mardi Gras colored icing. (Don't forget the baby!)

The recipe above is a fun and fast version of this party pastry and would be a welcomed addition to any of your Mardi Gras themed Fetes. After your King Cake makes its hot debut from the oven, fasten your feathers, hold up your hurricane, and get ready to throw out some beads, Mister- it is time to let the good times roll!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A-weighting Success!

For those of you who know me, you know food is my folly! Whether it's baked or broiled, sautéed or seared, fricasseed or fried- I LOVE FOOD! As a Georgia Peach, our Southern family celebrations and holidays revolve around food and good times shared in the kitchen. I begin menu planning for these events months in advance and day dream about the moment when all of my food fantasies will come to fruition. The career path I have chosen also exposes me to fine foods and a bevy of beverages on a daily basis. As a catering sales manager in a Four-Diamond Hotel, one could almost say it is my job to recognize and sell good food! With my proclamation of food love now known, there comes a price... Over the last few months, Rick and I have seen our love of tastes materialize into a loathing of our waists! We have both had more fun than a pig in mud packing these pounds onto our person, but now it's time to take control of the situation and get back to where we once were. Both Rick and I are competitors by nature; we are first-born leaders who have always sought for that number one spot in the sun. Instead of just making a trite New Year's Resolution to lose weight, we have turned this feat of fitness into a friendly little wager. Our competition is simple, satisfying and is based on positive reinforcement. We simply have agreed that the individual who loses the highest percentage of their body weight by May 1st, 2011 will get to choose a (5) day long trip to anywhere in the Continental United States. Rick has his heart set on a Pacific Coast Highway road trip in California while I have my sights set toward a Culinary Crusade in the North East. Either way, we will be experiencing the benefits of weight loss and have an awesome trip to look forward to in the fall.
I was once an avid disciple of Weight Watchers and had great success with the program in college. I now plan to use a few of those tactics to help me reign supreme. Here are a few tricks and treats that helped me get through the days, the weeks, and the months that eventually led up to my weight loss goal.

Sweet Tooth: I am pretty sure I keep the Oompaloompas employed at the Wonka Factory with my insatiable love of sweets. They have inevitably been the downfall of all my diets! Instead of my caramel Sundae, I now turn to fat free whipped topping. Crumble a reduced fat Oreo in this fluffy cloud like substance, sprinkle a little unsweetened cocoa powder in the mix and place in your freezer for just a bit. After that first bite, you will feel like you are indulging in a Dairy Queen Blizzard or it's delightfully delish faux, the Mc Flurry. Fat free whipped topping and a maraschino cherry also pep up fat free chocolate pudding if that's more your speed. Other sinless sugary items include a Tootsie Roll Pop, a handful of Jelly Bellies, or a piping cup of sugar free Swiss Miss with mini marshmallows- all coming in under 70 calories! Hopefully these will be the answer to all your sweet dreams!

Midnight Snacks: You have brushed your teeth, put on your jammies, but you are craving something salty before you hit the sack. My savory savior has been 97% Fat Free Butter Popcorn sprinkled with some reduced fat parmesan, maybe some Italian Mrs. Dash and a spritz of spray butter. String Cheese, Mini Rice Cakes, and a Bowl of Healthy Choice Broth Based Soups are salty and sinless snacks. Great for lunch or bedtime, try a Guiltless Grilled Cheese! Spray butter (2) pieces of light white bread and layer with one slice of sharp fat free processed cheese. Grill and gorge guilt free, dahlin's!

Down the Hatch: As a self-proclaimed social butterfly, I enjoy sipping cocktails with the ladies whenever I can. Adult libations like high calorie mixed drinks and frozen daiquiris can really make that calorie count go crazy. A glass of wine or Champagne are usually your best bet, but when you simply cannot go without your favorite cocktail, sip down one of these slimmed down drinks.

Mojitos- White Rum, Sprite Zero, Fresh Lime Juice, and Mint

Cosmo- Orange Flavored Vodka, Light Cranberry Juice, and Fresh Lime Juice

Mimosa- Champagne with a Splash of Reduced Calorie Orange Juice

Bloody Mary- Pepper Flavored Vodka, V8, Worcestershire, Cayenne, Olive Juice, Salt & Pepper

Margarita- Tequila, Lemon-Lime Crystal Light, Reduced Calorie Orange Juice, Fresh Lime Juice

*Pearl of Wisdom* I know many of my gal pals have reverted to drinking flavored vodkas and diet tonic or soda, but please do your research! The majority of the flavored vodkas on the market are actually brimming with sugar. Please refer to the vodka manufacturers' website for calorie info before you imbibe in what you think is a diet friendly drink!

I jokingly told my boss the other day when she asked what my New Year's resolution was that I don't make resolutions, I make life changes. Ok, I know it was a pompous and cheeky little statement, but it's true! Hopefully, without completely depriving myself of my true love of food and fun, I can make a few small but impactful changes to my daily life that will bring me closer to where I want to be!

Cheers to you reaching your goals, whatever they may be this year and this lifetime!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Put Your Best Foot Forward in 2011

The snowing is snowing and the wind is blowing- there is no doubt that old man winter is in full effect! With the mercury in those thermometers as low as it can go, it's about time to treat those tootsies to a little pedi-pampering. The harsh, frigid and sometimes blisteringly cold weather of the season can take a toll on our skin and especially our frequently flaunted feet. Even though most of us Divas find fantastic coverings for our feet during the winter, like your favorite furry Uggs or a pair of Leopard-print Louboutin Boots (in MY dreams...), your tootsies still require the TLC you would normally lend them at the peak of sandal season! Hopefully, you are not snowed in and could make it to your local nail salon, but if you are, or would just like to take the D.I.Y. approach to fabulous feet, take a few of these toe-pointers for your own good. Your feet will thank you!

*Soak Em'- Fill a small tub with warm to hot water (personal preference), a squirt of your favorite shampoo, and let those peds marinate. You will want to soak your feet for at least 10 minutes to soften the skin before exfoliating, but I bet you won't be watching the clock during this luxe process. If you have them lying around the house, add a handful of those decorative glass stones you see in floral arrangements. Work them around the tub with your feet and toes as they can stimulate your pressure points. A much more cost efficient and less intimidating approach to acupuncture. (Needles scare me, how about you?)

*Scrub Em'- Exfoliate feet using an over the counter defoliant, made with equal parts of Epsom salt, olive oil and hand soap. Pay close attention to heels and tiny toes as dead skin tends to build up there. Trim up those nails and cuticles while you are at it- no monster claws!

*Soften Em'- Apply a thick layer of petroleum jelly with a few drops of fresh lemon juice to clean feet. No, we are not making lemonade; the acid from the lemon juice helps break down dead skin and allows the jelly to do its job! (Strawberries would also serve the same purpose, but wouldn't you rather put those bright little berries in a glass of bubbly?) Cover them with your cutest cotton socks and leave on overnight. Wash your feet the next morning and marvel over your smooth soles!

Make a day out of this foot fete, ladies! Treat your feet and yourself to a little R&R. Grab a magazine, light a few candles and push play on your favorite Michael Buble CD! As you sip your Champagne, let all the troubles of the world melt away.This winter your feet will be so fabulous, you will give Dr. Scholl’s a run for his money.

Cheers to posh paws and a bountiful and blessed New Year!