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Showing posts with label spring. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spring. Show all posts

Monday, April 14, 2014

Easter Menu & Table Setting | Leek & Spinach Stuffed Pork Loin




I'm always looking for a new way to prepare a traditional dinner entree like Pork Loin - especially in the Spring.  While there are many different marinades and cooking methods out there that can change up the flavor, stuffing it has to be one of my favorites.  It is a great way to introduce some spring vegetables and color to a somewhat plan cut of meat.  It is such an elegant presentation, too - sliced and served on a platter - it is a great option for a Easter or a Spring dinner party.


 This pork loin is stuffed with a mixture of spinach, leeks, garlic and parmesan cheese - very springy.  Any type of filling would be great, though, be creative.  If you're really short on time and energy, you can buy a pre-made spinach dip (or artichoke dip) and use that as the filling. 

When I'm entertaining for a holiday or a dinner party, it is so important that it be easy.  Everything in this menu is cooked on baking sheets in the oven at the same time.  There is no hovering over the stove, or stirring - just put everything on a platter and bring it to the table.


Here is my filling - for the entire recipe, visit my monthly column on MyWell-Being.com.  It starts with sauteing leeks and spinach, then making a simple white sauce with cream and parmsean cheese.  You can't mess it up.


Ask the butcher to butterfly the pork loin for you to make it really simple.


Again, recipe and details on MyWell-Being.com.


Here is everything roasting at the same temperature.  Very easy!


And, sorry for boring you again with photos of this table (that I used to feature many of my spring products), but many of you that purchased the items have asked me about the details, and about recreating the flower arrangement at home.  So, here it goes : )

For the table setting I used :

Large Willow Vase filled with white hydrangeas, yellow daffodils, and pussy willow sprigs.  (arranging details below)

Hand-Dipped Taper Candles in Lexington Wheat : I love a neutral, tone on tone look, so after looking at multiple candle color options, I went with this muted, warm yellow.

Hemstitch Linen Runner (medium) for my table linen - I hardly ever use a table cloth because I love the natural wood of the table.

Creamware Egg Cups to display brown eggs.







For the arrangement, start by plopping all of my flowers in the vase so I am sure I have enough - and am using the right vase shape and size.  I used the hydrangeas to fill out the mass of the vase, and then highlighted with groupings of the yellow daffodils.


I always to arrangements within arrangements - so I make little bunches of flowers and add them to the bunch.  I think big blocks of color are more pleasing than a homogenous arrangement with all of the flowers evenly dispersed.  It seems more natural and gathered.


Also, be careful not to go color crazy - I like to stick to 2-3 colors in various shades, otherwise it can be spastic looking.  When in doubt, just go with one color.










And because I always like some natural texture, I added the pussy willow branches.  They add the perfect touch of spring - and are so beautiful when you look at them so closely. 


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Easter Cookie Decorating | New Sugar Cookie Recipe





Today I decorated another batch of sugar cookies using my collection of Copper Cookie Cutters for Spring.  A little short on time, I went a little simpler - with a cleaner and softer decorating approach.  

For the first time in 30 years, I tried a new sugar cookie recipe this week.  To be clear, I still love, love, love my Sugar Cookie Recipe, but this is my 2nd batch of sugar cookies in the last 30 days, so I wanted to switch it up. 

I know most of you read Tessa's Blog (Nine & Sixteen), and she has been raving about a new recipe she found from Williams-Sonoma.  So, since I was in the mood for something different, I thought this would be a great chance to try it.

It has a bit of a shortbread cookie constancy - which I love.  The cookies really hold their shape during baking.  But the real difference is the tiny bit of cardamom added to the dough.  It adds a subtle spice that, as Tessa would say, gives it a little something special, but it is not so much that it is overwhelming. 

The recipe link for the cookies is in this post on Tessa's blog, and it also includes the most adorable DIY bunny applique t-shirt (think mini boden style) that I can't wait to try. 


I also tried a new, well actually old, icing to go along with the cookie.  When we were little, my Mom made this creamy, buttery icing that we used to decorate our sugar cookies.  When I started decorating cookies for my clients, I switched over to Royal Icing because it gets hard and shiny - more professional looking... but there is nothing like the taste of a real butter icing.

In her post, Tessa had a tip about creating a glaze - she put a tablespoon of light corn syrup in hers.  I did the same in my buttery version and I think it helped the icing to harden and gave it a little shine.

Simple 
Butter Icing

4 tablespoons of Butter
4 tablespoons of Milk
1 tablespoon of light corn syrup
3-4 cups of Powdered Sugar

In a glass mixing bowl, heat butter and milk together in the microwave for 30 seconds, or until butter is melted.  Mix in powder sugar and stir until smooth.  Add more powdered sugar or milk to achieve the correct consistency. 




Products Used :
Spring Copper Cookies Cutters (on Sale Today - Saturday)

I used my 12" Disposable Pastry Bags to make the decorating easier - and clean up simple.


Because I always like a little bit of sparkle on simple cookies, I used Fine Sanding Sugar on the eggs.


And of course, I used my Parchment Paper Sheets to bake the cookies on - non-stick and no scrubbing the pan. 

I packaged these cookies using my Easter Basket Supplies - tags, wooden baskets, cello bags and cotton ribbon.  You can get more details in my post, here.

  

Easter Tags & Place Cards

Every season I design a new set of Tags to attach to treats, and Folded Cards to use as Place Cards or Gift Cards.  This time, I created two sets - one with a classic bunny and one with this very sweet lamb, both in a "pen and ink" vintage style. 
Bunny "Hippity Hoppity"

Easter is always a very colorful holiday, so I like to use more subtle colors (like this graphite grey for the bunny) for tags and cards to make any treat or gift look beautiful.  These Bunny Cards come in both Tags & Folded Cards.

 Here is another way I decorated the same cookies.  To see the step-by-step instructions for decorating these cookies, visit this link.

I'll be sharing some new Easter Packaging products tomorrow in the store - tags, ribbon, etc.  Have a good Thursday!







 Here is the easy-to-pin strip!


Friday, March 28, 2014

Happy Friday | Cookies for the Crew & Store Restocking



I get a lot of comments about how I "do it all" - and each time I read one of those, I feel a little guilty.  I never want this blog to make anyone feel like I'm some wonder woman that sleeps 2 hours a night and still has time to make fresh pancakes every morning and decorates cookies in the afternoon.  The truth is that the store has been a great new inspiration for me professionally - and a lot more work than I expected.


I started the store last summer - after blogging for 5 years, I needed a little something different to concentrate on and motivate me on a daily basis.  It was way, way, way more work than I thought it would be.  In a good way - and in an overwhelming way.  I've forged new relationships with my readers, opened new avenues of creativity for me and turned my brain on in a major way.  However, it took a major toll on my time.

The new note that goes out with each package - printed on my favorite really heavy textured cardstock.  It is the same paper and colors we used for our wedding invitations.
I've always been the type to do everything myself and reject help at all corners (I'm sure this sounds familiar to most of you!).  This has served me well, but also has been limiting.  After all, I am only one person... or so I've been reminded : )

After the holidays, I was exhausted... but already thinking about fun Valentine's products.  I knew I couldn't keep up at the rate I was going - burnout was just around the corner. 

So, after a little encouragement from Mike, I set out looking for help in the form of a crew.

For the past two months, I've been transitioning and training the new crew.  It feels like a huge step - the first time I've taken one of my ideas to the real next level.   Typically, the week after a new product launch, I spend days/weeks knee deep in krinkle wrap and packing tape. 

This new found freedom allows me to be able to respond to your questions more quickly, keep tabs on fleeting inventory, fix dinner for my family, and write blog posts, without feeling like I'm underwater for two weeks straight.


On their first big packing day I made a big basket of Egg Cookies (made from my Copper Cookie Cutters) and Lemon Butter Cakes (baked in Kraft Loaf Pans) for the crew.  I wanted to treat them to something special - and, I wanted them to feel and experience my brand on a first hand level.  I told them that these are the sort of things that these fabulous customers are planning to make.  I want them to understand how important presentation is - and that every package that goes out should feel like a gift.

Of course, Mike thought I was insane when I got up early to package them and tie the ribbons... isn't this why you've hired help?  As I explained to him, this is the fun stuff.  The reason I started everything in the first place.  And I'm so glad I have the time and energy to do the fun stuff and to do all of those little things that make life special.  


Last night, we had our first Spring storm that brought in drizzling rain and a 55 degree morning today.  The sun might not be shining, but the birds are chirping, my doors are wide open and I can smell that lovely damp scent of Spring.  I'm so glad I have the time and energy to enjoy it!   Oh - and thanks for all of the compliments on my new photo!   However, I assure you that I look nothing like this today in my comfy clothes while I work with my feet up and latte in my hand - of course. 



Product Updates :

Last week when I debuted the new Spring Collection, some items sold out so quickly, so I've restocked them this week, including My Everyday Candles (in the classic cream, this time) and Tablets + Le Pens in fresh colors.

Next week is all about Sugar Cookies.  I'll be posting unique packaging ideas, decorating tips and trying a couple new icing and cookie recipes. 

Thanks so much for all of your support!  Happy Spring : )

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue & Lemon Curd Celebration Candles


I love looking back at old posts.   Sort of.  Sometimes I cringe at photos I took with my iphone, other times it brings back a great memory... and delicious dessert.  I've included one of my original first posts (5 years ago) below that I'm revisiting today - Lemon Meringue Cupcakes.  I realize that citrus season is in the winter, but for me, nothing is as springy as a lemon dessert.  Actually lemon anything.

Today, I'm making these in honor of Emma's Mimi's birthday - like me, she's crazy about any thing lemon and cupcakes.  While I haven't shared these cupcakes on the blog in years, they are one of my favorite to make: white cake topped with lemon curd and swiss meringue.

I've topped them with my 6" Celebration Candles in Lemon Curd - a new color for spring.  They are perfectly lemony in color with a beautiful natural subtle hue.



Products used :

6" Celebration Candles in Lemon Curd
Jumbo Starburst Tip
18" Disposable Piping Bag
Brown Cupcake Liners



The cupcakes can come from a box, and the curd can be store-bought, or everything can be made from scratch.  If you're feeling ambitious today (unlike me) and would like to make everything from scratch, here is my recipe for Lemon Butter Cake that would be great to use for the cupcake element, and here is link to my Lemon Curd recipe.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes


24 Cupcakes - Vanilla or Lemon (from a mix or homemade)
Lemon Curd (store-bought or homemade)
Swiss Meringue (recipe below)

Bake cupcakes as directed.  Let cool for 30 minutes before topping.



Gently split each cupcake to allow lemon curd to get into the cake.



Dollop lemon curd on generously.



Put Swiss Meringue in a large piping bag (18" Disposable Bags) fitted with the Giant Starburst Tip, $4.



Pipe meringue in swirls on top of the lemon curd cupcakes.


Optional : To toast the top of the meringue, place the cupcakes under the broiler (set to about 400 degrees) in the oven for 30 seconds.  OR, use a kitchen blowtorch, like I did here.










 




Swiss Meringue

4 egg whites
1 cup of sugar
1 pinch of cream of tarter

In the top bowl of a double boiler (glass bowl sitting on a sauce pan with simmering water), whisk together egg whites, sugar and cream of tarter.  




Cook mixture in the double boiler over medium low heat for 3-5 minutes, or until sugar has dissolved.  If you rub the mixture between your fingers, you should be able to tell if the sugar has dissolved.




Transfer the mixture to your kitchen aid fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whisk on high for 7-10 minutes.



The mixture will cool and froth into a thick meringue as it whips.  Beat until stiff peaks form. Transfer to piping bag, or spread directly on lemon curd. 

Here is the easy-to-pin strip!






















......

Now, you can enjoy a flashback of some fine photography from years past : )



For my friend's birthday party last night, I created these refreshing Lemon Meringue Cupcakes.  I picked these "Naked Ladies" (pink flowers) from my backyard - I love them in big bunches. 



Leah enjoying her Birthday cupcakes!

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