Who doesn't love fun and fabulous party and hosting ideas that don't break the bank? Keep up with Amber's top tips in her blog.
Cuisipro Food Decorating Pen is available online at amazon.ca or from your local kitchen store. Retails for $9.99.
Looking for a laugh, check out http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/. Warning, it is addictive.
This year, I plan on going a little more contemporary by decorating with white pumpkins. I love the simple look of a white pumpkin on a black stand with black stenciling. A few grouped together would make quite a statement and look fabulous on a fireplace mantle. Plus, for under $5 a pumpkin, it is a cost effective way to decorate for the fall season.
Pumpkins available at your local grocery store.
4 baby pumpkins
1/6 cup vegetable stock or water
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon sage leaves, dried
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/2 cup bread crumbs, whole wheat
1/8 cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)
1/6 cup celery -- finely chopped
1/8 cup apricots, dried -- chopped
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes, grated
Soy sauce, low sodium to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice off the top 1/2 inch of each pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Bake pumpkins for 15 minutes. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat stock or water to simmering until onions are softened but not browned. Add garlic, sage, thyme, and bread crumbs. Cook, stirring, 1 minute, then remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Lightly fill pumpkins with stuffing. (Any remaining stuffing may be baked separately in a lightly oiled baking dish.) Bake for 15 minutes, or until stuffing is lightly browned and heated through. Be careful not to overbake the pumpkins, because they will split.
Big Night Soundtrack – a great mix of Italian favorites perfect for your next pasta dinner. Louis Prima’s voice is magical.
Rendezvous A Paris – A Starbucks branded CD that would compliment your next Beef Bourguignon perfectly.
Buena Vista Social Club – I literally wore this CD out. So good. The music tempo is ideal for a dinner party and keeps your party lively without being raucous.
Share your favourite dinner party music by clicking “Comments” at the bottom of the post.
All CDs available on Amazon.ca.
Check them out at http://www.beau-coup.com/personalized-designer-labels.htm. $7 per sheet. Shipping and handling extra.
To kick things off, a recipe for Flourless Chocolate Cake. So good and so easy, it is always a crowd pleaser. Served at room temperature, it is delish with vanilla ice cream and raspberries. Plus it is a great dessert recipe for all of those wheat intolerant friends. Bon appetit.
FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE
4 oz squares semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch round cake pan, and dust with cocoa powder.
In the top of a double boiler over lightly simmering water, melt chocolate and butter (No double broiler? No problem. Use a low heat and melt it slowly in a small pot directly on the burner). Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, cocoa powder, eggs, and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Slices can also be reheated for 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave before serving.
Available online at Sur La Table (www.surlatable.com). Slider Mini-Burger Tool Set $44.96 US.
2 measures of lemonade
1 slice of lemon1 slice of Cucumber1 slice of Apple
1 slice of Orange
Pimms and Ginger
With strawberries popping up all over the city in droves (and at excellent prices), why not try making stuffed strawberries for your next function. Each one is like a mini-strawberry cheesecake and sure to be enjoyed by your guests. The recipe first appeared in Martha Stewart a few years back but this is a timeless dessert perfect for the dessert buffet.
- Whip 6 ounces of room-temperature cream cheese on medium speed until slightly fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and 1 1/2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar.
- Trim tops and bottoms of 12 strawberries to level.
- Use a small melon baller to scoop out tops.
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip with cream cheese mixture; pipe into berries until it brims over tops.
- Toast 1/4 cup sliced almonds in a 350 degrees oven until golden-brown, 3 to 6 minutes; arrange slices over filling.
- Egg shells as many as you would like
- Egg cups to use as the base
- Food coloring
- Egg carton
- Warm and hot wax or tealight candles
- Make a hole in the top of each egg with a pin; enlarge the holes, and pour out the yolks;
- Clean shells;
- Then dye them with food coloring (follow package directions).
- Nestle shells in a carton.
- Cut wire-core wicks to 4 inches long, flatten one end, and fasten in shell with warm wax.
- Using a funnel, fill shells with hot wax (tinted with dye pellets). Let the wax cool. Trim the wicks, and light.
An alternative is to use tealight candles instead of using pure wax. You would need to make the egg holes large enough so that you can insert the tealight candles.
Available online at Sweet Papery (www.sweetpapery.com).
Take your favourite glass bowl or vase and fill it with lemons and limes or some bright red apples.
For an Italian theme, fill a basket with red, green and yellow tomatoes.
Use a cake stand to display candles of varied heights with cherry blossom cuttings or fall leaves scattered amongst the base of the candles. Or use that same cake stand and pile it up with shells for a beach theme.
For a movie/games night, fill vases with popped popcorn, M&M's and licorice or layer a number of candies.
Be creative, think outside the box and have fun!
Available at Estilo Weddings (www.estiloweddings.com). They come in packs of 12 for $12.50 or packs of 50 for $48.50 plus shipping.
Available at Whole Foods and Gourmet Warehouse. Priced between $12 and $14 for a jar of 11 flowers.
I love to bake a pork tenderloin lightly salted for 45 to 50 minutes at 325 degrees, slice it and arrange it on a plate in a semi circle. Pour the sauce on top and serve with roasted baby potatoes and a spinach salad. You will look like you have slaved all day and still have enough energy to enjoy a couple of glasses of wine.
Fischer and Wieser’s Roasted Raspberry and Chipotle Sauce is available at Gourmet Warehouse (www.gourmetwarehouse.ca) for $7.99 per bottle.
To sweeten the deal, Edible BC in Granville Island is holding their annual January Winter Sale with everything at their retail store marked down 15-25%! The sale will run from January 25th - 31st. Some of the fabulous products that you will find on sale include Vij’s gourmet take-out meals. Yummy made easy!
If you are off your local deli to pick up some supplies for the weekend, you will not regret picking up some La Sauvagine. La Sauvagine is a washed-rind cheese from La Fromagerie Alexis de Portneuf in Saint-Raymond de Portneuf, Quebec. This award-winning cheese is smooth like butter with a rustic taste. Bring it to room temperature and it will maintain its shape and melt in your mouth. I stumbled upon it completely by accident and now pitch it to fellow shoppers at the cheese counter.
Available at Urban Fare.