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Monday, October 27, 2014

Top 10 Entertaining Secrets




Entertaining Season is almost upon us.  I'm busy behind the scenes this week packaging up and photographing my products for Thanksgiving - my favorite holiday.  In just a couple of days I'll share the new collection with lots of inspiration for setting a beautiful Thanksgiving table.  These photos from last year's store collection are a little sneak peak of something that I'm stocking again - after many requests, hint hint.

For the next month I'll be focusing on my favorite easy entertaining tips to help you get ready for what is usually our biggest entertaining meal of the year with worksheets, checklists, recipes and more.  I can not wait to get started sharing... there are actually petite pecan and pumpkin pies baking in my oven as I type : )

As you know, I write a monthly column for MyWell-Being.com.  This months as we gear up for Thanksgiving and the Holidays my article featured my Top 10 Secrets for Easy Entertaining :

Top 10 Secrets for Easy Entertaining

I owned a catering and event planning business for almost 7 years and during that time I learned a lot about how to throw a great party without spending too much time or money.  Here are my Top 10 Secrets for Easy Entertaining that I still use today when I'm hosting a party for my friends and loved ones!  

Keep Reading the entire article at MyWell-Being.com > 

Hope you are able to use some of these tips while you plan your holiday entertaining!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes for Halloween


I can remember trick-or-treating and being thrilled when we were offered peanut butter cups - my sister was always looking for Butterfingers.  We would happily swap at the end of the night.   Peanut Butter Cups have always been my favorite candy treat.  
Even as adults, my mom gives us peanut butter cup eggs in our Easter basket and trees at christmas in our stockings.
You might remember the Milk Chocolate Glazed Cupcakes that I made for Valentine's Day and topped with a single giant red heart sprinkle.  For Halloween, I used the same recipe to create my favorite trick-or-treat treat in the form of a cupcake.  It was so simple - and a very quick project.  The cupcakes themselves have 5 or 6 ingredients and take no time to make (just be sure you have a can of Hershey's chocolate syrup).  

After baking, I scooped out the center of each cupcake and put a dollop of smooth peanut butter in the middle, then put the cake back on top.




  It requires a little smooshing, but don't worry - the Milk Chocolate Glaze fixes any goops and globs.



Here is the original Chocolate Cupcake with Milk Chocolate Glaze recipe.  Hope you treat your little spooks to this homemade treat!

Monday, October 20, 2014

This Week's Menu | Slow Simmered Bolognese, Goat Cheese & Caramelized Pizza, Lemon Chicken

I can not believe it is already the third week of October.  My heartaches a little thinking about it.  The weather is perfect.  Skies are blue, leaves are gold and red, air is crisp - perfect.  I can not get enough of it.  We've been a bit on the run for the last couple of weeks, so I'm going to really try to slow down and relax this week - long walks with Emma and D, easy dinners that leave us a time to play outside in the evenings (before it gets too dark!), and less working.  We have nothing on our calendar for the rest of the month besides a couple of halloween parties and I couldn't be more glad.  Time always skips a little faster for me because I'm already working on packaging up Thanksgiving products this week.  There is a lot of wheat involved (hint, hint).  I do have a couple of more Halloween projects to share, though... I've been dreaming about some Peanut Butter Cup inspired Cupcakes that will come in the next couple of days.

Hope you are enjoying a beautiful October day!
Jenny

Slow Simmered Beef Ragu

This. Is. So. Good.  Tomatoes, cream, parmesan, thyme, rosemary, garlic, wine... all slow simmered with beef makes the most comforting, delicious beef ragu/bolognese.  If your family allows, add mushrooms, too... mine does not : )



























Roasted Lemon Chicken Breasts with Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Vegetables

This is such an easy dinner - using chicken breasts make it simple and quick.  The lemon butter thyme sauce that the chicken cooks in is perfect drizzled over the mashed potatoes.



Lemon Orzo Soup

In honor of my blogger friend, Tessa's home being featured in Midwest Living Magazine's holiday issue (that is now out!) I'm sharing her recipe for one of our family's favorites - Lemon Orzo Soup.  I'll use the chicken from our Roasted Lemon Chicken to make it an easy dinner from leftovers.

























Goat Cheese & Caramelized Onion Pizza

Homemade Pizza is much easier than you think... especially when you used pizza dough from Trader Joes :)  This will be mine, Emma and Mike will make a simple margarita with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fall Fun on the Farm | Our Trip to Fahrmeier Farms


My cousins have a farm just outside of Kansas City - a real farm.  Where they grow things.  They produce amazing heirloom tomatoes, vegetables and fruits.  This year my cousin and his wife, Lorin, (that have a little boy Emma's age) have developed a U-Pick area of the farm.  They saw a need in our area's market for a real farm experience for kids and familes.


So many of the area's U-Pick apples, pumpkins and berries farms are filled with other attractions that really have nothing to do with the actual art of farming - the experience of getting to come out to the beautiful wide open, see the fields, see how things grow and breathe fresh air.


They built their own "Little Red Barn" as they call it.  It houses their fresh produce, fresh apple muffins and local cider.  Lorin has done such a cute job with everything - charming and quaint.



Each weekend in the month of October they have good ol' fashioned activities planned - s'mores roasting over a bon fire, apple butter making, pumpkin carving contests and family photos.  

Here is their facebook page that has a schedule of events : Fahrmeier Farms Facebook


Emma just wanted to pick flowers...


We tried to take a good family picture... but I had my camera settings all messed up when I handed off my camera to my cousin : )  Oopsy!  Guess we'll have to think of something else for the Christmas card...








Hope your kiddos get to do some running around in the fresh air this weekend - the weather is soooo beautiful around here!



Entertaining Idea : Book Club Social

I've always loved the idea of hosting a book party - I feel like most people do.  At this point in my life (and most of my friends!) reading an entire book is a big ask.  For me, it could take weeks, 30 minutes at a time before bed - if I can hold my eyes open that long.  However, recently I've read a couple of classics that are short enough to enjoy in just a couple of nights, or over a long weekend - one being To Kill A Mockingbird.  If you haven't red it as an adult, I highly recommend it.  It is especially timely, since the story concludes on a Halloween night.  

Pinnacle Vodka asked me to come up with some ideas for hosting a book club party this fall, and I thought it would be a great jumping off point.  I picked some photos of a fall table setting I did last Autumn for inspiration.  Get the details on this setting, here




I hope you enjoy my tips for creating a fun and easy Book Club Social this fall!  Thanks to Pinnacle for sponsoring this post : )






Theme the Party After the Book

Hosting a book club social is all about the theme. Take cues from the book you’re reading to help decide the menu and decor. Ask yourself: Did the central character have a favorite food?  Was it set in a location you can mirror for the decor? Classic works like To Kill a Mockingbird are great sources for inspiration!























Keep Books the Center of the Room (Even if it’s not the center of conversation...) 

Let’s not forget the purpose of your book club social is not only to chat books, but also to catch up with your girlfriends. Use stacks of old books as simple centerpieces (and conversation starters!) at each table area.  Make stacks of random sizes, even turning some on their sides.  You can throw in a few decorative pumpkins or other seasonal items to add subtle ambiance.




Stick to Finger Foods

Prepare a menu of finger foods so everyone can neatly indulge at your party. My favorite go-to appetizer is a tasty squash dip with toasted bread.


Pinnacle® Mockingbird Punch 

1 part Pinnacle® Peach Vodka
1 part Dry White Wine
1 part Apple Cider
1/4 part Honey Syrup (Half honeyhalf hot water to liquify) 
Sliced Apples

Method: Pour all ingredients into glass and mix in ice and sliced apples.



























Personalized Touches go a Long Way

For the takeaway gift, create a recipe card that looks like a library card with your cocktail recipe on it. That way guests can enjoy the cocktail at home the next time they curl up with their favorite book! There are plenty of library card templates you can download for free online, so just choose the one you like best.


Pinnacle® is a registered trademark of Jim Beam Brands Co. and is used with permission.  The information, comments and ideas expressed on this website do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Jim Beam Brands Co., its affiliated companies or any of their directors or employees.  Pinnacle® does not sponsor, authorize, or otherwise endorse this website.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Halloween Cookie Cutters



Emma has recently decided that pancakes are her very favorite food... especially now that she has been introduced to Chocolate Chip Pancakes.  She'll hardly even look at a Blueberry Pancake anymore.  And plain?  Forget it.  Yesterday, we had a little more fun and made them into Halloween shapes using my Halloween Cookie Cutters... which are now on sale for $12.50.

I'd seen this idea before, but had never actually tried it.  In fact, I wasn't really sure it would work - I pictured the batter seeping out under the cutters.  I was pleasantly surprised that it was just as easy as it looked.  The pancakes turned out very thick and fluffy.  This morning Emma requested stockings and mittens... what have I started?!

In addition to some items being discounted (cookie cutters and sprinkles...) I'm now offering 15% off orders over $50 just in time for making Halloween goodies.  More details below.




Chocolate Chip Pancakes



2 cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups of milk
2 extra-large eggs
2 teaspoons Vanilla Bean Paste
Mini Chocolate Chips
....
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
...
Softened Butter
Real Maple Syrup
....
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Begin by mixing together dry ingredients.  Separately, whisk together milk, sour cream, eggs and vanilla bean paste.  Mix wet and dry ingredients, then fold in chocolate chips.

Spray cookie cutters with non-stick spray.  Put butter and oil in a skillet.  Place cookie cutters in the pan, then spoon in batter.  Cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes - until bubbly in center.  Remove cutter, then flip.  Cook for another minute or two until cooked through.  Serve immediately or keep warm in oven.

I tried to add a Jack-O-Lantern face to this one... ended up being a little scary after it was flipped and cooked on the other side.


Hope you're enjoying your Fall & Halloween Baking... next we are going to try homemade glazed donuts with sprinkles!  While I love our chocolate glazed donuts and our cider donuts, I've really be craving good old fashioned, light and fluffy donuts with a classic glaze.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Again, don't miss the 15% off orders over $50 in my store.  Stock up on sprinkles (on sale), cookie cutters (on sale), cello bags, twine, ribbon and tags in time to make festive and spooky treats for your little (or big!) ghosts and goblins.... or princesses, if you are at our house.

Use the code : HALLOWEEN15 at checkout.


 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Autumn Chopped Kale Salad | Pumpkin Seeds, Cranberries & Pecorino with Apple Cider Vinaigrette





We rolled in at 2am last night from Mexico - we had Mike's sister's wedding over the weekend!  Obviously, I have no idea what we're having for dinner tonight, let alone this week, so instead of a weekly menu, I'm sharing this salad I promised a couple of weeks ago.  Hope you don't mind too much : )



This is my favorite Fall salad.  I order it from one of our favorite dinner spots - it has so many flavors and textures.  It goes great with my Apple Cider Roasted Pork Loin and Cheddar Grits, or is great to add some color and freshness to any comforting autumn dinner.  When I served this at home, everyone said - this is a perfect Thanksgiving Salad.  I also like to add sliced rotisserie chicken to make it an all-in-one meal, or served with a butternut squash soup.  Yum - maybe that is what we'll have for dinner!  

Pumpkin Seed & Cranberry
Kale Salad
with Apple Cider Vinaigrette 


4-6 cups of kale, chopped
1-2 apples, medium chunks
pumpkin seeds toasted, salted
dried cranberries
pecorino cheese
....
1/4 cup of cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of apple cider
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt


Wash kale, spin dry.  In a large bowl, combine kale and apples (not pictured, because I forgot!).  Stir together vinaigrette mixture, then pour over and toss.  Pile on platter and layer shavings of pecorino cheese, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds.
m38

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