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Recipe of the Week – Watermelon Prosciutto + Cheese Appetizers

February 29th, 2012

For anyone who’s anxious to serve something with a “twist”, this is a great summer appetizer to impress your guests. Instead of honeydew melon, we used watermelon and instead of feta cheese, which has become ubiquitous when it comes to pairing with watermelon, we used a strong Dutch Gouda. But you can use any cheese you enjoy. Feel free to experiment to find the right combination for you.

1/4 watermelon
4 thin slices of Prosciutto
8 thin slices of Gouda cheese (or a strong gourmet cheese of your choosing. You can use Feta as well)
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar or a gourmet flavored vinegar

Cube watermelon. Arrange individual cubes on a plate or serving platter. Cut each long slice of Prosciutto in to four pieces. Cut cheese into individual small pieces. Stack cheese and prosciutto on top of watermelon cubes. Sprinkle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Recipe of the Week – Smoked Chicken and Cranberry Arugula Salad

February 23rd, 2012

If you are looking for a salad that is easy to make, delicious, and filling, I’ve got one right here! This delicious, sweet, and tangy salad is easy to make and will definitely impress your friends. The smoked chicken is ready-made from the super market. I love the chicken from the rotisserie and it can easily feed 6 – 8 guests. Serve with a delicious herbed buttered bread, such as a Rosemary loaf and you will have very happy guests. The smells and tastes will truly impress!

1 medium smoked chicken (available at any grocery store)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup frozen peas
2 ripe avocados
1 lemon
1 head lettuce
1 bag arugula
To Make Dressing
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp walnut oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh mixed herbs (a mixture of fresh herbs such as parsley, lemon thyme, mint, etc.)
Salt and Pepper

Divide and carve the chicken cutting to make bite sized pieces for the salad. Cover the divided and cut chicken and store in refrigerator.
Put the cranberries in a bowl of water and let stand, covered, for 30-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, blanche the frozen peas and refresh them under cold water.

Slice or cube the avocados and squeeze lemon juice on them to prevent discoloration.

Combine the lettuce and arugula and toss with avocados and peas. Add the chicken.

Combine all the dressing ingredients and shake well. Add salt and pepper to taste and shake well again until all the ingredients are well blended and taste the way you want.

Drain the cranberries and mix them with the dressing, then pour over salad and serve immediately.

Super Simple Centerpieces (I'm talkin' Duct Tape!) and Appetizer Display

February 20th, 2012

As always, I had a wonderful time ending 2012 with two segments on Better Kansas City TV show! The beautiful and classy  Lisa Holbrook, one of the hosts who interviewed me (on the left), always makes me feel special and welcomed.  The gorgeous and hip Kelly Jones (on the right), is the other host.  Kelly and Lisa make a great team and both make my time at Better Kansas City fun and memorable.

My two segments covered super easy centerpieces and creative ways to showcase your appetizers. Below are the tips for the centerpieces. I hope you enjoy them and if you would like to see the actual TV segments, I’ll be posting them soon on my  “videos”  page.  Or, you can see them directly on the KCTV 5 Web Site:



Stunning Christmas centerpieces don’t necessarily have to take a lot of time or expensive materials. If you are looking to create something budget friendly, yet creative, this holiday season, here are some great ideas on re-purposing things you may already have sitting around your house!

1. METAL CANS, JARS & DUCT TAPE : Before you throw out those coffee cans, veggie cans, or even pickle jars, STOP! Because now you can re-purpose them as fun containers for your holiday centerpiece. Simply purchase decorative duct tape at any craft store and cover your cans and jars. Before you know it, you’ll have a great centerpiece to wow your friends with!  I used polka-dot decorative duct tape.  I re-purposed used ribbon and tied it around the can.  I filled the cans with fresh flowers and set a red Christmas ornament on top.  It turned out great!

2. CANDY TOPIARIES: One of the many things we are tempted with during the holidays is the plethora of candy that
seems to pop-up from just about everywhere. Well, instead of watching your waistline grow, watch how impressed your friends and family will be when you create these fun and easy topiaries perfect for your table, buffet, or just about anywhere.  I used hot glue to adhere the peppermints.  I also used toothpicks for the gumdrop trees.  Both were super easy and I did them with my kids while watching a Christmas movie.

3. EMPTY BOXES: I don’t know about most people, but my house seems to get an inordinate amount of boxes during the
holidays. With a little creativity and help from wrapping paper, you can transform those boring old empty boxes into beautiful
displays perfect for anywhere in your home.

4. GIFT BAGS AND GIFT BOXES If you ever thought that vases were the only things you could put flowers in, you’re about
to be pleasantly surprised! These “ready-made” table decorations can transform a boring table into a beautiful showplace!

For those of you who know about Elf on A Shelf and wondered why he’s hanging out with me.  Well, it’s because he tagged along with me to the TV studio.  My kids wondered what happened to him in the morning since he was no where to be found.  But when they watched my  TV segment, they were so surprised and thrilled to find him in the midst of my centerpieces.

How To Create An Epic Cheese Platter!

February 17th, 2012

It’s always really exciting when I get to appear on Better Kansas City!  The hosts are fun and the crew always makes me feel like I’m among friends!  It was Kelly’s (one of the hosts) birthday the prior week and I wanted to create something special for her to celebrate her belated birthday!  What better way to do that than with a cheese spread?  Lucky for me, the producer agreed that since the holidays were just around the corner, most watchers would probably appreciate a “how-to create a cheese platter 101”.  So, equipped with my “no-fail” tried and true tips, I arrived at the studio with tons of cheese, accessories, and a slew of ideas.

Many people wonder where to start when planning your cheese platter.  I’m certainly no cheese expert but the good news is that creating a cheese presentation is basically a “no-fail” endeavor.  As long as you have cheese and crackers, your guests will be happy.  However, if you want to take it to the next level, there are many things you can do to create something unforgettable.   I’ve done my research on the internet and also met with a “Cheese Steward” at a local store who gave me some great advice.  So, here’s what I learned:

TIP #1 – Try to have at least three milk types (cow, sheep, and goat).  Also, try to incorporate cheeses from different countries or regions.  For example, I had sheep cheese from Spain, goat cheese from Holland, and cow cheese from the United States.

TIP #2 – Have fun with the presentation!  Don’t worry about arranging things on special cheese platters. Simply using cutting boards… large and small… will create a warm setting that is not only practical but beautiful as well!  Additionally, don’t ever feel like you have to buy fancy equipment or presentation items.  Cheese is all about being casual and rustic… nothing fancy-schmancy about it!

TIP #3 – Have a different knife for each cheese.  There are few strict rules in cheese presentation, but having a knife dedicated strictly to each cheese is one of them.  No one wants a hunk of bleu cheese intruding on their cheddar.

TIP #4 – Label, label, label!  Another rule not to break is to make sure your cheeses are well labeled.  Unless you plan to be next to your cheese plate all evening, ready to go into explanations with every guest, there should be a label next to each cheese.  The reasons are pretty obvious.  Some people may not be able to tolerate cow cheese, but can enjoy sheep or goat cheese.  And no matter how obvious some cheeses look, there are always people who have no idea which is the brie or the bleu cheese.  So do your guests and yourself a favor — label… label… label!

TIP #5 – Arrange the cheese.  Although this is not a die-hard rule, most cheese afficiandos will tell you that when placing multiple cheeses on a circular tray, place the cheeses in a clockwise direction starting from the mildest at the twelve o’clock position to the strongest, like your bleu cheese,  at eleven o’clock.  When arranging on a rectangular board, start with the mildest flavors on the right and work your way toward the strongest cheeses on the left.  Again, no one will call the cheese police if you don’t follow these rules, but you may impress the cheese afficionados.

TIP #6 – Don’t spend a ton of money on crackers!  Most people think that crackers have to be fancy or gourmet to serve with cheese, but the truth is, your cheese should be  your main investment.  Gourmet crackers are not a “must”.  In fact, most cheese experts recommend you stay with neutral crackers with no herbs or additional flavorings.  The important thing is to make sure the seasonings on the crackers do not interfere with the taste of the cheeses.  So save your money!

TIP #7 – Take care of your cheese!  Put your cheese out an hour prior to serving so it has a chance to soften.  Keep cheeses covered during the party so they don’t dry out.  When putting leftover cheese away, wrap in wax or parchment paper to let the cheese “breathe”.  Store in the most humid section of your refrigerator, which tends to be the vegetable drawer.

TIP #8 – It’s all about the pairings!  Even though cheese and crackers are great together, adding additional items to the cheese plate is not only delicious, but gives guests a sense of variety.  Here are some suggestions for pairing cheese.

1.  Artisan breads are wonderful for practically any cheese.  Soft breads and crusty toasts will work with mild, strong, soft, and hard cheeses.

2.  You can’t go wrong with fruit!  Fresh or dried, fruit is a wonderful accompaniment to any cheese.  Choose fruits that are in season and arrange them to create a colorful presentation.  Fresh apples, pears, grapes, kiwi, and pomegranate look beautiful together.  Dried figs, apricots, and cranberries are perfect to serve on a cold winter evening alongside your gourmet cheeses.

3.  Dried meats such as prosciutto, salami, and sopresetta are perfect next to sheep cheeses.  Place small crocks of mustard and horseradish nearby so guests can create small sandwiches with their meat and cheese pairings.

4.  Don’t forget the nuts!  Nuts and cheeses go hand in hand.  You don’t have to spend oodles on gourmet nuts.  Simple nuts such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, and even peanuts work well with cheese.  There are even hybrid nuts which are made especially for cheese pairings.

5.  The sweet stuff!  Did you know that drizzling honey over your bleu cheddar cheeses is DELICIOUS! Try it!  Your guests will also be surprised.  Other items like fig spread over brie is absolutely unforgettable.  Great for an after-dinner cheese spread as well!

6.  Pickled anything!  Some of my most favorite pairings are pickles and even olives! They go great with mild or strong cheddar.  Place some pickles or olives next to your cheddar and watch them disappear!

Pumpkin Patch Hummus and Carrot Appetizer

February 15th, 2012

Seriously, how can you not fall in love with this great idea for an appetizer. It’s easy to put together and fun for guests to nibble on. All you need are carrots, parsley, green onion, toothpicks, and hummus.

Then, just slice the carrots, take some parsley leaves and attach them to the carrot with a toothpick. Slide a piece of green onion over the toothpick to have a look of a “stem” and arrange on a bed of hummus. Told ya it was simple!

Thanks to the folks at Disney magazine for inspiring me with this recipe.

Recipe of the Week – Citrus Caprese Salad

February 14th, 2012

Sure, we’ve all heard and probably eaten Caprese Salads, but this one is a bit different and absolutely incredible. I love serving dishes that we’ve all had before, but with a unique, and of course, delicious twist. This Caprese salad has all the usuals but with the addition of citrus. Plus, try using fresh Cilantro instead of basil.  I can’t tell you how wonderful and fresh it tastes. Plus, it is absolutely beautiful! The colors just pop. Make it once and I bet you’ll be hooked!

1 medium onion
4 large oranges
4 medium tomatoes
1 pound buffalo mozzarella cheese
1 bunch Cilantro
6 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel onion and slice it into thin rings. Place in a bowl and squeeze the juice of one orange and one lemon into the bowl. leave to marinate for 30 minutes.
Remove the skin and pith from the remaining 3 oranges and slice into six or eight wheels. Remove all seeds.

Slice the tomatoes into 6-8 wheels as well.

Slice the mozzarella cheese into 6-8 wheels

Assemble the salad by alternating the orange, onion, cheese, and tomato.

My Halloween Pumpkin segment on Better Kansas City

February 13th, 2012

I love appearing on Better Kansas City.  I always have so much fun creating ideas and simple projects which (hopefully) inspires the viewers to have some fun on their own.  Here is a photo of my most recent appearance when I talk about all the fun and trendy ideas for this year’s Halloween Pumpkin decorating.  PLUS… they are all no-carve ideas, so you never even have to pick up a knife!  Here is the link to this video segment.  NO CARVE PUMPKIN IDEAS

Amelia's Fine Linen – Beyond Comfortable!

February 13th, 2012



St. Louis is a very lucky city to be home to Amelia’s Fine Linen.  In the hustle and bustle of Chesterfield Commons, there is a quiet and serene store which will envelope you in relaxation and zen.  Amelia’s Fine Linen is like no other store.  Filled with beautiful items for bed and bath, Amelia’s will take your breath away.  The next time you are shopping in Chesterfield, make sure to stop by this bedding oasis!

Visit Amelia’s Fine Linen on the web:
Stop by the store:  17401 Baxter Rd.  Chesterfield, MO
Call her:  (636) 728-0455
Find them on Facebook and Twitter

Tangerine Tango – PMS 2012 Color of the Year!

February 13th, 2012

There are many reasons to celebrate the new year, including the assignment of a new PMS color of the year… Tangerine Tango!  The folks at Pantone, the color authorities have chosen Tangerine Tango as the color for 2012.   It’s a happy, vibrant color that will put a smile on your face and lift your spirits… no matter if you are wearing it, decorating your home with it, or inspired by it for your next special event.  We chose some beautiful items that bring a touch of Tangerine Tango to your life.

  1. Looking glamorous is easy in this gorgeous Shailene Dress from Lilly Pulitzer – $298

  2. Feeling exotic with these gorgeous TopShop LOVE Colour Block Suede Sandal – $99

  3. You can’t go wrong with Trish McEvoy Beauty Emergency Card for Lips Be Prepared Pink– $32

  4. Everyone will attend your soirée when you send them these gorgeous Modern Playbill Wedding Invitations

  5. I’m in love with this Marc by Marc Jacobs Exploded Katie Bracelet– $128


  7. Stunning coral ring from

  8. Beautiful tablescape by Southern Accents

  9. Orange Pillows

  10. Delicious custom cookies which can be designed in any PMS color from Colleen’s Cookies

Sangria Recipe

February 12th, 2012

I just love this Sangria recipe from The Porch in Soulard, a wine and gift boutique. I am planning on trying this ASAP!!!