I’m shining the spotlight on my friend Rachel again. Rachel is no stranger to fabulous parties, she organizes fun events which look effortless and always filled with delicious goodies. For anyone who feels like it takes too much work or preparation to host a book night or craft night, you will love this post. Hosting these types of mini-parties are very easy and don’t require as much work and planning as a typical party. When Rachel decided to throw a craft night, she asked all the guests to bring their favorite snacks. One guest brought a delicious white bean dip with pretzels. Another brought home-made chocolate covered pop-corn… SOOO GOOD… and another brought yummy gourmet chocolates. Rachel did an outstanding job of organizing a night out and creating a fun craft. And since all the guests were more than happy to bring something fun, Rachel also made her life a little easier.
Had book club at my house again and wanted to create a beautiful “fall” appetizer table… but nothing too complicated. I had some hummus left over from the weekend… beet hummus and basil hummus. Additionally, I prepared some quinoa Mexican inspired salad with corn and beans. It was DELICIOUS!!! I also prepared a beet salad because I LOVE to add red to my menu.
For a healthier alternative, I served greens so that people can build a salad foundation with lettuce and spinach and then top it off with the quinoa or beet salad.
The appetizer platter was very simple. It included bread and crackers, for the hummus, as well as various kinds of cheese. Last but not least, I purchased a flatbread at my local supermarket’s frozen food section, right next to the pizzas. It was easy to bake and my friends thought it was a wonderful addition to the table. I mean, who doesn’t love some freshly baked flatbread with their salad?
Beans, Beans, Glorious Beans – Oh, and Avocados too!! (Chickpea Blondies, Black Bean Brownies, and Avocado Chocolate Mousse)May 14th, 2015
My last show of 2015 was a blast at KCTV5’s Better Kansas City! I know, I know, I keep saying that after every show but it’s true! Every single person who works at Better Kansas City, both in front and behind the scenes, are approachable, super friendly, down-to-earth, and hysterical! And although I am a crazy ball of nerves before the show, everyone has always done everything possible to make me feel comfortable and welcomed. I just have so much love and respect for all of them!
But of course, I must get down to business so here are the delicious recipes from today's show! FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CHIP CHICKPEA BLONDIES No butter, no flour and absolutely delicious!!! (Vegan, gluten-free, dairy free, flour-free) 1 can chickpeas (rinsed and drained) 1/2 cup of peanut butter (you can use almond butter if you prefer) 1/2 cup of agave nectar 2 tsp vanilla 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp baking soda 1/2 cup chocolate chips PREPARATION 1. Preheat oven 350 and spray 8x8 pan with nonstick cooking spray or rub with coconut oil. 2. In food processor, process all ingredients except for the chocolate chips. You will notice that the batter is super thick, which is the way it is supposed to be. Fold in the chocolate chips but leave some for sprinkling on top. 3. Spread the batter evenly in the pan and sprinkle with the remainder of the chocolate chips. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Cool for an hour. VEGAN AVOCADO CHOCOLATE MOUSSE 2 large ripe avocados 1/4 cup of raw cocoa powder 1/4 cup of coconut milk or almond milk 3 tsp agave nectar 1 tsp of natural vanilla extract PREPARATION 1. Puree the avocado until smooth (super important... you don't want any lumps) 2. In a mixing bowl, mix the cocoa powder and milk until combined. 3. Add the avocado to the cocoa powder and milk mixture 4. Add nectar, vanilla, and any other ingredients you wish to add (frozen fruit, almonds, etc.) Transfer the mouse to individual martini glasses and chill in the fridge. The key to this recipe is to make sure that the mouse is WELL CHILLED and FRESH. Also, make sure that the avocado is well pureed. BLACK BEAN AVOCADO BROWNIES (VEGETARIAN, GLUTEN FREE) If you would like to make this recipe vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free, replace the egg with a Flax Egg. 1. 1 large egg 1- 15 oz can of low sodium and non flavored black beans, rinsed and drained 1 large avocado 1 tbsp vanilla extract 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (you can use more if you like your brownies sweeter) 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 2 tsp coconut oil 1/4 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp baking powder 1/2 cup of vegan chocolate chips PREPARATION 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8x8 baking pan. 2. Process egg, black beans, avocado, vanilla, and brown sugar until smooth. Add cocoa powder, coconut oil, baking soda, and baking powder and process again. Warning: Batter will be thick. If the batter is too thick, you can add two tbsp of almond milk. But thick batter is good, so don't overdo it! 3. Fold in the chocolate chips 4. Transfer the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with some chocolate chips 5. Bake 25-35 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Make sure that the top of the batter is not jiggling and is well set. Cool completely, cut and serve.
Whether you are celebrating Easter, or just the beauty of the arrival of spring, this centerpiece could not be any easier and makes an incredible impact on your table or buffet. All you need is clear glass vases, various carrots, and some mums or daisies. For a step-by-step instructional video, just VISIT MY VIDEOS PAGE and look for the EASTER CARROT CENTERPIECE segment on Better Kansas City!
Looking for some fun back to school party ideas! I’ve been busy this year with some fun projects. I hope they inspire you to create something wonderful!
I’m going to admit something to you… I have a fail safe party secret which ALWAYS works… I mean ALWAYS! Chocolate covered anything! Some people resort to chips and dip, I resort to chocolate and it has never failed me yet. So the next time you get the urge to entertain, try covering these foods in chocolate. Trust me, you’ll thank me later!
Chocolate covered cherries
Super easy and absolutely delicious. Cover these beauties in white or dark chocolate and you won’t be able to eat just one. Serve them in a martini glass for a beautiful presentation.
Chocolate Covered Ice Cream Sandwiches
Hold on to your hats! As if ice cream sandwiches weren’t enough, now you can dip them in delicious milk or dark chocolate for an added special touch and what’s a party if you don’t make your guests feel special. Just make your sandwiches and freeze for four hours. Melt chocolate and quickly dip the sandwiches in the chocolate and put back in the freezer. I placed all my sandwiches on parchment paper in the freezer. The sandwiches picture above were for a dinner party we had a few weeks back. I also dipped them in bacon and peanuts…. yes, I’m crazy!
Chocolate Covered Potato Chips
I know, I know… pure sin! However, chocolate covered potato chips seem to have a great combination of the “salty and sweet” that people enjoy. Plus, it’s unique and who doesn’t want to do something “out of the box” at a party?! Trust me, your guests may look at you funny initially, but they’ll be praising your efforts after they try it! Just brush a little chocolate on a thick potato chip. I suggest using the kettle brand or the rippled versions. I wouldn’t dip the chips, a light brushing seems to have a nice effect without overpowering the chip as dipping may do.
Chocolate Covered Bacon
Hold on to your hats! What’s the hottest food trend? Chocolate covered bacon, of course! I prefer to brush my bacon with chocolate instead of dipping it. I find that brushing it gives it just the right balance. Although some people fully dip the bacon and love it! You’ll have to try it yourself and discover your preference! Just make your bacon as you normally would. I prefer to bake mine and for an added sweetness, I sprinkle a generous amount of brown sugar on the bacon before placing it in the oven.
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
This classic will never fail you. You can ask my friends, no one has ever NOT had chocolate covered strawberries at least once while hanging out at my house. Simply put, they are the magic dessert that always seems to look beautiful and taste sensational. I prefer to dip my strawberries in dark chocolate, it’s the best combination of wonderfully sweet strawberries with a slightly bitter taste of the dark chocolate. Pure perfection!! And if you really want to go crazy, stuff the strawberries with cheesecake filling. Your guests will never forget it!! Here’s the recipes.
I had a blast today hanging out with Alexis and Dave from Better Kansas City Morning Show on Channel 4, here in Kansas City! I demoed three great “mobile” snacks to take to a Super Bowl party. Hot Wing Pretzels… Roasted Flavored Nuts… and Hot Wing Pretzels! All were super easy and with just a few ingredients!
3 cups of Self Rising (very important!) flour
3 tabspoons of sugar
12oz container of beer (any brand)
Pour beer into bowl. Then add flour and sugar. Mix until you have a dough
that is not sticking to the sides (you can add a little extra flour if you
like). You can place the dough directly in a well greased loaf pan. Or,
you can put the dough on a floured surface and knead it until you like the
consistency. Either way, your bread will be perfect (kneading or no
Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until you see the top of
the bread get brown. Keep an eye on your bread because ovens can bake
differently. If you like, you can pour some melted button on the top of the
bread 10-15 minutes before it is done.
1 bag of pretzel sticks or regular pretzels. Do not use large pretzel
1/2 cup of Butter
1/2 cup of Hot Wing Sauce
2 Tbsp of Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp Garlic Salt
In a pot, heat up the sauces and garlic salt. Once everything is mixed and
well heated, place the pretzels in a bowl and coat with hot sauce mixture.
Make sure that you coat the pretzels little by little, you don’t want there
to be extra sauce on the bottom of the bowl or a puddle on your baking sheet. Mix the pretzel sticks so they are well coated. Then place on a baking pan and bake on 300 degrees for 30
minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
3 cups of any nuts or mixed nuts… make sure they are RAW!
1/4 – 1/2 cup of butter
Ranch, cheese, or any pop-corn seasoning. You can also use seasoning packs
made for salsas and dips.
Place your nuts in a bowl. Melt butter and pour it over nuts little by little. Mix well
until all nuts are coated. Then simply add your favorite seasoning… as
much as you like. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes. KEEP
YOUR EYE ON THE NUTS SO THAT THEY DO NOT BURN!! After nuts are taken out of
the oven, sprinkle some more seasoning on them and wait for them to dry
fully 3-5 hours. Great to make a day in advance.
Well, it’s that time again!! Time to decorate the mantle, the front porch, the trees, and of course, the dining table! This is THE prime time for creative tablescapes and I always have my cell phone charged and ready to snap that perfect tablescape idea! These tables were photographed at Pottery Barn Kids. I know that whatever they show off at their store, will likely make it into many homes in America. So here are their favorite picks for kids’ tablescape ideas!
Love this kid’s Thanksgiving table! Especially since you can re-use the Halloween pumpkins in the centerpiece.
Who wouldn’t want to sit at this Hanukkah table?!
My kids wait with such anticipation for their Elf On A Shelf , this would be perfect for them.
The santa chair covers are super sweet for this kids’ Christmas table!
Last year I posted a wonderful appetizer…. Pumpkin Patch Hummus and Carrot Appetizer… it has been re-pinned on Pinterest almost 400 times. I can’t take any credit for it, I too got it from another pinner and thought I would try it. It turned out great, so I photographed it and shared it with everyone else. Don’t you love Pinterest???!!!
However, this year I thought of an alternate version. The taste and “concept” are still the same… you would use hummus, toothpicks, green onion, and parsley. The one thing that I did differently is that I used pre-cut carrots which are already sliced and bagged (available where baby carrots are sold). They have those fabulous ridges that look very much like the ridges on a pumpkin. Instead of buying regular carrots and cutting them, I was really happy with how the pre-cut ridged carrots worked out. They won’t be as uniform and round as the carrots you would cut yourself, but neither are pumpkins. So this may be the perfect option for someone who would like to take a short-cut but still have a fabulous appetizer!
I had a great time showing off my fun PEEPS projects on Better Kansas City. To see the video segment, CLICK HERE
For some, PEEPS symbolize Easter, spring, and pure happiness! So whether you love them or hate them, these marshmallow molded sugar coated candies are one of the most popular treats in the United States! Over 4 million are created each day and 1 billion are made every year! Best of all, there is an endless variety of ways you can use them for snacking, baking, and even decorating. Here are my five favorite (super easy) PEEPS projects and the secrets to making them perfect!
1. Secret #1 – when planning to hot glue your PEEPS, “CURE” them. Curing is another way of saying, let the Peeps dry out. As they dry, they harden and are much easier to work with when you are using any type of adhesive. I created two PEEPS TOPIARIES and cured my PEEPS for two weeks. Then, I purchased topiary forms and hot glued the PEEPS directly on them. Just be careful where you start and stop and make sure the seam is in one place, preferably the back. And yes, with a little direction, this can be a great project to do with the kids.
2. Secret #2 – Bunny PEEPS look great Layered! A great tip is to use the paper grass instead of jellybeans or other candies to fill in spaces between layers. It is a lot more affordable and looks great! I created a layered PEEPS CENTERPIECE (pictured above) with a “layered” look that used PEEPS and paper grass. The PEEPS bunnies are perfect for this project, because unlike the doves or chicks, which are rounded, the bunnies are nice and flat. This wonderful shape makes them perfect to layer on cakes, in centerpieces, and even wreaths.
3. Secret #3 – When using for edible projects, make sure the PEEPS are as fresh as possible by embellishing your desserts right before serving them. One of the easiest and most popular projects is a PEEPS CAKE. Simply make your favorite cake in a round pan (or purchase one at the store) and embellish with PEEPS. For many, PEEPS are best when they are soft and fresh, so decorate your cake a few minutes before serving. As many of us know, Peeps harden when they are exposed to air, so the less time they are out of the package, the softer they are.
Another delicious project where I recommend you serve soft PEEPS are these wonderful PEEP-kabobs. They are made with Little Debbie’s Easter marshmallow treats, and chocolate covered marshmallow eggs. If you have some extra time, dip your PEEPS in chocolate and give the PEEPS some drying time so the chocolate can harden. I use the candy chocolates you can buy at any craft supply store that has a baking section. Or check your grocery store, now you can purchase ready-made chocolate dipped PEEPS. Absolutely DELICIOUS!!!
Secret #4 – PEEPS are indestructible! Peeps are famous for their 2 year shelf life and indestructibility. Scientists at Emory University could not dissolve PEEPS in water, sulfuric acid, or sodium hydroxide. What that means for the PEEPS lover is that they can submerge their PEEPS in practically anything without the fear of them being destroyed. I got excited about the possibilities and created this PEEPS TRIFLE – The trifle was super easy. My bottom layer consisted of sugar wafers. I layered the PEEPS around my trifle bowl directly on the wafers. My second layer was Lemon or Lime pudding combined with cool whip. My third layer was cake but I also highly recommend using breakfast waffles, they are less sweet and when saturated with the pudding, are delicious!! My third layer was pudding and cool whip. My fourth layer was more cake (or breakfast waffles). My fifth layer was more pudding. And my final layer was the pink Peeps on top. If you would like a slightly less sinful version, use sugar-free pudding and incorporate the breakfast waffles instead of the cake and sugar wafers. Also, give your Trifle some time in the refrigerator, anywhere from 4 – 24 hours. All the layers have time to “marry” and soak up each other’s goodness.
Another famous dessert for Easter are the PEEPS S’mores. It’s fun to watch the PEEPS morph in the microwave and once you put them in between two graham crackers… well… you best clear the way, because there will be a mad stampede to the dessert table! The PEEPS S’mores are really simple to create. I dipped my PEEPS in chocolate the night before. Right before I served them, I placed one on top of a graham cracker, popped in the microwave for about 15 seconds and watch them do their thing. Once I felt they were ready, I took them out of the microwave and placed another graham cracker on top. It turns out perfect every time!!!
5. Secret #5 – PEEPS are cute when you “stage” them! You may or may not be aware that there are over 60 national contests that take place every year involving PEEPS one way or another. Many of them are Diorama contests. The Dioramas show PEEPS doing all sorts of crazy things (Star Treck scenes, Harry Potter, scenes, etc.) Just google “PEEPS Dioramas” and you will have a plethora of funny things to look at. And if you want to stage your own PEEPS, here are some PEEPS bubble bath cupcakes that take just a few minutes to put together. Your kids will love doing this. Simply make cupcakes and frost them with white icing (or purchase ready made cupcakes at the store with white icing). Put a PEEP on a toothpick and stick the toothpick and peep into the cupcake. Then, open a bag of mini-marshmallows and decorate your heart out. Super simple and incredibly adorable!!