The Entertaining Aftermath: 8 Steps to a Quick Cleanup

Happy Easter! I’m hosting a brunch today and I’m sure many of you are preparing to welcome friends and family around the table too. Cooking and baking are definitely my favorite parts of entertaining. My least preferred? That’s right, dishes.

Do you love opening your home to guests, but don’t love the kitchen cleanup quite as much?

The post-party mess can be daunting to face especially when all you really want to do after the guests leave is retire to the sofa with another slice of cake.

Still, since no bald, muscular Mr.Clean is going to show up and scour the counter tops for you, here are a few simple steps I’ve developed to break down the cleanup into manageable tasks and get the job done quickly. [Read more…]

A Simple Easter Cupcake

It’s fair to say I’ve done some research in the area of cupcakes. Besides baking for my own enjoyment, I’ve organized city-wide tours to search for the perfect cupcake, and created hundreds of versions for wedding showers, birthdays and other events.

I’m shocked at how many cupcakes sold from fancy boutiques come up short. It only takes a few dry mouthfuls of cake and a heavy frosting-induced belly ache to realize that you have just wasted $3.25 and …

it’s hard to beat a homemade cupcake.

That is not to say that every homemade cupcake is delicious and perfect in every way, or that all boutique creations are dry and crumbly, but great homemade cupcakes are definitely attainable, even for the novice baker. And for much less cost than a dozen from the local bakery.

Without disclosing just how many of these sweet treats I’ve consumed in one day (how many are in a baker’s dozen again?), I’ll pass along a winning cupcake recipe that has served me well!

With the baking tips I’ll share, the recipe you’ll find below, and a bag of Cadbury mini eggs, you will be well on your way to the perfect cupcake and a simple Easter dessert everyone will love. [Read more…]

Weekend Reading

Spotlight Ingredient: Oats

It is safe to say that oats are among the favorite grain choices here in North America. They are an absolute staple in our house, reinventing themselves through granola, muffins, scones, summer fruit crisps, and much more. Easy to source, affordable and nutritious, oats of every variety should be stocked in your pantry!

Oats don’t have their germ and bran removed during processing, and so they bring you the nutritious rewards of the whole grain to be enjoyed a myriad of ways. A source of both protein and carbohydrates, oats offer a reliable source of energy, making them an ideal choice for breakfast.

I was raised on porridge and now my boys and I enjoy it every weekday morning. I’ve even been known to pack a baggie of quick oats with me when I travel! At home, a turntable on our dining room table holds glass jars, each housing an assortment of oatmeal toppings: toasted almonds, golden raisins, wheat germ, organic honey, golden flax seed, and dried cranberries.

The garnish may vary, but hot oatmeal in the morning is our constant, and we wouldn’t change for all the Kellogg’s in the world.

Let’s take a quick look at the types of oatmeal and a few extra special recipes featuring it… [Read more…]

Planning a Party: 10 Questions that Help Define Your Menu

Easter is fast approaching and will be followed soon after by May with it’s wedding showers and graduation celebrations. Spring brings green leaves and new life and with the changing of the seasons comes plenty of opportunities for entertaining.

Will you be opening your home to guests in the near future? Do you ever deliberate over what to serve and wonder which direction a menu should go?

Each celebration is unique, just as each home is distinct, and there is no Party Template 101 that can be downloaded and executed for events across the board. Instead,  I’ve compiled these 10 questions to help you outline your party and define a menu that is perfectly suited to your guests, event, home, and budget.

Even a simple gathering can benefit from a little forethought and organization, and you may even discover along the way that planning is half the fun!

[Read more…]