Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Kiss Me, I'm Irish!

I really am, actually—it’s not just a line. You might think that with my Irish heritage, I’d be all about St. Paddy’s Day. To tell you the truth…I completely forgot about it. No green outfits, shamrocks or corned beef hash…I won’t even be partaking in any green beer (1. because that’s gross and 2. because I’m baby-sitting my nephew tonight and that would be inappropriate). So I've COMPLETELY dropped the ball on any great cooking or entertaining ideas. I’ll do better next year.

In the meantime, here are some cute ideas I found for Irish-inspired sweets that are easy to whip up at the last minute if, like me, you are less than prepared for whatever shindig you might be heading to.

How adorable are these? Michael’s or any craft store will probably have whatever supplies you need to duplicate these pennants. Or, have the cupcakes already decorated and let your guests make their own. With a little Guinness in them, I’m sure their sayings will be quite creative!

*Photo courtesy sascupcakes.com.

These are from a fabulous bakery in Beverly Hills (with other locations around the US). They serve nothing but cupcakes in extremely unique flavors (these have a Bailey’s Irish Cream frosting—YUM!). The best part is, you can buy the mix at Williams-Sonoma so you don’t have to go cross-country to get them.

*Photo courtesy sprinkles.com.

Ya’ll can keep your green beer. I’ll be over here with my Bailey’s Irish Martini (after my adorable nephew is off to bed, of course).

*Photo courtesy fineliving.com.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Entertaining Class (or more accurately, Excuse to go Shopping)

No plans this Sunday night? Head over to Pottery Barn at the Summit for a complimentary entertaining class. The topic is “Hosting a Fabulous Weekend Brunch”, featuring ideas from the book Fandango: Recipes, Parties and License to Make Magic by Sandy Hill. I’m pumped—I am all about some brunch. I’m sure there will also be some adorable decorations and ideas for Easter entertaining. If you need an extra incentive, all class participants will receive a 10% discount off products featured in the class. Reason enough, right?The class begins at 6:15pm. Space is limited so call soon to reserve a space or get more information. See you there!

Pottery Barn
300 Summit Blvd.
(205) 298-0373

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Death by Chocolate

I thought this would be a great dessert to add to the champagne party, which I have now christened "Champagne and Chocolat" (French pronunciation, please). The name says it all--Death by Chocolate. I mean, what a way to go...

I got this recipe from my DEAR friend Anna at my kitchen/recipe shower last year. She made it in college all the time (to rave reviews) so I was thrilled to get the recipe. She also drew hearts on the recipe card to "make it special". I love her. =)

It's so simple and so yummy...what better combination is there? It also has a nice presentation, as you can see to the left here. Feel free to dress it up however you like--crushed candy bars, syrup, chocolate curls, etc. Just don't bank on any leftovers!

1 (19.8 ounce) package brownie mix
2 (3.9 ounce) packages instant chocolate pudding mix
1 (16 ounce) package frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 bag of mini Heath Bars, crushed (a hammer works nicely)

1. Prepare brownies according to package directions and let cool completely (I did them the night before).
2. Mix pudding according to package directions.
3. In a glass trifle bowl, layer in the following order: 1/2 of the brownie, crumbled; 1/2 of the pudding; toffee bars, crushed; 1/2 of the whipped topping. Repeat layers in the same order.
4. Save some toffee bars to crumble and sprinkle on top before serving. Refrigerate at least one hour.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Champagne Tasting

I got the inspiration for this idea while Husband and I were in Hotlanta for a wedding last weekend (congrats Mr. and Mrs. Simmons!). It was fabulous, though we expected nothing less—the bride has exquisite taste. Upon arriving at the reception we chose our priorities carefully-drink first, food later. I wasn’t really in the mood for wine (shocking, I know) so I opted for some champagne. (Also, the champagne glasses were gorgeous—I always notice great glassware. It might be because I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with china/glassware/entertaining pieces, but whatever). Disclaimer: the photo below is not actually from this wedding. I was not clever enough to think about photographing said gorgeous glass and posting it on my blog, so I'm using an image from my own wedding to get the idea across). =)

Anyway, there’s something about being dressed up and sipping some bubbly that makes me want to walk around humming “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story (and by “want”, I mean “did”). In any case, my friend Claire declared my beverage of choice “swanky” and pretty soon several of my girlfriends were sipping champagne and humming Broadway show tunes (ok, I’m kidding about that last part). I have to admit, I was a teensy bit impressed with myself. I’ve never really started a trend before! But more than that, I never really noticed that we liked champagne all that much. Maybe it was just the occasion, maybe it was the atmosphere (stop me before I break out in “Maybe it was Memphis”), but I decided that for our next “Girls Night In” we’d trade our wine and cheese stand-by for something just as simple but slightly more sophisticated—a champagne tasting.

Now when I say “tasting” I don’t mean let’s go buy a $4 bottle of Andre and a $50+ bottle of Veuve Clicquot and see which one we like better. I don’t know a lot about champagne but I’m pretty sure the general consensus is that the more expensive the bottle, the better it tastes. With this economy, just give me the cheap stuff. Ignorance is bliss, right?

Instead, I’m thinking of something more like a Champagne Bar, where you can mix and match different flavors to make your champagne cocktail of choice.


1. Champagne—I’d go with something mid-priced, such as Korbel. Brut is the most common level of dryness, but you can also try an Extra Brut (very dry) or Extra Dry (hint of sweetness) and let your guests decide how sweet they like it. And yes, the names confuse me too.

2. Mixers—Orange juice for Mimosas, Peach Schnapps for a Bellini, Pomegranate juice for a Pomelini—you get the idea.

3. Garnishes—Fresh fruit always adds a little “something”. I like to use strawberries, raspberries and peaches.

4. Snacks—I prefer sweets with my champagne, but real food works too. Some easy and yummy ideas are chocolate-dipped strawberries, mini cheesecakes or my personal favorite—cake bites from Pastry Art in Homewood. They are DIVINE (I’d go with the Red Velvet or Caramel—but that’s just me!!).