How to Make Your Own Lifts and Levels for Tablescapes

December 28, 2014

  Last summer, I was asked to  create a dessert table for a wedding reception, and make over three hundred individual desserts.  It was a challenging proposition, but I do like challenges. We easily decided which desserts would be included and then, other than color, the table was left to my own creativity.  

   One thing I was sure of, was that I wanted lifts and levels to create more interest and drama, and spot light certain desserts.  

   Since I was not attending this wedding and did not want to return the next day to retrieve my tiered dessert and cake stands,  I began brainstorming for inexpensive ideas.  We had some sheets of cardboard and cardboard boxes… So, I hit upon the idea of creating spools of cardboard, which would be very sturdy; and making them, I could easily create whatever sizes I needed.

   First, each sheet of cardboard was marked the desired width and then each strip was cut., against the corrugation, not with it.  After using scissors for awhile, my son suggested the use of the battery powered scissors he had given me, which might make things go a little faster.  Yes!  Great time saver!  

   Next, in order for the cardboard to form neatly into a spiral, fold the cardboard along each of the grooves.  This can be achieved by running the strip over the edge of the counter like curling a ribbon with scissors.

   Using cheap white or clear school glue, start gluing the strips in a tight spiral.  When it gets awkward to hold it, wrap a couple of rubber bands around your form, set on the counter or table, and push down on the cardboard to form a solid base.  Let this dry, then continue adding strips in the same manner, butting up the new strip to the end of the previous one, securing with rubber bands while the glue dries, until the desired size is achieved.

   The stands for this particular event were covered with silver wrapping paper and were embellished with a 2″ band of mesh rhinestones an inch from the top.  While they can be decorated, they are great underneath your tablecloths and fabric pieces, which is how I use them most of the time.

  These are inexpensive, sturdy, easily stored, and is it a great loss if left behind?  Let me know what you think of the idea!  I had never seen it done before and thought it was rather ingenious!

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The Results Of The Dessert Contest Revealed

December 27, 2014

   Sophia came to Grammy’s house to make her winning vanilla bean sugar cookies!  She won the dessert contest!   This is a recipe from another Southern Living Christmas book. (Those books have some of my favorite recipes.)  This is my favorite sugar cookie, loaded with vanilla beans, vanilla extract, and vanilla sugar, which I make with leftover vanilla beans.   ( I use only the real thing!  The imitation vanilla has a funny taste, especially if you over do it.) 

   Someone once told me she had bought vanilla sugar, which caught my attention.  I had never heard of it.   Investigating, I found that it was just sugar flavored with a vanilla bean!  I am sure she paid quite a bit for that little bit of sugar.  Now, we have a plastic container filled with sugar and vanilla beans.

    After I scrape out the vanilla bean seeds, I put the bean pods in the sugar container.  When I use the flavored sugar, I replace regular sugar for any used and have vanilla sugar on hand every day.  There are so many uses for it and if you don’t have vanilla on hand, and the recipe calls for sugar, it can be used instead. Stir it into your coffee or hot chocolate, top cookies or muffins before baking.  I am sure you can come up with other ideas.

   Sophia helped stir up the cookies, cut out and bake them.  She decorated them herself. Although I usually use white chocolate to frost these, this time we made a simple icing with powdered sugar, milk, clear Karo syrup, and vanilla.

   We displayed them on a footed cake plate.  I overheard her telling her mother that her cookies were on a ‘fancy plate’!

   To see some of the other desserts and more about the contest, click here.  Do you have a dessert contest at your celebration?

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Mini Cheesecakes and Pecan Tassies

Mini Cheesecakes and Pecan Tassies

December 24, 2014

   One of my favorite dessert displays includes mini cheesecakes and pecan tassies. Usually, for Christmas, homemade fudge and vanilla bean sugar cookies are included on the tray.   They look so festive and gorgeous in rows on this Armetale serving platter.Mini Cherry Cheesecakes and Pecan Tassies on MyHumbleHomeandGarden.com

   The recipe for the cheesecake is from Paula Deen’s cookbook, but I found that the regular size was a little awkward to eat.   I have taken her recipe and made it into miniature cheesecakes.  These are one bite of delicious.  All the flavors come together at once, like a party in your mouth!  No, you can’t eat just one…  The other good part is that you won’t have red sauce or cheesecake dripping down your chin!

    The recipe for the pecan tassies is from a Southern Living book from several years ago.  The unique part of this recipe is that the dough has cream cheese in it.  The dough is much lighter and tastier than any other recipe, which I have found up to this point.

Mini Cherry Cheesecakes and Pecan Tassies on MyHumbleHomeandGarden.com

    Click here for the  mini cheesecakes

        and the pecan tassies.

 
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Christmas Party Menu

December 20, 2014

   Our family has grown and with the kids having extended families or needing to accomodate the boyfriend or girlfriend’s family, we have started a tradition of having a “Finger Food and Hors d’oeuvre” party on Christmas Eve.  The kids can come and go to their boyfriend or girlfriend’s family’s house, when needed and then come back later.      Getting everybody together for a sit down dinner would just be impossible. Going from one family dinner to another dinner, is nuts anyway!   We do have the dessert contest and a gift exchange, when everyone is here.  There is so much stress in all of our lives, hopefully, having a more relaxed atmosphere here makes Christmas a little more enjoyable.  We use ‘around’ a lot.  (Be here ‘around 5’.)  

   Hard and fast rules seem to create too much stress.  I want my family to enjoy the time they are here, not be stressed trying to stick to a rigid schedule.  That goes ditto for me!

   Since we started the dessert contest, it makes it a little easier on me.  There are plenty of desserts and it is pretty interesting how creative the desserts are.

   Recipes for the menu items will be posted on the RECIPE INDEX  page.  Click here for the ►RECIPES.

 
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Christmas Dessert Contest

December 17, 2014

   This year, the theme for our annual dessert contest is ‘Santa’.  The desserts have to represent ‘Santa’ in some way.  When this idea was first conceived, I searched the internet for judging criteria and the categories in the card above were the end result.   Each dessert is assigned a number and a card is placed by the dessert.     We give a scoring card and a pen to everyone at the party, from the oldest adult to the youngest child.  They each taste the dessert and then score.  

   My oldest son, Jon-Michael, tallies the votes and announces the winners.

   We are not sticklers on the scoring.  Last year, some of the kids gave scores of 10,000 to their favorite desserts!  There was a lot of laughter and giggling.  It is all in fun!  The adults follow the rules a little better.

   A prize is awarded to the top three winners, and each prize has something to do with desserts,  the tasting party serving glasses from Pier 1 Imports, Wilton decorating items, cookie cutters, etc.

   The rule is, the dish has to be one bite or at least miniature.  Not everybody follows the rule!  Tasting several desserts can be a sugar overload, so the desserts need to be small!

  Below is a picture from 2012.  Sorry, my camera was not so great then, but you get the idea.   We had desserts with caramel and apples in mini-martini glasses, pretzels with chocolate, (Aidan and Sophia’s contribution), jello jigglers, cake, truffles and brownies.

    My chocolate truffles were displayed in red ceramic Asian spoons.  Presentation, or appearance, is judged!  Holly was the theme that year.

    Even the kids have gotten in on this and plot and plan their desserts.  It is great fun and I can’t wait to see what great desserts they come up with this year.

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