Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sugar Rimmed Glasses

Here is a quick and super easy idea for entertaining.....a small amount of effort for a big visual impact: Sugar Rimmed Glasses.

This can be done with plastic or stemware. Given the circles I entertain typically involve large amounts of children, I often choose the nicer plastic glasses with the "crystal effect".

And sanding sugar, available at most craft warehouses or specialty cake shops, comes in a variety of colors.  You can do several colors, or even mix sugars for an added dimension.


Sanding Sugar (color of choice)
Lemon Juice or Water

*Note: You can use water instead of lemon juice, but I find lemon juice to adhere a bit better to the sugar. Feel free to experiment with this. Also, only in the specialty cake shops did I find sugar actually labeled "Sanding Sugar". Any colored sugar should work. However, if the granules are too large, you will have trouble getting them to stick to the glass.

Put water in a bowl, to the height you want the rim to be on the glass.  
(Water height will determine thickness of rim.) Pour colored sugar into bowl, deep enough to dip the cup rim past the water line. 

Dip the cup first into the water bowl.

 Next, dip the cup into the colored sugar bowl, making sure to twist, and ensuring that sugar is on both the outside and inside of the cup rim. As you pull the cup up from the sugar bowl, give it a couple of shakes to rid of excess sugar, and store upright to dry for at least an hour before using.

Now, as you can tell from the next picture, you will need to keep a watchful eye on any children assisting you....at least if you plan to serve the cups for guests!

Also, for the benefit of your party guests, we will include the following demonstration:

Once the sugar becomes wet from liquid, the color can seep out....especially if the cups have not had time to properly dry. If it has plenty of time to dry, it doesn't bleed a lot, though some colors seem to do this more than others. You can also choose to do just a partial sugar rim.

So, if you don't allow the sugar to dry long enough.....or find your guests are drinking as follows:

Their faces may then resemble the below:

Or, you can always suggest they drink like this: :-)

Seriously, however, colored sugar rims can greatly impact the visual display, with little added cost or time. The below pictures are from a friend's 50th Birthday celebration....they mixed purple and pink sugars and dipped the stemware (no this is not plastic) in water.  The effect was stunning.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

20 Minute Peppermint Plate

I'm about to show you one of the funnest and easiest projects I've ever done with my kids. One of those projects that looks magazine worthy.....yet truly can fit into the busiest of schedules. The entire project took 20 minutes WITH the kids helping!  Have fun!


1 10oz bag Round Peppermint Candies

Unwrap the Peppermint Candies.

Place Peppermint Candies evenly inside of Medium Round Flexipan
(Note: If you are not using a Flexipan, you will need to use parchment paper or similar.)

Place Flexipan onto perforated baking sheet into an oven preheated to 350 degrees.  
You will bake for 8-9 minutes.  

(Check at 8, if it is finished, all shapes will be completely flat.  If you bake for too long, bubbles will start to form on surface of candy.  Regardless, a few minor bubbles will likely appear.)

Let cool for at least 10 minutes.  
Unmold from Flexipan.

And.....good luck trying to keep your kiddos away from it! 
Insert lollipop stick during baking process, and you might just go down as the best Mama ever! 
(But don't worry, they'll think you're pretty awesome just for making a giant Peppermint Plate!)

 Your Peppermint Plate is ready to use!  Keep in mind the surface will be slightly tacky to the touch, so if you are planning to use it as a base for small desserts, consider using paper candy cups.

The Medium Round Flexipan is one of my most versatile Flexipans.
It is in this pan I steam all of my veggies, make kettle corn, popcorn, melt butter, etc. in the microwave with the addition of an Octagonal Silpat as my lid. It's great for ice cream cakes, cheesecakes, marinating meat, baking anything.....the list goes on.  It may be plain, but I call it my "work horse" Flexipan. The Large Round Flexipan would perform the same function with an Octagonal Silpat. I recommend a round mold of either size and a lid for anyone just beginning with Flexipans, and they are both available in Demarle's most popular beginner kit, 5 Key Ingredients.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cider Glazed Roasted Pork Loin

The cool weather always sends me in search of recipes for foods rich in the flavors of Fall. Roasted meats, sugared sauces, garlic, apple cider, and pears.  Creamy Gorgonzola and rich balsamic.  Even the thought of such aromas filling my kitchen sets my mouth to water.

A meal of Cider Glazed Roasted Pork Loin is just the ticket to quenching the Autumnal palette.

Begin your meal with a bed of mixed greens tossed with sugared pecans, thinly sliced pears, red onions, and Gorgonzolla crumbles. If you'd like to add a little zest, consider tossing in a few sprigs of arugula. Drizzle with a quick dressing of extra virgin olive oil and Spiced Apple Pear Balsamic.  Top with freshly ground pepper.

 Cider Glazed Roasted Pork Loin


2-3lb Pork Loin Roast
6-8 Cloves Garlic
Approx 1/2 tsp each Sea Salt (I use Sel Gris), Freshly Ground Pepper, and Olive Oil
 (for prepping roast)

1/2 c low sodium soy sauce
1/2 c apple cider
2 tbsp dry sherry
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp dried minced onion
pinch of garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place Pork Loin Roast on stable cutting surface. 

Stab meat 6-8 times at even intervals, twisting the knife on insert to create a hole into which you can push a clove of garlic. Rub Sel Gris, Freshly Ground Pepper, and Olive Oil onto skin of pork. 

Place pork, fatty side up, on Deep Flexipat on Perforated Baking Sheet and into preheated 450 oven for 15 minutes. The high heat will serve to sear the pork on the outside to seal juices in, much like pan browning.

While pork is roasting, combine marinade ingredients. After 15 minutes, turn oven temperature down to 325, open oven, and pour marinate over pork.

Roast pork in oven, basting every 15 minutes or so, until instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees at the thickest part of the meat.
  (I find this is approximately 15 minutes per pound, depending on thickness of pork.)

Once meat has reached an internal temp of 160 degrees, remove from oven, tent with foil, and let rest for about 5-10 minutes. 

Lift pork onto cutting surface, and slice into half inch slices.  
(Never use sharp object on Flexipat)

Place on serving platter, and drizzle with pan juices.

Serve alongside Roasted Asparagus and Herbed Sourdough Bread.  As pork is a versatile meat that can be paired with either red or white wine, a Pino Noir or a Chardonnay would complement this dish nicely.  Roasted pears with brandied whipped cream would make a lovely finish to the meal. 

If you used a Deep Flexipat to roast your pork, cleanup will take about 1 minute or less!

Simply spoon out remaining juices from the marinade and set aside for topping roasted veggies or accompanying meat, wipe out with paper towel, and briefly wash with hot soapy water in sink.  
Your Flexipat will be clean and ready for your next meal!  Enjoy!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Our Family Birthday Tradition

Traditions are such an important part of life. If you think back to your own childhood, certainly the things that immediately come to mind are the "We always..." or "Each birthday we would..." statements.  Well, having four kiddos with birthday nearly inside of a month means that one family tradition we have is one giant Fall birthday party, affectionately known as The Ordway Children's Birthday Bash. Over the years, the party has grown in size, and changed in themes, but the location in our little country home has not.

We always serve a meal, and thus far, that meal has always consisted of Grandma B's homemade lasagna, Cesar salad and bread .  After several years and a fair amount of entertaining large groups in our little home, we've learned the flow of the kitchen. The double sinks become coolers filled with drinks with a coffee bar to the right.  Sharpie markers lay about to label drinks and plates.  Food and utensils are all on the island, and some counter space is left open for the inevitable "stash" of drinks and "plates in process".  Most importantly, the path to the trash is kept open and clear.

Oh the chaos of those first few years before we learned the nuances of serving a large group of people!  However, over time, we have come to anticipate this time of celebration - being more able to relax and let go of the details, for a home inhabited by four small children will rarely be described as perfectly clean! The atmosphere is always light, and the air full of laughter and conversation. Smoke from the fire pit flows in through the open double doors and into the kitchen where it meets the savory aroma of dinner and the sweet smell of cake.  With 50+ people in and around the small house, the wood stove is rarely, if ever, replenished, even on a chilly day!

One tradition we hold during this celebration is that of the home made birthday cake.  Each child gets to choose both the flavor and shape of their cake. At first, this was relatively easy, as we had fewer children and a simple book of cake pictures to choose from.  However, as their interests and exposures have changed.....my adherence to our family tradition has made the nights before the big day longer and longer as the cakes get more and more complicated.  They are never cakes that will win a Cake Boss or Pinterest competition, at least in appearance.  However, the kids don't see flaws or imperfections. They see Monster Trucks and Winnie the Pooh, Veggie Tales, Light Sabers, the X-Wing Star Fighter, and Minnie Mouse.  As the children get older and gather more friends of their own, this tradition may change a bit to include separate parties for friends and family.  While we've had 50 and even 60 here too....the house does have its limits...especially indoors!  However, I hope they always cherish the memories, even if only through pictures, of The Ordway Children's Birthday Bash at our little house in the country.

First Child....1st Birthday
November 2006 
I kept this one pretty basic.  He got a frosted round - the rest of us had cupcakes with circus picks. 

First Child...2nd Birthday
November 2007
Ah....and enter the first year of the children choosing their cakes! Caleb chose a Monster Truck.

First & Second Children: Ages 3 and 1
October 2008
Monster Truck again.....and a Cupcake Caterpillar.

First & Second Children: Ages 4 and 2
November 2009
A lemon teddy bear and a chocolate football were in order this year.  I was in labor with baby #3 all during the party, went for a stroll and straight to the hospital after the last guest left.  Their little sister was sweet enough to allow them their birthday party without interruption.
Football was the "theme" of this party.

First, Second & Third Children: Ages 5, 3, and 1
November 2010

If you can't guess - this year we celebrated in style with Veggie Tales.
These particular cakes kept me up until about 4am the night before the party!!!

First, Second and Third Children: Ages 6, 4, and 2
November 2011
Largely pregnant with baby #4, this was my year of escape. It was a Pirate Winnie the Pooh & Friends theme, and I attempted a standard sheet cake and ordered a sugar transfer.  In my attempt to put an eye patch on Pooh and Friends, I choose the wrong frosting and it bled all over the cake.  :-/ Ah well, you can't hit it every year!

First, Second, Third & Fourth Children: Ages 7, 5, 3, and 1
November 2012
This was the year of Minnie Mouse and Star Wars.  Try as I might to have an all encompassing Mickey & Minnie Mouse theme, my boys are growing up. Star Wars reined. 

I encourage you to start a tradition for your family....whatever it may be. If cakes are not your thing, how about cocoa after school every Monday afternoon, or baked donuts every Saturday morning? The point is, it's the tradition that matters.....the creation of the phrase..."We always used to..." that will create lifelong memories. :-)

Celebrating a Little Pumpkin

Recently, I had the privilege of co-hosting a baby shower for my dear friend.  It was so fun to be able to play around with the colors and elements of the season while still keeping it feminine to celebrate the upcoming arrival of her baby girl!

The three conspirators...

Baby's paternal Grandma will teach her all about gardening and growing pretty flowers.

Being able to have a few of the Mama-to-be's own baby dresses was a special touch.

Notes to Mama and baby from friends and family.
The maternal Grandma-to-Be loves shoes......so will her granddaughter!
Celebrating love's sweet reward.

The atmosphere of the party was just lovely.  Smiles and genuine conversation abounded. While decorations add a special touch, your warm and welcoming hospitality is truly what makes a gathering special.  People love to know they are welcomed and loved.  

Happy entertaining, Friends!