Nov 28, 2011

Real Stylist's Of Beverly Hills

How Lisa entertains. Check it.

The most fun shoot ever. We met the Giggster! He's simply divine. And Lisa ain't bad either. Her cookbook has some very fun tips!

Nov 19, 2011

Truly Free Gift Wrap, by Cindie Flannigan

If you are anything like me, you have quite a few brown grocery bags (because you always forget to put tote bags in your car when you go grocery shopping) and old magazines hanging about. Why not use these items to make gift wrap? It’s very easy and will save money that can be better spent on the actual presents themselves.

The bow is made from magazine pages and string. Use pages with pretty photographs for a colorful bow or use pages with lots of text; a great look for wrapping books!

I use the inside of the grocery bags for this project. If your bags have holiday designs printed on them, use them right side out.

Truly Free Gift Wrap

What you’ll need:
1 brown grocery bag
6 magazine pages
4 pieces string, about 6-inches long

How to make the wrapping paper:

Cut bottom off of grocery bag.

Cut grocery bag open along the seam in the back.
Iron bag flat at medium-high setting.

How to make the bow:

Stack 6 magazine pages together.

Cut into thirds.

Fold each paper packet in half and cut into a leaf shape or circle shape, leaving folded end attached.

Keeping pages in their packets, open cut pages and fold in half lengthwise, pinching center together.

Wrap a piece of string tightly around the middle of each paper packet, tying into a knot to secure.

Gather packets together and tie together with remaining string.

Gently pinch and twist each “petal” of paper to spread open. A few petals may tear off, no worries, your bow will still look beautiful.

Place tape over strings to attach to package.

And for extra credit, you can make this!

Homemade Gifts: Adorable Kitchen Towel Apron, by Cindie Flannigan

Every few years, I go through an apron-making phase. Sometimes the aprons are fancy, sometimes retro, sometimes super simple. Fancy and retro are fine if I have the time and energy (and want to drag my sewing machine out of the garage). This year I wanted super simple. 

I use brads to attach the apron strings. Brads are metal rings that get flattened into fabric by a tool that looks like a hefty hole punch. This makes for a sturdier apron but isn’t necessary; you can sew the straps onto the apron if you like. 

For the apron pictured here, I used kitchen towels I bought at Home Goods for $1.99 each. Big Lots also carries a huge selection of towels from $1. Consider
making aprons with holiday-themed towels or fun patterns, or use twill tape instead of kitchen twine for the straps.

Kitchen Towel Apron 

What you need:

2 kitchen towels (about 18” x 28”)
Needle and heavy-duty thread 
12 brads, optional
Brad tool, optional
3 (32” long) pieces thick kitchen twine 
6 (44” long) pieces of thick kitchen twine

How to make it:

Remove tags from kitchen towels. Place one of the kitchen towels, right side down, on a work surface.

Starting at a short end, fold the corners toward the center so that the end measures 10”. Angle the fold to end 8” down the long side of the towel. Stitch the folds in place. This 10” side is the top edge of the apron.

Using the brad tool, insert two brads about 1/2” apart on each end of the apron top.

Using the 32” pieces of twine, thread all three lengths through two of the brads and tie in a knot. Braid twine until it measures 20” (a few inches shorter for smaller sizes), tie in a knot to secure. Thread half of the twine ends through one of the remaining brads, and half through the other. Tie in a knot and trim ends.

Turn towel right side up on work surface. Make the pockets by folding over the bottom 8”. Stitch both edges in place, doubling the stitching at the corners to secure.

Divide the pocket into three even sections. Stitch between sections to secure.

Place remaining towel right side up on a work surface with a long edge at the top. Position the pocketed towel so that the top edge of the pocket falls about 1 1/2" below the top edge of the towel underneath. Bottom towel will extend 5” from either side. Stitch a rectangle at either side of the waistband to attach the top towel to the bottom. Stitch an “X” through the rectangle to reinforce.

Using the brad tool, insert two brads about 1” apart at each end of the waistband.

Thread three pieces of the 44” twine through the brads. Tie a knot in the twine then braid until you have 4” of twine left. Tie in a knot to secure.  Repeat with remaining twine on the other side. 

Made With Love

Homemade Gifts: Gorgeous Shortbread Cookies, by Cindie Flannigan

Packaging is everything! Place cookies in a clear cellophane bag or box so they can been seen.  

Gene Wilson has been carving cookie molds and stamps since 1974. They are beautiful works of art and make lovely presents. The stamp I used here is 2.2 inches across and cost $16.

Shortbread Cookies

Makes 6 dozen 2-inch cookies


4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks
6 cups all purpose flour


Using stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar and salt at low speed until combined. Increase speed to medium low and beat until very creamy, about 5 minutes.

Add flour a cup at a time, beating at low speed until combined.

Roll dough into balls about the size of golf balls. Roll balls in flour to lightly coat. 

Press a cookie press into dough until dough has flattened to edges of press. Peel dough from press and place on a floured board. Use a round cutter slightly smaller than the cookie press to trim uneven edges.

Place cookies on a wax paper-covered sheet pan and freeze for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

Transfer frozen cookies to another baking sheet and bake for 34-38 minutes, or until very lightly golden. 

Remove from heat and transfer cookies to a baking rack to cool.

Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Made With Love

Nov 15, 2011

The Perfect Turkey & Sugared Fruit

Denise had the most fun having an early Thanksgiving potluck with some of her favorite bloggers last week, and wanted to share the bounty with you just in time to start cooking!

All photos courtesy of Chef Louise Mellor

We were a happy, happy lot.

I, naturally, talked turkey and also how to sugar fruit to make your turkey presentation pop.  My turkey tips live here, here, and if you are hungry for some humorous and helpful turkey talk, here.

Sugar-Frosted Fruit

Use these lovely frosted fruits for a garnish, table decoration, or a delicious treat!

Assorted Whole Fruits - grapes, small apples, small pears, Clementine oranges, kumquats, small limes, or lemons all work beautifully.

1 cup pasteurized egg whites

2 cups granulated sugar, in a large bowl


Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Set aside.

Wash and dry all fruit thoroughly.

Using a brush, paint the surface of a piece of fruit with the egg whites.  Holding the painted fruit over the sugar, sprinkle sugar over the fruit, turning and coating the entire fruit. Set onto prepared baking sheet to dry. Repeat until all fruits are coated.

Once dried, arrange the fruit on your holiday platter, or around your table as a classic decoration.

Nov 10, 2011

Paris In Springtime

Because it was so sweet, we're doing it again this year. We'll be teaching at the Paris Cookbook Fair in March, 2012.

More details and registration information coming very soon...we can taste the crepes already...

Nov 9, 2011

Denise Interviewed by Jen and Barb of Mom Life

Denise sits down with Jen and Barb to discuss following her passions, the definition of success, and how she got to where she is today.

Nov 7, 2011

Tiffany's First Commercials As Lead Stylist!

With the Voltaggio brothers no less. We are SO proud.