A Tortilla Fiesta

aTortillaFiesta3Cinco De Mayo is nearly here, but we were just too excited to wait.  Our brand new Tortilla Warmer was burning a hole in our cabinet, so we threw an impromptu tortilla fiesta featuring our tried-and-true Flour Tortilla recipe.  If you’ve never tried your hand at homemade tortillas, this is the occasion for it.  Our recipe is simple but not quick, perfect for a laid-back afternoon with friends.

aTortillaFiesta8These pillow-soft flour tortillas are so warm and cozy you’ll want to roll one up and eat it as-is, which is perfectly acceptable as far as we’re concerned!  They have a nice chew to them and tremendous flavor, reminding us that tortillas are part of the meal, not just a delivery vehicle for spicy meats and melty cheese.

aTortillaFiesta7Speaking of meat, we couldn’t think of a better match for our hand-rolled tortillas than the rich and savory flavors of Beef Barbacoa.  Shredded beef seasoned with chipotle peppers and adobo sauce is a standby on Mexican and Tex-Mex menus, and our recipe couldn’t be easier.  We threw a roast in the slow cooker along with a flavorful sauce we blended together and let the flavors marinate on low for 8 hours.  It is only fair to warn you that this can be the longest 8 hours of your life if you have the misfortune of being stuck next to the slow cooker, with those mouth-watering smells wafting through the air.

aTortillaFiesta12To complete the meal, load up on fresh, flavorful sides like pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, and bunches of cilantro. Shredded cheese, rice, and pinto beans round out the offering, along with the mandatory, perfectly salted tortilla chips.

 TortillaFiesta14Our gorgeous Fiesta® Tortilla Warmer held the hand-rolled Flour Tortillas at an ideal temperature for several hours, keeping the rounds soft and flexible.  If you decide to go with store-bought tortillas, the Tortilla Warmer is the perfect vessel for warming and serving those as well.  Simply line the bottom of the Tortilla Warmer with a damp paper towel or a damp tea towel and then load the tortillas on top.  Wrap the damp cloth up and around the tortillas (or cover with another damp paper towel) and then place the warmer, sans lid, in the microwave and heat on high for about 30 seconds.  Remove from the microwave, cover, and serve.

aTortillaFiesta1

aTortillaFiesta11

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa
Mexican shredded beef barbecue.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  2. 3-4 pound chuck roast, fat trimmed
  3. 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  4. 2 bay leaves
  5. Sauce
  6. ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  7. 6 cloves garlic
  8. 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  9. 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  10. 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  11. 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  12. 4 chipotle peppers (from a can, packed in adobo sauce)
  13. 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from the chipotle pepper can)
  14. 1 cup chicken broth
  15. 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
Instructions
  1. In a blender or food processor, blend together the sauce ingredients until smooth.
  2. Cut roast into about 8 large chunks. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt, making sure each side is covered.
  3. Warm a heavy-bottom skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and then sear beef on each side until it has browned. Place seared beef into a slow cooker and cover with the sauce. Add bay leaves and cover with lid.
  4. Set the cooker on low and allow to cook for 8 hours (5-6 hours on high).
  5. After about 7 hours on low (5 hours on high), shred the beef using 2 forks to pull apart. Stir it to completely coat in sauce, then cover and cook for 1 hour more.
Adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian
Adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian
Fiesta Dinnerware, Always Festive http://alwaysfestive.com/
Flour Tortillas
Yields 8
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups flour
  2. 1 teaspoon salt
  3. ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  4. ¼ cup cold lard*
  5. 2/3 cup warm water
Instructions
  1. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl or in a food processor. Cut in lard, blending until a course meal forms. Stir in water and turn the shaggy dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until soft and smooth.
  2. Divide dough into eight pieces and then form into balls.
  3. Cover dough balls with plastic wrap and let rest for about 30 minutes.
  4. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  5. Meanwhile, start rolling dough balls out into an 8-inch round circle.
  6. Cook tortilla rounds, one at a time, in the skillet for about one minute per side, watching closely to avoid over cooking.
  7. Use a toothpick to burst any bubbles that form while the tortilla is cooking.
  8. Transfer the finished tortillas to your Tortilla Warmer.
Notes
  1. *You may substitute some or all of the lard for vegetable shortening.
Fiesta Dinnerware, Always Festive http://alwaysfestive.com/

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My Fiesta: Liz McIlvain

Staff Picks Liz FB

Liz McIlvain, President HLC Inc.

Favorite Fiesta colors: Sapphire and Marigold.  Lapis and Poppy from our current lineup.

Favorite Fiesta items: I love a lot of the vintage pieces, such as the Onion Soup, Comports, and Stick Handled Coffee Service and Cups.

Of our new post-86 items, I really like the new Bistro Bowls, the 9×13 Rectangular Baker, and the new Covered Casserole.

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Most used Fiesta items: To name a few, I use my Luncheon Plates daily, as well as Square Mugs and the Rectangular Baker.

Fiesta item I have the most of: Definitely Dinner Plates.

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Go-to recipe for entertaining: Cheesy potatoes for a crowd.  I have several delicious dip and appetizer recipes and everyone loves my pulled pork.

Liz's Cheesy Potatoes
A cheesy hash brown casserole, perfect for entertaining.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 lbs frozen hashbrowns
  2. 1 (16 oz) container sour cream
  3. 1 (10-1/2 oz) can cream of chicken soup
  4. 1 generous cup shredded cheddar cheese
  5. 1/2 stick butter, melted
  6. 1/2 cup chopped onions
  7. 1 teaspoon salt
  8. 1 teaspoon pepper
  9. 2 cups crushed potato chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients together and pour into a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  3. Sprinkle crushed potato chips on top.
  4. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until hot and bubbly.
Fiesta Dinnerware, Always Festive http://alwaysfestive.com/
Favorite foods: Everything! From Italian dishes to grilled fresh fish and veggies.  I look forward to going to the beach and being able to eat fresh seafood, especially crab claws.

Best kitchen tip: Cleaning up as I go when making certain recipes, instead of waiting until the meal is finished to clean the pots and pans I’ve used.  Sometimes, unfortunately, that’s impossible and I’m left with a mess to clean up.  Then I recruit my husband!

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Favorite Fiesta items to give as a gift: I love to give friends the Rectangular Baker (one of my most favorite items), but I also love giving our new Covered Casserole.  Both items are so useful when making family recipes and sharing with friends.

Favorite holiday: Although the work it entails can be massive, I do love Christmas and the whole ritual of preparing for family gatherings, baking, and giving. Over the years, my daughters and I have created our own baking tradition at Christmas time.  We make several different types of delicious cookies, place them on a plate (usually the newest color of Fiesta) and then deliver them to close friends and family.

Favorite memory of Fiesta: Believe it or not, when I was growing up, my mother didn’t use Fiesta in her kitchen.  She liked Homer Laughlin’s Swirl shape and that’s the dinnerware we ate from for years.  But, we did have several Fiesta Chop Plates and when my dad would grill out, dinner would be served on the colorful Chop Plates!  My favorite was the bright yellow plate!

lizcookies2_x-2

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Italian Easter Bread Recipe

Fiesta Dinnerware Easter Bread Recipe on the blog at www.alwaysfestive.com.

Italian Easter Bread Recipe
(Pane di Pasqua all ‘Uovo)

We all have our traditions, and of course holidays bring out those traditions more than ever. Holiday recipes are some of the most beloved traditions in every family. The tastes, the smells. Just thinking about it takes us back to grandma’s kitchen!

With Easter just around the corner, we’ve decided to share an Italian Easter Bread recipe that’s been a secret for generations. But we feel such a close bond with you, our Fiesta friends, that we feel compelled to share it with you. However, this recipe comes with a fair warning. It’s not for the faint of heart: be prepared to set aside about half a day to prepare it. Trust us when we tell you, it is so worth it!

Fiesta Dinnerware Easter Bread recipe on the blog at www.alwaysfestive.com.

But really, the waiting and preparation is all part of the fun when you turn it into a family group effort. They’re the moments you’ll cherish forever. 

So tie on your Fiesta apron strings, bring out your Baking Bowl Set and get ready to make a family tradition. It’s Easter Bread time!

With the colorful eggs and sprinkles in this recipe, it really is quite Fiesta-y. We like to coordinate the sprinkles with the color of the eggs and our Easter tablescape. For a Fiesta enthusiast, it’s kind of a dream come true.

Fiesta Dinnerware Easter Bread recipe on the blog at www.alwaysfestive.com.

After you dye your eggs, it’s time to activate the yeast and get to the bread baking. If you’ve never made bread using active dry yeast, don’t be afraid! It’s not nearly as daunting as it might seem. 

After some mixing, setting and rising, the next “challenging” moment, if you haven’t done it before, might be kneading the dough. If you don’t have an experienced aunt nearby who can show you the art of kneading dough, a simple look up on YouTube will have you well on your way. 

Easter Bread Recipe
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Ingredients
  1. 5 eggs
  2. 2 packages active dry yeast
  3. 1/2 cup warm water
  4. 1/2 cup warm water
  5. 1 1/2 cups sifted flour
  6. 3/4 cup shortening
  7. 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  8. 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  9. 1 cup sugar
  10. 1 teaspoon salt
  11. 2 eggs
  12. 1 egg white
  13. 4 1/2 to 4 3/4 cups sifted flour
  14. 1 egg yolk
  15. 1 tablespoon milk
  16. Tiny multicolored candies
Instructions
  1. Lightly butter a Fiesta Pizza/Baking Tray.
  2. Dip 5 uncooked eggs in food dye to color (follow directions on package) and set aside.
  3. Soften 2 packages active dry yeast in ½ cup warm water (110 degrees F to 115 degrees F). Let stand 5-10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile pour 1/2 cup warm water into a large bowl and blend in 1 ½ cups sifted flour.
  5. Stir softened yeast and add to flour-water mixture, mixing well. Beat until very smooth. Cover bowl with waxed paper and towel and let stand in warm place (about 80 degrees F) for 1 ½ to 2 hours.
  6. Cream together until shortening is softened: ¾ cup shortening, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel.
  7. Add gradually, creaming until fluffy after each addition, a mixture of: 1 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon salt.
  8. Beat until thick and piled softly: 2 eggs and 1 egg white. Add beaten eggs in thirds to sugar mixture, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add yeast mixture, mixing well.
  9. Measure: 4 ½ to 4 ¾ cups sifted flour. Add about one-half the flour to yeast mixture and beat until very smooth. Mix in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface.
  10. Select a deep bowl just large enough to allow dough to double. Shape dough into a smooth ball and place into a greased bowl. Turn dough to bring greased surface to top. Cover bowl with waxed paper and towel and let dough rise until doubled (about 1 ½ to 2 hours).
  11. Punch down with fist. Divide dough into two equal balls. Let stand covered for 10 minutes.
  12. Roll each ball out into a long roll about 36 inches long and 1 to 1 ½ inches thick. Using the two long pieces of dough, form a loosely braided ring, leaving spaces for the five colored eggs. Place on the prepared Fiesta Pizza/Baking Tray. Place colored eggs into the spaces of braid. Cover loosely with towel. Set dough aside in a warm place until doubled.
  13. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.
  14. Brush bread with a mixture of: 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon milk.
  15. Sprinkle with tiny multicolored candies.
  16. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or more or until bread is golden brown. (Eggs will be hard-cooked.)
Adapted from Italian Cookery
Adapted from Italian Cookery
Fiesta Dinnerware, Always Festive http://alwaysfestive.com/

Fiesta Dinnerware Easter Bread recipe on the blog at www.alwaysfestive.com.

You’ll notice a lot of downtime during this process, which is perfect for family games or making Easter baskets. If you do end up making Easter Egg Bread a part your Easter family tradition this year, please share photos with us on Facebook and tell us about some of your Easter traditions too!

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Saturday Night Bites

Saturday Night BitesThere comes a time when your old standby of chips and dip just won’t cut it.  Perhaps you are celebrating a successful week at work or your friend’s almost-birthday.  Maybe you just feel like getting fancy for the thrill of it.  Whatever your motives, we are here to help you plan your way out of the potato chip blues and into the reds (and yes, we mean wine!).

Saturday Night Bites Star Crackers FBStart your menu off right with some classic crunchies.  Cheddar crackers are universally beloved and these Parmesan Basil Cheddar Stars take it a step further, putting a sophisticated spin on a childhood favorite. You can cut these out in any shape you’d like, but we went with stars for a touch of whimsy.

Parmesan Basil Cheddar Stars
Yields 120
Classic cheddar crackers enhanced with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
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Ingredients
  1. 2-1/2 cups (10 oz.) freshly shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  2. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  3. 3 tablespoons half-and-half
  4. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  5. 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  6. 1-1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  7. 3 tablespoons finely chopped basil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Beat Cheddar cheese, butter, half-and-half and salt on medium speed in a stand mixer. Gradually add in flour Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and basil, mixing until combined.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a log. Slice into four rounds. One at a time, roll each round out to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out pieces of dough with a 1-1/2-inch star-shaped cookie cutter and place one inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden and allow to cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack.
Adapted from Southern Living
Adapted from Southern Living
Fiesta Dinnerware, Always Festive http://alwaysfestive.com/
Saturday Night Bites Brie BlogThis next offering is a real show-stopper.  Seriously, you can’t get much more refined than Brie En Croute and, best of all, this soiree staple is surprisingly easy to prepare. We’ve dressed up our baked brie with a bit of raspberry preserves, a stunning addition when paired with our newest Fiesta color, Claret.

Raspberry Brie En Croute
Savory Brie cheese covered in raspberry jam and baked in a puff pastry shell.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  2. 1 (8 oz.) wheel of Brie cheese
  3. ¼ cup raspberry jam
  4. 1 egg
  5. 1 tablespoon water
  6. 1/8 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 425F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Cut puff pastry into an 8-inch square and place Brie in the center. Top the cheese with the raspberry jam. Pull the corners of the pastry dough up to meet in the center on top of the brie and pinch together to seal.
  4. Beat one egg in a small bowl with the tablespoon of water and salt. Carefully brush on the outside of the pastry and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden and the cheese has melted.
Fiesta Dinnerware, Always Festive http://alwaysfestive.com/
Saturday Night Bites BerriesRound out your menu with a few fresh items such as raspberries and red grapes.  Hit up the olive bar in your local market too.  This savory blend features both Kalamata and Manzanilla olives as well as roasted red peppers for an extra kick.

Saturday Night Bites Spread SausageA nice dry cured sausage is another go-to item for last minute get togethers.  Stay with the milder options for this one, unless you know your guests like it hot.  Don’t skimp on the carbs either! The cornerstone of any good spread, a crusty baguette is practically imperative.   

Saturday Night Bites Plate WineIf you’ve got them, toss a few more cheeses into the mix.  Uncork your favorite reds (or whites!) and have yourself a swanky Saturday night!

Saturday Night Bites Olives

Saturday Night Bites Spread 3

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Fiesta Dinnerware New Products: Foundry Collection, Holiday & Halloween

We sure have been busy at the Homer Laughlin factory! Not only did we release our new 2016 color – Claret – this week, but we’re also announcing several new items. Boy, are we excited to share them with you!

We’re casting a new light on traditional dinnerware with something completely different: the Fiesta Dinnerware Foundry Collection. Foundry has a matte textured charcoal glaze with the distinct look of a cast iron piece that has seen many meals and memories over time. It has the characteristic feel of seasoned cast iron, yet the ease of use of rust-free ceramic dinnerware.

Many people like the aesthetics of serving their meals on cast iron, but let’s be real…caring for cast iron can be high maintenance. The Foundry Collection offers the best of both worlds!

Fiesta Dinnerware Foundry Collection at the blog www.alwaysfestive.com.

The Fiesta Foundry Collection will be available in the following pieces beginning April 2016 at department stores, .coms and www.fiestafactorydirect.com:

  • Skillet/Baker
  • Pizza/Baking Tray 12″
  • Rectangular Baker 9×13”
  • Square Baker 9×9”
  • Individual Oval Baker
  • Loaf Pan
  • Bread Tray
  • Ramekin 8oz
  • Jumbo Bowl 18oz

In other exciting news, there’s going to be a lot more to celebrate around the holidays this year because we’re expanding our Christmas and Halloween patterns.

The Christmas Tree collection is in its tenth year of production (can you believe it?!) and continues to grow in popularity. We’re adding the following pieces:

The first set in a series of three of the Twelve Days of Christmas collection was introduced last year, including Days 1-4. This year, we’re introducing the next in the series, Days 5-8, in a Set of 4 Mugs and a Set of 4 Salad/Dessert Plates:

And Halloween’s getting much spookier with the addition of Ghosts and a Trio of Skeletons:

The Halloween collection will be available for purchase in July and Fiesta Christmas Tree and Twelve Days of Christmas will be available in early August at better department stores, .coms and www.fiestafactorydirect.com.

Keep checking www.fiestafactorydirect.com and our Fiesta Facebook and Pinterest pages for more information. ‘Tis the season for Fiesta new product introductions!

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A Guide to Registering for Fiesta Dinnerware

A Guide to Registering For Fiesta Dinnerware at the blog www.alwaysfestive.com.

Getting married is one of the most exciting times in a couple’s lives. But it’s also a time full of a lot of decisions! From wedding planning to registering, it can set your mind spinning with all of the choices. 

Even if you think you’ve narrowed down one aspect of your planning — for instance the casual dinnerware on your wedding registry — to colorful Fiesta Dinnerware, you then need to decide which colors to pick, how many place settings you’ll need, and which accessory pieces to request. Where do you begin? 

We’ve created a handy guide to make the process a little simpler for you or the betrothed couples you know. All of the dishes, bakeware, serving pieces, and more for a lifetime of love, entertaining and Fiesta together!  

To register for Fiesta Dinnerware, visit here: bit.ly/FiestaWeddingRegistry.

A guide to registering for Fiesta Dinnerware on the blog at www.alwaysfestive.com.

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Pear Persimmon Galette Recipe

Pear Persimmon Galette recipe from Fiesta Dinnerware at www.alwaysfestive.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that we’re in the thick of winter, all we want to do is snuggle up with a warm pastry and a hot cup of tea until we bring out our flip flops again. For this week’s blog post, we did our best to beat the winter doldrums with some vibrant warm Fiesta hues and yummy seasonal fruits. We made a rustic Pear Persimmon Galette and shared it with our friends on a palette of Scarlet, Poppy, Sunflower, and Tangerine Fiesta. 

Pear Persimmon Galette recipe from Fiesta Dinnerware at www.alwaysfestive.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiesta tip: By the way, did you know all Fiesta Dinnerware is oven proof up to 350 degrees and bakeware, like the Poppy Pizza/Baking Tray featured here, is safe up to 500 degrees? 

Pear Persimmon Galette recipe from Fiesta Dinnerware at www.alwaysfestive.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pear Persimmon Galette
Serves 8
A delicious rustic seasonal winter pastry, perfect for entertaining or a special treat for your family.
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For the crust
  1. 1 1/3 all purpose cups flour
  2. 1 Tablespoon sugar
  3. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 egg
  5. 1 teaspoon whole milk
  6. 1 stick unsalted butter, cut in small chunks
  7. 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  8. 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
Fruit mixture
  1. 2 pears (we used Bosc), peeled and diced
  2. 4 persimmons, peeled and diced
  3. 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  4. 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  5. 2 Tablespoons corn starch
  6. 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  7. 1 egg yolk (mixed with 1 teaspoon water, as egg wash)
  8. 1 Tablespoon sugar
  9. Parchment paper
For the crust
  1. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and milk together. Add the butter to the flour mixture and pulse until you have pea-sized chunks of butter. Continue to pulse while drizzling egg mixture until the dough just starts to come together. Mix in lemon juice and zest.
  2. Place dough on a floured surface and flatten into a ball. Wrap in plastic and chill for two hours.
Prepare filling
  1. In a bowl, mix pears, persimmons, lemon juice, brown sugar, corn starch, and ground cinnamon. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes.
Assemble galette
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet or a Fiesta Dinnerware Pizza/Pie Baker, like we used.
  2. Remove dough from refrigerator. Place on a floured surface and roll to a 12 inch round. Place the dough on the prepared parchment paper. Place fruit mixture in the center leaving a generous 2 inch border. Fold the pastry over the fruit, pleating it as you go around. Remember, this is a rustic dessert, so it doesn't have to be perfect.
  3. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!
Adapted from SippitySup
Adapted from SippitySup
Fiesta Dinnerware, Always Festive http://alwaysfestive.com/
Pear Persimmon Galette recipe from Fiesta Dinnerware at www.alwaysfestive.com.

 

 

Fiesta tip: Like the linens you see featured here? They’re all Fiesta! You’ll find some dish towels, oven mitts, placemats, and tablecloths here. That Fiesta apron’s pretty cute too, right? Find it at Dillard’s or Bealls

Pear Persimmon Galette recipe from Fiesta Dinnerware at www.alwaysfestive.com.

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A Sweet New Years Eve

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

I can’t believe it’s almost 2016? Where did this year go!?

The life cycle of the New Year’s Eve celebration began with watching Dick Clark in Times Square and counting down for the ball drop, then it was all about the party which eventually gave way to sitting up with brave kids who couldn’t quite make it to midnight. Now, we love to gather with friends, play cards, and enjoy yummy food while we ring in the New Year. Does this sound like your NYE? How do you celebrate?

This year is especially exciting since we’ll have our family home. I hope the games run past midnight and the conversation even longer. No celebration at our house would be complete without a dessert table with a treat for everyone.

hlc-new-years-table-2015-921

 

When Fiesta Dinnerware introduced Slate, I fell in love! It’s classy and timeless and incredibly adaptive. It was very easy to reach for the White and Slate with an accent of Turquoise; it’s a classic combination that works every time, the unanticipated bonus? It was so much fun creating only black and white desserts! Establishing these parameters was a terrific exercise in producing a cohesive and delicious dessert table for a new years eve.

Without a doubt, the star of this dessert table is the Three Tier Server in Turquoise, and why not? It’s gorgeous. This dramatic piece can be used in so many ways. From all three plates to just one plate or combining different colors of servers makes this piece one of my favorites.

Choosing which sweets to place on each tier, I went by size: smaller items on top and the largest desserts on the bottom. It looks good and feels like a natural choice. Coconut and almond bonbons on the top shelf are creamy and delicious. I baked the brownies and piped on cream cheese frosting then paired them with white chocolate covered pretzels. Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream and Chocolate Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream anchor the base.

The sparkly snowflake on top came from a local art supply shop; I love how it looks and compliments the piece.

hlc-new-years-2015-769

 

When I visit with friends, sometimes they tell me, they can’t make a dessert table for a party or say they just don’t have time to make all those sweets from scratch. Well, neither do I!

It’s totally acceptable to mix store bought favorites with homemade dishes. Hosting a party is more about genuinely welcoming guests and not standing in the stress of desserts.

Let’s take a look…

hlc-new-years-2015-770

I love the versatility of the Omni Serving Trays – I don’t have to present four sections if what I really need is two. Also, every component of this presentation is store bought – graham crackers, bonbons, and sandwich cookies. And each one is a favorite – that’s a win!

I wasn’t sure how the dark cookies would look in a dark tray, but it totally works. It was fun finding a bonbon wrapped in Turquoise and knew instantly it would be the star of the Omni trays.

As I shared before, popcorn balls are the hot hot hot dessert right now. A variation on that is caramel corn, but I wanted to stay with the color scheme of black and white, so what did I do?

Say hello to my Popcorn and Oreo Gooey Delight.

It was too easy. I popped about ¾ cup white popcorn kernels (I use a hot air popper) and poured onto a baking sheet (with 1” sides). It broke my heart to deliberately break 1 sleeve of cookies and scatter over the popcorn. I melted 4T of butter in a pan, added a bag of marshmallows. Working quickly, I poured the melted marshmallows over the popcorn/cookie mix and using my bare hands (coated liberally with butter – the mix is hot, give yourself permission to use a wooden spoon, wear gloves, wait a moment, etc), I stirred until I couldn’t effectively combine any longer.

Caution: Your mileage may vary, but contents are likely to disappear upon impact.

hlc-new-years-2015-780

The White Pie Plate is sitting on top of a White Bouillon Bowl – it’s a perfect way to raise something off the surface of the table to create visual balance. These two pieces go well together based on shape, size, and silhouette.

When thinking about a theme, clocks felt like a natural choice, to symbolize the passing of time. When I was visiting my BFF in Missouri, we spent the better part of a day visiting antique malls in the area. She took me to lunch and we never stopped laughing. We spotted this larger vintage clock and knew right away I need to bring it home with me. The tag was marked, “as is”, I didn’t need it to work and the price reflected its condition. Unfortunately, a clerk wound it up and it started to tick and was still ticking as I drove myself to the airport. How does this happen with a broken clock? I love my life!

If you don’t have a BFF, find one. My life partner is everything to me. And my best girlfriend tells me when my slip is showing.

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And why not add more clock faces? How about on a cake?! I love a fancy cake. Most of my layer cakes have a simple, rustic but appealing look to them. Rosettes are so lovely for special celebrations and New Year’s Eve is one such occasion.

This triple-layer Vanilla Bean Cake is filled with vanilla buttercream tinted black. Since I already had chocolate cupcakes on the table, I didn’t want to add another chocolate cake. The vanilla is crazy good and worth it to process the whole bean. And I’m in love with this cake!

The roses are made using a large open-star piping tip. I start in the center, draw the buttercream over to the 3 o’clock position, and then continue in a counter-clockwise circle until I reach the 4. Overlapping the roses just a wee bit ensures complete coverage of the crumb coat.

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Because things don’t always work out, my plan for Panda Cupcakes became Panda Inspired Cupcakes. I lost my panda googly eyes, which were found immediately upon completion of the photo shoot, of course. I’m sold on the look.You see pandas, right?

 

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I don’t always prepare party favors or take-home gifts, but I did this time. These little jars are stellar! There is 5.5 Tablespoons of M&Ms in each jar, which becomes the perfect snack for the bus/car/tram on the way home.

We were traveling recently and made it a point to stop in a candy store that offers every color of M&M candies. So an ombre of fun was designed.

After I got these made, I tried several different types of bows/ribbon/string – but nothing worked. I think the ombre look is bold enough and doesn’t need anything else.

How adorable is this for a wedding/shower/birthday party favor?

Go green – reuse it.

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All of the food – delicious! While your guests prepare their own plates, enjoy your own party. It’s a win having friends and family who like spending time together.

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How I use my Fiesta Dinnerware on a daily basis is influenced by what I’m doing – fancy or every day, the Medium Flared Vase is a staple. We have this vase on our Dining Room table almost all the time and certainly when we’re entertaining. It can anchor a dessert table without stealing limelight from the star. This vase is a workhorse and I love it.

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Celebrations mark the passing of time, seasons, change and growth. Traditions, like the NYC Times Square Ball Drop are cultural norms that bind us to a larger group. Or, family traditions like card night and ringing in the New Year cements us to our smaller, inclusive group, that says, “my people, my family”. Traditions and rituals draw us together.

When our kids started going out with friends for New Year’s Eve, I was afraid they’d make the same mistakes I had made as a young person. We’re so fortunate they haven’t done that; I’m grateful they learned from my mistakes. That’s part of change too, parenting adult kids, loving them and being present in their lives.

For now, I get to create and love and experience my little corner of the world. Time keeps on ticking…Happy New Year!

Vanilla Bean Layer Cake
A light and delicious Vanilla flavored cake
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1tsp Baking Soda
  2. 2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  3. 1tsp Salt
  4. 1 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
  5. 2 2/3 Cup Cake Flower
  6. 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
  7. 1 Cup Buttermilk
  8. 2 tsp Clear Vanilla Extract
  9. 6 Egg Whites
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In medium sized mixing bowl, sift together dry ingredients; set aside.
  3. Process Vanilla Beans - add seeds to milk, stir. Add vanilla pods to milk and gently warm up to slightly warmer than room temperature. Tend carefully if in the microwave.
  4. In large mixing bowl, beat egg whites. Add sugar – beat thoroughly until smooth. Add oil and vanilla – beat on high until frothy.
  5. Alternating…add flour mix and buttermilk; set mixer to low.
  6. Divide batter among cake pans.
  7. Bake for 22-25 minutes.
  8. Cool completely. Frost with luscious Vanilla Buttercream.
Notes
  1. Note: Batter will be thin
  2. Hot Tip: This doesn't lend itself to substituting half of the oil with applesauce - some of the sparkly vanilla flavor is lost. The cake turns out wonderfully, but the flavor is diminished a wee bit.
Fiesta Dinnerware, Always Festive http://alwaysfestive.com/

 

 

 

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Caramel Apple Bar

Caramel Apple Bar 1

There is nothing quite like a sweet, sticky caramel apple on a brisk autumn day.  The rich and gooey texture of caramel perfectly complements an apple’s crisp bite and the addition of chopped nuts is simply inspired.

Toppings 1

But why stop there?  We decided to embrace this autumn treat by setting up a full caramel apple bar, complete with a myriad of delicious dips and fun toppings. 

We filled our classic ramekins with graham cracker crumbs, mini chocolate chips, shredded coconut, toffee bits, mini marshmallows and, of course, chopped peanuts.

Apple Sticks

Instead of whole apples, we skewered apple slices on lollipop sticks.  The smaller portions allow for taste testing all sorts of delicious flavor combos. 

To keep your apples looking fresh, try dipping them in a lemon-lime soda first.  The citric acid wards off browning.

Apples Dipped

In addition to classic caramel sauce, we added melted dark chocolate and white chocolate to the menu, which yielded some pretty amazing creations.  Our favorite?  A s’mores apple slice, dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs and mini marshmallows.  Divine!

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Holiday Butters

Holiday Butters This season, we’ve put together four compound butters, all boasting festive flavors that are perfectly paired with holiday fare. From savory roasted garlic and fresh herbs to creamy pumpkin and bright cranberry, each flavor is just as at home on freshly carved turkey as it is on a plush dinner roll.

Crescent Roll

And don’t forget about leftovers!  Every leftover turkey sandwich deserves to be slathered with cranberry butter.  In fact, these butters can be used throughout the day.  Toast is made merrier topped with pumpkin spice butter and vegetables shine with rich garlic butter.

These butter recipes are tailor made to fit in our infinitely useful 8 ounce Ramekins.  If you’re trying to get extra fancy though, go for our Two Piece Dip Set, which includes a matching butter spreader.

Herbed Butter

HERBED BUTTER
Mix 1 tablespoon of minced parsley, 1-1/2 teaspoons of minced sage, 1 teaspoon of minced rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon of minced thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt into 1 cup of softened butter.

Cranberry ButterCRANBERRY BUTTER
Place 4 ounces of fresh or frozen cranberries, 2 tablespoons of water, six strips of orange peel, 6 tablespoons of sugar, and ¼ teaspoon each of cardamom and nutmeg in a saucepot. Simmer over low heat until the berries soften, for about 4 minutes after it begins to simmer.  Remove from heat and extract orange peel.  Allow to cool to room temperature before mixing into one cup of softened butter.

Pumpkin Butter

PUMPKIN SPICE BUTTER
Mix 3 tablespoons of canned pumpkin, ¼ teaspoon each of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon of sugar into 1 cup of softened butter.

Garlic Butter

ROASTED GARLIC BUTTER
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Slice the tops off of two heads of garlic and drizzle with a bit of olive oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place in the center of a sheet of aluminum foil and bring the sides up to form a pouch.  Put the pouch in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes, until garlic is softened. Allow to cool slightly and then squeeze out the garlic cloves.  Allow the garlic to cool completely before chopping and mixing into one cup of softened butter.

 

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