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Archive for 2013

FOOD FUN: Bear In A Blanket

Who can resist this edible bear? Photo


We love this brown rice bear in an omelet blanket. What a fun dinner idea for this quiet week, along with a colorful side salad. Have the kids help make it!

Bear in a Blanket was created by Angie Ramirez of, who shares yummy food, easy DIY crafts, adventures of motherhood and everything in between on her blog.

The recipe takes only 20 minutes of prep time, 50 minutes of cook time.


Ingredients For One Bear & Blanket

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 scrambled eggs (for the blanket)
  • Small, thin slices of cheese (for the ears and nose)
  • Small, thin slices of black olive (for the eyes and nose)


    1. COOK brown rice on stove top as directed on package, or about 45-50 minutes.

    2. SCRAMBLE eggs with a pinch of salt over medium/high temperature in a lightly buttered skillet pan.

    3. ASSEMBLE the bear in a blanket: Place about 1/2 cup of rice in the middle of the plate to form the bear’s body. Then scoop a medium size ball of rice to form the head. To form the bear’s ears, use a small amount of rice by shaping it like a half circle. Place the omelet on top of the bear’s body to form the blanket. Attach the olive and cheese slivers to form his ears, nose and eyes.

    Serve to happy diners!


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Don’t Toss It, Transform It!

    We love the food at Petrossian in New York City. It doesn’t have to be caviar (the restaurant’s most famous offering) to be wonderful, as we discovered when we ordered crab cakes.

    The chef stuffed sections of the crab legs with fresh crab and sea urchin and topped them with caviar: very upscale sashimi!

    We’ve ordered crab cakes countless times at countless restaurants, but no one ever served us the stuffed legs of the crab with our crab cake. We loved it, and it inspired today’s tip:

    Before you toss out shells—be they crab legs or shells, lobster claws or shells, scallop shells, juiced citrus halves, de-seeded pomegranates or other fruits or vegetables—consider how to repurpose them. You don’t need caviar to make it fun.



    Petrossian turned the empty crab legs into gourmet sashimi. Photo courtesy Petrossian Restasurant | NYC.

  • Condiments: chutney, dipping sauces, mustard, etc.
  • Dessert: fruit salad, ice cream/sorbet or pudding in fruit shells
  • Garnishes: chopped chiles, herbs, onions, nuts and other items that people can choose to add or not
  • Salads: chopped greens, egg salad or protein salads (chicken, shrimp, etc.), slaws, vegetable salads
  • Sides: applesauce, fruit compote, mashed potatoes, rice or grains, vegetable purée

    What kind of leftover shells do you typically have, and what would you do with them?


    Simply freeze them until you have enough.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Apple Cider Bar

    Hot raspberry cider. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s Berries. Here’s the recipe.


    A few months ago we created a feature on party food bars:

  • Breakfast & Brunch Bar
  • Drinks & Snacks Food Bar
  • Desserts Food Bar
  • Lunch & Dinner Food Bar

    Our drinks bars included the different ways to serve Bloody Marys, lemonade and iced tea. Around Thanksgiving, we realized we had left out another “essential,” and created an Apple Cider Bar.

    We liked it so much for Thanksgiving that we did it again for Christmas and we’re planning it for next Halloween as well. So today’s tip is: Don’t wait until then: Set up an apple cider bar for New Year’s Eve.

    Serve the cider cold and hot, so people can customize their drinks. Heat the cider on the stove with a ball of mulling spices, then serve it in a pitcher. If you have a hot plate or other device to keep the cider warm, so much the better.



    Juices & Mixers

  • Apple cider
  • Hard cider
  • Pomegranate juice
  • Club soda
  • Ginger ale/diet ginger ale

  • Bourbon
  • Gin
  • Rum and/or spiced rum
  • Whiskey
  • Vodka

    Sweet Toppings

  • Ice cream: cinnamon ice cream, rum raisin or vanilla ice cream
  • Sorbet: apple sorbet, cranberry sorbet
  • Whipped cream (try these recipes for Bourbon Whipped Cream an Five Spice Whipped Cream)

  • Apple or pear slices, berries, red seedless grapes
  • Cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise
  • Ground cinnamon and nutmeg
  • Honey
  • Orange and lemon wheels and curls

  • Butter pats*
  • Glasses and mugs
  • Ice cubes
  • Napkins
  • Spoons & stirring sticks, jiggers for alcohol

    Add your favorite spices. Photo courtesy Ruth’s Chris Steak House.


    Related Snacks

  • Cake & Pie: apple bars, apple pie, ginger bars (recipe), pound cake, spiced bundt
  • Cheese & Fruit Plate: cheddar and washed rind cheeses with apples, pears and grapes, prosciutto
  • Cookies & Donuts: butter cookies, cider- or cinnamon-sugar donuts, gingersnaps, oatmeal raisin cookies, shortbread
  • Light Fare: chicken/turkey/ham sandwiches, grilled cheese, mac & cheese, quiche
  • More: flavored tortilla chips†, granola bars, spiced nuts (recipe)
    *To float atop hot cider.

    †We like Food Should Taste Good tortilla chips in Kettle, Pumpkin and Sweet Potato; Laurel Hill tortilla chips in Pumpkin Seed; or Way Better Snacks tortilla chips in Zesty Sweet Potato.


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    RECIPE: Tiramisu Cupcakes

    Mmm, mmm: tiramisu cupcakes. Photo


    For more than a few people, a mini cupcake at midnight is the right way to start the new year. This recipe marries tiramisu with cupcakes, filling the soft, moist cupcake with tiramisu, the luscious Italian dessert made of ladyfingers dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks, egg whites, sugar and mascarpone cheese, flavored with cocoa.

    In this recipe, cupcakes replace the ladyfingers. It’s from one of our favorite bakers, Lauryn Cohen of

    “I like to make filling my cupcakes easy—no cutting cones out or slicing and dicing my cupcakes,” says Lauryn. “Just stick a pastry bag into the cupcake and squeeze. It works every time, I promise!”

    She made these as mini-cupcakes for portion control, but you can make standard size cupcakes if you prefer.



    For The Syrup

  • 2-3 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • For The Cupcakes

  • 1-1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    For The Filling & Frosting

  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces fat free vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coffee extract

  • Cocoa powder
  • Chocolate covered espresso beans*
    *Available at candy stores, coffee bean stores, food markets (including Trader Joe’s) and online.


    Ttiramisu filling, tiramisu frosting. Photo courtesy


    1. MAKE the syrup (be sure to do this first). Stir together the espresso powder, sugar and water over low heat until dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool while making the cupcakes.

    2. MAKE the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a mini muffin pan with cupcake liners. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

    3. CREAM butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, until smooth and pale in color. Add eggs one at a time, making sure that each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next one. Stir vanilla into milk. Switch mixer to low speed and add dry and wet ingredients, alternating with half the dry, all of the wet, and the remaining dry, making sure not to overmix.

    4. SCOOP batter into liners and bake for 10-12 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. As soon as the cupcakes come out of the oven, poke hole in the tops with a toothpick, and, using a pastry brush, brush tops of cupcakes with the coffee syrup. Allow cupcakes to cool completely.

    5. MAKE the filling and frosting: Beat butter, mascarpone and yogurt in an electric mixer on medium/high speed until fully combined. Add confectioners’ sugar, a half cup at a time. Beat in the coffee extract.

    6. PLACE the filling/frosting into a piping bag with a narrow round tip. Push tip into top of cupcake and gently squeeze filling out of pastry bag until tip naturally starts to rise out of the cupcake. You will quickly get the hang of when to stop squeezing. Be gentle and do not over-squeeze. Once you have completed the filling, spread frosting over the cupcakes in a dome-like shape. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and top with a chocolate covered espresso bean.


    Alternatively, you can make cupcakes into a clock presentation for New Year’s Eve. Use any cupcake recipe and decorate the top of each cupcake with a different number from 1 to 12. Arrange them in a circle like the face of a clock, with chocolate pretzel rods as the hands.

    Here’s the recipe, plus Lauryn’s tips for baking perfect cupcakes.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make An Edible Popcorn Bowl

    This serving bowl can be eaten when it’s empty. Photo courtesy


    If you’re planning a quiet New Year’s Eve at home, need something to bring to a party or are thinking ahead to the Super Bowl, have fun with this idea from The Popcorn Board.

    The bowl is made from popcorn, which you then fill with more popcorn—or be contrarian and fill it with chips or pretzels.

    You can use different food coloring for different holidays, themes or teams.



  • 10 cups popped popcorn
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 drops food color, optional
  • Preparation

    1. SPRAY the inside of a large stainless steel bowl with cooking spray and similarly spray the outside of a second large stainless steel bowl; set aside. These 2 bowls will be used to form popcorn bowl at end of cooking time. (Note: If one bowl is smaller than the other, spray the outside of the smaller bowl.)

    2. SPRAY the inside of a third large bowl with cooking spray and place popped popcorn inside; set aside.

    3. STIR sugar, water, corn syrup, vinegar and salt together in a medium sauce pan. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, and boil for 3 minutes to allow steam to wash down sides of pan.

    4. REMOVE pot lid and attach candy thermometer to pan. Allow mixture to boil, without stirring, until mixture reaches 290°F. Stir in food color, if desired. Working quickly, pour syrup over popcorn and toss with a large spoon until popcorn is thoroughly coated.

    5. POUR popcorn mixture into first prepared bowl and use a spoon to push mixture evenly up onto sides of bowl. Firmly press the second prepared bowl onto popcorn to form popcorn bowl. Allow popcorn bowl to cool completely between stainless steel bowls.

    6. SERVE: Tip popcorn bowl out and place on platter. Fill with popcorn or other snacks to serve.

    Find more popcorn recipes at


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