Book Review: Amy Atlas Sweet Designs

Hello Beauties

I am back from the most relaxing vacation.  I took a long weekend to unplug and get some much-needed R&R.  On the first night of my time off, I received Amy Atlas’ book, Sweet Design, from the UPS man.  I had been waiting to get my hands on it ever since I pre-ordered with Amazon. 

I was lucky enough to indulge my inner crafting goddess by reading 5 books total over my vacation: Amy Atlas- Sweet Designs; Handmade Weddings-Eunice Moyle, Sabrina Moyle and Shauna Faust; The DIY Bride- Khris Cochran; Push-up Pops, Courtney Dial Whitmore; Simply Divine Lisa Vanderpump.  I will begin a series of book reviews so stay tuned for these and new reviews each week.

Amy Atlas, Sweet Designs: Bake It, Craft it, Style it

Amy Atals- Sweet Designs: Bake it, Craft it, Style it

This book is quite massive at 375 pages.  It has chapter after chapter filled with ideas for creating tablescapes.  The majority of the designs focus on the sweets table but a little imagination can inspire ideas for the whole party.  There are fourteen chapters that focus on a specific theme, such as Game Night (Ch.8), Pastel Pretty (Ch. 5), Honey, I Love you (Ch.7), and Vineyard Afternoon (Ch.12).  

Each chapter provides Amy’s initial inspiration for the tablescape, a Bake It section with a recipe for each home-made dessert featured, a Craft It section explaining how to create the DIY elements of the table (runners, backdrops, favor bags, etc) and a Style It section which explains how to pull everything together (use all ruffled elements, for example).  Plus, it offers ways to switch it up by making the beverages more adult or advising of a different color scheme that would work equally as well.  It also has advice on what to purchase pre-made (candies, cakes, decorations, etc.).  This book is a must have for anyone that loves bringing a wow factor to everyday events.

Vineyard Afternoon

Pastel Pretty

Amy Atlas includes a lot of great tips for creating a tablescape that is pleasing to the eye.  For example, use different heights and sizes for the vessels on the table.  Put the tallest containers in the back of the table so that it is easy for everyone to grab their treat.  Also, when styling your sweets table, be sure to use a few different textures to create an exciting experience.  For example, use light fluffy cotton candy, crystalized rock candy and gummy bears for the candy.  Then use, a textured table-cloth with a DIY streamer and pom backdrop. 

 

Amy Atlas hits it out of the park with her first book, Sweet Designs.  It is an instant classic and a must have for anyone that entertains in their home. 

 Have you picked up your copy of Sweet Designs?  What are your favorite chapters?

How to Host a Tequila Tasting Party

 Hello Beauties

Today is my dad’s birthday so I wanted to showcase a festive party idea and what is more festive than Tequila?!  My dad taught me the importance of good tequila and how it should be sipped and enjoyed.  A Tequila tasting should be a long, luxurious event and  it definitely should not be poured from an industrial-sized plastic jug.

Drinks:

A variety of ages and styles will keep eveyone happy

The party will revolve around a bar stocked with various types of tequila.  Tequila Source describes the Five Classes of Tequila and it would be a great conversation starter, framed near the bar or written on a large chalkboard wall in the main party space.

Be sure to include a variety of aged tequila to give the guests the opportunity to pick their favorite.

I personally enjoy Patron tequila but have really enjoyed 1800, Cabo Wabo, Don Julio and Sauza.  Find a great list of the top tequila brands on Brands of Tequila‘s site.

Decor: 

A buffet style table allows guests to eat at their leisure

Muted shades of green and orange against a backdrop of white would be my color palette of choice for this party.  Sleek and modern with Cactus and succulent centerpieces can also double as party favors.

Keep things fun and festive with these amazing Pinatas from Confetti Systems.  You can order them in various shapes and colors.  They come stuffed with confetti but you can always add more treats (like mini bottles of booze, but that’s just me) through the hinged flap.

A Magical Gold Pinata is Always in Style

Food:  

A large array of warm weather snacks would be the perfect pairing to the tequila.  A giant bowl of fresh guacamole and salty tortilla chips would be delicious.  I also would create a taco station, where people can make steak, chicken or veggie tacos in warm corn tortillas.  I always like to have a big green salad at parties for guests that would rather have something a little lighter.

Ceviche is an amazing pairing because the lime juice is a great way to emphasize the flavors of the tequila.  Simply Recipes has a large selection of ceviche recipes but this one made my mouth water.

Ceviche Recipe

Preparation time: 15 minutes to prepare, 3-4 hours to let sit. Always use the freshest fish possible. Make the same day you purchase fresh fish.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of firm, fresh red snapper fillets (or other firm-fleshed fish), cut into 1/2 inch pieces, completely deboned
  • 1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh seeded tomatoes
  • 1 serrano chili, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • Dash of ground oregano
  • Dash of Tabasco or a light pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Cilantro
  • Avocado
  • Tortillas or tortilla chips

Method

In a non-reactive casserole dish, either Pyrex or ceramic, place the fish, onion, tomatoes, chili, salt, Tabasco, and oregano. Cover with lime and lemon juice. Let sit covered in the refrigerator for an hour, then stir, making sure more of the fish gets exposed to the acidic lime and lemon juices. Let sit for several hours, giving time for the flavors to blend.

During the marinating process the fish will change from pinkish grey and translucent, to whiter in color and opaque.

Serve with chopped cilantro and slices of avocado with heated tortillas for ceviche tacos or with tortilla chips.

Serves 4-8.

Remember you can turn this bithday party into any type of event.  This would be a great house warming party, retirement party, bachelor or bachelorette party.  Take the inspiration and alter it to fit almost any occasion.

 What elements would you include at your tasting party?

Amy Atlas Sweet Designs: Pre Order Now!

Hello Beauties! 

Amy Atlas is the queen of the dessert table and her first book, Sweet Designs: Bake it, Craft it, Style it, is available for pre-sale now on Amazon.  I just ordered my copy and it will ship out on April 24, 2012.  The book is filled with over 100 recipes and over 75 easy, affordable craft projects. I can’t to look through my copy and get inspiration for my next event!

Amy Atlas’ blog, Sweet Designs, is one of my daily reads.  She accepts submissions from around the world and there have been some really great spring time parties featured this week.  I was especially drawn to this pastel color palette of mint green and yellow.

amy atlas cake green butterfly spring

Mint Green Ombre Cake with a Yellow Butterfly

Amy Atlas cake pops lemon bars green yellow

A selection of cake pops and lemon bars are perfect for a Springtime fete

Will you be purchasing Amy Atlas’ new book,

Sweet Designs: Bake it, Craft it, Style it

Easter Celebration

Hello Beauties

Easter is this Sunday and I can’t believe how fast this year is flying by! This was always one of my favorite holidays because we would personalize our eggs, hide carrots for the Easter bunny and wear a fabulous new dress.  My mother would hide a basket for me and my sister with the most amazing Mr. Sketch markers and a notebook with the most delicious carmel popcorn bunny.  We would make spinach dip then go visit with my aunts and cousins.

This year I will coordinating a good friends wedding so it will definitely be a celebration!  I have rounded up my favorite decor elements and tablescapes.  Find even more Easter inspiration on Pintrest!

A basket full of gilded eggs is magical

My mother's spinach dip would be amazing in that bunny

Carrots that look like they were just pulled from the ground make the perfect centerpiece

Beautiful inspiration for an Easter party

Some my favorite party food is a large selection of salads.  I love Italian style pasta salad, with roasted red peppers, olives, and basil pesto.  A huge garden salad filled with veggies and a juicy, fresh fruit salad are delicious, healthy options.  For refreshments, I love drinking white wine spritzers (so retro!).  I mix a light white wine (sav blanc or pinot grigio) with some Diet Sprite and a splash of fruit juice.  You can always freeze the juice and just throw a few cubes in your glass for fun.

What are your Easter traditions?  How will you be celebrating this year? 

Don’t forget to sign up for my Custom Banner Giveaway!

Modern Bridal Shower for the Gourmet Bride

Hello Beauties!

I love designing bridal showers because all of the most important women in a Bride’s life come together to share their wisdom for a happy marriage.  The bride is given advice on how to keep up with housework, ways to resolve arguments and easy dinner ideas.  


Learning how to cook to suit you and your future husband’s lifestyle is so important and A Gourmet Recipe Shower is a modern take on the traditional kitchen shower.  Who wouldn’t love going out to Zagat rated restaurant every night, but that just isn’t realistic with work and eventually children.  Hosting a Gourmet Recipe shower for the Bride will help get her ready to wow even the most work week weary husband.  

Invitations can include a kitchen utensil or a mini cutting board.  Be sure to include the customary details (when, where, rsvp) and also include the gourmet potluck recipe request.  Ask each guest to bring a gourmet appetizer or dessert along with the recipe.  All of the recipe’s will be gathered and placed into a notebook for the bride to take home as a keepsake.  I  know I love to participate in a potluck but if you think your guests would be offended, then just request them to bring along their favorite gourmet recipe.

The table decor can incorporate kitchen utensils into the flower displays and centerpieces.  It is a fun way to incorporate the foodie theme, while also allowing the bride to take as a gift.  I personally love to use the Kitchenaid products.  The spatulas, spoons, peelers, etc are so durable and they come in the brightest colors!  If you do go with the KitchenAid centerpieces don’t forget to display the bride’s piece de resistance… The KitchenAid mixer!  
A great game for a Gourmet Shower is an Exotic Taste test.  One of my favorite Top Chef quickfire challenges is where each chef must do a blind taste test on exotic fruit, spices, chutney and vegetables.  The shower can also incorporate a game with 10-15 different ingredients set up on a table and each guest is encouraged to taste test.  Once everyone has a chance to sample the offerings, the correct answers are tallied and the winner is announced!  A lovely gift basket filled with amazing products for the guests own kitchen would make a wonderful prize.
A table with a beautiful Gourmet Cook Book would make a unique guest book.  Each guest can sign next to their favorite recipe or add their own well wishes on the inside cover.  Near the Guest Book table would be the delicious favors.  A petite jar of rosemary infused sea salt would be a luxurious DIY project.  All you would need to do is insert three to four small sprigs of rosemary (any herb would work) into a glass jar before filling with sea salt.  Let them sit in a cool dark place for a few days before the party.  
Gourmet Potluck Recipe

If you do decide to incorporate a potluck element into the party I would recommend dividing everyone up into appetizer or dessert.  Then the hostess can provide the main course.  One of my absolute favorite recipes for a potluck is a Crescent Wreath.  You can fill the wreath with any fillings to accommodate any dietary needs. 
By: Jane NachboeTastefully SImple
Crescent roll wreath

Ingredients
½ lb. mild Italian bulk sausage
3 Tbsp. Dried Tomato & Garlic Pesto Mix
1 cup shredded colby Jack cheese
½ cup chopped fresh broccoli
¾ (10.75 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
¾ cup chopped red and green bell pepper
2 (8 oz.) tubes refrigerated crescent rolls

Directions
Brown first 2 ingredients in medium skillet until sausage is no longer
pink; add next 4 ingredients. Unroll and separate crescent rolls into
triangles; arrange crescent rolls with wide ends completely
overlapping in a wreath shape on large baking pan. Spoon sausage mixture over wide ends of crescent rolls; roll pointed ends and tuck under wide ends, leaving filling visible. Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes. Makes 8-10 servings.

Would you want a Gourmet Shower?  What is your go-to Gourmet Recipe for weeknight meals?