How to Elevate Boxed Cake Mix, Just in Time for Valentine’s Day

AJSVday4

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s friend and web-manager, and I’m back with a fun, festive post for Valentine’s Day. Let’s start at the beginning: I am a pretty good cook! I enjoy putting my own twists on recipes, and my specialties are sauces and condiments. I make a mean aioli.

That said, I am absolutely not a baker. It’s just not my forte. I enjoy adding a dash of this or a pinch of that here and there, so the precision of baking just isn’t my thing. But, since I love chocolate, cookies, and creme brûlée just as much as the next gal, I’m always looking for ways to incorporate baking…kind of. My current favorite trick: elevating boxed cake mix.

While you can elevate boxed cake mix many different ways, there are two no-fail ways to take boxed mix from drab to fab. First, bake it in a fun dish.

AJSVday1 AJSVday3

This serves two purposes: one, it instantly makes the cake look like you spent more time on it. Two, you can serve your cake directly from the dish. Presentation is huge!

I picked up these ceramic bakers from HomeGoods for a steal. One thing to remember: if you are baking in ceramic, you have to watch the cooking time. I added 5 minutes to the cooking time of the Godiva boxed mix I picked up, but I kept a keen eye on the cake the entire time it was baking.

Another way to elevate boxed cake mix? Make your own fabulous icing. Icing is so easy. Truly. It requires just a few ingredients (namely butter and sugar). I used a recipe found on Jenny Steffens’ blog for a chocolate glaze. It tastes almost exactly like your grandmother’s Texas sheet cake icing and by the end of the afternoon, I was eating it with a spoon. Whoops! Note: I used 2 cups of powdered sugar when I made mine.

AJSVday2

For even more festive fun, you can add a creative design using sprinkles or chocolate pearls – which will only make it look even LESS like boxed cake (win!).

I love the idea of impressing your significant other or girlfriends with a fun, semi-homemade cake like this one for Valentine’s Day. They’ll all be impressed, and you’ll be stress-free!

xo, Nicole

baking celebration cooking dinner party Entertaining Holiday love Parties party tips Recipes Uncategorized valentine's day valentines day : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Atlanta Magazine’s HOME Summer Entertaining Feature:: An Epic Engagement Party

As most of you know, I am the Entertaining Editor for Atlanta Magazine’s Home. It’s a position I truly relish. I get to attend the most interesting parties on Atlanta’s social calendar and rub elbows with the who’s who in the design and creative world of the city. I am a lucky lady.

Most recently, I got to attend a party that I have been wanting to attend for a long time. Our own daughter’s engagement party. All the juicy details are reveled in the Summer 2017 issue.

You can imagine what a thrill it was to plan and execute our daughter’s stellar celebration.

Read all about it in Atlanta Magazine’s HOME on newsstands right now!

Here are a couple sneak peeks of the festivities.

Most recently, I got to attend a party that I have been wanting to attend for a long time. Our own daughter's engagement party. Most recently, I got to attend a party that I have been wanting to attend for a long time. Our own daughter's engagement party.

Photography by: The Raftermen

xx Annette

Atlanta Magazine Home celebration Entertaining Events love Parties Party Accessories party tips Personal the art of a party Uncategorized weddings : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Valentine’s Day Cocktails: My Favorite Sexy Sips

 

I'm a girl who loves a great cocktail, and Valentine's Day cocktails are so much fun. Here's a round-up of some of my best sexy sips from over the years!

As you well know, I’m a girl who loves a great cocktail, and Valentine’s Day cocktails are so much fun. Over the years, I’ve prepared many drinks inspired by Valentine’s Day, especially since the holiday is one of my favorites.

Today, I wanted to bring you a round-up of some of my best sexy sips from over the years. All of these are perfect for celebrating with someone you love. Grab two glasses, a few ingredients from your bar, and get to mixing. You could even make a plan to make several of these cocktails and have your own little mixology class right at home. Sounds like a great date night to me!

Get the recipes for Valentine’s Day cocktails: 

Big Read Lips // Grapefruit Pomegranate Mimosa // Negroni // In the Pink // Lust and Loving in Las Vegas // Fiore // That’s Amore // You Make Me Blush

Happy Valentine’s Day weekend!

xx, Annette

All campari celebration Cocktail of the Week Cocktails dinner party Entertaining Holiday Holiday Entertaining holiday guide holiday recipes love mixology Parties party tips Recipes specialty cocktails Uncategorized valentine's day valentines day : Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Mykonos the Grand Greek Island

Agios Sostis

Agios Sostis

As most of you may know, we recently took a trip to Mykonos, Greece. This wasn’t our first trip; we have been visiting for over 20 years. Our first trip to this island was dusty and gritty but scenic. It was filled with party beaches and hectic traffic, but mainly it was super sleepy and behind the times…which of course made it fantastically charming. Over the years we have watched the transition as Mykonos became the St. Tropez of the Greek Isles. This year we were called to a Big Fat Greek Gay Wedding which included drag queens, drones and a wedding party all in white. This wedding extravaganza was officiated by my husband, as the grooms are our besties. The circus-like atmosphere, was very Mykonos and did not disappoint. We had a blast.

Joanna's and Niko's Place

Joanna’s and Niko’s Place

Over the years, we have stayed all over the island, but this time we rented a private villa about 30 minutes out of town. Since we know the Island so well, it really was the perfect getaway.

We dined at our favorite beach restaurant on Elia Beach. The Greek salad is to die for as is the Taramosalata (roe salad my favorite), along with crisp Rose wine; it makes for the perfect lunch at the beach. Of course we have to have the grilled squid as well. Needless to say we ate well.

 

 

Elia Beach Restaurant

Elia Beach Restaurant

img_2761-e1473932261958

One of the highlights was our photo safari. We photographed cows, beaches (Focos Beach) and fauna. The island is still full of hidden beaches, but they are getting harder and harder to find.

Focos Beach

Focos Beach

Mykonos

Mykonos is still a fantastic destination, even with the jet setters, helicopters and black SUVs moving in. The donkeys and cows still rule the landscape for now…

behind the scenes celebration love Parties Personal Travel Uncategorized weddings : Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Sexy Sips for V-day

sexy sips

As you know, I am a girl that loves a cocktail.

Any excuse for a celebration…that’s me. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I pulled out all my faves, and of course Campari and Aperol needed to make an appearance. Here are some sexy Valentine’s Day cocktails for you and your love to enjoy on this very special ♥ day.

I love love… therefore toasting to LOVE seems so perfect with these yummy concoctions.

Sexy Sip #1

sexy sips

You Make Me Blush
Serves 1

You will need:
– 1 oz Sky Vodka
– 1 oz Rhubarb Shurb
– 1 oz. lemon simple syrup
– 4 drops 1821 Meyer Lemon and Ginger Bitters

To prepare simple syrup & cocktail:

Combine juice of 1 Meyer lemon, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar. In a small pot, bring the ingredients to a boil about 10 minutes, set aside to cool.

In a shaker filled with ice, place all ingredients and shake vigorously until completely chilled and mixed. Strain into a martini glass, and garnish with a twist of Meyer lemon peel.

Sexy Sip #2

sexy sips

Big Red Lips
Serves 1

You will need:
– 1 oz Campari
– 1 oz Blood Orange Maraschino Cherry Syrup
– 1 oz Cinzano Rosso
– splash of club soda
– slice of blood orange for garnish

To prepare simple syrup & cocktail:

Combine the juice of one blood orange, 1/3 cup maraschino cherry juice, and 1/2 cup of water. In a small pot, bring the ingredients to a boil about 10 minutes, set aside to cool.

In a shaker filled with ice place all ingredients and shake vigorously until completely chilled and mixed. Strain into a coupe glass, garnish with a slice of blood orange.

Sexy Sip #3

sexy sips

Lust and Loving in Las Vegas
Serves 1

You will need:
– 1/2 cup of Lemonade
– 1/2 cup of Aperol
– Splash of Prosecco
– lemon sugar for the rim
-1/4 orange slice for garnish

Lemonade
Serves 8

To prepare Lemonade & cocktail: 

1 1/2 cups lemon juice, 1 3/4 cups sugar, 8 cups of water. Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and chill until needed. *You can also use store bought lemonade.

Rub a white wine glass with water and dip into the lemon sugar. Add ice, lemonade and then Aperol, fill the glass to the top with the Prosecco. Serve with a straw and orange wedge.

Happy Valentines Day to all you Lovers out there. xx

Photo Credit : Me

 

 

 

 

Cocktails dinner party Entertaining Holiday love mixology my picks Parties Recipes specialty cocktails Uncategorized valentine's day valentines day : Tags: , , , , , , , , ,