Dessert for a Small Crowd:: Pumpkin Bundt Cake

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Since we will be entertaining for smaller crowds this season, your family. I suggest everyone get dressed up in their costumes and your family can celebrate safely at home. Originally I made this dessert for a photo shoot, about a fall party. It ran in Atlanta Magazine’s Home a couple years ago and it was a lovely family fall spread. The whole party may be worth recreating instead of trick or treating this year. Please be creative and stay home, enjoy your family and stay safe.

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This layered pumpkin bundt cake is one of my favorite fall recipes. Add it to your menu for this weekend. You won’t be disappointed you did!

Layered Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Serves 12

For the cake, you will need: 

– 3 cups all-purpose flour
– 2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
– 2 teaspoons ground ginger
– 1 3/4 teaspoons ground allspice
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1 1/2 cups sugar
– 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
– 1 cup canola oil
– 4 large eggs
– 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
– 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
– 1 tablespoon grated orange peel

Note: 2 fluted bundt pans.

To prepare the cake:

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter bundt pans; Butter and dust pans with flour. Sift 3 cups flour and next 7 ingredients into medium bowl. In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat both sugars and oil until combined (mixture will look grainy). Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and orange peel; beat until well blended. Add flour mixture; beat just until incorporatedDivide batter between prepared pans. Smooth tops.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool cakes completely in pans on rack. Run knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto racks, then turn cakes over on to a platter.

For the frosting, you will need:

– 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
– 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
– 1 tablespoon dark rum
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
– 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

To prepare the frosting: 

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in dark rum and vanilla. Add powdered sugar in 3 additions, beating just until frosting is smooth after each addition (do not overbeat or frosting may become too soft to spread).

For the chocolate icing, you will need:

– 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
– ½ cup cream

To prepare the chocolate icing:

In a small sauce pan heat chips and cream whisk until smooth.

To assemble the cake: 

Place 1 pumpkin cake layer, rounded side down, on platter. Spread the of cream cheese frosting over top of cake to edges. Top with second pumpkin half. Drizzle with Chocolate icing using a fork in a zig zag splatter pattern.

Note – Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Photo credit: The Raftermen

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Easter Brunch Beverage:: The Pink Mimosa

mimosa

Made with pomegranate juice, grapefruit juice, and bubbly, this pink mimosa is perfect for springtime and would be beautiful in a pitcher for guests to help themselves, even if guests are a little limited this year. Imagine your punchy Easter tablescapes with this bubbly beverage front and center!

Cheers!

xx, Annette

Grapefruit and Pomegranate Mimosas
Serves 6
You will need:

– ½ cup granulated sugar
– ½ cup water
– 2 cups grapefruit juice*
– 1 cup pomegranate juice – such as POM
– 1 bottle Rose Champagne, well chilled
– Pomegranate arils to garnish

To prepare:

Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat – until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Refrigerate until cold – at least 2 hours. Combine the simple syrup, grapefruit juice, and pomegranate juice in a large pitcher and chill for at least 1 hour.

Combine 2 ounces of the grapefruit mixture with 4 ounces of the chilled rose in a champagne flute. Garnish with a few pomegranate arils.

*Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice is simply stunning in this festive take on a traditional mimosa, but for a time-saver look for fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice in the produce section of your local market.

Photography by Lesley Graham
Recipes Meghan Splawn

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Easy Flower Arranging

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While it might seem like a daunting task, arranging your own flowers can be simple yet stunning, and honestly, nothing gives me more pleasure than to arrange flowers for my own home or parties. If you follow a few easy steps, you’ll be arranging your own flowers in no time!

When beginning the design process, I start with what’s available at my local market (and even Trader Joe’s!), and I try to select a strong color theme like pink or even white. Selecting just one color flower, but choosing several varieties in that same color, is an easy way to pack a punch without a lot of thought. It honestly cuts way down on the stress, especially if you’re not quite ready for combining colors.

However, if you want to give it a go, follow these steps. For this arrangement, I selected a few colors that go well together like pink and lavender.

Step one: clean the bottom of the stems, and make a fresh cut.

Step two: place all the fillers in your container. For this arrangement, I’ve chosen a pitcher for my container, and Queen Anne’s Lace and Baby’s Breath as fillers. Pro tip: this pitcher from Ikea (one of my favs, as you know) is an ideal flower container!

Step three: add in your larger blooms. Here, that’s ranunculus and hyacinth. Be sure to work your way around the vase or pitcher. Either move around the table as you work, or spin your container to make sure your stems are even.

Step four: step back and fluff your arrangement as needed. Try to change the water every 2-3 days, and cut the stems on a diagonal every few days, too. This will keep your arrangement fresh and pretty!

xx Annette

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GIVEAWAY with etúHOME:: Cocktails and Entertaining with Style!

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Hello, February! Now that we’ve gotten our new year kicked-off the right way, I thought we’d welcome a new month with a giveaway. I have not done one in such a long time. Honestly, I am in love with etúHOME’s beautifully crafted boards, so I asked if I could gift one to one of you, and they said YES, so here we GO!!

As you all know, one of my favorite party tricks is creating a huge, sharable charcuterie platter for friends to gather around and nibble on. It really is a fun and filling way to feed guests and requires absolutely no stress. You are instantly entertaining with STYLE!  This post about the anatomy of a charcuterie details exactly what you need to make a successful charcuterie as well as how to arrange meats, cheeses and accouterments in a complementary way. Pair your board with some cocktails from my book Cocktail Italiano, and you have a hit on your hands!

While the items you serve are certainly the stars of the show, the foundation is what makes a charcuterie board special. That’s why I have partnered with one of my favorite home decor brands, etúHOME, to give you a beautiful round oak charcuterie board. Here’s what the brand says about this board:

An even more functional and beautiful version of a signature pizza board, this charcuterie board is handcrafted from reclaimed oak. The oak wooden pizza tray is darker than the signature etúHOME pizza board you know and love, and has a side featuring a rigid wood planked top while the other side is smooth. The smooth oak side makes this wood board ideal for cutting and chopping, as well as serving. The round board is made up of rich oak hardwood that is distinguished by two strips of walnut timber to prevent warping of the reclaimed wood. These large, top of the line, reclaimed boards are amazing quality and will last for generations to come.

The board is  20″ in diameter, making it an absolute showstopper. Even better? I’m including BOTH of my books Cocktail Italiano and Picture Perfect Parties in the giveaway, and as an extra treat, I am marking the pages with my favorite recipes. Be sure to enter on Instagram! You don’t want to miss this opportunity to win a fabulous prize package worth $200.

Giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Leslie! 

Note: giveaway is open to U.S. residents ages 18+ only and is not associated with Instagram. 

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Halloween Block Party Spread

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Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web manager and friend, and I’m back again to share a great idea for celebrating Halloween with friends later this week: a few easy recipes for a Halloween block party.

A few years ago, I realized that while we have plenty of trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood, many of them venture to other, longer streets to get their candy. Parents would walk by with their caravan of kiddos, and we wouldn’t get anyone knocking on our door for candy. As someone who absolutely loves Halloween, I would be so disappointed with the lack of festivities on our street, so I decided to do something about it.

Last year, we had our first official neighborhood driveway party. We provided everything, and neighbors stopped by as they passed to and from trick-or-treating. The party lasted well into the evening, and it was so fun!

As I started planning for this year’s festivities, I turned to Annette’s archives for some inspiration, and of course, I found it. Here are a few quick recipes for a fun block party spread:
white-bean-chili

White Bean Chili
Serves 8

You will need:
– 1 lb ground sirloin
– 1 lb ground turkey
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 small onion chopped
– 3 cloves chopped garlic
– 4 tablespoons chili powder
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon white pepper
– 1 teaspoon cinnamon
– 8 cups chicken stock
– 2 cups canned cannellini white beans
– 2 cups canned pinto beans
– 2 tablespoons dried coriander

On the side:
– Tortilla chips
– Avocado
– Chopped fresh cilantro
– Sour cream

To prepare:

In a stockpot, sauté sirloin and turkey, with a slotted spoon remove cooked meat and set aside. Pour out any excess oil. Place olive oil and onions, garlic into the stockpot, heat on medium and cook until translucent. Add cooked meat, chili powder, salt, pepper and cinnamon and stock, simmer for 1 hour, add beans and coriander Cook for 3 hours.

Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream and sliced avocado and chopped fresh cilantro tortilla chips.

Photo Courtesy of: Victoria from Mission Food
My Devil's Food Cupcakes are one of my go-to desserts for Halloween(or any time of year, really). They're a decadent demonic dessert if I do say so.

Devils Food Cup Cakes
Makes 36 cupcakes

You will need:

For the cupcakes:
– ½ cup water
– 1 cup high quality cocoa powder
– 3 sticks butter softened (1 ½ cups)
– 2 cups sugar
– 4 eggs beaten
– 1 tablespoon vanilla
– ¼ cup canola oil
– 1 cup sour cream
– 3 cups all purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

For the Chocolate Frosting:
– 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
– 7 tablespoons high quality cocoa
– 1 stick of butter softened
– 6 tablespoons evaporated milk

Cake Preparation:

In the microwave, place water, then place cocoa powder in hot water, set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle blade place butter and sugar combine until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, add vanilla and oil and sour cream add cocoa mixture, beat on medium speed until combined.

In a bowl mix flour and baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture on slow speed until combined, and add chocolate chips. Spoon batter into muffin tins, lined with cupcake liners fill liner until ¾ full. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes until a pick is inserted and comes out clean. Cool and then frost.

Frosting Preparation:

Sift sugar and cocoa together in a bowl set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter, add sugar cocoa mixture slowly to the butter alternately with the evaporated milk, until fluffy.

Photos via Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn & Design Sponge
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Party Favors

Select your favorite varieties of spooky, color-appropriate Halloween candy, fill cupcake liners, and tie with a cute string.

xx Annette

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