Tag Archives: tips and tricks

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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A word from my personal trainer about building a relationship with food

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Hi everyone!  When my friend and client, Annette, asked me to write something for her blog, something about healthy eating, I thought: YAAY! I get to be famous! And on top of that, I get the great opportunity to list a few things I’ve learned in my 20 years of experience in the health and fitness world, working with people who have tried it ALL, including myself.

I’m sure that you have (like I have) heard or tried one of these: Juicing, Paleo, Atkins, Vegan, Raw, Mediterranean, Intermittent Fasting, South Beach, the list of diets seems to be only ever increasing, and you may always be asking: but which one…? And the answer to that is a big ol’: Depends.  

They all have something in common: they all pay important attention to the overall caloric intake (which works!), and all of them are equally effective and ineffective. I know! Even more confusing, right?  Our nutrition, a close to a perfect one, is or should be highly personalized simply because different approaches work for different people. It really depends on the individual, our needs, our lifestyle, and our commitment to our overall goal to stick to a plan that would help us.   

Here are some things I like to have in mind when working on a nutrition plan to keep a healthy relationship with food:

Keep it fresh. I avoid highly processed foods, or keep them to a minimum because they are not friendly, just drama!
Keep it clean. Some sauces, toppings and batters are messy friends; keep them away!
White rice, potatoes and yams are friends. They say they are all wild, but I’ve learned to like them as friends.
Quantity and quality.  They are really good to me; they moderate all my wild food-buddies.
Education is key. The more you know about your sweethearts, the better you are with them.
Watch the alcohol. She’s sneaky.
Learn to read. Reading and understanding labels helps us choose good food-friendships.
My health is important. I want to keep it! So I hang out with foods that add value to my life.
My lifestyle is also important. I’m very active, so I eat good things that I know give me good vibes and energy, and when I am not that active, I eat things that keep me on the chill mode.

As we move forward into the new year, with all our new eating resolutions in place, let’s all agree that the most fabulous secret to a great diet is being happy and enjoying all that we eat. It will help us stay committed to those resolutions, and good results will follow. Our diet should not be boring, time specific, a tiring effort, nor should it be a pain. I see a diet as a friendship; it should be nurturing, long lasting, fun and enjoyable, most importantly, a healthy one.

I guarantee you that if you are physically active, and actively caring for what you eat, you will be happy with the way you look.  My word!

Gabriel A. Ceballos -Strength and Conditioning Personal Trainer, ACSM Certified

photo by: Alexandra Sofis

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Juice January 2018 :: 6 years of a healthy start to the new year.

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I cannot believe it’s been 6 years. Juice January has been something my readers have waited for every year…for 6 years. It’s incredible. When I started this New Year ritual, I could never have imagined the impact. People have reached out every year, shared their journey, tips and even recipes.

For Juice January 2018, I will have a few surprises. The biggest one is that along with juice recipes, I will be sharing my favorite healthy, easy-to-make dishes our family enjoys year round. This year there’s no fasting, just healthy eating. Of course you are welcome to follow the 21 day regimen we have been following for the last 5 years (link here), but this year will be the idea that moderating, listening to your body, and tuning into when you are full will be the focus.

This year will be much more engaged, so hashtag your #healthystart18 recipes, so we can all share on instagram, and make sure to follow me in January (and all year long), so you don’t miss a thing.

Only one rule: Everything in moderation: cocktails, sweets, and no junk food!

I love hearing from you and sharing healthy recipe tips and tricks, so don’t be shy!

See you in a couple days with the jump start to your new year and new healthy you.

I cannot wait to get started. Don’t forget to hashtag #healthystart18

You can find the above pic and recipe for Honey Chipotle Chicken Bowls on How Sweet Eats.

 

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Get Your Home Holiday Guest Ready

Today I'm sharing a few easy ways to get your home holiday guest ready just in time for guests to arrive. Take note and get excited!

Not only do I like to entertain guests around my table, but I also like to have guests stay at the house. I love having a houseful during holidays.

The secret to entertaining is to always make your guests feel special. Be gracious, be kind, and be caring, and your guests will always feel welcome and at home. Since hosting house guests is an art form, there are some easy tricks that make visitors feel really special.

Today I’m sharing a few easy ways to get your home holiday guest ready just in time for guests to arrive. Take note and get excited!

Tip 1: Make your guest rooms feel glamorous:

Today I'm sharing a few easy ways to get your home holiday guest ready just in time for guests to arrive. Take note and get excited!

  1. Make sure the sheets are soft, well laundered, fresh, crisp, and pretty.
  2. Place flowers, books, and magazines on the side table.
  3. Put out a brand new scented candle, and don’t forget the matches.
  4. Have plenty of pillows and blankets in the closet.
  5. Place a couple of bottles of water in the room.
  6. Make sure you go over how the television works.
  7. Show guests where the temperature controls are, especially if guests are on a different floor from where you are.

Tip 2: Zhush-up the bathroom, too:

Today I'm sharing a few easy ways to get your home holiday guest ready just in time for guests to arrive. Take note and get excited! 101911644.jpg.rendition.largest

  1. Place fresh soap in the shower/bath.
  2. Put out plenty freshly laundered towels – lots of them.
  3. Place some fresh flowers on the counter.
  4. Have a basket filled with extra toothpaste and tooth brushes.
  5. Have a hair dyer on hand.
  6. Go the extra mile and hang a freshly laundered robe for each guest

Tip 3: Have snacks and food available in a self serve station:

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  1. Make your kitchen available for guests to help themselves.
  2. Have plenty of fresh fruit in a large bowl on the counter in the kitchen.
  3. Have a self serve coffee station. I personally love a Nespresso machine in the guest room or kitchen for guests to make themselves a cup in the morning. Don’t forget to add all the necessary accessories like sugar or even chocolate!
  4. Cookies or other small nibbles like nuts are a nice touch.

The most important tip is to check out the guest room and the guest bath before your guests arrive. Make sure you have everything on hand for guests. Once guests depart, don’t forget to replenish. Everything should be full, fresh, and attended to in your guest room. It’s just like running a hotel; the most important things are the details.

Happy Holidays and enjoy of all your house guests!

Photos from Better Homes and Gardens

Styled by me, Photography Rob Brinson, Edmund Barr

Kitchen Photo from Coin Cafe Pour La Masion

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Announcement: Fall 2018 Workshops in the Italian Countryside

It is with great pleasure I announce the Fall 2018 workshop roster. Join us next year for our most exciting workshop series to date. Come along!

It is with great pleasure I announce the Fall 2018 workshop roster.

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In September:

Domenica-Marchetti-533x800 We have some amazing workshops to offer next fall. Join us for Preserving Workshop with author of the book, Preserving Italy. Acclaimed Italian cookbook author, Domenica Marchetti, will be the instructor for our first ever workshop on canning and preserving in the Italian tradition. Italians are masters at the art of preserving the bounty of the seasons – summer’s tomatoes and zucchini; September’s peppers and figs; winter’s citrus. Domenica has meticulously documented the recipes and techniques of Italian food artisans in her book, Preserving Italy: Canning, Curing, Infusing, and Bottling Italian Flavors and Traditions. During this one-of-a-kind workshop, we will spend five days in the glorious Tuscan countryside harvesting fruit and vegetables from La Fortezza’s own organic garden and transforming them into jams, pickles, and other preserved foods. We will also hit the road and visit Parma for more culinary inspiration and ingredients (think Parmigiano-Reggiano and balsamic vinegar. And we’ll meet a local food artisan who makes chestnut honey.

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We will also have Abstract Painting lead by Steve McKenzie. A nationally known abstract painter, this workshop will teach you techniques to intuitively paint abstraction, discover your inner creative voice and transfer that energy to the canvas. This creative retreat includes a multitude of excursions to local museums to study art and discuss how classic renaissance art can inform your abstractions. Steve will be teaching in the visual splendor of The Fortress’s expansive studio located on the grounds in an old stone barn, and the surrounding Tuscan landscape. Steve will guide your painting experience to reflect the juxtaposition of the beauty you observe with an abstract interpretation. In addition, the class will discuss the principles of painting and how to use them in your work. Time will also be spent merging your artwork and your social media. You will expand your artistic horizons in one of the most inspiring places in the world, Italy.

In October:

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In October, join us for The Ultimate Food Photography and Food Styling Experience. We will be hosting one of my mentors, amazing food stylist, culinary guru and professional cookbook photographer and food writer, Angie Mosier. Her work has been seen in Food & Wine, Town and Country, The New York Times, Southern Living, Atlanta Magazine, Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, and Garden and Gun. Her essays on Southern cakes, pies and traditional meals can be read in The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture.  She has collaborated with cookbook and craft authors such as John T. Edge, Matt Lee and Ted Lee, Virginia Willis, Natalie Chanin, and the Southern Foodways Alliance.  Angie is honored to have worked as co-author and photographer on Chef Eric Ripert’s most recent book, Avec Eric, as well as photography for John T. Edge’s, The Truck Food Cookbook, Kevin Gillespie’s book, Fire in My Belly, and John Currence’s book, Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey.

We are still working on details, but if you would like to work with a food styling legend, this is this is the workshop for you. Dates will be announced next month. Feel free to email me to get on the list I have a feeling this will sell out fast annette@annettejosephstyle.com. 

One more thing: in September, check out Canadian Stylist and Culinary Expert Marisa Curatolo. She will be here at La Fortezza conducting her first ever Italian Culinary Retreat. She will be your guide alongside local experts. Cook with the finest produce, frequent antique markets, and savor the Italian country lifestyle.

Please feel free to email any questions I look forward to hosting everyone next fall. xx

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