Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Personalized Favors

I remember when I was alittle kid I remember my favorite thing about going to a Wedding was collecting all the napkins, and matchbooks with the couple's name embossed in silver on them.  They were so fancy to me.  I couldn't wait to get married and order them for my own Wedding, funny thing is that I didn't order a single thing like that.

When it comes to Weddings, you can order just about anything personalized with your initials, name and date.  As a planner I have come to realize what a complete waste of money these items are.  Sure you need to have some favors, and it is nice if they have your name and wedding date on them, but you don't need napkins, matchbooks/notebooks, and favors.  It's a bit much.

Let's think about this 2 ways, one in terms of budget and one in terms of style.  Let's take napkins. Personalized napkins range anywhere from $26.00 - 50.00/per 100 napkins.  If you have 200 people attending your wedding, assume 2 per person.  That is $104 to $200 for throw away napkins.  That is money better spent towards flowers, or food.  In terms of style, everyone has a vision for their wedding, do 1980's style napkins fit with your vision or would plain (in the color of your wedding) work?

Personalized Keepsakes

There are also so many keepsake items meant for the bride and groom.  Everything from champagne flutes to cake cutting sets.  Do not waste your money.  Think about when or where you would ever use these items again?  When you are registering, register for a very nice plain set of champagne flutes and a cake cutting set.  Decorate (or ask your florist too) with simple ribbon and ask your wedding planner (or the venue wedding planner) to make sure that these are put back with the items you will take home with you at the end of the day (don't worry, they will be happy to do it).  The bottom line is that each time you use those flutes or the cake set you will remember that they were from your wedding, and the best part, you have added another $100 bucks back into your budget.

Your wedding budget is just like your household budget, every little place that you can save a couple of hundred bucks is huge.  It is always amazing at how quickly costs add up for wedding, and that money will be better spent somewhere else.

Happy Planning!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cinnamon Apple Brain Cakes

I just cannot get enough of Halloween.  I call this a ‘Semi-Homemade’ treat, because this time of year who has time to make anything from scratch?

What you need:

1  white cake mix
18 cupcake wrappers (red is what I used, but you can use any color)
2  apples (any kind) peeled & chopped
½  cup of white sugar
2 tsp of cinnamon
1 dash of nutmeg
1 can of caramel apple frosting
1 tube of red decorating gel

Here’s How to do it:

Prepare your cupcakes from mix using the directions on the box (it’s okay to make the whole egg version) for cupcakes, and prepare your cupcake pans.  Bake and let cool.

Peel and chop your apples, in a medium sauce pan, add your apples, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, mix well.  Slowly bring the mixture to a boil, stir occasionally.  Reduce heat and let the apples cook until they are soft.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Once your cupcakes have cooled, cut a circle in the top, remove that cake, fill with apple mixture and place the ‘top’ back on the cupcake.

With the red decorating gel make a line down the center of each cupcake.  Using the frosting and a decorating tip, ‘swiggle’ lines down the cupcake.

That’s it.  You are done, no trick!



Friday, October 17, 2014

Leftover Love

When my husband and I first got together, I thought that he was crazy.  He won't eat leftovers, not at all.  This was so strange to me coming from a family that really liked leftover night.  Honestly, I can imagine that when my husband was growing up there probably were not alot of leftovers, he is a big, hungry guy and I can only imagine when he was like as a teenager.

Needless to say after years and years of my cooking, and being around my family he has come to really embrace leftover night.  In these days of decline budgets and increase food costs, you cannot afford to just throw away good food.  Not to mention what a time saver they can be on a busy weeknight.  

Here are my tricks for getting your family to not only eat leftovers but to go crazy for them!

1.  Pasta

I like to make a big pot of pasta sauce and pick away at it all week long.  My trick is that I make fresh pasta each time I serve it.  To me you are scrapping the bottom of the leftover barrel eating spaghetti that was cooked 2 days before.  It also helps to serve a fresh salad, and bread.

2.  Roasts

I like a good roast, pork or beef.  It hits all the marks.  It can be done in the crockpot, they are delicious, and you can so many different leftover meals from it.  The simplest idea is to shred the leftovers and either make hot beef or pulled pork sandwiches, which are terrific paired with french fries.  They can be used in casseroles, and stir-frys as well.

3.  Chicken

Chicken is my favorite meat to work with period, it is such a blank canvas that you can do anything with it.  Same can be said with chicken leftovers.  My favorite is to make chicken, rice and broccoli.  It is easy, and the oven does most of the work.  My second favorite is chicken salad, which can make leftovers a yummy lunch treat.

4.  Make a casserole.

There is not much in the kitchen that a can of cream of mushroom soup, or a cheese sauce cannot make better. All you need is a meat, past or rice, and a sauce.  We have recently discovered the awesomeness of the taco casserole and the ingredients are something that always have in your frig or pantry.

5.  Pizza 

Pizza are great because you can top them with almost everything from veggies to meatballs. Also, in a pinch you can use tomato (or pasta) sauce.  top with some cheese and a salad on the side and you have just cleaned out the leftovers from your frig.

6.  Stir-Fry

Alot of people love the stir-fry to use up leftovers.  It's easy to try everything in a pan with some soy sauce and/or rice vinegar.  It's not our favorite, but it works.

7.  Leftover Night

This is my favorite.  It's easy.  Heat everything up, put it on the table.  Everyone gets what they love.

I would love to hear how you handle leftovers...