Thursday, May 24, 2018

Party-Perfect Yogurt & Berry Parfaits

"Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love." ~ Unknown

Tiny yogurt and berry parfaits might not have been the specific intended result of the above quote, often attributed to Mother Theresa, but these adorable appetizers were certainly small and definitely done with great love. As a healthy twist on the dessert-shooter trend, these breakfast treats were an indulgence that even guests following a diabetic or gluten-free diet could enjoy at Sunday's reception honoring the graduating seniors of our church. And the parfaits seemed to be a hit with the rest of the crowd, as well!

For our reception, I purchased DLux Mini Shooter Dessert Cups, available in sets of 50 or 100 with free mini spoons. For the reception, we only needed around 85, so I prepared several varieties of parfaits and saved the remaining cups and spoons for another event. Find the details below!

Petite Berry & Yogurt Parfaits

Makes approximately 85

3 (32-ounce) containers Oikos Triple Zero Vanilla Yogurt
2 (18-ounce) packages fresh blueberries
3 (12-ounce) containers fresh raspberries
2 (0.5-ounce) packages fresh organic mint

1. For each mixed-berry parfait, drop approximately 6 blueberries into the bottom of a DLux Mini Shooter Dessert Cup. Nestle mini spoon in cup. Using a piping bag fitted with a round or star tip, pipe yogurt over blueberries, filling cup halfway. Add 2 to 3 raspberries, depending on size, to create the middle layer. Pipe yogurt over raspberries, and top with approximately 6 blueberries and 1 mint leaf.

2. For each raspberry parfait, crush one raspberry in the bottom of a DLux Mini Shooter Dessert CupNestle mini spoon in cup. Using a piping bag fitted with a round or star tip, pipe yogurt over raspberry, filling cup halfway. Add 2 to 3 raspberries, depending on size, to create the middle layer. Pipe yogurt over raspberries, and top with 1 raspberry and 1 mint leaf.

3. For each blueberry parfait, drop approximately 6 blueberries into the bottom of a DLux Mini Shooter Dessert CupNestle mini spoon in cup. Using a piping bag fitted with a round or star tip, pipe yogurt over blueberries, filling cup halfway. Add approximately 6 blueberries, depending on size, to create the middle layer. Pipe yogurt over raspberries, and top with approximately 6 blueberries and 1 mint leaf.

4. Once all yogurt has been used, divide remaining blueberries and raspberries among cups, and top each fruit cup with 1 mint leaf.

5. Parfaits and fruit cups may be made up to 1 day ahead. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Note: You could also top these parfaits with granola, but in our group we have some serious nut allergies, as well as gluten intolerance, so depending on how much you know about the dietary restrictions of guests, the safer course would be to leave it off.

Wouldn't these red, white and blue parfaits be perfect for upcoming Memorial Day or Fourth of July festivities? I am glad to have a record of ingredients and amounts for this year's parfaits, as you will likely find these again on next year's graduation reception menu!

"Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures." ~ H. Jackson Brown

Monday, May 21, 2018

How to Revive Wilted Hydrangeas

"Flowers whisper beauty to the world, even as they fade, wilt, fall." ~ Dr. SunWolf

Over the weekend, we honored the graduating seniors from our congregation with two very special events: a Saturday-evening banquet and a Sunday-morning reception. Friday afternoon and evening, I whiled away the hours blissfully arranging centerpieces with friends. To coordinate with our silver-rimmed plates and patterned napkins of gray, yellow and white, I filled glass vases with sliced lemons and snowy white hydrangeas. When we turned off the lights to head home, everything looked beautiful and the cold, dark room was fresh and fragrant.

So imagine my heartbreak to return to the church building on Saturday evening, ready to light candles and capture a few photos of our tablescapes before dinner, only to discover that most of the blooms had wilted. Whether it was the acids in the citrus or the unexpected heat and humidity caused by the air conditioning turning off during the night, or a combination of both, my beautiful bouquets were a shadow of their former glory. I had planned to repurpose the centerpieces for our reception the next morning, but the blossoms looked so sad that as tables were cleared after the party, many of the blooms were immediately thrown away.

But not so fast! I rescued a few blooms from the trash heap to see if they could be revived. I filled a bowl with tepid water, turned the stems upside down, and let the clusters of petals soak for a while. Then I clipped the stems shorter (at an angle) and arranged them in smaller vases of fresh water. As you can see from the photos in this post, we were treated to a Sunday-morning resurrection story, and the flowers look as lush and healthy as ever! In fact, they are now doing triple duty, after suffering through the banquet and looking lovely during the reception, by giving us a poignant reminder that you never know where beauty might flourish, if only we will offer a little tender loving care.

"Flowers don't worry about how they're going to bloom. They just open up and turn toward the light and that makes them beautiful." ~ Jim Carrey  

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

10 Years of Teacher Gift Ideas

One year we surprised our teachers with lush bouquets of peonies in crystal vases, but when the children were in elementary school, our usual tradition was to present a gift of flowers in a container that can be used long after the blossoms fade. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Day, here are a few of my favorite ideas from the past decade.

We all scream for ice cream with this festive arrangement, a sundae-inspired gathering of flowers tucked into a parfait glass.

This presentation included a gift card to a favorite local spot for frozen yogurt.

For months I collected creamware pitchers and teapots for these gifts of white. The posies looked so lovely clustered in my sitting room.

I love this shapely creamer and hope it is still used often.

One of my favorite springtime gifts is a structured tote with a vase of tulips tucked inside. I have done these for teachers and graduates over the years.

A monogrammed gift tag adds the finishing touch to this favor. This gift can also be customized for a bride or mother-to-be.

Cheery bouquets of hydrangeas offered a ray of sunshine paired with sliced lemons.

Purchasing acrylic pitchers at a discount store and taking them to a local engraver to be monogrammed was an easy, economical option for this vessel.

Rustic garden buckets made charming vases -- especially when accompanied by handmade cards featuring photos of the children taken during a trip to a local garden.

Glass canisters finished with chalkboard labels made clever containers for fresh-cut bouquets.

Whether used in the classroom or pantry, these should have a long shelf life.

Finally, for a peek at periodicals tucked into magazine racks, see this post.

What could make a gift of flowers even more refreshing? Tucking the blossoms into a box of lunchtime treats. Visit this post to learn more about the menu included in this decorative hinged box. If you have creative floral gift ideas, please share them in the comments! 

"Teachers believe they have a gift for giving; it drives them with the same irrepressible drive that drives others to create a work of art or a market or a building." ~ A. Bartlett Giamatti

Monday, April 9, 2018

Flowers for Teatime

"Some people will tell you there is a great deal of poetry and fine sentiment in a chest of tea." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

A gift of tea gives pleasure long after the final cup is steeped -- especially when the container is as lovely as the one pictured above, which was a birthday surprise from the Victoria team.

This shiny tin canister, with its pretty pink label, seemed perfect for holding a posy of fresh spring flowers. (For some other pretty selections, consider the Nina's Tea L'Original Marie-Antoinette Pink Tin, Harney & Sons Royal Palace Tea Tin, or Nina's Tea Fete de Versailles.)

To make this centerpiece, I slipped a plastic cup into the canister, added water, and arranged a brimful bouquet of fresh floral stems.

Ready to be placed on the table or shared with a friend, this sweet posy doubles the pleasure of a teatime gift!

"The mere chink of cups and saucers tunes the mind to happy repose." ~ George Gissing

Friday, April 6, 2018

Savor a Simple French Country Salad

"Take time enough for your meals, and eat them in company whenever you can." ~ Edward Everett

Not too long ago, I put together a salad using leftovers from our dinner the night before. This easy weekend lunch was so tasty, it seemed worthy of a streetside Parisian cafe. It's a recipe I want to remember for sharing with a friend, so I'm providing the full details here!

Simple French Country Salad

Prepare this refreshing mix to enjoy individually or to serve when entertaining.

Chicken breast(s) 
Lemon-garlic marinade* 
Sea salt 
Black pepper 
Thin asparagus spears, trimmed 
Olive oil 
Shredded Parmesan 
Spring mix lettuces 
Fresh strawberries 
Goat cheese crumbles* 
Honey-roasted pecans*

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.

2. Butterfly chicken. Brush with lemon-garlic marinade, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Saute over medium-high heat until cooked through, and set aside to let cool slightly.

3. Meanwhile, on prepared baking sheet, toss asparagus with a little olive oil and season to taste with salt, pepper and Parmesan. Bake in one layer until stalks are tender and edges are slightly charred, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside to let cool slightly.

4. Slice chicken into strips, chop asparagus, and slice strawberries.

5. Divide lettuces among plates. Top with sliced chicken, chopped asparagus, sliced strawberries, goat cheese crumbles, and pecans. Drizzle with lemon-garlic dressing, and serve.

*I used Tessemae's Organic Lemon Garlic Dressing & Marinade and Fresh Gourmet Honey Roasted Pecan Pieces. For the salad pictured, we were out of goat cheese, so I used shredded Parmesan, which also provided a nice complement to the other flavors.

This delicious recipe demonstrates that sometimes the best culinary surprises come about from using what you have on hand. Chocolate croissants from a local bakery provided a perfect end to this healthful bistro meal!

"There is no need for hurry in life -- least of all when we are eating." ~ Edward Everett

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Easter Memories 2018

"For I remember it is Easter morn,
And life and love and peace are all new born."
~ Alice Freeman Palmer

This Easter found us in Searcy, Arkansas, to visit Carson for Spring Sing at Harding University. It was so special to spend the holiday together, and I cherished every moment with our party of six. Here are a few photos from our weekend.

" 'Twas Easter-Sunday. The full-blossomed trees
Filled all the air with fragrance and joy."
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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