Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Huffington Post Removes Kwanzaa Cake Article

I am so disappointed! I learned today that the witty post written by Denise Vivaldo about Kwanzaa Cake is no longer up on Huffington Post. This story had over 8,000 views, 1,900 shares on Facebook and 270 comments. Someone sure was enjoying reading it. If anyone has a copy I'd love one -I always wondered how that holiday miracle came to be.
But the great part of this story is that it introduced me to Denise and I was lucky enough to get a copy of her beautiful book "Food Stylists Handbook". I'm totally motivated now to get back into the kitchen and come up some photo-worthy plates of my own. And I promise, no store bought angel food cakes, apple pie filling, "acorns" or oversized tapers will be harmed in the process.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Truth Behind Sandra Lee's Semihomemade Kwanzaa Cake

Many of you may be familiar with Sandra Lee - the Food Network personality. On one of her first shows she introduced us to her infamous Kwanzaa cake, and I've been confused ever since. She assembles an angel food cake adding chocolate frosting, apple pie filling and "acorns" - which most of us call corn nuts.  To this day the recipe calls for acorns which is frightening since actual acorns aren't edible to my knowledge.
We got a very special holiday gift this year - the incredibly talented food stylist Denise Vivaldo has come forward in an article in the Huffington Post to let us know it was actually Denise who came up with the Kwanzaa cake, and the Chanukah cake as well. Her recipe did call for corn nuts - not acorns though, and she does give Ms. Lee total credit for the massive tapers that were inserted in the top.
For the record, Ms. Vivaldo is actually an incredibly talented food stylist -I'd dare to say one of the best. I would give anything to spend a few days and learn from her. Since that probably won't happen, I'll settle for the next best thing - a copy of her new book The Food Stylist's Handbook. It shows you the right way to pay homage to food, and I'd even dare to call it "food porn" - you'll be lusting after everything you see in the book. Denise can also be found on Twitter. She is very generous with her knowledge and also has a great sense of humor!
So if anyone wants to know what would be the perfect gift to give this Lifestylist®, now you know!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pixie Dust

I just returned from a magical week in Orlando. Someone said they scatter pixie dust at the airport when you arrive, and I'm starting to believe them. Not only was I able to take part in a home that will probably be one of the the high points of my Lifestylist® career, but I was also blessed to spend some very special time with my kids and grandkids and share my Lifestylist® approach with them. Being a Lifestylist incorporates life and style, and getting creative in the kitchen is definitely part of that.
As part of the staging for The New American Home, I purchased a large amount of beautiful granny smith apples to add color and lifestyle to the kitchen. After we were finished with the shoot, I thought why not recycle them and make a pie with the grandkids? Neither of them had tried making a pie before, and with Thanksgiving being only a week away I thought this could be a great time to make their first.
Jenna may only be 8 yrs old, but she loves to cook and is really good at it. She has taken part in the Jr Chef Camp at the Gaylord Texan that Chef Joanne teaches, and was excited about trying out her culinary skills making a pie. Many adults would be daunted by this task, but Jenna dug right in. After teaching her some basic knife skills and precautions, she peeled and cored all of the apples herself. Brother Christian decided to help us make the crust, and we made a huge mess (sorry Trish!) but I'm sure it was a day that they will always remember.
I am so grateful to have the loving, supportive family I have, and the amazing clients that believe in me and what I do. Here's to the start of a holiday season filled with hope, happiness and lots of pixie dust!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It's Fair Time!

Finally - The Great State Fair of Texas is less than a week away! Honestly, I'm way behind on testing recipes, but I'm ready to get started. One of the great things about entering a lot of the cooking competitions is that if you do that for 3 consecutive years you get a season pass! We live only a few miles away from the fairgrounds so many evenings we'll head over to the fair to have dinner.Talk about being a Lifestylist® - I can't think of a better lifestyle than people who are involved with the state and local fairs, and how interesting and diverse the people are who attend them.
After spending so much time on my fair entries, I've come up with a new concept that I've started working on - The Lazy Cook. Note I say cook, not chef -it drives me crazy when people call themselves chefs yet they have no professional training or work experience. To me that totally takes away from how hard these people have worked to earn the title of chef. I love to cook, and as the years go by I'm even more concerned about eating well.
Keep your fingers crossed that this will be a good year - I plan on sharing not only my entries but also the unique (and sometimes weird!) food you can find at a fair.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Teresa's Mosaic Cafe Gets a Throwdown From Bobby Flay

I am so excited! I just learned that Bobby Flay traveled to Tucson and had a "throwdown" with the Matias family at Teresa's Mosaic Cafe. This is a restaurant that we did the interior of, and as with all Lifestylist® Designed challenges we spent a lot of time getting to know the family and their needs before we came up with a plan.
Teresa's is all about family and the wonderful handmade food so the interior had to have as much personality as the family does. To do this we designed tables made of handmade tiles - thousands of them all that we made by hand. It was an extensive amount of work but the results were definitely worth it.
The episode airs on the Food Network - check out dates and times for your area.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Homearama Returns to Rochester, NY

It's hard to believe it's already time for Homearama again - where does the time go? But this is the perfect time to visit Rochester - the produce season is in full swing, perfect weather and it's also a great time to be thinking about decorating ideas to warm up your home with.
This year this annual event will be held at WaterSong in Penfield August 14th - 22nd. Sponsored by the Rochester Homebuilders Association this 9 days will not only highlight these 5 beautiful homes but there will also be an abundance of wine tasting, cooking demos and decorating seminars.
Lifestylist® Design has teamed up with @home Builders three different years to participate in this great event, but my favorite home was definitely the Ronald McDonald Show House we did a few years ago. We teamed up with the amazing group of volunteers from the Ronald McDonald House and merchandised a home using furniture, artwork and accessories that were donated to Ronald McDonald for their annual ABC Sale.It was truly a Lifestylist® Designed home -  I spent three months going over images they would send me of new donations and digging through their warehouse to find the perfect items for this home and by the end we did!
It was a fun challenge to show how you can do a beautifully decorated home using only "gently cherished" items. The best part was @home Builders then did an online auction and visitors to the home could bid on each room. All of the proceeds then went to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. From this, the dinner auction prize and other events that @home Builders did with the home they were able to raise over $25,000 for the charity. To see photos and get more information about this show house, check out the website we designed for it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Class Acts

Having the right ingredients is the key to making any dish successfully, and knowing the right sources and people when you are planning an event is just as important.
I've hosted or helped with many parties over the years including my daughter's wedding, and hiring an event planner isn't a luxury, it's a necessity. I know working with a planner when I lived in Dallas and the event was in Orlando saved me money and made it possible to have a Lifestylist Designed wedding in a location I never would have known about without the planner's help.
Julie Eastman is someone I have worked with in the past and is now concentrating on doing event planning. Her company, Extraordinary Events and Design does amazing work and her blog, Design by Jules is always full of great ideas. This week she wrote about Food Glorious Food, another great source that I love because not only is their food beautiful and tasty, their staff couldn't be more fun to be around and they give back quite a bit to the community. Now I can't stop thinking about their Crab Benedict - I guess it's time to get Julie to do a party for me so I can sample them!
You can always tell when people love what they do, and these two amazing teams prove that when when you put great talent together anything is possible (even on a budget).

Filling Up Empty Bowls

There's nothing better than giving back, but when you are also able to discover new trends and products for yourself it's a bonus!
Not only did I come home from the Empty Bowls event with a beautiful, handcrafted new bowl, I also discovered a company that sells "pantry staples" - pre-measured ingredients that you can easily make up into homemade meals quickly and in a cost-effective manner.
Homemade Gourmet offers meal solutions that make it easy for anyone to whip up a great meal, even if you think you can't cook. They had Lemon Sandwich Cookies at the event, and they were divine! I thought they came from a restaurant and I was thrilled to find out they were something I could make at home.
Fortunately they had one of their catalogs in our goodie-bags along with a sample of their Fire Grilled Salsa Mix so I can get some of the mixes for myself. I'm also anxious to try the salad mixes, especially the Cilantro Lime Chicken Salad mix - it sounds like a perfect meal to enjoy outside on the patio soon.

Food as Art

The North Texas Food Bank held their annual Empty Bowls event again today and it's an event that this Lifestylist® tries to never miss. Combining two of my favorite activities - food and art - it's an opportunity to pick up a beautiful handcrafted bowl and sample some fantastic food and beverages from local companies.
Local artisans donate their time and talents to create handmade bowls that re truly a labor of love, and lucky attendees of the event then get to pick out their favorite to take home and enjoy. Their was also a potter there that was doing a demonstration so we could see how much skill is needed to create each bowl.
All proceeds go to fund the North Texas Food Bank.

Savor Dallas

I'm so excited that it's almost time for Savor Dallas! This is the 5th year for the event, and I'm proud to say that I've attended every one and wouldn't miss it this year for anything.
This two day event features the best in food and wine, and it's the perfect opportunity to sample those wines that you've always wanted to try. As a Lifestylist® I always view this as a great opportunity to find out what the latest trends are in food, wine and beverages as well. Last year there was a grapefruit infused vodka that they mixed with grapefruit juice that was fantastic - not too sweet, and the perfect option for a unique spin on a Mimosa.
Photographer Lisa Stewart is responsible for the photography of this event - be sure to take a look at her images from previous year and I promise you you'll wish Savor started tomorrow!
Alas, the event won't be held until March 6th and 7th in the Victory area, Arts District and downtown Dallas. If you can't wait until then to sample what will be offered this year be sure to take a look at th elist on the Savor Dallas site of who will be attending.  There are also "Tasting Notes" by some of the wines that will be offered that will give you a preview of what to expect. Tickets can be purchased on the website for all of the events.

Robins Bites

Something that is very important to this Lifestylist® is cooking with kids, and teaching them from the beginning how to eat well and delight in the food that they eat. As part of this passion I've gotten involved in Days of Taste and met Robin Plotkin - an amazing Licensed Dietitian, communications consultant and Mom. She has given her time to the Days of Taste program for years and truly understands the importance of teaching kids about nutrition and making it fun.
Tomorrow is a day I'm really excited about - I get to work with Robin and Lisa Stewart Photography on a project to spread the word about Robins Bite. Lots of food, styling and great information. It's going to be a lot of fun, and I can't wait to share the results with you here.