Wednesday, February 25, 2009

7 Tips for the Budget Bride

Colin Cowie shares seven tips for the Budget Bride on Get Married. All of the tips are great, my favorites are #2 and #6. You can view all 7 tips which can be found here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar Fashion

Taraji P.Henson

I watch the Oscars just for the Red Carpet Show. Beyonce looked beautiful in her black and gold strapless dress. The belle of the ball was Taraji P.Henson in a cream colored strapless dress by Robert Cavalli with a 19th Century diamond flower necklace by Fred Leighton and red clutch by Mary Norton.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Questions To Ask Your Photographer

For most couples, their wedding day is one of the most memorable days in their lives. Capturing their special day through photography is of high priority to most couples and arranging for wedding photographers is one of the most important decisions that needs to be made. Your wedding photographer will be responsible for supplying the treasured photos that will be reviewed by the you, your family and friends. Your wedding photographer will be responsible for recording some of the small but important details of the your wedding which are often overlooked. In order to help you select a photographer that will capture those special moments and your style, I have listed important questions to ask your photographer.

1. What’s your primary style? Posed and formal, relaxed, photojournalistic, creative, artistic, candid, traditional?

2. Do you shoot in color or black and white? Or both? Do you shoot in a digital format that can create both color and b/w versions of the same picture?

3. What kind of input can we have on the direction of the shots? Can we give you a shot list to work from?

4. Are you the wedding photographer who will actually take our pictures? If not, can we meet the person who will be?

5. Can we meet any assistants who will also be our taking pictures?
6. How many times have you worked specifically as a wedding photographer? How many were similar to the size and formality of our wedding?

7. How many other events will you photograph that weekend?

8. What type of cameras do you use? Will you have a backup in case something breaks or doesn’t work?
How intrusive will lighting, tripods, other equipment or assistants be?

9. Do you develop your own film?

10. Can we buy the negatives from you?

11. Do you have photos of an entire wedding that I can see?

12. Do you have references I can call?

13. Do you post the proofs online or will I receive negatives?

14. When will my proofs, prints & wedding albums be available?

15. How many pictures will you take?

16. Are you apart of any professional associations?

17. How many years have you been photographing weddings?

18. How much do you charge for overtime?

After you have met with your potential photographer, ask yourself Do I like this person?, Do I get a good feeling from him/her, Do I like his/her style? Do I like their work? Does he/she capture the details? Is their work in focus and well framed?

Be sure to call their references before making a final decision. You may feel awkward to call a stranger but remember that you are spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on your photographer and you want to make a well informed decision. Your photographs will be one of the lasting aspects of your wedding day and you want to make sure that you pick the best photographer for you.

Friday, February 13, 2009

(Let's Make) Whoopie Pies - Part 2

Strawberry Whoopie Pies
Makes about 3 dozen Cookies


· 1 cup (about 5 ounces) stemmed and halved strawberries
· 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
· 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
· 1 tsp. baking soda
· 3/4 tsp. salt
· 2 cups light brown sugar
· 2/3 cup canola oil
· 1/2 cup plain yogurt
· 2 large eggs

· 1 cup (about 5 ounces) stemmed and halved strawberries
· 5 egg whites
· 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
· 4 sticks butter , cut into cubes, at room temperature
· Red no-taste gel food coloring

To make cookies: Put strawberries in a food processor and pulse in short bursts just until they are chopped into small pieces (about 4 to 5 pulses), and set aside. (Be careful not to puree them.) Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl, and set aside.

Put brown sugar and oil in a large bowl and mix well, using the back of a spoon to break up any lumps in sugar. Whisk in chopped strawberries and yogurt until combined, then whisk in eggs, one at a time, just until combined. Fold in flour mixture in two parts, being careful not to overwork the batter. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°. Using a measuring spoon, drop a heaping tablespoon of batter onto a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet to form each cookie, spacing dollops about 2 inches apart. Working in batches, bake until cookies are set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove cookies from oven; cool completely.

To make filling: Puree strawberries in a food processor until smooth (about 15 seconds); set aside. Whisk egg whites and granulated sugar together in the top of a double boiler until sugar is dissolved and mixture is milky white, about 2 minutes. Transfer egg white mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk on high speed until soft peaks form and mixture is glossy, about 2 minutes. Remove whisk attachment and replace with paddle attachment. Add butter and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add reserved strawberry puree and about 3 to 5 drops food coloring (frosting should be a light shade of pink), and beat again until well combined, about 1 minute more.

To assemble: Generously frost the flat side of half of the cookies, then top each with an unfrosted cookie to form sandwiches. Transfer to a platter and serve.

(Let's Make) Whoopie Pies

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cups cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), softened
1 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
White crystal sugar

3/4 stick unsalted butter (6 tablespoons), softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 jar (7-1/2 ounces) marshmallow cream, such as Marshmallow Fluff
2 teaspoons vanilla
Red food coloring

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 2 large baking sheets. In medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, and baking soda. In large bowl, with mixer on high speed, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, and beat to combine. Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk in small batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until smooth, occasionally scraping sides of bowl.

With a tablespoon, spoon mounds of batter 2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Sprinkle half with crystal sugar. Bake 15 minutes or until tops are puffed and cakes spring back when touched. Transfer to a rack and cool completely.

To make filling: In medium bowl, with mixer on high speed, beat together butter, powdered sugar, marshmallow cream, and vanilla until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add a drop or two of food coloring, and mix to tint pink. Makes about 1-1/2 cups of filling.

Spread a rounded tablespoon of filling on flat sides of half the cakes. Top with other cakes.

V-Day Sweets

Valentines Day is tomorrow. Many of you may still be in the planning process. Throughtout the day I will be posting a little inspiration and recipes.

Red Hot Velvet Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream


Makes 36 cupcakes:

· 1/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
· 2 Tbsp. red no-taste gel food coloring
· 1/4 cup boiling water
· 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter , cut into small pieces and softened
· 2 Tbsp. room temperature vegetable shortening
· 1 2/3 cups sugar
· 3 large eggs
· 1 cup buttermilk
· 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
· 2 1/2 cups cake flour
· 1 tsp. salt
· 1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
· 1 tsp. baking soda

Buttercream Frosting:
· 1 1/2 cups sugar
· 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
· 1 1/2 cups milk
· 1/4 cup heavy cream
· 3 sticks unsalted butter , soft but cool, cut into small pieces
· 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
· 2 tsp. cinnamon
· Cinnamon imperials candies (optional)
· Red white-chocolate hearts (optional)

To make cupcakes: Preheat oven to 325°. Line 36 (2 1/2-inch) muffin pan cups with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, food coloring, and boiling water. Set aside to cool. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and shortening until smooth. Scrape down bowl and add sugar. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir buttermilk and vanilla into the cooled cocoa mixture. Sift cake flour and salt together into another bowl. With the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour mixture (in 3 parts) and the cocoa mixture (in 2 parts) to the egg mixture. Beat until incorporated. In a small bowl, combine vinegar and baking soda and stir until baking soda dissolves; the mixture will fizz. Add to batter and stir until just combined.

Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full with batter. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan, and let cool completely.

To make buttercream frosting: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture boils and has thickened, about 12 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until cool, 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; beat until thoroughly incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and cinnamon and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, transfer the bowl to the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.

Frost each cupcake with buttercream. Garnish with cinnamon imperials and white-chocolate hearts, if desired.

*Photo and recipe courtesy of O Magazine

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sweets for your Sweetie

Sweetheart Dessert Plates

Sweetie Pies

Romantic Fortune Cookies

Perfect Ending Cupcakes

Message Cookies

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Valentine's Day is fastly approaching. As you prepare to make arrangements for this special day, think about desserts that will end a beautiful evening. Whether you and your sweetheart go out for dinner or you prepare a romatic meal at home, any one of these treats will end a great meal. Serve your dessert on one of the dessert plates. After your sweetheart eats the dessert, there is a cute message on the plate.

Where to Purchase:
Sweetheart Dessert Plates and Romantic Fortune Cookies: RedEnvelope
Message Cookies, Perfect Endings Cupcakes, and Sweetie Pies: Williams-Sonoma
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries: Shari's Berries

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Morning Inspiration

While reading Southern Weddings Magazine's Blog this morning, I came across these beautiful pictures of Karen Tran's wedding of Karen Tran Florals. I absolutely love Karen's work. Karen's wedding was held at the Hotel Coronado. According to Karen, the flower girls carried a floral bag embellished with sweetheart roses and crystal brooches. The ring bearers carried a silk boxes adorned with brown orchids. The flower girls bag is gorgeous and unique. The last three sets of pictures are from the wedding reception. Karen used white and cream flowers for the ceremony and vibrant red and orange flowers for the reception. The reception has an island style theme that was executed extremely well. I absolutely love the crystals hanging from the centerpieces. These pictures are truly an inspiration and can also be found at Karen Tran's blog.

Venue Spotlight: Tanzore

My hand after getting the henna tattoo

The white room

On Thursday, January 29, I was invited to a Bollywood Extravangaza Event at Tanzore. Tanzore is an Indian restaurant located on Restaurant Row in Los Angeles. Nicole, whose family has owned the restaurant for 18 years was the host for the evening and gave me a tour of all of their spaces. The evening started off with cocktails and appetizers (such as Chicken Kabobs, Crispy Nann Chips served with a tomato chutney and more). I was able to take a tour of the restaurant. Tanzore offers 10 spaces that can fit 10-450 people. The white room can hold 35 people and is used for small intimate events. During the event there was a henna tattoo artist (see pic of my hand above), bollywood dancers that entertained us as well as a DJ. Tanzore also provided a photographer that took digital pictures of all the guests. When we received our picture we were sitting on a rug above the Taj Mahal. This was a great event. If you don't have an event, go there just for dinner. It has a nice calm and relaxing atmosphere.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Vendor Spotlight: Platine Cookies

Monogram Brownies

On Tuesday, January 24, I was invited to an "Evening of Tasting" at Platine Cookies. The evening of tasting was hosted by Platine Cookies and included Coco Fix, Paddy Mac, Best Soup of the World and Ann's Candyworks. Chef Jamie Cantor of Platine Cookies makes couture cookies, brownies, and regular cookies (i.e. sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, etc.). Jamie also offers bite size cakes and cheesecakes. I had the carrot cake and cheesecake which was delicious. The bite size cakes would be great for any dessert buffet. Platine is named one of the top 20 bakeries in Los Angeles in the Los Angeles Magazine.

Platine Cookies is located in Culver City. The store has not opened yet but you can order cookies and desserts from the website.