Valentines Day is the most romantic day of the year and the ideal time to plan a couples getaway to a romantic destination. What about those of us who can’t fly to our dream destination of choice or don’t have extra cash lying around so soon after the holidays?
I’ll show you how to create a romantic Valentine’s Day stay-cation without leaving the comfort of your own home and without the hefty price tag. I’ve created three Romantic Stay-cation themes based on three lover types; Languid Lovers, Sporty Lovers, Lover Lovers. Each dinner is comprised of food, drinks and décor inspired by the culture and landscape of each of the destinations.
A Tropical Stay-cation Destination for the languid lovers who love to lay around with each other, sipping on drinks wearing only a strategically placed lei. Click the link to see how you can cool off your hot night with exotic frozen drinks and savor the sensual tastes of the tropical islands.
A Ski Stay-cation Destination for the sporty lovers who love to cozy up to a warm fire and enjoy après-ski bites and nibbles without the hassle of suiting up…in ski clothes! Click the link to see how you can prepare hot cocktails to warm you up from top to bottom and how to satisfy your sweet and savory sides with a classic Fondue menu.
A City of Love & Lights (Paris) Stay-cation Destination for the lover lovers who love to fair l’amour en Francais. Click the link to see how you can prepare bubble cocktails that will tickle your palate and how to prepare a romantic picnic by the Seine-style menu.
My Candy Coated Place Settings are an easy and fun way to sweeten up your next dinner party!
- Spread the royal icing onto your plate with about 1/4 inch thickness. This will act as the grout to hold the candies in place.
- Lay the candies onto the royal icing and press lightly to secure them.
- Let dry until royal icing is hard before using.
Royal icing is the perfect adhesive because it is easily washed off and will not ruin your plates!
My Sweet Silverware is an easy way to sweeten up your eating utensils!
- Twizzlers Pull n Peel
- Royal Icing
- Dab the bottom of the silverware with a small amount of royal icing and apply a strand of the Pull n Peel. Allow the icing to dry, holding the Pull n Peel in place.
- Wrap the handle of the silverware with the Pull n Peel strand, all the way to the top and then apply another dab of royal icing to hold the Pull n Peel in place
- Sour Punch Sip-n-Chew straws
- Royal icing
- Cut the Sour Punch Sip-n-Chew straw to the length of the stem of your stemware.
- Cut the Sip-n-Chew vertically and wrap it around the stem of your stemware
- Apply small dots of royal icing to the bowl of stemware and glassware
Add a Sour Punch Sip-n-Chew to your glasses and your guests can sip their beverage while enjoying a sweet and sour treat!
- Cut the sugar sheets into long strips. The strip should be long enough to fit around a folded napkin.
- Dab one end of the sugar sheet with royal icing and adhere it to the other end to form a circle.
- Decorate the circular sugar sheet with the candies, using the royal icing to adhere the candy to the sugar sheet.
- Preheat your oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit
- Smash a variety of flavors of Jolly Rancher candies into small pieces and arrange the pieces in fun and colorful designs on parchment paper.
- Bake for 7-10 minutes or until completely melted
- Immediately upon removing from oven, firmly place cookie cutters into the melted candy and let cool for 5-10 minutes
- Peel parchment paper away form the melted candy and remove excess
- Chocolate Bunnies
- Edible Sugar Glitter
- Wilton Edible Sugar Sheet Paper
- Wilton Edible Markers
- Royal Icing
- Roll the chocolate bunnies around in edible sugar glitter until they are nicely coated
- Cut small shapes out of the sugar sheet paper and write your guests’ name on them using edible markers.
- Attach the sugar sheet card using a dab of royal icing. You may need to secure the sugar sheet card in a few spots. Allow time to dry.
For more of my Candy Coated Easter tips and recipes, click here!
Valentine’s Day is about showing your lover how much you love them. What better way to celebrate than with a romantic rendezvous? I have curated three different rendezvouses to romance your Valentine: A Shared Romance, Romance On-the-Go, and The Ultimate Romance. I have decided to go beyond the norm of greeting cards, flowers and chocolate and shows you how to romance your Valentine the right way!
Champagne is synonymous with Valentine’s Day. I have decided to incorporate three different gift sets from Moet Hennessey to pair with your romantic type, shared, on-the-go, and ultimate as well as a sweet treat to share with your sweetie and a gift or gadget to “wow” your significant other on Valentine’s Day.
Click the links below for more information on the three romantic types
A Shared Romance
Check your local listings for dates and showtimes!
The Ultimate Romance is for the couple that feels you can’t put a price on love.
For this romantic type I have chosen Moet Hennessey’s Dom Perignon Side by Side. This gift set is a limited edition with two bottles of Dom Perignon with two different levels of maturation. These bottles were created for one to enjoy a new experience and an unforgettable champagne tasting experience. This gift set retails for $459.00.
24K Gold Creme Brûlée, made with edible 24K Gold and Silver Leaf is the ultimate dessert for this amazing couple! Each creme brûlée is adorned with a gold or silver gilded white or dark chocolate truffle.
You & Yours Signature DNA Rings are the perfect personalized gift for the person who has everything. These rings bring a new meaning to sharing your DNA. With these rings, you are able to give your loved one your DNA to treasure for the rest of their lives. Signature DNA Rings are an intimate reflection of a one-of-a-kind person and the one that means the most to you. These rings retail at $400.00/each.
- 1/2 bag Wilton Light Cocoa Candy Melts
- 2 cups boiling water, divided
- 2 packages (3 oz. each) JELL-O Raspberry Flavored Gelatin
- 1 cup cold Moet & Chandon Champagne
- 1/4 cup Chambord
- 1/4 cups cold water, divided ice cubes
- 1 cup thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping
- Decorations, assorted Valentine sprinkles and candies
- Make heart candies using by squeezing melted chocolate out of a piping bag onto parchment. Place in refrigerator until hardened, approximately 10 mins.
** Helpful Tip: When making the hearts, pipe multiple layers on top of each other allowing time to set in between, this will help prevent breaking!
- Add 1 cup boiling water to 1 package gelatin mix in a medium bowl, stir 2 minutes or until mixture is completely dissolved
- Stir in 1 cup cold water and mix thoroughly
- Pour into champagne cups, refrigerate 1 hour or until gelatin is firm
- While JELL-O is firming in the refrigerator, add remaining boiling water to remaining gelatin mix, stir for 2 mins until completely dissolved.
- Mix remaining water and Chambord and add enough ice to mixture to measure 1 cup. Add to gelatin and stir until thickened.
- Stir in Cool Whip, spoon over gelatin layer in cups
- Refrigerate for 3 hours or until firm
- Decorate with chocolate hearts and Valentine’s candies or sprinkles
How to melt chocolate: Place Wilton Candy Melts in a piping bag and microwave on high for 1 minute, mix until chocolate is completely melted.
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 large egg yolks, beaten
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon of 24K gold flakes
- 24K gold gilded chocolate truffle
- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit
- In a medium saucepan, cook the cream and the vanilla bean over moderate heat until the surface begins to shimmer. Remove the vanilla bean and let sit for 10 mins.
- Meanwhile, beat 1/4 cup of sugar and egg yolks together in a large mixing bowl. Whisking constantly, pour warm cream mixture into the beaten egg yolks and pour through a very fine sieve into 4 (4 ounce) crème brûlée dishes
- Place the dishes into a shallow baking dish large to hold them without crowding. Place the dish on the middle rack of the oven. Carefully fill the baking dish with boiling water so it comes halfway up the sides of the filled dishes
- Bake for about 45 minutes or until the custard is set in the center. Remove the custards to a wire rack to cool. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until ready to use.
- When ready to serve, preheat the broiler. Generously sprinkle the top of each chilled custard with an equal portion of the sugar, taking care to cover all of the custard, so that it gives an even finish
- Place the chilled crème brûlée dishes under the preheated broiler and broil for about 2 minutes, or until the tops are crackling brown
** Pro Tip: Use a culinary torch to brown the sugar, taking care to constantly move the torch around the surface to avoid burning the sugar topping
- Remove from the broiler and serve immediately sprinkle with 24K Gold Flakes and top with a Gold Gilded Truffle
The Super Bowl is the most watched annual sporting event of the year and has been noted a defacto American National Holiday called Super Bowl Sunday. Each Year, Super Bowl is held at a different stadium throughout the United States and this year it is being held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.
When planning a Super Bowl Party, football fans usually focus on the standard Super Bowl fare, wings, pizza, beer and seem to forget the host city. I have decided that the theme of my Super Bowl Party is “Location, Location, Location!” incorporating a mix of traditional New York and New England flavors with some home town favorites from Indiana: Pork, Pierogies, and Pop Corn!
I used three of my favorite Tabasco sauces to spice up Indiana’s favorite pork recipes: Tabasco Buffalo Style Pork Wings, Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches with Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce and Chipotle Pulled Pork.
Pierogies are a hometown favorite in Indiana and are celebrated each year with an annual Pierogi festival. Using Mrs T’s Pierogies, which are found in the freezer section of your local grocery store, I created three great recipes that everyone will enjoy, Pierogi Pesto Bites, Zesties and Traditional Pierogies with Butter and Onions.
Indianapolis, Indiana is also the birth place of Orville Redenbacher Popcorn. Using traditional flavors from New York and New England, I created six delicious popcorn recipes: Deli Mustard, Everything, NY Pizza, Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie, Boston Baked Bean and Seafood Boil.
The hottest new 2012 bar trend is the Beer cocktail. Using hometown favorites from New York and New England, I created six beer cocktails that everyone will enjoy! The Tom Brady, Cape Ale, Berry Patriotic, Hail Manning Mary, Big Blue and Hopps to it!
Click here for links to all of my recipes!
- 2 lbs Pork Tenderloin
- 1 cup all-pupose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon Paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- Oil for Deep Frying
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup Tabasco Buffalo Style sauce
- 1 dash Ground Black Pepper
- 1 dash Garlic Powder
- Blue Cheese Dressing
- Celery and Carrot Sticks
- Wooden Skewers
- Cut pork into small “wing sized” pieces
- In a small bowl, mix together flour, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt
- Place pork wings in a large non porous glass dish or bowl and sprinkle flour mixture over them until they are evenly coated
- Cover dish or bowl and refrigerate for 60 to 90 minutes.
- Heat oil in a deep fryer or cast iron skillet to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. The oil should be just enough to cover the pork wings entirely, an inch or so deep.
- Combine the butter, hot sauce, pepper and garlic powder in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir together and heat until butter is melted and mixture is well blended. Remove from heat and reserve for serving
- Fry coated wings in hot oil for 10 to 15 minutes or until parts of the pork wings begin to turn brown
- Remove from heat, place wings in serving bowl, add Tabasco Buffalo Style hot sauce mixture and stir together.
- Serve on a skewer with Blue cheese dressing, celery and carrot sticks.
- 2 lbs Pork Shoulder Roast
- 1 bottle Tabasco Chipotle Sauce
- 4 cups Water
- 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tbsp Onion Powder
- 1 tbsp Butt Rub
- Potato Hot Dog Buns, sliced in half
- Cut pork shoulder into two even pieces
- Rub pork with garlic powder, onion powder and butt rub until surface is completely saturated with seasoning
- Place into crock pot
- Pour water and Tabasco Chipotle Sauce over meat
- Cook in crock pot on high for 6-7 hours or until meat is tender and pulls apart easily with a fork
- Add additional Tabasco Chipotle Sauce to taste
- Serve on potato hot dog buns
Three of my “Holiday Must Have’s” this season are Champagne with the accompanied by a great homemade cordial to mix a signature champagne cocktail and a selection of Scandinavian inspired homemade chocolates.
I had the pleasure of sharing my Holiday Must-Haves with Audra and JD from The Better Show at their Holiday Special at Rockefeller Center. The holiday special will air on December 23rd, 2011. Check your local listing for scheduled show times in your area.
Click the links below for recipes, tips and holiday must haves.
Mark’s segment from “Better” TV aired and is now up on his YouTube channel. Click here to check it out!
Mark will be on Better TV on Friday for a segment on Father’s Day. Check your local listings here to see what time it’ll air in your city!
This Mother’s Day will be fun for the whole family. Kids and Moms (with Dad’s help) can create easy, fun, and unexpected variations on the classic French Toast, because now, there are two ways to enjoy your favorite breakfast – sweet and savory! For more interactive fun, create your own sparkling drinks that are full of all your favorite flavors. Mom will be happy to wake up for such delicious quality family time!
Lay out your french toast with as many toppings as you can think of, from syrup and brown sugar to nutella, peanut butter, fruit, and even more unexpected flavors like shrimp, ham, and cheese that will dazzle the taste buds of everyone in your family. There is no limit to the number of toppings, as long as you have enough french toast to try them all!
Get more creative than sliced white, there are too many beautiful and delicious types of bread not to experiment. Try challah, baguette, cinnamon raisin, and seven grain. The different flavors each bring to the table will prompt even more ideas for toppings.
I created a french toast croque monsieur and topped it with a poached egg, as well as one of my new favorites, the french cajun toast, a delectable mix of sauteed shrimp, remoulade sauce, fresh cracked pepper, and an egg.
On Mother’s Day, play around with something sweeter than syrup, after all, who’s sweeter than your mom? I’ve topped baguette french toast with lemon curd and whipped cream, chocolate sauce, fresh fruit and sliced almonds.
I call these stackables. Fill your french toast sandwich with whatever you like, including fresh fruit, nutella and confectioners’ sugar, or something more traditional like PB, honey and banana. Maybe you can convince mom to put one in your lunchbox…
Orange juice is out! Fill your glass with something more exciting. Use champagne, sparkling cider, or juices for a base, then add sprinkle rims, lemon twists, and essences like rose sherbet to create unique flavors. To make this really exciting, use the Twist n’ Sparkle to make any drink a sparkling one!
If you enjoy ghosts, ghouls and goblins, then you’ll surely have a blast experimenting with some kooky concoctions at my Mad Scientist Bar. Get a hand from my Specimen Punch or try your luck taming the Galactic Serpent; but beware, side effects may include dizziness, loss of sanity and Einstein-ian white hair!
Put on your lab coat and goggles and follow me as I conduct a few experiments with host Audra Lowe on Better TV.
[Find recipes and descriptions here!]
Mark took “Better” host Audra Lowe for a stroll along an Easter-inspired table that will WOW any guest. Using “egg”-cellent inspiration, Mark created a four-person place setting complete with jelly-jeweled charger plates and topiary trees made from Peeps. Follow his four easy steps to ensure your Easter WOW table success!
With Super Bowl Sunday hot on our heels, it’s only natural that we get into the spirit of the game with football-themed party ideas. Most of us can recall the default Super Bowl party: everyone huddles around the TV drinking beer and eating potato chips and onion dip… not so SUPER!
This year, score a touchdown (pun intended…) with friends and family with a WOW table equipped with food, fun and, yes, even games fit for all “whether your there for the love of the game or just to watch the commercials”. Mark recently met up with “Better” host Audra Lowe and gave her a few pointers on how to create an exciting environment inspired by this year’s Super Bowl home: Miami, Florida!
For the pre-game festivities, we brought the thrill of competition from the tube to the table. Taking inspiration from Super Bowl XLIV’s dualing sides, we created two drinks that will surely get your guests into the game. The Colt 45 cocktail, named for the Indianapolis Colts, takes a bit out of the competition with a secret ingredient: energy cola. On the other side, we have the All-Saints, named for the New Orleans Saints. The All-Saints explodes the flavors of the French Quarter on your taste buds.
As an extra special treat, we’ve created customized scoreboards that tally which team drink is consumed the most number of times. At the end of the game, pending the fun leaves at least one sober participant, tally up and see which team won!
Miami has a flair that is hardly matched to any other city in the United States. To start the game off right, we have a starting line-up of chips and salsa, Miami Style! Mixing a variety of exotic potato crisps served up in a football helmet with two flavorful homemade dips will keep hands greedy for a taste.
The half-time festivities are the star of your show. This is when you present guests with your main course. For our half-time presentation, we created a mini version of a Miami favorite: Cuban Sliders served with Mojo Mayo and Cumin Ketchup. We added a few party decorations to our platters and – voila! – we brought all the glitz and glamor of a half-time celebration that not only entertains guests, but also adds a much-needed pizazz to the table.
Another great option for a half-time meal is Twice Drunken Chili. Made with Mexican ale and our Thai-Chili infused tequila, Twice Drunken Chili kick starts any lagging tongue with over-the-top flavor.
We end the game on a sweet note with Post-Game Desserts. We couldn’t create a Miami-inspired WOW table without some Miami-style desserts. And what goes better with burgers than milkshakes! In classic flavors like Papaya, Dulce De Leche and south Florida’s own Key Lime Pie. The trio of mini milkshakes are just the perfect size to enjoy all three!
If you’re really looking to impress your Super Bowl party guests with something off the beaten path of beer and pizza, try this WOW table out. It’s entertaining and, best of all, an easy solution to get you out of the kitchen and into the game!