Ahh! The Super Bowl…the Shangri-La for party themes! When it comes to the Super Bowl, the three most important things to remember are location, location, and location! Super Bowl XLVII (47) is in New Orleans AKA NOLA (AKA The Big Easy), a city world-famous for its fusion of foods from different cultures. The food and drinks I’ve put together are inspired by a blending of the three locations – New Orleans, San Francisco for the 49ers, and Baltimore for the Ravens. Follow my tips and recipes to bring “The Big Easy” to you and your guests for the BIG GAME!
New Orleans is in the heart of hot sauce country. Tabasco is South Louisiana’s own pepper sauce made with peppers grown on Avery Island Plantation. The Original Red Sauce is the same pepper sauce that was created in 1868 by Edmund McIlhenny. What better way is there to add a little bit of spice to your spread than with a few of the Tabasco flavors?
- Original Red Sauce
- There is a Limited Edition football-themed bottle of the Tabasco Original Red to commemorate “The Big Easy.”
- A portion of the proceeds from this bottle will be donated to Taste of the NFL, which will help feed families who need assistance from their local food banks.
- Used in my recipes for Jambalaya and Red Beans and Rice and my Bloody Mary Bar.
- Green Pepper Sauce
- One of the main flavors in this sauce is jalapeños.
- Used in my recipe for the San Francisco Hangtown Fry Po-Boy.
- Chipotle Sauce
- This sauce brings an instant BBQ flavor.
- Used in my recipe for the Baltimore Crab Cake Po-Boy.
Starting off my Super Bowl spread is Jambalaya – AKA the perfect game day one pot dish. This dish was born after a traveler arrived late one night at an inn in New Orleans and told the cook to “throw something together.” The dish calls for a base of long grain rice, seasoned onion, garlic and celery, chunks of chicken, and Smithfield Andouille Sausage.
Red Beans and Rice, a NOLA Monday tradition and another hearty one pot meal, is up next! This tradition stems from the women of the house cooking a pot of red beans all day for Monday night’s meal while tending to the laundry. Monday used to be “laundry day” and because the red beans required little hands-on attention while cooking, it was the perfect dish to make while doing laundry. However, if you don’t have all day to make this dish, you can always save time (and money) by buying canned red beans!
Po-Boys, basically overstuffed sandwiches served on French bread, are also a New Orleans tradition. The name actually comes from “poor boy,” which came about during the Great Depression when streetcar workers opened up a sandwich shop using cut potatoes and roast beef gravy. I created Po-Boys for the two teams with gourmet ingredients inspired by favorites from each team’s city.
- The Baltimore Crab Cake Po-Boy - the area is known for crab from the Chesapeake Bay.
- The San Francisco Hangtown Fry Po-Boy – the “Hangtown Fry” is credited as the oldest signature meal of the area and is actually considered a gentlemen’s meal with its ingredients (eggs, bacon, and oysters).
Forget chips! These Po-Boys are served with a side of pierogie fries AKA the perfect pairing of pasta and potatoes. I fried Mrs. T’s Mini Cheese and Potato Pierogies and paired them with dipping sauces (Green Goddess for San Francisco [since it was actually created there] and a Remoulade for Baltimore).
Finally on to the drinks…you can’t have a Super Bowl Party without a Bloody Mary Bar! Tabasco is essential to my famous Bloody Mark! Set up an area with skewers and several garnishes, then let your guests have a go at dressing up their own drink.
Hurricanes are an essential NOLA cocktail. Pat O’Brien originally created this daiquiri while trying to get rid of rum in his bar. I’ve made three different hurricanes using regional spirits from the area the drink is for.
- New Orleans Style Hurricane using Old New Orleans Crystal Rum and Old New Orleans Amber Rum
- The Raven using Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin
- The Gold Rush with Charbay “S” Hop Flavored Whiskey
For recipes on the dishes and drinks above, click on the links throughout.
If you’re interested in a more traditional door, adorn a pine wreath with holiday colored ribbons, bows, ornaments, and lights. Just like a Christmas tree, start with the lights first, follow it up with ornaments, and finish it off with a ribbon garland and bows.
You can create any theme you would like and for ornament collectors, it’s a great and easy way to decorate. The global theme I used was inspired by ornaments I’ve collected from my travels, with the most recent being the piñata and sombrero from Mexico. You can also use items that you have left over from trimming your tree and decorating the rest of your house.
Secret Weapon: Use ornament hooks to wire on the ornaments and ribbon.
Cut the leftover ribbon from the wreath into varying lengths. Tie bells and ornaments onto the end of each piece of ribbon and make a bow out of the other end. Apply damage-free clear mini hooks across the top of your door and hang one ribbon from each one.
Secret Weapon: Use Command Clear Damage-Free Mini Hooks for easy application and removal.
Memorial Day is THE party kick-off event of the summer entertaining season. Get the party started right with my Summer Entertaining Essentials for Summer entertaining on-the-go or on demand.
I will share my picks for this summer’s entertaining must-haves that will take you through every summer holiday and every day summer entertaining whenever they pop up. Also, I will ensure that you’ll be entertaining in style as he brings the latest fashions to your tabletop with his “colors of the season” entertaining décor tips… And throw away those paper plates, for good, because I have great tips on environmentally friendly, sustainable entertaining for your summer eco-taining arsenal.
Setting the table for the perfect summer entertaining on-the-go or on demand is as simple as 1-2-3!
First, start with the perfect bag of party tricks! I believe that keeping all your Summer entertaining essentials in one convenient and easy accessible place is key. My go-to Summer tote is make of Land’s End canvas and is the perfect eco-friendly Summer carrying bag made by Lands’ End. It is water resistant with plenty of storage for all your essentials.
Beach towels do double duty as picnic blankets or tablecloths. Fun vintage inspired pattern help set the festive tone. This beach towel, provided by Lands’ End is the perfect Vintage pattern tying in the color palette from the entire table.
Second, throw away those paper plates, for good! and opt for Bamboo plates, silverware, and serving pieces. These items, made by Core Bamboo, are made from 100% organically grown bamboo. They are finished with natural oils to make them food safe and the lacquer comes from natural cashew trees. If and when you do throw them away, they are 100% biodegradable and compostable, leaving you guilt free!
Thirdly, bring the hottest fashion colors to your Summer party with re-usable and disposable napkins. MY DRAP tear-off napkins are the only 100% cotton napkins on a roll that come in a variety of colors and sizes that can be mixed and matched for a mega dose of fashion colors. Guests get the feel of cloth napkins in a disposable that are good for the environment, making you “look marvelous” (and feel marvelous too)! The best part about these napkins is they can be washed and reused up to six times!
The perfect compliment to the MY DRAP napkins is the Table Chameleon Napkin Rings, which I designed and produced and are the perfect summer entertaining essential! The Table Chameleon Napkin Rings are designed to bring a bit of character to your table in whatever way you please with a variety of colors and styles. Easy to use, the 3/4″ thick hand-cut acrylic rings are held together with magnets and feature inserts in four different designs – London, Ada, Saturn and Miami – in the colors, red blue, orange, and green. To switch out the inserts, there are four simple steps: slide, slip, snap and create! All you have to do is slide the pieces apart, slip in the insert, snap the two pieces together and create the look you want for your table! For more information or to purchase The Table Chameleon, go to my website!
To be the ULTIMATE Eco-tainer, make sure you party like a Local-vore!
A local-vore is a person dedicated to eating food grown and produced locally. There are a lot of reasons to eat locally grown and produced foods.
- Less resources (primarily fossil fuels) are expended packaging and easy transporting from Farm to Table.
- It supports the local economy – more money remains in our local community.
- It is healthier – processing and preservatives are less important since the food doesn’t have to travel so far.
- It is safer and thus local-vores are less susceptible to foodborn illnesses.
- It is more honest – honesty in terms of the food source and the growing/producing process.
- And last but not least – it tastes better!
Here are a few examples for shopping for like a local-vore that I incorporated into this segment by shopping right here in NYC:
Asparagus – NJ Native
Tomatoes – NJ Native
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!
Candy Coated Easter Eggs – Cake
- 1 package white cake mix
- 1/4 cup Lemon Jell-O (any flavor cam substitute)
- 1/4 cup Lime Jell-O (andy flavor can substitute)
- 1/4 cup Strawberry Jell-O (any flavor can substitute)
- Wilton Mini Egg Pan
- Royal Icing
- Prepare cake batter as directed on package; divide evenly into three bowls
- Stir different flavor dry gelatin mix into each bowl
- Alternately spoon batters into each mold, adding about 2 tablespoons of each batter to each mold
- Back as directed on package for cupcakes
- Cool Completely
Candy Coated Easter Eggs – Candy Coating
- Egg Cakes
- Vanilla Frosting
- Wilton Candy Melts
- Flatten the underside of the mini egg cakes with a knife so they lay flat. Also flatten the bottoms of the larger side of the egg cake while it is standing horizontally
- Pipe or spread icing onto the underside of an egg cake and sandwich the icing with another egg cake.
- Place in the freezer for approximately 30 minutes
- Melt the Wilton Candy Melts in a double boiler or microwave until they are smooth.
- With each chilled egg cake sandwich standing vertically, drizzle candy melts until entire surface is covered.
- Place in refrigerator until cool and candy is hardened
- Decorate with additional candy melt drizzle, sprinkles, etc. as desired
Chocolate Bird’s Nest
- 1 1/2 pounds of Wilton Candy melts
- 1 can Chow Mein Noodles
- Melt candy melts over low heat
- Add noodles and stir gently to cover with chocolate
- Drop chocolate covered noodles by the spoonful onto parchment paper
- Make a depression in the center of chocolate covered noodle piles
- Place in refrigerator to cool
- Place candy coated Jell-O cake eggs in chocolate bird nest and serve
Click Here for more sweet Easter ideas!
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.
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!
When I was thinking of what I wanted to do for St. Patricks Day, I thought of my Irish grandmother Rita O’Toole Spensley and when something good would happen she would always say – That’s the “luck of the Irish”. Now my grandmother, being 100% Irish, believed it was 100% good luck and always added that… “if you were lucky to be Irish, then you were lucky enough!”
Some say the ‘luck of the Irish’ is actually BAD luck – particularly back in Ireland because of the famine. In America we typically use it as a good luck phrase that can be traced back to the gold rush where many Irish found their ‘pot-of gold’… hence the term ‘Luck of the Irish.’
My favorite Irish saying is “St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic”
This inspired me to design my “Enchanted Shamrock Table”.
Everyone knows that the Shamrock is the good luck symbol of the Irish. And of course there are Irish Blessings that reference them – such as… ‘…May your blessings outnumber he shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go!’
So maybe you shouldn’t go out looking for four leaf clovers on St. Patrick’s Day… let’s look at the option of staying in and creating a St. Patrick’s Day dinner or fun party at home – en lieu of joining the bar crawl.
Watch my Better TV Show for ideas on how to create your own “Enchanted Shamrock Table” Friday, March 10th (click here for local listings)
Check out my recipes for a Lucky of the Irish St. Patrick’s Day Party:
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!]
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!
Mark recently taped a “Super” segment on “Better” with Host Audra Lowe to infuse his super style into Super Bowl Parties that have something for everyone whether they are there for the love of the game or just for the commercials – “We’ve all been to those Super Bowl Parties where we huddle around the TV, drink beer and eat chips & dips… not so Super!”
Airing Monday, February 1st on “Better” in select cable markets. Log onto www.BetterTV.com for local listings or stay tuned for a link to the online video.