Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Practical Ideas for Your Backyard Barbecue

Floating centerpieces are perfect for outdoor events.  They are simple but elegant.  Add a little cintronella oil and it will also ward off bugs.

Keep the pests at bay by prepackaging side dishes as single servings.  Mason jars and lidded glass jars are perfect.

Re-purpose holiday lights by adding paper muffin cups over strands of Christmas lights.  This will add an elegant ambience to a nighttime affair.

An Ice cream sundae bar is always a great treat.  Sure, it is a potentially messy venture but the kids will definitely be busy for a while.  Instead of the traditional setup, try replacing candy topping with berries, nuts, dark chocolate chips, and fruit.  Puree blueberries and strawberries to make the syrup toppings. 

Chop an orange and a lime into small pieces, place them in an ice tray and fill with lemonade.  Place the cubes in each guest’s glass for a delightful twist on an old favorite.

Hibiscus syrup usually comes with edible flowers in the jar.  Adding a little syrup to the beverages is a flavorful touch.  Adding a drop as well as a flower in a glass of champagne is even better.

Gnats and flies do not like the scent of cloves and lemons.  Cut lemons in half and add a few cloves to each.  Leave them in candle jars about an hour before the guests arrive and the critters will leave the premises.

 A classic burger bar is always a treat. 

For all your catering

Summer Fruit Pie Tips

Summer is almost here and it's time to work on creating the perfect pie. If you are experimenting with a batch of apples, peaches or pears, here are some basic but essential techniques that will help you create perfectly rich fruit pies.

1. Use cold ingredients for your crust.  Unlike cakes, pies require cold ingredients.  

2. Fat is needed.  Use real butter for a flaky rich crust.  The high fat content (at least 83% is suggested) is necessary. Besides, butter just tastes so much better.

3. Let your dough rest for a bit after making it. It should have several clumps and should stick together when you squeeze pieces together.  Make sure it isn't too dry.

4. Watch the bottom of your crust.  Greasing the bottom of the pan will butter add a golden color but can be tricky if you don't understand the oven timing.  To avoid a soggy bottom, sprinkle a tablespoon of flour and sugar over the bottom of the crust before adding your pie filling.

5. Parboiling your fresh apples, peaches, or pears will ensure that they don't shrink as much when baking. It essentially makes the pie look better.

6. Layer apple, peach and pear slices tightly to avoid air pockets. You should pile the layers slightly higher than the crust because the fruit will shrink while cooking.

7. Using tart apples such as Golden Delicious or Granny Smith will turn out better.  The tart varieties don't get mushy too quickly.

8. Try not to over season your fruit with cinnamon and spices.  It should taste like a fruit pie.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tips for Better Cookies

8 Tips for Better Cookies

1. If you want your cookies to be a little chewy, transfer them to a cooling rack as soon as you take them out of the oven.

2.  If you want them to be crunchy, bake them for at least 1 minute longer but leave them on the hot sheet to cool.

3.  Always use shiny, heavy aluminum baking sheets to bake cookies.  They simply turn out better.

4.  Bake cookies on the middle rack of the oven and try to do only one sheet at a time

5.  When you take cookies out while they’re still soft, they’ll continue baking on the hot service.  All cookies should be slightly under baked unless you particularly want them to be crunchy. 

6.  Always bake cookies on shiny, heavy aluminum baking sheets.

7.  Grease baking sheets with cooking spray instead of butter or use parchment paper.

8.  Place a sheet of wax paper on the counter and sprinkle it with sugar if you’re short of cooling racks.

5 Tricks for Better Baking

5 Tricks for Better Baking

1. Avoid using cold eggs by letting them sit until room temperature. This will help them emulsify properly.

2. Adding a teaspoon of lemon juice to your butter and sugar before mixing the rest of the ingredients in will make your cake lighter and fluffier. 

3. Adding an envelope of unflavored gelatin to your batter will help prevent your cake from cracking.

4. When you boil milk, add a pinch of baking soda to prevent the milk from curdling.

5. Place your pans as close to the center of the oven as possible without them touching each other or the sides of the oven.  This allows for even circulation.

Baking 101 - Conversions & Substitutions

This handy chart is useful for those very busy days when baking and basic mathematics just don't add up!


3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons = 1/8 cup
4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup
5-1/3 tablespoons = 1/3 cup
8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup
12 tablespoons = 3/4 cup
16 tablespoons = 1 cup
2 cups = 1 pint
4 cups = 1 quart
4 quarts = 1 gallon
1 pound = 16 ounces*
1 cup = 8 fluid ounces*


1 envelope yeast = 2-1/4 teaspoons

1 envelope yeast = 1 cube fresh yeast

1 tablespoon corn starch = 2 tablespoons flour (for thickening)

1 cup cake flour = 2 tablespoons corn starch + 7/8 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup self rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1 teaspoon baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt + 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder = 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar + 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk or sour milk = 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar + milk to make 1 cup

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon or orange peel = 1 teaspoon dried lemon or orange peel

1 ounce baking chocolate = 3 tablespoons cocoa + 1 table spoon oil or melted shortening

1 package (12 ounces) chocolate chips = 2 cups

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

How To Plan An Elegant Private Brunch

Are you looking to entertain a few friends with something a little different?  How about planning an elegant brunch for a fun and friendly gathering?  Early preparation is essential and this article should provide insight on how to create a simple but elegant atmosphere along with a delicious menu.  Whether it's a birthday gathering or just quality time,  this is particularly helpful if you're planning a small intimate gathering with 5 or 6 friends. 

When you begin planning your menu, try to provide your guests with a small variety of dishes and fruits.  That rule should even include the cocktails.  Here are some great ideas for your menu.  

Quiche:  Quiche is a dish that combines all of our favorites along with cheese, butter, and eggs all in a delicious flaky crust.  A Spicy Chicken Sausage Quiche would be a great dish especially since it can be made ahead of time.  You should also consider any Veggie Quiche as an option.

French Toast: These are a necessity because you have room for creativity.  Use a basic recipe, but add a variety of toppings.  Strawberries, custard and plain maple syrup are some of the favorites.  

Potatoes:  Almost everyone likes potatoes with breakfast.  This is definitely a necessity unless your invitees are on low carb diets.  Again, keep it simple.  Roasted fingerling potatoes, onions, rosemary, coarse black pepper, and salt roasted in extra virgin olive oil is a perfect recipe.

Muffins and Loaves: Danish are so over-rated and people are moving towards providing mini desserts.  Triple Berry muffins are always a hit but consider adding favorites like strawberry or cinnamon muffins.  You can also try adding loaves such as carrot, blueberry, pound cake or chocolate chip.  Contact Sweet P's Southern Style Desserts to order any of these delights for your event! 

Beverages:  Coffee, Tea, Orange Juice, Cranberry Juice and Pineapple Juice need to be available.  For those that want a little more fun in their beverage you can provide Island Mimosas (Orange Puree, Mango Puree, and very cold Prosecco) and Mint Peach Bellinis (Peach Puree, Simple Syrup, Mint Sprigs and Champagne).

Your ambiance is also important.  Make the setting bright and cozy using elegant flowers to create simple but inviting centerpieces. Use linen tablecloths instead of plastic. Games and any type of entertainment may or may not be necessary.  A small setting with close friends sometimes entertains on its own! Have fun and experiment with different ideas. 


Let Sweet P's cater your brunch.  We have everything you need, from exquisite tableware to live entertainment.  We can customize the perfect menu to please your palate.