Presentation, Presentation, Presentation

Those are our three most important words when it comes to food.Cotton Candy

How many times were you turned off from eating something when the plate before you was boring or unappetizing? Conversely, how impressed were you when your plate was beautiful or comical? In most cases you were so impressed with the appearance that you (almost) didn’t even care how it tasted!

We love food that makes us smile. Whether it’s a whimsical design, a unique presentation or a beautiful masterpiece, we are happy as we dive into our first bite. That pleasant feeling usually lingers as we enjoy our food and describe it to others. (Yes, we are those people who take pictures of food at restaurants.) We share photos to impress or amuse our close foodie friends and for inspiration the next time we entertain.

Making food look good can be as elaborate or as simple as you choose. Over time we have learned that confectioners sugar is a necessary pantry staple. A dusting of confectioners sugar has saved many burned and lopsided desserts, and a paper doily can make a box cake mix look like a special bakery product. And when all else fails there is always room for lots of icing and sprinkles.

Conversely, delicious food that looks bad can be a real turnoff.  After recently ordering a chicken, cheese, sundried tomato and spinach entree at an Italian restaurant, my enthusiasm for the meal deflated when I was served a white meal on a white plate. The vegetables were covered by a layer of white cheese and the accompaniment was white mashed potatoes! It looked so boring and blah. Meanwhile, my dinner companions had white fish plated with sautéed herbed vegetables. I hate fish but I was salivating over the colorful vegetables. A few veggies and pops of color on my dish could have easily changed my mindset and impression of my meal as well as the resThanksgiving Cupcakestaurant.

I’ve noticed the same phenomenon when it comes to desserts. Every Thanksgiving we have a buffet table full of desserts. My Chewy Toffee Bars (recipe below) are a hit when there is no competition. Once friends taste them they are always requested for parties. However, next to turkey cupcakes, oversized layer cakes and fresh fruit salad, my bars sit untouched.Tomato Soup Dumplings

Whether it’s Peter Callahan’s pigs in a blanket 2 ways or beautifully presented grilled cheese and tomato soup dumplings at Beauty & Essex, we love clever food. Join us for a ride as we share our tips and secrets for making food fun.


Chewy Toffee Bars

Chewy Toffee Bars


  • 1-box butter recipe cake mix
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup toffee pieces (Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits are great)
  • 1 pkg.(12 oz.) milk chocolate chips
  • 1 jar caramel sauce


  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9-inch pan with oil, butter, or cooking spray
  • In large bowl, combine cake mix, oil, and eggs; blend well.
  • Stir in white chocolate chips,toffee pieces and milk chocolate chips. (Mixture will be thick)
  • Press half of mixture in bottom of greased pan
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes
  • Remove from oven and pour 3/4 of the jar of caramel sauce over the cooked cake
  • Spread or place droplets of the remaining cake mixture as evenly as possible over the caramel sauce
  • Return to oven
  • Bake an additional 20-25 minutes until top is set and edges are golden brown
  • Cool 20 minutes
  • Run knife around edges to loosen bars
  • Let cool and refrigerate for at least 1 hour
  • Cut into bars.
  • Store in refrigerator or in freezer (so you don’t eat them up all at once!)



3 Comments Add yours

  1. AC says:

    This blog has put a smile on my face.

  2. Paul says:

    This blog has put a grin on my mug. Bravo!

  3. Dara says:

    Yay! so glad you posted this recipe, it was always one of my favorites!

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