Thursday, March 29, 2012




"Scrapbooking Retreat"



Looking to get away from it all and focus on your scrapbooking?

Want a place where you can really spread out?

Come to Cheesecake Farms!


Bring your project and supplies then scrapbook 
till the cows come home!

Relax.   Refresh.  Reconnect.  
Get that project done!


$399 per person


(Total with tax - $418.95 per person)


Package includes:
2 nights' lodgings, all meals, plenty of snacks, wine with meals, 

gratuities plus lots of space to spread out and scrapbook!

Choose a regular or vegetarian menu.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> 

Price based on a minimum of 8 in shared accommodations
Limited number of single rooms available - $65 additional for a private room

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>



Sample Scrapbooking Retreat
Here's a taste of what you can expect.  
We'll tailor your retreat to fit your group.


Friday
6 -7 PM         Check in
7 -8 PM         Meet and greet
                     Tour and set up scrapbooking space                                     Enjoy a Cook's Choice, Farm Supper of Seasonal Fare    

Saturday
9AM               Hunt Country Breakfast featuring local eggs and fresh baked goodies
10AM              Let the scrapbooking Begin
1PM                Lunch time!!       
Take a break….. or snack as you keep on scrapbooking
2 - 7PM           Continue scrapbooking or go on a self guided adventure


Tour the sleepy little village of Sumerduck (visit Smith's Antiques for great oak furniture and collectibles, taste wine at Rogers Ford Winery). 

Learn about gold mining in Fauquier County (yes, right here!) at the gold mining village and museum in (you guessed it) Goldvein.
 

7 - 8PM             Dinner is served 
After dinner - finish a project or relax and unwind then prepare for a hearty night's sleep!

 

Sunday
Early Bird Coffee

Pack Up Gear
10 AM     Farm House Brunch 
12 Noon   
Say Your Good Byes and Check Out
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Got Questions?
Want to sign up your group?

Email us at CheesecakeFarms@aol.com


Less than 8 in your group?
No problem!   We'll pro-rate your cost!!







"Quilters' Retreat"



Looking for a great place to quilt?


Come to Cheesecake Farms!


Bring your sewing machine and supplies then quilt till the cows come home!



Relax.   Refresh.  Reconnect.  
Even get some sewing done!


$399 per person


(Total with tax - $418.95 per person)

Package includes:
2 nights' lodgings, all meals, plenty of snacks, wine with dinner, gratuities
plus lots of space to spread out and quilt.

Choose a regular or vegetarian menu.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> 

Price based on a minimum of 8 in shared accommodations
Limited number of single rooms available - $65 additional for a private room

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>





Sample Quilters' Retreat
Here's a taste of what you can expect.     
The schedule may change according to your group's needs.

Friday
6 -7 PM         Check in
7 -8 PM         Meet and greet

                      Tour and set up quilting space
    Enjoy a Cook's Choice, Farm Supper of Seasonal Fare
    After Dinner let the fresh country air lull you to sleep


Saturday
9AM               Hunt Country Breakfast featuring local eggs and fresh baked goodies
10AM             Let the Quilting Begin
1PM                Lunch time!!       Take a break….. or snack as you quilt
2 - 7PM          Keep on quilting or go on a self guided adventure

Tour the sleepy little village of Sumerduck (visit Smith's Antiques for great oak furniture and collectibles, taste wine at Rogers Ford Winery). 

Learn about gold mining in Fauquier County (yes, right here!) at the gold mining village and museum in (you guessed it) Goldvein.
 

7 - 8PM           Dinner is served 
After dinner - finish a project or relax and unwind then prepare for a hearty night's sleep!

 

Sunday
Early Bird Coffee 

Pack Up Sewing Gear
10 AM      Farm House Brunch 
12 Noon   Say Your Good Byes and Check Out
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Got Questions?
Want to sign up your group?
Email us at CheesecakeFarms@aol.com

Less than 8 in your group?
No problem!   We'll pro-rate your cost!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Easter Kitchen - Bird's Nests

From the Kitchens of Cheesecake Farms
www.CheesecakeFarms.com


Bird's Nests
Yummy, Spring-y and Easy
I love Easter candy but, apart from marshmallow chickens, it all tastes the same.

Think the expensive stuff will taste better?  It doesn't.

Most Easter candy comes from a handful of companies so it's not surprising that it all tastes the same even though it's packaged under different names and labels.

When a company makes a product for another company it's called "private labeling".  It's done all the time from pasta to laundry detergent and there's nothing wrong with that. 

But, when it comes to Easter candy,  most of it is cheap, waxy chocolate all dressed up with fancy foil wrapping and stylish bows.

You deserve better!!!

Can't make candy, you say?
Too much trouble?

Here's a little recipe that will change your mind forever.

Easy, yummy and not the least bit expensive plus you'll impress the socks off your gourmet friends!


Bird's Nests
Easy for Easter.  Special for Spring.
Great gift for your gardening pals.
Simple enough to make for wedding or shower favors, too!

>>>>>>>>>
Chow mein noodles are
available in the Oriental
food sections of grocery
stores every where
Makes 3 (4 inch) candies
Special equipment - parchment paper and a cookie sheet
>>>>>>>>>>

3/4 cup Chinese chow mein noodles (the regular thin kind)
9 pastel colored, malted milk, candy bird's eggs (usually available around Easter)
1/2 cup butterscotch (toffee) chocolate chips (morsels - about 1/3 an 11oz bag)
2 teaspoons white vegetable shortening (like Crisco - butter, oil or margarine not recommended)


Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 

Measure the chow mein noodles and count out the malted balls.
(You have to work quickly once the chocolate is melted so measure and count now.)


Use a dish big enough
to add noodles after
melting chocolate
Microwave the chips and shortening together until the shortening has melted - about 1 1/2 minutes. 

Chips will be soft but will not be melted.  Do not over heat.



Stir to finish melting






Using a rubber spatula, mix the softened chocolate and shortening together until smooth and blended. 


Fold in the chow mein noodles mixing well to coat.   (Be gentle so you don't break the noodles but if your break a few it's OK.)

Evenly divide the mixture into 3 piles on the parchment lined cookie sheet. 

Form each pile into a 4 inch round. 
Don't be too fussy or neat.  It should look free form.
A spoon works well to
form the nest

Make a well in the center to resemble a bird's nest.  Try not to press the mixture down.  To look authentic, it should look fluffy. 


Immediately position 3 malted eggs in center.  Press down very lightly so they'll stick to the chocolate when set but not so hard that you break the noodles.

(I'm giving you a lot of cautions here but it's really easy -just work with a light touch and you'll be OK.)

Refrigerate till set - about 15 minutes.  You can freeze them, too.  It takes about 5 minutes in the freezer.

When candies are set, they'll be sturdy enough to pick up from the paper.  If you can't pick them up, they're not cold enough.

Work quickly when
adding the "eggs"

Wrap as desired for gift giving or pile onto a serving dish.  

Store at room temperature up to 2 weeks.
Freeze, packed in sturdy containers, for longer storage.  Keeps 6 months to 1 year frozen.   


Karla's Tips
I buy a couple of extra bags of the pastel, malted milk eggs at Easter and freeze them (unopened) in a sturdy container.  This way I have the eggs if I want to make the nests at other times of the year - like for party favors or gifts.

Ready to chill
You can double the recipe, if you work quickly making the nests, but don't make a bigger batch because the chocolate will harden before you have it all formed. 

You can make the nests smaller and use mini eggs, if desired, but don't make them bigger than 4 inches or they'll loose their cache.

Freeze leftover chow mein noodles to keep them fresh tasting for next time.  They won't freeze solid but do let them come to room temperature before using.  Cold noodles will cause the chocolate to set too quickly. 


Friday, March 9, 2012

How to - More GREAT Bridal Shower Food - Punch with Panache

By Karla Jones Seidita, Home Economist
www.CheesecakeFarms.com





I'm in a bridal shower mood because we've just hosted several here at Cheesecake Farms and I'm tickled "pink" at how wonderfully they came together.


When I think bridal show food, I think "girl food".


Fancy sandwiches, fussy cookies, fluffy cakes, rich soups, punch with floating ice rings.... that's what I call girl food.  Little treats we can oooo and ahhh over...... YUMMY!!


Girl food does not have to be overly sweet or difficult to prepare.
It doesn't have to be expensive.


Bridal shower food can be healthy, light and low cal while still tasting (and looking) extravagant. 
YUM!


Let's start with punch.......


You Must Serve Punch
Here in the south,  punch is a staple at every gathering.  We southerners just love our punch.


You'll see punch in parts of the mid-west, too.  But in the north and in the west, punch is a novelty.


No matter where you come from (or where you're holding your bridal shower), punch is a good thing to serve.  The punch bowl is an ice breaker.  It's the ladies equivalent of an open bar.  It's a place where the guests can meet, mingle and engage in polite conversation.


Punch is nothing more than juice with a block of ice floating in it.


Some punches add sherbet or ice cream for panache.
Others are spiked with ginger ale for fizz.
Punches are occasionally alcoholic..... but never at a bridal shower.


There are many punch recipes out there but you can just buy your favorite bottled juice (or 2) and pour into the punch bowl.


The night before, fill a mold with some of the juice and freeze.  This way you'll have a block of ice that doesn't dilute the punch as it melts the way ice cubes would.


Add a few slices of fruit or a few sprigs of mint to the bowl....some ginger ale or lemon soda for fizz and, if you're feeling frisky, a little sherbet.  (Sherbet is optional...some people love it, others don't.)



Properly raised southerners always have someone to serve the punch to the guests.


We will, in these modern and more casual times, pretend to not mind if the punch bowl is self serve but brace yourself for a few raised eye brows and lots of whisper-ing.


Keep an eye out for those who can not (or will not) serve themselves.... like the elder aunts or great ladies who stick to traditional ways.  If you notice hesitation at the punch bowl,  be prepared to swoop in (or direct a charming young lady to swoop in) and start pouring punch.


There you have it!   Punch!!


Need a recipe?
Here's some recipes we like and recently served:


Orange - Apple Punch
Makes enough for 1 punch bowl full - 30 to 32 (6 oz) servings
(This means it will serve 20-24 people because some will have seconds)


1/2 gallon orange juice
1/2 gallon apple juice (sweetened or unsweetened)
Sugar to taste (optional)
1/2 gallon ginger ale
3 or 4 springs fresh mint or lemon verbena (a garden herb) - well washed and dried


Night before 
Fill a mold 3/4 full with orange juice.  Freeze.


A 4 to 6 cup mold is about right but one that's slightly smaller or slightly bigger works well, too.  Just stay away from cubes because they will melt too fast.


No mold?   Use any container - even a plastic food storage container.


For serving 
Remove the frozen juice from the mold (turn the mold upside down and run some hot tap water over it until it falls out into your hand) and put it into your punch bowl.  Put the punch bowl where you'll be serving.


Pour the remaining orange juice into the punch bowl.
Add the apple juice.  Taste.  Stir in some sugar if you think it needs it.  Stop here.


When the guest arrive
Toss the mint sprigs into the punch bowl and pour in the ginger ale.
Stir once around with the punch bowl ladle and leave the ladle in the bowl.  
The punch is ready!



Pomegranate and Sparkling Cider Punch

Anti-oxidants in the punch bowl?   Why not!

Makes about 16 (1/2 cup) servings

(This means it will serve about 10 because some will have seconds) 

1 handful fresh mint (about 1 cup) left on tender stems (remove stems if woody) - well washed and dried
1 (32 oz.) bottle pomegranate juice (chilled)
1 (1 quart) bottle sparkling cider or sparkling white grape juice (chilled) plus extra for the ice mold

(You can also make the ice mold from orange juice) 


Night before 
Fill a 2 to 4 cup mold 3/4 full with the extra sparkling cider, white grape juice or orange juice.  (A mold that's a little bit bigger is OK, too.)  Freeze.



For serving 
Remove the frozen juice from the mold (turn the mold upside down and run some hot tap water over it until it falls out into your hand) and put it into your punch bowl.  Put the punch bowl where you'll be serving.


Pour the pomegranate juice into the punch bowl.
Stop here.


When the guest arrive
Toss the mint sprigs into the punch bowl and pour in sparkling cider or sparkling grape juice.
Stir once around with the punch bowl ladle and leave the ladle in the bowl.  
The punch is ready!



Iced Almond Tea Punch
A variation on the fruit juice punch.... but perfectly acceptable even in the most traditional southern settings.



Iced tea, by the way, is required at all southern functions.  It's the house wine of the south!


Makes about 24 (1/2 cup) servings
(This means it will serve 12 - 16 people because some will have seconds) 

12 tea bags (plain, regular tea)
18 cups water (divided)
3/4 cups sugar
3 lemons (juiced- about 3/4 cup)

4 tablespoons almond extract
A couple of thin lemon slices or mint leaves (or both) for serving garnish


Night before 


Bring 10 cups of water to a rolling boil.  Add tea bags.  
Cover.  Steep 10 minutes.
Remove teas bags and gently squeeze dry.  
Stir in sugar till dissolved.  Cool.


Fill a 2 to 4 cup mold 1/2 full with prepared tea.  
(A mold that's a little bit bigger is OK, too.)
Add plain water to fill mold 3/4 full.  Stir.  Freeze.


Chill remaining tea separately.  Do not add any water.



For serving 
Remove the frozen tea from the mold (turn the mold upside down and run some hot tap water over it until it falls out into your hand) and put it into your punch bowl.  Put the punch bowl where you'll be serving.



To the punch bowl add the cooled tea mixture, lemon juice, extract and remaining 8 cups (cold) water.


Toss in a couple of lemon slices or mint sprigs (or both).
Stir once around with the punch bowl ladle and leave the ladle in the bowl.  



The punch is ready!




Monday, March 5, 2012

How to - GREAT Bridal Shower Food

By Karla Jones Seidita
www.CheesecakeFarms.com




It's easy to plan a dinner party. The mix of men and woman are most likely your friends so they'll have similar and predictable tastes.

But a bridal shower, well, that's a delicate mix of (usually just) women - most of whom have never met before - with ages ranging from tiny tot to elderly aunt.  Add to the mix a myriad of tastes ....and opinions.  

Here's some tips to help you be the perfect hostess!!    


1.  Be interesting but not bizarre
Consider the ages of your guests when planning the menu. 
While your trendy friends may like haute cuisine, your elderly aunts may roll their eyes at sushi.  Have something for everyone.


2.  Consider the health of your guests
An all dessert menu for the shower may seem like a fabulous idea but most families have one or two elder diabetics.  

Plan a lot of desserts, if that's your menu idea, but include foods that are protein packed instead of sugary.  Cheese cubes, raw veggies and dip, sliced chicken, chilled shrimp, and nuts work well.   

Fresh fruit, by the way, is high in sugar so a fruit salad is not much better than a gooey dessert where diabetics are concerned.


3.  Include several vegetarian dishes
Many people are choosing vegetarian foods more often these days for health, religious and ethical reasons.

It's easy to include several choices in your menu.... in fact many dishes are naturally vegetarian any way.  Vegetarian means no meat... no chicken, beef, pork or bacon.  

Salads, soups, and desserts are easy.  Main dish vegetarian selections might include pasta, macaroni and cheese, quiche, stuffed eggs, fish, shrimp or sea food, finger sandwiches or wraps with garden fillings, plus there's a whole world of vegetarian meat substitutes that even meat lovers will enjoy.

Vegan, by the way, is harder but do-able.  Vegan means no animal products at all including butter, milk, cream cheese, sour cream, and fish.  


4.  The chew factor
Tiny tots and older folk may have trouble chewing.  

Vary the menu to include some soft, easy to eat foods.
Easy to eat foods include cooked foods like stuffed eggs, meat or salmon loaf, soups, stews, small shaped pasta (macaroni), rice, gelatin.

Harder to eat foods are spaghetti (the long strand, twirling around your fork kind), raw veggies (including pasta salad with lots of raw veggies), fried chicken, raw apples, nuts, hard or chewy candies ...anything that requires biting into or crunching.


5.  Knives, forks and seats
Provide table and chair space for each guest.  Older guests and children need a seat so they can manage their plates.   

Use place cards. Your guests will be more comfortable if they know where to sit.  Cluster friends or co-workers. Put guests with children at the same table.  Seat family of similar ages together.  

For buffets, have the tables pre-set with glasses, cutlery, and napkins so the only thing guests have to carry back to their seats is their plate. Instruct servers (and/or younger family members) to assist older guests. 
  
If your party space is too small to accommodate everyone sitting down at a table, think of another way.  Maybe you could divide up the guest list and plan several smaller showers ...or have the shower outside in the garden.... or rent a church hall.  

Whatever you do, have real table space and a real chair for each guest.  Bales of straw, beach chairs, folding snack tables and similar make-shift seating may be fun for friends and casual fare but when it comes to bridal showers with multi-aged guests, it's important to have reliable seating.