Yes, I will admit that cooking for me has not always meant visiting farmer’s markets or making multiple course meals from scratch. In fact, there was a not-so-far-off time when I was quite please to have people over for (gasp!) desserts from packaged mixes! But I do want to write a quick note to mention an important rule of thumb:
Just because something is easy to make, does not mean it can’t look elegant.
Case(s) in point:
First, this is a picture of a Peppermint Brownie “Recipe” that I made a year ago. Yes, I used boxed brownie mix. But I baked a crust of peppermint sticks (from real candy canes, crushed into pieces) onto the top, and suddenly they look interesting. And tasted even better, of course!
Buy a bundt cake pan. Below is *literally* nothing more than regular yellow cake from a box, and look how beautiful it is? I bought a bundt cake pan, and a cupcake pan, both from Williams Sonoma, for about $10 each on sale. That $10 has saved me SO much hassle in prepping for parties. Cupcakes are great, but rose-shaped cupcakes? Suddenly you have something beautiful to serve for no added effort.