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TODAY   |  July 01, 2013

Summer entertaining made easy

Lifestyle expert and former caterer Elizabeth Mayhew shares some of her favorite entertaining secrets, including simple floral centerpieces and goody bags filled with candies.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> back now with today's kitchen. you can do this. are you looking for easy ways to entertain this summer? well, today contributor elizabeth is shewing away flies. she has a few suggestions. take a look.

>> hi, i'm going to share some of my entertaining secrets to throw great fun, festive and easy party. come on in.

>> for centerpieces, i like to have what i call two-fors which is two uses and one centerpiece. my flowers are not cut flowers. i went to the nursery and picked up a lot of pansies so you have centerpiece and flowers for outside. i buy these long tapers birthday candles. stick them in the cake and you have a really beautiful presentation and then when it's dessert time you light the candles and you have got your dessert.

>> next, candy. candy has a similar purpose in that your guests can also eat it. i like to send my guests home with a little goodie bag.

>> all the plates and glasses are all white for a couple of reasons. it looks better on white. think of every rest rantd you ever go to. everything is almost always served on a white plate. the other thing, it always goes together. i have glasses from ikea and plates from target which are great to have when you're entertaining family because they won't break.

>> as a former caterer, i know that entertaining is all about the food but you don't want to be stressed and you don't want to spend a lot of money, so a couple of ideas i have for you. let's start off with my pesto cheesecake. i love that it's not expensive. cheese platters can cost a lot of money by the time you get all of those different varieties. another thing you can do is use your bacon that you might have for tomorrow's breakfast. so just take the bacon , toss it with brown sugar and some mustard. put it in the oven on a rack. it gets nice and krispy and then you just stack it. so this is it. see how easy that was? you too can do it.

>> but isn't there like a --

>> good morning. i just want to point out that we started with 8 pieces of bacon here and there's now 4.

>> you got demoished by bacon . what do you do with this bay coy con.

>> take brown sugar and dijon mustard , put it in a plastic bag , add your bay is on in, put it on a foil lined cookie sheet , cook it and it gets krispy. i like to do this tower of bacon and the reason it's so good is it's smaller pieces so i cut them in half so it's great for a person to take a bite but height looks good on a plate. instead of eating it all you can stack it.

>> right. i assumed that was for us.

>> i like a little garnish. green is a little nice. just prop a little bit.

>> we're doing a savory cheesecake. not a sweet one.

>> one of the reasons i like this is it's inexpensive to make.

>> when you said tower of bacon i lost control.

>> cheese can be very expensive. when you go buy a bunch for a lot of people, this is a way to feed a lot of people and make it easy. first thing you'll do --

>> eat the bay is on.

>> use parmesan and bread crumbs. pour the whole thing in and swirl it around so you cover it. you just don't want it to stick. this is already butter.

>> oh, you already have butter.

>> you shake it and then you can just dump out the excess into the sink.

>> yeah.

>> now, the next thing willie, we'll take two pieces, two hunks of cream cheese , 8 ounces of cream cheese .

>> put it right in.

>> just go for it. dump it right in. it's so easy. you cannot go wrong. then add the parmesan.

>> add a pinch of cayan.

>> not the whole thing of salt. a pinch of salt.

>> oh okay.

>> it's very savory and then the bacon flavor.

>> add the egg. try to get them in. do one at a time. one at a time.

>> bacon , bacon , bacon .

>> i didn't get any bacon .

>> i'm just going to take it out now.

>> that's sweet bacon .

>> we're off the rail here.

>> okay. if you can, get that thing off.

>> forget it, you twist it but that's okay. we take that, we mix it up. then what you're going to do is take half of this, once it's fully mixed and you're going to -- i'm going to pour half of it in there and if you can add the pesto to it.

>> right in there.

>> the whole thing.

>> right at once.

>> you can mix that up.

>> mix it all together.

>> natalie, would you mind passing me -- what, we're doing this together.

>> go back to the pan.

>> bring the pan over.

>> here we go.

>> what do you do? bake it or what's the deal.

>> pour that into this.

>> layer.

>> natalie you can spread that. so i use the spatula and you cover the whole bottom, you got it? you're fine.

>> we're going to finish this. it looks delicious. we'll be back with more today.

>> bake it 325.

>> look at today.com.