April 4th, 2013 |

SWEET & SALTY PEACH APPETIZER

peach sweet and salty appetizer recipe

For a sweet & salty appetizer this Spring, try pairing three of my favorite foods – peach, parmesan cheese and prosciutto. It’s the perfect little snack to bring to a friend’s house, or put out before a casual dinner.

Simply layer a basil leaf, and a couple shavings of parmesan cheese atop a slice of peach. Wrap a long, narrow piece of prosciutto around it several times to secure the ingredients.

It’s simple and full of flavor!

order a copy of the Spring 2013 The Party Dress Magazine

April 1st, 2013 |

PREPPY BLUE + GREEN DESSERT TABLE | FIRST COMMUNION

preppy blue and green dessert table for first communion or baptismI have a gorgeous dessert table to share with you today.  I designed and styled it for my best friend’s two children’s first communion (they are 11 months apart, and in the same grade). A fresh color palette of blue, green and white with accents in navy blue, I combined a geometric greek key pattern with a bold floral pattern to appeal to both the girls and boys!  I hope this table will inspire you with ideas on how to incorporate religious details into a dessert table, without that being the “theme”, and serve as inspiration for baptisms, first communions and more.

preppy blue and green dessert table for first communion and baptismThe table design was inspired by a WH Hostess collection of paper goods and we incorporated the patterns onto everything from the custom fabric table runners, to the cupcake toppers, to the sweets.  Each child had their choice of one “special” treat that they selected to be part of the table: Willard chose chocolate chip cookies and Emma Jane chose chocolate-covered strawberries.

blue and green first communion cake pops from sweet lauren cakesThe table was covered with a crisp white tablecloth and was topped with two table runners made from our custom blue greek key fabric, edged with a preppy grass green and white grosgrain ribbon.

blue and green preppy dessert table with hydrangea centerpiece

Standing center stage was a gorgeous arrangement of green and white hydrangeas  with the vase wrapped in our bold floral mums pattern paper.  I really wanted to incorporate natural green elements into the table to pop that color against the blue.  I did that by using the green hydrangeas and also by anchoring the cake pops into wheat grass plants.

preppy blue and green cupcakes for first communion or baptismcandy bags for preppy blue and green dessert table

The sweets included gorgeous Cake Pops from Sweet Lauren Cakes incorporating our patterns, an “H” for the kids’ last name, and a cross to symbolize the occasion. Vanilla Cupcakes with personalized cupcake toppers from WH Hostess, and fondant crosses from Two Sugar Babies.  Mini bags of blue sugar candy with bold green and white stickers featuring an “H” for the kids’ last name.
cakes with monogram fondant toppers

Instead of having one large cake, I had two smaller cakes made – one for each child!  Two Sugar Babies created these custom monogrammed cake toppers using our blue greek key pattern as part of the edible image. Jumbo Marshmallows in blue and green from Candywarehouse.com were a big hit with the kids!

blue and green jumbo marshmallows from candywarehouse.com

preppy green striped food tent cardI branded the table with preppy green striped food tent cards, and a coordinating blue greek key sign, thanking everyone for coming to celebrate Willard & Emma’s special day.

first communion or baptism party invitations

March 22nd, 2013 |

SITTING BUNNY COOKIES

easter cookie recipe from hani bacova

Decorating sugar cookies is one of my favorite seasonal treats.  I love taking the time to sit down and be creative with color combinations, patterns and then gifting them to loved ones.  The talented Hani Bacova from Haniela’s shared a darling sitting bunny cookie recipe with us in the Spring issue of The Party Dress Magazine and I am thrilled to be sharing it with you today:

Sugar Cookie Recipe

3 c. all­-purpose flour | 1 teaspoon baking powder | 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened  |  1 cup granulated sugar | 1 large egg | 1/2 t. kosher salt  |  1 teaspoon vanilla extract | 1 1/2 tsp almond extract

Sift together the flour and baking powder. In a mixing bowl, beat the room temperature butter and sugar until light and fluffy. About 4 minutes. Scrape the bowl at least once while mixing. Add in the egg and mix till fluffy and  pale in color. Add salt and both extracts.  Slowly add flour mixture (1 cup at a time) and stir until incorporated. Don’t be afraid to use your hands a little to form a uniformed cookie dough. Form the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. If the dough gets too hard to roll let soften a bit before rolling the dough. Preheat oven to 365degrees F. Roll the dough  between 2 pieces of parchment paper to 5/16 inch(about 7mm) thick. Cut the cookies into shapes and place the cut cookie shapes on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Place cookies in the fridge to harden for about 5 minutes and then put them in the oven. Bake the cookies for approximately 6­-8 minutes Rotate sheets in half time for even baking. Remove cookies from the oven and allow to cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Slowly remove cookies from the sheet using a wide spatula  place them on the cooling rack and let cool completely.

Royal Icing

2 cups powdered sugar | 1 tbl meringue powder  |  3 1/2 tbl water | 1 tsp vanilla extract | pinch of cream tartar

Make sure all of your tools are grease free! Whisk together meringue powder with warm water, until slightly foamy, add cream of tartar, whisk again and then add all the powdered sugar at once. Using your stand mixer, on the lowest setting, using paddle attachment, mix for 5 minutes, add vanilla extract and mix additional minute or two. Icing will be thick. You can now color your icing. When not in use store this icing in airtight container, remix the icing when you are ready to use it again. Store leftover icing in the fridge.

Sitting Bunny Cookies

Once the cookies have cooled to room temperature you can decorate them with royal icing. Color royal icing with desired colors and thin it to medium stiff consistency. Run a fork in the icing, icing is suppose to hold the pattern made by fork, but shouldn’t be overly stiff. Cover icing that is not used with a piece of plastic wrap or damp paper towel to prevent crusting. Using a spatula or a painter’s brush apply a layer of icing onto the cookie then take a fork and run it through the icing making wavy lines, repeat until you are happy with the pattern. Let cookie dry. Once dry, attach a small ribbon on the bunny, using a dot of royal icing. To make a stand, use a round cookie, apply green icing onto the cookie with a brush or spatula, then using a crumbled piece of plastic wrap, dab the icing all over the cookie, creating a grass like pattern, add few dots of white icing and dot again, creating marbled finish. Attach bunny onto the stand, just gently press the cookie into the green icing, if needed support it with bamboo sticks from both sides, just until icing dries a little, then you can remove the supports.

order a copy of the Spring 2013 The Party Dress Magazine

March 21st, 2013 |

CARROT TABLETOP + DESSERTS | EASTER

easter tablesetting with carrotsWith Easter just a little over a week away, I have been thinking about our Easter brunch tablesetting.  My sister is due with her first child THIS WEEK, so we are anticipating that we’ll be doing brunch at home this year (vs years past when we would go out for brunch).  When it comes to Easter, I have a love of carrots.  And bunnies.  But definitely carrots.  I think it’s really the pop of orange that I love!  Do you remember this carrot centerpiece from last year?!

bunny salt and pepper shakers from pottery barnI put together this Easter brunch tablesetting for the Spring issue of The Party Dress Magazine, using some white basics, and pops of color that I am so craving these days.  I set the table with a white eyelet tablecloth and then layered it with my woven charger plates and basic white plates.  I combined a solid orange napkin with a green and white striped napkin, and tied a bunch of straw carrots to it with twine.  An egg placecard (personalized with glitter – post coming next week!) was nestled on top of the napkin.

Each placesetting was accented with a bunny cupcake stand from Pottery Barn, holding a carrot-topped cupcake.  To add texture to the floral centerpiece, I filled the vase with white eggs, and also used pewter bunny salt & pepper shakers.

carrot placesetting horizontalTo carry out the carrot theme, I used gummy carrots from candywarehouse.com as a topper on basic, store-bought cupcakes.  Do you love the green glass plate from Pottery Barn they are sitting on?!

carrot cupcakes for easterForgoing the traditional jelly beans, I served up candy that looked like peas and carrots (also from candywarehouse.com).

peas & carrots candy for easterStay tuned later today for a creative idea for Easter cookies!

carrot desserts for easterorder a copy of the Spring 2013 The Party Dress Magazine

March 15th, 2013 |

EASTER BUNNY FONDANT TUTORIAL

fondant easter bunny tutorial from lynlee's petite cakesI’m starting to think about Easter around here….the pastel colors, the little touches of Easter eggs and bunnies are starting to creep onto the tables and it’s just the breath of fresh Spring air that is needed right about now.  I’m thrilled to share a darling tutorial with you today from Lynlee of Lynlee’s Petite Cakes.  Do you remember the bunny push-up pops from the Easter party Lynlee styled for the magazine last Spring?  They took the web by storm, and this year, we talked her into sharing ideas with you for creating a fondant Easter bunny that could be used in push-up pops, or on top of cupcakes.  The step-by-step tutorial she provided for the Spring 2013 issue of The Party Dress magazine is simple enough that even I am going to try it!

fondant easter bunny tutorial

Materials Needed:

white, pink and black fondant  |  rolling pin  |  large and small leaf cutters  |  round tip (in this case, Wilton tips 12)  |  modeling stick and knife tools  |  food safe brush and water  |  raw spaghetti  |  white soft gel paste & toothpick  |  push up container, crushed Oreos & chocolate pudding

Roll some white fondant into a ball and shape the top narrower with your fingers.

Roll out white and pink fondant and cut out two each with large and small leaf cutters respectively. Use water to glue pink over white and indent with modeling stick. Insert small piece of raw spaghetti into ears and glue into the head.

fondant easter bunny tutorial

Roll out pink fondant and use larger tip to cut out a circle. Pinch one side and use the knife to indent the other side to create a heart and glue onto face. Roll out black fondant, cut out two small circles for the eyes. Utilize the toothpick to dip into white gel paste and “dot” the eyes.

Roll two small white fondant balls for the hands. With the knife tool, make three indentations for fingers. Turn it upside down and make an indentation with the modeling stick. Place on push up container to mold.

Fill push up container with pudding and crushed Oreos and finish it off by adding the bunny head and hands! You can vary the ears and eyes so the bunnies are looking in different directions.

fondant easter bunny push up pops

Simple, right?  And oh, so charming!  Thank you, Lynlee, for sharing this darling tutorial with us!

To order your copy of the Spring 2013 The Party Dress Magazine, click HERE.

 

 

March 13th, 2013 |

CLOVER QUICHE for ST. PATRICK’S DAY

clover quiche for st. patrick's dayWith St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Sunday this year, it’s a great opportunity to either host a brunch or surprise your family with a little themed breakfast!  I love the idea of this clover quiche recipe from Diamonds for Desserts.  SIMPLE to reproduce, and who doesn’t love a little spinach quiche?!

Click over HERE for the recipe and full instructions.

February 20th, 2013 |

OSCAR PARTY FOOD | CHOCOLATE POTATO CHIPS

oscar party snack: chocolate covered potato chipsI’m always looking for a new decadent treat to try, especially when I have a captive audience for something fun, like an Oscar viewing party! These chocolate-covered potato chips from Spoon Fork Bacon have been on my to-do list for quite some time now.  I think Oscar Sunday might be the perfect time.  And I’m guessing they will be a hit.  I mean, how could they not?  It’s chocolate.  On potato chips.  The perfect combination of sweet + salty.

Although the “recipe” is pretty self-explanatory, there are a few great tips over on Spoon Fork Bacon’s blog.  You can check them out here.  What do you think?  Are you up for it?  Have you tried this before?

February 6th, 2013 |

Mardi Gras Macarons for Fat Tuesday

mardi gras macarons dessert for fat tuesdayHere in Chicago, Mardi Gras is one of those “wish-we-were-closer-to-celebrate, but-we-are-too-buried-under-the-snow” type of holidays.  It always looks so fun and festive and is something to look forward to during the bleek winter months.  If you are in the mood to celebrate, or just looking for an excuse to throw a themed dinner party, we have ideas for tablesettings, decor and food here and here.

I came across these festive Mardi Gras Macarons from Sprinkle Bakes and just had to share them for you.  They are the perfect treat for Fat Tuesday!  Colorful and they even have a little baby hidden inside them!  You can find Sprinkle Bakes’ recipe and tips for making the perfect macaron here.  Enjoy and Happy Baking!

January 16th, 2013 |

GAME-CHANGING APPETIZERS

superbowl food ideasSuperbowl is coming up and that means everyone is looking for new appetizer ideas.  Here are three of my new favorites (or rather, new spins on old favorites) that I found while scouring the web. With universal appeal, these will appeal to guests young and old.

Mac & Cheese Cups

This is a brillant idea!  Bake your favorite mac & cheese recipe (or store-bought) into mini muffin cups to create individual servings. For the recipe, click here.

Football Pizza

Always a fan of a homemade pizza, I love the idea of creating a football topping using pepperoni.  See the recipe and instructions here.

Football Calzones

Party City came up with this darling idea.  You could make mini calzones using a football shaped cookie cutter.  See the instructions here.

 

 

December 3rd, 2012 |

White Chocolate Mocha Fudge

The holiday issue of The Party Dress Magazine brought quite a few tasty treats for this season, including this White Chocolate Mocha Fudge recipe from Firefly Confections.  As you can see, this fudge would make a FABULOUS holiday gift for teachers, neighbors or friends & family.  Read on for Sandy’s exclusive recipe:

Chocolate Mocha Layer

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 – 5oz can of evaporated milk

2 tbsp butter or margarine

¼ tsp salt

1 ½ cup mini marshmallows

1 cup (6oz) chocolate chips

1 ½ tsp vanilla

1 tbsp espresso powder

Lightly grease 8×8 inch pan. Cut a piece of parchment to fit with a 2 inch over-hang on either side of the pan and lightly grease the paper, set aside. Combine sugar, milk, butter and salt in a med. Saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Boil 5 minutes stirring constantly. Remove sauce pan from heat stir in mini marshmallows until melted and mixture is well blended. Add chocolate chips, espresso powder & vanilla stir until mixture is smooth. Stir for 6 minutes or until slightly thickened. Immediately spread mixture into prepared pan.

White Chocolate Layer

Substitute white chocolate ships for regular chocolate chips and follow directions for chocolate fudge. Immediately pour over chocolate fudge and spread using a lightly greased rubber spatula. Cool in the refrigerator for about 2hours then sprinkle the top with espresso powder OR cocoa powder and cut into squares. Store in the refrigerator, in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Packaging resources: white boxes (shopsweetlulu.com), gingerbread sticker (whhostess.com)

For more Holiday Entertaining Ideas, visit the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine:

buy a printed copy   |   read the digital copy

 

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