July 24th, 2009 |

Marshmallow Fondue

marshmellow fondue

Try this idea at your next party…..marshmallow fondue!

Perfect for kids, fun for adults!  All you need is a bowl of melted chocolate, a bag of marshmallows, and a bunch of sprinkles for toppings!

Image (via inmagine.com)

July 22nd, 2009 |

Summer Appetizer: Zucchini Roll-Ups

zucchini roll-ups

Have I ever told you that I absolutely LOVE zucchini?  It is one of those foods that I discovered late in life (like, last year!?!) and now I just can’t get enough of it!  My husband isn’t a fan….which means I am constantly trying to slip it into dishes like risotto, vegetable tians, etc. in hopes that he doesn’t realize it until it’s already in his mouth.  This yummy treat would be a perfect appetizer for an alfresco dinner this summer!

Grilled Zucchini Roll-Ups with Herbs and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 3 small zucchini (about 1/2 pound each), cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/16 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounces bagged baby spinach (2 cups lightly packed)
  • 1/3 cup basil leaves

Preparation

1. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium.

2. Discard the outermost slices of zucchini; brush the rest with oil on both sides. Sprinkle the zucchini slices with salt and pepper. Grill until tender, about 4 minutes per side. You can prepare the zucchini a day ahead and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

3. In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, parsley, and lemon juice, mashing together with a fork.

4. Put 1/2 teaspoon of the cheese mixture about 1/2 inch from the end of a zucchini slice. Top with a few spinach leaves and a small (or half of a large) basil leaf. Roll up and place seam side down on a platter. Repeat with remaining zucchini slices. You can make these up to a day in advance; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

recipe via health.com

July 21st, 2009 |

Sailboat Cupcakes

Sailboat Cupcakes

We celebrated my sister’s boyfriend’s birthday Saturday night by cruising around Chicago on a boat.  Since the party had a boating theme, the sailboat cupcake seemed to be the perfect dessert!  They turned out so cute, I just had to share them with you!

These would be perfect for the Sail Away children’s birthday party theme I posted a couple of weeks ago!

If anyone is interested in the template for the sails, send me over an e-mail and I will happily give it to you!

July 20th, 2009 |

Summer Pasta!

corn and tomato pasta

This pasta recipe from Rachael Ray just looked a little too good not to share with you!  Perfect for a summer party….or just a Monday night dinner!

Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 1 pound bow-tie pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 3 ears fresh corn, kernels cut off
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

Dress it up!
Give this pasta a fancy twist by tossing in cooked lobster or shrimp.

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente; drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the corn, raise the heat slightly and cook until the corn is heated through and golden, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
  3. Add the vegetables, butter and basil to the pasta and toss.
July 16th, 2009 |

Cocktail Party with Rustic Charm

Rustic Charm (small)

Whether you are celebrating a 20th anniversary or the recent engagement of good friends, invite people over to celebrate the occasion with drinks and appetizers – all styled with rustic charm!  I am in love with this invitation from Minted…it’s half modern, half vintage, and completely charming!

Style the location of your party with a natural feel, using a rustic yellow, green and rust orange as a color palette.  Place a couple of different centerpieces around the party to vary the look.  First, fill a basket up with moss stones and votive candles. And second, place grass plants in small terracotta pots and wrap a decorative ribbon around it.  If you have a trellis or trees above your serving table, hang some votive candles to add a little sparkle to the evening.

Serve your appetizers on serving pieces such as slabs of wood or slate, and in baskets.  Look for some hearty appetizers such as pancetta-wrapped asparagus with citronette dressing, grilled zucchini with fresh mozzarella, and  fig and goat cheese crostini.  In addition to wine, serve a tasty, signature cocktail such as blackberry and cabernet caipirinha.

Images: patio (countryliving.com), invitation (minted.com), grass centerpiece (oncewed.com)

July 16th, 2009 |

Cocktail Party: Appetizers with Ease!

Appetizers with ease

Williams Sonoma is the genius behind this idea (perfect for your next cocktail party!).  These small plates have a base rim that fits on top of most wineglasses, allowing your guests to hold their wine and hors d’oeuvres securely in one hand.  Sold in a set of 4 for only $19.00!

July 14th, 2009 |

dress up your SANDWICHES!

dress up your sandwiches

Summer days are full of picnics, bbq’s, and a lot of outdoor entertaining…..sandwiches are the perfect meal for all of the occasions….but are your basic, old sandwiches boring you?!  Here are three simple updates from Cooking Light that are sure to put a little pizzazz back into your sandwich!

PESTO – Packed full of health benefits, pesto perks up milder ingredients.  Spread a tablespoon on a baguette topped with grilled chicken and tomato.  You can also try pairing pesto with frilled fish, such as halibut, and serve it with lettuce on a Kaiser roll.

ROASTED RED PEPPER – Red peppers are naturally sweet, and full of vitamin C.  Fill a flour tortilla with lettuce, sliced roasted red peppers, diced garlic, and feta cheese.  Roll it up burrito-style.

AVOCADO – Use this heart-healthy ingredient to top a tuna salad sandwich.  Try adding sliced radishes, alfalfa sprouts, or sharp cheeses.

July 9th, 2009 |

6 Summer Side Dishes

Summer Side Dishes

The best part of summer cooking is that most main dishes can be thrown on the grill!  Burgers, ribs, fish…..the main dishes are easy.  Spice up your meal with some exciting side dishes from Martha Stewart:

July 6th, 2009 |

S’mores: Updated Recipes for a Summer Favorite

smoresS’mores is a summertime favorite – what could be better than a combination of chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackers?!  Although the classic version is one of my ultimate treats…I thought I would find a few new ways to update the classic!

Try a s’mores sundae by combining ice cream with the classic ingredients, a s’mores cookie, or a dark chocolate “grown-up” version.

Smores please

July 2nd, 2009 |

Caprese Salad: Re-designed

Caprese Salad

Everyone loves a caprese salad!  What’s not to like – a little tomato, fresh mozzarella, a few basil leaves, some olive oil and balsamic vinegar – perfect ingredients all stacked up into one salad.   But what if you don’t want to stack them up?

Try freshening up your presentation with this idea:

Take a whole tomato and cut slices into it (about 1/4″ thick) without cutting all the way thru the other side.  Insert a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese and a basil leaf in between each slice.  Once the tomato is stuffed (it should “fan” out a bit) drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top.  Drizzle it with your favorite sea salt – and voila!  An update to everyone’s favorite caprese salad!

Image via George Dolese

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