March 23rd, 2009 |

Lunch Date with a Friend

Lunch Date (small)

Everyone is always so cooped up inside during the Winter and early Spring months….invite a friend or two over for an quick lunch to catch up.

I’m looking forward to catching up with one of my good friends tomorrow!

Here is what I’m thinking about for lunch:

Chicken Panini with Fig Jam

Recipe via Cooking Light

Ingredients

  • 1/4  cup  fig jam
  • 1  (8-ounce) ciabatta, cut lengthwise
  • 1/4  cup  crumbled blue cheese
  • 2  tablespoons  butter, softened
  • 8  ounces  sliced cooked chicken breast
  • 1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  cups  arugula leaves
  • 1  teaspoon  fresh lemon juice

Preparation

Spread jam over cut side of top half of bread. Combine cheese and butter in a bowl, stirring until smooth. Spread cheese mixture over cut side of bottom half of bread. Arrange chicken evenly over cheese mixture; sprinkle with pepper. Place top half of bread, jam side down, over chicken.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add sandwich to pan. Place a heavy cast-iron skillet on sandwich; cook 5 minutes or until both sides are browned, turning once.

Place arugula in a bowl. Drizzle juice over arugula; toss gently. Remove top bread half from sandwich. Arrange arugula mixture over chicken. Replace top bread half. Cut sandwich into 4 equal portions.

Images: kitchen (williams-sonoma.com), sandwich (cookinglight.com),

kitchen cabinets (via joeschmelzer.com)

March 20th, 2009 |

Spring Fling Cocktail Party

Spring Fling Cocktail Party (small)

I don’t know about you, but I am SOOOOO happy Spring is finally here…..it’s been a LONG winter!

Let’s welcome Spring with a casual cocktail party for friends….and you don’t have to make things difficult for yourself.  Choose a couple of fabulous drinks, some easy snacks…..and you will end up with a festive evening your friends are sure to enjoy!

What could be more fun than a bellini bar?!  Set up a table with three different flavors to mix with champagne or prosecco…..

Prosecco with Ginger

Stir together 1 cup ginger juice and 3 tablespoons honey in a small pitcher. To serve, pour 2 tablespoons of the mixture into a Champagne glass. Fill with Prosecco. Place 3 slivers of crystallized ginger in each glass.

Prosecco with Apricot and Cranberry

Stir together 1/2 cup cranberry juice with 1/2 cup apricot nectar in a small pitcher. To serve, pour 2 tablespoons of the mixture into a Champagne glass. Fill with Prosecco. Garnish with a thin slice of red apricot.

Prosecco with Blood Orange

To serve, shake a few drops blood-orange bitters into a Champagne glass. Fill with Prosecco and garnish with a twist of orange.

Since you are feeding people for just a couple of hours, you only need a few hor’dourves.  Choose three or four sure-to-please snacks, and focus on your presentation – play with the colors of the food and your serving pieces to create a modern buffet.  You can never go wrong with an assortment of crudits, and for this particular event I think we need to go with something Springy……how about Goat Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes, and Crispy Spring Rolls?!

Choose some bright color flowers to put around your house, add a few candles and between your decor, food and drinks…..it’s sure to be a fabulous Spring evening!

Images: flowers (lapartieevents.com), bright color floor pillows (instyle.com), midnight bar mixers (crateandbarrel.com), stuffed tomatoes and spring rolls (williams-sonoma.com)

March 17th, 2009 |

Even better the second time around…..

leftoversQuite a party, huh?!?  St. Patrick’s Day always is…..

The only problem?  What to do with all of that leftover corned beef.

Well, Bon Appetit has the perfect solution….

Grilled Corned Beef and Fontina Sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 8 slices Jewish-style rye bread, divided
  • Dijon mustard
  • 1 pound thinly sliced corned beef 
  • 8 oz thinly sliced Fontina cheese
  • 1/2 sweet onion (such as Maui or Vidalia), thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided

Preparation

  • Place 4 bread slices on work surface. Spread mustard on 1 side of each. Divide corned beef among bread slices. Top with cheese and onion. Cover with remaining 4 bread slices, pressing slightly to adhere.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons butter in each of 2 large nonstick skillets over medium heat. Place 2 sandwiches in each skillet and cook until golden brown on bottom, pressing occasionally with spatula, about 3 minutes. Turn sandwiches over and cook until golden on bottom and cheese melts, about 3 minutes. Transfer sandwiches to plates, cut in half, and serve.
March 16th, 2009 |

Flower Cupcakes

The flower cupcakes I posted a few weeks ago inspired me to do some Spring baking of my own.

I made these cupcakes for my friend’s birthday over the weekend and they were a huge hit!

Flower Cupcakes (small)

You too, can create these flower cupcakes…..there is a daisy crown pan currently in Williams Sonoma stores that makes this little baking project oh so easy!  You can make it even easier on yourself by picking up the cupcake mix from the infamous Sprinkles bakery in Beverly Hills there as well.   Mix, bake, add a little frosting….and you have yourself a special Spring treat!

I will definitely make these again – they were great for a birthday party, but would be darling for a shower, classroom treats, or even Easter brunch. Cupcake Equipment (small)

Images: tips (flickr.com), cupcakes & tips (etsy.com), daisy crown pan and sprinkles cupcake mix (williams-sonoma.com)

March 16th, 2009 |

St. Patrick’s Day

The luck of the Irish will bring you good fortune with these recipes!

The Irish celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th – it is believed that St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, died that day in 461 AD.  Today, it is a worldwide celebration of Irish culture and history.  People celebrate the day with parades, wearing of the green, and of course, drinking beer!  In Ireland, people traditionally wear a small bunch of shamrocks on their jackets or caps.  Children wear orange, white and green badges, and women and young girls wear green ribbons in their hair.

St. Patrick’s Day takes place just a few days before the first day of Spring….one might say it has become the first green of Spring.

St. Patrick's Day (small)

Your table should be easy – pull out anything green!  I love pairing white, green and yellow together – very festive and Spring-like.  Find some shamrock plants at your local nursery and place a sprig on each person’s plate or napkin (a four-leaf clover is meant to bring good luck).

Here are a few Irish recipes sure to make everyone excited for the celebration:

I hope you enjoy St. Patrick’s Day as much as I do!

Make sure to visit us tomorrow for ideas for your leftover corned beef…..

Images: napkin with four-leaf clover (marthastewart.com), short ribs and cabbage (williams-sonoma.com), corned beef and cupcakes (bonappetit.com)

March 13th, 2009 |

Friday Night Fiesta!

Fiesta (small)

Send your friends this bright, festive invitation to grab their sombreros and come on over for some margaritas and mexican food tonight!

Welcome your guests with festive music, and an easy menu of items that everyone loves – guacamole & chips, taco bar and of course, margaritas!  Everyone has their own favorite guacamole recipe….but if anyone is interested in a new one, my favorite comes from Williams-Sonoma.

Setting the mood is easy for a Mexican Fiesta….bring out as many bright colors and patterns as you can possibly find!  You can find great, inexpensive serving dishes, paper flowers and lanterns thru party supply stores and websites, such as Plum Party and Amazon.Fiesta Supplies (small)

Images: fiesta invitation (weddingpaperdivas.com), centerpiece (realsimple.com), patterned napkins (heatherbailey.com), lanterns (theknot.com), taco bar and gaucamole (realsimple.com), margarita (williams-sonoma.com), floral dishes (crateandbarrel.com), paper flowers and colored serving bowls (plumparty.com), chili pepper lanterns (amazon.com)

March 12th, 2009 |

Chic Birthday Dinner Party

chic-birthday-dinnerA dinner party with friends to celebrate a birthday…

Whatever shall I make?!

First, let’s keep it simple…set the table with black and white china and use a small vase of white flowers as your centerpiece…let the focus be on the gorgeous food and lovely friends.

For dinner, serve a meal that is rich in flavor, yet easy to prepare:

And for dessert…..a delicious chocolate birthday cake!

Images: chocolate cake (theknot.com), Barbara Barry china (bloomingdales.com), napkin rings (tabulatua.com), champagne cocktail (people.com), asparagus and corn risotto (william-sonoma.com), beef tenderloin (epicurious.com)

March 10th, 2009 |

Happy Birthday Cookies

happy-birthday-cookiesNeed to send a “Happy Birthday” fast?

Try these adorable cookies from Eleni’s New York (via Dean & Deluca).

March 9th, 2009 |

Monday Night Dinner

Chicken Piccata ~ Barefoot Contessa Style

Monday Night Dinner (small)

Ingredients

  • 2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • Good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Sliced lemon, for serving
  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate. Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

Monday Night Dinner Food (small)

Images: placesetting (ballarddesigns.com), chicken piccata (foodnetwork.com) and warm vegetable salad (foodnetwork.com)

March 6th, 2009 |

A Sweet Surprise

champagne-rimming-sugarsI found these champagne rimming sugars at Crate & Barrel today.

A set of three flavors, Mimosa, Kir and Bellini come packaged together (and would make an adorable hostess gift!).

You can be sure I will be testing these out at my next party!

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