March 26th, 2009 |
Today I am answering an email from a reader:
“Dear Hostess, Every time I go to a party or to a friend’s house for dinner, I feel like my friends always ask me to bring an appetizer. I’m sick of my same old recipes! I can’t make another Mexican layer dip or ‘pigs in a blanket’…..can you help me come up with some new ideas?”
Here you go….hope these inspire you!
Appetizers are the first taste of the party….they can be an indicator of what’s to come with the meal, but they can also be just a fun display of different tastes. Here are some of my new favorites:
March 25th, 2009 |
These little bugs are easy to create and are sure to get rave reviews!
All you need are Oreo cookies, red and brown melting chocolate, lollipop sticks and 1/4″ icing eyes (all available at Country Kitchen Sweetart).
Pry apart the Oreo cookie and scoop out some of the frosting to place in the lollipop stick. Press the cookie back together into a sandwich, and dip in the red, melted chocolate. Place treats on a parchment-lined baking sheet into the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes. Then pipe the head (attach the icing eyes), dots and line in the center with the brown chocolate. Return to the refrigerator to chill.
Here are a few more lady bug treats I found on flickr.com to inspire you:
March 23rd, 2009 |
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
- 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
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.
March 20th, 2009 |
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 |
Quite 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
- 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
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 |
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!
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.
Images: tips (flickr.com), cupcakes & tips (etsy.com), daisy crown pan and sprinkles cupcake mix (williams-sonoma.com)
March 16th, 2009 |
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.
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…..
March 13th, 2009 |
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.
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 |
A 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!
March 10th, 2009 |
Need to send a “Happy Birthday” fast?
Try these adorable cookies from Eleni’s New York (via Dean & Deluca).