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!

March 5th, 2009 |

Friday Night: Pizza Night!

pizza-night-copyFriday night is pizza night in our house!  It’s one of those parties that you can whip together fast – and everyone loves it!

Whether it’s friends stopping over for drinks after work, or the whole family wanting to make their own pizzas…..get creative, try some new combinations….I have a couple of ideas (and recipes) for you:

Ideas

  • Make life easy on yourself…buy store bought pizza dough.  Trader Joe’s offers fresh dough daily – regular and whole wheat.
  • Set up “make your own pizza” stations on your counter top – everyone can add their individual flair to their pizza!
  • If you are setting a table, get creative with your “Italian” theme – try using bread sticks as a centerpiece or (like the picture above) as place cards.

Recipes

  • Pizza Margharita

    • A wonderful classic that everyone loves!  Try this recipe from Mario Batali (via Martha Stewart).
  • Deep Dish Pizza

    • Update your classic deep dish with these new toppings – Pepperoni & Onion or Spinach & Artichokes…..YUM!  (Recipes via Martha Stewart)
  • West Coast Grilled Vegetable Pizza

    • Full of fresh veggies and goat cheese, it’s a great pizza to welcome Spring.  (Recipe via Martha Stewart)

February 28th, 2009 |

Breakfast in Bed

Treat someone special to breakfast in bed this weekend.

Although any old thing will do…..but I think the weekends are the perfect time to try something new!

Scrambled Eggs in Potato Nests

Perfect for any old Sunday, but also great to serve at a brunch.
breakfast-in-bed

Ingredients

1 20-oz. pkg. refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes

2 eggs, beaten

1 Tbsp. snipped fresh chives

1/2 tsp. salt

12 eggs

2/3 cup milk

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

2 Tbsp. butter or margarine

1-1/2 cups shredded American cheese (6 ounces)

Fresh chives (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet; set aside. In a large bowl, stir together potatoes, the 2 beaten eggs, chives, and the 1/2 teaspoon salt. Shape mixture into 12 mounds (about 1/3 cup each) on prepared baking sheet. Press the back of a tablespoon into each mound, making a nest. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned and set.

2. Meanwhile, beat together the 12 eggs, milk, the 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper with a rotary beater. In a 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium heat; pour in egg mixture. Cook over medium heat without stirring until mixture begins to set on the bottom and around edge.

3. With a spatula, lift and fold the partially cooked egg mxiture so that the uncooked portion flows underneath. Continue cooking over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until egg mixture is cooked through but is still glossy and moist. Remove from heat.

4. Spoon about 1/3 cup of egg mixture into each potato nest. Sprinkle cheese over eggs. Return to oven; bake about 2 minutes or until cheese melts. If desired, garnish with chives. Makes: 12 servings

Recipe via Better Homes and Gardens

February 27th, 2009 |

Lemonade Jars

lemonade-hwtm

I thought I would pass along this idea from the creative ladies over at Hostess with the Mostess…..what a darling idea for serving lemonade at your summer parties!

Check out their blog for information on where to find these adorable jars.

February 21st, 2009 |

Oscar Worthy Cocktail

bobby-flay-pear-cocktail-peopleLike many others around the world, chef Bobby Flay believes Oscar night is cause for celebration!  This year, Bobby is hosting a 400 guest event at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival.  His signature drink for the evening is a Sparkling Pear Cocktail – if it’s good enough for his friends, I bet it’s good enough for mine!  Enjoy!

Sparkling Pear Cocktail

16 oz. pear nectar

2 bottles champagne, prosecco or other sparkling wine, very cold

1 pear, halved, seeded and thinly sliced

Thirty minutes before serving, place the champagne flutes in the freezer to chill.  Place 2 tbsp. of the pear nectar and 1 slice of pear in the bottom of each glass, top with the sparkling wine.  Serve immediately.

Recipe (via www.people.com)

February 16th, 2009 |

Chic New Restaurant in Chicago: Eve

The interior of a jewelry box inspired the setting of Chicago’s Eve, a new restaurant in the Gold Coast neighborhood offering contemporary American cuisine. Mirror-detailed walls, sparkling chandeliers and a menu focused on fresh, seasonal food combinations make Eve the new gem in Chicago!  Located at 840 N. Wabash Ave.  evechicago.com.

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