September 6th, 2012 |

Inspiration: Apple Picking Party

Apple picking has been one of my favorite activities from the time I was a young child.  Now is the PERFECT time to gather up friends and family to meet at an apple orchard and surprise them with a few {sweet} treats.

Images: apple barrels (poshphotographyonline.com)  |   apple m&m cups (bloomdesignsonline.blogspot.com)  |  apple dessert table (party-wagon.com)  |  apple drink station (frostmeblog.blogspot.com)  |  apple cupcakes (familyfun.go.com)  |  mini apple pies (williams-sonoma.com)

September 6th, 2012 |

Hostess Gifts for Apple Season

Apple Season is upon us and it’s time to celebrate in a BIG way!  The latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine has countless ideas for incorporating nature’s bounty into your seasonal celebrations, decor and recipes.  Today, we’re sharing two ideas for incorporating apples into hostess gifts.  Attending a party this weekend?!  This post is for you!  (these would also make charming party favors or teacher gifts, too)

Love the idea of gifting a homemade apple pie? Of course you do! But sometimes, it’s not convenient to deliver a just-out-of-the-oven apple pie. So gift your friends with the next best thing….apple pie filling {in a jar, with a darling sticker}. That way they can use it anytime they want!

Everyone loves a good caramel apple! Do you love making homemade caramel sauce? Package it up in a small container and place it in a cellophane bag along with a crisp apple. Tie it up with ribbon and our free printable apple gift tags.  (PS – no time to make the homemade caramel sauce?  Repackage store-bought….no one will know!)

Click on the link below to download your FREE apple labels.

For more Fall entertaining ideas, read the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine:

order a printed copy   |   download the ipad app   |   read the digital issue 

 

August 29th, 2012 |

The Strawberry Muddle

It’s been a long summer of ZERO entertaining for me, due to our unexpected kitchen and home renovation.  I’m cautiously hoping that the light at the end of the tunnel is shining a little bit brighter today…..and we might just have everything done by tomorrow.  Of course the first thing on my mind isn’t how/when I am going to get all of the boxes unpacked, it’s when am I finally going to be able to entertain again!?

In hopes that we will be able to have a little Labor Day gathering, I took a stroll around Bon Appetit looking for a fresh, new champagne cocktail to serve.  I came across this “Strawberry Muddle” recipe, originally created by Jon Hoeber, the farmers’ market-prowling mixologist at Rustic Canyon restaurant in Santa Monica.  It looks light and delicious and is perfect for your patio party this weekend!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped hulled strawberries
  • 6 thin lemon slices
  • Ice cubes
  • 1 750-ml bottle chilled Prosecco

 Directions

  • Stir sugar and 1/2 cup water in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to boil. Cool syrup.
  • Divide strawberries among six 6- to 8-ounce glasses; add 1 tablespoon syrup to each and mash with muddler or handle of wooden spoon. Add lemon slice to each and mash to release flavor. Add several ice cubes to each glass, then fill with Prosecco.
August 2nd, 2012 |

the modern SALAD BAR

It’s no secret that Pinterest can be addicting – it’s a fabulous source of inspiration, and makes for a very simple method of storing your ideas for the home, parties, and gifts.  If you aren’t following us – come on over! (click here to follow) We’re thrilled to have another place to share inspiration with you!

One of my favorite inspirations this summer is this modern take on a salad bar.  When it comes to planning “ladies lunches” and bridal showers, food is always a tricky subject.  Ladies just don’t eat that much….especially during the day.  So presenting a fabulous, do-it-yourself salad bar is just the ticket.  Fresh, colorful ingredients arranged beautifully in wood boxes (or you could use low, glass vases for a similar look) makes for a lovely presentation that is sure to wow your guests.

Image via thinksplendid.tumblr.com

July 19th, 2012 |

BBQ with Southern Charm

With BBQ’s being our go-to summer entertainment, it’s fun to spice things up and change your “theme” now and again. Hosting a large group for a special occassion? Put a Southern spin on your event with classic, charming details. Seersucker stripes, a colorful traditional paisley, and some delicious food.

One of my favorite elements to this party concept is the tented table. A long, gorgeous tablesetting is kicked up at notch with the hanging wreaths and candles overhead.

Guests will be thrilled when you serve up mini crab cakes, shrimp shooters, and classic pulled pork sandwiches. A flavored lemonade (non-alcholic or spiked!) will keep your guests cool long into the summer night.

Stay tuned tomorrow for our favorite pulled pork recipe and ideas for a strawberry-infused lemonade!

For more summer entertaining ideas and tips, visit the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine:

Read the digital issue   |   Purchase the glossy issue

July 16th, 2012 |

{Recipe} S’Mores Bars

Did you enjoy all of my ideas for updating everyone’s favorite summer treat, s’mores, this morning?!  If you missed it, catch it here.  As promised, I’m back to share my recipe for chocolate chip s’mores bars…..enjoy!

Ingredients

2 cylinders of pre-made, refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough

4 graham crackers

2 full size Hershey bars, broken into segments

1 cup Marshmallow creme or Marshmallow Fluff

9×9 (or 8×8) square brownie pan, ungreased

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using 1 cylinder of the store bought cookie dough, cover the bottom of the brownie pan in an even layer of dough, then crumble the graham crackers over the top of the cookie dough layer. Scatter the chocolate bar pieces evenly, creating the next layer of of the cookies. Using a rubber scraper sprayed with cooking spray, spread the marshmallow as evenly as possible over the other layers (it helps if you put small dollops of the marshmallow around the pan first). Lastly, using the second cylinder of cookie dough, flatten it in pieces between your fingers and piece it together over all of the other ingredients, creating a solid layer.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top layer is light brown around the edges and the middle looks set. It is very important to let the cookies cool completely before cutting, otherwise the marshmallow will run out of the cookies.

 

July 16th, 2012 |

Summer S’Mores

S’mores are a beloved treat in my household….especially during the summer!  I came up with a few new ways to incorporate everyone’s favorite summer treat for the summer issue of The Party Dress Magazine, including party-ready ideas for setting up an outdoor S’mores Bar.

S’Mores Bar Tips:

Use marshmallows as part of your decor!  Fill bowls, line trays, etc.

Incorporate the outdoors into your display.  I like using twigs for roasting sticks!

Use a tiered serving piece to serve up creative S’Mores desserts.  {see below for ideas}

Infuse the S’Mores flavor into mini cheesecakes, whoopie pies, marshmallow bars, and cake balls.  Stay tuned this afternoon for my S’Mores bar recipe!

Kids and adults alike will love these updates to the classic S’Mores!  Try serving them up at your next BBQ or summer party.

For more summer entertaining ideas and tips, visit the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine:

Read the digital issue   |   Purchase the glossy issue

July 13th, 2012 |

Snow Cone Cupcakes

Love the idea of serving up color-coordinated snow cones at your summer party, but worried about the icy mess?  Melissa Johnson of Best Friends for Frosting has you covered with her “snow cone” cupcakes.  Simple to assemble, perfectly “summer” and can still be color coordinated to any party theme….this is going to be your new, go-to cupcake!

Supplies

(12) 4 oz Styrofoam cups  |  ice cream scoop  |  12 baked cupcakes  |  1 batch of your favorite frosting  |  soft pink sugar sprinkles  |  12 striped straws  |  12 ice cream spoons

Directions

1. Remove wrapper from your cupcake and place the cupcake inside a Styrofoam cup.

2. Place prepared frosting in the freezer for approximately 10 minutes to stiffen. After the frosting becomes steadily firm, place one scoop of frosting on top of your cupcake. Pour pink sugar in to a small bowl. While holding the base of your cupcake, gently roll the frosting around in the sprinkles until it is thoroughly coated.

3. Make sure your cupcake has more than enough sprinkles on it. If you notice any bare spots, add more sprinkles.

4. Insert your straw at a tilted angle. Fun colored ice cream spoons will also make a fun & festive addition to your cupcake.

Photography by Chantel Elder from Eleakis & Elder Photography

For more summer entertaining ideas and tips, visit the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine:

Read the digital issue   |   Purchase the glossy issue

 

July 10th, 2012 |

Blueberry Fizz Cocktail

The dog days of summer deserve a fabulous {and refreshing} signature drink.  This blueberry fizz recipe from bhg.com will fit the bill perfectly.  Lovely for a lazy Sunday, but pretty enough to serve at your next party.

Ingredients

2 liter bottle ginger ale, chilled
cup blueberries
lemon, thinly sliced and seeded
lime, thinly sliced and seeded
tablespoons crystallized ginger

Directions

Divide one bottle of the ginger ale between two half-gallon jars or pitchers. Add 1/2 cup of the berries, half the lemon slices, half the lime slices and 1 tablespoon of the ginger to each jar. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours. (If chilling more than 2 hours, add the lemon and lime slices only 1 to 2 hours before serving. Citrus adds a slightly bitter flavor after 2 hours.)

Just before serving, fill jars with ice. To serve, fill each glass half full with the blueberry mixture and ice; fill glass with chilled ginger ale for fizz. Makes 12 servings.

July 6th, 2012 |

Celebrating Tomato Season

One of my FAVORITE parts of summer is the abundance of tomatoes, so it was a no brainer that we had to include a feature in the summer magazine.  We turned to entertaining expert, Jenny Steffins-Hobick, to create inspiration for a “celebrating tomato season” dinner party.  Read on for more details, as told by Jenny….

In the Summer, we often host parties for holidays – 4th of July Picnics, Labor Day Barbecues – but rarely do we ever just celebrate Summer. For me, the essence of Summer is found in the seasonal food that is best in these hot months of the year. While I’m glad to see berries and sweet corn at the market, it is not truly Summer until I see tomatoes. Real tomatoes. Yes, in most markets we can find tomatoes at all times of the year, but not real tomatoes. Real tomatoes, with their sweet, acidic flavor and smooth texture, are best in the peak of the Summer months and should be celebrated.

This Summer, host a dinner party that pays tribute to the season’s rightful star- tomatoes. Introduce your guests to the various varietals of tomatoes available and different ways to eat and serve them. Be sure to include a “Tomato Tasting” as part of your party – after all, tomatoes are hard to beat when served simply with a sprinkling of salt. It will give your guests the opportunity to taste the differences between the many available varieties.

I set the table simply with a casual feel, but a bit more elegant than a typical Summer grilling party. The color palate was restrained with a bare wooden table, natural linens and just a touch of red to allow the vibrant summer foods shine. Instead of a floral arrangement, I planted a wooden herb box full of basil and thyme. Bud vases with zinnias were placed around the table for added whimsy.

For my guests, I started the evening with a watermelon cocktail served with an heirloom orange tomato garnish. For dinner, instead of the serving tomatoes in their typical fresh state, I fired up the grill. Along with squash, eggplant and peppers, tomatoes were grilled and then tossed with pappardelle pasta. I garnished the pasta with wedges of fresh heirloom cherry tomatoes. Our feast of Summer ended with a light strawberry, watermelon and tomato salad with a basil drizzle.

For these tomato recipes and more Summer inspiration, visit jennysteffens.com.

For more summer entertaining ideas and tips, visit the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine:

Read the digital issue   |   Purchase the glossy issue

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