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

July 3rd, 2012 |

Star-Spangled Cake

Making this impressive and patriotic dessert for your 4th of july festivities isn’t as hard as it looks. This cake is even great for a last minute picnic!

You need 2 white cake mixes, a batch of your favorite white icing (this is my favorite one online–http://www.grouprecipes.com/92114/italian-buttercream-from-the-culinary-institute-of-america.html), and some red and blue food coloring (I used super red and sky blue Americolor gel paste).

Mix the cake mixes in two separate bowls, mixing the food coloring in at the end until you achieve the color you would like. Bake the cakes according to the box directions in the 8 or 9″ round cake pans. Let cool completely.
Slice the cakes into 2 even layers and stack using the white icing in-between the layers. I like the rustic look of cakes without the outside layer of icing, so I left it off. Since it is such a high cake, if you want to ice the outside you may need to make another batch of icing.

To finish it off for the 4th, cut white fondant (you can buy it at pretty much any crafts store, and even Walmart) with different sized star cutters, and attach using little bits of the white icing. I hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th!

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

Read the digital issue   |   Purchase the glossy issue

June 25th, 2012 |

Heirloom Pie Crust

Every year for the Fourth of July, the women in my family gather to make pies.  Lots, and lots of pies!  This pie crust recipe has been passed down {on a hand-written recipe card} from generation to generation to me.  I’m thrilled to share it with you today!

Ingredients

3 c flour  | 1T baking powder |  3T sugar |  6 heaping T Crisco

Instructions

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the ingredients with your fingers into pea-size balls. Gradually add 1 cup ice cold water, mixing together minimally. Divide into two sections and roll out into circles on a lightly floured surface. Press into pie pan and crimp edges with fingers. If using for top pie crust, sprinkle lightly with sugar before baking.

June 22nd, 2012 |

Summer Kabobs

I think kabobs (or skewers as some like to call them) are one of the most creative and versatile options when entertaining during the summer months.  You can create new combinations virtually every time, and over the years, I have come up with a few favorites:

Shrimp, Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes

Skewer together half moon slices of zucchini, full cherry tomatoes and raw shrimp. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and squeeze a fresh lemon over them for a little added zest.  Cook on the grill for about 7-8 minutes (rotating ever so often).

Chicken, Pineapple and Red Pepper

Skewer together cubes of un-cooked chicken, 1 inch square pieces of pineapple and red peppers. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Cook on the gril for about 9-10 minutes (rotating ever so often).

Teriyaki Beef, Green Beans and Fingerling Potatoes

Marinate your cubes of beef in a Teriyaki sauce for at least 2 hours, up to overnight. Skewer together your beef cubes, green beans (cut in 1.5-2 inch lengths), and small fingerling potatoes (if the potatoes are too big, just cut them in half).  Cook on the grill for 8-9 minutes (rotating ever so often).

Tip: Soak your wooden skewers in water prior to assembling.  If you have any leftover, unused skewers, wrap them in tinfoil and freeze them for your next bbq!

For more summer entertaining ideas and tips, visit The Party Dress Magazine:

Read the digital issue   |   Purchase the glossy issue

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