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

June 20th, 2012 |

Citrus-Infused Water

One of my favorite elements from my summer picnic spread in The Party Dress Magazine was the citrus-infused water.  Always a fan, and inspired by Kelly’s favorite combo {see her post here}, I set out to package up individual waters for my picnic.  Using old, glass bottles that I saved from iced coffee, I filled them with different types of fruits and let them infuse in the fridge prior to packing them up in the basket.  Strawberries, lemons, pineapple and mint….delish!  And I love that my kids can still have a sweet drink without all of the sugar of fruit juice or soda pop.  Try it….you’ll like it!

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

Read the digital issue   |   Purchase the glossy issue

June 20th, 2012 |

Summer Picnic with Style

Once school is out, I become obsessed with finding ideas to keep my kids busy and entertained.  A summer picnic is just the ticket!  And I’m not one for a simple blanket and bag of food……

Using picnic themed printables from WHHostess, we created an adorable yet quick and easy picnic using plain packaging materials. Glass water bottles (reused from coffee bottles) turn into colorful and updated water when filed with fruit and herbs. Check back later today for the detailed how-to instructions! Plain deli containers purchased at the grocery store are filled with homemade potato salad (traditional and an flavorful german potato salad with bacon and blue cheese).

A cylindrical potato chip canister is covered with patterned paper to make a gorgeous and perfect whoopie pie container, and simple glassine bags when labeled with a sticker are an easy way to hold portions of potato chips for the kids.

Kelly was kind enough to create some labels to coordinate with this picnic, and they are available for free download here.Photography by Kathy Wolfe

For more creative summer entertaining ideas, view the summer 2012 issue of The Party Dress Magazine:

Read the digital issue   |   Purchase the glossy issue

June 19th, 2012 |

Watermelon Pops

Looking for a refreshing snack or dessert for the {HOT} 4th of July weekend?  Give my watermelon pops a try!  They are so simple to create, and you could do countless variations on this idea.  All you need is a cookie cutter, fruit and straws. Melon and pineapple would both work incredibly well.

Simply slice your fruit into 1/2″ thick slices, and then use your cookie cutter to cut out the desired shape.  Insert your straw into the bottom and voila!  {yes, it’s really THAT simple!}  Tip: if you plan to assemble these ahead of time, swap out the paper straws for plastic ones, as the paper straws will get soft after a while.

I think these watermelon pops will be the PERFECT cool treat during the 4th of July parade this year! For more creative ideas for entertaining over the 4th of July weekend, check out our latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine.

June 19th, 2012 |

Fun in the Sun: Everyday Party Ideas

Summer is the perfect time to get outside with your Littles and celebrate! Make everyday a party with items you have at home. Forget the party store when you have DIY projects that are easy as 1, 2, 3!  Here are a few ideas I put together for the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine:

Idea #1: Spruce up your table by planting flowers in a watermelon

Idea #2: Make flower straws with candy and flattened cupcake wrappers

Idea #3: Make your own mini-candy bar with colorful candy cups

Idea #4: Serve seasonal flavored cupcakes on colorful mini pedestals, Georgetown Cupcake recommends Berry Lemon and Banana Split

Idea #5: Decorate your tables with paper lanterns

Photography by Kim Flores of Whimsy Baby Photography

Resources:

Martha Stewart Crafts, Mini Cupcake Wrappers and Regular Cupcake Wrappers | JoAnn Fabrics

Polka Dot + Stripe Candy Cups, Striped Paper Straws, Paper Lanterns | The TomKat Studio Shop

Pink Cupcake Stand | The Papered Nest

Cupcakes | Georgetown Cupcakes


 

June 15th, 2012 |

Cool Wine Display

Have you ever seen one of those gorgeous wine bottle chillers made as a crafty DIY project using either an old 2-liter bottle or tupperware?  You know the kind, gorgeous lemon slices, color coordinated to the event.  I have ALWAYS loved this idea…. however, the idea of cutting up a plastic bottle to make it “just perfect” seemed a bit daunting.  In steps Williams Sonoma to my rescue!

When planning my Cocktails & Croquet party, I decided I wanted to attempt making one of these to dress up my casual bar.  The new wine bottle chiller from Williams Sonoma is simple to use and creates a perfect mold each and every time.  And it comes with the silver coaster, so as your mold starts to drip on that hot summer day….it won’t make a mess or ruin your tablecloth!

I used lemon and lime slices, and raspberries to fill mine.  {Tip: the raspberries very quickly turned the ice pink, so next time I may opt for strawberry slices or blueberries!)  It’s a great conversation piece and is a very cost effective decoration: just add water!

June 12th, 2012 |

Corn & Tomato Summer Salad

Do you have a favorite recipe?!  You know, the kind that probably started out from a recipe either from a cookbook or handed down from a friend, and over the years has morphed into one of your stand-by, go-to recipes for any occasion?!  This corn and tomato salad is definitely one of mine!  It’s appeared at BBQs, at bridal showers, at birthday dinners and even picnics under the stars (served in darling, individual-sized mason jars, of course!).  It’s simple, tasty and everyone always LOVES it.

Over the years, I have simplified it and it’s as basic as this:

Brush your corn on the cob with some olive oil mixed with cayenne pepper (just a bit) and cook it on the grill until it gets some nice grill marks on it.  Cut it off the cob, and mix it with equal parts halved cherry tomatoes.  Add in feta cheese, chopped basil and a healthy sprinkling of salt.

In a separate bowl, mix together 1 cup of olive oil, and squeeze in the juice of one lime. Whisk together to combine and then pour over the salad.  Let it marinate in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes, and then you are table-ready!

 

June 11th, 2012 |

Watermelon & Feta Appetizer

Most people consider fruit a “dessert”…..I like to serve it as an appetizer!  One of my go-to appetizer ideas for summer is this simple watermelon and feta cheese recipe that I shared in the summer issue of The Party Dress Magazine.  It’s quick and easy to put together, and you can really adapt the look (or shape of it) to any celebration with the simple exchange of a cookie cutter.

Here are my tips: slice watermelon and feta cheese into large slices of even thickness, use a cookie cutter to cut out the desired shape (I used a 2″ round cutter for these), use a wood skewer or toothpick to attach a piece of basil to the top, and then drizzle with your favorite balsamic vineager on top.  Yes!  It’s as simple as that!

June 8th, 2012 |

Tori’s Tips for Summer Entertaining

 

I was thrilled to catch up with celebrity, Tori Spelling, to chat about the launch of her latest book, celebraTORI and get some tips for summer entertaining.  Read on below for Tori’s tips and check back later today as we share a simple ice cream cone cupcake recipe from her book.

A big thanks to Tori for her contribution, and also for featuring The Party Dress Magazine and her article on her blog, ediTORIal yesterday!

Bring the Indoors Out

During the summer, it’s so nice to entertain outdoors. But having to rent or purchase furniture for your outdoor event can get pricey. So I love bringing my indoors outside for events! From my living room or den I’ll bring out loung-y sofas and armchairs, but even formal, traditional chairs are pleasingly ironic in an outdoor setting. Also bring out coffee tables, ottomans, lamps & books for decor, and area rugs. One day out in the sun won’t destroy your pieces and furniture al fresco is spectacular!

Set the Party Zone

When having a Summer backyard (or even indoor) bash you want guests to utilize the whole space you’ve worked so hard to create for them. Think of your party space as a triangle! When they enter the party they are at the center of the base of the triangle. To the left you should have your main food table or bar and the opposite on the right side. At the far end of your party (the triangle top point) I like to put the focal point of any gathering: the dessert table! To me that’s your star player. Whether its a 6ft table with cake plates stacked with cakes, cupcakes, and cookies or a simple DIY sundae bar guests will love it. With food, cocktails, and dessert all spread out at your party, guests will all use the space and not congregate in one area.

Do a D-I-Y Bar

Presenting a do-it-yourself bar will not only save you money, but also adds a great presentation and conversation piece to the party. I usually like to pick 1 or 2 alcohols to be the base of your DIY bar, such as champagne, vodka, or tequila. I hate the look of a bottle of liquor sitting out so it’s nice to pour it into a carafe. You’ll probably want a sparkling water option for those that don’t drink. I use pitchers, carafes, and bottles to fill with various juices, mixers, and syrups. The last key element is putting out decorative bowls of fresh fruit and herbs.

I always make personalized tags (even if hand-written) to adorn carafes, bottles, and bowls so guests know what everything is. Guests will LOVE creating their own cocktails and comparing notes with each other. I usually set out a cheat sheet to get them started by suggesting fabulous combinations or recommending signature cocktails for the party. Guest’s love awakening their inner mixologist!

Mini’s Rule

I always serve mini foods at all my parties. I believe if it’s more than 2 bites it shouldn’t be served! And, I also believe ANYTHING can be made into a mini size. It’s easier for your guests, less mess, and less wasteful leftovers. Minis also always get that “ahh ha!” reaction from guests and can create a great presentation, and definitely a conversation piece! Now, obviously I’m not opposed to dips and such put out, especially while entertaining outdoors. But when it comes to the main dishes, no one wants a big pile of food on their plate while enjoying the warm weather!

Activity Bound

I’m a DIY gal at heart so I’m always crafting. At any event, I love to give my guests the opportunity to engage in an activity, unleash their creativity, and then have a take home gift from the party. A simple crafting table with benches, bean bags, or beach chairs can be set out to create the activity space. Lay out tools, material, and embellishments and let them go to town! Summer is such a great season and theme to think of DIY crafts to do.

If crafts aren’t your thing, set up a fun, interactive DIY photo booth! Make a backdrop, chalkboard signs they can write on, even some fun accessory pieces and a Polaroid camera and let them create their own memories!

Head back this afternoon for my DIY recipe for creating ice cream cone cupcakes!

 

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