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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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