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!

 

June 7th, 2012 |

Mrs. Lilien’s Cocktail Swatchbook

I have a lot of books.  Cookbooks, party books, fashion books…..cocktail books.  But none of them are quite as cute (or colorful, I might add) as my new Mrs. Lilien’s Cocktail Swatchbook.  Useful and charming in that preppy yet mod style that I adore so much, and the perfect size to keep handy in the bar for summer soirees.  Her updated twist on classic cocktails make me excited for my next bash.  Some of my favorites?  Watermelon Swash, Pink Lady, and Mrs. Salty Dog.

PS – At only $10 on Amazon, it would make a darling hostess gift!  You can purchase it here.

June 7th, 2012 |

Tori’s Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Tori Spelling’s new book, celebraTORI, shares tons of tips for entertaining.  One of our favorite ideas are her ice cream cone cupcakes!  We were thrilled to have Tori share them in the summer 2012 issue of The Party Dress Magazine, and are so excited to share them with you here today:

STEP 1:

crumble a cake in a bowl and mix with your favorite frosting. Keep adding frosting until the consistancy is moldable.

STEP 2:

place the mixture in the freezer to firm up a bit. Mold cake into balls and place inside the top of a cone.

STEP 3:

frost your cupcakes as usual and dress up with some sprinkles or chocolate curls.

For more of Tori’s tips, see our post here and feature on Tori’s blog, ediTORIal.

June 7th, 2012 |

Ice Pops: The Modern Popsicle

Ice pops are an easy way to appease the crowd and get creative in the kitchen. Use your imagination by mixing up whatever ingredients and containers you have in your kitchen, or create a theme to match an event–the options are endless!  I whipped up 5 different types of ice pops (modern-day popsicles) for the summer issue of The Party Dress Magazine.  Read on for my favorite flavor combinations:

Fruit Swirl

pureed strawberries | pineapple | peaches | agave

White Chocolate Basil and Lemon

yogurt | melted white chocolate | cream | lemon zest | basil | agave

Avocado

pureed avocado | agave | lime juice | coconut milk

Caramel Latte

cooled coffee | cream | caramel syrup | whipped cream

Watermelon Mint Mojito

pureed watermelon | agave | mint | rum

And if those aren’t enough ideas to get you inspired, here are a few more combination ideas:

 

June 6th, 2012 |

Ice Pop Mimosas

When the dog days of summer are upon us, I turn to creative ways to cool down….especially when it comes to my cocktails! By now, I am sure you have all seen the popsicle-in-a-wine-glass image floating around Pinterest.  I absolutely loved the concept, but wanted to take it a step further, and with less sugar.

I came up with this little beauty for the summer issue of The Party Dress Magazine.  I took one of my ice cube skewer/popsicle molds and filled it with pureed fruit juice before freezing. (I very quickly pureed strawberries in my blender and then strained out the seeds)  No processed sugar, and as the ice pop melted into my glass of prosecco, it created an icy version of my favorite mimosa!

You could easily re-create this with any fruit juice….what a fun treat for a summer party or bridal shower!

June 6th, 2012 |

Fruit-Flavored Ice Cubes

I love making anything “more special!”  So when it comes to dressing up my water, lemonade or iced tea this summer, I will be turning to this simple {and very pretty} idea.  Using a silicone ice cube tray, I froze slices of fruit into cubes {tip: boil your water first, let it cool and then pour it into your trays for clearer ice cubes).  Not only did they turn out really colorful and fun, but they flavor water instantly for a cool, refreshing taste.

The possibilities are endless, but my three favorite flavors are mint, strawberry and lemon.  I made and photographed these for the summer issue of The Party Dress Magazine, and since I have experimented with a few more flavors such as cucumber, raspberries and and limes.  Haven’t met a flavored ice cube I didn’t like yet!

June 5th, 2012 |

Fruit-Shaped Rice Krispy Treats

Hey, Everyone!  Charynn here to share a few tips on re-creating the darling fruit-shaped rice krispy treats that I made for Kelly’s recent Caterpillar birthday party.  These were very simple to do and I know you could all handle this! (PS – you could take this concept and apply it to any theme or shape!)

I used store-bought rice krispy bars for two reasons: 1) to save time and 2) so that they would already be a consistant thickness. Kelly was kind enough to provide me with her fruit illustrations, but you could either create your own or find some online to download.  Cut the shape out to use it as a template.

I flattened my rice krispy bars with a rolling pin to make them a bit wider and then used either a cookie cutter or the template and a knife to cut out the shape.  Don’t forget to cut out the little hole in each one! Repeat these steps with store-bought fondant (which you can color with food coloring).  Attach the fondant with clear piping gel and voila!

May 29th, 2012 |

Mastering the Cheese Plate

About once a week {for dinner}, I decide that I just can’t handle cooking and I head to Whole Foods to put together a cheese plate.  My husband considers it a great treat {and luckily doesn’t read the blog very often, so he doesn’t know that it’s my “free ticket” from cooking!}, and it’s a great way to experiment with new things.

I feel like today, might be a “cheese-plate-for-dinner” kind of night.  We had a great, relaxing Memorial Day weekend….but I SOOOOO don’t feel like I am prepared to start my week today.  How about you?

This image is definitely inspiring tonights dinner – I love the mix of cheeses and accompaniments. My two favorite cheese are by Cypress Grove – Midnight Moon and Humboldt Fog. Do you have any favorite cheeses that I should try tonight?

May 25th, 2012 |

Cool Down Your Cocktails

With the crazy heat wave we have been experiencing this week in Chicago, I have been looking for ways to keep cool.  Originally shot for the summer issue of The Party Dress Magazine (pre-order your copy NOW!), these frozen fruit skewers were too perfect to hold on to any longer.

Perfect for cooling down and adding a touch of flavor to your favorite glass of champagne or lemonade, they are very simple to assemble and you can get creative with what fruits you choose to use.

Since it’s Memorial Day weekend, we focused on the red, white and blue color theme by using raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.

May 24th, 2012 |

Patriotic Sundae

Serve up everyone’s favorite dessert, ice cream, this weekend in a patriotic-striped mug.  Easy to serve with the handle, and a cute presentation….all rolled up into one!

Image via

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