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 |

Lobster Towel Giveaway!

Get fired up for the fourth with these seaside inspired dish linens.  One of our go-to shops for fabulous linens, Pioneer Linens, is giving one lucky Facebook Fan a set of darling red & white dish towels by Dermond Peterson. All that’s missing is something blue.. and YOU! So fire up the grill, grab a cocktail and enter here for your chance to win! You have until July 3rd to enter. One Facebook Fan will be randomly selected on July 4th. {Grill not included.}

Good luck and don’t forget to tell your friends!

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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July 2nd, 2012 |

Ships Ahoy! Nautical Baby Shower

One of my favorite summer themes is a classic, navy & white, nautical party.  Crisp, classic and can be interrupted so many different ways.  We updated our nautical collection with a preppy modern chain link pattern and a bold anchor, added a touch of yellow and it quickly became one of our best sellers….perfect for a baby shower, birthday party or pool party.

When we started working on the summer issue of The Party Dress Magazine, we turned to Lynlee Beckett, of Lynlee’s Petite Cakes, to create a preppy baby shower using our Mod Nautical collection.  Read on for all of the darling details, as told by Lynlee….

For expectant mothers due in the Summer months, there’s no better way to welcome their new first mate than with a nautical-themed baby shower! I adore the Mod Nautical Anchor collection by the WH Hostess, pairing several shades of blue with a bright and refreshing pop of yellow, which I utilized to style this bright and cheery luncheon. I decided to focus on a mature feel to honor the mother-to-be, with the infusion of playful and sweet details. The beautiful invitation set the mood, inviting guests to join the celebration seaside.

The luncheon table was set with a burlap covering and a striped blue runner. A lantern served as the centerpiece and inside, a coral decoration sculpted with chicken wire, white coffee filters and yellow cupcake liners. Each setting held blue fish plates and coordinating small plates to carry lemons for the seafood meal. You can dress up the silver- ware by simply tying a colorful ribbon around and placing it directly on the napkins. Water bottle labels can also be used to adorn glasses.

The dessert table was set-up along the waterfront, providing a gorgeous view and anchoring the party. The Anthropologie-inspired backdrop resembled a sail from afar, but at closer look, also simulated coral. As a juxtaposition, I propped up a basketweave anchor that, with the burlap tablecloth, added a natural feel to the crisp, vivid colors.

Desserts centered around the nautical theme, and utilized several lemon and fruit treats, along with traditional sweets. I hollowed out lemons, topped with lemon custard and blueberries, displayed them in a seaside lantern with cupcake toppers. Small mason jars were filled with milk and lifesaver donuts sat perched on the rims with the help of fish drink stirrers.  Chocolate-dipped Oreo pops were decorated to look like portholes, while marshmallows resembled numbered buoys. Lemon cupcakes were embellished with fondant sailor onesies, bibs and baby bottles, nestled in sugar sand, along with chocolate sea shells in a nautical steering wheel tray. Sea urchin meringue cookies were scattered throughout and an “AHOY” pennant banner hung in front of the table.

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 26th, 2012 |

Summer Fun: Sponge Waterballs

Time for another fun idea to celebrate summer with your kids: Sponge Waterballs are one of my favorites! It’s the new water balloon. When you’re done with them outside, bring them inside for bathtime fun!

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

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Photography by Kim Flores of Whimsy Baby Photography

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 25th, 2012 |

Country Chic Holiday: 4th of July

The Fourth of July always conjures up images of a homespun holiday to me.  I like to throw my typical modern prep style aside and focus on creating a tablescape or party centered around true Americana style.  This year, I am going to combine gingham check, a classic red, white and blue color palette and a mix of country chic accessories.

I turned to Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel to dress my table for the recent summer issue of The Party Dress Magazine. Mixing in a few items I already had, the table was set with a blue and white gingham table runner, and an eclectic centerpiece made from weathered red candlesticks, bud vases wrapped in white rope (a nod to my love for nautical accents) with full white peonies, and a few votive candles scattered about.

To create my placesetting, I layered my navy charger plates with my white basic plates.  A canvas napkin with twisted rope fringe laid atop and held a red salad plate, and a striped bowl full of cherries.  Casual, red silverware and acrylic hobnail glassware completed the look.

It wouldn’t be a summer party without pies!  Stay tuned this afternoon for an heirloom pie crust recipe from our contributor, Charynn’s family!  For more summer entertaining ideas and tips, visit the latest issue of The Party Dress Magazine:

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