Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oh My Jars!

I've been doing some inspiration research for the party we are having after my punkin's baptism and mason jars are popping up everywhere! They are so perfect for creating a casual fun feel for fall. And for as little as $1 a piece you can afford to go crazy with them! Just look at all these gorgeous pics...

And just what do you do with all these jars when the party is over? Use them of course! They are great for storing and organizing or you can create any number of jar treats with them. Cupcakes in a jar? Of course!  Here are some of the clever ways people use mason jars.

You can pick up mason jars almost anywhere or you can find some great deals online!
Have you used mason jars recently? I'd love to see your pictures!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chocolate Tasting Party Anyone??

I sure hope the experts are right when they say that dark chocolate has several health benefits because it is one of my FAVORITE little indulgences! I could go through an entire bar of the stuff in a joke! So needless to say, I was intrigued when I found out that Lindt had just launched a Chocolate Tasting home party program. It's alot like Pampered Chef but with fine chocolates! Mmmmm! A chocolate consultant will come to your house and bring all kinds of yummy goodies for you and your guests. She will also teach you about all kinds of different chocolates and how best to enjoy them. Yes, they will try to sell you some stuff but it's chocolate! Who wouldn't want chocolate! You can even become a consultant and throw parties yourself. How would you like that as your job title? Chocolate consultant:) Has a nice ring to it..hehe. The Lindt Chocolate RSVP site has all the information along with some amazing recipes including this one for an iced mocha. Perfect for a coffee addict like me:)

Iced Mocha


  • 2 1/2 cups (600ml) milk
  • 1 bar (3.5oz/100g each) Lindt Excellence 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup (240ml) strong coffee
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) crème de cacao or other chocolate liqueur (optional)


  • In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup of the milk.
  • Add the chopped chocolate, stirring until completely melted.
  • Stir in the coffee and cinnamon, remove from heat.
  • Cool to room temperature.
  • Add remaining milk and crème de cacao, and chill until ready to serve.
  • Shake and strain into a tall glass with ice, or, for a more elegant presentation, use a martini glass.


Makes 4–5 Servings
Recipe by Master Chocolatier Ann Czaja

All photos via

Monday, August 29, 2011

Outift for a Party: Going Tapas!

One of my favorite colors for fall is a rich, dark shade of plum. It still feels like fall without being predictable. So, for the tapas party I blogged about last week, I put together a fun and flirty outfit that is just plum amazing! And when the temps finally start to dip, ditch the pink sash for a chunky belt and throw on some great leggings and fabulous fall boots. Perfection!

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Entertaining Tip of the Week: Uninvited Guest!

Irene is knocking at my door and she is definitely NOT welcome! She seems like she is in a pretty bad mood so I there's a chance the blog will not be updated early next week. Have no fear! She will eventually leave and things will return to normal. In the mean time, I have stocked up on the following food to help me survive her visit:
  • canned chicken
  • dried fruit
  • crackers
  • protein bars
  • nuts
  • peanut butter
  • bread
  • canned soup
  • canned beans
  • single serve applesauce
  • veggie juice
  • and TONS of water!
I suggest you load up on this stuff too if Irene plans on visiting your house!
Safe Weekending!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

End of Summer Tapas Party: FREE Printable Invite!

I for one wish Summer would last forever! BUT, with September one short week away, there is no denying that Fall is right around the corner. Why not end the fabulous Summer season with a little global flare by throwing a Spanish style tapas party! Tapas, or small plates, are little bite sized versions of a full sized entree packed full of flavor!  It is almost like getting to have several main courses but without having to stuff yourself and it's such a great way to introduce new flavors to your friends.
Download the festive invite for FREE and stay tuned next week for a full menu with a printable shopping list and recipe cards! A little preparation goes a long way for this party and it's totally worth it! Just make sure your friends understand it's a TAPAS party NOT a topless party...these two words are easily confused over the phone..hehe!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Just Right Black & White

There is nothing more classic than a black and white color scheme. Kardashian wedding anyone??! Black and white was the theme of the day! From the gorgeous aisle runner to the black table clothes, everything was done so elegantly. You simply can't go wrong bringing a little of this elegance to your dinner party. Just take a look at a few of the fabulous dinner accessories I found...

Photos via CB2, West Elm, Williams Sonoma, Smarty Had A Party, & Z Gallerie

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Leftover Love!

When it comes to cooking for your party, it is definitely better to err on the side of too much food then too little. This almost always mean leftovers! I LOVE leftovers! It is so nice to be able to open up your fridge and find delicious homemade food starring back at  you. Why not give your guests this feeling by sending home the leftovers with them! Buy some cute take out containers and grab some plain labels to have on hand. When dinner is done, quietly pack up a few tasty treats for your guests. Then, when they open their fridge the next day, they will remember what a fabulous time they had the night before!
One of my absolutely favorite sources for cute take out containers is Garnish. The website is fabulous! They have SO many unique containers and they even show you  adorable ways to use them! Here are a few ideas that you can use for your leftovers..

All photos via

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Let's Ketchup!

I love ketchup! Sometimes I will make fish sticks (no, I'm not 12!) or order french fries just so that I have something to eat with my ketchup. It would probably look a little weird eating ketchup with a spoon but I have considered it. Ketchup is considered a humble condiment that doesn't have any place on a dinner party table. Although I disagree, if you are too embarrassed to invite traditional ketchup to the party, there are some great gourmet alternatives. Bring on the ketchup!
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tasty Beverage: Honest CocoaNova

It's tea, it's coffee, it's's Honest CocoaNova! The temperature finally reached the tolerable level this morning so I decided to take my baby for a little walk. I stopped by the local corner market to grab some water for the walk back and something caught my attention in the beverage case.  A short little bottle with the word "cocoa" on it. Now, if you know me, I have a natural attraction to anything that has to do with chocolate. This drink looked too good to be true. A chilled, tea like beverage made from brewing cocoa beans. Yes please! It was delicious! It almost tasted like an iced coffee but with a richer more chocolately flavor. There are only 50 calories a bottle and it has the some of the same health benefits of dark chocolate so don't feel guilty about indulging. They also have two other flavors that sound equally delicious...cherry, and mint. I've heard the mint one tastes like york peppermint patties. Mmmmm. I will definitely be on the hunt for that one!
Next time I buy a bottle, I might even try mixing it with a little cream and some rum. Sounds like a tasty combo for a refreshing cocktail!  
Photo via Honest Tea

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Soup is Getting Cold!

You normally don't want someone at your party to say their soup is cold but that's not the case with these delicious chilled soups! There are a ton of refreshing and simple recipes for soups that are served chilled. Perfect for switching it up during the summer. From sweet to savory, there is certainly an option out there for you. The best don't have to worry about your dinner going cold or standing over a hot stove all day! A little less stress for your party is always the best. Here are a few of the recipes that caught my attention.

1.Roasted and Chilled Corn soup via the dog's breakfast
2. Mango Crab Gazpacho via 6bittersweets
3. Quick Raw Corn Chowder via Natural Noshing
4. Melon Soup Shots via The Winter Guest
6. Chilled Potato Soup via Food Republic
7. Chilled Red Pepper and Yogurt Soup via Six Course Dinner  
8. Chilled Avocado Soup via TastyTrix
All photos via

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

DIY Time: Painted Napkins

image via Sugar and Charm
Here is a simple DIY from the lovely and talented Eden over at Sugar and Charm. With just a few simple tools you can create custom, monogrammed napkins for your next party! The possibilities are endless with this technique. You can find any number of stencils at the art store that you can use to jazz up your napkins or even your placemats and tablecloth. Use a little spray adhesive to adhere the stencil to the fabric. This will ensure you get a nice clean line. Have fun!

Linen cocktail napkins, washable fabric paint (so you can throw them in the washing machine), paint brush, stencil 

1. Either create your own stencil or buy one from the store
2. Tape the stencil to the cocktail napkin so it will stay in place as you paint
3. Using the fabric paint and paint brush... paint the inside of the stencil. 
4. Let it sit for about 20 minutes and then remove the paper. Touch up the lines that might have leaked through. Let the paint dry completely before using.
Thank you Eden for this tutorial! Please check out Eden's blog Sugar and Charm. It's full of wonderful inspiration!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Essential Cooking Tools

Yes, these scary looking drawers and cabinets belong to me. I know what you're thinking...are we really taking advice from this messy lady??! Trust me when I tell you, these drawers haunt me at night but as much as I try to keep them organized, there is just too much stuff. I probably only use 10% of the tools that I actually own but I feel compelled to keep every one of them on the off chance I might need it someday. But, if you are ready to cut back to the absolute essentials here are the recommended tools every cook should have according to Food Network Magazine.
graphic designed by kate. all photos via Sur la Table

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Party Ready Pantry: Pesto

image via Food Network
Pesto is one of those things that is so simple yet so full of flavor! There are so many varieties of pesto out there but the easiest to find in the store is basil pesto. Basil pesto is the perfect combination of fresh basil, olive oil, garlic, nuts, and parmesan cheese. What makes it worthy of a party? It is perfect on its own but with just a little extra love..pesto change-o, you can have any number of drool worthy dishes to serve your guests. Just how versatile is it?
  • Serve with some crusty bread for the perfect dipping sauce
  • Drizzle over fresh tomatoes
  • Mix with mayo for a flavorful addition to your favorite sandwich
  • Combine with your favorite vinegar for an easy salad dressing
  • Use as a base for a quick marinade
  • Add to fish, chicken, steak, name it, pesto can made it special
  • Stir into pasts for a light sauce
  • Top off your tomato soup with a little pesto for a 4-star presentation
See what I mean? One jar of pesto can go a long way in making your food the star of the evening! Can't find it at the store? No worries. Pesto is really easy to make at home. Here is a great recipe from Food Network  to get you started.
Basil Pesto
Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.
Freeze single portions of the pesto in an ice cube tray for easy storage and use.
Have a little more time to play with pesto? Check out some of these yummy recipes..

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Monday, August 8, 2011

The Recipe Search is On with

I know what you're thinking.... do we really need another recipe search website? Normally I would say no but then I found Gojee. Gojee is completely different from the other searches out there. It searches through thousands of recipes by top food writers and the results are based on what ingredients you actually have on hand and what you like to eat. No more wasting time sifting through a ton of recipes only to find things that you hate to eat or ingredients that you could only find if you flew to India. The site simply asks what you have on hand, the things you crave, and the things you don't care to eat. The results are returned via gorgeous pictures of delicious food! You have to sign up for an account but this allows Gojee to keep track of all your likes and dislikes so that your search is truly customized.
Last night I did a search based on a craving for avocados and bacon then up pops a full screen photo of an amazing looking chicken, bacon, cream, mini taquito. Yes please! All the things I like and nothing I don't!
 What will your cravings inspire??

Thursday, August 4, 2011

DIY Powdered Sugar Plate Decoration

People never cease to amaze me with their creativity. Like this idea from the Paper Source blog. Lauren used food coloring and powdered sugar to make an ink that she then stamped onto plates. do people come up with this stuff! It's such a clever idea and an unexpected detail that's sure to impress your guests. I haven't tried this for myself but it is definitely on my list for the future.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

MYdrap: Disposable linens get an upgrade!

This is the coolest thing I have seen in a while. Most of us don't have an entire collection of table linens readily available to suit each of our entertaining events but why would you? There are so many cute and super affordable disposable options out there. But what do you do if you want something a little bit more formal but don't want to splurge on a new set of linens that will probably end up collecting dust? You shop at MYdrap! MYdrap sells disposable linens that are made of 100% cotton fibers and have the feel of a nice button down shirt instead of the paper feel of other disposables. They are even biodegradable and recyclable. I have also heard that they stand up to a few trips through the washer before they are ready to be tossed. The coolest part...they come in a giant perforated roll like paper towels.  Pretty neat if you ask me.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

School of Fish: Ceviche! Featuring Welton's Seafood Market

I once read that you shouldn't cook fish for a crowd and I think it's a bunch of baloney! I know the thought of cooking fish is intimidating for even a seasoned home-cook but there are plenty of recipes out there that are perfectly suited for entertaining. And the pay-off is huge! Fish is delicious and your guests will be super impressed.
If your still feeling unsure, I suggest finding a local seafood market. They will have the freshest seafood and will be able to answer your fishy questions. My hubby and I are super fortunate to have Welton's Seafood Market, just  steps from our house and we have learned so much there! John, the resident fish expert, is so knowledgeable and is always willing to give us a lesson on preparing fish.
photos by kate

One of my favorite fish dishes is ceviche and it couldn't be easier or more delicious. Ceviche is a traditional Peruvian dish that involves "cooking" raw fish in a citrus marinade.  Sound scary? Don't be afraid! Here is one of my recipes to get you started.

photos by kate

Easy Summer Ceviche (serves 2-3)
3/4-1 lb. of white fish such as red snapper or flounder cut into 1/2 inch cubes (shrimp and callamari work great too!)
7 limes, juiced (roll limes on cutting board or microwave for a few seconds to release the juices prior to cutting)
1 orange, juiced
1 peach, diced
1 avocado, diced
1/4 of red onion, finely chopped
1 jalepeno, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper
crackers or chips for serving
Combine the fish and the juice from the limes and orange in a glass bowl. Make sure the liquid covers the fish. Add more citrus juice if needed. Refrigerate for approximately 4 hours or until fish is opaque throughout. Drain the juice from the fish and add the remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crackers or chips.

The day before the party you can do all the necessary chopping so that on party day, all you have to do is marinate the fish and throw it all together.
The beauty of ceviche is its versatility. Here is another variation from Ashley of Welton's Seafood:

We used sheepshead and calamari, but any white, meaty fish or even shrimp is delicious. I especially love shrimp ceviche because, like the sheepshead, it's a little sweet!

For the shrimp and calamari I was told to steam it slightly, like 3 mins, before marinating it with the fresh lime juice. Some add deseeded and chopped serrano chiles & tomatoes before marinating, but I prefer adding them after for better texture. I also add chopped red onion, avocado, and cilantro. Then salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. I think lemon zest, fresh corn, and/or chopped peaches would be a nice touch too!
I hope you will give ceviche a try! It really is yummy:)

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Long and Short of It

I am obsessed with the supersized rectangular table trend I have been seeing everywhere! I just love how these long tables look all dressed up for a party. It makes such an impact having a tablescape that seems to stretch for miles! And what a feeling of family having everyone at one big table instead of divided among smaller round tables.
If you're blessed enough to have the room and the budget to swing this set-up at your next soiree, give it a shot and please invite me:) But if you're like me and have a place that is about as big as one of these tables, here's a little eye candy to dream about...

Long live this gorgeous trend!
What do you think? Do you like the long tables or do you prefer a different arrangement?