ALL POSTS IN Entertaining

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Fireworks are normally the main attraction of a Fourth of July party, but it’s time for the menu to take center stage. It’s easy to come up with creative menu items for this holiday because it’s so festive, and the main course revolves around my favorite — the grill. These patriotic recipes will surely be the talk of your party.

Panna Cotta Shooters

You can’t get any more patriotic than these adorable shooters. Layers of red, white and blue creamy panna cotta and edible gold stars make this a true patriotic treat.

Panna Cotta Shooters

Get the Full Recipe Here>>

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While you embrace the Fourth of July with tasty seasonal fare and vibrant fireworks, don’t forget about a festive, signature party beverage. With the summer heat bearing down, these icy concoctions will certainly hit the spot.

Fourth of July Recipes

Courtesy of Cornelia Guest

Star-Spangled Spiked Smoothie

Ingredients

1 ounce vodka
1 cup mixed berries (fresh or frozen)
1 8-ounce container vanilla yogurt
coconut flakes, for garnish

Instructions

Combine vodka, berries and yogurt in a blender and blend until smooth. Garnish with blueberries and coconut flakes.

More Recipes to Try >>

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It’s officially summer, and for some of you that means throwing a Fourth of July party. A patriotic vibe is the first thing your guests will notice, so set the bar high when it comes to decorations. To help you, I’ve rounded up my favorite easy decoration and activity ideas your guests will love.

Paper Flower Wreath

Give your home a patriotic feel even before your party guests walk in the door with a crepe paper flower wreath. Choose unconventional Fourth of July colors like coral, cobalt blue and ivory, or go with the classic red, white and blue hues.

Paper Flower Wreath

Get the Full Step-by-Step Instructions Here>>

Ombre Party Linens

Dyeing basic white table linens in an ombre pattern is a modern way to show your patriotism. Despite how intricate this looks, these are easy to make.

Patriotic Ombre Party Linens

Get the Full Step-by-Step Instructions Here>>

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In case you haven’t heard, it’s National Candy Month! However, June is quickly drawing to a close, which means there’s only 5 days left to celebrate this tasty occasion. You can either gorge on candy from your local convenience store, or you could go for a slightly different approach. In the spirit of Ogden Nash’s wise words, “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker,” here are 6 candy-inspired cocktail recipes for you to try:

6 Candy-Inspired Cocktails: Heath Bar Cocktail Recipe

Heath Bar Cocktail: Heath Bars are one of my personal faves, so this toffee-flavored cocktail topped with shaved chocolate looks absolutely irresistible to me! GET THE RECIPE>>

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Greek Style Baby Artichoke Salad

Baby artichokes are one of those farmers’ market purchases many people commit to due to a persuasive salesperson or solely based on their attractiveness, but soon regret the purchase when left pondering “how do I cook these?” To solve this common problem, here is an illustrated guide on the bare necessities to preparing those prickly pears into something delicious. Included are 4 simple ways to serve these babies to your friends and family.

Norm’s Notes: Trimming Baby Artichokes in 3 simple steps

STEP 1:

Trimming Artichokes Step 1

Pluck away any leaves attached to artichoke stem. Remove tough outer layer covering the stem with a vegetable peeler or paring knife.

STEP 2:

Trimming Baby Artichokes Step 2

Cut away top ¼ portion of leaves, leaving a flat surface, cut artichoke in half lengthwise.

STEP 3:

Trimming Baby Artichokes Step 3

Examine each artichoke half to see if the choke (the fuzzy parts right above the heart and just below the purple line ends) is a bit overgrown (the fuzz will tend to stick out from the cut side if overgrown). If they are, carefully scrape away choke with the tip of a paring knife.

Artichoke Recipes

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The summer months call for cold and refreshing treats like ice cream and ice pops, but these warm-weather staples aren’t just for kids anymore. This season, indulge in some adult desserts made with fruity wines and sweet liqueurs that are sure to satisfy the child within.

Limoncello Pops Recipe

Courtesy of Maria Nelson of Pink Patisserie

Sea-Salted Limoncello Pops

Makes 6-8 large ice pops

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
zest from 1 large lemon
pinch of sea salt
1 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup Villa Massa Limoncello
1 teaspoon flaked sea salt

Instructions

In a large saucepan, combine water and sugar over low heat. Heat just until sugar has dissolved. Grate lemon zest on top. Add pinch of sea salt, stir and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cool, add lemon juice and Limoncello. Stir and pour into ice pop molds. Cover molds with aluminum foil and freeze for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, make a slit in foil and place sticks into molds. Freeze an additional 6 hours or overnight. To remove, run molds under warm water for 2-3 seconds. Melting will occur quickly, so don’t run under water for any longer than 2-3 seconds. Just prior to eating, sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

Skinny Amaretto Recipe

Courtesy of mixologists Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark

 Skinny Amaretto Cappuccino Granita

Ingredients

2 cups Nescafe Dolce Gusto Skinny Cappuccino, cooled
2 ounces amaretto liqueur
1/4 cup crushed almonds

Instructions

Prepare two cappuccinos and let cool slightly. Add to blender with amaretto and whip on high for 1-2 minutes until frothy. Pour into shallow freezer-safe dish and cover. Let set for 3-4 hours, stirring a few times with a fork to mix and make fluffy. Before serving, fold in crushed almonds. When ready, scoop into dishes and top with almonds.

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curbly summer round-up

In last week’s Easy Summer Entertaining post, we started to get ready for our backyard BBQs and mellow get-togethers with our friends and family. Since we plan on keeping the cooler packed all summer long, here is Part 2 of low-key, fun, summer entertaining ideas. To start off, we are diving into a meta moment with this summer entertaining round-up by Curbly in my summer entertaining round-up.

Cup of Jo refreshing waters

For a cleansing refreshment, try out these three different all-natural flavored waters on Cup of Jo.

watermelon salad

Any watermelon salad is oh-so-summer and just screams refreshing. This one, in particular, looks mouth-watering and delicious. Via Design Sponge.

More Summer Fun

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I love warm-weather weddings, and I especially love the trends that come along with them. One of my favorites right now is rainbow sprinkles; they’re delightfully colorful and playful. Some brides have even suggested throwing sprinkles instead of rice when the couple exits. Others are covering cakes, cupcakes, macarons, cookies and cocktail glass rims in these vibrant morsels. Do you think sprinkles are a fun wedding “accessory”?

Mood Board Monday: SprinklesTop, L to R: A Paper ProposalBeautylishFree People | Middle, L to R: Gimme Some Oven, Wedding Chicks, Clockwork Lemon | Bottom, L to R: Style Me Pretty, Style Me Pretty, My Home Decor

Here’s your mission: grab a cone (or bowl), add two or more scoops of ice cream, then top with an abundance of rainbow sprinkles. That’s it. Happy summer, friends!

Come back every Monday for an inspirational mood board. Miss a day? See all the posts here.

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Noodle Bowl

Noodle bowls of all types are having a moment in the spotlight. Although known by different names and varying styles and tastes, most noodle bowls have a few things in common: a rich flavorful broth; cooked noodles; and toppings of vegetables and various sauces. They are ideal for feeding a crowd as each serving can be adjusted to personal tastes and are quite filling. Host your next summer gathering featuring this robust and savory chicken version that is flavored with fresh ginger and chiles and dried mushrooms.

Noodle Bowl Setup

Disposable chopsticks are a must for this party. I found a pack of 40 for around $1 at a local Asian market.

Norm’s Notes: Oodles o’ Noodles

Asian-style noodles come in just as many varieties as Italian-style pasta. However, Asian noodles are far superior to keeping their shape in hot liquid thanks to the addition of alkaline substances (such as baking soda) in the recipe. I recommend taking a trip to a local Asian market and browsing the variety of noodles available (It will be a lot, trust me). Don’t be intimidated by the stylish characters that adorn the fronts of the packaging. Usually, on the flip side, there are picture directions that show proper cooking techniques and times. Pick a few different styles and cook them up to see which you prefer.

Packages of Noodles

Three of my favorite noodles: Japanese-style Udon, dried Soba and mushroom egg

Dried Noodles

Noodles out of the package

Cooked Noodles

Cooked noodles (Left to Right): Japanese Udon, Soba and Egg

Japanese-style Udon noodles are fluffly and toothy. I like to use them because they have a bit more body than the dried version making them very filling. Those unfamiliar with their texture may rate them as soggy and rubbery, so buyer beware.

Soba noodles are more hearty in texture and earthy in taste thanks to a buckwheat flour base. I like them because they tend to soak up the flavor of the soup better than any noodle. Also, they are great served cold and tossed with a light coating of soy sauce, sesame oil, fresh grated ginger and ground fresh chili paste.

Egg noodles are the user-friendly option. Most people are familiar with the texture (think Chinese Lo-mein) and they are the easiest to find in your local supermarket. You can buy them fresh or dried and in flat or round shapes. Where to find them in the supermarket: In fresh form, look in the produce section usually along side egg roll and wonton wrappers. In dry form, check the international isle where you may also find dried versions of Soba and Udon noodles.

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June is Great Outdoors Month, and for good reason. These warm summer nights are begging us to get out of our homes. So, while the nights are still balmy, why not throw a movie night with the stars? No, I’m not saying you should invite Leo DiCaprio. What I mean is, move the party outside and screen movies in your own backyard! Here are a few tips for making your cinema soirée a success:

Throw an Outdoor Movie Night
Create a Display
First things first: set up your theater. DIY Network shows you exactly how to transform your backyard into an outdoor entertainment center. Renting an inflatable screen for your movie night is a great option, but you can also project the movie on a white drop cloth or large white wall.

MORE MOVIE NIGHT TIPS

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