ALL POSTS TAGGED "Entertaining"

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Did you resolve to eat better in 2013? After a month of cookie overload, I’m ready to make some healthier choices, too. It’s easy enough to honor resolutions during the week, but weekend party foods are often heavy on cheese, cream and calories.

Luckily, a few simple swaps can lighten up your appetizer spread without sacrificing great flavor. Here are some recipes to try this weekend.

Carrot Ginger Soup

Carrot-Ginger Soup Shooters
This vegetarian carrot-ginger soup is flavored with vibrant curry spices and fresh ginger. Pureed carrots give the soup a velvety texture without high-calorie cream. Spoon hot or room temperature soup into shot glasses for the perfect party-sized portion. Pressed for time? Pick up a box of prepared carrot-ginger soup, then top each shot glass-sized serving with Greek yogurt and a fresh mint leaf.

Eggplant Chips With Cilantro Pesto

Eggplant Chips With Cilantro Pesto
Baked eggplant chips are sweet, crunchy and delicious, and make a surprising alternative to classic potato chips.  For a seasonal twist, swap the basil in the pesto for kale, arugula or spinach.

4 More Healthy Appetizer Recipes

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It seems like every family has different customs to ring in the New Year. In my mostly-German family, pork and cabbage are musts on New Year’s Day for good luck in the coming year. This January 1, start a new tradition alongside loved ones with a New Year’s Day brunch full of breakfast favorites and modern twists on traditional recipes.

New Year's Day Brunch Table Setting
Flatbread With Arugula, Roasted Tomatoes and Eggs
This egg-topped flatbread offers a twist on traditional breakfast pizza.

Roasted Tomato, Egg and Arugula Flatbread
More New Year’s Day Brunch Ideas

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It seems like every family has different customs to ring in the New Year. In my mostly-German family, pork and cabbage are musts on New Year’s Day for good luck in the coming year. This January 1, start a new tradition alongside loved ones with a New Year’s Day brunch full of breakfast favorites and modern twists on traditional recipes.

New Year's Day Brunch Table Setting
Flatbread With Arugula, Roasted Tomatoes and Eggs
This egg-topped flatbread offers a twist on traditional breakfast pizza.

Roasted Tomato, Egg and Arugula Flatbread
More New Year’s Day Brunch Ideas

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Have a flapjack lover in your house? This may be the perfect holiday gift for him or her.

Designed with a raised edge that gently slopes the plate toward you and an ingenious reservoir for pooling loose syrup, this plate was made for slicing, dipping and delighting in each bite of pancake goodness.

Pancake Plate

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As the resident happy hour blogger around here, I get emails from my fellow Design Happens bloggers all the time with great new recipes for drinks that they have made and loved. Briana recently sent a recipe for an eggnog martini that is now on my list of go-to holiday drinks. A martini? With eggnog? Does it get any better than that? Decide for yourself:

Polar Eggnog Skinny 'Nog-Tini

Eggnog Skinny ‘Nog-Tini

Skinny ‘Nog-Tini
1 part high quality bourbon
1 part spiced rum *we used what we had on hand, blackstrap rum
1 part maple syrup
2 parts almond milk (or whole milk) *we used unsweetened vanilla almond milk
4 parts Polar® Eggnog Seltzer
Fresh grated nutmeg (garnish)
Combine all ingredients, except the seltzer, until foamy and aerated (you can always froth with a mini blender). Add ice, and swirl to chill. Strain into large festive glass; top generously with Polar® Eggnog Seltzer. Top with grated spice.

A note from Briana: I was skeptical at first, but it ended up tasting pretty decent! That said, this is coming from someone allergic to real eggnog who drinks SilkNog every year. The fiancé liked it, too, though, so I think it passes the test.

We’ve got more delicious holiday cocktails to the rescue. Infuriating in-laws? Kitchen woes? Long lines at the mall? Yep, there’s a drink for that. Here are our favorite holiday cocktail pairings to soften any situation the season throws your way.

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It’s just 1 week till Thanksgiving — is your dining room ready for the big event? If not, don’t worry, there’s still time for a guest-impressing makeover. From disguising a past-its-prime dining table to an easy way to give stock white plates a high-end look — we’ve got you covered with five easy project ideas, each with complete step-by-step instructions.

A plain white tablecloth is great for covering up a scratched or discolored tabletop. For a sophisticated look, stitch on a row or two of ruffled burlap or linen: Give a Basic Tablecloth a Custom Makeover

Enlist help from the kids to glue real or silk fall leaves onto fishing line to create a magical falling-leaf effect over the dining table or buffet:How to Make Fall Leaf Streamers

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Update: Congratulations to Lillian, whose favorite Thanksgiving traditions include chocolate truffle tart and apple-cranberry crostata. Yum! Come back the first Friday of each month for a new giveaway.

The start of November marks the beginning of the hectic holiday season. Thanksgiving will be here in the blink of an eye, and in another blink, it will be Christmas and then a whole new year. Whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving for 20 or an intimate Christmas brunch, this month’s giveaway — a stylish stacking dish from Layla Grace — will help you serve food like a pro.

La Pattisserie Serving Tray - Layla Grace

A modern approach to the Victorian compote, this footed bowl is a versatile and stylish statement piece. Stack the three footed bowls to add dramatic height to your buffet table, or use them individually for side dishes or salads.  Our lucky winner will get one of each size — small, medium and large.

To enter for a chance to win, just answer this month’s question in the comments below: What are your Thanksgiving traditions? A favorite holiday tune? A memorable recipe? Tell us about it.

You may only comment once to be considered, and you don’t have to purchase anything to win; a purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Odds depend on total number of entries. Void where prohibited by law. Only open to legal residents of 50 U.S., D.C. or Puerto Rico, and you must be at least 18 years of age to win. All entries (comments) must be entered between 9:00 a.m. ET on November 2, 2012 and 12:00 p.m. ET on November 5, 2012. Subject to full official rules. By leaving a comment on the blog, you acknowledge your acceptance to the Official Rules. ARV of prize: $152. Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC, d/b/a HGTV, 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37932.

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There are football fans and there are FOOTBALL FANS. Then, there’s me. My devotion to the sport is extremely questionable, but I still look forward to the season. Why? Two words: football food.  Nachos, salsa, chips, wings — it’s all good. But whether I opt to make chili and cornbread or creamy crab dip, guacamole is one thing that’s always on my table. Here’s what you need to know to make delicious guac every time.

Guacamole Recipe
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Remember Bomb Pops? Growing up, those icy red, white and blue pops tasted like summer on a stick. But now that I’m older and slightly wiser, I set out to make a better-tasting version with real fruit — think strawberries, coconut and blueberries versus blue raspberry (whatever that is). And, oh look, it’s just in time for the Fourth of July!

Red White and Blue Popsicles

I’ll be celebrating America’s (probably sweltering hot) birthday with these icy pops (and maybe some of these spiked ones, too). Read on for the recipe so you can, too.

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It’s Friday afternoon and the work bell is about to ring. We all know what that means – happy hour! It’s that time to grab some friends, your favorite drinks and gather to celebrate having survived the hectic workweek.

Happy Hour Cocktails: The Full Collection

If it’s as hot outside where you are as it is where I am, you may want to consider adding a twist to tonight’s happy hour. Instead of drinks for everyone, go for ice-cold popsicles. “Popsicles?!,” you ask. Oh yes! These aren’t the popsicles you slurped as a child. No, these are specially made for the over-21 crowd. Just look at these tasty treats.

Strawberry Peach Vodka Collins Popsicles: EndlessSummer.com

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Let’s be honest: Whatever you’re doing right now, you’d rather be at the beach. I know I’d like to get some sand between my toes. If you’re land-locked like me but longing for the ocean, channel that into a beach-inspired picnic at the park (or at the sandy lake shore.)  Here’s what you’ll need.

Picnic Food Ideas and Recipes

The Menu Game Plan
Fresh, easy-to-prepare recipes are ideal picnic fare. Here’s what to serve at your beachy meal:

Eggplant Chips With Cilantro Pesto: This sweet, baked take on potato chips uses in-season eggplant. Pack the pesto in a screw-top jar for easy serving at your picnic.

Pressed Italian Sandwiches: These sandwiches from The Cilantropist were practically designed to be picnic fare: You “press” it overnight under something heavy in the fridge (think a can or two of tomatoes), then slice, wrap in paper and tie with twine. The result: an easy-to-eat, delicious sandwich that won’t be worse for the wear if the pasta salad shifts during transit.

Tuscan Pasta Salad With Grilled Vegetables: It’s the picnic staple…with an Italian twist. Make this pasta salad, studded with bits of sweet grilled fennel and bell peppers, up to 6 hours before you plan to serve it.

Cheesecake In a Jar: A picnic is the perfect time to cash in on the “food in jars” trend. Individual cheesecakes tucked into jars are easy to transport and easy to eat. Top with your favorite in-season fruit. Make at least 5 hours before your picnic, or the night before.

Sand Dollar Cookies: How adorable are these sand dollar cookies?! Give homemade snickerdoodles a beachy touch with a few slivered almonds like Elizabeth from Delicious Inspiration did.

Coastal Citrus Punch: Mix up this summery take on sangria in a glass jug for easy transport.

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Got a case of the Monday blues? I’m right there with you. But you know what? I’m going to employ a move from the lemon playbook and take the blues I’ve been handed and make — pie! That’s right, blueberry pie.

Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Pie

A bit of a stretch? Oh, perhaps. But blueberry season is just around the corner — and that, my friends, is lifting my spirits on this cloudy Monday afternoon.

More blueberry recipes:

Blueberry Muffins
Blueberry Scones
Appleberry Pie Cocktails
Also, tips for: How to Grow Blueberries

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When I was first introduced to Melody’s work, I was immediately smitten. Melody Brandon is an incredibly talented pastry chef and the co-owner of Sweet and Saucy Shop in Long Beach, California. Her cake designs and dessert displays are beyond perfection. I had the opportunity to interview Melody about how she got started, a few of her favorite events and what the future holds for her growing business. Read on to get to know Melody a little bit more and get inspired by some of her decadent desserts!

{Kentucky Derby Party}

1. You are a such an inspiration to so many, not only as an incredible cake and dessert designer, but as a savvy business woman. When did you know that this is what you wanted to do for your career? Tell us a little of your background and how Sweet & Saucy Shop came about. 
Well to be honest I actually always thought I would be an elementary school teacher and that is what I went to school for and almost finished my degree in.  I was assistant teaching in various classes when I found that teaching just didn’t have enough creative freedom for me and I didn’t like all the rules and regulations you had to follow.  I stopped teaching at the particular school I was at for a little break and in the meantime had just gotten married and loved throwing parties for friends and family and for quite some time had been obsessed with Food Network & cookbooks; although I had never really thought of it as a career option.

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Happy Cinco de Mayo! I usually like to celebrate this holiday drinking a strawberry margarita on the rocks and eating my favorite food, cheese dip. I may have to switch it up a bit this year and add these piñata cookies from SheKnows.com to my Cinco de Mayo dessert list. The striped sugar cookies have a hollow center so you can fill them up with your favorite candy. These are genius, really. I’m not sure I have the talent to bake these cookies, but I will gladly volunteer to be a taste tester for anybody who does! What are your plans for Cinco de Mayo (other than baking these cookies for me)? Tell us in the comments below.

 cinco de mayo cookies

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Yes, you read that title correctly. FERRIS. WHEEL. CUPCAKE. HOLDER. And yes, this product is frivolous, but I would argue that is what makes it awesome.

ferris wheel cupcake holder

There was nothing technically wrong with how we as a people were serving cupcakes before this invention. Putting cupcakes on a tray or on a cake stand was, and is, fine. All the same, I’m glad someone at Horchow thought, Ferris wheel seats kinda look like cupcake tins, HEEEEEYYYY, and created it. And I’m sure everyone marveling at this whimsical wonder at themed birthday parties, baby showers and weddings would agree with me.

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