ALL POSTS TAGGED "Entertaining"

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And they’re off! Well, not just yet — but Saturday, the Kentucky Derby will be run and that means there’s another excuse to throw a shindig. And, of course, you’re going to need a dessert for your party. Bridget from Bake at 350 has the perfect sweet for you to serve — Kentucky Derby Cookies!

Kentucky Derby Cookies

Kentucky Derby Cookies

Photos From Bake at 350

Head to the Races:
Mint Julep Cocktail Recipe
Equestrian-Style Decor
Jockey Table Lamp

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Even though I graduated from high school several years back (OK, maybe more than “several”), I still get very excited every late April/early May as students prepare for their own graduations. This time of year is when invitations go flying out, gifts/checks start coming back and if you’re really lucky, your family begins planning a celebration for you because, well — they’re just so darn proud. It’s an all-round happy-go-lucky time. It all makes me want to be a kid, er — “young adult” again.

So, yes — this is why I’m focusing so much on graduation party ideas — I’m looking on with nostalgic envy at the students who will be having them. And, look at what I’ve found today for your 2013 graduate. Who wouldn’t be out-of-this-world thrilled over these adorable candy cup caps from Bakerella?

Graduation Party Ideas

Itty-bitty candy cup graduation caps from Bakerella

Did you have a party when you graduated from high school (or even college)? Tell me about it in the Comments.

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Bloody Marys and brunch go together like, well, Bloody Marys and brunch. While the classic Bloody Mary starts with a vodka base, this spicy interpretation from Elise of A Beautiful Mess begins with a generous helping of curry-spiced, tea-infused tequila. Mix it up with carrot juice, Bloody Mary mix and a few shakes of hot sauce.

Carrot Bloody Mary

Make this drink spring brunch-ready by serving in a mason jar with a salted rim. Garnish with a fresh veggie skewer, a slice of lime and the traditional stalk of celery.  What are you waiting for? Mix one up this weekend.

Get the Recipe

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Decorating eggs is an Easter rite of passage for me and my sister. We’re not doing it “for the kids” since neither of us have any (yet); we just love sketching, coloring and creating our own designs. If you use real eggs like we do, there’s a secondary benefit: Once you’re done admiring your tie-dyed handiwork, you can eat your art (well, you know, the inside part.)

At best, hard-boiled eggs are tender and delicious; at worst, they’re overcooked and rubbery with a greenish tint. Whether you’re making egg salad or deviled eggs this Easter, try this simple technique to get hard-boiled eggs that are delicious every time.

How to Hard Boil Eggs for Easter - HGTV's Design Happens
Get Easy Hard-Boiled Egg Instructions

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If you’re a baker, you’ve likely had that moment of panic in the middle of a tedious decorating project. Since I’m a late-night gal, mine usually happens about 2 a.m. when I’m, say, painstakingly weaving lattice crusts for 100 mini apple pies. Most times, it’s worth the extra effort in the end (who doesn’t love a mini apple pie?!), but when you’re entertaining, simpler is usually better.

That’s why I set out to simplify my Easter cupcakes this year: You can start each of these designs with the same lemon-scented cupcake recipe and vanilla buttercream frosting, and all of the toppings are things you’ll likely find at your local supermarket.

Baby Chick Easter Cupcake Decorating Idea - HGTV's Design Happens

These bite-sized mini cupcake chicks, for instance, start with a layer of robin’s egg blue frosting. Add a couple of mini chocolate chip eyes and turn two triangles of fruit leather into an edible beak, then tuck them into a “nest” of shredded paper or Easter grass.

Carrot Easter Cupcake Decorating Idea - HGTV's Design Happens

This next cupcake is an ode to our March Color of the Month: a mini garden plot of carrots! Dip a frosted cupcake into crushed chocolate graham crackers, then push chunks of coconut-peanut butter candy as carrot stand-ins. Top the “carrots” with a dollop of orange frosting and add a few pieces of green licorice as leaves. I used half of a craft stick as a crop marker, but you could also write on Easter guests’ names and use the cupcakes as tasty place cards.

More Easy Cupcake Decorating Ideas

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Easter celebrations are right around the corner — time to banish winter blahs and freshen up indoors and out with a few springy touches. We’ve gathered 25 of our favorite Easter decorating ideas to inspire you. From quick-and-easy centerpiece ideas to a clever way to glam up your Easter eggs to a free, printable Easter banner — we’ve got you covered.

All 25 ideas have the official Easter Bunny stamp of approval (seriously!) but here are my 5 favorites: 

Delight Easter guests with this creative place setting idea featuring cute (and oh-so-fluffy!) feathered chicks and candy eggs:Set your Easter table with a creative place card like these cute (and oh-so-fluffy!) chicks and candy eggs

Weather permitting, bring your dining table and chairs outside and enjoy Easter dinner al fresco surrounded by Mother Nature’s changing scenery.
Weather permitting, bring your dining table outside and enjoy your Easter dinner al fresco.

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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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