Do you ever get into an appetizer rut? It happens to all of us: With a party looming, you think, “Oh, I’ll just make/buy…for the 17th time this summer.” It’s great to have go-to dishes (for me, it’s guacamole), but sometimes it’s nice to shake things up. Here are 5 ways to upgrade classic appetizers this summer.
Eggplant Chips With Cilantro Pesto
Instead of: “Regular” Chips and Dip
Try: Eggplant Chips With Cilantro Pesto
Now, there’s nothing wrong with potato chips, corn chips, or even sweet potato chips. But wander with me into the realm of unexpected-but-delicious and try roasting in-season eggplant chips. Use long, thin Japanese eggplant (available at your local farmers’ market) for the optimal ratio of crispy skin to sweet chip. While they’re roasting, use your food processor or blender to whip up fresh cilantro pesto.
Get the Recipe >>
Creamy Lump Crab and Fresh Corn Dip
Instead of: Store-Bought Creamy Dips
Try: Lump Crab and Corn Dip With Oven-Crisped Crostinis
It’s a well-established party fact that people flock to hot, oozy dips no matter the temperature. But many store-bought versions have more mayo than filling, leaving them soupy and well, kind of underwhelming. This version uses lump crab and in-season corn alongside three cheeses for a thick, hearty appetizer that will leave guests weak in the knees. While it’s baking, throw some sourdough bread slices in the oven — boom, you’ve made your own crostini.
Get the Recipe >>
3 More Appetizer Upgrades
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
There’s something about hot weather that makes an icy beverage seem not only nice but practically essential, don’t you think? For your next summer party, upgrade from plastic coolers and drink mixes to custom cocktails that are easy to make and even easier to enjoy. Here are 5 versatile options you’ll sip all summer long.
Coastal Citrus Punch
Essential qualities: This summery take on sangria makes enough for a crowd, so you won’t be running up and down the hill playing bartender all day. Mix up the day before your party, chill and serve on ice. It’s easy to double if you anticipate extreme thirst…or more than 8-10 guests.
Make it your own: The recipe calls for grapes, pineapple and strawberries, but try throwing in blueberries, peaches or honeydew melon.
Serve it with: Grilled fish, a summer clambake, tea sandwiches — this drink is incredibly versatile.
Get the recipe >>
Spending time at the pool is one of my favorite things to do in the summer. Unfortunately, most of us only get a couple of hours out of the day to enjoy the sunshine. If your only chance to hang out at the pool is at night, these glow-in-the-dark planters by Rotoluxe would really set the mood.
Aside from the fact that they glow in the dark, one other cool factor is that they’re made from 100% recycled post-consumer and industrial plastics. I think they’re a fantastic alternative to pool lights, and you could even add a couple to your porch to provide an unexpected pathway of lights for visitors. You can purchase the planters from several vendor websites.
Many of you had great guesses, but this week’s item is an ice cream scooper. I can never get my ice cream scoops to look as awesome as they do at the ice cream shop or on commercials (ice cream commercials are my frenemies!) The people at Cuisipro have come up with a pretty clever solution – the ice cream scoop and stack. It pretty much does all the work – all you have to do is twist and lift and release the button when you’re ready to stack to create a fancy plate presentation. All your guests will think you’ve mustered up some serious culinary skills. I won’t tell, if you don’t tell!
I’m gearing up for summer, but I’ve noticed there’s not much glamour at the beach these days, am I right? On one hand, I have one of those great ruched-to-high-heaven vintage swimsuits — the kind that Marilyn Monroe used to wear — aaaand on the other, I carry a ratty old beach towel I’ve had since probably the late ’80s. If I carried this Maslin & Co zebra hide towel with me, I’m sure I’d look the part.
I’m teasing myself a little because this is one of those items I’ve filed under the “you can’t really afford this, but it sure is pretty to look at, isn’t it?” category. (This kind of fierceness does not come cheap.) But I just adore the way it looks like a zebra hide rug and that little leather carrying strap is too chic. My half-birthday is June 11, in case anyone cares. Ahem.
[Via: ELLE Décor]
There’s almost always an array of delicious drinks at your average summer shindig: Iced tea, lemonade, soda, and adult beverages like beer. However, the cup options tend to be limited to one thing: Plastic cups. Don’t get me wrong, I have an inherent fondness for plastic cups because I associate them with having fun, but I’m not so sure they’re ideal for every bevvie. Studio Qubus’ Sommelier Wine Glasses seem like a great compromise.
Czech designer Maxim Velčovský perches plastic cup lookalikes atop stems for a wonderful highbrow/lowbrow effect. The shape is casual enough to be informal, but the material and stem make sipping something like a nice Pinot Noir feel a little less “frat party.” Now that’s something worth toasting!
Summer heat (and almost-unbearable-humidity) fills me with nostalgia for the cooler good ol’ days of my childhood spent swinging in a tattered, country hammock. My mom would leave my sister and me at our aunt and uncle’s farm for a few weeks every August, and we fished, chased llamas, built forts, collected chicken eggs and got into mischief all day long. But I can guarantee one thing… my aunt’s favorite time during those summer days was naptime (not hers, ours). After exploring the woods and fields all day, she could always find us curled up on the back porch in the hammock, out like a pair of bats at mid-day. So when I came across these awesome hammocks on HGTV, I was instantly transported to that 300-acre farm.
Late summer, nothing seems more enticing than a glass of homemade lemonade and the back-and-forth sway of a hammock. A down comforter for padding like this one featured in HGTV’s 6 Stress-Free Hammocks would be even more pleasant. If you’re worried that a plain outdoor bunk isn’t your style, add some pops of color and character with accents like this brilliant red throw and speckled green pillow.
Whether you’re on vacation or at home, a hammock can serve as a centerpiece for entertaining. Like this hanging seat, it can become the place where you relax and catch up with friends. Or if you need peace and quiet, place it in the spot with the best view. Sit back, relax and enjoy a moment to yourself on your patio or porch. (I can’t get over how well the warm orange colors match the straw roof and sand. Can I please live there?)
This traditional Mayan hammock, made from hand-braided threads, would fit in any nook or garden. The way these hammocks wrap around your body makes it feel like you’re swinging in a cocoon (or at least that’s what my sister and I used to pretend.) They are also the perfect addition to a patio or backyard that needs a pop of color, as they come in a rainbow of hues. For more relaxing summer ideas, be sure to check out our 6 Stress-Free Hammocks.
But first… have you been longing for the weightless swing of a hammock?
Tell us in the comment area below.
Although our deck is far from ready to decorate (I have strict rules to finish the interior of my home before I can start on the exterior), summer is here and I can’t pretend like you all aren’t outside enjoying perfect evening dinners on your perfect patios. But if you’re not, this post is all about how to build the perfect patio (on a budget!) for every one of your summer whims.
Whether you’re an alfresco dining connoisseur, urban dweller or beach bum, I’ve got a patio design for each of you. Just humor me while I live vicariously through you, OK? Deal.
You never have to sacrifice style for space.
For the Urban Dweller:
Short on space but large on style? Get the most out of your tiny terrace or mini-balcony by going modern with an elemental table, side tray and hanging planters.
Raise your hand if you’re glad it’s summer! I’m certainly happy the sun is making a stunning debut and so is my home’s interior. We practically skipped the spring season here in Knoxville, Tenn., so my home was still feeling the dreary winter blues when summer came along. Not anymore! After lusting over the collection of palettes from HGTV HOME by Sherwin-Williams, I’m ready to douse my place in paint. Goodbye, beige! Last week, I shared my top five summer design tips and ideas, from outdoor entertaining to decorating with flea market finds, and this week, I’m bringing you my top three ways to decorate with color this summer. Hey, your interior needs to enjoy June, July and August just as much as you do! So grab a paintbrush and take note.
1. Use Classic Palettes: Preppy Hues Aren’t Just for the Country Club Set Anymore
It’s true. You don’t have to be a blue blood to bring a preppy design style to your home. Color combinations once associated with early 80s yuppies, British gentlemen’s clubs and university sororities are finding their way into everyday homes. My favorite style? Subtle yet traditional stripes with a pop of yellow. But then again, my girly side totally adores the Lily Pulitzer-style pairing of pink and green.
More Summer Color Trends After the Jump