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Showing posts with label summer tables. Show all posts
Showing posts with label summer tables. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nine Color Salad - The Perfect Spring Salad

This "Nine Color Salad" is from a place in KC called Spin Pizza.  They specialize in gourmet wood fired pizzas with really high quality, simple ingredients.  This salad is so tasty.  I'm not sure if it is the combination of all of the different greens, or the crunch of the radishes and celery, or how the feta combines with the vinaigrette and coats the leaves of lettuce, but whatever it is - it is great.  And totally cravable.  Yes, a cravable salad.  This is how I recreated it for our friends last weekend:

Nine Color Salad
a cravable salad from Spin Pizza

Boston Bibb Lettuce
Red Onion
Feta Cheese
Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
Dried Italian Herbs
Olive Oil

Red Wine Vinaigrette

1/4 cup of Red Wine Vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon of Dried Italian Herbs
1 tablespoon of Sugar
2 teaspoons of Sea Salt
1 teaspoon of Cracked Pepper
1/2 cup of Olive Oil

Roast the cherry tomatoes by drizzling them with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, then sprinkling with dried Italian herbs.  Roast at 425 for 5-8 minutes.  Let them cool while you prepare, wash and chop the other salad ingredients.  To make dressing, shake together all of the ingredients in a jar or stir them together with a whisk.  Toss all of the ingredients and serve.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

4th of July Table Setting, Red White & Blue Ice Cream Cake, & Star Spangled Sangria

Last week, came to my house to shoot a video for a 4th of July video.  I created this "Star-Spangled 4th of July Party" complete with a Red, White and Blueberry Ice Cream Cake, baskets of berries, a Help Yourself Bar with Star-Spangled Sangria.  For the behind the scenes scoop, visit this blog post.   To watch the video they beautifully produced, click here!

Here is the complete table with the Red, White & Blueberry Ice Cream Cake as the centerpiece.

I set the table (yes, that is my farm table that is usually on my sun porch) in our back yard under a big tree.

Here is the Help Yourself Bar featuring Star-Spangled Sangria with Mason Jar glasses.  Here is a link to the DIY instructions for setting up this bar and easy patio decorations.

I made the stars for the sangria out of a red apple cut with a cookie cutter... it really couldn't have been easier.   Here is the recipe for the Star-Spangled Sangria

As you can see, I used navy tin plates that had a shiny silver edge - great for outdoor entertaining.  Down the table I used mason jars filled with rock salt and flags for a little height and festivity. 

On the table I tucked baskets of blueberries, cherries and strawberries amongst the flags for a seasonal touch... and who doesn't love an edible centerpiece. 

Speaking of edible centerpieces...

This ice cream cake is three layers with strawberry and blueberry soaked cake inside- it truly is red, white and blue.  And delicious.  And easy.   Here is the recipe! Watch the video for the step-by-step instructions

Click below to continue reading after the break!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Grilled Artichokes with Lemon Garlic Caper Aioli | Easy Summer Entertaining Recipes

This is one of my all time favorite 'restaurant' recipes.  Anytime I go to a restaurant and I see grilled artichokes on the menu, I order them.  I've found that I like them best when simply grilled with a little bit of seasoning and a great dipping sauce.  I used to be intimidated by making a dipping sauce- especially those named 'aioli' until I discovered that 'aioli' is mayonnaise...  Now I use mayonnaise as a base to make all kinds of great dipping sauces- this lemon and caper is one of my favorites.  It is great with grilled shrimp, too- a favorite from my catering days.

Grilled Artichokes
with a Lemon Garlic Caper Aioli

3 artichokes, quartered
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon of sea salt + 2 teaspoons
1 teaspoon of cracked pepper

for the aioli:
3/4 cup of mayonnaise
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 lemon, the juice of
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons of capers (or more, if you'd like)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of cracked pepper

Combine olive oil and 1 clove of garlic cut in slices.  Let the garlic infuse into the oil while you are preparing the artichokes.

Cut the artichokes in quarters, lengthwise.  Fill a medium saucepan with water with 1 tablespoon of sea salt.  Bring to a boil.  Add artichoke quarters and cook for 10 minutes until tender.  Remove from water and let them cool on a baking sheet.  If you are preparing these ahead of time, you can refrigerate them at this point up to over night.

Before grilling, brush the garlic infused olive oil onto all sides of the artichoke hearts.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill for 2-3 minutes on each side until there is a nice char on the leaves.

For the sauce, stir together mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, garlic capers, salt and pepper.   Add more lemon, salt and/or pepper to taste.

The grilled artichokes are the perfect compliment to Grilled Prosciutto & Fresh Mozzarella toasts... recipe coming soon!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lilac Centerpiece in Pewter Serving Bowl with Lilly of the Valley

I’m not a huge fan of using stuffy, professionally design floral centerpieces when I’m hosting a party.  To me it always feels like a wedding or a catered affair when I have an arrangement that looks “too perfect.”  I prefer something that looks like it came out of my garden or my kitchen- it should to be something that compliments the setting, the menu, the occasion and the company.

A few weeks ago, I used this same serving bowl to create a centerpiece with planted pansies.  Here, I've used it with lilacs to create a really bountiful arrangement.  While most of us don’t have an expansive collection of large beautiful vases in which to create centerpieces, we do often have beautiful serving pieces that we’ve served food in for years.  So many times we feel limited by what we don’t have and forget to consider what we do have.   Beyond the practicality of using something you already own versus going out and buying something new, I like to use elements from my own kitchen to create centerpieces for my table.

You'll Need...
    Large Serving Bowl
    Double sided tape
    Scissors or Gardening Shears

Directions :

Fill the bowl half way with water.  Create a grid on the top of the serving bowl with the double stick tape.  Place the flowers in the bowl, using the grid to hold them in place.  Begin by using the largest blooms and branches to create the shape of the arrangement, then fill in with smaller flowers.

Here is the easy to pin strip!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Planted Pansies Centerpiece | Spring Centerpiece | Mother's Day Centerpiece

It is no secret that I like planted flowers indoors - I love that they are seasonal, last longer than cut flowers and are usually much less expensive.  Do you know how much it would have cost me to make a floral arrangement to fill this pewter bowl- especially if I had it done at a floral shop.  Hundreds.  Hundreds!  For $12 I made this very sweet and seasonal centerpiece that would great for Mother's Day... or any other occasion like a Tuesday? 

Use potting soil to fill the container.  After a couple of days the flowers should be transferred to a pot, as this bowl doesn't have any drainage.  It will work great for about 5-7 days, though.  

Start by placing the flowers around the perimeter of the bowl, then fill in with soil.  Pack them in tight for a full effect.

Use moss to cover any exposed dirt... not a lovely sight on the dining table.


 Here is the easy-to-pin strip!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Best Mac and Cheese Recipe | Baked Macaroni and Cheese

I remember being at my Grandma Steffens' house when I was about 6 or 7 and she asked what I wanted for lunch.  Macaroni and Cheese.  It was the only thing I would eat when I was younger.  It was an obsession.  A problem.  The only macaroni and cheese I would eat came from a blue box.  In fact, at least once a week you can bet that I'm still treating myself to a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

On that day at my Grandma's house I can remember her pulling a casserole dish out of the oven and putting it on the table.  The top had a layer of bubbling cheese.  I was terrified.  What was is?  Doesn't she know that Macaroni and Cheese is cooked in a saucepan, not a casserole dish?  Where was the powdered yellow-orange cheese?!

I'm not suggesting you should make this Baked Mac and Cheese recipe for your very picky 6-year-old, but I guarantee will be a big hit with anyone over the age 12.  Or 18, maybe.  If you really want to go for it... try my Lobster Mac and Cheese - great for Valentine's Day...  Would be great with a Pan-Seared Filet Mignon!

Baked Mac and Cheese
beyond the blue box

1 pound of macaroni
sea salt
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of flour
4 cups of milk
12 ounces of cheddar, shredded
8 ounces of havarti cheese, shredded
1/2 teaspoon of cracked pepper
4 slices of bread, for crumbs

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add a couple of tablespoons of sea salt. 

In a saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons of butter on medium low heat.  Stir in flour.  Cook butter and flour for 1 minute, while stirring.  Whisk in milk.  Cook over heat while whisking, until smooth.  Cook for 5 minutes on medium until thickened and bubbly.  The mixture should coat the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat.

Add shredded cheeses, stirring until melted and smooth.  Season with cracked pepper.  Set aside.

Cook pasta until almost done - making sure it is not completely cooked.  Strain the pasta.  Add pasta into the cheese sauce and stir to coat the pasta.  Pour into a baking dish.

To make breadcrumbs, pulse bread in a food processor until it is in fine crumbs.  In a small skillet, melt remaining two tablespoons of butter, add the bread crumbs and cook over medium heat until they have toasted.  Sprinkle breadcrumbs on the top of the macaroni.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until bubbly. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dahlias | Fall Flowers from the Farmers Market | Fall Centerpiece

When Summer ends, my mind turns to Mums and pumpkins.  I always forget about Dahlias.  Last weekend at the Farmer's Market I came across these Dahlias.  I loved that there were Fall colors of orange, deep red and rust, but also had coral and pink tones. 

To top it off, the farmer had added a few sprigs of Tuberose to the arrangement, that are also in season in early Fall. 

The scent of Tuberose is amazing - it reminds me of our wedding last October.  All of the men wore tuberose boutonnieres.

I put the bouquet in one of my tin arrangements.  These are the kind of casual floral 'arrangements' that I like to use as centerpieces on my table - it looks like it could have been cut and gathered from my own garden... if I had one!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fresh Sweet Corn Chowder Recipe

My parents live in the country surrounded by a corn field.  Every year my Mom asks my Dad to plant 'a couple' of rows of sweet corn on the border of the 'field corn' field that borders their yard. (For those of you that don't know, field corn is a hardier corn, different than the sweet corn we eat.)  Every year my Dad plants 12 rows of corn around the house.  The result is a truck-load full (literally) of sweet corn.

While this used to be a profitable side business for my sister and I growing up, no one else seems to want to spend hours and hours picking corn in 100 degree July/August to make an extra $50... for the week.  Instead, my parents make some phone calls and let their friends and neighbors know that "the corn is ready, come pick what much you need. Please!" 

Nevertheless, my parents still have buckets and buckets of corn.  When you've tired of corn on the cob and you've "put up" (meaning cooked and frozen or canned) enough for the entire year, what else can you do with all of that corn? 

As a new New England resident, I decided to combine my two worlds : Midwest Sweet Corn & New England Chowder...

Fresh Corn Chowder  
6 ears of fresh corn (reserve some for garnishing)
3 slices bacon, chopped, browned
1/2 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour  
14-ounce can chicken broth
6 small red potatoes, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups half and half (or heavy cream)
fresh basil for garnish

Begin by cutting the kernels of off the fresh corn cobs by standing the cobs on end and running a sharp knife along the cob.  

Monday, August 8, 2011

Heirloom Tomatoes on Grilled Bread

It is August and tomatoes are everywhere!  Except on my tomato plants.  I have a few green ones on the vines, but none red for picking.  For now, I'll have to rely on my local markets, which are overflowing with tomatoes.

Heirloom tomatoes are all the rage - for good reason.  Over the years, as farming became more progressive, commercialized and scientific, tomatoes and tomato plants were hybridized to create more perfect looking tomatoes, and tomatoes that were more stable to ship across the country.  With these 'improvements' that large farms implemented, the taste and flavor of the tomato was sacrificed.  These tomatoes that are found in many grocery stores are the often perfectly round, firm and tasteless.  Up until a couple of years ago, I had lost my taste for tomatoes because I was so often unimpressed.  Remember my 'real strawberries' revelation?  This was similar...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hydrangea Season | 3 Easy Centerpieces using Hydrangeas No Vases Needed

My style of entertaining is very casual and easygoing (read more about my entertaining philosophy here!).  I like my guests to feel comfortable and the atmosphere (dare I say ambiance?) is an important part of doing just that.

If we're hosting friends for dinner on a Saturday night, a formal florist-type bouquet isn't appropriate - it would say all of the wrong things about what I want the night to be.

My favorite method is to use several stems of the same type (or color) of flower.

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