Posts Tagged ‘entertaining’
Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer season, grilling season, bikini season and my all time favorite — no-cook summer recipes! If you’re slaving away in the kitchen or standing at a grill all day, you’re not enjoying the party so what’s the point?
My super easy tips will have you spending more time having fun and less time cooking. I like parties that are simple and focused on the guests. Yes, you have to serve food. But, you don’t have to spend the next three days in the kitchen like some Pioneer Woman Wannabe-although, you might want to check out her Dr. Pepper Ribs because they’re really worth the extra workouts.
First things first, Food!
Go food shopping. Just because you’re not really cooking doesn’t mean your family and friends aren’t hungry. One of my fave little tricks is to buy a bunch of fried chicken from the supermarket and lay it out on pretty platters and watch them go to town! Unless you’re from the deep south or your name is Paula Deen, chances are their fried chicken is better than yours. Personally, I think Publix Supermarkets have awesome fried chicken, but just use your judgement depending on your location. You can grab some sliders, buns and tons of fixin’s like cole slaw, potato salad, three bean salad, etc. Then, make your own green salad and there you go! Small plates and single serving food are always popular, too. It looks modern and cute and doesn’t do too much damage on the waistline… especially if there are bathing suits involved. Supermarkets nowadays have have everything you need!
I confess, I like getting people drunk. Parties are just better when the guests have a little buzz on. Make your life easy and get beer, wine, champagne and make one signature drink. That’s it. You can make a special cocktail in some fruity color and you’re done, red usually does the trick. When you use pretty glasses and cute garnishes, it helps. As always, no red plastic cups. It’s not a frat party and I don’t care if “its easier”. There are too many drink recipes to list, but if you Google “party drink recipes” watch what you find..I think champagne and anything is kind of fabulous. But, make sure you have plenty of soft drinks and water for the non-drinkers. (My friends are not these people)
You can pick up this cool steel tub at Home Depot for just over $13.00! It’s a steel tub, there’s not a big difference in quality that requires spending more than that. I also thought this idea was genius..make ahead cocktails! I’m not really into Mason Jars, but you could use bottles instead. LOVE.
Music is Key
You can serve all the fab food and beverages galore, but with no kickin’ tunes, your party sucks. Get a good playlist going and pump it up loud. For my parties, I like to keep it sort of upbeat neutral with a mix of pop, hip hop, dance, salsa and some classic bar music which is a big crowd pleaser..Hello, Brown Eyed Girl! No jazz, classical or easy listening. Ugh, they’ll be out the door after the first drumstick. The best wireless speakers for the price these days are hands down coming from JBL. Trust me, they’re AMAZING and start at under $50. Is it unpatriotic if I just play the Justin Bieber remix of Despacito on a loop ALL DAY?? I know he’s Canadian but Puerto Ricans are our people and well, I’m OBSESSED. Ok, suave suavecito the f-ck down, Cachet. 😉
When it comes to decor for Memorial Day, I say tread lightly. Your home doesn’t have to look like 4th Of July threw up on an American flag. You can go with one color like red, or clean and simple white with a few red or blue touches. Fresh flowers go a long way. And remember, you can reuse a lot of these items for July 4th, so keep that in mind if you buy seasonal decor. Simple is stylish, overkill is tacky. And foil decorations are a horror show.
One Little Detail
Do something your guests will remember. An activity, a cool favor, a fun extra something. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. I love the simplicity of a paper bag of chocolates or potato chips, a jar of BBQ sauce that you used. The simpler, the more chic it is. I also like taking a photo of each person upon entering the party and then sending it along with a thank you. It’s a nice touch and everyone loves photos of themselves, unless they look bad and/or wasted. And don’t post photos of people if they look bad just because you look good, it’s so obnoxious and it’s a really quick way to piss off your friends. Don’t be that person.
Say Thank You
I might be partial because I have a–wait for the shameless self promotion here–>stationery collection, but I’m a stickler for this. Something so small and so inexpensive screams volumes about a person. Emails and texts are okay, but a real card is better, thankyouverymuch. Make the effort, you’re not that busy. As the host, you can make a short video using any number of apps and then email the link to your guests. Fabulous, right? And practically free! Details like that are never about money and always about character.
Most of us have special ways of celebrating the holiday and honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice serving their country. In turbulent times there is a special meaning to this holiday, so take a moment to remember those who have given their lives so we can live freely. Be proud to be an American, fly that flag high and party like a rock star.
Happy Memorial Day and God Bless The U.S.A.
First things first: I am so NOT a baker. I don’t even cook that much. It’s not that I don’t like to cook, I’m just busy. But whenever I do try my skills in the kitchen, my dishes are usually really good. Weird, right? The running joke in my family is, “Courtney made this??”, which I’m totally ok with, but by now my culinary street cred should not be such a shocker.
On Easter Sunday my family and I were eating at home since we just returned from a fabulous, taco-and-tequila-filled week at the ahmazinggg Nizuc Resort & Spa in Cancun, Mexico..check out my Instagram account for all the ridiculous photos. After all that restaurant food and a week’s worth of laundry, we decided to make it a chill stay-at-home dinner. On a whim, I decided to try making my favorite dessert-tiramisu.
Tiramisu is one of those desserts that just looks difficult to make, right? After Googling “easy tiramisu recipes”, the search options had me scared. Phrases like “double boiler” and “egg white peaks” are way above my pay grade. Whoa, I don’t even know what a double boiler looks like. But my steely determination would not give in, so I pressed on and..voila! There it was!
Giada DeLaurentiis had a recipe that looked really easy..in fact, so easy it felt suspect. Surely, it must suck. Plus, a lot of my foodie friends have said her recipes come out with varied degrees of success. But, this was so moron-proof I had to at least give it a try.
Whenever I read a recipe online, I immediately read the reviews. They are chock full of comments from people far more adept at cooking than I am and I find them very useful. There was some talk of it not being sweet enough, but other than that things looked pretty stellar so I decided to go for it. Now, one of the reasons I don’t bake is because in cooking, as in life, I’m not great at following the rules. I prefer eyeballing over measuring and this tends to be my downfall. This recipe was no exception, but it somehow worked in my favor this time.
As I was making the tiramisu, I tasted it and decided to make a few adjustments:
I added more sugar. I used 1/2 cup, she said a few tablespoons.
I added a teaspoon of Pure Vanilla extract, she did not list this in the ingredients. (I think a teaspoon of vanilla makes everything better)
I added some Cabot’s Whipped Cream-a big squeeze is my best description. Redi-Whip would be fine but I’d shy away from Cool-Whip since it has a distinct flavor and it grosses me out.
I didn’t have cocoa powder or one of those flour sifters, so I used some Easter chocolate I stole from my kids and shaved it on a fine grater. A broken bunny ear did the trick!
After I completed it, I covered it with foil and put it in the refrigerator for three hours.
If you want to try something new this weekend, this is easy and divine!
Let me know how yours turns out and if you made any changes, too!
Giada DeLaurentiis Tiramisu (with a few changes)
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 pound mascarpone cheese
A big dollop of whipped cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups strong espresso, cooled
24 packaged ladyfingers (one package)
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate shavings or cocoa powder, for garnish
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale, about 5 minutes
Add mascarpone cheese and beat until smooth
Add whipped cream, vanilla
Add 1 tablespoon of espresso and mix until thoroughly combined.
In a small shallow dish, add remaining espresso. Dip each ladyfinger into espresso for only 5 seconds. Letting the ladyfingers soak too long will cause them to fall apart. Place the soaked ladyfinger on the bottom of a 13 by 9 inch baking dish, breaking them in half if necessary in order to fit the bottom.
Spread evenly 1/2 of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers. Arrange another layer of soaked ladyfingers and top with remaining mascarpone mixture.
Cover tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours.
New Yorkers have The Hamptons. Bostonians have Martha’s Vineyard. And starting this weekend Miami has SPF Saturdays! I’ll be there and this is why you’ll want to, too..
This Saturday, July 18, marks the launch of SPF Saturdays: Seafood + Pool + Four Seasonsat Bahía, the Hotel’s poolside bar and grill. Attendees are invited to spend an afternoon on the 7th floor tropical pool deck for fresh coastal cuisine, with the launch of The RAWBar and a southern-style Seafood Boil – perfect for celebrating summer in this oasis in the city!
The weekly event will take place every Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.through Labor Day weekend. During the eight-week series, The RAWBar opens to the public with á la carte offerings of Freshly Shucked East Coast Oysters and Florida Clams, peel-and-eat Key West Pink Shrimp, Corvina Crudo, Lobster and Shrimp Ceviche and an East Coast Mussel Salad.
Prices are pretty reasonable considering the upscale venue and will range from $2.50 per clam to $18 for a half-pound-serving of shrimp. The featured wine-by-the-glass, a crisp Muscadet Sèvre pairs perfectly with the light (and delish!) shellfish menu.
At 1:30 p.m. the southern style Seafood Boil will start with a light salad, followed by family-style servings of Lobster, Pink Shrimp, Florida Clams, Mussels and Crawfish simmered in Cajun-style spices, and accompanied by Sweet Corn-On-The-Cob, Golden Potatoes and Housemade Smoked Sausage.
Tickets for The Seafood Boil can be purchased on http://www.SPFSaturdays-FourSeasonsMiami.eventbrite.com for $65 per person, plus tax/tip and include access to the two fabulous resort style pools. The two-acre terrace at Four Seasons have a resort-style pool, Bahia, a poolside bar and grill offering all kinds of yummy delights and my personal favorite..The private cabanas you can rent for the day starting at $150. The separate Palm Grove Pool is only a foot deep and is shaded by 28 towering Royal Palms with a view of the city and the bay unlike any other hotel pool on Brickell Avenue. If you haven’t been to this chic and luxury hotel, now is the time to check it out. You’ll become an overnight devotee, just like me!
In case you missed it, here’s my Valentine’s Day Entertaning segment that aired on Better TV Friday, February 13. Make sure you stick around for my closing advice!
Hope your Valentine’s Day was filled with love, chocolate and maybe even a little jewelry. There’s nothing wrong with that!
At least half of my on air segments relate to entertaining. Designing, decorating and entertaining are all loosely intertwined and through the years, this has become a forte of mine. From Mexican Food Trucks and French Soirees to Old School NYC Street Food, I’ve done it all! But, the basic tips are always the same. Just yesterday, I shot my Valentine’s Day segment for Better TV and as someone from the crew asked me, “How do you always do this so well?” I started thinking. So, I wrote them down and here they are! Whether it’s a snnow in or a beach bbq, it simply does not metter. And remember, your parties are only as good as your guests. Invite nice people. Nobody has fun with a room full of duds/bitches/drunken fools/obnoxious jerks. Get the point? Great! XOXO
1.Choose a theme
Don’t let the word “theme” scare you into thinking you need to come up with some elaborate and complicated idea that probably only exists on Pinterest! A theme could be anything from Fall Picnic to Appetizers and Appletinis. Establishing a theme, will keep your idea more focused and in the end, more fabulous!
2. Plan your menu
Whether you’re serving up ribs and slaw or an elegant spread of hors d’oeuvres, you need to plan a little! Have most of your food and beverages necessities bought and ready to go 48 hours before the party. Items like bread and pastries should be bought the morning of for freshness. Don’t be afraid to delegate!
3. Slow Down & Keep It Simple
Complicated parties make for complicated hostesses
and nobody likes to see a frazzled hostess. By keeping your food and drink offerings delicious but simple, you look and feel better and spend more time with your guests, which was the original idea! Start your cooking in the morning with one or more Crock Pots ensures you have more time to get ready and relax before your fete begins!
4. 5 Minute Decor
Regardless of your theme, there’s a 5 minute decor solution..Candles and flowers are pretty and appropriate in every season-plus they smell great! In the fall, you can never go wrong with pumpkin, cloves and mums. In the winter, evergreen an cranberry are instant mood lifters! These little details go a long way!
5. One Signature Drink
You can brew a warm apple cider or have one fabulous cocktail. Either way, have one basic drink that works with your theme. Have a platter of drinks by the door and greet everyone with a glass as they walk in your house.
6. That’s entertainment
Parties without music are awful. You son’t need a professional DJ, just a good playlist from iTunes, Spotify or Pandora will do. As you and your guests are gathered around the kitchen island drinking, eating and laughing, make sure they have something to move their hips to.
7. Send your guests home with a pre-printed recipe and a cute “to go” box
Maybe you made your mother’s legendary beef stew or your infamous pulled pork and everyone wants the recipe..Send your guests home with a little extra and a recipe card so they can make it, too! You can print them up or write them out, punch a hole and string them to the bag.
8. Share the memories
The best parties are those where you get together with family and friends and have a delicious meal and some laughs. Take a group photo and make it into a thank you card online. Inexpensive, cute and undeniably fabulous!
This has been a great week. At the end of great weeks, I always think about two things: Vacations and celebrations. Plus, I’m always trolling for all the latest/chicest must haves and most do’s! That said, I thought I’d share a few random, but very cool things with you today. Perhaps you’re planning a summer vacation or staycation? I do both with equal enthusiasm.
First, check out what’s new in some hotels these days. They are really pulling out all the stops when it comes to amenities and out of the box experiences..
“What’s On Your Life List?” The Four Seasons wants to know!
Apparently, travelers want more than luxurious accommodations and high quality meals. They want to spend their days having unforgettable experiences to check off items on their “life list.” One of my top go to hotel brands, Four Seasons is celebrating these travelers by launching World of Wonder, which highlights the unforgettable experiences around the world offered by several Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
These one-of-a-kind experiences promise to showcase the best each property has to offer and vary from assisting on an excavation of an ancient archaeological site in Beirut to cooking alongside a celebrity chef in Las Vegas. Um, hello! Sign Mama up!
The buck stops at Chicago’s Waldorf Astoria!
At this uber-chic property, they have a strict no tipping policy. A move that breaks with standard practices across the high-end and luxury hotel market, the hotel adopted this policy when it opened its doors in December 2009 as the Elysian and has maintained it throughout the hotel’s transition to the Waldorf Astoria Chicago. That’s kind of cool for us, isn’t it?
Bagpipes at Sunset in Sea Island
After a day of blowing off steam at Georgia’s Sea Island shooting school or playing one of the three championship golf courses, guests can relax in one of the Adirondack chairs on the porch of The Lodge and enjoy the sounds of the resort’s resident bagpiper, who plays on the golf course every day at sundown. Sounds fabulously sublime to me!
Leave the Workout Gear at Home with Westin
With workout gear taking up about half of the space in a carry-on, Westin Hotels And Resorts makes it so that guests can leave their bulky sneakers behind. For $5, guests can get an entire New Balance outfit – from a sports bra to shoes – delivered to their room as part of an exclusive gear-lending partnership with New Balance. How cool is that? No stinky gym clothes int he returning suitcase either is an added bonus!
Ok, time to party!
Haru Sushi’s Watermelon Fizz: Haru, one of my fave NY sushi spots, spiked everyone’s favorite summer fruit with Tequila! Around 100 calories, this cocktail will keep your bikini body in check, without sacrificing any flavor or punch. Photo credit Haru http://www.HaruSushi.com
Ingredients: 1 oz. Tequila, 3 oz. Watermelon, .1 oz. simple syrup, .1 oz soda water, 5 cilantro pieces, a squeeze of lime, and 1 bamboo spike.
Instructions: Muddle watermelon with cilantro leaves. Add ice, simple syrup, and tequila. Shake vigorously and pour all contents into a rocks glass. Garnish with a piece of watermelon in a bamboo spike. I die! So fresh and delicious and perfect for casual weekend entertaining!
Fab Serving Tip: Instead of a traditional pitcher, carve out the inside of a watermelon until it’s hollow inside. Drill a small hole near the bottom of the melon that is large enough to fit a keg shank and faucet, but small enough to let any of the cocktail drip out of it. Once the watermelon is hollow and the keg shank is attached, fill the watermelon with Haru Sushi’s Watermelon Fizz, allowing the sides of the watermelon to give your cocktail extra flavor. Don’t forget to save the inside of the watermelon for dessert! You can buy the thingamajig at Keg Works. Photo pulled from Pinterest/FoodNetwork
Enjoy your weekend!