Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!!!


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Tradition

Cocktail Accoutrement.

I am always looking for a way to bring on the good luck! It doesn’t hurt when the good luck tradition looks beautiful and is easy to pull off.

In Spain, revelers mark the New Year by quickly eating a dozen grapes at midnight. The fruit is said to be a predictor of the year ahead: Each sweet grape represents a good month, each sour grape a less-than-lucky one.

Adopt the tradition by threading grapes onto skewers, and serve each in a glass of Champagne just before the countdown.

If you see me at the grocery store taste testing all the grapes for the sweetest…you’ll know why.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Link Love.

New Year's Eve traditions from around the globe.

Denmark
Marzipan Ring Cake called kransekage…yummy!


Ecuador
Ecuadorians walk around the block with their suitcases to bring the journey of their dreams.

In Mexico, those who want to find love in the new year wear red underwear and yellow if they want money.


Italy
Green lentils are lucky new year's eve food usually served with sausage.


Worldwide
Toasting with champagne is a worldwide tradition.






Monday, December 28, 2009

Special Touches for a Touchdown Party

DIY Bloody Mary Bar.

Truth be told, I know as little about football as I know about astrophysics. I have never been to a game and have watched the Superbowl a few times from afar. Usually from a seat in the kitchen surrounded by plenty of beer and goodies…this is more my style.

Recently, Hip Hostess was asked to host a tailgating event, and although it was exciting, I knew it wouldn’t be without its challenges. Hip Hostess prides itself on visually appealing set ups. We knew we needed to find a way to incorporate some style and fun into the event without jeopardizing any of the machismo atmosphere.

We decided to kick off the party with a build-your-own bloody mary bar stocked with many delicious and a few surprising additives. Needless to say the bar was a big hit and we managed to pull it off visually without anybody feeling like they were losing any testosterone.




This set up was easy and inexpensive. All it takes is a few galvanized pails and some wooden flags which I bought at A.C. Moore for .50 cents a piece. I couldn’t find a link to the flags online but you could always use a dowel and a piece of paper just as easily. We printed the graphics on 3 1/3 x 4 easy peel shipping labels. If you are interested in the above graphics, please send us an email and we will get them to you ASAP. We used the following garnishes:

Cocktail Onions
Olives
Garlic stuffed olives
Pickled green beans
Pickled asparagus
Lemon
Roasted shrimp
Celery
Pickles

If your holidays are filled with watching football, this is a great way to make an impression that will have everyone talking about your fantastic and creative hostess skills.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hangover Help

Favor Idea.

Though we may love the holidays, we don't always love the morning after. All it takes is one or three too many glasses of champagne to put a cramp in your plans.

So if you are hosting a New Year's Party at your pad this year, consider giving out little Hangover Kits for your guests to take home with them. We created the one below using a little Altoid-like tin, patterned paper that coordinated with our party as a belly band, and a funny little label to add some charm. Fill it up with individual packets of advil, tums, alka seltzer, chasers...whatever you think best cures the ails of ale.


Make sure your guests each grab one on their way home (in a taxi of course). Believe me, your guests will be ever so grateful the next morning when they don't have to make a run to the store for supplies. Now all they need to do is order take-out, stake claim on the couch, and prepare for a trash tv marathon. It works every time...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

Twig & Thistle
This printable ornament wrap makes such a beautiful holiday party favor.


Design Dress D├ęcor
I would be very happy to have this table setting greet me on Christmas Day!

Today is brought you by the letter H…thanks to this ingenious Font Type Blog.
Delicious and de-gorgeous!!


Haute Design
A tight color palate and simple basic forms make this wreath extraordinary.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bourbon Balls

Holiday Confection Recipe.

Every family has their own traditional foods for the holidays. When I was growing up I used to help my grandma make all kinds of sweet treats, but my absolute favorite to make and eat was bourbon balls. Being a Kentucky-raised woman, "Mam" would not let a Christmas pass without these intoxicating treats on the table.

Now that I have my own kitchen ,you will always find a bottle of Jim Beam in my pantry that is forbidden for imbibing. It's sole purpose is for a little holiday splurge. Add this to your repetoire for the holidays. You'll love it!

Image from Shutterboo502

Chocolate Bourbon Balls

1/2 cup butter
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted (more as needed)
4 tablespoons bourbon
pecan halves
1 package semi sweet chocolate chips

Cream butter. Add sugar gradually. Beat well. Slowly add the bourbon, blending well. Chill 1 hour or more. Roll into 1" balls. Chill again for 1 hour or more.

Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Gently dip each ball in the chocolate and place on waxed paper. At this time before the chocolate sets place the pecan half on the top with a gentle push. Chill. Store in a covered container

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Smells of Christmas

Potpourri Recipe.

I love the holidays and since it always seems to have come and gone before you can blink an eye, I like to make the most of the few weeks leading up to the big event. One of my favorite things is to have a simmering pot of great smelling citrus fruit and cinnamon sticks on the stove, it gives the apartment a holiday feel.

It is super easy to throw together and I usually make 1 big batch and then use a little at a time throughout the holidays. Although I love the holiday’s, I do not love wrapping presents and always need a little boost to get this process going. Making the whole place smell like the holidays and throwing on some holiday tunes is usually all it takes.



Dried Orange and Lemon slices
Thinly slice citrus fruit and sandwich between paper towels and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and place in a single layer on foil lined baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for about an hour.

Holiday simmering potpourri
3 cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
1/4 cup whole cloves
1 teaspoon ground cloves
Handful of dried lemon slices with peel
Handful of dried orange slices with peel
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Mix all ingredients and store in Ziploc or airtight container. I’d use 1/3 mixture at a time (making sure I get one cinnamon stick and one bay leaf). Place your potpourri–along with about a quart of water–in a medium saucepan or slow cooker. Simmer on low heat, adding water as needed.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Clementine Christmas

Decorating for the holidays.

Living in a small apartment does not afford this Hip Hostess a lot of space to store a ton of Christmas decorations. If I have an extra 2' x 2' space in my closet, you better bet that I'm going to utilize it for important things like spare sheets, towels, or shoes. But then what is holiday hostess supposed to do when December is in full swing?

The answer is to decorate with items that you can buy at any grocery store, bodega, or farmers market - clementine oranges. They look great, smell great, and offer a wealth of opportunities to spruce things up. Here are some of my favorite uses of this festive fruit.

Sources: Little White Book, ♥Anna, Real Simple, Gret Design, Hip Hostess,
Martha Stewart, Golly_G, Alli411, Maralina

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Whipped Cream

Recipes.

I like to kick things up a notch around the holidays. One easy way to do this is to look for places in your normal traditions to add a little “wow” factor. For instance, if you know everyone will be huddled on the sofa watching Miracle on 34th Street with the usual cup of hot cocoa, then why not serve it with brown sugar whipped cream this year. If everyone grabs a cup of coffee before opening gifts then set out a bowl of cinnamon spice whipped cream as a topper. Almond whipped cream could be added to brownies or desserts and sweet jam whipped cream would be delicious on morning waffles.

These little touches are easily put together with a few ingredients from around the kitchen and well worth the smiles you will receive.


Chocolate Lover’s Dream
Beat 1 cup heavy cream, ¼ cup chocolate syrup and 1 tbs. confectioners’ sugar until stiff. Perfect on nut or cream pies

Yummy Almond
Beat 1 cup heavy cream, 2 tbs. confectioners’ sugar and 1 tbs. almond liquer or ¼ tsp. almond extract until stiff. Dollop onto chocolate cakes or fruit pies.

Brown Sugar
Beat 1 cup heavy cream, 2 tbs. packed dark brown sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla extract until stiff. Delicious on brownies or hot chocolate.

Cool Citrus
Beat 1 cup heavy cream, 3 tbs. confectioners’ sugar and 1 tsp. grated lemon or orange zest until stiff. Use on top of pound cake and puddings.

Cinnamon Spice
Beat 1 cup heavy cream, 3 tbs. granulated sugar, ½ tsp. vanilla extract and ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon until stiff. Makes gingerbread or a fancy coffee drink special.

Sweet Jam
Beat 1 cup heavy cream, 2 tbs. confectioners’ sugar and 2 tbs. seedless jam until stiff. Great on biscuits, waffles or French toast.

Each makes 2 cups.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cookie Plate for Santa

DIY.

I am always amazed at the great DIY projects offered on Cathe Holden’s blog, Just Something I Made. When talking to my friends with children it always seems one of the stresses of the holiday season is trying to sneak in a few minutes here and there to get all the holiday wrappings and decorations finished. When I saw the Cookies for Santa plate, I thought what a great project to keep the kids busy and give you some free time to wrap gifts, online shop, prepare stockings, etc.


If your kids are a little to young to do this project unsupervised then why not treat yourself and hire a babysitter for a couple of hours to oversee the project. Even better if you have a group from your neighborhood then have everyone kick in for the babysitter and have a kid’s block party of sorts giving the mom’s a few hours of holiday free time.

Cathe has really taken any guessing out of the project and given you a clear cut tutorial with great tips. If you are interested in a little down time to catch your breathe then check out this easy, inexpensive project at Just Something I Made.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

idiy
I love how they added different heights using the candlesticks instead of the bottles…genius!


Sunset
8 great gift plants and fabulous DIY packaging to go with them.

Check out these adorable DIY origmai wreaths.

Every year I wonder what I am going to do with my holiday cards…this is it!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Classy Cookie Containers

Gift Wrapping Ideas.

Like many people, I like to make an assortment of cookies to give out as gifts. This year I wanted to make this traditional gift idea seem a bit more special with unique packaging ideas...because you know how much we love packaging. When I ran across this handful of amazing ideas on Martha's site, I just had to share my faves!

1. Homemade Sampler Box - An empty tin container divided with corrugate cardboard, rectangular baking liners, and tissue paper.

2. Loaf Pan - I love that this package make a useful gift for the recipient too.

3. Jewelry Box - Available in a wide assortment of colors, this box looks really elegant lined with linen and filled with a few financiers.

4. Paper Tubes - Are easily transformed into candy canes with adhesive backed paper cut into strips and wrapped around.

5. Baking Mold - Again...reusable and outside of the norm. Love it!

6. CD Sleeve - All you need is one big cookie and a cute label to make this gift worthy of giving to anyone on your list.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Holiday Inspiration

I was inspired by all the cute mitten cookies. Maybe you will be to!

Photos courtesy of cheftools.com, BrokenRoadFarm on Etsy, Janey Cakes,
Getty Images, Harry & David and Flickr.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Vin Chaud

Hot Cocktail.

I was so very lucky to recently make a holiday jaunt to Europe. While on our trip, all the cities we visited were already in full swing for Christmas with beautiful decorations and window displays that were awe-inspiring. My favorite city for holiday cheer was definitely Paris. On the Champs Elysees they have set up dozens and dozens of booths where you can purchase handmade crafts and gifts and my favorite...FOOD!

With my husband completely full of all things nutella (crepes, waffles, and beignets), I promptly headed towards the booths with Vin Chaud. There is just nothing better than hot mulled wine when you are window shopping in the cold. Check out the recipe below to give it a try during the holidays. I think that I will make it and pretend that I'm right back in Paris. Ahh...

Image courtesy of Flickr.

Vin Chaud
1 bottle red wine (beaujolais if you can find it)
4 cinnamon sticks
1 5-inch by ½-inch piece of orange zest (white pith removed)
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cardamon pods
5 whole cloves
1/3 cup Cognac

Mix all the ingredients together in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to just under a simmer over the lowest heat setting on the stovetop. Do not allow the wine to boil. The mulled wine is hot enough when the sugar has dissolved and pulling and lifting a spoon from the wine brings up steam. If desired, strain the spices from the wine by pouring it through a fine-mesh sieve or a cheesecloth-lined collander. Add 1-2 teaspoons of Cognac to a mug and ladle the mulled wine over it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mowielicous Macaron Cake

Guest Post.

Oh my goodness are we excited about today's guest blogger, Mowielicious. We've long been fans of the beautiful work on the Mowielicious blog, and were thrilled when he offered to create something special for the Hip Hostess readers. Enjoy the amazing inspiration, recipes, and photos from our friend Mowie!!

Welcome everyone! My name is Mowie and I'll be your hostess with mostest this week.

For this guest post, I've made a chocolate sponge cake with chocolate buttercream and simply decorated it with some macarons that I made a few days ago. I first saw one of these cakes on my recent trip to Nantes, France, for my friends Anita & Gerald's wedding. The French really love their macarons, they go so far as to dedicate whole sections of their cafe's to them - it's an amazing obsession that left me in awe, marvelling at these delicate and colourful French beauties. So, when I saw this macaron cake in one of the cafe windows, needless to say I fell completely in love with it and have been meaning to replicate it ever since. It is absolutely perfect for a dinner party because it just has that amazing 'WOW!' factor to it. My best advice would be to make the macarons a few days in advance, keep them refrigerated, allowing all their flavours to infuse. Then, the night before your party, bake the chocolate cake and decorate it with the chocolate buttercream, macarons, and fruits.



For my absolutely divine chocolate sponge cake recipe, see below. For my actual macaron recipe, see my blog post Blackberry & Raspberry Macarons with Ginger & Lime buttercream filling. It's a lengthy post on my blog of all the macaron secrets I learned while making macarons for the first time, so I thought I'd keep this guest post short and sweet. Enjoy!

Chocolate Sponge Cake:

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
6 eggs, separated
A pinch of salt
1 ¼ cups sugar
½ cup cold water
¼ cup (heaped) cocoa powder


1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) and butter a circular cake tin with baking paper. Mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in one bowl.

2. Beat the 6 egg yolks in a separate large bowl and mix in the sugar.

3. Fold in the flour/cocoa mixture alternately with the water in roughly 2-3 additions each.

4. Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form, then fold this gently into the batter.

5. Pour batter into the tin and bake for roughly 45-60 minutes. Check to see if the cake is ready by inserting a metal skewer into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready. Take the cake out of the oven and allow to cool.

6. Once cool, slice in half, and add a layer of chocolate buttercream. Place the top half back on, and layer another level of buttercream on top. Don't worry too much about adding a layer of buttercream to the side of the cake, or about how the cake looks. Once you top it with the macarons and fruits, it doesn't matter what the bottom half looks like!

Chocolate Buttercream:
Ingredients:
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
300g butter, room temperature
200g good quality dark chocolate, melted over hot water bath (I used 80% Green & Black's)

1. Hand whisk the egg whites until foamy. Mix in the sugar, and place mixture over a water bath. Keep whisking by hand until the mixture turns whitish, is piping hot and the sugar has dissolved.

2. Remove from water bath and mix with an electric mixer on high speed. Keep mixing until the bowl starts to cool down.

3. Add butter, one tablespoon at a time at first, then two tablespoons at a time. Make sure to incorporate the butter properly into the mixture each time you add butter.

4. Add melted chocolate and incorporate completely.

5. Layer chocolate buttercream onto cake as described above, making sure that the top layer is quite thick. Again, it doesn't have to look pretty as that's what the macarons will do.

6. Place the macarons one at a time all around the cake to form a circle, as seen in the pictures. Add fruit to the middle and decorate with daisies or any flowers you happen to have lying around.

Keep refrigerated and serve cold.
-- blog: http://www.mowielicious.com/
twitter: @mowielicious
facebook: mowie kay
flickr: mowielicious

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Love and Luck

Holiday Gift Idea.

I love this time of year because it's filled with beautiful holiday decorations, great food, and fun parties. But it can be a stressful time too. How do you ever know what gifts to buy the hostess of that fabulous party or your Aunt Becky who you only see once a year? To streamline my shopping experience, I like to find one or two gift ideas that work for a large cross-section of people. I buy mulitiples, wrap them, and store them. So when you are running out the door for your co-workers house party, you can just grab from your stock and go.

One of my favorite items for my present stock is fun soaps. Everyone will use them, but few think to buy them for themselves. I was recently introduced to a lovely line of soaps by Love and Luck and I couldn't be happier. They have a subtle scent that makes you feel like you checked yourself into a spa for the day. And each soap is wrapped in their signature papers printed with lovely script-like illustrations and subtle touches of Swarovski sparkle. Now who wouldn't be thrilled to get that as a gift?


And while your are ordering these fabulous soaps, make sure to pick up a few cards from their line as well (another good thing to have in stock for last minute needs). You'll just love the charming illustrations that are simple and elegant all at once. See...no need to be stressed at all. Just stock up and be prepared to have fun during the holiday season.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

3 Lambs Graphics
I think this new twist on an old saying is perfectly fantastic advice.


Party Perfect
This safari party cake is just darling!!


A Summer Picnic Wedding
This creative Save the Date is truly charming and certainly memorable.


Once Wed
Wow…this floral arrangement is just gorgeous.

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Sponsor: The Celebration Shoppe

At Hip Hostess, we are all about the details. We think that a great party of any kind is just that much more special if you keep a cohesive theme from beginning to end...and special little aesthetic details can really make all of the difference.

And this is why we are absolutely loving our newest sponsor, The Celebration Shoppe. The Celebration Shoppe offers party "collections" that include everything you need for a striking event. From invites to cupcake toppers and everything in between, all you need to do is point and click to purchase all of the pieces to make your party a smashing success! How refreshing is that? Take a quick minute to check out TCS...and be prepared to be inspired!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

There’s more than one fish in the sea

Recipe.

Our normal repertoire at home, when it comes to seafood, is shrimp, salmon and occasionally, halibut or sole. Until recently when I saw arctic char on a couple of restaurant menus I had not given much thought to preparing it at home. Then I noticed it was popping up at my local grocery store and fish monger more frequently. So, I decided to do a little research.

Arctic char is a fish that is mostly farm-raised in Iceland. It is firm enough for grilling but moist and delicate to taste, arctic char is pinkish orange in color and described as a cross between salmon and trout. It has a balance of natural richness and stands up to bold flavors. It doesn’t get lost like a halibut, sole or other mild whitefish. It is recommended for people who prefer not to eat strong tasting fish but want the health benefits of omega-3’s.

That’s all it took to sell me on arctic char. I gave it a whirl with the below recipe from the Food Network and found it to be easy, as well as, delicious. Let me know what you think!

Arctic Char with Mushrooms Recipe

Ingredients

4 6-ounce skinless arctic char fillets (about 1 inch thick)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, plus more for drizzling
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 bunches arugula, trimmed

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the fish and sear until golden on the bottom and cooked halfway through, about 3 minutes. Flip onto a baking sheet and bake until cooked through, 3 to 5 more minutes.

Meanwhile, wipe out the skillet, return to medium-high heat and add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Add the mushrooms and cook, without stirring, until browned on one side, about 1 minute. Stir and cook until browned all over, about 3 more minutes. Add the shallots and cook until soft, stirring, about 2 minutes. Whisk in 2 tablespoons vinegar and the mustard and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the chives and parsley.

Drizzle the arugula with oil and vinegar in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss. Divide among plates and serve with the fish. Spoon the mushrooms and pan juices on top.

Per serving: Calories 376; Fat 19 g (Saturated 3 g); Cholesterol 80 mg; Sodium 399 mg; Carbohydrate 14 g; Fiber 1 g; Protein 38 g

Friday, December 4, 2009

Modern Genealogy

New twist on a tradition.

Unfortunately, we don’t really have a historian in my family. So both sides of my family tree are limited, to say the least. I have always found the family tree interesting research but it is one of those things that always get pushed to the back behind the other 999 things waiting to be done.

However when I saw this website, Modern Genealogy, it inspired me to be more proactive in tracking down my roots. I love the chic looks of the family tree and the thought of displaying a little family history in a modern way.

The holidays are a great time to get together with family and talk about the old times over a couple cocktails. It makes for some fun reminiscing, as well as, gaining valuable insight for your genealogy project.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Eat Cake Be Merry

Wedding Cake Trends.

Oh how I love a beautiful wedding cake. It's the perfect mix of two of my favorite things...delicious dessert and design. So when I received an email from the incredibly talented Liz Shim of Eat Cake Be Merry featuring some new photos of her work, I was positively giddy.

Liz was also kind enough to share some of the trends that she is seeing in wedding cake designs. I think these are great tips in choosing a design that adds such a special touch to your big day. Thanks, Liz!!

Wedding cakes have always been the main centerpiece of receptions. Here are some trends in cake design to follow this upcoming year:

1. Graphic images and patterns: Many couples use very modern, creative, and elaborate graphics to bring cohesion to all their printed such as invitations, menus, place cards, and programs. Why not the cake too? There's been a growing trend in tying the elements of those very graphics into their cake design.

2. Monograms: It's personal and elegant. Cursive scripts are timeless, but modernizing a monogram with simple fonts such as Neutra text can really make a cake trendy.

3. Playing with tiers: Variations in the shape and height of tiers can create an up to date and impressive product. Try hexagon, blossom, or oval shapes in combination with circles and squares. Or, consider going higher than the standard 4" height of tiers. Cakes that are tall and narrow look delicate and have an added a sense of sophistication.

4. Eco-Friendly: Being eco-friendly is trendy for everything right now. Naturally, this includes cake also! Color schemes that embrace variations of greens and browns deliver a meaningful message to your guests and perfectly complement the environment of an outdoor wedding.

5. Vibrant colors on a simple canvas. For brides that desire to have the traditional look of a white cake, but somehow want to add a little modern flair, color is the answer. Consider a tall pleated white cake with one oversized ruby colored flower. Very chic!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Favor Affair Contest Winner


It's another new month and we have another lucky winner for a Hip Hostess contest! The recipient of the fantastic Favor Affair $25 gift certificate is:

Nicole-Lynn who said...
Great giveaway! I just got engaged so winning this would definitely help us out! My favorite item is their "Love Beyond Measure" Heart Measuring Spoons in Gift Box; would be a great bridal shower thank you gift for the guests!
Congrats to Nicole-Lynn and thanks to all of you who entered to win. Remember to stay tuned for upcoming HH contests.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Link Love

Juicy Bits
Check out all the awesome details at Theo's construction birthday party.



The Broke Ass Bride
Looking for an inexpensive wedding cake without sacrifing any of the style?



Simple + Pretty
Who wouldn't want to get set loose in here?



Party Blog
Inspirational holiday decorating ideas.