Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fuyu Persimmons

Food.

It’s persimmon time! That’s right, the tomato looking fruit with the funny looking stem should be arriving at your local supermarkets any moment. The persimmon has the consistency of a tomato but with a mild sweet-tart flavor.

When buying a persimmon look for a plump, round fruit with deep-red undertones. They ripen quickly, so buy firm fruits if you don’t plan to use them right away. Let the fruits ripen at room temperature. Once they start to soften, refrigerate them until ready to use.




Persimmons require little prep. Just remove the stem and the core before starting. Very much like you would do with a tomato.

This year I would like to give persimmons a little more face time. I usually grab one or two and pair them with prosiutto (instructions below) but my goal this year is to become more familiar with the illusive fruit. If you have a special recipe or prep for a persimmon…I would love to hear about it.

Persimmon and Proscuitto

Slice 12 thin layers of Fuyu persimmon and place on a cookie sheet
Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of sugar or sugar substitute ( turbinado works well)
Put under the broiler until caramelized and add salty prosciutto to the top.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Last Minute Halloween Costume

DIY.
It's Friday and you've been procrastinating about whether or not your are going to dress up and attend a particular Halloween party this weekend. You know you want to go...dressing up in silly costumes makes any party more fun.

Before you have heart palpitations trying to come up with a creative costume...or even worse fighting with someone at Ricky's over the last non-slutty girl costume...check out Refinery 29's hilarious and easy ideas for last minute costumes from this year, last year, and the year before. They are all genius.

I love this one...Freudian Slip.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Simply Stunning

Gift.

With how fast October has flown by, I know Christmas and Chanukah will be here in the blink of an eye. So I'm currently on the lookout for interesting, useful, and tasteful gift ideas.

I already mentioned my favorite holiday hostess gift, Mannix Vanilla. Now I'm loving this glass carafe from Design Stockholm as a gift for those on your list that love smart minimal designs.



This tall 40-ounce carafe is perfect for holding a bottle of wine or even water for your dinner table. Or move the spherical glass cap (available in several different colors) and place underneath to display an arrangement of flowers. Simply lovely.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kids-Digs.com

Party Hats.

All my pictures of my birthday parties growing up have a bunch of kids sitting around a table wearing birthday hats and me at the head of the table wearing not only a birthday hat but a huge cheesy grin.
I loved those hats and probably still would if you sat one atop my head right now.

The thing about birthday hats is if you are not going for a Dora the Explorer theme or a Disney movie of some type then it is really hard to find a suitable hat. That is until I received an email from Dana Miller of kids-digs.com. Dana is a stay at home mom with three boys and has turned her love of special occasion hats into a business.



All of Dana’s hats are super cute and would definitely be a great place to start if you are searching for a theme for an upcoming party. Check them out…you won’t be disappointed.




Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Link Love

Tuesday Inspiration.

Dollar Store Crafts
DIY apothecary jars for $2 a pop. Awesome.



Joy the Baker
Another genius idea from Joy…Chocolate Glazed Doughnut Muffins.



Etsy Weddings
Custom wedding portrait stamps are so cute!



The Wedding Chicks
It isn’t blush and bashful…but this all pink wedding is pretty lovely.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pop Goes Pumpkin

Party Game.

Martha Stewart and her team have come up with a great Halloween game called “pop goes the pumpkin.” It is easy, fun and doubles as d├ęcor.



She suggested it for kids but to tell you the truth I know I would have a great time playing a round of pop goes the pumpkin darts. Especially if it had nifty little gifts in each balloon. Just make sure to protect your wall, especially if drinks are involved. Either way, I think pop goes the pumpkin is a great Halloween game for all ages. You can see the tutorial here.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Spicy Spicy

Organization.

Go ahead and call me a geek. I just love organization! It could be a mild case of OCD that causes my heart to palpitate when my home is even slightly disheveled. But nonetheless, the feeling that I get when I perfectly organize my stuff is just pure elation and pride. Yup...Grade "A" Geek.

Well I'm going to share my newest reason for geeking-out at the homestead: Ikea's Rajtan Spice Jars.



If you've ever searched for the perfect spice jar set, you might understand my excitement. Most sets have one of the following problems.

1. They come pre-marked with some obscure spices that you'll never use.
2. The containers come in a case that is odd to store and you'd never want out.
3. You can't buy additional jars to add on if you use a wide variety of spices.
4. They're ugly.
5. Lots, lots, more.

The beauty of these jars is that you buy them in sets of 4...for the mere cost of $2.99. They are unlabeled...so you can use you handy label maker to mark them with whatever spices YOU use the most. And they are freakin' adorable.



I outfitted this entire drawer above with the little jars filled with spices that I use the most. And I bought extra to keep in the cupboard for those that I use less frequently (I store them in an old baking pan so I can easily lift the whole assortment out at the same time). Geekiness in full effect...and I love it!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tomato and Meatball Soup

Recipe.

I am on a big soup kick right now. I make a big pot on Sunday for dinner and then I continue to nosh on the leftovers for lunch during the week. And the best thing about it is that soup almost always tastes better the next day.

My husband and I certainly have our family favorites, but I've been mixing it up a bit this fall and trying all new recipes. I'll often switch the recipe up a bit based on what I have in my fridge or cupboard or what looks best at the grocery store.

This week, I modified a recipe from Cook's Country Best Lost Suppers Cookbook (which is wonderful)...and I think the recipe is a winner. It's even fast and easy enough to make on a weeknight. Give it a try. I think you'll like it!



Tomato and Meatball Soup
Serves 6 to 8

Meatballs
2 slices of white sandwich bread, torn into large pieces**
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 large egg, slightly beaten
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 lb extra lean ground beef

Soup
8 oz whole wheat rotini pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, small diced
1 onion, minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes in puree
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
grated Parmesan
julienned basil

Meatballs
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, place the milk and bread and allow to soak for a minute or two. Using a fork whisk the two ingredients to combine. Stir in the parm, garlic, thyme, egg, salt, and pepper. Add the meat and mix together with a fork to keep the mixture light and not dense. Wet your hands and roll 1-inch meatballs, placing them on the baking sheet. You should have 30 - 35meatballs.

Soup
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cool water and set aside.

In the meantime, heat the oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the carrots and cook for 2 minutes. Add the onion and cook an additional 5 - 7 minutes until translucent but not brown. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook for 30 seconds until garlic becomes very fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes and stock. Add the meatballs without stirring, and bring the temperature up to a simmer. Cook until meatballs are tender but cooked through, about 15 minutes. Add the pasta to the soup and season with salt & pepper to taste.

Serve each bowl with a sprinkle of Parmesan and julienned basil on top.

** I keep a loaf of white bread in the freezer and defrost pieces as I need them for recipes that call for fresh breadcrumbs.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Having a Halloween Party?

Party Ideas.

While doing my usual internet perusal I couldn’t help but notice everything Halloween is really cute this year. Check out a few of my favorites.

Southern Living
What a great yet practical way to use pumpkins!



Etsy
Vintage Mini Alphabet Cards with endless possibilities.



Etsy
What’s scarier than a bloody hand print?



Better Homes and Garden
I love the chalkboard.



Sunset Magazine
Spooky yet delicious.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Unique Kitchen Gifts

Kitchen gadgets.

I love online retailers that have a plethora of assorted interesting goods. A Plus R is definitely one of those places. I especially liked some of their space-saving kitchen gadgets. I think they'd make great shower gifts for a future bride. Here are some of my faves:

Compact Herb Chopper
This ingenious gadget is a chopper and cutting board in one. Totally cute and takes up very little space in your cupboards.



Spaghetti Measure
A slide guide on the side adjusts from 1 - 4 servings. And another compact design!



Cutting Board
A cutting board that folds in half so you can easily create a chute that drains and then deposits your chopped veggies wherever you need them.



Colander
And my absolute favorite. A colander that can be stored flat and then folds up on all sides to create a strainer. Do you know how much I'd like for my colander to take up less space?? Love this.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

Intimate Weddings Blog
This photo makes me want to go on a hayride and drink spiked apple cider.



At First Swoon
Great buffet!



Sweet Paul
Goodbye swimsuit season…Hello salted caramel and chocolate cake.



Inkspotworkshop
Time to buy a new 2011 calendar.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Banana Bread

Recipe.

There is nothing quite as delicious as a slice of moist banana bread on a crisp fall day. That is why I was so excited to see that Cooking Light dedicated a whole section to many different varieties of the bread. The recipes range from the original to banana fosters bread.



This is the perfect recipe for this time of year. Banana bread is super easy to make and looks so cute in individual little loaves. Not only could you bake-up a few of these breads and fill the house with wonderful smells but you could make a couple extra batches and freeze them. Then every time you are running out of the house for a sporting event or visiting the pumpkin patch you have a healthy, delicious snack that everyone will appreciate.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pixie Chicago Contest

Contest.

You know how much we love paper at HH! And our newest contest is all about it thanks to Pixie Chicago.

Pixie was started by a talented woman named Cassie who decided to leave her day job at an advertising agency and break out on her own. Now Pixie works on projects from wedding invites (and all of the paper products that create a cohesive wedding aesthetic), party invites, and even note cards...remember what it was like when we wrote hand-written notes instead of emails?!?

And you can win your own piece of Pixie - a $30 gift certificate to use on the Pixie Chicago Etsy Site.



To enter the contest, just leave us a comment letting us know what you think about Pixie. Be sure to leave your email so we can contact you. You have until October 30 to enter. We'll announce the winner on November 1st. Good luck!


Friday, October 15, 2010

Tricky Treats!

Fun Halloween Candy.

Last week Dylan Lauren was making the rounds talking about her new book, Unwrap Your Sweet Life. It got me wondering what kind of unusual treats her store, Dylan's Candy Bar, might have for Halloween. My favorite find? Gourmet Candy Corn.



With flavors like Blackberry Cobbler, Creme Brulee, and Pumpkin Spice you can never call these versions of the old stand-by boring. And I'm loving the little pails and divine colors!!!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Rossi + Fustini

Pantry Products.

I think by now everyone pretty much knows the Hip Hostess philosophy of being prepared for guests. Whether it is impromptu dinner gathering, the neighborly drop in or my personal favorite, my husband calling at 4:30pm to let me know he is bringing someone home for dinner…and oh yeah, “What are we having?”

That’s why I have decided to purchase some Rossi Pasta for just such occasions. They come in delicious flavors like pumpkin spice, very chili, tomato basil and lemon pepper to name a few. The pasta packaging is also beautiful enough to throw into a gift basket if the need arises.



But that’s not all. I am also going to purchase some Fustini’s oils and vinegars to enhance the flavor of the pasta. Fustini’s offers sage mushroom olive oil, basil and Persian Lime.

I think the first pasta dish I will attempt will be Pumpkin Spice Fettucini and Sage Mushroom Olive Oil with smoked sausage and mushrooms.

How’s that for prepared?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mannix Vanilla

Fabulous Food Product.

Anyone that describes something ordinary or bland as "vanilla" obviously hasn't tried Mannix Vanilla. It is way too flavorful to ever warrant that insult.



So what makes this vanilla so "un-vanilla"? It is the labor of love that goes into producing it. The Mannix family extensively researched the process of creating quality vanilla and started making small batches in 1991. Over the years, they have perfected the method of cold extracting the product from beans via air perculation...and it creates the purest most vibrant vanilla that you ever tasted. Each bottle contains the unfiltered double-strength extract and a vanilla bean, so the flavor will actually intensify over time instead of fade like the kind you find at your grocery store.

And of course if I love this product, you know that it has to look good. Mannix vanilla is packaged in bottles imported from Italy and hand labeled to cap off a unique and incredibly charming aesthetic. Love it!



In fact I was so inspired by this product and its aesthetic, that I'm planning to give these as hostess gifts this holiday season. I tested several recipes with Mannix Vanilla this weekend and really loved what it did for my Creme Brulee. So I've created the custom recipe card below to include with each gift.

Feel free to download this and follow my lead. You know your friends will love it...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

The Decorista
I am totally crushing on this shiny mosaic tile staircase.



Not Your Average Ordinary
This jewelry is so very charming.



Delicious Days
Prosecco and berry jelly…I want some.



Once Wed
I love the moody feel of this wedding shot. Simply gorgeous.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Why didn't I think of that??

I recently went to a Brooklyn restaurant and was admiring the way their champagne chillers matched the color of the decor perfectly. I guess I must have been sipping a little too much champagne, because it took me a while to realize they were actually paint cans. Now there are a few people in my life who would be as excited as myself to see a paint can turned into an inexpensive, yet practical, one-of-a-kind champagne chiller and not a freaking one of them was around.



The group that I was with was less than thrilled with my cool find. What they didn’t see is a great way to add self serve custom vignettes of wine or champagne to any event along with a “wow” factor and you won’t have to take out a loan to do it. So, my fellow hip hostesses , can I get a woot woot?!?!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hard Candy Cotton Candy Maker

Fun Kitchen Equipment.

I recently heard some great feedback about a little machine that takes hard candies and transforms them into cotton candy for just $49.95. Not only, is it cheaper than renting a machine for the day but you won’t have to worry about buying expensive powders and mixes. If you have a kid’s party in your near future, this could make you the coolest mom ever.

If anyone has one of these nifty gadgets I have a watermelon jolly rancher all ready to go.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Make Your Own Manicure

Beauty.

I love getting mani/pedi's. It's my time to sit and speed read all of the gossip mags, enjoy a killer massage chair, and make my hoofs and claws look lovely. And after my pamper session, I just feel so much prettier.

But what happens when my perfectly enameled nails start to chip? My digits stay unadorned for at least 3 weeks before I'm willing to make the splurge again. You see...I can push back cuticles, shape my nails, and moisturize perfectly...but I can't apply my own polish to save my life. I might get one coat on perfectly; but somewhere between basecoat, 2 coats of color, and topcoat, I am bound to make at least a couple of mistakes. And then I tried Sally Hansen's Complete Salon Manicure.



I can thank the pharmacist for taking too long to fill a prescription for this one. I wandered around Walgreen's just a little too long and convinced myself it was worth a try...and it was.

This polish goes on very smoothly and the flat brush gives you SO much control. And only two coats gives you the same coverage and results as a basecoat, strengthener, growth treatment, color, and top coat. Sweet!

My favorite color is Commander and Chic (the middle one below). Now my nails can look great all of the time!!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ginger Mojitos for a crowd

Cocktail Recipe.

Football season is here and the holidays are fast approaching. This usually means crowds. And what do you do with a large crowd? Ply them with Ginger Mojitos of course.

Check out this recipe found on Chow.com that is all about infusing the simple syrup with ginger ahead of time and the best part no muddling needed.




Ginger Mojitos
Makes: 12 drinks

Ingredients for the base:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 4-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater about 1/3 cup packed
2 cups tightly packed fresh mint leaves from about 2 bunches
1 750 milliliter bottle white rum
1 ½ cups freshly squeezed lime juice from about 18 medium limes

To serve:
Ice
2 ¼ cups club soda chilled
12 fresh mint sprigs

Instructions
For the base:

1. In a small saucepan, bring sugar, water, and ginger to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add mint leaves, stir to combine, and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
2. Place a fine mesh strainer over a 1-1/2 to 2 quart container and strain the syrup, discarding the solids. Add rum and lime juice and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Flower Arranging

DIY Tip.

Today I want to share another vintage Martha Stewart tip that is simply genius! You may know that I love monochromatic arrangements because they are always sophisticated and kind of hard to screw up. But this tip makes life even easier.



If you want a grouping of several small arrangements, forget the vase...use a toothbrush holder. Place one or two stems in each hole and you'll have a perfectly spaced and secure arrangement.

Isn't that a great tip?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

Desserts for Breakfast
What a way to start the day!



Grace Design
Fall is here…give your trench a pop of color.



One Charming Party
Check out this step-by-step to creating a fabulous art party.



Cap Classique
This is a photo you'll not soon forget.