Thursday, June 30, 2011

The British Are Coming!

Drink Recipe.

I know that drinking a quintessentially British drink on Independence Day may seem a bit sacrilegious, but that's exactly what I'm suggesting. Because a Pimm's Cup is just that good.

Kind of like England's equivalent of a mojito, Pimm's Cups are fantastic to make in large quantities and will most certainly quench your thirst during the hot and sunny holiday weekend. I think you'll like it!

Pimm's Cup

2 oranges, cut into half-moons
2 lemons, cut into half-moons
1 English Cucumber, sliced
1 cup strawberries, sliced
2 cups Pimm's No. 1
4 cups Ginger Ale or Ginger Beer
6 to 8 large sprigs mint, crushed gently, plus a few loose leaves

Fill 2 pitchers 1/4 full with ice. To each, add a layer of orange slices, a few lemon slices, a layer of cucumber slices, and strawberry slices. Repeat the layering, reserving 1/4 of each for garnish. Pour in the Pimm's and Ginger Ale, dividing between pitchers, and mix with a long-handled spoon. Poke mint sprigs and leaves down into drink.

Divide drink among 8 tall glasses, with a few slices of fruit and cucumber in each glass, along with some mint leaves.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Beyond Burger Basics

Food variations.

Oh how I love a burger hot off of a charcoal grill. In fact I almost jumped over a neighbor's fence on the way home from the gym this week because the smell of their grilled goodness was so intoxicating.

For the Fourth of July, I have no doubt that a lot of grilling will be had by all. And while I love the basic ketchup, mustard, and pickle topping as much as anyone, I think it might be fun to do a burger bar for a big party.

To get inspiration, I'd definitely study the menu at Kuma's Corner (the most kick *ss heavy metal burger haven in Chicago). Here are some inspiration exciting combos:

YOB - Smoked Gouda, Bacon, Roasted Red Peppers, Roasted Garlic Mayo

High On Fire - Siracha Hot Chili Sauce, Prosciutto, Roasted Red Pepper, Grilled Pineapple, Sweet Chili Paste

Pantera - Roasted Poblano Pepper, Bacon, Chedder and Monterey Jack, Ranchero Sauce, Tortilla Strips

Now don't those inspire you to be adventurous???

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Link Love

Tuesday Inspiration.

Kiss My Spatula
Blueberry Quinoa tart. The quinoa makes it healthy, right?

Simply Photo
Wild flowers, drinking glass, and twine. So simple, yet so lovely.

Studio with a View
LOVE these city map illustrations!!

Grey Likes Weddings
This signature cocktail display is SO pretty! It makes me thirsty.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Picnic Potato Salad


It just isn't a Summer cookout or picnic to me if I don't have some sort of potato salad. The only problem is that mayonnaise based salads and a long day in the heat do not make a perfect match. Which is why I love french style potato salads that are made with a vinaigrette style dressing instead.

My favorite recipe is from Ina Garten and over the years I have made slight variations to suit my taste. Every time I serve this, it's a huge hit. I think you should try substituting this out for your normal recipe this weekend for your 4th of July grill outs and get-togethers!

French Potato Salad

2 pounds small red boiling potatoes
2 tablespoons good dry white wine
2 tablespoons chicken stock
1 cup haricot vert
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 tablespoons good olive oil
1/4 cup minced scallions (white and green parts)
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves

Place the red potatoes into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until just tender. Remove potatoes with a colander and place in a bowl. Top bowl with a towel to allow the potatoes to steam for 10 more minutes. Add the haricot vert to the boiling water and cook for 1 - 2 minutes until only slightly tender. Drain and plunge in an ice bath to stop cooking.

Once potatoes are cool enough to touch, cut in 1/2 (quarters if the potatoes are larger) and place in a large bowl along with haricot vert. Toss gently with the wine and chicken stock. Allow the liquids to soak into the warm potatoes before proceeding.**

Combine the vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Add the vinaigrette to the potatoes. Add the scallions, dill, parsley, basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Serve warm or at room temperature.

** This step is SO important as the potatoes and haricot vert will absorb a lot of flavor. It makes all of the difference.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Vanilla Roasted Berries

I always look for easy desserts that are light yet enticing when having summer get-togethers. This recipe from Poppytalk, address’ all of the above, and delivers in spades. It takes about 20 minutes and gives you a delicious topping for shortcakes, ice cream or pound cake. Couldn’t be easier and is still different enough to make people ooh and aah.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Plumen Light Bulbs

There is a new light bulb in town folks and it uses 80% less energy and lasts 8 times longer than incandescent lighting. The best part is that it is stylish.

On the Plumen website they mention that “It’s strange that the bulb, an object so synonymous with ideas, is almost entirely absent of imagination.” Well not anymore, grab your Plumen light bulbs and let them add effortless chic to your home or event.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Homemade Ice Cream


When I was a kid, I remember that on hot summer days we would bring out the old ice cream maker. And when I say old, I mean old.

We'd all take turns cranking away at at a contraption that looked like an oxygen tank landed in a wooden bucket of ice. But all of our efforts were so very much worth the results. The homemade ice cream that resulted was so delicious that it made the stuff from the super market seem very sad.

Now there are a ton of ice cream maker options that don't cost a fortune or require a family of 4+ taking turns cranking a handle forever. And I'm dying to make some fun and unique flavored ice cream. Here are some that I found recently that have definitely peeked my interest:

Pine Nut Rosemary Ice Cream

Candied Apple Ice Cream

Cookie No-Dough Ice Cream

Cherry Bourbon Ice Cream

Maple Walnut

Raspberry Ice Cream

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fourth of July Invites in a Flash


Throwing a 4th of July bash but running low on time to prep?

Follow these easy instructions to create the adorable invites above using clip art. And then you can spend your time focusing on the most important part of a good party...the food, drinks, and entertainment.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Link Love

Tuesday Inspiration.

If you want to test the waters in learning about a skills such as making pasta, portrait drawing, or knitting, this Chicago-based company is the place to go.

A Continuous Lean
The image of these umbrellas under the Cote d'Azur sky make me want to take a holiday STAT!!

Lara Ferroni
I love cherries. I love doughnuts. I’m pretty sure that I would love Cherry Cake Doughnuts.

Charles Luck
This stone vanity is absolutely stunning.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Jello Shot Jury

Don’t let the sheep in wolves clothing fool you on this one. At first glance it seems to be an elegant dessert, but in fact, it is a Jello shot. It seems that the 80’s Jello shot craze is coming back and being taken to a whole new level.

I’m having a hard time with this trend. Even though they might not admit it, most people secretly love Jello shots. But they require some slurping and some not so pretty Jello eating faces when consumed. My question to you fellow Hip Hostess’, “Will the Jello shot ever really become acceptable at a high end event?”

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Wicked Watermelon

Cocktail Recipe.

When I go to the supermarket and see watermelons on sale, I nearly do a happy dance. I then proceed to cradle my prized (and heavy) possession up several flights of stairs to our apartment and then cut the whole thing into large chunks to store in the fridge.

And for the next few days, I swarm like a shark around said fridge…resisting the urge to eat the whole bowl in one sitting. To make myself feel better, I’ll spoon it into smaller bowls…several times a day…until it is gone.

photo courtesy of flickr.

My husband thinks I’m crazy. He is OK with watermelon, but not a fanatic like me. But I think I have a sure fire way to bring him to the dark side. Add booze.

The trick is that it can’t taste TOO much like watermelon for my husband to like it. But I still want to impart the sweet refreshing quality of the fruit that makes me go gaga.

So I was pretty psyched to find the perfect recipe when I was cleaning out files this week and a random sheet from an old Glamour Magazine “magically” appeared. And it has a great name too: “Forget the Mistake You Made at Work Margarita”. Looks like I’ll be cradling another watermelon up the stairs for this weekend’s newest libation experiment…

Forget the Mistake You Made at Work Margarita
serves 4-6

3 cups chopped watermelon
Juice of 10 lime
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups ice cubes, plus more for serving
1 cup white tequila
1/2 cup Grand Marnier (Cointreau or Triple Sec is fine too)
Kosher Salt

In a blender combine watermelon, lime juice, sugar, and 2 cups of ice. Blend until smooth. Add tequila and Grand Marnier, pulsing to blend.

Using leftover portions of limes to run along the rim of tall glasses, and then dip in a small plate of kosher salt. Fill each glass with ice and top with blended margarita and serve.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Daniel Boulud Breakfast


If you've ever been fortunate enough to eat at a Daniel Boulud restaurant, you probably have as much respect for him as I do. Which is why I LOVE his food features in Elle Decor.

This a fabulous breakfast idea, Ultimate Scrambled Eggs with Creme Fraiche and Caviar.

I know that scrambled eggs may seem pedestrian, but the truth is that most people over cook their eggs ending up with something akin to rubber.

The trick is to SLOW DOWN when cooking them and you'll end up with rich and creamy deliciousness. And because Monsieur Daniel dressed eggs up in this recipe, you can easily impress your sweetie with breakfast in bed...even if you operate a little less efficiently in the morning (like yours truly). Enjoy!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ikat Crazy


Ikat (ee-kaht) designs have long been popular in interior and fashion design, but that popularity has completely spiked in the last year. And I'm absolutely loving it!!

Not to be left behind, graphic designers are employing this technique in invitation design now as well, with an effect that is so chic. And with the prevalence of this pattern in clothing and other textiles, you could easily weave them together for a fabulous event aesthetic.

Here are some of my favorite invite designs that could set the tone for your big day...


KM Calligraphy

Bow & Arrow

Red Stamp


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Father's Day Download

What a great “wow” factor from The Idea Room for your Father’s day celebration. This is a fun project for the kids and you get a great presentation for your party. No matter what the beverage, these tags are sure to make dad feel extra special.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Link Love

Delicious snowcones on a hot summer day.

Cute invites for a summer soiree.

Proof that a table doesn't have to be expensive to be chic.

Always with Butter
Summer hostess gift...great with ice cream.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Vegetable Paradise

Who needs flowers when you have fresh vegetables? I love the look of this table, by Marie Claire Maison. Many great ideas to borrow for you summer soirees.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Espresso Mud Pie

I prefer cake to ice cream which is why ice cream cake doesn’t really do it for me. I always end up wishing I had more cake than just a VERY thin layer at the bottom. Of course, I am basing this on Carvel’s ice cream cake since that is what everyone on the east coast seems to serve.

That being said, ice cream pie is a whole different story, because I would choose ice cream before pie. I know, my life is so complicated. So, when I saw a layer of espresso gelato covered with chocolate ganache all sitting on a cookie crust I knew it had to be good. Rich chocolaty goodness followed with a caffeine kick…sign me up.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Crock Pot Pork Tacos


When it is hot, hot, hot outside I do not, not, not want to be standing in front of the stove to make dinner. And sometimes, I don't even want to be standing in front of the grill baking in the sun. If you are having one of these days, you need to bring out the slow cooker and try these pulled pork tacos.

My aunt and I whipped these up for the fam this weekend, and I believe we all said "OMG" about 1000 times out of pure happiness. One word to the wise, when you microwave the dried peppers to make them more pliable, be prepared for some potent smoke/fumes...but it passes very quickly.

And I'd definitely recommend topping these yummy delights with a little queso fresco and pineapple salsa. It's the perfect mixture of spicy, sweet, and creamy. Here's a quick and easy pineapple salsa recipe that worked well for us:

Pineapple Salsa
Makes enough for 8 tacos

1/2 whole pineapple, cut into small chunks
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
juice of 1/2 lime
salt & pepper to taste

Combine all of the above ingredients and allow to sit for 10 - 15 minutes to let the flavors meld together.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Zucchini Chips

Okay, we might as well go for the trifecta. If I am already throwing kale and radishes into the oven, why not cut up some zucchini? I think these low calorie healthy veggie chips are the perfect summer treat. They would be great on road trips, or how about something to munch on while you’re by the pool or at the beach? I like the idea of a girl’s poker night with baskets of veggie chips sitting on the table.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Milk and Cookies

Great idea from Family Chic! Reused green Schweppes Ginger Ale bottles with just a straw and some store bought butter cookies. This easy idea would be great for a children’s birthday party or part of your candy or cookie display table.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Link Love.

Tuesday Inspiration.

An all white vacation house that is just so chic…

I am absolutely swooning over the mixture of hanging flowers and stationary flowers in this Greenhouse Wedding inspiration shoot.

My Retro Baby
A baby fedora. Practical?…I have no idea. Adorable?…yes!!

The Kitchn
Homemade cotton candy without a machine.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Balloon Banner

Party Decor DIY.

Goodness, this balloon banner from Design Mom is such a wonderful backdrop for her toddler's first birthday!

And the easy DIY makes it totally doable for anyone to attempt on their own. For the low, low price of balloons, endless color possibilities, and the dramatic effect, this is a no-brainer. How fun!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ice Cream Cookie Cups

Who needs a waffle bowl when you can have chocolate chip cookie bowls? This would be great for a backyard bbq or your 4th of July celebration. I haven’t tried it yet, but I have to believe, it would best served outside. The probability of it getting messy is pretty high!

I plan on putting a Hip Hostess spin on these to make them cocktail party worthy. Instead of using a muffin tin, I am going to downsize and use a mini muffin tin and fill each bite size cup with a tablespoon full of mint sorbet and serve with an ice cold Limoncello.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Infuse your Independence Day


We've talked about how amazing homemade infused alcohols are on the HH blog...and they truly are amazing. But the one downside to infusing liquor, is that it takes time to do it just right.

So if you are planning to host a 4th of July Bash, now is the time to get started so you have a perfect custom cocktail.

Here's a great tutorial on exactly what you need to well as some great combo ideas (Figs & Bourbon...yum!!).

I think that I'll make a couple of small batches to test first (if you do small quantities, it should only take a week or so to develop the flavor). Then once I have the perfect blend, I'll bring out the big mason jars and start my own liquor laboratory. Now that's a science experiment that I can get into!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Handy Little Box

I saw this box on Etsy and thought I would share. I love the fact that it is simple yet still stylish. It’s $10.00 for the set of 12 which includes the box, parchment and baker’s twine. If you are responsible for bringing a dessert to any type of outdoor fun, this would be the perfect packaging.

You could use a slice of pie, cake or strudel. The best part is that once you set down your dessert you never have to worry about it again. You don’t have to track down your plate or cake knife (which always disappear) or worry about being available to slice. Best of all it is covered so you don’t have to worry about flies in your frosting. Everyone can easily help themselves and then everything is recyclable when finished.

My suggestion is to put an order in now so you’ll have them on hand to grab and go for your next outdoor event.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Make Your Own Havianas


In summer, I practically live in flip-flops. And I know that I'm not the only one. My absolute favorite brand is Havianas. They are comfortable the very first time you put them on (no between the toe rubbing or blisters with these puppies) and come in a wide variety of colors. So I was extremely excited when I saw this:

That's right. Customized Havianas. Yes!!

I can't wait to create my own custom combo for the beach and weekends. And these would be great favors for a Spa event. Or a bridal party gift for destination weddings. Or to have on hand at a family beach house...match your decor perhaps. The possibilities are endless...