Posts tagged Home & Hostess
Share these crowd pleasers at a holiday event, dinner party, or wrap them up as gifts!
December 7th, 2012 | 6:18 AM
One thing we love about the holidays? The never-ending flow of delectable sweets to our doorstep, kitchen table, under the Christmas tree… and ultimately, to our tummy. This year, delight your friends and family with holiday goodies unlike the rest. We’re excited to share some of our favorite, easy recipes that are perfect for all those holiday events and gift-giving. Send some to school with your kid to share with the class!
Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bites (Recipe)
These guys are much easier to make than it seems.
All you need is four simple ingredients: store-bought caramels, a bag of pretzel nuggets, semisweet chocolate, and almonds.
Dress them up with the holiday sprinkle colors of your choice! Red and green for Christmas, blue and white for Hanukkah… you get the idea.
Gingerbread Cupcakes (Recipe)
The holidays call for gingerbread. Gingerbread cookies, gingerbread houses, gingerbread lattes…. this seasonal flavor is all around you to enjoy.
When you’re looking to get your gingerbread fix, but want to lighten the load of sugar and fat, pull out this relatively healthy recipe from Weight Watchers and bake away!
Using whole wheat flour, applesauce, molasses, and a medley of spices like ginger, cinnamon, and allspice, these fluffy cakes are sure to satisfy your holiday sweet tooth.
English Toffee (Recipe)
A holiday classic. Who doesn’t love the crunchy, smooth richness of this heavenly dessert?
Get your hands on six ingredients (which you probably already have at home), and you’re set to go.
This recipe calls for white sugar, chocolate chips, walnuts, butter, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.
Christmas Tree Rice Krispie Pops (Recipe)
How cute are these? Kids (and adults) love these festive, easy-to-eat treats on a stick. They’re also mess-free, so no need to worry about wiping and washing your hands, or licking your fingers after.
Make rice krispie treats as you normally would, add green food coloring to the melted marshmallows, and once the treats are cooled, use cookie cutters, lollipop sticks, and colored candies to finish them off.
Celebrating a different holiday? Choose a different cookie cutter and colors.
Cinnamon-Chocolate Ganache Hanukkah Cookies (Recipe)
Adapted from The Ultimate Cookie Book (Wiley, 2007), these delicious holiday cookies are oh-so-pretty with their six points and powdered surface.
A tantalizing combination of chocolate, cinnamon, and smooth ganache, these cookies are impressive to say the least.
Bake ‘em, cool ‘em, and sandwich the creamy ganache between two cookies. They’ll be a hit!
Note: Like the rice krispie recipe above, you can switch up the cookie cutters depending on the holiday you’re celebrating!
Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites (Recipe)
A combination of our favorite flavors. These holiday bites are so festive, fun… and creative!
The ingredients are simple (again, you probably have most of it in your pantry already): creamy peanut butter, softened butter, powdered sugar, brown sugar, pretzels, and chocolate chips!
Grab this easy recipe to get started on a dessert that’ll bring a smile to everyone.
Get your kids to join you in the kitchen, and make memories while you make these holiday sweets. And, while you’re waiting for the them to cool, give yourself a fab at-home, salon-like gel manicure for that upcoming event!
This recipe is easy, healthy, and is great for reheating!
May 31st, 2012 | 1:01 AM
Who doesn’t love a decadent quiche?! This recipe will help you cut calories without sacrificing on flavor. And for the girl on-the-go it is quick, easy, and can be your ready-made breakfast all week!
Here are a few other ideas for changing up this recipe:
- Like a little spice? Mix a teaspoon or two of hot sauce in the egg mixture.
- Give your quiche a little extra color and put a dollop of salsa on top.
- Add other veggies like zucchini, asparagus, or eggplant or try other cheeses like goat or feta to mix things up.
Crunchy, perfectly sweetened granola that can be modified to include your favorite ingredients!
May 28th, 2012 | 9:39 PM
It’s hard to find a great-tasting granola that isn’t loaded with fat and sugar. And often times, the good stuff costs an arm and leg.
Here’s an easy recipe that’ll leave you with a batch that’s full of flavor, crunchy, clumpy, perfectly sweetened, and low in fat. I made it the other day and my family loved it (it hardly lasted three days).
- 4 cups of rolled oats
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 cup of dried cherries
- Preheat oven to 300 F.
- Spray two baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, mix together the rolled oats, nuts, cinnamon, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites, oil, honey, and vanilla for about 45 seconds. Pour mixture on top of the dry ingredients.
- Mix wet and dry ingredients together until the wet evenly coats the dry.
- Split the granola evenly between two baking sheets, making a doughnut shape with no granola in the center (this shape allows the granola to bake evenly). Pat down the granola with your hands or the back of a spatula.
- Bake granola in pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown, rotating the baking sheets about halfway through the baking time.
- Let granola sit for about 35-40 minutes, or until room temperature, before breaking into clumps. Gently mix in the dried cherries (adding the dried fruit after baking prevents it from becoming hard and too dry).
- Store in an airtight container.
Other dried fruits to consider: raisins, dried blueberries, dried raspberries, and dried cranberries.
Other nuts to consider: cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, and macadamia nuts.
Other spices and extracts to consider: nutmeg, cardamom, and maple extract.
You can also add seeds, like flax or sesame!
Bake your own batch of granola so that you can control everything that goes in it. You just might start a new family tradition! I suggest you make it over the weekend so that you can enjoy it throughout the week. This is a great activity for your kids to be a part of, and it can even be used as a gift for your neighbor! Sprinkle it on top of greek yogurt for a healthy breakfast or great snack.
(The original Have-It-Your-Way Granola recipe was found online at Confessions of a Bright Eyed Baker – www.brighteyedbaker.com)
Take your summer BBQ to the next level with some thick, delicious sauces that'll jazz up your favorite meat and vegetable dishes
May 21st, 2012 | 9:53 PM
Our first recipe comes from Stephanie Graney, a District Consultant who lives in Huntington Beach, California with her two daughters and husband.
Gluten-Free Balsamic BBQ Sauce:
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until all are blended well and the mixture is smooth. Simmer mixture over medium to low heat until reduced by 1/3 – about 15 to 20 minutes. Brush onto chicken, steak, or sausage, and grill or broil in the oven. This sauce can also be lightly brushed onto veggies. Looking for a tasty appetizer? Make the sauce, add sliced chicken sausage to it, and heat simmer until sausage is heated through. Serve with toothpicks.
Our second recipe comes from Deb Clem, a Regional Manager in Kansas City. Deb is mom to Rosie (11) and absolutely loves BBQ. Deb likes her meats rubbed, then slow cooked and topped with a tomato-based sauce. She has kept her BBQ sauce a secret… until now.
Deb’s Secret KC BBQ Sauce:
- 2 cups of Ketchup
- 1/3 cup cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 1/4 tablespoons mustard (not powdered)
- Dash of hot sauce
- Tablespoon of a good dry rub
- 1/3 tablespoon of black pepper
Follow the same directions as the recipe above.
Skip the bottled sauces and impress your family and guests with these smokin’ hot recipes. They’re easy to make and will add a scrumptious new flavor to your summer BBQ dishes.
(Interested in checking out Deb’s blog? Visit http://debcb.com/)
A mom should never show up to a party empty handed - here are some ideas we know your hostess will love
May 14th, 2012 | 11:30 AM
Kansas City’s Deb Clem offers a list of gracious hostess gift ideas that will have your friends grinning!
The month of May marks the start of the summer entertaining season. From Mother’s Day brunches to graduations to outdoor barbecues, you’re social calendar is filling fast! You’ve had your fair share of get-togethers, so you know planning these events is a lot of hard work, and it only seems right to reward your hostess with a lovely gift. But what?
Hostess gifts aren’t required but they’re a sweet gesture your friends and neighbors will appreciate. Most of my friends show up with a bottle of wine, but not everyone is partial to vino, so over the years I’ve learned to get creative. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Blooming plants — Cut flowers die within days, but plants can last for months or years. Bamboo, is easy to care for and is said to bring good luck. I just happen to have a great Asian market nearby to pick one up, but they are also fairly typical at most green houses. I just adore Orchids as well. If you happen to live in a Trader Joe’s market you’ll have to check out their selection of elegant offerings.
- Artisan Foods — I often gift a dip, cheese ball, or bread mix in a gorgeous bag. I love Tastefully Simple products and so do lots of my friends. It’s an easy and useful way to say thanks.
- Picture frames – You never have enough of these little gems. Why not pick some up at the end of each season and have a few on hand? Instead of a thank you note, simply add a sweet message or “thanks” in the frame to show how much you appreciate the invite.
- Monogrammed anything — From towels to napkins to coasters, we all love to receive personalized presents. Guess what? Your hostess does too. Anthropologie always has adorable, monogrammed handkerchiefs and mugs that your friends will fill for.
Always remember to match the gift to the hostess. Think about what she really likes before you make a choice. A couple of months ago, one of my friends showed up with the perfect gift — a bottle of Skinny Girl Cosmo’s. The note read, “Save this for a girl’s night.” We’ll be having one soon!
Their a tough audience but we have some finger foods they'll love!
April 28th, 2012 | 11:40 PM
We wouldn’t usually advocate eating with your hands, but we also wouldn’t trust a 5-year-old with a steak knife! That’s why we asked our moms for some easy finger food options that will keep even your fussiest eater feed.
Shannon Vetter lives in Fredrick, Maryland and has her hands full with three kids; two daughters ages 10 and 7 and a little boy that’s 5 years old. She keeps her brood on the go with a menu of hand held snacks.
At my house fruit kabobs are always a big hit. They’re bright and colorful and the kids eat more off a stick than a plate – this trick also works well with grilled veggies. Simply thread cantaloupe, strawberries, grapes, and the like onto a skewer and they’ll disappear in an instant.
My kids like variety and activity, so dipping always goes over well. I slice up apples, pears, and other fruit, then have the kids scoop peanut butter, vanilla yogurt, warm cheese, even caramel for a sweet treat. You can also plunge pita triangles and veggies into a dish of dip. We spread hummus on them but the possibilities are limitless.
Dry cereal is a no brainer. It’s portable and not too messy. My little chefs love to mix several brands together using their signature “recipe.” It’s too cute!
Rebecca Buscemi loves living on Chesapeake Bay with her hubby of eight years. She has a 6 year old mama’s boy and 3 year old daddy’s girl.
My kids are constantly eating everything from inside the sandwich and leaving the bread behind? If only giving up carbs were that easy for everyone! Here’s a quick recipe that I use to get some bread in their bellies.
1. Spread cream cheese onto a pretzel or bread stick.
2. Squeeze one line of easy cheese or wrap a slice of cheese onto the stick.
3. Add mustard if desired
4. Wrap lunch meat around the stick and enjoy!
My kids get frustrated when their pizza topping come sliding off their slice. So I give them ‘cups’ of pizza that stays put!
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
2. Cut pitas in half
3. Pop them in the oven for 5-7 min
4. When they come out the oven, the edges should be curled up a bit creating a ‘cup
5. Spread your sauce and cheese on asap so the cheese melts on the hot bread
6. Add other ingredients as desired
Someday your kiddos will dine like little ladies and gents with a mastery of every utensil imaginable even those tricky escargot crackers – we’ve all see Pretty Woman, right?! But for now, it’s a job keeping them on the go with full tummies and smiling faces. Use these quick tricks to satisfy the appetites in your family
We think all moms deserve to pamper every once in a while
April 28th, 2012 | 12:51 AM
Hosting a spa night for your friends gives you all time to unwind, laugh a little, and pamper yourselves like you deserve, in the comfort of your own home! Take tonight night off, Mom.
These DIY Spa Night suggestions are easy and fun to do at home:
- Let the kids have a sleep over with movies and pizza at a house different than where you’re setting up spa. Call the babysitter or enlist the hubbies for bedtime duty, so your spa zone remains quiet and peaceful.
- Suggest that everyone wear pajamas or comfy yoga clothes, bathrobes and slippers.
- Welcome your guests with soothing music, dim lighting and scented candles that will make the room glow. Seda France home fragrances fill any room with a warm, comforting fragrance.
- Start with a simple 15-minute yoga session to help release tension and induce relaxation.
- Provide hand soaks in bowls, filled with warm water and flower petals. You can also use larger plastic tubs for feet.
- Offer a variety of nail polishes that the ladies can choose from to paint each other’s nails. The newest Essie Nail Polish collection boasts bright, cheerful summer colors and are only $8 a bottle. Shades of pinks, corals and oranges flaunt names like Lights, Camera, and Action, which will leave you feeling like a star.
- Ahava Purifying Mud Mask is easy to apply all over your face and let set for just two minutes, then rinse with warm water. It’s gentle but deep cleans and invigorates your skin.
- Toast with a flute of glamorous and relaxing Lavender Champagne.
- For pregnant friends or those who prefer non-alcoholic beverages, brew some green tea. For a chilled drink, have a pitcher of ice water with cucumbers.
- Serve a platter of cheeses, crackers, fresh fruit, nuts, and chocolates so everyone can indulge in sweet and savory treats.
Storage doesn't have to be boring or costly - here are some great ways to hide the toys in style
April 24th, 2012 | 11:15 AM
Marlynn Jayme Schotland lives in Portland, Oregon and is the mother of two adorable kids ages 5 and 7. She’s slightly obsessive about making home organization pretty and functional, and she’s sharing her tried and true tips with you!
Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by all of the Legos, dolls, and stickers that seem to take over your house once you have kids? You don’t need to sacrifice style – or empty your wallet — to tame the clutter that comes with having kids. Here are some simple storage ideas to help busy moms turn any room full of kids’ stuff into fabulous, functional space.
Tame Toy Sprawl
- Buy furniture that doubles as storage: ottomans and benches with hidden storage for easy stashing of clutter can be a frazzled mom’s best friend when last minute company comes over (a bright idea: Brighten White Storage Bench, $399, Crate & Barrel)
- Organize open bookshelves with bins. Label the bins so kids can help you clean up easily and quickly. (Check out: IKEA Expedit shelves $89 and IKEA Branäs baskets $12.99)
- Save money by purchasing furniture that will grow with the kids. This locker storage unit is stylish for ages newborn through college and it’s classic look never goes out of style. You can hide massive amounts of toys, games, and books, and your elementary-school aged kids can use it as a homework station. (Cute cabinet option IKEA PS cabinet, $99)
Keep Craft Supplies Organized
- Wash out peanut butter jars, jelly jars, or even yogurt containers. Group together those little items that have a habit of being sprinkled throughout your house: stickers, jewelry beads, googly eyes, stamps.
- Round and square glass candle holders from the dollar store can store odds and ends.
- Store pencils, pens, and crayons in easy-to-grab-on-the-go little buckets. (photo)
Don’t Just Stuff Your Stuffed Animals
- Big wicker baskets serve as easy, beautiful (and inexpensive) resting places for beloved stuffed animals.
- Use canvas bins to keep Pooh Bear, Dora, and Sponge Bob safe and sound and out of your way while adding a hint of class to any room. (Look up: Elephant Canvas Bin, $31.99, Container Store)
Style Your Storage
Dress up storage bins and baskets with fun labels that match the décor in your kids’ rooms. It’s easy to make your own. Just download free printables, like the ones on the jars above, or check out Martha Stewart Clip Art and Templates.