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Archive for the ‘Entertaining’ Category
Summer is the time for outdoor parties. If you’re looking to host a casual large gathering and you love shellfish, there’s nothing better than having a shrimp boil. This type of party requires very little prep and cook time. You simply boil the ingredients and serve.
Grab your calendar and put a shrimp boil on the schedule. Here’s the simple recipe from Food.com:
- 4 pounds of large or jumbo shrimp, heads off
- ½ cup shrimp boil seasoning, such as Old Bay
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 12-ounce can of beer
- 2 large onions, cut in quarters
- 8 red potatoes, cut in quarters
- 6 ears of corn, cut in half or thirds
- 2 pounds of spicy sausage
Fill a large stockpot with four quarts of water, and place over high heat. Add Old Bay, salt, water and beer. When the water is boiling, toss in the potatoes and onions, and cook for 8 minutes. Next add the sausage, cooking on high for 5 minutes. Then add the corn, and continue to boil for another 7 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for 4 minutes. Drain the liquid, and pour the contents into large bowls, shallow pails or on a tabletop covered with brown paper. Give guests plates and plenty of paper towels. Serves eight. Enjoy!
When the temperatures drop, it can be very tempting to hibernate in your home, but don’t let the season get away without making memories. Create a winter bucket list of fun activities that are best done at this time of year, and start checking things off. Here are 10 ideas to get you going:
- Decorate a gingerbread house
- Make peppermint bark
- Hold a snowball fight
- Go on a horse-drawn carriage ride
- Participate in a secret Santa gift exchange
- Go for a drive and look at the Christmas lights
- Volunteer at a local food bank or shelter
- Bake cookies
- Toast marshmallows in your fireplace and make s’mores
- Go skating on an outdoor rink or pond
What are your favorite wintertime activities?
Thanksgiving is this week, and in the midst of your holiday preparation it is easy to overlook a few details. Here are three quick tips to help you with your last-minute planning:
1. If your turkey isn’t completely defrosted, don’t despair. Immerse the bird in the plastic wrap and put it in ice-cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes to avoid dangerous bacteria from developing, according to Butterball. It will thaw quicker than leaving it in the refrigerator.
2. Double-check your menu. Go over each recipe and make sure you have all of your ingredients. You don’t want to have to run around on Thanksgiving morning looking for a store that’s open because you’re out of flour.
3. Count your place settings. Make sure you have enough plates, forks, knives and napkins for everyone. Don’t forget the settings you’ll use for serving food, and have a couple on hand in case someone brings an unexpected guest. If you’re shy a few settings ask someone to bring extra.
What’s better than Thanksgiving dinner? How about two Thanksgiving dinners!! Family gatherings are important and traditional, but a growing trend is hosting a Friendsgiving, a special Thanksgiving-style dinner with your favorite friends.
Hold it before Thanksgiving to create a trial run for the big day, or after to make the most of leftovers or serve something completely different.
Here are some things to consider before hosting your Friendsgiving:
Consider potluck. Friendsgiving is the perfect time to hold a potluck, making it easier than Thanksgiving because no one person will be in charge of the entire meal. Assign specific dishes or a category, such as veggies or dessert. Or be bold and enjoy whatever dishes show up in hand.
Set a theme. Another dinner-planning idea is to choose a theme and have guests bring something that fits. For example, set a theme of Italian, Chinese farm-to-table or even deep-fried. This could be a nice break from your Thanksgiving leftovers.
Make sure to accommodate special diets. Check in with friends and see if anyone has food allergies or intolerances, or follows a special diet, such as vegan or Paleo. Then make sure you have enough on your menu to fill them up.
Think about drinks. If you are serving alcohol, plan how you’ll stock your bar. You can make it easy and serve just wine or beer. Or create a special cocktail for the day, such as a special martini or mixed drinks. Or set out what guests will need for the most common drinks.
Decide if you want a special décor. Thanksgiving dinner usually includes a special holiday tablescape with a centerpiece, place settings, napkins and place cards. Friendsgiving, however, can be as festive or casual as you wish.
Do you hold Friendsgiving? Share you favorite tips in the comments below!
You could go out and invest in new dinnerware for the holidays. Gorgeous designs that are perfect for holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas are festive and fun. But you can also easily dress up your existing dinnerware with some easy and inexpensive details that will give you the same result.
Here are five ways to dress up your existing dishes and make them shine for the season:
Photo credit: 3 Little Greenwoods / Pinterest
1. Use Chargers. Classic white plates look chic and elegant when you place them on a charger. Choose luxurious silver or gold for a classic look. Or brighten up the table with jewel tones, such as ruby, emerald or sapphire. We love this snowflake charger craft idea. You’ll be surprised at the impact a charger can make, and it can happen in a snap.
Photo credit: Traditional Home / Pinterest
2. Purchase New Salad Plates. Instead of investing in an entire set of china, why not purchase salad plates that you layer atop your everyday dinner dish? The single piece won’t cost a lot, and the top plate is the star of the setting. Choose something for the holiday or season, and it will look like you went all out.
Photo credit: Paper & Lace / Pinterest
3. Add the Details. Little things can make a big impact, and your choice of napkins and napkin rings can set the tone. Instead of classic white napkins, choose a bold color or pattern. Or stick with white and let the ring take center stage. Here are some fun ideas we found on Pinterest. You could even go simple, and tie a sprig of evergreen with twine or ribbon.
Photo credit: Flamingo Toes / Pinterest
4. Roll Out the Table Runner. Add flair by using a dramatic table runner. Not only does it introduce a theme; a runner allows the natural beauty of your table show through. You’ll find a wide assortment of options designed for your specific holiday, or head to the fabric store and purchase a piece of velvet, satin or even faux fur. You could also use a beautiful plaid blanket; the contrasting texture will create a warm, festive setting.
Photo credit: Seattle Pi / Pinterest
5. Think About Place Mats. Place mats offer another design opportunity, and they help protect your table. Choose a color that enhances your holiday décor, or personalize a set of your own with this fun burlap place mat craft project.
We’d love to see how you create a festive tables design for the holidays. Post your photos in the comments below!
The turkey is definitely the star of the Thanksgiving table, but Tom deserves the proper backdrop. In addition to breaking out your best dinnerware and crystal, create a holiday memory by carefully choosing the rest of the table setting.
Start with a tablecloth. Protect your table by using a tablecloth over a table pad. From crisp white to a rich autumn tone, you will add some color to the meal with the right cloth.
Photo credit: BlueCricketDesign.net
Here’s a great craft project you can do to create a personalized tablecloth. Simply purchase a drop cloth and decorate it with words that represent the things you’re thankful for.
Or don’t. Rules are made to be broken, so feel free to skip the tablecloth and let your table go au natural. Use beautiful placemats or table runners to protect the wood.
Photo credit: The Stir
Mix and match plates, silverware and glassware. Don’t worry about not having enough table settings; purposefully mix and match what you have and no one will ever know. You can even go ultra casual chic by using Mason jars as water glasses.
Let Mother Nature provide decorations. Fall is the time of year when everything outside is in its most colorful glory. Bring in gorgeous leaves and scatter them down the center of the table. You can also use a metallic marker and write names or reasons you’re thankful on the leaves to make them even more special. Place small gourds down the center of the table, and put cut flowers in small pots or thin vases. Add candles and you’ve created a gorgeous fall scene.
Photo credit: Bloom Designs Online
Make it personal. Finally, make guests feel welcome by creating personalized place cards. If you’re hosting friends who aren’t well acquainted, place a little bit of information about each guest on the place card as a way for everyone to get to know each other. You could also include a reason why you’re thankful they are your friend or family member.
This is the time of year when lines at the grocery store grow longer with people getting ready for holiday meals and baking. Instead of running down to the store to pick up that one ingredient you need, stock up so you have essentials on hand. A full pantry also helps you avoid last-minute take out during the hustle and bustle of the season. Here’s a list of 20 things to have on hand:
1. Brown rice (or other whole grains)
2. Dried spices
5. Peanut butter
8. Baking powder and soda
9. Canned tomatoes
10. Kosher salt and pepper
13. Sriracha (or your favorite hot sauce)
14. Quinoa or rice
16. Olive and vegetable oil
The holidays are the time of year when family and friends gather. If you’re hosting guests, you’ll want to have a stocked refrigerator to keep everyone going. In addition to your Thanksgiving meal ingredients, here are a dozen things you should put on your grocery list:
1. Cheese, such as parmesan or cheddar
4. Vegetables, such as carrots and broccoli
5. Hummus (for a quick snack)
6. Chicken broth
9. Orange juice
11. Lettuces and salad extras
12. Lean protein, such as chicken or fish
Fill your home with the mouth-watering scent of apple pie this weekend. Here’s an easy apple crumble pie recipe:
1 (6 oz.) graham cracker crust
Vegetable cooking spray
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup toasted chopped almonds
2 pounds sliced apples, such as Honeycrisp or Granny Smith
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom and sides of graham crust with vegetable cooking spray. Bake 5 minutes; cool on wire rack.
Meanwhile, combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in almonds.
Place cooled crust on baking sheet. Spoon pie filling into crust. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over apple filling. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until crumb topping is golden. Serve warm.
For the past two decades, people have designed their homes to be casual and inviting. Formal dining rooms have been converted into home offices or media rooms, and builders focused on designing open floor plans that combined living and dining.
Well, formal dining is back and so is the formal dining room. This return to elegance and entertaining has brought a renewed emphasis on dining room furnishings. One of the best things about the dining room is that it is meant to be special, and that gives you permission to choose dramatic designs that show off your style.
Here are some ideas for creating a place where you need no reservations:
Choose a focal wall. The focal wall sets the tone for the room, so take your time choosing your impact piece. An important piece of art or an ornate mirror would make a beautiful choice.
Use dimmable lighting. Lowering the lights can help set the mood, but sometimes you want to have a bright setting. Put your lights on a dimmer so you can create the right atmosphere. We love using a statement chandelier or set of pendant lamps.
Pay attention to the flooring. Choose furnishings that complement instead of matching your floor. If your flooring is light-colored wood, for example, choose a darker wood table. Or use an oversized rug to set your furniture apart.
Go for balance. Design the space symmetrically to add to the formal, finished feel. You can also achieve balance by adding pops of color evenly around the room, such as in accessories, artwork or a rug.