It’s the Little Things

This year more than any other, I think that the holidays will be about the little things. We will all be staying home, and cooking for a small crowd. What better time to try new things, like new recipes, and new ways to make your table setting really special? Below, I’m sharing a few ways to really make the holiday season special.

Flower Arranging:
How about honing your flower arranging skills. I personally love combining grocery store flowers and pumpkins and gourds, with branches and herbs I forage from the garden every year. It’s a great time to use an unexpected vessel, like an old pitcher or a soup tureen.

IMG_4430 Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 7.22.53 AM IMG_2499

Here are some easy tips on flower arranging:

While it might seem like a daunting task, arranging your own flowers can be simple yet stunning, and honestly, nothing gives me more pleasure than to arrange flowers for my own home or parties. If you follow a few easy steps, you’ll be arranging your own flowers in no time!

When beginning the design process, I start with what’s available at my local market (and even Trader Joe’s!), and I try to select a strong color theme. Selecting just one color flower, but choosing several varieties in that same color, is an easy way to pack a punch without a lot of thought. It honestly cuts way down on the stress, especially if you’re not quite ready for combining colors.

Step one: clean the bottom of the stems, and make a fresh cut.

Step two: place all the fillers in your container. For this arrangement, I’ve chosen a pitcher for my container, and Queen Anne’s Lace and Baby’s Breath as fillers.

Step three: add in your larger blooms. Be sure to work your way around the vase or pitcher. Either move around the table as you work, or spin your container to make sure your stems are even.

Step four: step back and fluff your arrangement as needed. Try to change the water every 2-3 days, and cut the stems on a diagonal every few days, too. This will keep your arrangement fresh and pretty! You can add the gourds and pumpkins around the table, maybe add a few smaller vases as well strewn around the table. More is more and more is better.

Making a Charcuterie Board:

64EA0209-118D-4DA6-BE21-86F5FAF0F517_1_201_a

Create a special Charcuterie Board for your family. I usually prepare this as lunch. It’s super fun to design and even more, fun to eat. You can nibble while your main course cooks. Great if you’re watching games or working on a puzzle.

Setting the Table:

Screen Shot 2020-11-24 at 10.58.53 AM

This is R. Woods Tablescape small but lovely

I think that setting the table with a glass of wine in hand the night before is always fun. I like to put on some festive music and take my time.

Some of my go-to affordable table sources are Zara Home, Ikea, and Pottery Barn. Every year I try to buy some little addition to my table. This year I bought more candlesticks just to make the table even more glowy and happy. I also ordered some new colorful table wares from my friend potter Rebecca Wood, she also offers Ikebana Floral Lessons if you’re interested.

Screen Shot 2020-11-23 at 11.01.51 AM

This a table from the Zara Home Collection

My takeaway message is to make it special even if this year is so much different than every other year. Count your blessings and stay safe. Next year will be a big year to celebrate all the sacrifices we made. Keep the faith and keep your distance. And use this extra time to learn a craft and next year you’ll be a decorating pro. Happy Holidays.

xx Annette

 

 

 

All celebration DIY DIY Holdiay crafts Entertaining Florals flowers and prep Food styling Holiday Holiday Decor Holiday Entertaining holiday guide holiday recipes Holidays party tips Personal the art of a party Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thanksgiving Cocktail

Frangelico_CCC3230
I have always loved Frangelico; it is a hazelnut liqueur that is traditionally served as an after-dinner digestivo. There is a legend that Frangelico was made by Friars in the Piedmont region of Italy where hazelnuts are abundant, it has a beautiful, nutty flavor profile.

Even if you’re hosting an intimate, family-only gathering, it’s a good idea to make a batch Thanksgiving cocktail. For one, you can make it ahead of time, and for another, everyone can fill their own glasses, leaving you more time to gather with your guests.

This recipe for the pumpkin monk is a palette pleaser. It’s not too sweet because of the citrus notes, and it has a lovely mouthfeel. It’s a delicious way to enjoy the flavors of the season.

Thanksgiving Cocktail: Pumpkin Monk
serves 16 (or 2 cocktails per person for 8!)

You will need:

– A large punch bowl
– 16 oz. Frangelico
– 16 oz. Appleton Reserve Rum
– 12 oz. lemon juice
– 8 oz. pumpkin spice syrup

To prepare:
Pour all ingredients into a large punch bowl and stir well. Serve over ice in a rocks glass or serve up in a coupe. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

For the Pumpkin Spice Syrup
*
this makes 1 cup which is 16 servings

You will need:
– 4 teaspoons cinnamon
– 2 teaspoons ginger
– 1 teaspoon nutmeg
– 1 teaspoon allspice
– 1 cup water
– 1 cup sugar

To prepare:
Place in a pot, then bring to a boil and reduce about 10 minutes, set aside to cool.

Photo Credit: Dane Sponberg

xx Annette

All celebration Cocktails cooking dinner party Entertaining Fall Food fall menus Holiday Holiday Entertaining holiday guide holiday recipes Holidays mixology Recipes Thanksgiving Thanksgiving recipes the art of a party Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Bourbon Apple Cider for Two

apple cider bourbon

A few years ago, chef and author Virginia Willis was a guest on the blog. She shared an absolutely delicious apple bourbon cider recipe, and today, I’m reviving it from the archives. It will be perfect for a fall weekend spent outdoors whether you’re trick-or-treating or not.

Bourbon Apple Cider
Serves 2

– 3/4 cup freshly pressed apple cider
– 1/3 cup Bourbon
– 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
– 2 thin slices fresh ginger
– 2 thin slices apple, for garnish
– 2 sprigs thyme, for garnish.

Combine apple cider, bourbon, and lemon juice in a shaker. Shake to combine. Pour into rocks glass over ice. Garnish with ginger, apples, and thyme. Enjoy!

photos by Jona Willis

All Cocktail of the Week Cocktails Entertaining Fall Food fall menus Recipes specialty cocktails the art of a party Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dessert for a Small Crowd:: Pumpkin Bundt Cake

FullSizeRender

Since we will be entertaining for smaller crowds this season, your family. I suggest everyone get dressed up in their costumes and your family can celebrate safely at home. Originally I made this dessert for a photo shoot, about a fall party. It ran in Atlanta Magazine’s Home a couple years ago and it was a lovely family fall spread. The whole party may be worth recreating instead of trick or treating this year. Please be creative and stay home, enjoy your family and stay safe.

0917_FallApple14_Raftermen_oneuseonly

This layered pumpkin bundt cake is one of my favorite fall recipes. Add it to your menu for this weekend. You won’t be disappointed you did!

Layered Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Serves 12

For the cake, you will need: 

– 3 cups all-purpose flour
– 2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
– 2 teaspoons ground ginger
– 1 3/4 teaspoons ground allspice
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1 1/2 cups sugar
– 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
– 1 cup canola oil
– 4 large eggs
– 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
– 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
– 1 tablespoon grated orange peel

Note: 2 fluted bundt pans.

To prepare the cake:

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter bundt pans; Butter and dust pans with flour. Sift 3 cups flour and next 7 ingredients into medium bowl. In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat both sugars and oil until combined (mixture will look grainy). Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and orange peel; beat until well blended. Add flour mixture; beat just until incorporatedDivide batter between prepared pans. Smooth tops.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool cakes completely in pans on rack. Run knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto racks, then turn cakes over on to a platter.

For the frosting, you will need:

– 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
– 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
– 1 tablespoon dark rum
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
– 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

To prepare the frosting: 

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in dark rum and vanilla. Add powdered sugar in 3 additions, beating just until frosting is smooth after each addition (do not overbeat or frosting may become too soft to spread).

For the chocolate icing, you will need:

– 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
– ½ cup cream

To prepare the chocolate icing:

In a small sauce pan heat chips and cream whisk until smooth.

To assemble the cake: 

Place 1 pumpkin cake layer, rounded side down, on platter. Spread the of cream cheese frosting over top of cake to edges. Top with second pumpkin half. Drizzle with Chocolate icing using a fork in a zig zag splatter pattern.

Note – Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Photo credit: The Raftermen

All baking cooking dinner party Entertaining Fall Food fall menus Halloween treats for kids Halloween Holidays Parties Party Accessories Recipes Thanksgiving Thanksgiving recipes the art of a party : Tags:

From the Archives:: Orange Olive Oil Cake

fullsizerender

img_3051

Festive fall desserts, especially in October and nearing Halloween can be overtly festive, or they can have an understated celebratory feel. This recipe for orange olive oil cake with black licorice ice cream is a fun way to spoof on the season, especially for a low key, socially distance affair.

This recipe is from my archives, and I know you’ll enjoy the unique flavors. Pop it onto a pretty cake plate for presentation.

Enjoy!

Orange Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

You will need:
– 1 cup fresh orange juice + zest of 1 orange about 1/4 cup
– 1 teaspoon fine salt
– 3 large eggs, room temperature
– 1 1/4 cups whole milk
– 1 ½  cups sugar
– ¼  cup orange liqueur, rum, brandy or whisky
– 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling pans
– 1 tablespoon lemon zest
– 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves, divided
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 6 tablespoons lemon or orange marmalade
– 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, for garnish

To Prepare: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 10” Bundt pan

In a nonreactive saucepan, reduce the orange juice over medium heat to 1/4 cup. Add salt orange zest and rosemary, stir, and let cool.

Lightly beat eggs with a paddle attachment in standing mixer on high for 1 minute until frothy. Add sugar beat until fluffy add milk, liqueur, olive oil, reduced orange juice mixture, lemon zest. Mix for 1 minute until well blended. Mix in the flour, baking soda and baking powder until well blended and smooth.

* Note that the batter will appear very soupy this is the way it’s supposed to look.

Pour the mixture into the oiled cake pan. Bake for 45 minutes -1 hour. Place on a rack to cool. Run a knife around the edges and place it on a plate. While the cake is still warm, smooth 3 tablespoons of marmalade onto the top of the cake. Sprinkle remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary evenly over cake. Garnish center with rosemary sprig.

Recipe adapted from Michael Chiarello

Licorice Ice Cream

You will need:
– 1/2 ounces black licorice sticks, chopped, 1/2 cup of water.
– 1 cup whole milk
– 1/2 cup heavy cream
– 2 egg yolks
– 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine or granulated sugar
– 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Prepare: 

Put the licorice in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of water and place over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the licorice has melted. I use ready-made Licorice syrup. I find it’s more concentrated and salty.

Meanwhile, pour the milk and cream into a large saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to steam but not boil.

Whisk the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl until smooth. Add the sugar and vanilla and whisk until pale and slightly fluffy. Gradually and slowly, pour the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking continuously to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Return the mixture to the saucepan, place over low heat, and heat until the custard thinly coats the back of a wooden spoon about 5 minutes. Do not let boil.

Strain back into the bowl and set aside for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooled to room temperature.

Once cooled, cover the mixture and refrigerate, ideally overnight, but at least for 6 hours, until thoroughly chilled (at least 40°F). Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

When the churning is complete, use a spoon or spatula to scrape the ice cream into a loaf pan, drizzle with the licorice syrup and swirl, careful not to combine it to much leaving nice ribbons of the licorice to appear all over the ice cream. Cover with clear plastic wrap. Freeze until it reaches the correct scooping texture (at least 2 hours).

xx, Annette

All baking celebration cooking dinner party Entertaining Fall Food fall menus Holiday italian cooking kitchen my picks Recipes Thanksgiving Thanksgiving recipes the art of a party Uncategorized : Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,