Tag Archives: parties

Easy and Stunning DIY Hanging Wreath

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I first created this easy DIY project a few years ago when I was asked to participate in the Home Depot Holiday Style Challenge, and it’s still one of my favorite projects. I always loved the idea of doing a holiday table under the arbor in our backyard, and this challenge gave me an opportunity to see it through.

Since we usually have mild temperatures for the holidays, consider moving your holiday dinner outdoors. You can recreate this look in your own backyard with just a few supplies, and I promise guests will be super impressed with the finished product: a DIY hanging wreath! It’s easy and really pretty.

DIY Hanging Wreath

You will need:
– 1 6 foot garland
– 3 – 4 ornaments
– Twine for securing the ornaments
– Ribbon for hanging
– Floral wire

To create:

1. Form the garland into a circle.

2. Secure the wreath in 3 places with floral wire.

3. Attach the ornaments with twine.

4. Using 4 pieces of ribbon about 3 feet long, tie the wreath to your light fixture or chandelier. Note: this can be suspended from the ceiling with longer pieces of ribbon or with hooks.

Happy Holidays!

xx Annette

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Picture Perfect Thanksgiving:: Turkey and Gravy

Turkey with Pear Walnut and Crispy Bacon Stuffing

I cannot believe Thanksgiving is here! If you’re prepping the main event this year, give my Picture Perfect Turkey and Gravy a try. The recipe is from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties, and it’s truly a show stopper. You’ll end up with a beautiful, flawless bird that will make your friends and family ooh and ahh. Be sure to let me know how it turns out!

Picture Perfect Turkey and Gravy
Serves 8-10

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

You will need:
– 20 lb. Organic Turkey
– 2 teaspoons flake salt
– ¼ cup olive oil
– ¼ cup chopped fresh rosemary
– 4 cloves garlic minced
– 1 lemon

Ingredients for the *mirepoix mixture for the bottom of the roaster:
– 1 carrot diced
– 2 celery stalks dices
– 1 yellow onion diced
– 2 cups turkey stock (I use store bought)

To prepare:
In the bottom of a roasting pan place carrots, celery, onion and stock. Put a rack into the roasting pan. Place turkey on the rack.

Combine salt, oil, rosemary, and garlic, rub the entire turkey with the mixture, place whole lemon into the cavity of the turkey. Place in the oven with an aluminum foil tent on the top of the turkey for 4 hours, basting every half hour. Remove the tent for the last hour of baking, and bake until meat thermometer reads 150 degrees F

Pull from the oven and let rest.

*Reserve the mirepoix for the gravy.

 

 

Gravy

You will need:
– Mirepoix, defatted
– 2 cups turkey stock
– 2 tablespoons corn starch

To prepare:
Place the mirepoix into a saucepan, heat, and add turkey stock, and warm.

In a small bowl place cornstarch.  Add 3 tablespoons of the warm mixture to the cornstarch, mix with a small spoon until a paste forms. Add the paste to the gravy mixture to thicken. Stir until reduced. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl. Serve on the side with turkey and stuffing.

Photo Credit: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

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Comfort Food:: Fancy Fall Grilled Cheese

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Is there anything better on a fall day than sitting down to nosh on a grilled cheese? Honestly, I’m not sure there is. Grilled cheese is one of those comfort foods that is always good, but it can be made even better if you gather top notch ingredients. I like to use unexpected cheese and unique condiments. Oh, and bacon…because everything is better with bacon.

This sandwich would be perfect with a bowl of soup or chili on a crisp fall day. If you have guests over, set-up a station allowing them to create their own sandwiches mixing and matching ingredients while you man the grilling station. Interactive foods are always so much fun for a party.

This recipe is from my first book, Picture Perfect Parties, and the photo on this post is from a fabulous party that Design Sponge threw a few years ago using Picture Perfect Parties as a guide. Head over there even more recipes and a complete guide to throwing an easy Halloween soiree.

Grilled Cheese with Brie, Crispy Bacon, and Apricot Jam
serves 6

You will need:
– 1 loaf challah bread
– 6 pieces bacon cooked and crumbled
– 1 12 oz. wheel brie cheese
– 6 tablespoons apricot jam, 1 tablespoon per sandwich
– 6 tablespoons butter softened 1 tablespoon per sandwich

To prepare:

Cook bacon until crisp in the oven at 400 degrees F, drain set aside.

Slice challah into 12 slices. Assemble the sandwiches. Place crumbled bacon , thin slice of brie, and apricot jam on the bread, place another slice of bread on top forming a sandwich. Butter the top and repeat until you have made 6 sandwiches.

In a heated sauté pan place sandwiches butter side down, butter the top half. Cook until golden brown, flip and cook the other side. Continue until all the sandwiches are done. Let set for 1 minute and cut sandwiches into quarters.

Serve at room temperature.

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Using Trays to Style

One no-fail stylist secret is gathering things in mass on trays. It works in the living room on your coffee table, for home accessories, and even on the dining room table. It’s a universal stylist trick.  When I’m hunting flea markets and vintage shops, I’m always on the lookout for trays to add to my I prop stash. They’re just so versatile.

Trays make plating food simple and fabulous, and styling with them is a tool of the trade you’ll want to have in your repertoire. Next time you have a party to plan, look around the house for trays to repurpose. Think outside the box, and you will wow your guests.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to use trays:

For an unexpected centerpiece: Gathering guests around the table will never be a problem if you place a beautiful tray of bruschetta (or any other nibble!) in the center.

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For salad, beverages, and desserts: Try turning the tray upside down to use it as a riser on the table.

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For a beverages station: Gathering glasses for guests to help themselves always makes for a beautiful display.

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For entrees: Using a gorgeous wooden tray instead of a ceramic platter adds instant style to your table.

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Photography in order:

Deborah Whitlaw Llewelleyn

Jennifer Davick

Marte Marie Forsberg

Deborah Whitlaw Llewelleyn

Michael Graydon

 

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Zippy Summer Dessert:: Espresso Caramel Sauce

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Today I’m sharing a zippy summer dessert recipe for espresso caramel sauce. I made it for friends in Italy a few years ago, and I might have to recreate it again soon. It’s a quick and easy recipe for all coffee lovers out there, and you know how I love my coffee, especially espresso. I like to serve this sauce on gelato, but since it’s a caramel topping, it’s great on almost everything…especially chocolate desserts!

Espresso Caramel Sauce:
serves 6 to 8 on ice cream or pound cake
You will need:

– 1 cup sugar
– 1 shot of espresso
– 1 cup of heavy cream

To prepare:

Place sugar in a small sauce pan on medium heat.

Watch the sugar carefully, with a silicone spatula brush down the sides of the pan until combined and the sugar turns a deep amber color.

Pull the caramel off the heat and add the espresso while stirring until combined, it will bubble and spit this is normal. Next add cream very gradually while stirring the entire time until combined. If there are any lumps don’t worry they will melt once you put it back on the heat.

To Finish: Place the pan of caramel back on low heat, stirring continually until the caramel starts to slowly bubble not boil. This takes about 3 minutes.

Pull from the heat and place into a glass or ceramic container with a spout, place in the fridge until you’re ready to use.

Warning: With all hot sugar be extremely careful so as not to burn yourself. If you’ve ever burned yourself with hot sugar you know it’s very dangerous. This is not an activity for children.

xx Annette

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