Welcome to my blog, A place where I can share my ideas with you. From great tips on entertaining to tasty cocktail recipes that make it all easier for you to host with style in a flash. You’ll find lots of projects to inspire you for your home and garden, friends and family. Plus some kitchen gossip, for good measure of course, because everyone needs a little dish now and then.
So visit often!
Cinco de Mayo: Get your Fiesta On!
Ay Caramba! This Wednesday is one of my favorite party days the year – Cinco de Mayo. This annual fiesta celebrates Mexican history and culture that’s played such an important role in enriching our nation with their colors, flavors, music and art. It’s a love song to our neighbors to the south. And I personally circle the date on my calendar. After all, no matter your background, everyone has a little fiesta in them.
My best Cinco de Mayo parties are the easiest to plan. Start with a too-die-for pitcher of Margaritas (my favorite recipes follow) and a colorful buffet of great snacks – crispy tortilla chips, salsa, chiles, guacamole, queso – and add in some of your favorite Mexican entrees either homemade or picked up from your favorite local restaurant. Hang some paper flowers or streamers in rainbow brights. Put on some Gipsy Kings and dance the night away.
I love a good margarita! I mean, any party is more festive with tequila. As a true cocktail aficionado, I’m known for my margs. Classic and mango are always staples in my party repertoire. This year, I’m all over the acai berry and its legendary healthy benefits. Mix that in and it’s like you’re drinking Botox in a glass – how great is that?!?
So call your amigos, pour a pitcher and let the party begin. Arriba!!
This classic margarita is filled with robust flavor, the addition of lemon juice completes its clean, crisp citrus tones. For a splash of sweet, try adding 2 oz. of pineapple juice.
8 oz. Tequila Blanco
2 oz. Grand Marnier
2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cups ice
Coarse salt for rims
2 limes cut into wedges for garnish
Combine first four ingredients in a pitcher filled with ice. Salt the rims of glasses by first rubbing with a lime wedge and then dipping in a saucer of coarse salt. Pour margaritas and garnish with lime wedges.
Mango Margarita Madness
Using the above recipe, substitute 4 oz. mango nectar for the lemon juice
AY! Acai Berry Madness Marg
Using the above recipe, substitute 4 oz. of 4 oz. acai berry juice for the lemon juice
It's Derby Day!
The Kentucky Derby, or "Run for the Roses," is a perfect excuse (not that we need one!) to have your friends over. Besides being the most exciting two minutes in sports, it's the start of the warm weather social season. Hosting the party outside in the afternoon sun makes it a great family friendly event.
I've put together a few tips and recipes to get you off to the races in no time!
Get started by going to the official site of the derby, www.kentuckyderby.com, there you can order glassware, get a listing of all the contenders and their colors for some friendly wagering, and other Southern lore to entertain your guests this weekend.
Since the Derby is all about the run for the roses, I usually make a centerpiece of red roses. This year, I added whimsical glittery horses, (they are cardboard cut outs I found in the craft store and painted and glitterized them, is that a word?). The winning horse gets a garland of over 400 red roses, so I go with the red, and because its off season for red roses, they were under 10 dollars a dozen, seriously, I kid you not.
Other festive accents I put around are play horses, trophies and ribbons to help decorate your space. Anything colorful and festive works here, and don't forget, with the party outdoors, you have nature's beautiful spring backdrop to help you.
Continue your Southern hospitality with an easy buffet. Ham, cheesy biscuits, fried chicken, and slaw are perfect. Finish off with a Derby pie and some Bourbon balls (my girlfriend Alissa makes the best). The key here is easy, family friendly fare that is self serve and frees you up as host so you can enjoy the party!
On to the all important cocktails: For the traditional mint julep and my twisted peach julep recipes that I shared with iVillage, click onto this link and get mixing! http://www.ivillage.com/what-drink-kentucky-derby-day/3-a-154018
One of my favorite Derby cocktails of late is the Bourbon Slush. I have my fabulous friend, Kelle, to thank; she is a gracious, a true Southern lady, and by the way throws a Derby party to rival Louisville's best!
The slush has citrus overtones, with a refreshing bubbly finish, perfect a warm afternoon. Get your batch in the freezer now!
1 4oz. can frozen lemonade
1 4oz. can frozen orange juice
4 tea bags (Lipton)
1 cup sugar
3 cups Bourbon (Maker's Mark)
16 oz. lemon-lime soda
In a large saucepan, boil 2 cups water with 4 tea bags. Once water comes to a rolling boil, remove from heat. Let steep 15 minutes.
Add frozen lemonade,orange juice sugar, Bourbon, and 7 cups water. Bring to a boil. Let cool. Pour into plastic containers and freeze overnight or up to 48 hours.
Remove from freezer, let melt slightly until slushy, scoop into glass, top with lemon-lime soda, garnish with cherries and serve with a straw.
Derby Style is a must here. Hats are the tradition, whether big or small flowery or feather-topped, they are all fabulous. I love to give a prize for best Derby diva hat, a little competition on and off the track is a good thing.
Play a little country music to keep the party atmosphere festive, try Rascal Flats or Carrie Underwood. Make a playlist and make it easy!
To place bets, I like to have a silver ice bucket passed around filled with strips of paper with the horses names, guests put in money, and take out a contender. The guest with the winning horse wins the pot!
To entertain your little jockeys, have a crafts table set up with straw hats and faux flowers for the little ladies and caps with markers and paint pens so they can mimic their favorites. Afterwards, when the adults are still going strong, put a classic horse movie on and let them all be entertained. Black Beauty, or my favorite, Racing Stripes.
Most Importantly -- Have Fun!
Spring is the perfect time to entertain, and these gimlets are ideal from brunch, to afternoon entertaining, to evening cocktails. They are easy to mix, colorful, and very tasty!
I made a few batches last weekend for friends that popped in, I set out an array of light cheeses ( soft goat with fresh dil), put some music on ( John Legend), popped some fresh cut lilacs into a few vases (actually they were the kids watering cans- very garden fresh!), dusted off the croquet set and instant party! I must say my game improved after a few gimlets!
Need more stylish party ideas? Check-out my Easy Entertaining article in Westchester Magazine's May Issue!
12 oz. Lemon flavored vodka
2 oz. Raspberry Liqueur
1 cup fresh mint leaves, more for garnish
Juice of 2 limes
1 cup fresh raspberries
lime wheels for garnish
club soda to top
Wash and dry mint leaves. In a cocktail shaker pour vodka, add mint leaves and muddle together using a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon. Squeeze the lime juice into the shaker, add raspberry liqueur and shake. Pour into ice-filled glasses, garnish with lime wheel,fresh raspberries, and mint sprig. Top with soda and serve.