Imagine this: Youâ€™re planning a bridal shower brunch for 80 (yes, 80) guests. The invitations have been sent, the favors ordered, the menu set and venue booked. The only thing that remains in this large-scale production is deciding on and making the centerpieces for the tables. This is the dilemma facing a good friend right now, and so Iâ€™m looking to you, dear readers, for a solution. Flower arrangements can be expensive so weâ€™re searching for some creative ideas that we can execute ourselves on a manageable budget. Weâ€™ve been looking into big, scene-stealing flowers, like peonies and hydrangeas, which might be able to do the job of bigger bouquets with fewer stems. Iâ€™m also intrigued by the idea of Martha Stewartâ€™s paper flower tutorial as a craftier option but please, weigh in! Have any flower suggestions to share? Know of a great, executable centerpiece strategy you could pass along? Sound off in comments! — Sarah C.
Since the season of brunch is officially upon us (Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day…), I thought I’d share another foolproof brunch star. Hollandaise is the holy grail of brunch, really… does it get any better than a perfect eggs benedict? But its reach extends far beyond the benedict. Try it over roasted vegetables (asparagus and broccoli, particularly), or as a topping for a savory crepe (you can buy them pre-made at most grocery stores). And leftover sauce can even be used in casserole-land. Talk about taking your chicken and rice to the next level! Not only that, but since you’re likely to have some leftover Easter ham, this is a great breakfast-for-dinner option to help you use up those leftovers. If you’re feeling especially lazy, you can forgo the poached eggs and slice a leftover hard-boiled Easter egg over the top… true, you won’t have that runny yolk goodness, but with all that delicious hollandaise pouring over the top, I suspect you’ll hardly miss it.
While traditional hollandaise recipes are daunting… okay, scary… I promise you, this one is an absolute no-fail. Four ingredients, five minutes, and you’ll be wowing a crowd. Trust me. — Becki S.
Click to see how it’s done! (more…)
When I grow up I want to be like Paola Navone. The renowned artist and designer exudes warmth and a love a life that is evident in all her work, whether it be Anthropologie’s vibrant color-pop bedding, overly-tufted, welcoming sofas or her new vibrant and playful pieces at Crate & Barrel. She’s also a not-to-be overlooked Italian who gained prominence in the male-dominated design space, and displays a short hairstyle and a prominent nose that I can’t help but identify with. If I can’t grow up to be like her, perhaps we could have dinner one day?
I’m not sure how or when that may happen, but in the meantime I am going to take some inspiration from Crate & Barrel and channel a little Paola for my gatherings this fall. She’s created three collections all centered around entertaining.
The Como collection features bold blue on white designs with organic swirls and patterns. It reminds me of dining al fresco in Sicily, with smells of almond pastries mixing with Mediterranean breezes. Splashes of red wake you up.
The Mallorca collection is more calming, with white on white ceramics that have delicate, feminine edges. Aluminum trays with gentle dimples appear ready to elevate any dish.
All three themes bring a worldly sophistication to the table, without being stuffy or too precious. As the holidays encroach it’s easy to get drawn towards Northernly designs, but a few Navone bits sprinkled about will make sure your dinners always have a sunny disposition. Here’s a little peak at the artistry behind the work.
As if her new designs weren’t enough to inspire some noteworthy dinners of our own, Crate & Barrel even offers up a few recipes from the master herself. This one below, pasta with zucchini, in an interesting take on one of my favorites. I would add a sprinkle of crushed pastachios before serving, to give it a final hint of richness.
Pasta with Zucchini by Paola Navone
What You Need:
2 lbs. baby zucchini; no more than 1¼’ in diameter
Extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup fresh mint (smallest leaves only), thyme, rosemary
Saffron threads, a pinch
Fresh cracked pepper
Ground red pepper
Coarse sea salt
1 lb. uncooked dried mezzi rigatoni – shorter, ridged rigatoni
1/4 cup coarse sea salt to season pasta cooking water
To pass at the table:ricotta di bufala *
** Buffalo milk ricotta is less sweet than cow’s milk ricotta.
How To Make:
1. Wash and drain the zucchini. Slice into ¼-inch-thick “coins” and set aside. If using larger zucchini, slice lengthwise, core out the seeds, then slice.
2. Place a large, nonstick sauté pan over low to medium-low heat. Glaze the pan with olive oil. Add crushed garlic, herbs and saffron to the pan to flavor the oil. (Reserve a small handful of the herbs for garnish.) Stir and cook until the garlic just starts to color and become fragrant. Do not let the garlic burn. Remove garlic.
3. Add the zucchini to the pan and season with ground pepper and sea salt. Sear the zucchini until slightly soft and the zucchini begins to brown and caramelize. Remove from heat.
4. Remove ½ of the zucchini mixture; place in a food processor and puree.
5. Add a small drizzle of olive oil to the sliced zucchini still in the pan; gently fold in pureed zucchini. Add more olive oil to taste, but sparingly. The consistency of the sauce should be creamy, not thick.
6. Fill a large pasta pot ¾ full with cold water and place over high heat. Add ¼ cup** of course sea salt to water and bring to a rolling boil. Add dried pasta and cook according to package directions for al dente.
7. Drain pasta (reserving a cup of the pasta cooking water) and place in large serving bowl. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil.
8. If needed, thin zucchini sauce with a bit of the pasta cooking water. Add zucchini sauce to pasta and toss gently. Garnish with fresh mint and serve immediately. Pass ricotta di bufala for guests to stir into their pasta, to taste.
Note: This post is sponsored by Crate & Barrel.
Spring is here! And so begins the onslaught of events: Easter, Mother’s Day, graduations, bridal showers… Need we go on? And with those events comes entertaining, of course! So we scoured the vast Shelterrific archive to find our very best recipes for your springtime brunches and soirees. Here’s what made the cut:
Brunch (we’ve got brunch COVERED):
Leek and potato galette pictured above, from way back in 2007!
Spinach and caramelized onion tart
Ree Drummond’s breakfast puffs
Wild mushroom and pancetta tart
Asparagus and gruyere tart
Orange cranberry pecan bread
Caramelized onion and goat cheese tart
Chicken pear turnovers
Coconut bread pudding with banana macadamia nut caramel sauce
Gammy’s carrot cupcakes (or muffins)
Grandma B’s rosemary nut roll cookies
Amped up red velvet cupcakes
Butterscotch marble blondie drops
Cherry cupcakes with best vanilla frosting
Now it’s your turn to share — what are your favorite time-tested recipes for entertaining?
Itâ€™s time â€¦ time to clean off our decks and patios and get ready for summer barbecues and relaxing outside! Why not make your outdoor space a little more enjoyable with some outdoor decorations? Here are some of my favorite sites to get you started.
Located in New York City’s Chinatown, this store has a great selection of Chinese lanterns and garland that would be perfect for decorating a covered deck.
A gold mine of planters, pots, string lights, birdcages, and solar lanterns, all at great prices!
The Macbeth Collection
Looking for something you can customize? The Macbeth Collection has tubs, buckets, and vases that you can have made with your favorite colors and patterns.
And, a good standby of course is Cost Plus World Market, whose consistent stock of outdoor carpets, string lights, and patio furniture fits almost any budget. What are your favorite places to shop for outdoor decorations? — Rebecca F.
Photo credit: Rebecca Firlik
There are few things that whipped cream can’t improve on. Pie, milkshakes, cake- there’s a whole list of already fantastic things that whipped cream makes even more fantastic. The question remains, how do you improve on whipped cream? Enter Cream: an adults only, alcoholic whipped cream. Cream comes in six flavors: caramel, cherry, chocolate, raspberry, orange, and vanilla. Their website is chock full of recipes for shots, hot drinks, cold drinks, and (of course) desserts that are sure to be just as well-received if not slightly more sophisticated than Jell-o shots at your next bash. — Katie D.