Monday, December 6, 2010

Let's talk parties--a fun new podcast!

I recently spent almost an hour talking with two of my favorite restaurateurs--Francis Schott and Marc Pascale of Stage Left and Catherine Lombardi restaurants. They host the most fabulous podcast on food, cocktails, and the good life. It's called Restaurant Guys Radio. Check out our conversation about celebrating with family and friends!

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Fun!!

For Martha Stewart's Morning Living Radio, I came up with some fun recipes for your Halloween party. One you can do with the kids, and the other is one the adults will love!

Chocolate Covered Appo-lanterns

6 apples (Gala, McIntosh, or your faves)
1 bag Hershey's dark chocolate chips
1 cup Wilton orange candy melts

You'll also need:
A cookie sheet lined with wax paper
Candy sticks to make apple "stems"
Candy decorating bags (or a ziplock bag) for piping

Wash and dry the apples thoroughly and remove stems. Insert candy sticks through top center. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips according to package instructions. Stir the chocolate and let it cool slightly. Dip the apples in the chocolate to cover. Arrange the chocolate-covered apples on the wax-paper-lined tray and refrigerate until the chocolate hardens. Once the apples have set, melt the orange candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl according to package instructions. Note: you can also use white chocolate with orange food coloring.

Let the orange candy melts cool slightly and spoon them into the candy decorating bag, a pastry bag, or a ziplock bag for piping. Pipe your favorite designs onto the chocolate-covered apples, then return them to the refrigerator to harden. Arrange on a platter and serve, or wrap in cellophane bags for a wonderful homemade "treat."

This deep red sangria is perfect for a party, and features Grand Marnier and Ruby Port for a fresh twist on a classic...

Serves 6-8
2 blood oranges or 4 clementines, sliced
(can substitute oranges or tangerines)
1 apple, cored and cut up
2/3 cup Grand Marnier
1 cup Ruby Port
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 750 ml bottle simple red wine
(we used a Spanish Garnacha for $8)
1 cup Orange Juice
1 cup Club Soda

In a large pitcher, combine clementines, apple, Grand Marnier, Port, and sugar. Stir and let fruit macerate for at least 15 minutes. Add red wine and orange juice and stir. Chill for at least an hour and add club soda just before serving. Garnish glasses with orange straws and black spider rings for a spooky accent! Cheers!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Advice for the Newly Engaged!

Are you recently engaged? Congrats! Wondering "what's next?" Start by watching my new podcast for the David's Bridal Style Council for great tips on how to plan an affordable wedding without the stress. I share ideas for getting started and trends on everything from decor to accessories!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Great Gift for The Host--Vintage Wine Stoppers!

I was at the International Gift Show here in New York last week and came across these fabulous wine stoppers made from vintage doorknobs and finials.

I am ordering a bunch of them as gifts for my wine-loving friends. They make a perfect hostess gift for a dinner party, a quick birthday gift with a good bottle of wine, and a wonderful accent for your table at home. Love them!

They have a special vintage painting process to enhance the look of this metal knob.
I just love any clever reuse of something--so much better than making something new!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pack up the Fun for a Perfect Picnic

These recipes are from my book, SIMPLE STUNNING PARTIES AT HOME.

Radicchio and Carrot Slaw:

This wonderful slaw is a great twist on classic coleslaw. If you like your slaw crunchier, make it just before the party.

2 heads radicchio, cut in half, then sliced thinly
2/3 cup mayo
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried fennel seed
3/4 cup roughly grated or julienned carrots
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
salt and pepper

In a large mixing bowl, toss all the ingredients together. Serve chilled.

Manchego Jalapeno Cornbread

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 ounces manchego cheese, grated
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pickled sliced jalapenos
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400. Grease an 8 inch baking pan. Combine the cornmeal, flour, tow-thirds of the manchego, the sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Mince 1 tablespoon of the jalapenos and combine with the milk, oil, and eggs in a small bowl. Mix well. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Pour into the prepared pan.

Lay the remaining jalapeno slices on top of the batter and sprinkle with the remaining manchego. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I'm so excited to be a part of the David's Bridal Style Council!

If you haven't visited the David's Bridal site lately, check out the link below to the Style Council, where I, along with some other fabulous colleagues, share tips, trends and tricks for how to make the most of your wedding style.

Check out my latest blog on how to recycle your own unique wedding details and bring the big day home to your every day style!

Click here to read the article:

And let me know what you think!


Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer Entertaining Tips

There are so many stylish and affordable ways to spruce up your space and throw a great summer party. Check out my article on for great entertaining tips- for party foods, keep items on hand that are not quickly perishable: mixed nuts, dried fruits, flavored breadsticks, drunken olives, popcorn. This way, when the urge to entertain strikes, you already have some little nibbles handy, and you can make a quick stop at the market to pick up a great hunk of cheese and whatever fresh items you need for your menu!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Eco-stunning Entertaining!

Today I'm appearing on Connecticut's WTNH Channel 8 with the ever-charming Matt Scott, and we're talking about eco-friendly parties.

Here are five really easy tips for adding a bit of eco-style to your next gathering.

1. Shop your 100 miles. In other words, go local. Of course that means using seasonal local foods, but "local" also applies to wines and spirits. Today I've designed a fabulous summer cocktail, the Strawberry-Watermelontini, featuring a local vodka, Vermont Gold, distilled from Maple sap. You don't have to look to Russia for great vodka--check your own backyard and you might find some wonderful resources. The recipe is below at the end of this post.
2. Reinvent things. Nothing is more ecofriendly than not buying something new. The cocktail napkin in the photo above is made from an old men's shirt that had a hole in it. I cut it into squares and finished the edges and voila! A summery accent to any party! I also keep old flower vases and turn them into stylish, windproof lanterns. I use strawberries and mushrooms as place card holders and bracelets as napkin rings.
3. Think double-duty. When something can be used for more than one purpose, it's more ecofriendly. Create a living centerpiece with starter herb plants, and give them away at the end of the party so your guests can enjoy them all summer. They'll have a wonderful treat, and their herbs will have less of a carbon footprint because they'll come straight from the garden instead of being trucked in and packed in plastic.
4. Use sustainable materials. I love the plates from -- they're made from fallen leaves, and they're fully compostable (which means they disintegrate completely) in 60 days, unlike plastic which will be around for a very long time in the land fill!


1 pint fresh Watermelon Juice
1 quart fresh Strawberry Juice
1/2 cup simple syrup (making simple syrup is EASY--see below)
1/2 cup vodka (Vermont Gold or use your own local vodka)
Splash gingerale
Watermelon chunks, splashed with vodka and frozen, for garnish

Simple syrup:
Mix 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan and heat over high heat until the sugar dissolves into the water. Presto! You made simple syrup!

Make the cocktail:
Mix the juices and simple syrup together in a pitcher. Add the vodka and chill until the party.
Spear the frozen watermelon on toothpicks. Add the gingerale just before serving and present in cocktail glasses.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Hey Everyone!

I'm taking you behind the scenes as I talk about hosting a great spring garden party. Check out some of my favorite tips, as well as delicious recipes using Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry and Ocean Spray.
1. Take the party outside. Set up chairs and tables on the lawn or terrace, or if the weather's still chilly, bring a few springy blooms into the house and bring the garden to you.

2. Set the mood with soft, laid back music. Norah Jones, Donovan Frankenreiter, Michael Franks- Keep it easy and breezy.

3. Serve simple stunning dishes featuring seasonal items and a few secret ingredients that give you maximum effect for minimum effort and budget. See the photos below for two of my favorites, both made with Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry.

4. Raise the glass and enjoy the season with family and friends.

Baked Brie in Puff Pastry

Thaw: 40 minutesPrep: 10 minutes
Bake: 25 minutes
Makes: 6 pieces
1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed
1 (8 oz) Brie cheese round
1 egg

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Unfold pastry on lightly floured surface. Fold cheese in center. Fold pastry up over cheese to cover. Trim excess pastry and press to seal. Reserve scraps for decoration.

Beat egg with 1 tbsp. of water. Brush seam of pastry with egg mixture. Place seam-side down onto baking sheet. Decorate with scraps, if desired. Brush with egg mixture.
Bake 25 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Let stand for 20 minutes.

Prosciutto Asparagus Spirals

Thaw: 40 minutes
Prep: 40 minutes
Bake: 15 minutes
Makes: 30 pieces

1 package (17.3 ounces) Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
6 tablespoons Garlic and Herb spreadable cheese, softened
8 slices Prosciutto or thinly sliced deli ham
30 medium Asparagus spears, trimmed

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Unfold the pastry sheets onto a lightly floured surface. Spread 3 tablespoons cheese on each pastry sheet. Top each with 4 slices Prosciutto.

Tightly wrap 1 pastry strip around each Asparagus spear, Prosciutto side-in. Place the pastries seam-side down onto 2 baking sheets.
Bake for 15 minutes or until pastries are golden brown.

Harvest Stir-Fry

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil1 red bell pepper, cut in bite-size strips
1 cup pea pods, trimmed, cut in half
1 cup mandarin orange segments (fresh or canned, drained)
1 cup Ocean Spray 100% Juice or Light Fruit & Veggie Tropical Citrus
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons corn starch
Cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise; thinly slice crosswise. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook and stir 3 minutes or until browned. Push to side of skillet. Add bell pepper and pea pods; cook 1 minute or until starting to soften. Stir in orange segments.

In medium bowl, mix juice, vinegar, marmalade, soy sauce and cornstarch. Stir into skillet. Cook until mixture boils; cook until thick and chicken is no longer pink. If desired, serve over hot cooked rice.

4 (1 cup) servings



1 3/4 cups Ocean Spray® 100% Juice or Light Fruit & Veggie Cranberry Strawberry Banana or Tropical Citrus
1 3-ounce package cook and serve vanilla pudding mix (not instant)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 small (7-ounce) angel food cake, cut in small cubes (approximately 6 cups)
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries and/or red raspberries


In 1 1/2-quart saucepan, mix juice and pudding mix. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and place piece of waxed paper directly on surface of pudding. Cool completely.

Whip cream with powdered sugar until soft peaks form.

In large glass bowl, layer half the cake cubes.* Top with half the berries. Spread half the pudding mixture over the berries; carefully spread half the whipped cream over pudding. Repeat layers. Garnish with additional berries if desired. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate 3 hours.

Makes 8 servings

*To make individual servings, layer dessert in individual parfait glasses in order listed above.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cheers to Your Graduate!

When throwing the perfect Graduation party, remember to decorate in school colors- what better way to incorporate school colors than to start with a fun signature cocktail!

The Cap N Gown:

1 750 ml bottle of Prosecco (or non-alcholic Sparkling Apple Cider), chilled
1 12 oz can of Aranciata (or substitute your favorite orange soda), chilled
1 12 oz can of Ginger Ale, chilled

Decorator's Sugar in School Colors:

1 Orange, cut into wedges, for rimming glasses
1/2 pint of Golden Raspberries, frozen
1 pint of fresh Pineapple chunks, frozenToothpicks in School Colors
First, prepare your glasses. Use small martini glasses or coupe champagne glasses. Pour decorator's sugar onto flat plates (one color per plate).

Cut a slit in an Orange wedge and run it around the rim of each glass, to coat the edge with juice (so the sugar will stick). The dip each glass halfway around the rim with each color of sugar.

Next, spear one Golden Raspberry and one Pineapple chunk on a colorful toothpick. Keep them frozen until you need them.
In a large pitcher, mix all the liquids, just before the party (to preserve bubbles!). Put one frozen fruit skewer in each glass, then pour in the bubbly mixture to 3/4 of the way to the top.

Cheers to your graduate!

For more fun party ideas:
Again, choose school colors and personalize the napkins with an image of the school mascot, the GPA of your honoree, or stats about how many hours of study it took to get to this point.

so everyone gets a chance to snap a picture with the graduate.
All you need is:
A Polaroid PoGo instant print cameraScrapbook pages or a pretty album or journal
Markers, stickers, etc. to personalize
A glue stick to mount the photos

Set up the station in a corner or against a wall and
encourage guests to take candid shots with the happy graduate.
Then, print them out and let guests paste them in the book, along with their well wishes.