Food from the Hart

Posts Tagged ‘party’

Halloween Fun: Turning the Dial Up on Your Classic Spook Fest

In Celebrations on October 9, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Halloween is often brushed aside as a children’s holiday. Though as we get older it gives seems to give us license to be someone or something else for one evening.  As children, black and orange, witches and goblins, chocolate and lollipops are enough. For most adults, free candy is simply not reason to embrace the holiday.

This year take your typical garish and goolish fright-fest and turn it into an elegant and evil soiree.  A couple easy cocktails, festive hors d’oeuvres, and a lot of black fabric is all your need to turn your small space into a something far from friendly.

It Begins with an Invite

The devil is really in the details when throwing a successful party.  The tone and feeling of the event begins the moment guests receive an invitation.  You can always go the route of sending paper invitations, but and are easy, cost-effective and earth-friendly.  Each site has a number of Halloween-themed designs to choose from. Remember, this isn’t a child’s party.  Pick a theme that matches the scene you are trying to set.

Set the Scene

Halloween is all about over-the-top theatrics. Don’t be afraid to really play up the ambience. Here are some easy tips for creating the perfect Hallows Eve look:

  • Use black as your base color and work from there, adding tiny pops of dark orange, white and gold.
  • Purchase inexpensive black fabric from a craft store and use to cover table tops and wrap lamp shades for a dark and dramatic look.
  • Place groupings of black taper candles along with smaller tea candles around the space. Use as a main source of light once the party begins.
  • Create creepy tableaux out of old books, skulls, crystal balls and apothecary bottles filled with water and orange food coloring.
  • Raid the party supply store for black leaf garland and cobwebs to drape over lamps, bookshelves and tables.
  • Check out the local flower market for black tulips, burgundy calla lilies, and black roses. Use together in flower arrangements to place around.
  • Turn on televisions and have old black and white films playing on mute.  Anything Hitchcock would work brilliantly.
  • Create a spooky music mix with the help of one of I-Tunes pre-set playlists or pick your favorite Halloween jam and plug into Pandora.

What to serve

Let your menu take a cue from your setting.  Small bites, cocktails and devilish desserts are all your need to round out the evening. Here are a few menu suggestions:


Spicy Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Chicken Leg Lollipops

Skeleton Fingers

Roasted Potato Moons


Monster Eyeballs

Brain Cookies

Bowls of Assorted Candy


Dark and Stormy

Blood Orange Martini


The 15 Minutes Blitz: Turn Your Home from Disaster Zone to Party Ready

In Features on October 6, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Entertaining is difficult enough when you have time to organize, but what do you do when you only have minutes to prepare? Don’t panic, it’s entirely possible to pull it together.

You’ve already stopped by the market and picked up a few cocktail essentials and now with fifteen minutes left you have to make your home guest ready.  There’s no time for a full-scale clean, but a tidy home always looks more inviting.  Crank up some energy pumping tunes, grab the disposable wipes and get moving.  Here’s an easy fifteen minute plan:

Entryway or Foyer (1 minute)

Hang up coats and hats; organize umbrellas and any shoes.

Living Room (4 minutes)

Straighten up coffee and side tables. Neatly stack magazine and books. Throw out old newspapers. Hide computer cords and laptops behind sofa cushions or in the bedroom. Fluff sofa cushions and pillows, fold throw blankets.  Wipe down tabletops.  Give the room a quick spray of Febreez or other air freshener.  Light any scented candles.

Kitchen (5 minutes)

Empty dishwasher if full, then load dirty dishes.  Wipe down surfaces and counters.  Put away any pantry items left of the counter.  If you don’t have a pantry for storage, neatly organize dry goods.  Fold and hang dish towels.  Give the floor a quick sweep, take out any left over trash and turn off the lights.

Bathroom (4 minutes)

Put dirty clothes in the hamper and toiletries in a drawer or cabinet.  Fold and hang towels neatly.  Give the sink and toilet a quick wipe.  Take out any over flowing trash and put a new bag in the basket. Light a scented candle.

Close Door to Bedroom (30 seconds)

A quick note, if you have a studio apartment, quickly make the bed as best you can.  If you have a screen dividing the space, now is the time to use it.

Turn Off the Music (30 seconds)

Turn off the high energy music and put on a more soothing playlist for background when guests arrive.

Follow this plan and you’ll be amazed how quickly you can turn a disaster zone into a tidy space for entertaining.  You might even have enough time to pour yourself a glass of wine and take a deep breath before the doorbell rings.

For no-cook hors d’oeuvre ideas, click here.

Celebrate Mother Earth: Host a “Green” Earth Day Party

In Celebrations on April 13, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Global warming, deforestation, melting-glaciers, there are a million reasons to honor our earth everyday before it’s only a version of what we know. This April 22 will mark the 41st Earth Day celebration and a great time to think about all that mother earth provides.

As time has past, and environmental awareness is an increasingly publicized issue, organized public parties / events are promoted around the globe.  Join in the earth-loving fun and host one of your own and celebrate all that mother nature gives to us.

Getting the Word Out

  • Keep it “green” and send out an Evite or Paperless post to invite your guests.
  • Encourage your guests to be thoughtful in their mode of transportation to your party.  Offer suggestions for easy public transport or try to set up a carpool.  Walking or biking would be good to if it’s feasible.

Setting the Scene

  • There’s no need to go over board and “paint” the room green. But green, white, and brown are great colors to help you decorate your table.  These are earthy, clean colors that should reflect the different color elements of the earth. Aim for a simple white backdrop with a white table cloth and white napkins.
  • If you’re opting for disposable flatware and plates go for Bamboo.  It’s organic, biodegradable and actually looks great on a table. Check out this past post to find out where to purchase.
  • Use a variety of green and white flowers to decorate the center of the table.  Make an effort to check out your local farmers market for what is available locally.  Some of my favorites that are available this time of year are, white tulips, delphiniums and hyacinths.  You can always supplement the white with green leafy branches or leaves.
  • If you don’t have vases, try washing out old condiment jars, wrapping in brown or white paper.  It’s a great way to recycle and makes a great rustic tablescapes.
  • Ditch the bottled water, invest in a Brita if you don’t already have one. Break out the old wine bottles and fill with table water.
  • Candles are always a must, white tea candles down the center of the table gives a beautiful glow.


Just as the party is a celebration of taking care of the earth, the menu is full of healthy and sustainable food to take care of your body.  Check out farmers markets and purchase local and organic produce.  It does make a difference not only in taste but buying local reduces your carbon foot print.

Small Bites

Turnip Chips with Paprika and Lime

Popcorn with Mustard-Herb Butter

Roasted Chickpeas

Main Event 

English Pea Soup with Mint

Fettuccine with Peas, Asparagus, and Pancetta

Meringue Towers with Almond Whipped Cream and Seasonal Fruit


Cucumber Martini

Organic / Biodynamic Wine

  • Montinore Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley Oregon, $19.99
  • Babich Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010, New Zealand, $11.99

Organic Beer

  • Peak Organic Ale, Maine
  • Bison Brewing, California

Tricks of the Trade: Master the Art of Recycling Everyday Items

In Features on March 27, 2011 at 9:48 am

There’s not a host out there who wouldn’t love to have a pantry fully stocked with every entertaining item under the sun.  With so many beautiful and fun vases, candle holders, plates and trays available you could set a different kind of table each day.  However, the reality is most of us don’t have the space or budget to fulfill that pipe dream.  But, you can still create wonderful and whimsical tablescapes using items you already have in your cupboards. Here are just a few tricks I love to use, but try to think outside the champagne flute and I’m sure the recycling ideas will start flowing.  Leave a comment if you have any ideas to share.  Happy Partying!

Wine, Champagne & Martini Glasses 

  • Use a large wine glass and add a floating candle or single flower bloom
  • Flip wine, champagne and martini glasses over, place flowers, nuts, or fruit underneath and a votive candle on top
  • Instead of a small bowl serving nuts or olives in one of these long-stemmed glasses
  • Spice up your appetizer plating and serve a summery ceviche in a martini glass
  • Desserts (berry trifles, mousse). A layered mousse or trifle looks delicate and sophisticated served in a tall champagne flute

Votive Candle Holders

  • Clean out small candle holders and serve salt and pepper at the table
  • Use votive holders on your bar to serve garnishes like lemons, limes, olives, and cherries
  • At the end of dinner serve individual ice cream scoops to your guests – maybe even vary the flavors so everyone gets on tastes (assuming the groups is close)
  • Use holders to serve individual hors d’oeuvres like bacon wrapped scallops or mini caesar salads on parmesan crisps

Egg Cups

  • Use egg cups to hold a single flower blooms  and place one at each table setting or down the center of the table
  • Pedestals for tarts, quiches, mini cakes
  • Palate cleanser of melon balls or sorbet between courses
  • Ice cream sampler – serve on a tiered serving tray and let guests take their favorite flavor
  • Votive candle holders

Glass Plates

  • Affix fabric, decorative paper, or wallpaper to the underside of the plate with Mod Podge or tape for a less permanent approach. Each plate then has its own look and you can change to match the theme of your table.  These also make great chargers to serve other plates on top of.

Dish towels

  • For a casual or down home dinner use clean white dish towels instead of linen napkins.  They look great on a table and also give your guests the cue it’s ok to get their hands dirty!

Want More?:

If you are lacking any of these basic cupboard items, check out my earlier post Kitchen Therapy: Spring Cleaning for the low down on budget friendly ways to build your dishware arsenal.

Also stay tuned from more easy ways to recycle everyday items!

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