Thursday, April 18, 2013

10 Takes on Trays

Trays... I have a thing for them.
Every hostess needs one. Or two.
Or a collection.

Here's 10 picks I love.
Some I want. Some I already have.
Because I'm all about "attainable" entertaining...
 these are all priced under $50

Irresistibly sweet 
If I knew how to  bake... (which I don't) I can see 
hand baked pastries, confections, and cupcakes.
Mud Pie $34.00

Understated elegance always catches my eye. 
I'm thinking perfectly placed cucumber sandwiches.
Terrain $28

Bit of a Moroccan look here. I like.
Crusty bread & an array of bold cheeses.
Works for me.

Vintage appeal. Have it. Adore it.
But don't use it in the kitchen.
 On my bathroom counter with apothecary jars filled with everyday essentials. I makes me happy everyday.

Getting Personal. 
Etsy $30

Monogrammed Tiny Trays.
Bought several sets of these for gifts. 
And of course, one for me!
Impressive packaging. 
Impressive gift for the price.
Layla Grayce $15 Set of Two

Talk about old world charm. 
Ordered this as a gift for my daughter.
Makes a statement where ever it sits. 
Etsy $48

OK, it's a basket, but I love the versatility of it. 
I'm thinking simple here... 
Salsa & chips. Cheese & crackers. 
Pretty way to stash napkins & silverware on a buffet.

Pretty. Practical. Have it.
This one has served me well 
a million times and a million ways.

A tray for all seasons.
Fall & Winter... coffee, hot chocolate, spiced cider.
Summer... lemonade, iced tea, cocktails.
Want this.
Etsy $49

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sunday Soup...Tortellini Italian Sausage

Last Sunday I crept out of my creamy soup comfort zone. I wanted to go for something more... interesting.  Seriously one of the tastiest soups to ever come out of my kitchen. A hearty soup that's literally a meal in a bowl.
The original recipe is from my "Sunday Soup" Board on Pinterest HERE 
I  changed a few things, adding a little of this and taking out a little to of that to come up with own version. 
I made this soup a day ahead, omitting the zuccini and tortellini. The next day I reheated and added those ingredients simmering for about 10 minutes.

Easy prep, quick to cook...  Add some crusty bread and you've got the  perfect Soup for Sunday!

 Printable Recipe

Tortellini Italian Sausage Soup

4 Italian Sausage Links
4 tsp. Minced Garlic
1/2 cup Apple Cider
4 cups Chicken Broth
1 Beef Boullion Cube + 1 Cup Water
1 15oz Can Diced Tomatoes
½ Cup Tomato Sauce
1 cup Chopped Carrots
½ TBS Dried Basil
1 TSPDried Oregano
2 TBS Dried Parsley
2 Medium Zucchini Sliced
½ to 1 Full Package 16oz Frozen Cheese Tortellini

Cook sausage until brown and completely cooked. Break it up to small bits while cooking. (I took the skin off before cooking to make it easier.)
Add garlic to sausage and cook for a few minutes longer.
Add sausage to your soup pot.  Now add chicken broth, beef bouillon + water, tomatoes, cider, tomato sauce, carrots, basil and oregano.
Bring soup to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes stir in zucchini and parsley and simmer for 10-12 minutes.
Add tortellini (full or ½ package depending on how much you want in your soup) and cook for 8-10 minutes.
There you go... A Meal in a Bowl!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Really Creamy Broccoli Soup

I rarely make New Year's Resolutions. 
This year, I did.
 Serve soup every Sunday. 

Not running a mile everyday, not cutting my carbs, not starting Pilates class. Nope, nothing that remarkable. There will be exceptions, of course. Sundays I'm sewing to meet a deadline, weekend guests, Summer barbecues, or just Chinese take out. But for me it's... attainable. 
Over the holidays I had the most incredible Cream of Broccoli Soup at favorite restaurant in our little downtown. I loved the texture, so smooth and creamy. Every time I made broccoli soup, it was, well... more chunky. This was like silk! After searching for broccoli soup recipes that were really creamy... I winged it and came up with my own!  

So first up in my Soup Every Sunday mission:
Really Creamy Broccoli Soup

Printable Recipe


6 Cups  Broccoli Florets or Cuts (I used frozen)
4 Cups Chicken Broth
2 Chicken Bouillon Cubes + 2 Cups Water
1 Medium Onion Chopped
2-3 Garlic Cloves Minced
1/4 Cup Flour
1 Medium Potato Peeled and Chopped into 1" Pieces
1/2 to 3/4 Cup Half & Half (or Heavy Cream)
2 TBLS Butter
Pinch of Thyme (optional)
Pinch of Marjoram (optional)

Melt butter in saucepan you are cooking the soup in, medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft. Add flour and stir constantly about 1 minute.

Add the broccoli, potato, chicken stock, water & bouillon, thyme & marjoram. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Let the soup cool for a bit, and then (my favorite part) use the Immersion Blender to puree. For a really creamy texture, blend until there are no more bits or chunks of broccoli. Nice and smooth.

Place the pot back on the stove and slowly add the half & half, stirring slowly to blend. 
Add salt & fresh ground pepper to taste.

Reheat the soup, (stirring a few times)  if serving right away. Store in the refrigerator to reheat and serve later or the next day.

This recipe is best prepared with (my favorite kitchen gadget) an Immersion Blender. If using a standard blender, let the soup cool a bit and puree in batches.

After adding the half & half, I added another tablespoon of... yep, Butter!

Add less or more half & half depending on the consistency you want.

Add other spices of your choice.

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gracious Style

Gracious Giveaway!

My dear friend, Mindy of The Gracious Girl is hosting a week of Gracious Giveaways: New Year’s Resolution series. All week, Mindy will be inspiring you with wonderful tools to help inspire or jumpstart your year in a most gracious fashion.

First up in the week of giveaways...
My Sheath Style Apron in Sunny Chevron!

Enter HERE and meet Mindy...
You'll never meet a more Gracious Girl.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Napkin Swags Giveaway!

Set your Holiday Table to Merry & Bright!

A soft touch on the Traditional Napkin Ring, Napkin Swags are a versatile way to add some color to your tabletop and perk up your plain white napkins!

I'm delighted to say my friend and fellow "Michigan Mitten Girl" Sheila, from Eat2Gather is giving away a set of 8 to one Hip Hostess! 

Enter to WIN your choice of any color or print in my Etsy Shop.

Be sure to check out Sheila's tasty recipes. A more creative cook and beautiful baker, you'll never meet!

 Giveaway ends Wednesday Dec. 12th 
Enter HERE

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New in the Etsy Shop...

 Ultimate Holiday Hostess Aprons

I've ventured out a bit from the "hip" look to a more "heirloom" look. What do you think?

Casually Elegant and Feminine I've made these in a soft to the touch linen blend fabric. The button detail gives the traditional design a chic modern look. Designed with full coverage in mind means no mess on your dress. They're comfortable and durable in the kitchen, yet a charming style pretty enough to wear to the table! 

Available in Moss Green, Paprika, Honey and of course, Holiday Red.

And because it is the season for gift giving...
Each of these aprons comes gift boxed for perfect presentation.

Get all the details HERE 

And a little gift from me to you...

Get FREE Shipping with Coupon Code HOLIDAYFREE at check out!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Simple Strategies for a Sparkling 4th

Everyone that knows me knows my motto is 
"Keep it Simple"

We don't all have the time or the talent to pull off those lavish looks, or stunning soirees we see in "Never Never Land" (aka Pinterest) so with SIMPLE being the keyword... here are some (really, truly) simple ways to add some sparkle to your 4th of July Bash.

For Starters...
Create some fireworks of your own.

"Sunday Picnic" is a perfect fit for the 4th.
Oh and by the way... Promo Code HH15 will get you 15% Off.
Yes, I know. Shameless self promotion.
On to the party...

 Canning jars are like a blank canvas. Add some backyard blooms, dig into your craft stash. Make up just one or a multitude of your own creations and you've got instant homespun charm! 

On the Menu?
Again with the simple... Burgers & Hot Dogs 
But here's how to add a little interest.

Jazz up plain burgers with unexpected condiments.
How about... 
 Caesar Spread or Spiced Tomato Chutney?
Here's 12 Creative Burger Toppings from

3 Ways to Dress Up a plain Hot Dog from again
including this tasty tropical version.

Mix up a batch of 
and say Cheers to Independence!
Nix the Vodka for a virgin version.
Little effort, Big Impact.

via Real Simple
How's this for Clever?
Pop a Popsicle Stick into the rind of Melon Wedges.
And to keep it all clean...

Kids eating watermelon slices on sticks
via Real Simple
 Cupcake Liners!

via Food Network
And for the Grand Finale...   
Fruit Flag Tarts
I'm of the opinion that presentation is everything and this one is so all that!

 Here's the super simple Recipe from Food Network. If you're really pressed for time, I'm thinking Vanilla Pudding would be a tasty alternative to the Mascarpone. 

A few more Hip Tips...
  • Keep things organized on your buffet table by stashing your cutlery in terra cotta pots, small galvanized buckets, or canning jars.
  • Make a quick dash to the fabric store & pick up some festive fabric. (I like simple gingham because it can be used all Summer long) Cut 12" wide strips for table runners on guest tables and or your buffet table. Best part? No sewing required.
  • To avoid watered down punch instead of adding more ice cubes, place your punch bowl or pitcher in a bowl or bucket of ice.
  • Use a colorful colander to hold ice or watermelon with a tray beneath to catch the drips.
  • Dollar Store bandanas make super Summer napkins and will serve you well for many Summers to come. 
  • Here's a great way to cool off your guests on a steamy day and believe me they'll be so grateful & impressed!  Pick up a few sets of inexpensive white washcloths.  Roll up & moisten them, then stash in the freezer. Serve them up on an ice lined tray with lemon slices to wash away the heat of the day. For extra indulgence: Mix a few drops of lavender oil & distilled water in a spray bottle. Give the washcloths a nice spritz before you present them to your guests. 

 Here's to a Festive 4th & a Happy Independence Day!