4th of July Fun

 

I love good old fashioned 4th of July fun.  Family, grilled food, fireworks and a red, white and blue color scheme make this one of my favorite holidays.  I know, I say that all the time.  I think I am in love with whatever holiday is next.  Celebrating pretty much anything is what I really love and yesterday that was the 4th of July!

fourthfood

The menu was full on traditional, grilled flank steak, BBQ chicken, corn on the bob, warm  potato salad with bacon and deviled eggs.  For dessert we had double dipped strawberries and red velvet cupcakes filled with cream cheese frosting.

fourthpotato

The warm potato salad is a favorite side dish around here especially with anything grilled.  It can certainly be chilled as other traditional potato salads but serving it warm is the way we like it the best.  Creamy with the crunch of bacon and a fresh burst of green onion.  Delish!

Potato Salad with Bacon & Scallions
 
This can be served warm or cold. Served warm it makes a fantastic side with anything grilled!
Author:
Recipe type: Salad

Ingredients
  • 2 LBS. New Potatoes, cut in half
  • ¾ cup Sour Cream
  • ¾ cup Mayonnaise
  • ½ cup Scallions, thinly sliced
  • 5 Slices Bacon, cooked and crumbled

Instructions
  1. Add the sliced potatoes to a saucepan and cover with water. Add salt.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 12-14 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.
  3. Drain well.
  4. In a serving bowl mix sour cream and mayonnaise. Fold in potatoes and season with salt and pepper.
  5. If serving cold cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours or until chilled.
  6. When ready to serve fold in scallions (reserving some for garnish).
  7. Garnish with bacon and reserved scallions.

 

fourthstrawberries

I thought I would whip up a batch of the Pinterest favorite double dipped strawberries.  Fast, easy and quite tasty these little goodies are the newest addition to holiday menus around here.  I barely had a chance to even take a photo of them before they were gobbled up!

fourthtable

 

I hope your 4th of July was filled with family, food and fun!

Brazil 2014 World Cup Party

brazil 2014 world cup party deck

It was time for the end of year party for my son’s soccer team and luckily for us it coincided with the World Cup.  Of course we decided to throw a Brazil 2014 World Cup Party!

There were three party zones for the party.  One for food and beverage service, one for eating & mingling and the last (and most important to the boys) was the soccer zone.

worldcupflags

I knew that the rectangular area on one side of the house was the perfect soccer area.  After all it had long ago been designated as such (with the missing grass in front of the goals to prove it).  In the International spirit of the World Cup I decided that it would be fun to line the house (on one side) and the fence (on the other) with the flags from the World Cup teams.  Luckily I found an assortment of 3 x 5 flags on soccer.com for $4-9 each.  We even put up lights on the house and so the soccer didn’t have to stop when the sun went down!

worldcupdeck2

The next zone was the food and beverage area.  Our deck was the perfect location for that.  A large square table in the middle decked out in a green tablecloth for the buffet with twinkling lights strung through the umbrella with a few paper lanterns.  It is amazing how little lights can cast such a magical glow.  Hung together were the Brazilian and US flags.

worldcups1

For the party favors I decided that little “World Cups” for each boy were in order.  I had some leftover spray paint from my Olympic Rings which worked perfectly when sprayed on plastic beverage glasses.  Of course they kids couldn’t drink out of them but they were the perfect container for lots of World Cup type treats…chocolates, a medal, World Cup trading cards and stickers and other little goodies.

worldcups2

The thing that helped add a large dose of festive fun was the addition of lots of different paper lanterns.  I love that they are inexpensive, come in a multitude of colors, are easy to use and have a huge impact.  I found great soccer ball lanterns at paperlanternstore.com and filled in with larger colored lanterns.

worldcuplanternsday

I used 5 of the 14″ soccer lanterns and then filled in with the much less expensive 16″ colored versions to fill out the tree.  The colors were so bright and beautiful by day and with the small cafe lights were magical at night.

worldcuplanternsdark

I enjoyed putting this together and look forward to hosting at least one more Brazil 2014 World Cup party before the fun ends in a couple of weeks!

 

 

Watermelon Caipirinhas

 

watermeloncaipirinhas

Today’s World Cup Cocktails are Watermelon Caipirinhas.  It is a variation on the famous Brazilian Caipirinhas which are lime based.  This version has a splash of lime but watermelon is the star.  Fresh and fruity this cocktail is just as light and delicious as the original recipe however it contains a bright snap of juicy watermelon sweetness.

muddler

 

I was asked a question about the muddler I described in the Brazilian Caipirinhas recipe. There are all sorts out there with price points varying widely.  The one I use I picked up in the kitchen aisle of Target.  The only job of a muddler is to mush the ingredients together and so unless you are planning on lots of muddling the wrong end of a wooden spoon works just as well.  I fall into the muddling often crowd and so I am happy to own one.

The process for this cocktail is simple.  Cut 6-7 cubes of watermelon (about 1/2-3/4 cup total).  I find a riper watermelon works the best.  Place the cubes into a cocktail shaker.  There are two routes you can go with the sweetener.  Either 1 oz. Simple Syrup or 1 TBLS. sugar.  I prefer simple syrup (recipe below) but sugar will work fine.  If you are using sugar add it to the watermelon now and muddle together (if adding simple syrup you’ll add it after the watermelon has been muddled).  The watermelon should resemble a puree but not be completely smooth and liquid and the sugar should be dissolved.  Once muddled add the simple syrup if using, 1 tsp. lime juice and 2 oz. Cachaca.  Cachaca is a Brazilian liquor made of sugar cane.  If you don’t have Cachaca you can substitute vodka (which would change it to a Watermelon Caipiroska).

watermeloncaipirinhas

 

Fill the shaker to the top with ice, cover, and shake, shake, shake.  This cocktail needs to be icy cold.  I shake it until I can barely hold onto the shaker for fear of freezing my fingers.  Yes, that cold.

Pour your newly created Watermelon Caipirinhas into a highball glass.  This cocktail does contain some of the watermelon pulp.  If you don’t like that texture make sure you really muddle the watermelon well at the beginning to obtain the consistency you like.  Garnish with a wedge of watermelon and sit back and enjoy!

Simple Syrup

1 cup water + 1 cup sugar.  Heat in a saucepan, stirring.  Bring to a boil and cook until sugar dissolves.  Cool.  Store in a jar in the refrigerator.  (Is wonderful in ice tea)!

Brazilian Caipirinhas

 

Brazilian Caipirinhas

There is nothing like Brazilian Caipirinhas to kick off World Cup madness!  I love the World Cup and so this is a time which can’t come quickly enough for me.  As with the Olympics I always try and explore the food and drink not only of the host country but some of those participating in the event.  This World Cup is in Brazil which offers a multitude of wonderful food and drink opportunities to enjoy during this month long celebration.  The first stop on the culinary tour must be Caipirinhas.  Not only is it the National Cocktail of Brazil it is also mind boggling delicious!  It is a powered up limeade for grown ups.  Fruity, ice cold and delicious this is a hot weather cocktail which should be in every well rounded drink rotation.

The foundation of the drink (apart from limes) is a Brazilian hard liquor made from sugar cane called Cachaca.  Really there are only a few ingredients.  Lime, Cachaca, sugar and ice.  Four. That’s it.  There are lots of variations using all sorts of fruits instead of limes which are also delicious, however, I thought today I would make the original lime version.

Brazilian Caipirinhas

 

I allow one lime for each cocktail although limes can vary greatly in size and amount of juice they contain.  The limes I used for mine today were on the small side and so I used a whole one for each cocktail. With a larger lime you may only need 1/2.  Cut the lime in half.  Cut each half into 4 slices.  Muddle the 4 slices with 1 TBLS. sugar in the bottom of a highball glass.  I chose to do this in a cocktail shaker as I like mine extra cold and shaking the muddled lime, sugar, cachaca with ice in the shaker produces a much colder cocktail.

The secret to the muddling is to release not only the juice from the limes but also some of the oil from the peel without destroying it completely.  I do not like a grainy cocktail and so I make sure the sugar really dissolves at this point.  If you don’t have a muddler (which looks like a little baseball bat sometimes with spikes on the bottom) you can use the wrong end of a wooden spoon.  Muddling is really just what is sounds like, pressing and mushing the ingredients together.  Okay, that was the most difficult part of making this cocktail.  Not difficult I know but it gets even easier from here on out.

Next, add ice and top with 2 1/2 ounces cachaca (either into the highball glass or the shaker).  If in the shaker the put the top on and shake away, pour (don’t strain) into a glass and enjoy (If in the highball glass give it a stir and you too can enjoy).

I am sure that Brazilian Caipirinhas will quickly become a summertime favorite just as they are here in our home.  We had a little get together this last weekend and served them with a spicy guacamole.  One word.  Amazing.  Enjoy the World Cup and while you are watching join in the fun with a little taste of Brazil!

La Fête du Muguet

 

La Fête du Muguet

In France La Fête du Muguet is celebrated on the first day in May.  What a lovely holiday…Lily of the Valley Day.  I love the romantic notion of giving loved ones small bouquets of lily of the valley.  Especially after the winter we have had the little sweet smelling bells are very much appreciated!  We have May Day…which is also about flowers and giving little posies.  Such a great idea.  Little floral gifts just when we need a boost.

Lily of the valley has always been one of my favorite flowers.  So fragrant with those adorable little bell tops.  They grew in abundance in my parent’s garden when I was growing up.  I made posy after posy of the tiny stems all the while imagining little fairies living among them.

Enjoy some other Lily of the Valley inspiration here on Pinterest!

French Toile Easter Table

french-toile-easter-table

Happy Easter!

It was a lovely warm and sunny Easter morning and we sat down to brunch just after opening our be-ribboned Easter baskets.  This French toile Easter table started with the chocolate brown French toile napkins.  I picked them up several years ago at Pottery Barn…I just wished I have purchased more!

french_toile_easter_table

The grass in the trough grew lush and green which is something I can’t seem to do in parts of my back yard…go figure.  I posted about planting the grass in the trough here.   I painted ceramic eggs in gold leaf type paint and burnt umber craft paint.   I didn’t get too worked up about how to do the designs…freehanded them mostly.  My favorite part of the centerpiece is the little iron bunny peeking out.  So charming.

French toile and easter really seem to go together for me…well, actually French toile and any holiday go together for me.  Red for Christmas, brown for Thanksgiving, Black for Halloween. I easily could have a post for each holiday, French Toile Easter Table, French Toile Christmas Table, French Toile Thanks….well, you get the idea.

Have a wonderful Easter!

 

 

Five Layer Ombre Cake

 

Five Layer Ombre Cake I Nesting With Style

I found these fantastic Wilton cake pans  while taking a peek at the Sur La Table website for Macaron supplies.  I adore those fantastic rainbow and ombre cakes which are all over Pinterest right now but had some reservations about tackling one myself.  First of all the thought of a huge multi layer cake, usually made with at least two recipes of batter, was not an attractive thought.  Don’t get me wrong…the family loves cake.  But not two cakes in one.  I was sure that at least half would end up in the trash.  Such a waste.  My second reservation was that it is a busy time of year and I didn’t really want to spend all day wrestling with the thing. I wanted my ombre cake but I wanted it to be easy too. Did I just type that? Oh yes I did.  I wanted my cake and to eat it too. (Sometimes you just have to go there).  Seeing these pans inspired me.  I would have my five layer ombre cake.

ombrecakebatter

One of the neatest things about this cake is that it can be made with ONE recipe of cake batter…or if you are in a hurry, one cake mix.  Yep.  Just one.  I mixed up the white cake batter and divided it into 5 cereal bowls.  I used a pink gel food coloring and started coloring the batter.  No food coloring in the first bowl.  A couple of drops in the second.  A few more in the third and so on.  Soon I had five different colors of batter waiting to be baked into my five layer ombre celebration cake…dreams are made of this!

ombrecakes

18 minutes later I was looking at five layers of baked pink goodness.  Yum!  Being smaller (about 6″ around) they cooled rather quickly and were easy to handle.  I broke out one of my favorite and festive little cake stands and got to work.  As I was on a tight timeline I used pre-made frosting (and ended up using about 1 1/2 cans).  I used Duncan Hines white whipped frosting which ended up being the perfect choice.  Very, very fluffy and light.  I think a traditional buttercream would have weighed the cake down too much.  I finished with a handful of rainbow sprinkles and it was time to eat.

ombrecakecloseup

Things I am going to do differently next time around…I will not only grease but also flour the pans.  I had some sticking issues and I want the cake to come out cleanly next time.  Also, I will make sure the two darkest layers are a bit different in color I think more contrast would be good. And finally, a new color scheme…perhaps…a rainbow cake.  Too bad I didn’t find these pans until after St. Patrick’s Day that would have been adorable.  Oh well, there is always next year.

Ribbon Trimmed Martha Stewart Inspired Easter Baskets

Ribbon Trimmed Martha Stewart Inspired Easter Basket

In the spring of 1991 I opened the mailbox to greet the latest edition of Martha Stewart Magazine.  It was the first year of the magazines publication and I couldn’t wait to each issue to arrive.  I was newly married and eager to try just about anything which graced the pages.  It was there I found instructions for ribbon trimmed Martha Stewart inspired Easter Baskets.

Ribbon Trimmed Easter Baskets Martha Stewart Living

There they were on page 56.  A (relatively) small article (4 pages) on Easter Baskets.  Not just any Easter Baskets…The Easter baskets of my dreams.  Up until that point I had never seen an Easter basket which wasn’t 10 shades of horrible.  The main event was what was inside…peeps, jelly beans, chocolate bunny, the good stuff.  The basket itself was usually either this strange plastic woven type (oddly trying to mimic something actually woven but in the most unrealistic way possible). Or an actual woven basket which looked like it was made from materials found by the side of a highway somewhere.  I won’t say road kill.  But close.  In the spring of 1991 that all changed for me. The basket which in itself WAS the main event.

Martha Stewart Living Ribbon Trimmed Easter Basket Article

Okay.  In retrospect those baskets were uber busy.  A white spray painted basket covered in bows.  Pattern on pattern on pattern.  I think the thing which struck me however was the colors.  Each basket had its own color way.  Everything in the blue basket was some shade of blue, the same for the yellow, etc.  Even the (overly to my eye now) decorated sugar cookies coordinated.  Now that had style.

Ribbon Trimmed Martha Stewart Inspired Easter Baskets I Nesting With Style

I set about to re-create this little lovelies.  One for me.  One for my new husband.  Cute tiny little baskets filled with similarly colored treats. I varied from Martha’s example by making a collar of bows around the top instead of bows scattered all over.  I used much more saturated colors than Martha.  Bright blue for him.  Raspberry Pink for me.  Cute.  I’m not sure how hubby felt about an Easter basket covered in bows but being a newlywed he didn’t say a word.  Good man.

Ribbon Trimmed Easter Baskets with Alpha Phi Letters I Nesting With Style

The following year when our daughter was born I gave her my little pink beauty and I made myself a purple one.  The mistake I made in the beginning was that I selected baskets which were far too small.  Not enough room for the Easter treats I wanted to fill them with.  I wasn’t a problem until the kids got a bit older and the little treats got well, not so little.  By the time we had our second I had re-made the baskets in a much larger format.  Pink for her, yellow for the next little nipper.  Blue for the third.  Green for the fourth.  I have even made them for my niece and nephews.  So far I think I have made about 10 of them and each one is unique.

Target Easter Eggs

I love that they look festive and party like even with nothing inside.  Each year I buy new eggs to add (after all those little plastic eggs don’t hold up forever).  The great thing is that the hues of the basic colors always change…so after 13 years of eggs they are all different shades.  I love that spectrum of color.  This year I added a pack of large and small from Target.  Beautiful colors.   But the addition I am most excited about are the glitter eggs from Target.  Haven’t opened one yet but they sure look great!

Ribbon Trimmed Martha Stewart Inspired Easter Basket with Chick

Each year I freshen the baskets up a bit.  In recent years I have added a glitter initial to personalize them even more.  I’ve also added little chicks tucked in here and there.  Add more ribbon and plump the ribbon already there.  It has led to an unexpected result.  They have, in effect, become little time capsules of the kid’s childhoods.  We called our #4 monkey when he was little….and so he has a bow with little monkeys on it on his basket.  Our daughter went through a butterfly stage and on hers there is a glittery butterfly. On each of the baskets there is ribbon from an article of their baby clothing.  Each has a snippet of ribbon from my Mother, who passed away and we all miss so much. I added darker more elegant tones of ribbon as they got older…ribbon which reflected their growing up.  These baskets now function like sentimental Christmas ornaments on a tree…each with its own story.  I especially love that it happened organically.  There was no plan to have it happen this way.  It just did.

Blue Ribbon Trimmed Martha Stewart Inspired Easter Basket

I’m done freshening them up for this year.  I added (three years tardy) my daughter’s sorority letters to hers and my son’s college ribbon to his.  Easter is three weeks from today and the baskets are all laid out…bunny ready.

Ribbon Trimmed Easter Basket Butterfly

Instructions for making these are as easy as it comes.

What you’ll need:

Glittered Monograms I Nesting With Style

  1. Make lots and lots of small bows
  2. Wrap a longer piece of ribbon around the handle, attach at the bottom with hot glue
  3. With hot glue gun attach bows around the edge of the easter basket, make sure the pattern in random
  4. For the monogram take a chipboard letter and paint a coordinating color
  5. Spread with glue and sprinkle with glitter.  I used Martha’s glitter either Tinsel Glitter or One of these gorgeous colors or Iridescent Glitter (I think I used iridescent on the blue C and the yellow C and basic colors on the A’s.

Pink Ribbon Trimmed Easter Basket with Alpha Phi Letters I Nesting With Style

Back in 1991 I don’t think Martha Stewart could have dreamed that a small 4 page layout on Easter Baskets would become the cornerstone of a family’s Easter tradition. Or maybe she just hoped it would.

Pink Ribbon Trimmed Easter Basket I Nesting With Style

Red Velvet French Macarons

red velvet macarons

Red Velvet French Macarons are a delicious addition to the spring cookie jar! I adore red velvet cake and so those flavors were a natural to translate to my favorite confection macarons.  And so from me to you…Red Velvet French Macarons…enjoy!

The Basic Recipe: Can be found here.

I’ve taken some photos of making the red velvet macaron below.  It is amazing how a few drops of food coloring can really change a plain macaron into something festive!

macaron mixing

Color

The one thing I was disappointed in with the Red Velvet macarons above was the color.  The red turned out to be a orange red rather than the deeper blue/red commonly associated with red velvet.  Next time I will use a different red food coloring…so no color # here as I didn’t like that aspect of these.

Red Velvet Filling

I am addicted to this filling and woke up trying to think of other things to use it on.  It is creamy and delicious and gooey.  A note about the recipe…it will seem as though you will not have enough filling for the macarons.  Don’t fear, you will have more than enough.

macaronsbonappetit

 

Red Velvet French Macarons Filling
 
This fantastic macaron filling would also be delicious topping a red velvet cupcake!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: French

Ingredients
  • 6¼ ounces confectioner’s sugar
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1½ oz unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ tsp. vanilla
  • pinch kosher salt

Instructions
  1. Combine butter and cream cheese in a mixer with paddle attachment
  2. Scrape sides of bowl and add vanilla & salt
  3. When combined slowly add confectioner’s sugar (with mixer on low speed)

Check out the Macaron Recipe File Page which has the complete list of Macaron recipes and other Macaron resources.  It is a work in progress which I hope to keep adding to!

 

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