October 25, 2013

Trick or Treating Savories

It's not all about the candy!  Before the trick or treating, it's equally festive to have savory snacks to fuel the big night.  I teamed up with Jenni Kayne and Amy Blessing to make a pumpkin themed party with a menu perfect for a holiday gathering.  While my family tradition is chili on Halloween, it was fun to do a twist with pumpkin soup.  The kids carved out their pumpkins to use as bowls and then picked from an array of toppings: avocado, corn chips, pepitas & dried cranberries.  To compliment their soup, I made ghost toasts (with the kids placing currants for eyes) and pumpkin and almond butter tea sandwiches.  Nothing quite says fall like apples which were served in the forms of spiced cider and caramel covered.  It turns out, eating pumpkin soup is really just a transaction a child will make when promised the reward of the sweet caramel covered apples (my recipe, featuring maple syrup can be found here).  Amy and Jenni, both masters of making all things chic and beautiful, created pretty decorations to make the day special.  Check out all of my recipes and more photos of Amy and Jenni's festive table on Rip Plus Tan.  Happy Halloween!!

The Menu


spiced cider


apple slices

ghost toasts

almond butter & pumpkin butter tea sandwiches

pumpkin soup with 
cranberry, pepitas, corn chips & avocado


caramel apples

caramel corn 

October 11, 2013

Une belle fete pour une belle fille

This party makes me happy.  Throwing a birthday brunch for my dear friend Ahna truly reminded me what entertaining at home is all about.  First, it's about an occasion.  This was a chance to bring a great group of girls together to celebrate our amazing friend.  I focused on a few thoughtful touches to celebrate the guest of honor.  Because Ahna has turned us all on to incredible astrologers and healers, this was our chance to give back.  A few ladies pitched in to hire a tarot card reader to do readings for all of the guests throughout the party--super fun (not to mention a great conversation piece!).  And what a perfect opportunity to serve a few of her favorites: crepes complete, French pastries, and chocolate (all made in advance!!).  Because I kept the menu simple, I had time to play with flowers, which was enjoyable (rather than stressful!), as I wasn't trying to get a million things done.  The control freak in me let go and accepted help from good friends who brought the almond croissants (thanks Court!), helped set the table (thanks Jen!), and even assembled the hors d'oeuvres (Julianna you're the best!!).  Because I was relaxed, I felt present and really enjoyed myself amongst friends. As did the rest of the girls.  It's not about fuss or getting it all right, it's about bringing people together.  Thanks Ahna for being a wonderful and inspiring reason to throw a fete.

The Menu


pink champagne


brillat-savarin, grapes, persimmon, fig jam & baguette

gravlax, creme fraiche & dill on toast points

To Share

ham & cheese crepes with bechamel & chives

stirred eggs with chanterelles & herbs

grapefruit, fennel & avocado

bibb lettuce with shallots & champagne vinaigrette

almond croissants, chocolate hazelnut spread & raspberry currant jam


flourless chocolate birthday cake with whipped cream

cafe au lait

September 17, 2013

Endless Summer

72 and sunny is the magical equation that keeps LA dwellers happy.  But relentless days of heat in the high 80s and 90s  is making fall a bit of an illusion.  In the spirit of being true to the weather, I had one more summer BBQ in me.  For this farewell to summer party, I rounded up the season's best in the form of classic family recipes.  My mom's BLT filled cherry tomatoes are a perfect bite with lots of fresh basil, chives and smoky bacon.  And my grandma's Sweet & Sour Baked Beans were a hit all summer long.   My favorite personal addition is the Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Rice Krispy Treat from Flour:  true deliciousness.  So thank you summer for the memories.  You filled my time with more cooking than I ever could have imagined.  You inspired lots of refreshing cocktails, juicy burgers and ice cream treats.  However, I need a year to recover to from my high exposure to corn, tomatoes & peaches (no offense, but I'm done).  This weekend I'm easing into autumn with Asian pears, potato pancakes & pork.  Can't wait.

The Menu


iced tea & lemonade

beer & rose


blt stuffed cherry tomatoes

farmers market pickles, crudites & dips

bbq potato chips & caramelized onion dip

to share

baby back ribs with espresso bbq sauce

beef hot dogs & hamburgers

sweet & sour baked beans

buttered corn on the cob

quinoa with grilled zucchini, summer squash, peppers & basil

melon, figs & mint


brown butter rice krispy treats & brownies

lemon oatmeal & chocolate chip cookies

blueberry & nectarine crisp

September 4, 2013

"Sip & See" Picnic

As a seeker of excuses to throw parties, I was thrilled to discover the "Sip & See".  It's a Southern tradition of inviting friends over to "sip" on cocktails while "seeing" a new baby.  Amazing.  So to help introduce a new little man to the world, we threw a classic, all-American picnic themed Sip & See (after all, what is more family oriented than a picnic?)  Complete with croquet, bocce ball, white picnic tables and strewn picnic blankets, it was truly a perfect Sunday affair.   Blackberries flecked Bloom and Plume's sweet arrangements and vintage picnic baskets held dishes and flatware on the buffet.  The menu was relaxed (spiked lemonade bar) and traditional (it doesn't get more picnic than fried chicken) with plenty of farmers market sides (e.g. fresh tomato, corn & basil salad--so simple and tasty).  And while we can ALL AGREE that we are over mason jars, they do have their time and place; in this case, as vessels for delicious blueberry & nectarine crisps and strawberry shortcakes.  Now I want to have a baby just to have an excuse for another Sip & See!!!

The Menu


Lemonade, Strawberry Lemonade & Watermelon LimeAid 
spiked with vodka & tequila upon request!

mint tea

rose & beer


mini blt's 

farmers market crudites, pickles & dips

To Share

buttermilk fried chicken

beef sliders

grilled caprese sandwiches

quinoa with grilled zucchini, squash, & peppers

tomato, corn & basil

citrus carrot salad with avocado, sprouts & sunflower seeds

dill flecked macaroni & potato salad

summer fruit platter


strawberry shortcakes with buttermilk biscuits

nectarine & blueberry almond crisps ala mode

banana pudding cups