Tag Archives: Memorial Day

Fourth of July Celebration; Day One…Decorations


What’s more fun than more parties!?! There’s nothing more All American than commemorating Independence Day. I have an exciting week planned, and I can’t wait to share with you the details for a fantastic Fourth. Each and every day I will demonstrate my ideas for divine decorations and delectable dishes. Actually, we enjoyed a fabulous Father’s Day dinner last weekend. My family was kind enough to indulge me by celebrating the “Faux of July,” which made it possible to bring this to you today…….

We had so much fun with our Memorial Day celebration, and we could certainly have used the same patriotic elements again this go around, but I wanted to show you how you could mix it up a little bit.

I would have loved for us to dine al fresco, but Mother Nature has been so darn unpredictable (that’s not true, she’s very predictable….rain everyday.). We settled for cocktails and appetizers on the deck, which was perfectly pleasant…..and dry.

My love affair with fabric, texture and color lead me to start, as it usually does, with a table covering. For Memorial Day I used a fantastic quilt as a tablecloth. Today, I was inspired to use this very bold, red tablecloth with stripes made out of polka dots. Great attention to detail. Tablecloths are another of my collecting obsessions. This one is great because it is suitable for so many occasions; Valentines Day, Independence Day, Christmas Day and any other day you’re moved to entertain in a sea of red.

Layers just add dimension and interest, so I always use a placement over my tablecovering. Here I selected a dusty blue (with a nice little tone on tone stripe) in homage to the Red, White and Blue. I topped that with a silver leaf charger, with a hobnail trim (which is a subtle tie in to the dots, in the stripe, of my tablecloth), reminiscent of the sparkle of…..sparklers! I pulled out these great red, stoneware dinner plates. I like the raised scroll detail. As always, I am taken with the way a snappy dessert plate pulls the theme of a table setting together (kind of like a great necklace or bracelet). For years I have been collecting a mish mash of blue and white plates that I use for appetizers and desserts. My collection stands at about 50, and I’ve used them all together, and their color combination is what unifies them, not the pattern. It’s just sort of groovy and eclectic. Here I enlisted the aid of two different patterned Spode plates and they look great (I alternated the pattern at every other place setting).

I am morally opposed to paper products while entertaining, but this was an exception. My menu consists of two potentially, very messy food items; ribs and buttery corn on the cob. Having heart palpitations because the good linen napkins are going to be ruined is no way to go through dinner, so I picked up these sturdy, 2 ply paper napkins and gave each guest two. So much more relaxing for all concerned! Red handled flatware showed off quite nicely against the blue napkins and placemats. You know I am a Target junkie, and I found these cute acrylic tumblers for $1.99 a piece. They’re perfect with their rows of blue stars (stars and stripes forever…). Each glass held a patriotic pinwheel.

Alas, the centerpiece. A low arrangement was in order, as I wanted to be sure we could see each other across the table. I set out five, simple clear glass vases and tied a red, white and blue wired edged, plaid ribbon around each one, for a little slice of Americana. The stripes on the tablecloth are white, so I was determined to find something sweet like white daisies. I raced and ran from floral department to floral department when Amanda and I popped in for a visit to our favorite Costco. Disappointed because there were no white flowers, I was about to settle on red roses, which were really much to formal for the occasion, when my gal pointed out bouquets of gorgeous blue and white hydrangeas. She is so smart! We brought them home, trimmed the stems so they would form a luscious, full cluster. Lined up together, they were stunning. To complete the look, I placed red and blue tin stars amongst the vases, and for a little romantic candlelight, resurrected blue and white votive holders to coordinate with my Spode plates. The table was lovely!

For this party, my buffet was really just set up for appetizers, but I still wanted it to make a statement. Pattern and color always sets the tone, so I was excited to use this classic, flag, throw size, quilt as a topper (I’ve had it in my collection for so long, I don’t recall from whence it came. Target or Kohl’s would be a pretty safe bet.). My four appetizer offerings took center stage. Elevation always makes for a pleasing, and user friendly food display. A pewter, hob nail trim, pedestal cake plate stood proudly in the back. On either side (and slightly to the front) of the highest point, I wanted to present two additional, raised appetizers, without being so un-original and boring as to incorporate two more cake plates. How cute are these storage bins embellished with red and blue stars? They were open at the top, so I simply flipped them upside down, and voila….two tall, patriotic, colorful, pattern-ful stands. Flat on the table, lined up across from the tall, pedestal cake plate, is a slate cheese board (that my friend Mrs. Lilly found for me). It’s fantastic! People are forever curious about the flavors in beautiful gourmet cheeses. The slate cheese board offers a smart solution. With a piece of chalk, you can simply write down the sorts of cheeses you are serving. Genius!

As the More is More Mom®, I could never leave a quiet, empty space, so I am inclined to fill in every nook and cranny! In the center of the table, I resurrected the Liberty Bell that I used for Memorial Day, and next to that I placed a crystal bowl full of fresh blueberries! On one side of my Kitchen island, I displayed two tall arrangements of all American sun flowers. They are so happy! For nearly an eternity I have had these two tall galvanized cylinders which nest inside wicker, handled baskets. They remind me of a picnic, which is perfect for the 4th! I stuck two American flags in each for a dramatic backdrop. This may sound crazy, but I found this whimsical bicycle at my grocery store. Inspiration is all around us, we just have to be open to it…… I could easily have stuck potted plants at the base, and at the top, but I had so many beautiful flowers already. Instead, I filled one basket with limes and one with lemons for an Earthy, organic quality.

On the opposite side of the island, I wanted something lively to fill the space. I knew I needed some height to mimic the other end of the buffet. At my Memorial Day bash, this red, rustic urn took center stage filled with mums, but today, it was the perfect place to rest a large, red, white and blue beach ball (height, color and shape…..a three-for). To the left, I placed a crystal bowl full of cherries and to the right a big, crazy pig with a rooster on top that sported the colors of the day. I scattered white tea light candles around the buffet for a festive glow and we are ready to party!

I hope you will be inspired to get creative and set a beautiful table and buffet for your Independence Day party this coming weekend.

Tomorrow: Dinner Menu and recipes….guaranteed to be finger licking good!

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Throw a Great Memorial Day Party…..Part Four: Appetizers & Desserts


As the More is More Mom®, I believe that every event should start out with a bang and end with something sweet.

When your guests first arrive, corks should be popping, bottles should be opening, and glasses should be clanking with festive cheers. A cocktail party is the perfect opportunity for a flashy spread of wonderful appetizers. When I’m throwing a dinner party, I want to be sure to offer my guests some snicky-snacks to tide them over. These offerings don’t need to be ambitious, just tasty.

For my Memorial Day Party I served a little variety of simple treats.

Fresh Bruschetta with Garlic Toasted French Bread:

This is one of my all time favorite appetizers; it’s straightforward, it’s fresh and it’s delicious! Whenever I serve Bruschetta I always make a double batch (more, more, and more!). The leftovers are perfect the following day served atop a bed of fresh cooked pasta (I like a penne pasta, so the chunks of tomatoes get lost inside the tube!), and tossed with a little feta cheese (though a mozzarella, or a shaved parmesan would be lovely as well……).

Bruschetta Ingredients:
This is another dish that can be multiplied for a crowd!

In a large bowl, mix together:

  • 4 Roma tomatoes (or whatever variety you happen to have on hand, or happen to prefer. They just need to be nice and ripe.), chopped…..like you would for salsa
  • A bunch of scallions finely chopped. I use the white, pale green and green parts (but not the very dark green.).
  • A big handful of basil, rinsed and chopped (I like to run mine through my salad spinner. The leaves are so much easier to chop, and so much more attractive, if they aren’t soggy.).
  • 2-3 gloves of garlic, pressed (because the garlic is raw, it is extremely potent. If you don’t want to keep the vampires away, and everybody else for that matter, you may want to be mindful of just how much garlic you use.)
  • 2 splash’s of good balsamic vinegar. The point here is to wet your tomato mixture, and give it a hint of that wonderful, tangy, balsamic-y flavor, not drown it in vinegar.
  • 1 splash of olive oil. Again, the intention here is not to drench the mixture, but to give it a little glistening, and add depth to the consistency (way too much Food Network?).
  • (Sea) salt and (black cracked) pepper to taste.

Garlic Toasted French Bread:

This is really no trouble at all and can be made earlier in the day (but seal it in an airtight container until you are ready to serve. You know how bread is.).

Pre-heat your oven to 350°.

Slice a loaf of French bread to desired thickness.

Place slices on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet (always about the quick cleanup!).

Toast until slightly golden, 10 minutes perhaps, but watch ‘em.

When just cool enough to handle, take a raw clove of garlic and rub it directly over the toasted French bread slices (approximately 1 large clove per 4 slices of bread). The taste of the garlic is so subtle! Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Top each slice of French bread with bruschetta and sprinkle grated cheese on top if that is your heart’s desire. Either way, there will be a party in your mouth!

Grilled Shrimp with a Little Kick:

Shrimp always makes for a generous appetizer. They’re great served raw with lemon and a classic cocktail sauce (who doesn’t like that, except for people allergic to shell fish?), but they are just a little bit more special when skewered and grilled.

Soak your skewers in water for at least 30 minutes so they don’t catch on fire. Grilled is good, charred, with a visit from the fire department, is not.

2-3 pounds of large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I buy them that way because otherwise that is just unnecessary work!)

Sauce with a Little Kick:

  • ½ cup of sugar
  • Zest from one lime
  • ¼ cup of lime juice (bottled works quite fine, especially as it is getting cooked and blended with other flavors. Save the real juicing for a recipe where that completely authentic flavor really matters.)
  • 1 heaping Tbsp of Asian chili paste (less, of course, if you prefer a little less spice)
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce

In a saucepan, bring the sugar and lime juice to a simmer. If I were capable of following all the directions I would have waited to add the zest until the next step, but you know, it didn’t appear to matter in the very least. Simmer and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Remove from the heat, and add the lime zest (if you haven’t already), the chili paste and the fish sauce. Stir well and season with a little (regular) salt.

Heat the grill. Reduce to medium-high.

Thread shrimp on skewers. I happened to use three shrimp for each skewer. That seemed like a very acceptable serving size.

You can brush the grates with a little oil to prevent the shrimp from sticking. I didn’t, because our grill gets used almost daily, and is the right amount of slick.

Brush the shrimp with sauce and place on the grill. After about a minute flip the skewered shrimp over, baste on that side and cook for another minute. Continue to flip and baste until the shrimp is opaque and ready to serve.

If you like the idea of grilled shrimp, but aren’t sure about the spicy sauce, you can certainly simplify. I would still skewer the shrimp because it makes such an elegant presentation, but I would mix up my own little marinade of; olive oil, a pressed clove of garlic, chopped fresh herbs (like basil, oregano and thyme), sprinkle in some sea salt and cracked black pepper, and whisk together. Baste the shrimp while on the grill, and flip and baste as specified in the directions above. Remove from the grill and serve.

Veggies:

Fresh vegetables are perfect for a party. They satisfy so many criteria….they are crunchy, colorful and calorie conscious (until you add the dip….but how else do you choke them down?). Veggies are a good addition to an appetizer array. They can be elegantly blanched or simply sliced.

 

Now, dessert is a horse of a different color. Decadence is the only course of action! For an All American Celebration what could be more appropriate than; sliced watermelon, practically homemade (if Dunkin Hines mix’s count) chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting (from Betty Crocker) and red, white and blue sprinkles, completely homemade Peanut Butter Cream Filled Peanut Butter cookies, and what could be more All American than a serving of Girl Scout Thin Mints?

Peanut Butter Cream Filled Peanut Butter Cookies:

I’m not even kidding when I tell you that I make PB & J sandwiches nearly every single day. I pack two for just Nick each morning! So, one might think that I would be tired of the sight, and smell of peanut butter, but these treats were delectable!
This recipe made approximately 36 sandwich cookies (not nearly enough!).

Filling:

 

Whisk together, in a bowl:

• ¾ cup chunky peanut butter (I used Skippy, because we are a Skippy family)
• 1 – 7.25 oz jar of marshmallow fluff
• 3 Tbsp milk
• ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
• ¼ cumin (how about that for a kick in your dessert?)

Whisk in 3 Tbsp of powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp at a time (or just all at once like I did).

 

Pre-heat oven to 350°

Cookies:

• ½ cup chunky peanut butter (always love the Skippy)
• ½ cup shortening
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 1 egg
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1/8 tsp salt
• 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
• Granulated sugar

In a bowl, beat peanut butter and shortening with an electric mixer.

Add brown sugar, egg and vanilla, beating until combined.

With the hand mixer, beat in baking soda, salt and flour.

Using a level teaspoon, form the dough in to balls. Place the dough, separating by about 1 ½”, on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Using a fork, first dipped in granulated sugar, flatten each ball of dough marking each with a criss cross pattern with the fork.

Bake for approximately 7 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned; remove and place on a wire rack to cool.

When cool enough to handle, spread approximately 1 tsp of the cream filling on a cookie and top with an additional cookie to form a happy sandwich.

This recipe makes approximately 36 sandwich cookies. You are going to love and savor each and every one!

I arranged my desserts in galvanized, two tiered stands, which worked out perfectly! For a festive embellishment, I inserted mini American flags in random appetizers and desserts and they were darling!

I hope you celebrate the holiday weekend with your family and friends! Take some of my inspirations and ideas and make them your own…..Creating Meaningful Life Experiences!

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Throw a Great Memorial Day Party….Part Three: The Buffet


As the More is More Mom® I am a huge fan of grand, sweeping entrances. Part of the fantasy of entertaining is setting the stage for a big show……. and the bigger the better!

This Memorial Day I set up a gorgeous buffet to greet my guests.

Whether decorating my home, accessorizing an outfit or entertaining, I’m all about making a statement. Selecting a few key pieces quickly sets the tone for your event, suggesting to your guests that a memorable evening is in store.

Paying attention to all of the little details goes a very long way in striking a remarkable balance. Always a sucker for texture and fabric, I typically start with a table covering. Memorial Day is all about Americana, and what is more classic than a red and white checked table cloth (other than perhaps, an American quilt?)?

I always anchor my table setting, or buffet, with a stand out, style defining piece (or pair, or however many I can get my hands on. As the More is More Mom® you must know I am always on the look out for interesting treasures with potential.). I found these two amazing, and enormous, iron lanterns at Pier One (they stand nearly three feet tall!). Aren’t they awesome!?! These are actually very good investment pieces, because a simple, clean lined lantern is an item that will lend it self to many other themes and events. They would be lovely illuminating your front porch; offering a soft glow on a warm summer night on your deck; they would be super fun for displaying decorative floral arrangements in your home, on your dining table as a pair, or on a hall chest alone; it would be so creepy-cool to stretch cobwebs from the top, across the front, while featuring a giant rat or vulture inside for Halloween; and they would be festive with giant ornaments tied with gorgeous ribbon around the handle for a Christmas celebration. So you see, these lanterns were actually a bargain when you consider their cost per use. Pier One is actually, almost paying me to use them.

One giant lantern set near each end of the island (like bookends) certainly makes a statement. For a centerpiece I selected a pot of white Mums and placed them inside a rustic, red iron urn that I nearly sold in my garage dale this past fall. I knew I kept it for a reason! With my key items in place, it was time to fill in with some more personality.

I found these fantastic galvanized, two tier stands and knew they would be perfect for a myriad of reasons. Great for a patriotic holiday, a rustic garden party, a happy Harvest season…..again the purposes are only limited by my imagination. I place them on either side of my centerpiece. They are great because the scale of the stands hold their own against the large lanterns and urn, but not just vertically. The tiers allow for varied interest in a horizontal fashion as well, and they’re practical. One contained apples and sliced watermelon, and the other was the perfect place to showcase my baked goods.

For this particular buffet display I have included a place for all of my culinary offerings. The galvanized, tiered stands showcased my desserts. On the left side of my island I featured my little snicky-snacks to get the party started. The menu I created was hearty, so the appetizers were really just simple fare meant to tide my guests over until the main course. Rather than creating a flat, one dimensional, presentation, I find it more pleasing to use varying heights for more dimensions. One platter rests directly on the surface, another is served in a pedestal dish and the third is shown on a slightly taller cake plate.

Please note that it is critical that all serving pieces cooperate in emphasizing your theme. Each piece selected should serve an aesthetic (and practical) function. There should be a commonality; color, shape or decorative element.

My main course also happens to consist of three items (I love balance and symmetry, but not necessarily complete equality. Sometimes I am a rebel and like to mix it up a bit.). Again, for the sake of interest and dimension my chicken dish is served on a platter that rest directly on the table. My salad gives the appearance of sitting at a higher level because the rim of the bowl splays outward and upward. My potato dish rests on another cake plate (as a hoarder, I recommend that you collect as many pedestal’s as possible. They are beautiful to look at and are very useful in creating height and interest.). I paired fruit kabobs with my dinner menu, and rather than stack them on a boring platter, I stood them straight up on end in short, glass hurricanes with a cobalt blue rim. Totally festive!

While my table is set beautifully for a sit down meal, my guests still need a plate and napkins for nibbling before dinner and dessert. Today, to balance out the mirror image of my design, I have placed my blue and white Spode appetizer plates in two equal stacks lined up in front of my arrangement of white Mums. While I think cloth napkins are to die for while dining, I am completely practical when it comes to beverage, appetizer and dessert napkins. Paper…there is no substitute. However, I pronounce that with a caveat: paper napkins must, at the very least, re-enforce your theme. Here I have selected a red with white stars pattern. Very patriotic!

To emphasize my theme, and pull it all together, I have chosen one very sweet element that screams charm………a little lady, sporting an American flag, which stands atop the Liberty Bell exclaiming, “Let Freedom Ring.” Here’s to that! God Bless America!

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Throw a Great Memorial Day Party…..Part Two: The Main Course Menu


Setting the stage for a fun-tastic, blow out bash is only half of the equation. While I completely agree with Billy Crystal’s sentiment (channeling Ricardo Montalban), “You look mahvelous; absolutely mahvelous. You know, it’s much better to look good than to feel good”, while entertaining I want everything to be visually attractive, but it’s equally as important that everything taste good too.

I love the fantasy 0f a party and satisfying all of the senses. The visual presentation should be a feast for the eyes. The different textures incorporated in to your bar, buffet and table should be interesting to the touch. The sounds should be soulful and thoughtful, be they subtle or obvious; music to your ears. The scents should be reminiscent of the theme of your party through candles, or the heartwarming smells wafting through your kitchen. The final detail, of course, is a menu lovingly crafted for your guests to savor.

As the More is More Mom®, I am a huge proponent of……more food. Throwing a cocktail party is always a blast. It’s the perfect opportunity for a dazzling array of interesting appetizers. Dinner on the other hand can be a tad bit more complicated. Once you have developed a menu suitable to the occasion, there is still the matter of determining what little snicky-snacks to offer your guests while they are gathering and the finishing touches are being put on the meal. Then of course there is the ever important matter of dessert. While dessert may seem like an after thought, I think it is the perfect opportunity to end the evening on a high note….even if the note is small, it should be meaningful.

Today I would like to share with you my main course menu for a Memorial Day Celebration. I want for you to have plenty of time to consider incorporating these delicious dishes in to your own celebration this coming weekend.

Lemon and Herb Marinated Chicken:


This chicken smells so ridiculously good while cooking on the grill your neighbors are going to invite themselves over for dinner (so make extra!). It’s always great to find a dish that serves a crowd, so feel free to double and triple as needed.

3-4 lbs of chicken (my family really prefers breasts and drumsticks, but you can choose whatever you like.).

You know I am totally obsessed with Zip-Loc Baggies. Rather than use a bowl, or a large lidded container, I mix all of the ingredients in a gigantic 2 gallon Zip-loc baggie (much easier cleanup!). Combine:

• ¼ – ½ cup of olive oil
• 2 tsp finely chopped lemon zest (fresh is best)
• 2 tsp soy sauce
• 2-3-4 tsp rosemary, finely chopped (it smells sooooo good!)
• 1-2 tsp thyme, finely chopped
• Lots of garlic, 5-6 cloves pressed or minced
• 1 large shallot (or 2 very small) finely chopped
• ¼ tsp cayenne pepper……Hot! Hot! Hot!
• Salt and pepper to your liking….

 

Add your chicken to the bag and marinade over night, flipping over a few times to make sure the marinade is well distributed. You could allow for just a few hours of marinating time, but that would scarcely allow all of the fresh flavors to infuse the chicken.

You have the option to do one of two things here.
1. Roast the chicken.
Preheat the oven to 425°.
Place the chicken on a rack in a large roasting pan, pouring 1 cup of water into the bottom of the roasting pan.
Baste occasionally, until the outside of the chicken is a nice golden brown and an instant read thermometer registers at 180°, for somewhere in the neighborhood of 45-60 minutes.
Remove from the oven.
Transfer to a platter and garnish with any leftover sprigs of rosemary.
Tent with aluminum foil until ready to serve.

2. Warm up grill.
Reduce heat to medium and cook for approximately 45 minutes (when you poke a fork in to the chicken, you’ll want for the juices to run clear.)
Remove from the grill.
Place on a platter, adding garnish if desired, and you’re ready to serve.

I almost exclusively have employed the grilling option as I grill 12 months a year. Everything on the grill is super tasty and clean up is a snap!

Bacon and Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes:


These potatoes are so good it’s criminal! I frequently make your basic D0 Ahead Mashed Potatoes (especially for the holidays when the need for planning ahead is at a fevered pitch), and have never made this particular recipe before this weekend. After eating a spoonful of mouth watering goodness my family has informed me that I should only make the Bacon and Smoked Gouda variety forever more……

This is yet another recipe that could easily be multiplied, even if just for yummy leftovers. Some things are even better the next day.
Ingredients:

3 lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped up in to cubes

 

8 slices of bacon (or more…..and who wouldn’t enjoy more?). I like a nice smoky flavored bacon, but maple is good too for a sweet treat.

A bunch of scallions….you choose how many you like. I used about 6 onions, finely chopping them until I got to the dark green ends

¾ cup sour cream
½ cup of milk
¼ – ½ stick of butter

2 plus cups of Smoked Gouda (I used a peppercorn flavor enhanced Gouda and it was to die for!), coarsely grated. Reserve ½ cup for topping at the end.

Cook bacon in either a skillet, or my favored method for making pounds and pounds of bacon, on a rimmed, aluminum foil lined, cookie sheet (for pounds and pounds of bacon you’ll need several….) cooked at 350°, for approximatley 20-25 minutes. It depends on how crispy you like your bacon. I’m a fan of more crispy……. Truly, if you are going through the mess of the bacon, make enough to warm up through the week; great with breakfast, on a sandwich, in a salad or even by itself. In any case, drain the bacon on a paper towel to soak up some of the grease and chop it up. Place the chopped bacon in a bowl.

Chop the scallions, add to the bacon and combine. Set aside.

Place the peeled and cubed potatoes in a large pot, fill with cold water, place lid on pot slightly ajar, and boil for 20 minutes or so until tender.

Drain and return the potatoes to the pot. On a very low heat, cook potatoes until all of the moisture evaporates. This should only take a minute or so.

 

Add the sour cream, milk and butter. The potatoes will be nice and hot, and the good creamy stuff should melt in quickly. Mash with a potato masher until nicely smoothed.

Stir in both the shredded Gouda (reserving ½ cup) and 1 cup of the bacon mixture (reserving the balance). Season with a little salt and pepper….you know me, I love, love, love the cracked black pepper for a kick (and a field goal!). Mix well.

 

Butter a 13x9x2 baking dish and evenly spread the potato mixture.

At this point, I topped the Heavenly mashed potatoes with the remaining shredded Gouda and the left over bacon and scallion mixture. It was so pretty!

Now, you will either be covering up the pan, refrigerating and cooking the potatoes later, or plug ahead and heat your oven to 375°. Cook until the cheese starts to melt a little bit and the edges begin to turn a warm, golden brown (about 30-40 minutes fresh, 45-60 minutes from the fridge, but either way…watch ‘em.).

Parmesan Balsamic Vinaigrette:


I must confess, unless I mix up a quick bottle of Good Season’s Italian Dressing Seasoning with vinegar and oil, most nights we douse our salad with bottled dressing (we are fans of the Western French). When company is expected it’s always nice to prepare a little something different.

This dressing is lovely with the fresh basil and grated parmesan. It is special enough to simply toss on a bed of pretty greens. For this particular meal I have enough flavors colliding, that the richness of this vinaigrette doesn’t need to be complicated with a medley of other vegetables. How about that? Simplicity from the More is More Mom®? (Though I would prefer to view it as a well honed matter of restraint.).
Ingredients:
• 2-3 cloves of garlic
• ½ tsp or so of salt
• 2 Tbsp good balsamic vinegar
• 1 tsp lemon juice (again, since there are so many other rich, fresh flavors, I don’t think it’s worth the time or mess of squeezing fresh lemon juice. Sorry).
• 3-4 Tbsp fresh, chopped basil (little smells as delightful)
• ¼ – ½ cup of finely grated parmesan
• ½ tsp cracked black pepper (I’m going through this stuff like crazy!)
• ½ cup or so of olive oil

With a mortar and pestle mash the garlic with the salt.

Whisk together with the vinegar, lemon juice, basil, parmesan and salt and pepper.
Slowly add olive oil and whisk until well blended.
Toss with greens and serve.

Fruit Kabobs:


The beauty of the kabob is that you know from the get go just how many servings you are preparing. You can select any number of different fruits, or stream line the process and select two or three, alternating them on the skewer for a pleasing display.

Over the next two days I will be sharing with you ideas for setting up your buffet and recipes for versatile, easy starters and dessert.

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Throw a Great Memorial Day Party….. Part One: The Concept


“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ~ Virginia Wolf

I couldn’t agree more! Eating alone is fine, enjoyable and necessary, but dining with loved ones, especially in celebration, is sooooo much better. For me, as the More is More Mom®, entertaining in our home is the pinnacle moment in which so many of my favorite things converge at one time and create a “super experience” that is rivaled by little else. The fantasy of entertaining allows me to toss traditional convention aside (okay, you’ve got me, a More is More Mom® is all about throwing caution to the wind at every turn. Rules and sensibility be damned!), and indulge my craving for creative expression, authenticity and a rockin’ good time.

Entertaining guests in your home should be an event! There is nothing better than good company, good food, good music, good wine and good times. In my mind every event, big or small, should be celebrated. What makes these events successful is the feeling of joy and happiness that our guest’s experience and the fond memories they have after our party is long since over.

Memorial Day is next weekend…..how will you be celebrating?

Over the next few days, I am excited to be sharing with you some of my ideas and philosophies with regard to tablescapes, buffets, menus and recipes.

Clearly, I’m a gal that loves drama (maybe not so much in my daily life, but more by way of the fantasy of entertaining). Life is a show. Our conversations are dialogue! Our clothing our costumes! The soundstage of our lives is the set we design to represent and interpret our priorities and our truest (and very best) selves.

In my interpretation of everything…..my vision starts with an over-the-top (think Ziegfeld’s Follies or a Busby Berkley musical ….if you don’t know what those are, it is time for a quick visit to Wikipedia and the American Movie Classics Channel …AMC, check your local listings) and authentic show.

For Memorial Day, a celebration of Americana, what better way to start than with a table setting showcasing an All American Quilt as a table covering? I actually love to incorporate blankets of sorts in to my table designs…..they are washable and rarely wrinkle! They are interesting and easy to use; a total bonus. The one I am using here has enjoyed many incarnations from wall hanging, to bedding, to table settings. Such versatility! In fact, I took it right off of the bed in my guest room (and ran it through the wash…not to worry.) before I used it here. Talk about versatile and getting your money’s worth….

 

Because my table covering is so graphic, the remaining elements fell in to place rather easily. A centerpiece of red mums displayed in a simple, ridged, glass vase is timeless. I incorporated denim placemats (which I had in my inventory), red-white-blue plaid cloth napkins (napkins are items that I collect and hoard….always in the 20’s, just in case.), caramel colored leather chargers, white stoneware dishes, with a really pretty, but classic scalloped edge (embellished with a patriotic fan at each place setting, from JoAnne Fabrics, 3 for $1.00), red handled flatware, large red tumblers (donning an American flag in each glass), two blue glass hurricane lamps, cobalt blue votive holders and a crystal bowl full of beautiful cherries. The display was warm, welcoming and authentic.

 

While the table setting looks great, one of the most important elements, never to be over looked, is the….bar. The bar is a happy place, and should look the part. As a general rule, I corral the stemware and glassware on a tray of some sort (I have many from which to choose….shocking, I’m sure). Here I have selected a finely woven rattan. I love the organic quality and texture of a naturally woven fiber. It’s yummy! Unless you are stocking your beverage tub with bottled water, it is really nice to put out a pitcher of water for the comfort of your guests. Everyone needs a water chaser every now and again.

 

Offering a variety of beverages is also rather hospitable. Here I am featuring beautifully bottled Lime Aid, wine, beer and a sparkling beverage (of course, here in the “House of More” there are many more chilled beverages in the refrigerator in the kitchen , the fridge in the mudroom, the fridge in the garage, the fridge in the basement……I guess we are a thirsty people.). I have provided my guests with lemon and lime slices (who totally doesn’t love a pretty garnish?), napkins, festive, party straws and my favorite….alligator bottle opener. There is no reason for me to have an affinity for the alligator. They are not the mascot representing my school. I just so happen to adore the whimsy and silliness of the alligator as a bottle opener.

Here’s a little tidbit to make your bar more interesting and personal. After you have added ice and beverages to your ice bucket, try to incorporate an object that re-enforces your theme, be it by spirit or color. Today I have chosen to add beautiful blueberries to my beverage tub display and they are just the right amount of color and texture to scream, “Attention to detail.” There is nothing as special as paying attention to the details…….

I hope you will visit with me over the next few days as I share with you my menu and recipes and buffet design for….Creating More Meaningful Life Experiences…..

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