Easy Holiday Entertaining

I’m back! We are finally all settled in our new home. I promise that I will post photos and some details on my decor very soon. Thanks for patiently waiting for the next STYLEgloss!

All this packing and unpacking made me forget just how close we are to the holiday season— I mean Halloween is less than a week away. That means Thanksgiving is right around the corner and so are all the fixings that come along with it.

I really enjoy entertaining and cooking for a crowd, although I admit it sometimes does get overwhelming. Whether you are hosting your family’s annual Thanksgiving feast or just inviting a few friends over for wine and cheese I have some great tips and products to make it all a bit easier. Here are my picks for entertaining and ideas on simple get-togethers– any excuse for a party!

D E C O R

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 4.19.16 PM

Creating a beautiful Pinterest-inspired tablescape can not only be super time consuming but it also not always practical. If you are serving a big meal you still want lots of room for all your serving platters and place settings. In this case I think less is more. I love the soft ambient lighting that you can only achieve with candles. This five piece flameless set is awesome because you can create a beautiful centerpiece of scatted tablescape just by adding a few silk leaves or flowers. Flameless also gives you piece of mind not having to worry about any of your gusts knocking into them as they pass the turkey.

A  S I M P L E  S T A R T

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 4.17.54 PM

A cheese board is the ultimate appetizer for any get together. Something as simple as cheese and crackers can be elevated to an elegant starter just through presentation. This cheese board serving set is convenient and takes the guess work out how to create a beautiful display. Keep cheese, crackers and a bottle of wine on hand throughout the season so that you can throw together this simple board when unexpected company drops in.

Host tip: When creating a charcuterie and cheese platter you want to maintain balance. Select 3-5 varieties of cheese (hard, creamy, nutty, sharp- the more variation the better) and pair with cold meats like prosciutto, speck or salami.  Add salty cured olives, nuts or grapes plus crostini to complete the platter. 

W I G G L E  R O O M

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 4.20.02 PM

This foldable cart is perfect if your kitchen is lacking in extra counter space or you just need a little extra room. It stores flat so it takes up virtually no room when you are no using it. Create a baking station closer to your oven or use it as a coffee and dessert cart. It is super affordable and comes in four colors!

Host Tip: How fun would it be to roll in a cart filled with sweets from top to bottom when it is time for dessert? Display cakes, cookies, candy and mini pastries on the top two shelves and dessert plates, forks and knives on the bottom. 

S W E E T  E N D I N G

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 4.21.43 PM

If your home is anything like mine, holidays are always associated with baking– a lots of it! Create beautifully decorated cookies and cakes with these insanely easy to use silicone decorating bottles and tips. I love using these on even the simplest of cupcakes to make them feel just a little bit more special.

Host Tip: Bake box mix cupcakes in pretty holiday-themed liners. Pipe store bought frosting onto each cake using one of the bottles and tips from the set above. Finish with sparkly sprinkles like these to dress up your average cupcake! 

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 4.20.22 PM

Harry London chocolates are essentially synonymous with the holiday season. This pretty tin filled with delicious buckeyes is a fun way to serve a sweet treat after dinner or makes a great hostess gift if you are visiting friends. I like to keep a few on hand each year.

E X C E P T I O N A L  S E R V I C E

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 4.21.20 PM

This pumpkin tureen does double duty- it looks pretty on your table and it can also be used as a:

 wine chiller– just add ice.

punch bowl– try this apple pie sangria recipe!

 self-service soup pot– be sure to place a bowl at each table setting.

centerpiece– add silk or fresh flowers.

S P O T  O N

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 5.03.28 PM

How adorable is this teapot? It is a piece that you can keep on your cooktop all year long but also is a beautiful way to serve your guests tea during dessert.

G E T  C O O K I N’

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 5.05.00 PM

Allow me to introduce you to the world’s best kitchen sidekick– The Ninja! You can use this as a stovetop, a slow cooker or a roaster. Slow cooking allows you to free up your oven (especially if your turkey or ham is hogging all the real estate) and helps to pace your prep prior to dinner. I use my slow cooker at least once a week in the winter– it is a great kitchen staple that you won’t regret investing in.

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 5.10.19 PM

Many of you may already have a KitchenAid mixer and you know just how easy it makes life. If you don’t have one or need to upgrade my advice is… do it! You will be so happy you did.

S I M P L E  G A T H E R I N G S

Here are a few fun ideas for fall and holiday soirees…

pumpkin carving party 

potluck friends-giving

harvest dinner

holiday cookie exchange 

gift wrapping get together

What tips or tools make your life easier during the holiday season? Share them with me! #STYLEglossblog.

Thanksgiving in July

Thanks to the nature of the fashion industry I am always a season or two ahead. As everyone is enjoying the summer sun this week, I am already focused on buying fall clothes for my store and (starting in August) prom dresses for the spring of 2015!

It’s not my fault that all I can think about right now is fall- especially when I keep hearing the words “Christmas in July” being thrown around this month. That means we are SO close to boots, sweaters and PUMPKIN EVERYTHING!

Since I am dreaming of pumpkin muffins and lattes, I thought I could satisfy my cravings by making a feast of comfort food that incorporated one of my favorite fall dishes.

I have a soft spot for sweet potato casserole– you know, the kind with all that gooey brown sugar and marshmallows? Sure, you could pick up a whole batch of this delicious piece of heaven at Boston Market on your way home, but this homemade version is just so much better! I love this recipe from Rebecca Lang’s Around the Southern Table. In fact, I love her whole book! Download it now or pick it up at your local bookstore and you will instantly see why it will become a go-to in your kitchen.

The one thing that I changed about Lang’s version of sweet potato casserole was the topping. She uses crushed gingersnaps to create a crumbled topping but Chris doesn’t care for them. Instead I made my own crumble (recipe below). It is a generic recipe that I think everyone should know how to make. You can use this topping for tons of things- cobblers, crumb cake, crust-less apple pie. The best part is that it is easy to make and even tastier to eat!

Not sure what else to serve with your sweet potato casserole when it’s not November? I made fried chicken and herbed biscuits to go along with it! All recipes were from Lang’s book.

Stephanie’s Simple Crumb Topping:

1 stick of butter (softened- NOT melted!)

1 cup flour

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon of nutmeg

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

Method:

Mix together flour, brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon so that your mixture is a light brown color. You should not see any white spots. Add your butter by mixing it into your dry mixture with your hands. You should eventually see the mixture turn into what looks like crumbs or crumbles. Use this topping for pies, cakes and cobbles . Simply top your dish with it prior to baking.

Variation: Add 1/2 cup oats or honey granola for more texture.

Make your casserole ahead of time! Prepare the base and then make your topping just before you are ready to bake.

Make your casserole ahead of time! Prepare the base and then make your topping just before you are ready to bake.

PS: My casserole dish in the photo above is Temp-Tations from QVC. The whole line consists of stoneware pieces that go in the oven, microwave, dishwasher and are pretty enough to serve from. This color combination was a spring limited edition but this set is the same one I have, just different color options.