Food from the Hart

Great Finds: Retro Ice Crusher

In Great Finds on October 12, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Drinks always taste better over crushed ice. Whether it’s a coke or a cocktail, finely crushed ice adds that extra “yum” factor to beverages. Even if you don’t have an ice machine in your freezer door you can make your own crushed ice at home.  It’s easy, and the retro design of this guy makes for a cool statement piece, even in small kitchens.

With a design inspired by the 1950’s, this manual ice crusher makes both coarse and fine crushed ice. It’s not only great for drinks and cocktails, but for creating ice beds for vegetables or seafood. The slick chrome finish makes it totally appropriate on a bar or cocktail table at a party. Even cooler, it comes with a funky ice scooper for easy use!

Retro Ice Crusher by Frieling USA,  Amazon.com, $65.00

Halloween Fun: Turning the Dial Up on Your Classic Spook Fest

In Celebrations on October 9, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Halloween is often brushed aside as a children’s holiday. Though as we get older it gives seems to give us license to be someone or something else for one evening.  As children, black and orange, witches and goblins, chocolate and lollipops are enough. For most adults, free candy is simply not reason to embrace the holiday.

This year take your typical garish and goolish fright-fest and turn it into an elegant and evil soiree.  A couple easy cocktails, festive hors d’oeuvres, and a lot of black fabric is all your need to turn your small space into a something far from friendly.

It Begins with an Invite

The devil is really in the details when throwing a successful party.  The tone and feeling of the event begins the moment guests receive an invitation.  You can always go the route of sending paper invitations, but evite.com and paperlesspost.com are easy, cost-effective and earth-friendly.  Each site has a number of Halloween-themed designs to choose from. Remember, this isn’t a child’s party.  Pick a theme that matches the scene you are trying to set.

Set the Scene

Halloween is all about over-the-top theatrics. Don’t be afraid to really play up the ambience. Here are some easy tips for creating the perfect Hallows Eve look:

  • Use black as your base color and work from there, adding tiny pops of dark orange, white and gold.
  • Purchase inexpensive black fabric from a craft store and use to cover table tops and wrap lamp shades for a dark and dramatic look.
  • Place groupings of black taper candles along with smaller tea candles around the space. Use as a main source of light once the party begins.
  • Create creepy tableaux out of old books, skulls, crystal balls and apothecary bottles filled with water and orange food coloring.
  • Raid the party supply store for black leaf garland and cobwebs to drape over lamps, bookshelves and tables.
  • Check out the local flower market for black tulips, burgundy calla lilies, and black roses. Use together in flower arrangements to place around.
  • Turn on televisions and have old black and white films playing on mute.  Anything Hitchcock would work brilliantly.
  • Create a spooky music mix with the help of one of I-Tunes pre-set playlists or pick your favorite Halloween jam and plug into Pandora.

What to serve

Let your menu take a cue from your setting.  Small bites, cocktails and devilish desserts are all your need to round out the evening. Here are a few menu suggestions:

Savory

Spicy Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Chicken Leg Lollipops

Skeleton Fingers

Roasted Potato Moons

Sweet

Monster Eyeballs

Brain Cookies

Bowls of Assorted Candy

Cocktails

Dark and Stormy

Blood Orange Martini

The 15 Minutes Blitz: Turn Your Home from Disaster Zone to Party Ready

In Features on October 6, 2011 at 1:46 pm

Entertaining is difficult enough when you have time to organize, but what do you do when you only have minutes to prepare? Don’t panic, it’s entirely possible to pull it together.

You’ve already stopped by the market and picked up a few cocktail essentials and now with fifteen minutes left you have to make your home guest ready.  There’s no time for a full-scale clean, but a tidy home always looks more inviting.  Crank up some energy pumping tunes, grab the disposable wipes and get moving.  Here’s an easy fifteen minute plan:

Entryway or Foyer (1 minute)

Hang up coats and hats; organize umbrellas and any shoes.

Living Room (4 minutes)

Straighten up coffee and side tables. Neatly stack magazine and books. Throw out old newspapers. Hide computer cords and laptops behind sofa cushions or in the bedroom. Fluff sofa cushions and pillows, fold throw blankets.  Wipe down tabletops.  Give the room a quick spray of Febreez or other air freshener.  Light any scented candles.

Kitchen (5 minutes)

Empty dishwasher if full, then load dirty dishes.  Wipe down surfaces and counters.  Put away any pantry items left of the counter.  If you don’t have a pantry for storage, neatly organize dry goods.  Fold and hang dish towels.  Give the floor a quick sweep, take out any left over trash and turn off the lights.

Bathroom (4 minutes)

Put dirty clothes in the hamper and toiletries in a drawer or cabinet.  Fold and hang towels neatly.  Give the sink and toilet a quick wipe.  Take out any over flowing trash and put a new bag in the basket. Light a scented candle.

Close Door to Bedroom (30 seconds)

A quick note, if you have a studio apartment, quickly make the bed as best you can.  If you have a screen dividing the space, now is the time to use it.

Turn Off the Music (30 seconds)

Turn off the high energy music and put on a more soothing playlist for background when guests arrive.

Follow this plan and you’ll be amazed how quickly you can turn a disaster zone into a tidy space for entertaining.  You might even have enough time to pour yourself a glass of wine and take a deep breath before the doorbell rings.

For no-cook hors d’oeuvre ideas, click here.

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