The Art of Entertaining
With Summer around the corner, it is time to think about events with friends and family. Whether it is time to honor our Mothers (and other female relations), Fathers (and other male relations), the graduates in our lives, the weddings of friends and/or relatives OR just plain entertaining, there is no time like the present to give it some thought.
So lighten up the mood and enjoy the art of entertaining.
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I find having friends or family over for dinner a special occasion. Don't get me wrong, I can make reservations like any other woman and I do and I enjoy trying different places and different foods and the fact that I don't have to clean up afterwards. However, I also find it very freeing to have people over and to share the comfort and peace of being in one's own surroundings. Perhaps with Summer around the corner, the choice of having brunch might be a nice change. Will definitely give it some thought.
Meanwhile, dinners are a favorite and it is even more fun if you can share the preparations with someone to lighten the load. Once the invitation has been extended and accepted the real fun of planning begins.
One of my favorite parts of the preparations is setting the table. I have decided to lighten things up by taking off the tablecloth from our glass dining table and use placemats. My ideas this month go to black and white,
so I am using placemats from Target, our everyday "white" place setting, the family silver and black patterned napkins that were purchased on a recent trip to Japan. (I find it so much fun to buy napkins and/or placemats from places I've traveled because every time you use them you have memories of places you have enjoyed and it brings a little culture to your table decorations). For the centerpiece I have chosen a rectangular ceramic tray from IKEA, with my pie weights and some tea lights with sprigs from our backyard maple tree. I love bringing nature in and there are so many choices in addition to flowers. USE YOUR IMAGINATION.
If you have china, silver, crystal wine glasses, and tablecloths and cloth napkins, USE THEM. So many people save them for a special occasion. Well, I say every occasion is a special occasion and everything in your cabinets and drawers should be treated equally. The main thing is to make it a fun experience. I am not a really artistic person, but I borrow ideas from lots of different sources and I like the challenge of making the table different.
*Orange Creme Caramel with Raspberries
6 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 c. sugar
Pinch of salt
1 c. milk ( I used 1%)
3 c. heavy whipping cream
Peel of 2 oranges
1 c. sugar
1/3 c plus 3 tablespoons water
1 pint raspberries
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier Eight (8) 6-ounce ovenproof ramekins
This dessert is delicious and so smooth. I received rave reviews when it was served. So enjoy.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
To make the custard base: Put the egg yolks and eggs in a large stainless steel mixing bowl. Whisk in 1 cup sugar and salt. Set aside.
Pour the milk and cream into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the orange peel and bring to a boil over high heat. Whisk the orange milk into the reserved egg yolk mixture. Refrigerate the custard base until cool, and then strain it.
To make the caramel:
While the custard base is cooling, dissolve the remaining 1 cup sugar in the 1/3 cup water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat. Increase to high heat and cook the sugar until it is a golden amber color. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully and slowly stir in the 3 tablespoons water. Pour the caramel into the bottom of the ramekins. Set the ramekins aside to cool.
Pour the custard base into the caramel-lined ramekins. Place the ramekins in the ovenproof pan and put it in the oven. Fill the pan one-third to one-half full of hot water. (It is easier to fill the pan with water when it is already in the oven.) Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake the custards for about 50 minutes. The custards, when gently shaken, should be set around the edges yet have an area in the middle, about the size of a quarter, that will not be completely firm. Refrigerate several hours to overnight.
To serve, carefully run a small knife around the inside edge of each ramekin and unmold onto a plate. Toss the raspberries in the Grand Marnier. Scatter some raspberries around each custard.
And there you have it an Eventful Treat!
*Luchetti STARS DESSERTS San Francisco Restaurant Cookbook
Tricks to Keep Your Party on Budget & 5 Clever new ways to save money planning your next Soirée.
USE AN APP TO KEEP SHOPPING ON TRACK
Whether it’s the supermarket or party store, it’s easy to get carried away and buy more than you need. Keep your to-dos and shopping lists in one place with an event organizing app. Order as much online as you can, since many retailers offer delivery.
SAVE ON The cost of supplies by creating a list and sticking to it.
$ MONEY TALK $
CREATE A CLUB ATMOSPHERE
Set the tone with a club lighting app that uses your phone's microphone to pick up the music playing and coordinate the blinking and color of the lights in your home to the beat. All you’ll need to buy are some colored lights, which you’ll be able to use at your next party.
SAVE ON The cost of renting a party venue by transforming your home into one instead!
MAKE A DIY PHOTO BOOTH
Don’t go to the expense of hiring a photo booth service, create your own! Set up a camera with a self-timer on a tripod in a well-lit area, provide a nice backdrop and a few props. Give people instructions on how to use the self-timer and provide a photo-sharing link. Then, post a party hashtag for all the selfie-takers.
SAVE ON The cost of hiring a professional.
TAKE A MIXOLOGY COURSE – ON YOUTUBE
Instead of hiring a bartender, get creative and impress your guests with your own mixology skills. Many top bartenders share some of their favorite recipes and step-by-step demos of professional drink-making techniques via apps and online video. Search for your favorite cocktails — or make up a signature concoction of your own.
SAVE ON The cost of hiring and tipping a bartender if you DIY.