Spring Table Settings To Recreate

Today I took the boys for a walk in our neighborhood, and from the 70 degree temps to the blue skies and sunshine, to the light breeze, we were enveloped in spring and loving every minute. G snacked on peanut butter crackers and soaked up the scenery while C fell asleep in the stroller, and I enjoyed the serene sound all parents appreciate – peace and quiet! 🙂

Something about the spring/summer inspires me to start entertaining again – perhaps its the ease of grilling a fabulous dinner and having friends over to swim, or it might even be the lovely daylight savings – and this year is no exception. Thanks to our two sweet boys, our version of entertaining has become much more low-key, and honestly I love it. Being a California girl, I’m inherently quite casual, and while I adore dressing up or go to a fancy party, I’m happiest in a casual atmosphere. I even dress casual – athleisure when I’m chasing after the boys on a daily basis, or jeans and blouse or casual dress (most likely blue and white!) if I want to dress up a little – done and done!

I’m looking forward to hosting friends soon, and of course it has me thinking about table settings and decor. Any guess what the color scheme will be? Likely blue and white! My go-to setting recently has been these gold placemats and blue and white napkins, and I’d love to find some neat votives to add to our collection. These napkins are on my wish list too. As for cuisine for upcoming spring and summer entertaining, I can’t wait to make this peach and raspberry crisp served with barbecued chicken, grilled corn and salad.

To help inspire you and any entertaining you have up your sleeve, here are a few colorful and crisp table settings that could  be recreated. I especially love the second image – the vibrant red and purple flowers mixed with the casual blue and white checkered cloth creates a simple and stylish look perfect for warm weather entertaining. You could easily recreate this by using a similar table cloth, white napkins, and fresh flowers in your favorite vase – voila and cheers to spring entertaining!

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Valentine’s Day Recipe: Heart Tarts

 

Valentine’s Day is a fabulous excuse to bake to your hearts content, from pink sprinkle cookies to red velvet cupcakes to chocolate truffles to strawberry pies. What better way to say ‘I love you!’ than with a homemade sweet treat! One of our favorite activities to do as a family is bake, and so we’ve had fun this month making all kinds of desserts. We even decorated Valentine’s Day cookies with C’s preschool class at a local bakery a couple of weeks ago, and the kids had a ball. They frosted X’s O’s, and hearts with pink and red icing and then covered the cookies in sugary sprinkles and conversation heart candies – yum!

We decided to make rich chocolate brownies on Valentine’s Day, and so I thought a lighter treat would be perfect for this past weekend. While perusing our favorite Weelicious for some healthy lunch ideas for the boys, I spotted a raspberry cream cheese tart recipe that fit the bill – what’s not to love about individual heart tarts? I made a couple small modifications to the recipe, and they turned out beautifully! Here is the recipe, and I hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

 

Heart Tarts 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup whipped cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 packages of puff pastry or 1 double pie crust
  • Water
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

 

Instructions 

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

2. Place the raspberries, cream cheese and honey in a small mixing bowl. Using a fork, gently mash the raspberries and mix them with the cream cheese and honey.

3. Roll the puff pastry (or pie crust) 1/4 inch thick. Use a large heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out hearts. You need two hearts per tart.

4. Set half of the hearts on a lightly floured work surface. Place 1-2 teaspoons of the raspberry and cream cheese mixture in the center of each heart (*you can add more or less of the raspberry cream cheese mixture depending upon how big your tarts are). Be sure to leave a 1/4″ border around the cut-out.

5. Next, brush the border of the hearts with the water, and then gently top each with another heart. Use a fork to press down along the edges sealing the tarts shut. With a toothpick, poke a few holes in the top of each tart so the air can escape when they bake.

7. Transfer the tarts to the baking sheet, and bake them for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

8. After the tarts have cooled, dust them with powdered sugar and enjoy!

 

Thanksgiving Hosting Tips

Next week we will all gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. A delicious turkey dinner and hearts filled with gratitude punctuate this special holiday, and one so many of us look forward to every year. I’m an admitted  foodie, and ever since I was a child, have adored Thanksgiving. When I was a little girl, my mom always hosted Thanksgiving and one of our family’s signature sides was creamed corn. The recipe came from this fabulous restaurant in my home town – The Ritz – and we referred to it as “liquid gold.” The Ritz elegantly severed the cream corn in miniature copper skillets, and topped each one with a golden parmesan crust. We made it year after year, and I remember carefully stirring the soft white flour and rich butter to make a roux, and adding the velvety cream and sweet corn kernels. Ha, it wasn’t exactly healthy, but boy did it taste incredible!

We’re hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year, and counting the days until our family arrives. This holiday season will be especially fun, as it’s our first Thanksgiving in our new house, and baby G is now old enough to join the family for dinner. My mom even surprised us with his very own engraved silver napkin ring!

For any of you hosting, you know that while it’s wonderful to invite loved ones into your home, it also takes a great deal of planning and preparation. Compiling menus and recipes, grocery shopping, setting the table, cooking, and then of course being a calm and collected host the day of – it’s a big job! Especially if you’re feeding a large group. Every year I like to post my holiday hosting tips to help you shine as your best self, and I hope you’ll find them as helpful as I do. Keep an eye out for tips for how to be a gracious guest later this week!

Quick Tips

THANKSGIVING HOSTING TIPS

•••

PLAN AHEAD! FROM THE MENU TO THE FLORALS TO TAKING AN INVENTORY OF YOUR SERVING PIECES AND DISHES, MAP OUT ALL OF THE DETAILS IN ADVANCE

CREATE A DAY-OF TIMELINE

WRITE OUT YOUR GROCERY LIST

SET THE TABLE A DAY OR TWO AHEAD

CELEBRATING WITH LOTS OF CHILDREN? CONSIDER A KIDS TABLE. 

CHECK WITH GUESTS ON DIETARY RESTRICTIONS BEFORE CREATING A MENU

NOT A COOK? ENLIST THE HELP OF A CATERER

USE PLACE CARDS. THIS WILL HELP GUESTS FEEL MORE AT EASE, AND ENCOURAGE GREAT CONVERSATION

PRINT OFF MENUS FOR EACH PLACE SETTING

CREATE YOUR FLORALS A DAY AHEAD

PARTY CRACKERS AT EACH PLACE SETTING ARE A FUN TREAT

IF SOMEONE OFFERS TO BRING A DISH OR WINE, TAKE THEM UP ON IT!

PREP THE POWDER ROOM

LIGHT CANDLES AND PLAY MUSIC TO CREATE BEAUTIFUL AMBIANCE

HAVE BEVERAGES AND APPETIZERS READY FOR YOUR GUESTS WHEN THEY ARRIVE