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May 31, 2011

Vermont Weekend Getaway | Hiking, S'mores, Maple Syrup & Ice Cream

This weekend, we headed for the hills... well, actually the mountains.  We drove up to Vermont for some fresh air, hiking, swimming, s'mores, homemade ice cream and maple syrup.  The entire state was covered in rolling green covered mountains and scented with an overwhelming (in a good way...) aroma of pine.  It was a great escape.

Our first stop was the Simon Pearce restaurant in Quechee for brunch.  It was located right on this river near a waterfall.

Mr. Darcy had to check to see if there were any ducks on the water he needed to bark at.  MORE PHOTOS & DETAILS of our VERMONT TRIP , click here >>

May 28, 2011

Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Bruschetta on the Grill Recipe | Summer Grilling Menu

Mr. Darcy is waiting for his first course...
Bruschetta is always a hit.  If you are filling a little daring, do a couple of different versions - prosciutto & mozzarella, mushrooms & fontina, or roasted red pepper and blue cheese.  Classic tomato and fresh mozzarella is still my favorite.

I like to do courses on the grill - not in a fancy-schmancy way, but in a have-something-different-to eat-every-10-minutes sort of way.  I start with something that takes just a couple of minutes, in this case bruschetta, then the rest of the dinner goes on while we nibble on appetizers and sip cocktails.  For the entire Easy Summer Grilling menu, click here!

The Easy Summer Grilling Menu :

Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Bruschetta
Herb Marinated Grilled Jumbo Shrimp
Grilled Asparagus
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Grilled Peaches with Ice Cream

For the all of the recipes from the Easy Summer Grilling menu, click here


Fresh Mozzarella & Tomato Bruschetta on the Grill
serves 4

2 cups of tomatoes, cherry or otherwise, diced
8 ounces of fresh mozzarella
2 tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup of olive oil (divided into 2)
1 loaf of french or italian bread, sliced
1 clove of garlic

In a bowl, combine tomatoes, mozzarella basil, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Brush the slices of bread with the remaining olive oil.

Grill the bread for 1 minute on each side just until it starts to brown.  Remove the bread from the grill and rub the raw garlic on the bread.  Top with tomato and mozzarella mixture.


If you'd like to put the assembled bruschetta back on the grill, they make a great hot and melted snack.  They are great served hot or cold.

Grilled Herbed Shrimp, Asparagus & Corn 

Grilled Herbed Shrimp, Asparagus & Corn | Summer Grilling Party

This a fantastic departure from the typical burgers and brats we often turn to when grilling out.  It is easy to prepare, the ingredients are simple, and being that the main course contains giant shrimp... it is special, too.  The entire menu can be prepared ahead of time, then put on the grill all at the same time (5 minutes!) before dinner.  For the entire Easy Summer Grilling menu, click here!
The Easy Summer Grilling Menu :

Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Bruschetta
Herb Marinated Grilled Jumbo Shrimp
Grilled Asparagus
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Grilled Peaches with Ice Cream

For the all of the recipes from the Easy Summer Grilling menu, click here

Herb Marinated Shrimp 
serves 3-4 (I like to serve 3 to 4 shrimp per person)

1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup of fresh basil, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of dijon
1 teaspoon of dry mustard
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 1/2 pound of jumbo shrimp (these are 8 per pound)

Mix together the lemon juice, basil, garlic, dijon, mustard, salt and pepper.

Add in olive oil.

Whisk together.

Add peeled shrimp.  Marinate for an hour or more (if you have time).  Drizzle the corn and asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper just before grilling.


Put the shrimp on first, followed by the corn and asparagus.  Turn the shrimp, corn and asparagus after 3 minutes.

Take the asparagus off first, then the corn, and finally the shrimp.

Dinner, laptop style. 

Warning: Neighbors and dogs will be begging...

Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Bruschetta, Grilled!

Grilling for Dinner | Grilled Bruschetta, Herb Marinated Grilled Shrimp, Corn on the Cob & Asparagus

So many people are intimidated by the idea of having a dinner party... but having friends over to "grill out" is no problem.  It is casual, stress-free, and relaxing - I just wish people treated indoor entertaining in the same casual manner!

Spray off the patio furniture and clean the grill - use this Summer season to raise your entertaining comfort level so that by the time Fall comes around you are ready and will to host an (gasp) indoor dinner party.  Branch out from the typical burger and brat fare (even though there is nothing better than a burger, when done right!) and try something new.

For me, it works best when the entire menu can be grilled - appetizers, entree & dessert.  I get everything ready to go ahead of time, then we can all be outside (even me!) enjoying ourselves while dinner literally cooks itself.   My favorite part of all is that the only thing I have to clean up after the party is a baking sheet (that holds everything that will go on the grill) and a couple of bowls.

Everything ready to go outside to grill.
The Outdoor Dinner Party Menu... Grilled :

Tomato & Fresh Mozzarella Bruschetta (get recipe)
Herb Marinated Grilled Jumbo Shrimp
Grilled Asparagus
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Grilled Peaches with Ice Cream

I like to do courses on the grill - not in a fancy-schmancy way, but in a have-something-different-to eat-every-10-minutes sort of way.  I start with something that takes just a couple of minutes, in this case, bruschetta, then the rest of the dinner goes on while we nibble on appetizers and sip cocktails.  It works great because there is no running back and forth into the kitchen - I sit and relax while I tell Mike to take the asparagus off the grill and to turn the shrimp.  Ok, that might be a stretch...

May 26, 2011

Memorial Day Party Recipes for the Grill | BBQ Ribs, Grilled Steaks, Vegetables, Desserts

I've put together some of my favorite meals from the grill in honor of the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend.   I hope everyone has fun plans for the weekend.  We're headed up to Stowe, Vt. to do some hiking, swimming and relaxing at a pet-friendly resort... Mr. Darcy is thrilled!

Grilled Flat Iron Steak, Grilled Bread con Tomate & Grilled Corn with Basil, Lemon & Garlic Vinaigrette

This is a meal to fix if you have a small group of really good friends.  Everything is simple :
Seared Filet Mignon
Corn on the Cob
Cherry Tomatoes with Balsamic, Olive Oil, Basil, Salt & Pepper
Grilled Asparagus (just coat it with olive oil, salt & pepper, and toss it on the grill for 2-3 mintes)

Grilled Vegetables are always a big hit.  I just go to the produce section and buy a little bit of everything.  Drizzle them with olive oil salt and pepper and grill.  The potatoes should go on first, followed by the pepper, zucchini, and then corn at the end.  Other things that would be great would be red onion, yellow squash, or even skewered cherry tomatoes. 

We miss Kansas City BBQ like crazy!  I might surprise mike with these BBQ ribs when he gets home tomorrow night. Official recipe to come... stay tuned!

Mike likes the ribs, but I like barbecued chicken.  Just remember to use a great rub while grilling and top with the sauce just before you take if off of the grill, otherwise the sweet sauce will burn.

Kebabs are always so great for a party.  You can put anything on them!

I served my chicken and vegetable kebabs with corn on the cob and oven roasted red potatoes.

Roasted Red Pepper & Blue Cheese Bruschetta - These work great on the grill.  Assemble them before the party, then put them on the grill for 3-5 minutes when your guests arrive.

Old Fashioned Apple Crisp - you might think of Apple Crisp as a Fall dessert, but the evenings are still cool (especially in New England...) so I think pulling this warm dessert out of the oven with some cold ice cream would be great on a chilly early Summer dinner.

Truffle Brownies - If you're headed to a party, brownies are always welcome.  Make yours a little special by making them from scratch - they are totally worth the extra effort.

If you really want a show-stopping dessert to bring to a party this weekend, make these Salted-Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes.  They are really easy to make (starts with a cake mix...) and are really impressive.

A Blackberry Crumble really says Summer. 


For a really easy dessert, put some cinnamon and sugar on peaches (sliced in half).  Grill them for 5 minutes and serve with vanilla ice cream.  

Style Me Pretty | Fall Inspired Bridal Shower Table Setting

Last week my DIY Fall Inspiration Table Setting was featured on Style Me Pretty!  Click here to read the entire article.  Thanks Abby and The STP team!

This table would be perfect for a Fall Bridal Shower.  I took a new take on Fall - instead of the normal burnt oranges, reds and golds, I used pastels with rustic accents.  For example, I used wheat, roses & burlap for the bouquet.  For the placecards, I spray painted mini pumpkins a soft gold. 

All photos by Claire Ryser.

May 23, 2011

About Jenny Steffens Hobick | My Story

I've updated the "About" page on the site.  Just in case you were interested to know a little more about me, here it goes:

about me,

Six short years ago, I spent my days promoting other people's businesses and brands.  I would spend my nights dreaming of a brand of my own.  A brand that would portray an easy, thoughtful, fulfilling, comfortable, elegant, and creative lifestyle that I had sought to have for myself.  A life of easy going entertaining, home cooked dinners, a cozy home and fun weekends of exploration and travel.
At my desk job as an Advertising Executive, I daydreamed of hosting intimate dinner parties, creative baby and bridal showers, festive cocktail events and laid back clambakes.  I knew that I had a 'something' share, maybe a style and philosophy for entertaining that others would also find appealing. 

I began plans for an event planning company that would specialize in FallTabledesigning small to medium-sized events in the homes of my (future) clients.  Occasions Entertaining was born.
I spent five years planning and catering events - creating floral arrangements, decorating cupcakes, designing tables settings, selecting linens, choosing menus and cooking for my very special clients.   
Every week (sometimes every other day) I was planning or preparing something new - a baby shower, then a rehearsal dinner followed by a birthday celebration.  I can actually remember driving home from a 500 person cocktail party that I just completed (with my car still full of rentals) thinking about a fire engine birthday cake for a toddlers birthday party I was going to work on the next morning.  And... there were those mornings I would get up at 4:30 a.m. to prepare the monthly breakfast for one of my favorite corporate clients' morning board meetings.  It was a very busy and exhausting lifestyle.   I loved it.  I loved that every single day I was doing something different, being creative and making something.
In 2007, I was asked to be a guest instructor for a cooking class at a gourmet shop called A Thyme for Everything.  I taught my class the secrets to hosting a successful cocktail party.  We prepared some of my signature menu items that are always big hits at my parties.  I also demonstrated easy to assemble floral centerpieces that could be created from grocery store flowers and a table setting that was simple and seasonal.  I taught a new class with a new b0e9683cebEntertaining Idea every month.  Instructing the classes brought an entirely new light to what a career in 'entertaining' could look like.  I loved inspiring and teaching others to do the things that brought me so much joy and fulfillment.  

At about the same time that I started teaching the classes, I started dating my husband.  In fact, it was his Mother who recommended me as a class instructor!  Over the last four years we've enjoyed building our life and creating a home.  We both thrive on projects and creating - we are constantly dreaming up new pieces of furniture to build, cobblestone patios to construct, and small (or major) modifications we can do that will have big impacts.  Some of our favorite times together are waking up on Saturday morning, heading to the coffee shop and then straight to the hardware store to get supplies or inspiration.  

Our travels always inspire us - whether it is a favorite new recipe (homemade pasta and truffles from our Italian honeymoon), or a design aesthetic for our home from a trip to Aspen or Seaside.  Due to a new job opportunity for Mike, we have recently moved from our first home in Fairway, Kansas to Concord, Massachusetts.  Our weekends are full of exploring nearby towns, mountains, coastlines and islands.  We have many new projects planned for our new home - stay tuned!

Today, I have closed the chapter on my event planning business.  Instead, I spend my days entertaining for our friends, making our home cozy and traveling with my husband.

Through this blog, I strive to exhilarate my readers by sharing my experiences of living what I feel is a very good and fulfilling life, hoping that it will bring insight and inspiration into the lives of my readers. 

My Entertaining Philosophy : 
I do not believe that parties are about perfection and fussiness.

"Entertaining at is best is done often, with an effortless and easy style.  It should be fun - for the host and the guests. A fp89nu323528WSNRCG3377786253338nu0mrjparty with elaborate decor and fancy food isn't necessarily more fun. In fact, if the hostess is running around the kitchen and not spending any time entertaining, it can feel awkward - like she is torturing herself for the sake of your dinner. It can put a lot of pressure on your guests to feel like they should alleviate your stress. A great party should be easy to host and easy to attend. I always recommend to entertain in a style that is well-suited to your personality. Don't try to be a June Cleaver if your are a clearly a Lucille Ball. Go with what feels good to you - if that is burgers on the grill or a make-it-yourself pizza party - perfect!"

I believe that selecting a menu for entertaining can make or break your party.

"Not only does it wear me out to make several complicated recipes, too many times our taste buds (and stomachs) can be overwhelmed with too many  rich flavors.  I like to serve one great show-stopper... a rich blue cheese sauce, a really decadent chocolate soufflĂ©, a creamy truffle pasta, or an over-the-top cheesy mac n'cheese.  Everything else should be simple.  For example, if you are serving a really rich entree, be sure to serve a light (maybe fruit?) dessert.  And I hardly ever serve appetizers if I'm serving dinner - it is disheartening to hear that someone is too full for dinner after indulging too much baked brie!"IMG1484

My style of entertaining is casual and elegant at the same time.  

"When I'm throwing a party, I rarely use plastic plates or paper napkins...  and that is not to be stuffy or fancy, but because I think food tastes better off of real plates and real utensils.  I think people feel more at home when they  serve themselves from a big stack of white plates and a soft cotton napkin.  I also think it is important to have fresh flowers or herbs on your table.  You don't have to have a formal bouquet from the florist - it can be from the grocery store or your backyard - just something alive that is fresh and seasonal in a small vase is perfect. There is something intrinsic about the presence of flowers that make everything seem more special."

I enjoy entertaining all of the time, not just "Special Occasions" and Holidays.  

"When people only entertain for special occasions or holidays, they get very nervous to host a party and it can become a very stressful event.  Not only are they practically remodeling their home for the occasion, but they end up over spending their budget and running themselves ragged.  I like to have a party - whether it is a breakfast or a board game party - at least once every two weeks.  It keeps our home feeling open and full of friends... and it keeps me from getting too far behind on housework."

ABOUT Jenny Steffens Hobick

Jenny was raised in the small historic town of Lexington, Missouri where most of her family still lives. She grew up in the country, as her Father is a Farmer. She loved living in the country and hopes to return to the wide open at some point. 
Before her entrepreneurial adventures, she attended and graduated from Mizzou's School of Journalism in 2003 and began work as an Advertising Executive.
Jenny married Michael Hobick in 2010. Visit her blog to see photos from their wedding in Seaside, Florida and honeymoon in Italy. They currently live in Concord, Mass. and spend their weekends entertaining friends, traveling and working on diy home projects
Jenny has been featured in Lucky Magazine, on the Martha Stewart Home Decorating Blog, Style Me Pretty and was recently on the cover of Her Life Magazine.

Joplin, Mo Tornado Victims Need Our Help | Donate to The Cause

What can we do?  I think that everyone has a giving and loving heart - we just need to be told how we can help, and we will do it.  This is my way of giving a voice to causes near and dear to my heart.  Each week, Everyday Occasions will select a cause to promote and support.  I've been meaning to set up this program for a couple of months, last night's event was the last straw...


Joplin, Mo. suffered the most devastating tornado in history.  As a life-long Missouri resident (except for the last 3 months!), I would like to raise money on the behalf of the community of Joplin, Mo.  Your donations will go directly to the aid of the survivors of the horrific tornado.  If you woke up this morning and wanted to help, now is your chance.

Please click on the following Pay Pal button to donate.  You will be given the option to donate as little as $1 or as much as you can afford.  The money will go directly to a family (or families - depending on how much money we can raise!) that have been directly effected. 

May 20, 2011

Living Room in the New House | Our New Home in Concord, Ma.

As promised, I finally have photos of our living room to share.  For the moment, we are using all of our furniture from our old house.  Our old house had a larger living room, so I custom ordered this furniture to fill the grand space.  Our new house has smaller living spaces (but twice as many bedrooms!).  The scale of our living room furniture is a little too large for this space, but it seems to work... for now. In the future, I'd like to have some white upholstered chairs made to replace the leather and linen chair we have now.

We are using this trunk as a coffee table, for now.  Our original coffee table (that I never really liked anyway) was so huge - it took up the entire space between the sofa and chairs.  The chest was already painted this slate grey - I can't decide if I want to paint it a different color, or not.  What do you think?

Keep Reading : Our New Living Room >>

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