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July 30, 2011

Caramel Brownie Cheesecake | National Cheesecake Day!

My very first job was at The Daily Grind in Lexington.  It was sort of a gourmet coffee, bakery and cafe - homemade desserts, muffins, stuffed croissants, and handcrafted cappuccinos and lattes.   Pretty fancy for a small town!  At least, I thought so when I worked there in high school.

One of my weekly duties was to make the cheesecakes.  Now you must understand, that this was in the 90's right in the midst of the Cheesecake craze.  The Cheesecake Factory was just becoming the hot date spot amongst my friends (that had boyfriends who could drive...), the Jell-O Nobake Cheesecake was the most popular dessert at potlucks... cheesecake was the dessert.

July 29, 2011

Bathroom Redo | Pinterest Challenge | Inspiration for adding storage to a Small Bathroom

This week I joined the Pinterest Challenge started by Emily Henderson from Secrets from a Stylist (HGTV), Sherry and John from, Joey and Lana from, and Katie and Jeremy from  The challenge?  Actually accomplish something you "Pinned" on Pinterest.  This was just the motivation I needed to tackle our upstairs tini-tiny bathroom.

My Pinterest inspiration (originally pinned by Better Homes & Gardens) was a small cabinet used to hold bathroom goodies.  It made me rethink my options for typical bathroom storage.

July 28, 2011

Chocolate Sheet Cake in a Pie Dish | Warm Chocolate Icing Recipe

This is what the cake looked like after I took 2-3 photos... couldn't resist
Everyone's heard of Texas Sheet Cake, right?  If you haven't heard the name, you've had it at countless potlucks and family dinners, I'm sure.  It is a very moist chocolate cake topped with a generous portion of chocolate frosting poured on while the cake is still hot.  A lesser informed person might even think it was a frosted brownie.

This is what I call an 'eating' cake.  She's not a looker, but oh is she good!  

July 26, 2011

Kinfolk Magazine | Jenny Steffens Hobick is proud to be a part of Kinfolk Magazine!

A couple of months ago, I was approached by Nathan Williams and asked if I would contribute to a collaboration celebrating small gatherings and intimate entertaining.  The collaboration, an online and print magazine, would be called Kinfolk.  I took one glance at their website,, and sent back an immediate - yes!

The design of the site was so beautiful, clean, sophisticated, and cozy.  With such a design aesthetic, I knew I would want to be a part of anything Nathan and the Kinfolk team produced.

The online magazine and print edition came out this month - and let me tell you - it is a beauty.  The photography is stunning.  The layout is modern, clean and unobtrusive.  The articles are insightful.  I'm so honored to be a part of something so... well, Great.

I was asked to contribute three articles : 1) Entertaining Q&A   2) Personal Perspective on Entertaining   3) After Dinner Ideas for Entertaining

Entertaining Q&A Excerpt...
(to read the entire article, visit the online version of the entire magazine at

How can someone put together a great dinner or evening with friends on a budget?
"I like to have one show-stopper on the menu, maybe truffle butter, sea scallops, or great heirloom tomatoes.  If you make one thing shine, you can make everything else very simple.  Try to figure out what your guests will rave about on the way home and invest in that to be the star of your party"

July 25, 2011

Eggplant Recipes | Eggplant Focaccia Bread | Summer Farmer's Market Dinner Party

 Eggplant Focaccia Bread
 part of my Farmer's Market Themed Menu

Eggplant is one of those vegetables that I'm always swooning over at the Farmer's Markets, but never know quite what to do with it.  In the past, I have used it in a Roasted Vegetable Orzo Pasta Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette, or breaded and fried it as Eggplant Parmesan.  Eggplant doesn't have a ton of flavor, but is great at picking up the flavors added to it - just be sure to add plenty of strong flavor with seasoning and herbs.

Making focaccia might sound a little daunting, but it is really one of the easiest things to do... especially when you use store-bought pizza dough.  Pre-made (and pre-baked) pizza dough is one of my favorite shortcuts (remember my Pizza Party for Grown-ups Party Menu?).  I buy it directly from a local pizzaria for about $2 each, or you can find it at most grocery stores in the deli section.

This focaccia is a beautiful addition to any table - it is visually impressive to serve AND it gives you an excuse to buy those stunning eggplants you see at the market.

 Eggplant Focaccia Bread
 part of my Farmer's Market Themed Menu

1 recipe of pizza dough
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4 cup of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons of rosemary
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes1 small/medium eggplant
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, grated

On a baking sheet or in a casserole dish, drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Place dough into baking sheet/casserole dish and shape it into a rectangle, keeping it about 1/2-3/4 inch thick.

For sauce, in a microwave safe bowl mix together 1/4 cup olive oil, minced garlic, 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 tablespoon rosemary, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.  Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Spoon half of the mixture onto the dough, spread out.

Cut eggplant into thin slices and place onto the oiled dough.  Drizzle the remaining oil mixture over the eggplant.  Sprinkle cheese and remaining thyme, rosemary and salt over.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, depending on thickness and size of the focaccia. 

Farm to Table Dinner Party Series : 
Farmer's Market Themed Menu

 The Eggplant Focaccia Bread is part of my Farm to Table Dinner Party Menu & Farmer's Market Table Setting.  To see the entire menu & table setting, click here.

Heirloom Tomatoes with Green Goddess Dressing
Eggplant Focaccia Bread
Corn on the Cob with Basil Butter
Classic Cucumbers & Onions
Lemon & Chive Halibut in Parchment Bundles
Peach Crostada with Vanilla Ice Cream

July 23, 2011

Heirloom Tomatoes with Green Goddess Dressing | Farmers Market Dinner Party

Heirloom Tomatoes - Cherry & Big
Heirloom Tomatoes with Green Goddess Dressing
Part of my Farmer's Market Themed Menu

I've mentioned before that I had always been a little intimated by homemade salad dressings.  I started experimenting with vinaigrettes and found them to be so simple and so, so, so much better than store-bought dressings.  I had yet to attempt a creamy dressing until I came across the tempting Green Goddess...

Green Goddess dressing is a sour cream based dressing jazzed up with fresh chives, basil and garlic.  Basically a homemade ranch dressing + basil.  I love that the basil turns the dressing a pale green color - must be where the name originates!

July 21, 2011

Peach Crostata | Simple Summer Peach Dessert | Farm to Table Dinner Party Menu


Last weekend someone asked me, "Do you have a simple, no-brainer, quick peach dessert?"

Why, yes, I do - a peach crostata!  Just crust and fruit.  It is the epitome of a simple summer dessert.  A crostata is a rustic tart/pie/pastry made directly on a baking sheet with parchment paper (see my favorite pre-cut parchment sheets here, 200 for $12), with fruit piled into the center, then the edges are folded up.  There is no pie dish, tart pan or spring-form pan to clean, and if you use the parchment sheet while baking, you just have give the baking sheet a quick rinse when you're finished.  

What else makes this so simple?  You don't have to the peel the peaches, and you can even use store-bought pie dough.  It only bakes or 15-20 minutes, unlike a 45 minute pie.  I mean really, could there be anything easier?

Oh, I forgot to mention that it is delicious, too.  The flaky crust coated with sugar, filled with warm cinnamon sprinkled peaches is magical.  The short baking time allows the peaches to stay firm and fresh, instead of getting over done and mushy, as sometimes happens in a pie or cobbler. 

Farm to Table Dinner Party Series : 
Farmer's Market Themed Menu

 The Peach Crostata is part of my Farm to Table Dinner Party Menu & Farmer's Market Table Setting.  To see the entire menu, click here.

Peach Crostata 
serves 4

1 pie dough
2 peaches, sliced (keep the skin on)
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg
1 egg

Roll out pie dough into a 10-12 inch circle.  Pile peaches into the center.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar, the cinnamon and the nutmeg over the peaches.  Dot the peaches with butter.  Fold up the sides of the dough.  Create an egg wash by beating 1 egg, then brushing it on the pastry.  Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar over the dough.  Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes.

The pieces of butter combine with the peaches and sugar to make a little bit of sauce in the crostata.

Fold up the sides, pinching it together.

Isn't it beautifully rustic?

Brush with the egg wash.

I like a good amount of sugar (about 1 tablespoon) on the outside of the crust - when it bakes it makes a sugary crust that is perfect with the warm peaches. 

On the baking sheet ready to go into the oven. 

I highly recommend serving it with vanilla (or cinnamon?) ice cream - yum!

Farm to Table Dinner Party Series : 
Farmer's Market Themed Menu

 The Peach Crostata is part of my Farm to Table Dinner Party Menu & Farmer's Market Table Setting.  To see the entire menu & table setting, click here.

Heirloom Tomatoes with Green Goddess Dressing
Eggplant Focaccia Bread
Corn on the Cob with Basil Butter
Classic Cucumbers & Onions
Lemon & Chive Halibut in Parchment Bundles
Peach Crostada with Vanilla Ice Cream

Farmers Market Table Setting | Farm to Table themed Summer Party

Summer Farmer's Market Table Setting:
Farm to Table Themed Party

Who says you have to go to the florist to put together a beautiful table for a party?  When I go to the farmer's markets, I am always amazed at how beautiful the vegetables are as they're all grouped together and displayed.  I decided to add this bountiful farmer's market style to my table for a Summertime "Farm to Market" dinner party.

Did I mention that the menu has some of the same ingredients displayed on the table?  Talk about appetizing.

Summertime Farm to Market Menu (recipes coming soon!):

Garden Tomatoes with Green Goddess Dressing
Eggplant Focaccia Bread
Corn on the Cob with Basil Butter
Classic Cucumbers & Onions
Lemon & Chive Halibut in Parchment Bundles
Peach Crostada with Vanilla Ice Cream

I picked up these kitchen towels at William-Sonoma.  They make great rustic over-sized napkins... after all, who doesn't appreciate an over-sized napkin when you're eating corn on the cob?  The towels came in a package of 4 different patterns of stripes and plaids.  I love the navy and light blue combination with the clean clean white.

I don't know about you, but sitting outside in this heat does not sound like a pleasant evening.  So, I brought the bounty of the season in doors.

I set the table by putting a white hemstitch runner down the center.  All of the different colors, sizes and shapes of the vegetables could end up looking chaotic, so I needed the plain white runner to create a cohesive look.  A burlap runner would add a little more of a rustic style.  You can see the various patterns of the napkins in this shot.

Again, to create a cohesive look, I put all of the vegetables in separate white bowls, then arranged them scattered down the table, separating each color by a complimenting color.  For example, I separated the bright pink radishes from the bright red orange tomato with pale colored potatoes and the neutral green ears of corn.


Left to Right :  A jar of homemade pickles, blue hydrangeas in a white creamer pitcher, peaches, round eggplant and cherry tomatoes.

The pickles are a take-home gift for our guests.  If you don't have time to make your own, buy some locally made berry jam and send your guests home with biscuits for breakfast.

The radishes are so beautiful - such a rich shade of pink.

I hope this table inspires your next Summer party!  Stay tuned for recipes to serve at your Summertime Farm to Market dinner party!

July 18, 2011

Snickerdoodle Cookies with Maple Glaze

Snickerdoodle Cookie with Maple Glaze
For some reason I don't ever think of making Snickerdoodles.  They aren't packed full of chocolate chips or peanut butter, nor do they lend themselves to being beautifully decorated to mimic blue birds or lovely flowers.

However... when I was back in Kansas City last week, I had a snickerdoodle at the Classic Cookie, a local favorite spot.  I had forgotten the wonderful simplicity of the snickerdoodle cookie - buttery cinnamon and sugar with a tangy bite.  It was addicting!

Here is my own spin on the classic snickerdoodle with a maple glaze made from the maple syrup with picked up in Vermont over Memorial Day.

Snickerdoodle Cookies with Maple Glaze Recipe

July 13, 2011

Chicken Parmesan Recipe | Fresh Summer Chicken Parmesan | Easy Dinner Ideas

I refuse to believe that pasta is bad for you.  It is filling, tastes great, it is so versatile, and... well, I like it... all of the time.  Did I say versatile?  I took a typically heavy recipe, Chicken Parmesan, and turned it into a light summer dinner.  Instead of a traditional red sauce, I used whole tomatoes and broke them into large pieces for a fresh tomato taste, added plenty of fresh basil and pan seared the chicken breasts instead of breading and frying.  Don't worry, I didn't leave out the fresh mozzarella - I'm not crazy. 

The result was a fresh, light, protein and vegetable packed summer dinner.  Highly recommended.  As you can tell from the ingredient list below, it is definitely a budget friendly quick dinner perfect for a weeknight or Sunday evening.  Maybe this will replace our Sunday Spaghetti & Meatballs for the Summer? 

Fresh Summer Chicken Parmesan
serves 4

1 pound of angel hair pasta
1 pound of chicken breasts, butterflied and cut into strips
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
*Dried Italian Seasoning
2 - 14 oz. cans of whole tomatoes
Fresh Basil, chopped
Fresh Mozzarella

Season butterflied and chicken breasts cut into strips with Salt & Pepper.  **Not pictured, but you can also add dried Italian seasoning for extra flavor.  

July 09, 2011

Corn on the Cob with Basil Butter | Summer Party Menu | Grilling and Outdoor Summer Party

Sweet corn season is here.  When I was younger, that meant my sister and I would pick dozens of ears and set up our Sweet Corn Stand in the front yard to make money we could take on vacation.  We would sit outside all day shucking corn and selling paper grocery bags full to anyone that stopped by with $4 or $5.  Our corn stand was always much more successful than our lemonade stand.  After all, it was hard to get anyone that was speeding down our country gravel road to stop for a $0.25 cup of lemonade.  But sweet corn, that was an easy sell.

Basil Butter for Corn on the Cob

1 stick of butter, softened
2 tablespoons of pesto (homemade is so easy - here is my recipe)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 pinch of sugar

In a food processor or mixer, combine all of the ingredients together.  Serve at room temperature. 

This Basil Butter and Corn on the Cob would be a great addition to any Summer Entertaining Menu.  Here is a fresh Summer menu that is sure to please :

Summer Corn on the Cob Menu

Bacon Avocado Burger

Corn on the Cob with Basil Butter

Cucumber, Tomato & Feta Salad

Truffle Brownie

July 08, 2011

Crab Cakes with Panko Bread Crumbs | Red Pepper Remoulade | Bite Sized Crab Cakes

Crab Cakes - they were always the first thing to go at my catering events.  I would have people chasing my staff down for another round of them... Why?  People love something they can pop in their mouth that is bite-size and filling.  Crab cakes are filling, flavorful and great with a drink.

Not having a cocktail party?  Larger Crab cakes are the perfect thing to serve for a dinner party along with a steak for a special dinner.  You can make them ahead of time and pop them in the oven right before dinner.  In fact, I would always recommend crab cakes and beef tenderloin as a great duet entree for weddings - some people can be squeemish around fish, but almost everyone loves crab cakes. 

Crab Cakes with Panko Bread Crumbs

1/2 cup of red onion, diced
1/2 cup of celery, diced
1/2 cup of red pepper, minced
2 tablespoons of parsley, diced
1/4 teaspoon tabasco
1 teaspoon of crab boil spice (Old Bay)
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 pound of lump crab meat (canned)
1/4 cup of mayo
1 egg
1 tablespoon of dijon
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Combine vegetables, crab meat, and parsley.

July 07, 2011

Free Printables for Smoothies | Shower Brunch Decorating & Menu Ideas

Are you hosting a brunch?  Maybe for a wedding or baby shower?  My favorite types of parties are when everyday food is dressed up for the occasions.  Turn your morning smoothie into a party worthy drink with these printable flag labels.

Cut them out and affix them to a dowel rod with double stick adhesive dots or hot glue.

Click on the image below for the printable image.  I recommend printing on cardstock.

Get the recipes for all of the Smoothie Recipes :

Banana Cream with Graham Cracker Smoothie
Very Berry Smoothie with Strawberries & Raspberries
Mango Orange Smoothie

Mango Orange Smoothie with Banana

Mango Orange Smoothie with Banana :
Healthy Smoothie Recipes (get all 3!)

1 cup of mango pieces
1 banana
1 cup of orange juice

In a blender, puree all of the ingredients together.  Serve immediately.

If you have leftovers, pour into 'to go' cups and put them in the freezer.  Even stick a popsicle stick in to make a really healthy frozen treat.

Banana Cream Smoothie with Graham Crackers

Banana Cream Smoothie :
Healthy Smoothie Recipes (get all 3!)

1 banana, sliced
1/2 cup of vanilla ice cream (or yogurt)
1 cup of milk

In a blender, puree banana, ice cream and milk together.  Crumble graham crackers on top.  Serve immediately.

If you have leftovers, pour into 'to go' cups and put them in the freezer.  Even stick a popsicle stick in to make a really healthy frozen treat.

Very Berry Strawberry Smoothie

Very Berry Strawberry Smoothie :
Healthy Smoothie Recipes (get all 3!)

1 cup of frozen strawberries
1/2 cup of orange juice
1/4 cup of frozen raspberries
1/2 cup of milk

In a blender, puree all of the ingredients together.  Serve immediately.

If you have leftovers, pour into 'to go' cups and put them in the freezer.  Even stick a popsicle stick in to make a really healthy frozen treat.
*Other great additions : watermelon, banana, yogurt, mango, other berries, etc.
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