Here it is… as promised. The recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies on the planet! The chocolate is key.. and you can find the recipe HERE. Happy baking!
Here it is… as promised. The recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies on the planet! The chocolate is key.. and you can find the recipe HERE. Happy baking!
I served this amazing, “perfect for summer” salad at my dinner gathering in Utah. It has layers of amazing flavors that will have your guests palates soaring… and it’s beautiful as well! I am sharing the recipe with you all.. so go get some stone fruit before the season is over!
It’s been a while, but I went back to Fox 13 The Place to do a cooking segment today. It was so fun to see and be with my favorite TV hosts in all the land! Brittany and Brooke are twins and are both expecting their first babies (both are having girls!) soon… so I was so happy to be here before they take off for maternity leave.
Many of you know that I make (sorry if I sound so braggy!) amazing salads… and I shared two of my favorites in these segments. You can watch the segments and find the recipes HERE.
Happy summer all!
I don’t know anyone that would disagree with my “free is better” philosophy! I used to go to my local store for all the greens and flowers for my dinner table scapes. Get this…. I had one lady at a local florist shop ask me where I lived before she would quote me a price for some branches of greens. What?! And the price she quoted me was ridiculously high! I didn’t buy them. On my drive home, I noticed all the beautiful trees and blooms in my neighborhood and in my yard. That got me thinking outside of the box!
The other day I went for a walk in my neighborhood and took shots of different tree branches, greens and blooms that I have used or would use. I want to share these examples of different tree branches and flowers (during the spring and summer seasons) with you all . If you’re lucky, you may have neighbors that are kind enough to let you clip some of their blooms. .
This is a birch tree that is in my front yard. I not only love these trees… the delicate leaves and branches are perfect for most table scapes year round!
Our neighborhood has a lot of Weeping Willows. These soft branches are beautiful on the table. I especially love the winter months when red berry like stems grow on this tree. Two for one… win!
Eucalyptus trees have amazing branches! And I love the lemon scent this trees gives off. Another favorite of mine.
Jacaranda trees have beautiful blooms. I wouldn’t use the branches… they are too stiff and spikey but just look at those beautiful flowers! We have a lot of these trees in our region.
I am not sure of the name of this tree but look at those beautiful brilliant pink stems that grow off this tree! How stunning would those be in vases on your table?
I found this Melaleuca tree in my neighbors yard. Those little round purple puffs would be perfection in little vases!
Another shrub in my front yard. I have used stems of these little purple blooms intermixed with greens many times on my tables. Love it!
After we built our home, we planted a ton of these white Ice Berg roses in the front and back yard. These are like my “go with everything” white dinner plates. They go with almost any look anytime of the year. A great staple! Another huge favorite of mine are Hydrangeas. The grow abundantly here in a variety of colors…. don’t ask me how I forgot to take a picture of them!
You don’t always have to use flowers with your greens. Fruit is another great option. Apples, lemons, pomegranates, oranges, pears….. you get the picture.
When you look for branches or greens for your table, look for ones that will lay nicely. A lot of branches are stiff… those tend not to look great as part of a table scape. And don’t be afraid to mix different varieties of greens together… I love that look!
I live in Southern California so I realize you may not have these varieties where you live, but I am certain you have other great varieties I don’t have. Open your eyes to what’s in your area and experiment!
Make sure you place your branches and blooms in some water when you get home to keep them fresh until you need them.
It’s a beautiful world… and bringing some of that to your table may just be all the decoration you need… and all for the price of “freeeeeeeee”!
I am on a roll… three weeks of table scapes for you! I hope I am able to help you conquer any fears or intimidation of putting together your own beautiful gathering. I’d love to hear from any of you that have done so!
Sunday dinners are a tradition and a much looked forward to time for our family. It’s typically the one day of the week that our family can consistently be together and “break” bread around the table. We love to invite friends and other family over. This week, we invited our son’s (who moved back for a short 6 weeks for an internship in our local area) friends and some of their wives from college over as they are all here for the summer. A mini reunion of sorts… a happy time for sure!
By the way.. I wasn’t sure if I would be home on Sunday (dance competition in Las Vegas for our daughter) but things worked out last minute. So this post can show you how this can be done on the fly! I got home early Saturday evening and planned this very impromptu dinner.
Tonights look is all about neutral texture and layering. I started with these crocheted pieces and laid them width wise.. definitely creates interest on the table.
Step three…. If you’ve been following me and reading my blog posts, you know the drill with my cake pedestals and wooden bowls.
Branches clipped off of my Birch tree is just the look I was looking for. Lay them down the boards and around the base of the pedestals and bowls. Greens are always a good idea!
Another tip… start by draping the first branch on one side of the table and place the other branches in the same direction until you hit the middle spot of the table (there should be a candle or pedestal in the middle of the table). Then drape a branch on the other end of the table, and continue laying down the branches on the opposite side of the table in the same direction until you hit the middle of the table. Make sure to wrap some greens around the base of the table or candlestick holder. Be careful not to have anything close to the flame of the candles. I may or may not have had experience with that!
I sometimes buy flowers the day before and keep them in water until I need them. I absolutely love these simple, “mini daisy looking” flowers. Aren’t they the perfect look for a summer table?
Last week I showed you how I love to use mismatched napkins. This week, it’s all about mismatched plates! Once again…. easier on your time and budget. Buy one plate at a time when you see one you love! I love this casual, fun and unexpected look. To keep the same theme…. they are all ceramic plates. You have to have some consistency in your look to keep it classy!
Once again, don’t underestimate what a great glass, cup or goblet can do for the look of your table. I have a lot going on with the different colored plates so clear glass cups were the ticket for tonight. These glasses have such a beautiful design on them.. they too are some of my very favorites! I have them in clear and one other color. I would love them in every color they offer!
This is just a shot to show you the beautiful setting and feel you get when you dine al fresco! I mean.. come on.. does it get any better than that?
Next come the candlestick holders and candles. Sometimes I do this step before I set up my plates, but with the mismatched plates, I wanted to see what would look best after I set my plates on the table. I decided on a very natural and rustic look. Two tall wooden candelabras and some old, antique maple syrup catching cups. When I saw these cups, I immediately pictured tall candles in them. Such a great and different look… don’t you think? A change from tea lights.
The final step… the food….. glorious food! Yes… steaks again (actually a variety of three different kinds of steaks.. yum!), I can’t get enough of a nice, juicy steak lately! And seriously… grilling them on our Traeger Grill takes them over the top on tenderness and flavor. Cant be beat! The perfect summer main dish. Oh… and let’s not forget the truffle butter stuffed rolls… to die for! And before you ask (because I know you’re wondering), the salad is my Un-Waldorf salad. Everyone was in love!
And as always… the cherry on the top… our dear family and friends feasting, visiting , feasting, enjoying and feasting some more!
There you have it…. Another Sunday dinner with the Evans!
I am teaching this class on Thursday, July 27th at 5:30 pm. Don’t delay in contacting me if you want a spot for this one!
This week we celebrated my son’s 16th birthday and we celebrated as a family with a special BBQ dinner. I wanted to keep the table scape simpler than the usual and definitely free of frills. So I am sharing with you another step by step of my table scape so you can see how do able it is.
Many of you ask where I bought a lot of the items I use…. Some of my things I’ve had for a while and have no recollection where I got it so I won’t be able to help you there. But I linked some of the items… or where I bought it so you can find it or find something similar if it’s no longer available. And right now, most of the items are on sale due to the fourth of July… how perfect is the timing of this post! I also went back to my recent posts to link the items that are still available for you all. I hope that helps!
First, I wanted to show you my “before” prep. The more organized you are… the easier your dinner will go. Do as much as you can beforehand so you don’t feel rushed at the dinner hour.
I start with a list… always. Make a list of all the dishes you will be serving… down to the butter on the table and any sauces you plan on serving. From that list, I pull out the different platters, bowls, butter dishes and condiment servers that I will be using for each particular item served. I then place the serving utensil in each bowl/platter so it’s ready to go when the dish is ready to be put in it. If you need an extra reminder, you can write the particular dish that will be going in the platter on a small piece of paper and place it in the platter as well.
I also, choose what dishes, flatware, glasses and water pitchers I want to use and place them with everything else. And lets not forget the decorative items… candlestick holders, votives, candlesticks, vases with the flowers arranged in them… or anything else you plan to use on the table. As you can see here… I picked out the cake pedestals and wooden bowls I want to use to elevate my food. Literally… everything I plan on using on the table (with the exception of the table runner, or tablecloth and greens) is placed together in an area together. You can place you table runners and greens here too.. I always choose and have them outside before this process.
As I mentioned, I wanted to go simple and “no frills” for my son’s birthday dinner… so I decided to use this natural fiber table runner.
The next step is to place the greens. Earlier that morning… I went on the search in the common areas in my neighborhood for greens… and I chose weeping willow tree branches. Soft and interesting. During a part of the year.. this tree also has red berries that grow on the branches. I love that look… but this works.. even simpler.
For those of you that have been following me.. you know I always elevate my food with cake pedestals, wooden platters and wooden bowls that I turn upside down. Not only does it highlight your food.. which is part of your table decor…. you’re able to fit more food on your table to serve “family style”.
Next…. come any candlestick holders, votives, or hurricane lamps you’d like to use. As I’ve mentioned.. I wanted to keep it simple… so these little votives were the perfect touch. And when the sun went down.. the little light that streamed through the little holes were kind of magical.
In keeping with the natural look, I decided to use my green plates that look like they are handcrafted. They really look like they are from a plate artist… and you’ll never guess where I found them. Target! I couldn’t believe it myself when I saw them. Gotta love a great find for a budget price! Each one is slightly different from each other in color variation. Amazing!
This evening, I chose my gold toned flatware. I am in love with these ones! And I love cloth napkins. They add a nice touch to any table and who doesn’t prefer cloth over paper? They also can add so much to your table decor. I needed just a touch of color and interest, so I used a variety of cloth napkins instead of using matching ones. This people… is the easiest way to collect napkins. Buy a napkin at a time when you find one you love. So much easier… and friendlier on your budget. Isn’t it a great look? Its one of my favorite looks and one of them has “Happy Birthday” weaved into the design…. guess who sat at that spot?
The glasses/ cups you use also add to your decor. I love to buy beautiful glasses and cups. I know your guests will also love that extra nice touch. As you can see here.. they can also add a touch of color and interest to the overall look. I have beautiful clear glasses, colored glasses such as these beauties, and different metal cups in different tones. Another beautiful item I love to collect!
And the final touch.. the food! Along with the water pitchers. Another thing I love to buy… in a variety of colors and textures. Now my table is complete… well almost.
No table is truly complete or beautiful without the lovely people gathered around the table. Time to feast!
When you set a beautiful table, you create an atmosphere that makes people want to stay and connect. I always love the look of a table that was “loved” by being used. Makes any effort so worth it… and this table took very little effort. This is an “after” shot when all the food was cleared and we were sitting and having an “after” meal visit. Gatherings are my favorite and I hope my newest 16 year old felt special.. surrounded by those he loves.
By the way.. summer nights are my fave.
Summertime is probably my all time favorite time to throw dinner parties. Living where I do, (Southern California) I like to spend as much time as possible outdoors. And our beautiful summer nights are just magical!
I’ve been traveling pretty much the past two months… so I’ve been craving… yes I said “craving” throwing a dinner party. Am I the only that craves such things? I love the whole process of a dinner party. Mostly planning the menu.. executing the dishes… deciding on my table scape and setting, and getting together with friends… old and new! There is no better way (in my book) to really connect with others than sitting at a table and sharing food together. Bonds and memories are made and cherished forever.
With all that said… I want to share with you all the table I envisioned and put together for my summer BBQ gathering… hoping to inspire some of you.
By the way… I get asked all the time where I got my tables. You can find them HERE.
I love table runners! I have many to suit the mood I want to create for any particular gathering. I wanted a simple black and white look with a touch of color on my table. I realize that usual barbecue dinner decor are full of color… often a lot of red and reflects a country/cowboy look or theme. I like to create the unexpected, while still keeping it casual… elegantly so. By the way.. this particular table runner was made from a curtain panel I found at Anthropologie. I cut it into three parts and made three table runners from one curtain panel. I loved the design… so I got creative!
Here is where the “elegant” part comes in. I visualized my vintage silver candelabras as part of the table to dress it up just a touch. I love things that contrast each other. Rustic/elegance… my fave! Who would expect silver candelabras on a BBQ dinner table? I especially love how they contrast with my rustic wooden table. If I had a table with a fancy finish.. I wouldn’t be able to achieve this look for a casual, outdoor, summer BBQ. By the way… I found these two beauties at an antique store. I love looking for pieces for my tables at antique stores. It’s that whole mixing “old with new” look that I love.
By now.. you probably know my trick to elevate platters and bowls of food on my tables. I have many different cake pedestals and bowls for this purpose alone. And you will love how you will be able to fit so much more food at your table for your “family style” dinners. My favorite way to serve food is having our guests passing platters to one another… builds a stronger connection at the table. Friends become family.
I wanted to add just a touch of color to the table and in this case I wanted pink… another unpredictable color combination for a BBQ. If you use small containers with small openings.. you don’t need a lot of flowers to fill them. I wish I could remember where I found these little “milk bottle” looking glass containers. They are perfect for adding small pops of floral colors to my tables. Simple.. I love simple!
Cut “from the garden” pink roses…. just the touch of color I wanted. The simple look is perfect for a summer BBQ night!
I also have many of you ask where I got my chairs from. I actually have mix.. but my sturdiest and favorite ones are THESE.
I was on the search for black dinner plates forever… until I found these babies. Just the look I was on the hunt for… matte finish.. simple and fits my style. I also fell in love with these patina finished flatware a couple of Christmas’ ago. Perfect for the everyday or dressier look.The little bundle of chamomile flowers tied with jute is the perfect touch of “country” I was going for. I bought a big bouquet of them at Trader Joes for 3.99 and hardly used any for ten place settings. Simple, easy and inexpensive!
And voila… it’s chow time! I know you’re wondering what was on my menu. It was all SO good! My hubby grilled some beautiful Tomahawk steaks (think “Flintstone style” steaks with a HUGE bone that protrudes out from each steak). Talk about presentation! The taste is amazing too.. especially when grilled on our Traeger grill.. so tender and amazing! To complement the steaks, we served grilled corn on the cob (a must for any BBQ!), a new goat cheese and pear bruschetta I’ve created and am in love with, my watermelon, kale and quinoa salad, multigrain sourdough bread (I learned this one in Italy… to die for!), potatoes cooked in duck fat finished with truffle salt and for dessert… the best peach cobbler literally ever, served with some homemade vanilla gelato.
Everything.. the food, the weather, the setting and most of all time with our friends.. was absolute perfection! Can you see why I “crave” throwing parties? Not much can surpass an evening like this. And you too can do this! I promise.. you won’t regret it.. and neither will your friends. Moments and memories are treasures that will be treasured for time without end. Magical I tell you.. just magical.
I live in Southern California and this week we are back up to over 90 degree weather again. And with that warm weather comes flies… UGH! I cannot stand flies! They gross me out beyond words. I love to eat outdoors, but with the flies? No thank you. Well, I have got a great trick for you to make sure you will have a fly free, outdoor dining experience! (For those of you in cold climates, remember this for next summer!)
It is as simple as a heavy duty Ziploc bag and pennies. Sounds crazy I know, but trust me… it works! If you filled a quart sized Ziploc (I use heavy duty freezer ones so the water won’t leak out) bag about 2/3 full with water, add 3-4 pennies (the need to be shiny and newer) and hang the bag outside in the area you want to keep the flies out, it will do just that… keep the flies away. Well… I thought… I could really put this to the test! As you know, I teach cooking classes and in the summertime we take the class outside and grill and dine al fresco. The first year we did this I had to keep the food covered to keep the pesky flies off the food. It was of course a big bother. Then I tried this trick…. I hung about five of them on my back porch around the food and eating tables and …. voila… no flies! It was amazing! I mean seriously amazing!
The food was untouched by anything but humans! It was a glorious night and a glorious finding! There were no flies to be found on or near the tables where we ate either. Isn’t that a beautiful thing?!
So there you go! They may not be the prettiest things, but given the choice of hanging these “not so ideal looking bags” or having flies over everything you bet I choose the bags! I hope to one day find some cute, clear, hanging jars that I can put the pennies in as an alternative. I bet that would work too? No one seems to know for sure why this works but I can tell you from the bottom of my heart that it does! Just make sure to change the bags out with fresh water and pennies every day you plan on eating outdoors. I hope you are loving this tip as much I do!
Update: I put pennies in clear mason jars filled with water and placed them on the table around the food and did not get the best results. I thought that would look a lot better than the Ziploc bags hanging around the table. They did look better.. but we still got flies… so I’m back to using the Ziplock bags. Dang!
Remember me? I haven’t blogged in ages.. but decided it’s time for me to share another passion I have with you all… setting an inviting table. If I have a style… I think is simple/casual elegance. I know… that is two contradicting words.. but I think it is my favorite look. Nothing stuffy… but also not looking thrown together without a thought. I definitely like to set a table that looks inviting… so my guests can’t wait to sit down and enjoy the ambience… in a very casual way.
Today I want to share a table scape that I put together rather quickly for our Sunday dinner this week. So let’s get started.
I started with an old board that was salvaged from an old barn that I bought from my friend Nicole. It looks like nothing yet.. but it will add height, dimension and interest to the over all look. I left the top and bottom of the table open for place settings. If I didn’t need to set plates in those spots, I could use a longer board that would almost reach both ends of the table.
I want to show you the branches I clipped off the tree in my front yard. I love these particular branches because they are somewhat delicate, pliable and I love the small leaves. I placed them in a bucket of water earlier in the day so they wouldn’t dry out and would be ready to go when I need them. Also in the bucket of water are some flowers I clipped off of another bush in my yard. I am often seen clipping branches off common areas in our neighborhood for my table scapes. I used to buy greenery for my tables until one day the light went off in my head when I saw all the beautiful trees and bushes in my yard and common areas. Free is definitely better than paying! I will still buy flowers on occasion for my tables, but I usually clip what I have in my yard.
Lay them over the board with the leaves cascading off of each end of the board. A soft edge is always a nice look.
Another trick I like to do is use cake pedestals to elevate some of the platters of food on my table. This way, you are able to fit more food on the table. In addition.. it really adds to the look of your table and spotlights some of the dishes. I sometimes place the cake pedestals on the board before I lay down the leaves. Instead of the other way around like I did here. Just make sure you drape the branches around the base of the pedestals to create a flowing, uniform look.
If I have a lot of platters and bowls, I also add more little, but sturdy bases to the center of the table such as these wooden bowls that I turned upside down.
Next come the candlesticks. Varying sizes and styles. You don’t have to use candlesticks that all match. That is so 1960’s! I actually prefer a mish mash of styles and sometimes colors. I wanted to keep the look simple so I didn’t add anything else. Remember… the food itself will lend to the decor. They are after all… the star of the show!
If you plan on using any chargers for your place setting… now is the time to set them out. I went for my natural woven chargers. Using chargers doesn’t always have to be for the fancy “La Tee Da” look! What they can do is create more interest to your table for added texture and dimension. You can find these at a lot of stores. Here is a link to ones that are similar and at a much better price!
Closer to dinner time, I will add the flowers. The reason why I wait is so they don’t wilt and shrivel up by the time we sit down for dinner. They add a pop of color…. just what I was looking for!
Last but not least, I set the table. I decide what plates, flatware, cups and napkins I think will go best with the look. Dont’ be afraid to mix metals just like I mixed textures for this table. Pictured here I used the gold toned flatware, candles, and cups but I may add vintage silver water pitchers and serving ware to complete the look. Have fun with your tables. A little effort goes a long way and I know your guests will appreciate it.
I always love the reactions I see and hear when our guests approach the table. That my friends.. sets the tone for the meal and the evening. And guess what? It took very little time to throw this all together.. but that’s just between you and me. My guests probably think I slaved for hours over this look. Who has time for that when you’re cooking a meal? Because… you know… that’s where all my real time goes… in the kitchen… whipping up meals with lots and lots of love. I hope these tips help or inspire you in any way. I will try to blog more of my tables scapes and gatherings. And if you ever have a questions for me.. I will do my best to answer them for you. Happy summer friends.. enjoy your gatherings… it’s the best time of the year for them!