Tuesday, September 29, 2009

EASY Fall Entertaining and Decorating

Fall is a great time to kick off entertaining season! There are so many fun themes... Halloween, Thanksgiving, Tailgating, Harvest, and so on! I recently hosted an Open House to share my ideas for "Easy Fall Entertaining and Decorating" benefiting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

We began with a SIMPLE MENU... cheese and fruit tray with crackers, Layered Santa Fe Dip with chippies was the big hit of the day, veggies with Tuscan Garlic Bacon Dip, and Tuscan Garlic Kabobs!

For dessert was my Cappuccino Mousse Cheese ball rolled in mini chocolate chips and served with graham crackers... tasted like Chocolate Chip Cappuccino Cheesecake, but soooo easy!!

Decorating the table was fun. And of course tons of candlelight for ambiance!

And of course Fall would not be complete without giving thanks for all of the blessing God has given us!

Thanks to all of my wonderful customers who made this event so much fun and successful! Not only that, but we raised over $500 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Birthday Celebration - Luau Style

Birthday's should be special and for my daughter's b-day, she wanted to celebrate "Luau Style"! Of course the main attraction, her fav... "Strawberry Sunshine Sippers"!! The food was kept simple because the focus was on fun... tie-dyed t-shirts, "pin the coconut on the palm tree", Hawaiian dance contest, and lots of giggles! When doing a theme, have your kids help you find theme items around the house... make it a scavenger hunt! Here we used seashells from vacations, a beach matt, shovels and pails, anything that was free!
We had to have veggies ...

New twist... "Turkey on a Towel" ..lol!

Even Duke enjoyed the festivities! Have FUN when you celebrate! Every day should be special, but birthdays should be a BLAST!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dessert Parties

Delicious Dessert Party

  • Gather the girls for a relaxing, enjoyable, calorie-rich night (or afternoon) in!
  • Ask guests to serve their favorite treat and bring copies of the recipes to share.
  • Who wants to crank up the oven in August? No thanks! Let Entertaining at Home’s a la carte desserts do the heavy lifting. Contact me to learn about our Tiramisu Dessert and other delicious mixes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Edible Centerpieces

With summer comes fresh veggies and fruits galore! Why not showcase these at your next gathering with edible centerpieces? They are festive, fun, colorful, and delicious...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kitchen Remodel

Many of you have requested pics from the kitchen remodel we did to our home. What an experience! Not in our original plan, but appliances didn't function and well, one thing led to another. Before we knew it, we were gutting the whole thing! Have to say... we love it! Robert, the kids and I all enjoy it!


Spring Flower Arrangments

Nothing says "spring" in Chicago like fresh cut flowers from my garden. . .

3 elements create harmony and balance in floral arranging: height, texture, and color.

Vary Height by selecting different size containers and flowers.
Mixing textures of metal, glass, and flowers creates varying textures... add in some other natural elements such as stones, moss, and varying flowers.
Of course you have to add candle light to create ambiance... it completes the total picture...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Simple Changes = BIG Impact

If you've been to my decorating workshops, you've heard me say... "3 simple keys to decorating... height, texture, and color!" Here are a few examples of combining these elements. I'll share before and after pictures so you can see what I mean...


This project began with a client who wanted to "update" her living room. Notice that before everything seems "lost" in the room. We purchased a new sofa, rug, and added window treatments as well as a few accessories to take advantage of the height of this room.

Here we drew the eye up by adding window treatments with color and texture. Lamps add height to the area behind the sofa while creating ambiance with lighting.

Healthy and Quick Recipe

I wanted to share this treasure that I found several years ago in Food &Wine magazine... Scallop, Corn, and Basil Hobo Packets. YUMMERS!! And it's healthy and best of all very easy to clean up!! Don't like scallops? No worries, substitute any fish or chicken!

Using foil pouches, or hobo packs, is a fabulous way to grill seafood and sliced or cubed meat, because it allows food to steam in its own juices. Without any extra effort, you've got a naturally rich-tasting sauce.

Wine: Pair with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, with its characteristic tartness, will provide a refreshing contrast to the sweet scallops and their basil-scented sauce. Try the 2002 Grove Mill or the 2002 Firstland.

Scallops, Corn and Basil Steamed in Foil* can sub any fish or chicken for scallops... also shake it up... use any veggie, herb, or I even made with my Tuscan Garlic dip mix!

Recipe by Marcia Kiesel

  • Fast
  • Healthy


  1. 3/4 cup dry white wine
  2. 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  3. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  4. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  5. 2 1/4 pounds sea scallops
  6. 36 cherry tomatoes (from 2 pints), halved
  7. 3 cups baby spinach (2 ounces)
  8. 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  9. 3/4 cup chopped basil
  10. Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Light a grill. Cut six 18-by-20-inch pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil. In the center of each piece of aluminum foil, combine 2 tablespoons of the white wine with one-sixth of the sliced shallots, 1 piece of butter and 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Top with the scallops, followed by the tomatoes, spinach, corn and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the sides of the foil together and fold to form neat rectangles.
  2. Grill the foil packs over a medium-hot fire until steam inflates them and you hear the juices bubbling, about 10 minutes. Carefully open the foil packs to let the steam escape, then transfer the scallops, vegetables and their broth to shallow soup bowls and serve immediately.


    One Serving: 297 cal, 10.6 gm fat, 3.3 gm saturated fat, 16 gm carb, 3 gm fiber.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Freshly Picked Spring Colors

As an interior decorator I always heard from clients that selecting fabrics that "blend" was an impossible task! Coordinating fabrics is easy when you use resources for inspiration, such as House Beautiful and Veranda magazines. Enjoy spring all year round with fabrics from Antonia Hutt and see more ideas.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Aspen's Cream Corn

Yummo as Rachel Ray would say! Nothing healthy about this recipe, but every time I make it, I'm asked for the recipe... Thanks to my waiter in Atlanta Aspen's restaurant who shared the recipe with me prior to our move! 
3 Ears of yellow corn cooked or grilled & cut off the cob
3 Ears of cream corn cooked or grilled & cut off the cob
1 clove of garlic - minced
1 shallot - chopped fine
3 strips cooked bacon
1 jalapeno pepper - chopped fine
salt n pepper
1/2 stick of butter
Heavy cream

I adjusted the recipe some by dicing cold bacon and cooking it then reserving some of the drippings (for chicken and dumplings later), remove bacon, then in the same pan, melt butter, saute garlic, shallot, and pepper. Add bacon and corn and heat. Add heavy cream S&P to taste. Serve in my Taste of Home Entertaining Soup Tureen that has already been warmed in the oven. The golden color of the corn looks scrumptious in the chocolate colored dish! ENJOY!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring Themes - Think "Green"

There are so many theme ideas for Springtime that are beautiful. Here is one that may be a little different than you might typically think for Spring... a "green theme" with natural colors and textures. I recently participated in our area Presbyterian Women's Dinner and Event and decided to decorate our table using this theme.

* use "natural elements and colors. Spring doesn't have to mean pastels!
* turn placemats on a diagonal
* Has anyone heard me say height is important to creating a beautiful table... hmmm... Hurricane on top of cakestand and used it as a vase for "natural seasonal centerpiece" - pussywillow.
* be creative with napkin rings. Here we were giving each guest a gift. I chose a cross that incorporated my natural theme with iron and stonelike cross.
* add "sparkle" with touch that reflect theme. Here I chose moss, river rock, birdsnests, and vine balls.
* tuck battery operated candles under moss in votives... again lighting created ambiance!

Let me know what you think...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Girls Night "IN"

It is interesting that during tough economic times, people stay in more and entertain in their homes. I love that as a consultant with Entertaining at Home, I get to offer girls an excuse to "get away from it all". We laugh, shop, eat, drink, and share a passion for entertaining and creating warm homes where we can celebrate family and friends! Call me today if you want to schedule your own FUN Girl's Night/Day In! 630.898.4582! Better yet, join my team and discover why we are one of the fastest growing Direct Sales companies in America visit www.creativeparties.eahweb.com to learn more!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Spring Celebrations

Spring Celebration

(Perfect for Easter, Confirmation, Mother’s Day, Bridal Showers)

Brunch Menu:
• Entertaining at Home Virgin Strawberry Daiquiris & Coffee
• Classic Mandarin Orange Salad
• Individual Spinach and Bacon Quiches
• Ham and Cheese Puff Pie

• Chicken Salad
• Entertaining at Home Rosemary Olive Bread

• Entertaining at Home Tiramisu Mousse and Cappuccino Mousse

Visit my blog for recipes http://michelleentertains.blogspot.com/

Party Strategy:
• Make the Daiquiri mix ahead up to two days. Store in refrigerator.
• Chicken salad and desserts can be cooked day before
• Brunch takes the place of two meals – breakfast and lunch – so plan for somewhere
between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM.
• The party mood should be slow and conversational.
• Play jazz music softly in the background.
• Even though it’s daytime, light lots of candles.

Serving Tips:
• Strawberry Daiquiri no alcohol w/ cut fresh strawberries: Serve in Swirl Pitcher & Tuscan Goblets.
• Coffee: Place tea light under Beverage Server and place brewed coffee inside.
• Classic Mandarin Orange Salad: Display in Italian Stitch Large Bowl

• Ham & Cheese Puff Pie, Sausage and Bacon: Display on Tuscan Sage Elevated Platter

• Chicken Salad: Display on Kensington Appt. Set (flipped over like a cake plate w/ Gramercy Ribbon Platter

• EAH Ala Carte Rosemary Olive Bread with Tuscan Garlic Butter (made w/ our mix)

• Desserts- EAH Tiramisu Mousse w/ shaved Chocolate in Chocolate Cups & EAH Cappuccino Mousse in Pastry Shells topped w/ raspberries.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Entertaining Tips for Special Celebrations

  • The No. 1 tip is prepare, prepare, prepare. Do as much as you can in advance.
  • KISS - Keep It Simple Sweetie - We want to avoid embarrassing food catastrophes. Stick to what you know will work when cooking for company. If you want to try something new, have a "rehearsal dinner" for your family the week before.
  • Candles, candles, candles!You can never have too many. Have them at varying heights for a buffet. But always be safe. Candles inside hurricanes or globes are best
  • Atmosphere is everything and lighting is a big part of that. Add dimmer switches to other rooms besides than the dining room to create wonderful mood lighting.
  • Have your music selected in a stack in advance or in a multi-disc player.
  • Napkins are more than just functional. Learn a new napkin fold for an elegant table accent. Be creative and use what you have to create interesting napkin rings - leaves, pinecones, small ornaments as accents. Write your guests names on these and use as place cards.
  • Get your children to help out by serving food or checking coats. They feel a part of the fun!
  • For a more interesting table, use usual things in unusual ways such as a sombrero to hold chips, a birdhouse feeder to hold napkins, and clay pots to hold bread.
  • Enjoy yourself! If you're calm, relaxed and having a good time, your guests are likely to, too.
  • For smaller gatherings, it's nice to send your guests home with a memento of the evening. A recipe attached to a main ingredient of the meal or an dip mix in a small bowl tied with ribbon are thoughtful gifts.
  • Use presentations such as posting the evening's menu.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Spring Entertaining Inspiration - Brunch

Theme and Motivation:
Holiday Morning Brunch Menu:
• Bloody Marys and Coffee
• Classic Mandarin Orange Salad
• Individual Spinach and Bacon Quiches
• Ham and Cheese Puff Pie
• Sausage and Bacon
• Peach Streusel Coffee Cake
Click here for recipes

Party Strategy:
• Make the Bloody Mary mix ahead up to two days. Store in refrigerator.
• Sausage, bacon and coffee cake can be cooked day before and re-heated.
• Brunch takes the place of two meals – breakfast and lunch – so plan for somewhere
between 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM.
• The party mood should be slow and conversational.
• Play holiday music softly in the background.
• Even though it’s daytime, light lots of candles.

Serving Tips: To order any of the items below, click here.
• Bloody Marys: Serve in Tuscan Goblets.
• Coffee: Place tea light under Beverage Server and place brewed coffee inside.
• Classic Mandarin Orange Salad: Display in Kensington Serving Bowl and serve in Swirl Dessert Bowls
• Ham and Cheese Puff Pie, Sausage and Bacon: Display on Platinum Nights Holiday
Platter, serve on Platinum Nights Holiday Plates
• Peach Streusel Coffee Cake: Display on Platinum Nights Holiday Plate, serve on
Swirl Plates

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's Winter - Time to Host a PARTY - FIESTA Style

It may be cold outside, but don't hibernate!! It's the perfect time to invite your friends over for a casual get together.

Motivation and Theme: Mexican Medley Menu:
• Sangria - my new mix is delicious and simple!! No need for multiple liquors that can break the bank! Use one bottle of inexpensive wine!
• Sante Fe Dip and Chips & Pico de Gallo with Serrano Peppers
• Tossed Salad with Guacamole Dressing
• Enchilada Casserole
• Smoked Shrimp Quesadillas with Guacamole

Party Strategy:
• Go south-of-the-border with this party, from the drinks to the appetizers to the main course and the dessert.
• For world travelers (actual or armchair) and friends with adventuresome palates, a hot and spicy menu can be a real treat.
• If one of your guests plays the guitar, ask him or her to bring it along to accompany a folk-song fest.
• Guacamole, sangria, santa fe dip, and enchilada casserole can be made up to two days ahead.

Table Tips:
• Use the colors of the Mexican flag, red, bright green and white as your base. Add other bright colors as well.
• Feature a big basket of Mexican paper flowers as decoration. Make them easily by using sheets of red, pink and orange tissue paper folded lengthwise to a width of about 2 inches - Then roll
them loosely, snail fashion. Pin them at the bottom and fluff out into petals. This is a fun way to get your kids involved... let them help!
• You can get lots of inexpensive Mexican accompaniments to sprinkle your table with at local dollar stores and party shops. Sombreros make fun baskets to hold chips or paper products. Wrap paper napkins around plastic silverware... tie up with some raffia!

Pico de Gallo with Serrano Peppers
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
1 large red onion, finely chopped
3 Serrano peppers, finely chopped
1 lb. tomatoes, diced
3 limes, juice only
½ tsp. chopped garlic
Salt, pepper and cumin to taste
1. Mix all ingredients together. Set for one hour and then re-season to taste.
2. Serve with tortilla chips Serves 6-8

Tossed Salad with Guacamole Dressing
2 heads lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
2 oranges, pared and sectioned
1 C sliced radishes
½ C chopped green pepper


2 avocados, peeled and pitted
1 medium onion and 1 green chili pepper, diced
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. coarsely grated black pepper
Mayonnaise to get correct consistency
1. Beat avocados, onion, chili pepper, lemon juice, salt and pepper until creamy. Spoon into dish. Spread top with thin layer of mayonnaise. Cover and chill. Stir gently just before tossing with salad.

Enchilada Casserole
1 ½ lbs. lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (15 ½ oz) refried beans
1 C extra virgin olive oil
12 fresh or frozen tortillas
1 tomato, peeled and chopped
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper

Cheese Sauce:
¼ C butter
¼ C flour
¾ C sliced pitted
ripe olives
¼ tsp. paprika
2 C. whole milk
1 can (15 oz) enchilada sauce
½ tsp. salt
4 drops hot sauce
1 ½ C shredded natural cheddar cheese
1. Cook and stir ground beef and onion until done. Stir in beans, salt and pepper. In another skillet, heat oil; quickly dip each tortilla in oil just until softened.
2. Place 1/3 C meat mixture into each tortilla; top with chopped tomato and roll tightly.
3. Arrange tortillas seam side down in Gramercy Casserole Dish. Pour cheese sauce over tortillas.
4. Bake uncovered 20-25 minutes. Garnish with olives.
5. For cheese sauce, melt butter over low heat. Blend in flour and seasonings. Cook over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in milk and enchilada sauce. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Add olives, hot sauce and cheese. Heat until melted and blended.

Smoked Shrimp Quesadillas with Guacamole

6 flour tortillas
2 tbsp. sundried tomatoes
3 tbsp. roasted, diced poblano peppers
6 tbsp. goat cheese
12 smoked shrimp
2 tbsp. minced herbs (coriander, Italian parsley)
6 tbsp. shredded mozzarella
1. Spread 1 tbsp. of goat cheese over each tortilla.
2. Sprinkle 1 ½ tbsp. of mozzarella over half of each tortilla.
3. Add peppers, shrimp (two on each), sundried tomatoes, and herbs (one tsp. per tortilla).
4. Add the remaining mozzarella (1 ½ tbsp. on each tortilla).
5. Fold each in half. Grill until the inside is hot and outside is lightly browned and crisp. Serve
with Guacamole.

6 avocados
2 jalapeno peppers
1 red onion, chopped
1 tomato, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs. cilantro
1 red bell pepper
3 limes
1 tsp. garlic
Cumin to taste
1. Finely chop jalapeno, onions, tomato, bell peppers and cilantro. Add ripe avocados and mash with potato masher.
2. Add lime juice and seasonings. Let sit one hour. Serves 6

Click here to see ideas