Monthly Archives: January 2012

Foodie Friday/Vendor Spotlight – Creative Edge Parties

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Every now and again, we like to spotlight our favorite vendors.  CEP, founded by my friend Carla Ruben, is, quite simply, in my top 5 of fabulous caterers in this country.  Rocco DiSpirito used to work there.  Rachael Ray’s been in their kitchen.  They cater events for Martha Stewart.  See where I’m going?  They catered pretty much every star-studded event in New York, the Hamptons and beyond.  They play nicely in the sandbox.  I love to hire them.  If you are looking for a caterer, look no further than Creative Edge Parties and tell them I sent you.  And look up my friends George and Libby, as well as Carla.   I cannot WAIT to use them again.

Some gorgeous video of my friends (including George and Carla) at their holiday Frosting Fling:

http://vimeo.com/33810876

And some more video of the CEP folks on hors d’oeuvres with Mo Rocca on The Cooking Channel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8TYMPaquqs

Foodie Friday – We Have a Fabulous Guest Blogger!

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Kitchen To Nirvana – website here, Twitter here (please follow her!) is my BFF, godmother to Ava, wonderful friend since the early 90’s when we both worked in D.C. at the still wonderful Hay-Adams Hotel (site of many a wedding still, with its newly renovated rooftop space – check it out!)

Tabatha used to run wild with me, eating steaks and slurping up pasta, but then turned her life into a quest for health.  I picked up some of it – and I do cook vegetarian dishes a few times a week, continue my yoga and juice, thanks to her.  When we’re together, I eat and cook vegan – and it’s delish.  I draw the line at my shoe collection.  Once a former shopaholic, Tabatha can now be found stylishly rocking her Birks.  I just can’t get there yet.

She’s a yogi, mom to delicious Gabrielito (I’ll post pics), wife to the fabulous John, dog mom to Russ (so sweet) and all-around fabulous girl who lives in a flawless loft in Boston, her adopted town – she’s Peruvian-born and a D.C. girl all the way.  Did I mention she’s an art consultant who has a masters from Harvard?

Tabatha in my kitchen, teaching me her foodini skillz.

In the first of many guest bloggers in the series, I’d like to present to you, Tabatha’s first post here at F4 on fantastic vegan cooking.  Make this dish tonight.  From Tabatha:

Rice Penne With “Cream Sauce” and Squash

Before I became gluten and dairy-free, I would gobble up semolina pasta with cream sauces to the point that I would want to bathe in it because it was all so good.  Those days came to and end but I don’t miss them anyway since now I still get my fix of pasta and cream sauce but without the gluten and without the dairy.  And it tastes just as good if not better.  I would say that this dish fakes it with lots of taste and style!  To fake it well, I found this great nut cream made with almonds and cashews that you can buy at your local natural food store or you can order online.  The cream is called Mimic Cream and I use the plain, unsweetened version for this.  There are different Mimic Creams so buy the one that says you can use it for most recipes that call for cream. If you cannot find it, you can use a vegan creamer that is unsweetened and coconut oil to thicken.  Basically, substitute olive oil in this recipe for refined coconut oil.  The taste with the coconut oil will be richer but still no bad cholesterol.  This particular recipe calls for baked squash and caramelized onions and it makes the dish on the sweeter side but the dry white wine brings the taste to the point of just right.  Think winter comfort pasta with no guilt.

Rice Penne with Cream Sauce and Squash. Credit: Tabatha Flores

8 ounces of brown rice penne pasta (I like the brand Jovial but any will do)

2 cups of cooked, medium diced squash

5 garlic gloves finely chopped

1 large sweet onion thinly sliced

4 tablespoons of dry white wine

2 cups of “cream”

1/4 cup of chopped walnuts for garnish

2 teaspoons of dried oregano for garnish

4 tablespoons of olive oil and the bottle on hand for extra drizzling

Salt and pepper to taste

In a 4- to 6- quart stockpot over high heat, combine water with 1 tablespoon of salt.  Bring water to a boil, add the penne and cook to al dente and according to directions. Do not overcook rice pasta, as it will fall apart more easily than semolina pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, place 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a 1- to 2- quart saucepan, add onions and cook over medium heat until onions are caramelized.  They should be brownish in color and taste mildly sweet when they are done. Turn heat to low.

With your cooking utensil push onions to the side of the pan, place remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the empty side and add the garlic.  Stir garlic quickly so that it softens, allowing for the flavor to come out without burning it.  The reason for adding the garlic last is that garlic is very sensitive to heat and will burn easily.  Therefore, once the onions are cooked you can focus on the garlic just long enough to get the benefits of the taste.  Stir garlic in the small area for about 2 minutes and then mix in with the caramelized onions.  Add wine, turn heat to medium and let mixture simmer for a few seconds and then reduce heat to low again.  Let it cook for 5 minutes to give wine a chance to evaporate. Add cream, let it simmer and immediately begin to whisk gently, off and on, for another ten minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Turn off heat.

When pasta is ready, drain and rinse in cold water. Drain thoroughly. Return pasta to the pot, stir in the cream sauce and then gently fold in squash. Serve immediately with drizzled olive oil on top.  Garnish each plate with chopped walnuts and oregano.  Serves 2-3 as a main meal or 4 as a side dish.  Enjoy and Namaste!

Me, trying my hand at T's rice cappellini, tomatoes, basil & vegan "ricotta".

Hooray for all of you with new hardware. Remember this post?

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I’m talking about this one.  The advice still holds true.  Don’t freak out, look at the trends, study the blogs, call a wedding planner.  Recent celebrity engagements include:

(Rumoured)  Halle Berry and Olivier Martinez – she has always sworn off marrying again, but maybe he can change her mind.  I remember when he was with Kylie Minogue all those years, through her bout with breast cancer.  He’s just gorgeous.  Halle definitely has a thing for the beautiful Frenchmen!  (Side note:  all I can think of is “Unfaithful” when I look at him.  Rent it.  Now.)

(Rumoured)  Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake – well, it’s about time, I suppose.  Remember his geeky denim tuxedo days with Britney?  Oh, Lawd.

Brings us to:  Britney Spears and Jason Trawick.  Anyone who stood by her and saw all the crazy of a few years ago is definitely a keeper.  He seems solid and lovely.  Again, third time’s a charm.

Drew Barrymore and Will Kopelman.  Love that she’s settling down with this dashing art dealer and heir to the Chanel fortune.  The dress will be epic and her 4-carat Graff stunner is a testament to his good taste.

John Legend and Chrissy Teigen – possibly the prettiest couple since Robin Thicke and Paula Patton.  I adore these two together, despite the musician/supermodel cliché.

Matthew McConaughey and Camilla Alves – alright, alright, alright.

Send us a photo of your ring or proposal story to info@dolceparties.com and we’re happy to post it.  Cheers.

Reese Witherspoon Toth's ring, courtesy of Brides.com

 

Bridal Beauty Resolution #1 – Dry Brushing

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No, not your hair, sillies.  Dry body brushing.

Years ago, with no kids and much more time on my hands, I was (and still am, really) a beauty product and regimen addict. I recently resurrected one of these practices, mostly for research purposes and in doing so, realized that dry body brushing is more than just beauty folly.  The health benefits of dry body brushing are legion and, if you will be marching down the aisle this year, it’s a must for glowy skin, which, by the way, is our biggest organ.  So, go beyond your face and neck and think “whole body”.

So, in full disclosure, I actually thought to myself one day “hmmm…what happened to that body brush I had from ______?”  I think it was from The Body Shop or Bath and Body Works.  A quick Google search, and I brushed up (pun intended) on why I had begun the regimen in the first place.  Body brushing not only exfoliates, but it revs up the lymphatic system, improves circulation and blood flow, defeats cellulite, eliminates toxins and helps whatever product you use to sink in more effectively.  A total win.    I wear a lot of black sweaters and darned if I didn’t notice with the winter cold (and dry heat indoors) that errant flakes were adorning my cashmere.   Gross.

So, off to drugstore.com, where I found a terrific body brush.  Now, it’s not for the fainthearted, as it’s a tad painful, like whisking steel wool across your skin.  Start slowly and gently, maybe three times a week pre-shower or bath.  Work in small areas, from the feet up and always brush towards your heart.  Pay extra attention to elbows and knees.   Here’s a good primer from Livestrong.org.   I swear on a stack on Vogues that flakes were a-flying the first time I did it in three years.  And you know what?  One month later and my skin is glowing, soft and noticeably improved in texture.  I usually follow up with some essential oils in the bath and a great body butter like Kiehl’s Creme de Corps, Sephora‘s Body Butter, Chanel No. 5 Body Milk or, a seasonal favorite, Origins’ Ginger Body Soufflé.

So, brush away – your body (and anyone who touches it) will thank you, as will your general health.  And that wedding gown – strapless, backless, plunging – will highlight the gorgeousness of healthy skin.

You can use natural bristle or a loofah-based brush.

Woe is Me Wednesday – Easy Homemade Chicken Soup for the Sickies.

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If you are like most of us, the weather is wreaking havoc on your skin, hair and immune system.  The F4 family is riddled with the cold to end all colds.  What to do?  Homemade chicken soup, just like Bubbe made.  Here’s a quick way to cheat the “from scratch” – don’t ever go for something in a can.  Processed foods bloat, drive up bp and have nasty additives – if you are a bride in training, you certainly don’t need THAT.  And besides that, chicken soup has restorative properties that not even antibiotics can mimic.  Here’s our take:

Cheater Chicken Soup – serves 4

2 boxes of low sodium chicken stock – we like College Inn

1 bay leaf

fresh cracked pepper, to taste

1 cup small pasta – can be orecchiete, ditalini, egg noodles

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1 star anise

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

squeeze of fresh lemon

Optional (if you feel like cooking):  1-2 carrots, sauteed in olive oil to soften beforehand.  Another option:  pick up a cooked rotisserie chicken at the market, shred and add the meat to the broth as well.

Directions:

Take a large saucepan and pour in the low-sodium chicken broth (we call this “cheating” since we aren’t using real chicken bones to make a stock).  Heat on low until simmering.

Add all ingredients, except for the pasta and lemon juice.

Simmer, covered, on low for 20 minutes.

Uncover, add pasta and cook on low for an additional 10 minutes.   Before serving, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Ladle into bowls and enjoy.  If you like, add some red chile flakes, fresh chopped basil or flat leaf Italian parsley.  You can also substitute orzo, broken spaghetti, rice, udon noodles or even barley for the starch.  The flavors will be sharp, mellow and piquant all at once, but you will have made enough delish soup to last the life of your cold.  Slurp.

Show off that engagement ring with 2 FREE Zoya nail enamels. Yes, free.

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An unexpected January beauty freebie.  No strings attached.  Simply go to the Zoya home page, choose 2 of your favorite colors and add them to your shopping cart.  You will only pay shipping at $6.95.  For your coupon code, add ZOYA2012 in that field – and voila!  You have 2 gorgeous new nail lacquers coming your way.

We especially like Dulcinea, a neutral nude-beige with rosy-copper shimmer and Tao, a shimmery metallic grey with a hint of blue.  I’d like to add that whoever gets to name lipsticks and nail colors has the very best job in the world, no?  Now, get those pretty digits typing, as this offer ends at 11:59 PM, EST.

Beautiful Zoya colors.

Happy, healthy 2012 to you all! We are back with stylish vengeance.

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So, who got a shiny new bauble over the holidays?  Keep admiring it and give us a “ring” if you are so inclined.  ♠

We still have to catch up on those promised posts from before the holiday, but it seemed our party schedule kept us away.  We vow that it won’t happen again.  We have a great year in store for all of you planning weddings, parties, dinners and drinks.  Hang with us here or on our other media and we have a new year of deliciousness, gorgeousness, humor, practicality and sparkles planned for you.

So far, we’ve got consultations for 3 D.C. area weddings, 2 Hamptons, 2 Connecticut and one Caribbean destination, so we are busy and happy planners.  We cannot wait to meet all of these stylish girls and their betrotheds.

Before our first post, though, we wanted to let you know that Gilt Groupe is having a sale RIGHT NOW of Thread Social – our favorite bridesmaids’, engagement party and special event dresses.  Please accept our invitation to enjoy this fantastic sale – GO!  Click here: http://www.gilt.com/invite/lseccuro

See you in a few – and on Wedding Wednesday, we’ll review the best and worst of 2011 celebrity wedding details – cannot wait.

 

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