The Hip Hostess

Menus, tips and ideas for hosting with style!

Graduation Cupcakes May 20, 2013


Graduation cake ideas

I am loving these graduation cupcakes that my hip sister had made for my niece’s high school graduation party.  The adorable graduation caps and tassels match the school colors and theme for the party.  Cupcakes are great for a party where guests will be stopping by at different times; no need to wait around until the cake is cut to enjoy dessert.  Hats off to all the grads!


Hip Find: Charming French Bow Stationary January 10, 2013

french ribbon Personalized Stationery bridal shower bridesmaids gift

I am loving these charming notecards from Minted (design by Emily Ranneby).  They would make a great hostess gift, bridal shower shower gift, thank you gift for bridesmaids, or a little something for your valentine.  Personalize them with the recipient’s name; the French text – which translates to “just a little note” – comes standard on each card.  They are dubbed as “children’s stationary” but I think they’re sophisticated enough for adult notecards (if you aren’t French, it seems silly to have a French saying on a child’s stationary unless they listened to Rosetta Stone in utero).

Paris + Vintage Ribbon Stationary – $35 for 15 notecards.


Roasted Fennel with Parmesan Vinaigrette January 5, 2013

roasted fennel recipe winter side dish appetizer elegant valentines day menu


I created this recipe for Vegetarian Times (1 food, 5 ways: fennel, March 2012).  Roasting fennel concentrates its natural sweetness and mellows out the licorice flavor.  A sprinkling of Parmesan gives it a crunchy crust, while the tender center of the fennel pieces melt in your mouth.  This makes a lovely winter starter or side dish – especially for braised or roasted meat.  Of all the fennel recipes that I made for family and friends to taste-test while developing the fennel recipes for Vegetarian Times, this one was the favorite.
Roasted Fennel with Parmesan Vinaigrette


3 medium fennel bulbs, quartered

1/8 cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbs.)

1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 Tbs. red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 425˚F. Coat rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan with cooking spray.

2. Blend oil, garlic, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in food processor until smooth.  Toss fennel with oil mixture and Parmesan in large bowl until coated.

3.  Place fennel on prepared baking sheet, and roast 35-40 minutes, or until tender and outer edges are golden brown.


Serves 4

Photo credit: Vegetarian Times


Smokey Carrot Mac and Cheese Bites December 29, 2012

Filed under: Appetizers,Halloween,Main Course,New Years Eve,Recipes,Vegetarian — hiphostess @ 8:00 am

bite size appetizer recipe carrot mac and cheese healthy kids

I came across a recipe for Carroty Mac and Cheese by Melissa Clark and thought it would make a great addition to the make-ahead kids menu rotation.  It’s such a great recipe that I played around with different cheeses and adding some Siracha for heat and have come up with a great retro, comfort food appetizer by cutting the casserole into bite-size squares.  This recipe is highly adaptable – make it with whatever cheese you have laying around.  I like to use up leftover smaller pieces of smoked gouda, aged goat and others by shredding them and mixing them all together.  It creates a complex flavor that is far more sophisticated than the standard mac and cheese.  I’ve also made this with gluten-free (brown rice) pasta and didn’t miss the wheat at all.

smokey mac and cheese recipe

Bake this recipe in two baking dishes to make the casserole thinner and easier to cut into small squares.  Wait for the casserole to cool before cutting it into pieces if you plan to serve it as bite-size appetizers – it will give you cleaner lines like the ones I made pictured above. When making this for a family meal, bake the mac and cheese in one 16″ baking dish for thick, hearty pieces.


Smokey Carrot Mac and Cheese

12oz whole wheat elbow macaroni

2 1/2 cups coarsely grated carrot (about 3 large)

3 cups grated cheese (smoked Gouda, cheddar, pepper jack, etc.)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

6oz fat free (0%) Greek yogurt (such as Fage)

1/4 cup whole milk

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 Tbs. Siracha

3/4 teaspoon mustard powder

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400°F and grease 16-inch rectangular baking pan. Arrange a rack in the top third of the oven.

2. Cook macaroni according to package instructions in a large pot of heavily salted boiling water; add carrot 3 minutes before pasta is finished cooking; drain well.

3. While pasta is hot, stir in all but 1/2 cup of the cheese and the butter. In a bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, eggs, salt, mustard powder, and pepper. Fold mixture into the pasta.

4. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar and the Parmesan over the top. Bake until the casserole is firm to the touch and golden brown, about 30 minutes.


Hip Find: Fire It Up with an Instant Fireplace DVD December 17, 2012

kitschy holiday gift ideas stocking stuffer winter

My husband made such fun of me when I came home a few winters ago with a fireplace DVD.  We live in NYC with no fireplace in our current apartment, and I thought it would add a cozy feel to a holiday dinner party.  While my friends also made fun of me when they first saw the faux fire, we all sat around the “fire” late into the night drinking, talking and watching the flames.  Two of my friends went out and bought the DVD the next day; now I can make fun of them as well.  It’s definitely kitschy, but who doesn’t love a little kitsch for the holidays?

I have the Fantastic Instant Fireplace DVD, and there are several other fireplace DVDs available on Amazon (including high definition, etc.).


Hip Finds: “Hip”ster Holiday Gifts December 13, 2012

I’m not cool enough to understand the mustache trend, but I am hip enough to know it’s cool.  Here are some fun gift ideas for the hipsters in your life, or even just the mustached men in the fam. 

mustache mens gift ideas christmas

I heart mustache sweater at GreenFlea Market in Manhattan (W. 76th & Columbus Ave., Sundays 10am-5:30pm); Mustache ornament from J. Bee Designs, $15; Mustache Pint Glass from Bread and Badger, $10 each; Mustache wrapping paper from Ruff House Art.


Baked Sweet Potato Falafel December 11, 2012

healthy cocktail party appetizer

My crop-share doled out a ton of huge sweet potatoes this fall and I was in need of an appetizer to serve a crowd.  Scrolling through Pinterest for ideas, I came across a pin for a baked sweet potato falafel from the Leon Cookbook featured on 101 Cookbooks.  I doubled the recipe and added a yogurt sauce to complete the dish (as my husband would say, isn’t everything better with a dipping sauce?!?).  These baked mounds of goodness are topped with sesame seeds to make up for the crunch lost from baking instead of frying.  This recipe is now in my regular weeknight rotation, but is tasty enough to serve as a cocktail party appetizer.

Baked Sweet Potato Falafel

2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 ½ pounds total)
2 small cloves of garlic

1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 ½  teaspoons ground coriander

½ bunch fresh cilantro

Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup chickpea flour

Olive oil

Small handful sesame seeds

1 tsp. Kosher salt + more for yogurt sauce

fresh-ground black pepper, to taste

1 (6oz) container Greek yogurt (such as Fage 0%)

To make the falafel:

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Wrap pierce sweet potatoes several times with a knife, then wrap each potato in tinfoil.  Place wrapped potatoes on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Roast until just tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Let potatoes cool, then peel them and discard the skin.

2.  Mince garlic in the bowl of a large food processor, then add sweet potato flesh, cumin, coriander, cilantro, ½ lemon juice, chickpea flour, 1 Tablespoon salt and pepper.  Blend until smooth, with no large lumps.  Refrigerate mixture for about an hour, giving it time to firm up.  The mixture should be sticky rather than really wet.  Add a additional chickpea flour, 1 Tablespoon at a time, if necessary (the water content of sweet potatoes varies).

3.  Reheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  Using a spring-loaded scoop or a couple of soup spoons (scoop up a heaping spoonful of mixture in one spoon and use the concave side of the other to shape the sides), make the mixture into balls and place on prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for 15 minutes, or until the bottoms are slightly golden brown and the balls are firm to the touch (but not hard – they should give a little).  Serve in whole wheat pita with yogurt sauce.

To make the yogurt sauce:

Combine yogurt, remaining ½ lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl.  Serve with falafel.

Serves 4-6 (makes about 18 falafels)


Hip Find: Dripless Honeycomb Beeswax Hanukkah Candles December 10, 2012

hostess gift hanukah party

I am loving my dripless beeswax Hanukkah candles.  They remind me of the ones I used to make as a kid in Hebrew school, only sturdier. These candles are made of honeycomb beeswax sheets that are rolled tight around a wick, in an array of rainbow colors.  They come in a nice wooden box that protects them during storage, and are individually wrapped.  They didn’t last very long (about 30 minutes), but they burn beautifully.  Probably a little late for you to buy for this year, but they would make a nice hostess gift for a Hanukkah party for the hosts to save for next year.


Hip Tip: Clean Sweep Your Bathroom Before Parties November 30, 2012

modern bathroom with mosaic tile band

This isn’t a glamorous or creative tip, but it’s a very practical one that many people overlook when entertaining.  Do a sweep of your bathroom the day of your party to stash anything you wouldn’t want your guests to see.  Check your medicine cabinet, under your sink and empty the bathroom garbage right before guests arrive.  I don’t think most people purposely snoop in your bathroom, but looking for the spare roll of toilet paper or a feminine product may lead to an embarrassing discovery.  Your friends would likely rather not find something so personal, so do them a favor and stash it in the back of your linen closet or another discreet place.

If you’re curious, that is my bathroom pictured above.


Gluten-Free Banana, Carrot & Date Muffins November 24, 2012

gluten-free whole-grain healthy quick breakfast recipe

These muffins are just what you need after several days of indulging.  They’re packed with fiber and contain no added sugar.  They’re also satisfying without causing a blood sugar spike or craving for additional sweets.  I found this recipe while searching on Pinterest for gluten-free muffins.  I have a few almond flour-based muffins that I make (including the Gluten-Free Blueberry Almond Muffins that are in the regular rotation), but was out of blueberries and looking for a new recipe to try.  A variation of this recipe was developed by Heidi Swanson over at 101 cookbooks (fruit-sweetened carrot cake), and was later made gluten-free by the skilled baker over at Elena’s Pantry.


These gluten-free muffins taste like a cross between a bran muffin and unfrosted carrot cake.  They’re very moist, slightly sweet and definitely taste whole-grain (which I like).  These muffins work well with a healthy brunch menu and any leftovers are a great on-the-go breakfast or snack.


Gluten-Free Banana, Carrot & Date Muffins


2 cup almond flour (such as Trader Jo’s almond meal)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 cup dates, pitted

3 medium ripe bananas

3 eggs

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

¼ cup coconut oil, melted

1 ½ cups shredded carrots


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine almond flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Combine wet ingredients (dates, bananas, eggs, vinegar and oil) in bowl of food process until smooth.  Transfer wet ingredients to the large bowl with the dry ingredients.  Stir until well combined.  Fold in carrots.


2.  Spoon batter into muffin tins lined with paper liners, filling about 3/4 full.  Bake about 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack and store in air-tight container for up to 4 days.

Makes about 12 muffins



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