The Hip Hostess

Menus, tips and ideas for hosting with style!

Flower Gift Tags {Mother’s Day ideas} May 6, 2012

DIY mother's day flowers

Use leftover gift tags to hang a sweet note on a homemade Mother’s Day bouquet.  Write a little note and tie it to one of the flowers in your arrangement for a pretty little detail that mom is sure to appreciate.  Happy Mother’s Day!


Asparagus with Hazelnut Dressing May 6, 2011

This is, hands down, my favorite asparagus recipe.  I love the tender stalks after they’ve been peeled and blanched, and the crunchy hazelnut dressing adds a nice contrast in texture.  Serve this dish as a side at brunch, lunch or dinner.  It’s great when served with roasted or grilled meat.  You can make the asparagus a few hours ahead, along with the vinaigrette – just store them separately until ready to serve.

Asparagus with Hazelnut Dressing

1 medium shallot, minced

2 Tbs. red wine vinegar

1 Tbs. Dijon mustard

½ tsp. agave nectar or honey

1/3 C. olive oil

½ C. skinned hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and stalks peeled

1.            Fill a bowl with ice and cold water to make a water bath.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  While waiting for water to boil, trim asparagus spears to where they snap when bent.  Place trimmed asparagus in boiling water for 1 minute, or until bright green and slightly tender.  Immediately plunge asparagus into water bath to stop cooking.  Once cooled, remove asparagus and refrigerate until ready to use.

2.            In a medium bowl, whisk together shallot, vinegar, mustard, agave and oil.  Stir in hazelnuts.  Drizzle dressing over asparagus.  Serve at room temperature.


Party in the Garden July 1, 2010

Host a garden party with ideas from my July 2010 column on The Family Groove.


Make-ahead Spring Brunch April 2, 2010

Check out my April 2010 column on The Family Groove for a make-ahead spring brunch menu.


Mint Vinaigrette

A mild, minty vinaigrette is the perfect dressing for a light spring salad.  You won’t be overwhelmed by the mint – its a slightly tangy, creamy vinaigrette that won’t overpower the taste of other salad ingredients.  I like to use this dressing on a salad tossed with mango, red peppers, toasted macadamia nuts and goat cheese.  That exact salad is on my menu for Easter brunch this year.

Don’t save this dressing for salad – it’s great on fish or lamb too, and adds a pretty touch of spring to your plate.

Mint Vinaigrette

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup mint leaves, tightly packed
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. Agave nectar (or honey)
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
fresh ground pepper, to taste

In a large food processor, blend the oil and mint until well combined.  Add the remaining ingredients and blend until fully combined.  Maked about 1 cup of dressing and can be stored for up to 3 days.


Mother Nature Inspired Mother’s Day Menu May 9, 2009

spring farmer's market, rhubarb

Still looking for ideas for a Mother’s Day fete?  Throw a “mother nature” inspired dinner party by using spring’s bounty as the basis for your menu.  Hit your local farmer’s market or look for locally grown produce at your regular grocery store.  All of these recipes can be made year-round, but using seasonal/ local ingredients will up the “wow” factor in the flavor department.

This menu is fairly simple, even for a novice host/ hostess.  Several components of this menu can be made in advance to streamline your cooking schedule and minimize your cooking time during the party.  Make the spiced nuts up to 2 weeks in advance; the dip, oven dried tomatoes and biscuits for the cobbler can be made up to 2 days in advance; the wheatberry salad can be made 2 days before the party (wait to toss the greens with the dressing until you are ready to serve), and the popover batter and basil pea puree can be made up to 8 hours in advance.  Set our your crudites, dip and nuts while you sear the scallops, heat the pea puree and bake the popovers.  Put your cobbler in the oven when you sit down for dinner and it will be bubbly and perfect by the time you are ready for dessert.  


Mother Nature’s Spring Menu

Crudités (blanched asparagus, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, etc.) with Creamy Dill Dip
Maple Spiced Nuts
Wheatberry Salad with Arugula, Goat Cheese and Green Olives
Seared Scallops over Basil Pea Puree with Oven Dried Tomatoes
Herb Popovers
Mango Rhubarb Cobbler



  • Look for some interesting vegetable varieties, such as candy stripe radishes and purple carrots to serve with your dip
  • Unless you love shelling fresh peas, using frozen peas for the basil-pea puree is perfectly fine (the peas are flash frozen and, unlike other frozen vegetables, the flavor is not compromised by the freezing process) 
  • If you don’t have time to make the Maple Spiced Nuts buy some nice flavored nuts and set those out instead
  • Substitute good quality bread for the herb popovers if you aren’t up for baking
  • If you don’t have time to make the cobbler, buy or bake vanilla cupcakes, top with vanilla frosting and garnish with organic edible flowers for a simply beautiful spring dessert


Mother’s Day Brunch Menu May 9, 2008

Your mom is sure to be pleased with this refreshing, hip and healthy brunch menu.  This menu is also perfect for a baby or bridal shower brunch/ lunch.  I will post some of the recipes later today and tomorrow.

A few notes:

  • Neufatchel cheese is similar to cream cheese but is naturally lower in fat and its velvety texture makes it more spreadable.  You can substitute low fat cream cheese if you can’t find Neufatchel cheese at your grocery store (it should be next to the cream cheeses).
  • Serve the mini granola parfaits as a fun “appetizer” while you put the finishing touches on the main dishes.  Is will tame the appetite of anyone who skipped breakfast in anticipation of your delicious brunch.
  • To make brunch more casual I usually set up a buffet for the food and a small beverage station (use a tray to hold stacked mugs, glasses, small spoons, milk and sugar) with pitchers of water, juice and a carafe of coffee.  

Brunch Menu


Yogurt parfaits with homemade granola 

Crustless spinach quiche

Mini bagels with chive Neufatchel cheese

Spring greens with caramelized walnuts and goat cheese

Whole wheat raspberry banana bread


Pomegranate mimosas

Sparkling orange juice





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