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EVERYDAY entertaining


A Restaurant where You Make Your Own Pancakes

make your own pancakes at slappy cakes

make your own pancakes at slappy cakes

If you do not like your pancakes, you will only have you to blame at Slappy Cakes. Each table features a built-in griddle. They bring you the batter, fruits and other accompaniments. They offer a variety of batter options, including buttermilk, buckwheat, vegan and gluten-free. Some of the berries and fruits are grown on their own courtyard garden. Slappy Cakes is located in Portland, Oregon.

If you live too far, you can borrow the concept for your next brunch. Make sure to have access to several crepe makers. The best crepe model is a large round griddle. I use two crepe pans but a stove pan is not practical for a cook-it-yourself party. This one, the CucinaPro 1448 12 Inch Griddle & Crepe Maker, has excellent reviews on Amazon and it is $42.

+ Slappy Cakes
+ via Springwise


A Wonderful Birthday Wishes Video

happy birthday video by kc and sara

We are not always able to be with our love one for a birthday or the holiday. But with video on the Web, it is easy to send them very personal wishes. Look at this couple did for the birthday of one of their friend. They recreate a birthday at their home. Imagine receiving a video where your friends took the time to decorate their apartment and bake a birthday cake for you. It is adorable! Watch it!

+ via Party Perfect


Entertaining Essentials at IKEA

casually modern tabletop for a fondue meal at ikea

The easier road for stress-free entertaining is to equip yourself with versatile tableware. Casual chic tabletop is what most people are aiming for these days. After all, you celebrate amongst close friends and family. As I shopped at IKEA yesterday, I took pictures of tableware that delivers that spirit. I spotted affordable tableware that you will be able to use over and over.

The first thing that caught my eyes was this tabletop set for a fondue meal. Blue is popular at IKEA this season. I would serve water in turquoise patterned SNÄLL narrow tall glasses for a change. And you do not have to invest in RIEDEL wine glasses with the SKIR glasses. It definitely not the same quality but you get the look.

ikea dinera collection

Then, I pay attention to the Dinera collection. Guys will love the blue-grey and the brown colors. I like the fact that plates come in many formats. You could mix colors or mix all solids with the ones with a white interior. I am partial to tableware with a white interior because typically food looks more appetizing against a white backdrop.

ikea small charmol bowls and pokal glasses

For entertaining, I keep a stack of tiny bowls for individual serving or to serve sauces. Believe me, they can transform a table. I bought a pack of small POKAL glasses for serving affogato. The POKAL  glasses are suitable for hot and cold liquids. You could get two sets: one to drink espresso and the other ones to serve your dessert. Keep in mind that the grey Dinera espresso cups and saucers (second picture) will look better, if you are willing to spend more.

If you are curious, I bought the small and the tall POKAL glasses, the big VÄNLIG glasses plus a few Christmas decorations and napkins.

+ SNÄLL glasses $6.99 CAD for 6
+ SKIR glasses $6.99 CAD for 2
+ DINERA 18-piece dinnerware set $29.99 CAD
+ CHARMÖR small bowls $3.99 CAD for 2
+ POKAL glasses $4.99 CAD for 4
+ photo of affogato via Food Network Canada


David Rocco Discussed His Laid-back Entertaining Philosophy

david rocco in his Toronto home

The October 2009 issue of Canadian House and Home let us see a glimpse of David Rocco’s house in Toronto. The decor translates a rustic, comfortable feeling. It seems that Nina and him listened to my advice on how to create a welcoming front door.

What I found most interesting is how David described his laid-back entertaining philosophy. He believes that you do not have to stress about entertaining. It’s true the host and the guests need to be flexible to have fun. He typical cooks the main course while his guests gathered in the kitchen. They mingled with appetizers and a glass of wine. That resembles many of my dinner parties.

For the cold weather that is coming our way, nothing beats a hearty soup recipe like a Tuscan Ribollita (meaning leftover soup). Besides the typical vegetables that form a soup base, prosciutto rinds, potatoes, cabbages, borlotti beans, tomato purée and bread give flavor and consistency to the soup. You can make this soup thick as you like. David likes to eat this soup with a fork at slightly warmer than room temperature. Naturally, do not forget a good drizzle of your premium extra-virgin olive oil.

As I mentioned before, the fourth season of David Rocco’s Dolce Vita premieres September 14th, 2009.

+ Canadian House and Home October 2009 – photography by Angus Fergusson
+ David Rocco


Book Club Party Food

book jackets, cheese table and homemade chips with rosemary

Being in a book club is a great way to exchange ideas and mingle with people. Each club sets its own formula for organizing the meeting. Instead of a dinner, moms may prefer to meet in the middle of the afternoon. Many clubs meets at a restaurant but I prefer the formula where you meet at someone’s home.

If this is the case, I gathered snack ideas that will position your afternoon party as the place to be.

+ Serving cheese requires no cooking. For a wedding, a family set up this charming country-style table in the backyard. Tarps became linens; you can use any canvas. The chalkboards are a do-it-yourself project. It is made with balsa and chalkboard paint. You insert the chalkboards into wooden blocks that you cut yourself. Via Style Me Pretty

snacks for a book club party :: prosciutto on bread sticks :: ice cream and popcorn

+ A simple appetizer that is easy to eat is prosciutto on a bread stick. From the same wedding celebrations on  Style Me Pretty

+ Get a recipe to make your own chips. Sara Kate gave us her Homemade Potato Chips with Rosemary recipe. Via The Kitchn

+ Kraft paper book jackets made wonderful party favors. You can do it yourself. Otherwise, have a draw to win one of Book City Jackets’ Bookshelf set. You can select between fiction, non-fiction and favorite. $9 USD at Book City Jackets

+ Who could resist a scoop of Saturn Peach and Pistachio Nougat Ice Cream? I suggest you make more nougat to serve as candy. Via Cannelle et Vanille

+ Customized popcorn boxes adds a sense of style to a crowd pleaser. Try Michael Smith’s olive oil popcorn recipe. Via Kenzie Kate


Delicious Ice Cream Sandwiches by Tartelette

Snickerdoodle Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches by tartelette

As you know, home cooked meals are in fashion. And there is no better way to finish a summer meal than with home made ice cream sandwiches. It is a dessert that please kids and adults. I know my husband will crave for these.

Helen, the author of the fantastic pastry blog Tartelette, makes her creations look so elegant. I imagine serving these lovely lemon ice cream sandwiches at a Sunday brunch, at a kid birthday or to conclude an alfresco dinner. They would also fit in at a garden wedding party.

You can do everything from scratch or skip one step and buy premium lemon ice cream. But take the time to bake the snickerdoodle cookies. I adore the look of these little packets of the ice cream sandwiches. To be ready for impromptu entertaining, stock an assortment of strings and make sure to always have parchment paper on hand.

You will find the recipe for her Snickerdoodle Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches at the end of her post.

Tartelette’s Photos available on Etsy

photos by tartelette on etsy

Besides food photography, she also sells her favorite still life pictures on etsy. I want to change the 5 photo series I hanged on my kitchen wall. I hope that she will add her ice cream sandwich pictures to her etsy shop.

+ Snickerdoodle Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches
+ Baking 8×12 photo by Tartelette $30 USD
+ At The Flower Shop 8×12 photo by Tartelette $30 USD


The Simple Pleasure of Eating Breakfast Outside

breakfast outside on a sunny morning

It is easy to forget that simple pleasure brings us happiness. Setting up a nice table for breakfast on the patio is one of these divine moments where you can relax and enjoy the company of your family. It only takes a few minutes to add details using craft supplies and accessories that you keep in the house. The idea is to improvise to make the breakfast feels a little bit special.

breakfast with apple bread and zucchini bread

Last Saturday, my friend Nathalie asked me if I wanted to visit the Finnegan’s Market in Hudson. We went and took advantage that you can buy home made treats. I bought delicious apple strudel from Tutti Gourmet. I also bought two breads from the Ethiopian woman. I forgot to ask her card. She is a regular so you should not have trouble finding her stand if you go. Her breads are delicious.

I brought home her apple bread and her zuicchini bread. We ate them with the less sugar, more fruit jam and jelly of Treasa Kenny of We-b-jammin. I bought several kinds. I started with her Strawberry Lavender Spread. My husband opted for the Cherry Pie Jelly.


My Eco-label Salmon BBQ party | part 1

eco bbq service table

When my friend Eden Spodek of istudio asked me if I would like to host a party at home for tasting True North’s eco-certified farm salmon, I immediately said yes. We cooked more often fresh salmon fillets on the BBQ than we prepared burgers. Plus, it was a great way to launch my outdoor entertaining season.

I invited a good of foodies within my friends. I kept it small so we can all sit down comfortably at my outdoor dining room. The theme was eco-chic BBQ. The food and the fact that I did the party on the World Environment Day led to that concept.

eco bbq details of the menu and table

It was a casual event. Not going overboard and using what I already known seemed more appropriate with the party theme. I invited my friends using a private event on Facebook.

I did not use placemats and we ate on my wooden table. I felt more natural. I put on my table my real china, glassware and flatware. No need to get an outdoor dinnerware set. You save money and space.

My florist designed two centerpieces that were elegant but carried a wild-flower vibe. We went with Hyacinths (jacinthes d’Hollande) that look amazing and smell wonderful. I usually stayed away from flowers with a noticeable perfume when I am indoors but outside, it does not matter.

My Menu

I originally thought of a first course that I could serve with wooden plate. My husband was craving for the seared scallops and crispy prosciutto with roasted tomatoes and smashed white beans by Jamie Oliver. The recipe is on The Naked Chef Takes Off cookbook. Therefore, I made it.

eco bbq first course :: seared scallops and crispy prosciutto with roasted tomatoed and smashed white beans

This is a tasty and unique recipe that everyone adores. You never tasted something like that. Beware that although the technique is pretty simple, they are many steps to make this recipe. I recommend that you familiarize yourself with the recipe before a party, unless you are an experienced cook.

We served the grilled salmon with an assortment of grilled vegetables. We do not marinated the vegetables; we simply put a light coat of olive oil and grill them on each side for 4 minutes. Put more olive oil on the asparagus and the zucchini slices. We prepared a typical French dijon vinaigrette to go on top of the cooked vegetables. It is a classic side dish at our barbecue party.

eco bbq :: opera cake for dessert

A guest brought an Opera cake (it was the birthday of his wife) that we savored with a sparkling wine. We served white tea to finish the night. The party was a success. Everyone loves the food and the company.

In part 2, I will talk about the eco-label and the goodies I received from True North Salmon for making this party a reality.

+ Shown of the pictures are people active on Twitter : @JoseeStAmand of, @simonrivard, Nathalie Rivard (@indigonat), Laurent Maissonave (@zelaurent) and @ihoule
+ You can see the body of my husband @jeromeparadis. Follow me on Twitter @kimvallee


Joy of Home Cooking with Friends for my Organizing Monday

pasta night :: cooking with friends party ideas

If you are looking for encouragement to restart cooking meals again, why not host a Cooking with Friends party? Real Simple featured one party where you make together a huge batch of basic tomato sauce. Chili would also be perfect. Since you need 2 or 3 pots to cook the chili, you can vary the spicy level to please everyone.

The idea is to do enough so every guest will bring home enough tomato sauce for a few meals. Plan for at least 2 pints per person to take home. By doing the simplest tomato sauce, your guests will be able to use it as the basis for many dishes. Reserve the pasta sauce you need for your party. If you want to, raise your pasta main dish by adding fresh herbs, meatballs or sausage for your dinner. Replace the meat by Portobello mushrooms for a vegetarian menu.

You could also prepare a huge batch of Mario Batali’s Basic Tomato Sauce. Make sure to tell your friends that a tomato sauce typically holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer. Before freezing the sauce, make sure to read the tips to preserve food longer on the freezer.

You will impress your friends by giving them the Tomato Sauce recipe booklet designed by Real Simple or use it as a template to publish your favorite recipes.

Do not forget that you need to supply more kitchen tools (cutting boards, knifes, aprons, etc…) if you have more helpers in the kitchen. If this party seems too much work for you, simply invite a group of friends to eat a big bowl of penne with tomato, basil, olives and pecorino by Jamie Oliver with you.

+ photography by Miki Duisterhof for Real Simple


Basic Tips on How to Host a Green Party for my Eco-friendly Tuesday

I participated in my first #eventprofs chat on Twitter yesterday. Ready 2 Spark launched her weekly Twitter chats to keep in touch with event professionals a few weeks ago.  Last night, they were discussing: Is green more or less relevant in today’s economy? This gave me the idea for today’s green living post.

How they serve tap water at La Fabrique

For everyday entertaining, we may use these actions for convenience or for cost savings, but the important thing is to the reduce our footprints.

  1. Use online invitations instead of printed invitations, unless it is a milestone event. With Facebook and plenty of free event invitation management services available online it is easy to do and look stylish.
  2. Add a link to Google maps for people to find the directions to your home. With iPhone and BlackBerry, people often will not print the instructions.
  3. Let go of the imported bottled water. Instead recycle glass and cute plastic bottles to serve tap water. Look at the modern bottle they used at La Fabrique.
  4. Avoid as much as possible disposable tableware when you host a party.
  5. Tea towels make wonderful napkins. You can buy them in bulk or sew your own. In the long run, it is cheaper than using patterned paper napkins.
  6. Try to promote carpooling
  7. In summer time, use local flowers that you get at the farmer’s market or in your own garden

If you are curious to know how its work, Lara of Ready 2 Spark produced a video tutorial that explains everything. I could be fun to host Twitter chats from time to time about everyday entertaining topics. Would you be interested to participate in something like that?

+ Eventprofs chat by Ready 2 Spark


What Kind of Hostess Are You?

This is the title of a little quiz I took this morning on Martha Stewart’s Web site. I did it even if I am fully aware of my entertaining philosophy.

I bring style, creativity and comfort to my parties. I believe in time saving solutions. This includes buying fine products from local shops instead of doing everything myself. I am not ashamed to say that I am not crafty. But once in a while, I will engage in handmade projects for my parties.


According to Martha’s quiz, I am a Thoughtful Hostess. I lose points for not do everything hand-made and not wrapping the left-over meals. I am too busy for that and I do not eat left-over. I like that we can compare our quiz answers with how other participants answered.

Interesting Patterns in Answers

To the question How long before a dinner party do you invite guests?, I answered 1 month. In fact, for a casual dinner (no special occasions) I typically invite people 2 weeks in advance. For birthdays or a special theme party, I will invite people at least one month in advance. The overall results show that

  • 65% invite guests 1 week in advance
  • 32% invite guests 1 month in advance

When a guest offers to bring something to your home, most people (58%) declined the offer since they plan for everything while more than a third (40%) welcome that the guests bring their favorite treats to share.

One question that was awkwardly asked was about the guest room. This question illustrated the disconnection in Martha Stewart’s ideal living and reality. Many urban people live in a small house or a condo unit where clearly there is no space for a guess room. This is my case. For that reason, I did not know if we should answer how we wish our guest room to be instead of how we do it right now, out of necessity. The answers were:

  • 58% answered: Simple wall art and bedding in calming colors, a bedside water pitcher, reading materials, an extra toothbrush, and a single flower in a bud vase.
  • 34% answered: What guest bedroom? Guests are always invited to stay, and can grab a spot on the couch or air mattress; there are plenty of extra pillows and blankets.

This weekend Lianne of Babyburrito described me in her blog as “Martha Stewart with an edge and way more appeal.” It is SO nice of her to say that! I will stick to my style.

+ What Kind of Hostess Are You? quiz