Browsing Tag

summer entertaining

Work and Life

My Simple Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

strawberry shortcake recipe by kim vallee

This is the ideal dessert for time-crunched parents. In less than 10 minutes, without rushing, I had this good-looking dessert ready-to-serve yesterday. Even if you have to make a trip to the store, you will be able to put it on the table in less 30 minutes. It is that simple!

The ingredients are an Angel food cake, whipping cream, fruit sugar, pure vanilla extract, and lots of fresh strawberries. I save time by buying the cake. For purists who prefer to make the cake from scratch, I suggest to have a look at the Angel Food cake recipe by David Lebovitz. Although you can taste the difference, I prefer to spend more time with my family than in my kitchen. This is why I go store-bought for the cake.

The kitchen tools that you will need are a tall bowl to whip the cream, a hand blender with a whisk attachment, a soft spatula and a cake plate or cake stand. Continue Reading

FAMILY

Packing Tips for a Simple Family Picnic

packing tips for a picnic

I intend for a summer filled with sunny picnic at the park. So far, the weather does not collaborate with us. The sun shines during the week and the rain troubles our weekend. And then, it hits me. Why not have a picnic supper on a weekday, instead? I could pack everything in the car before I pick my husband up at work on my way to my son’s daycare. We will be ready to drive to a nice picnic spot in the city. Continue Reading

COCKTAILS + wine FOOD + DRINK

Celebrate London 2012 with Girlie Gin Cocktails

girlie gin cocktails

girlie gin cocktails
photos: Maxime Juneau for At Home with Kim Vallee

Add style to your closing ceremony get together by serving a bronze, silver and gold metal cocktails. Or be the judge and pick one as your signature drink.

The recipes are from Bombay ambassador, the master mixologist Raj Nagra who made the cocktails for me at the Bombay Sapphire event in Montreal two weeks ago. I already shared the recipe for the Bronze medal cocktail. Now, it is time to share the silver and the gold medal cocktail recipes.

Silver medal: Watermelon and Mint Collins

  • 2 parts (60 ml) Bombay Sapphire
  • 4 Chunks of ripe watermelon chunks
  • 8 mint leaves
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice
  • 1 part simple syrup
  • 2 parts (60 ml) Processo

Glass: Wine glass

Method: Muddle, mint and sugar in your shaker. Add other ingredients and shake with ice. Pour in wine glass and top with the Processo.
Garnish: Long mint tip

Gold medal: Citrus Splash

  • 1 heaped tsp Citrus marmalade
  • 1 part Spiced syrup
  • 1 part Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 parts Bombay Sapphire
  • Fresh Sage
  • 1 Egg white
  • Nutmeg

Glass: Cocktail coup

Method: Shake all ingredients (except nutmeg). Shake again with ice. Strain into cocktail couple.
Garnish: Fresh nutmeg and grapefruit wheel

All three drinks were delicious. If I have to pick a favorite it would be the Watermelon and Mint Collins. To my surprise, I was delighted when I took a sip by the Citrus Splash; I was unsure that I would like it when I saw some of the ingredients. But I did!!! The ingredients remind me of a late late brunch.

Are you planning something special for the Olympics closing ceremony?

COCKTAILS + wine FOOD + DRINK

Blueberry and Basil Collins

blueberry basil collins

blueberry basil collins
photo: Maxime Juneau for At Home with Kim Vallee

Last week was the annual Bombay Sapphire event that I like to attend. I am in love with this year formula because it enables me to get unique content. For the occasion, the new Bombay ambassador, the master mixologist Raj Nagra, made three summer cocktails that fit my own taste. Any of those could become a signature drink for my outdoor parties.

I am sharing today the easiest one of the three. It is a girlie twist on the classic Collins. I love the color! The swizzle stick looks like a piece of jewelry. I was kind of hoping that I found a set inside our gift box. To be fair, the gift box was nice and I will be proud to serve drinks in the tumbler glasses that they gave us.

Blueberry & Basil Collins recipe

  • 2 parts (60 ml) Bombay Sapphire
  • 8 Blueberries
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 1 part (30 ml) Fresh lemon juice or the Juice of one lemon
  • 1 part (30 ml) Simple syrup
  • Soda water

Glass: Highball

Method: Muddle blue berries and simple syrup. Add Bombay, basil and lemon juice. Shake with ice and strain over ice. Top with soda water and stir gently.
Garnish: Blueberries on a swizzle stick

I will try to share the two other recipes before the weekend shortly.

ENTERTAINING OUTDOOR entertaining

Must Haves for a Picnic at the Park or in your Backyard

old school English picnic at the park

old school English picnic at the park
photo: Paul Raeside for Elle Decoration UK – August 2012 

The weekend goes hand in hand with a picnic. I love the old feel of this English picnic at the park filled with comfy textiles and pretty enamelware. Start by looking in your closets and your mom’s closets to find props to reproduce that look.

If you have the luxury of living in a calm backyard, make it more a retreat by positing a Bistro dining set under a large tree. It look so great in yellow. I feel in Provence every time I see a French Bistro set. I beat that it would become your ideal spot to drink your morning coffee, eat a late lunch or sip a cocktail before dinner. The best part is that it is an inexpensive look. I found these items on sale.

picnic in your backyard with a french bistro dining set
Fiori Melamine Collection $3.49 to $12.59 CAD on sale at Stokes | Glass Beverage Dispenser $69.99 CAD at Home Sense | French Bistro table and chairs $58.50 CAD on sale at Sears

Now that I shared my plan for this weekend. What are yours?

HOME + GARDEN OUTDOOR space

Keep Cool this Summer under a Beach Tent

sombrilla sun protection

sombrilla sun protection
photo: Sombrilla by Hollie & Harrie

Although we love the warmth of the sun, sometimes it is too much and we start looking for a shady area.

bohemian beach tent
photo: Alysha Findley via Apartment Therapy

To enjoy a full day at the beach or to entertain friends a hot afternoon, you could built your own Bohemian beach tent, like this gorgeous one I saw on Apartment Therapy.

sombrilla sun orange
Photo: Love’n The Sun Orange $180 AUD by Hollie & Harrie

If you prefer to buy one, check out the nice Sombrilla by Hollie & Harrie. I do not know why the nicest patterns are exclusive models for Australia. It comes with everything including aluminum poles and a shoulder bag. I like the cheerful Love’n The Sun Orange.

diy canopy
photo: Martha Stewart

My last suggestion is to make your own cloth canopy. The hardest thing would be how to hang it; that depends of your space.  Supplies that you may need are a grommet kit to punch sturdy holes into your fabric, tent poles or bamboo sticks, stout cord, and sturdy pegs. Make sure that you invite 3 friends to help you with the canopy installation. Head to Martha Stewart for more details.

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

Decorating Ideas for a Fourth of July Table

fourth of July diy decoration ideas

After 5 years of covering the Fourth of July party scene, I must confess that I have a feeling of déjà vu. I found two DIY projects that you can do with the kids. I feel that it is always important to involve them with family celebrations.

fourth of July diy decoration ideas
Star and Stripes Garland Kit $10.50 USD at Paper Source | USA Party mega kit by Lindsay’s Stamp Stuff $4.80 at MyGrafico 

Many of you will celebrate the Fourth of July at a cottage. This is why I present two festive tabletops by the lakeside. Both of these tables are made of plain white tableware mixed with galvanized metal containers. The key is to add a festive touch through the accessories.

Light pendants that float over the dining table are a must if your party will continue after the sun is down. Select a model that will also look great during the day. I have my doubt about the Southern Living set up. Do the bamboo sticks will stay up against the wind or with people moving around them? But you could recycle the principle with the sticks put on the ground.

southern living fourth of july table by the lake
photo: Jennifer Davick for Southern Living

The second table has a different feel. I like the general feel of this BBQ Burger table except  for the flower centrepiece. I would replace it with the pinwheel centrepiece.

lakeside BBQ for the fourth of july
photo: Pottery Barn

How and where will you celebrate this weekend? And if you created an innovative design for your Fourth of July celebrations, make sure to send me the details.

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

Summer Entertaining: Five Crowd-Pleaser Watermelon Recipes

Watermelon recipes for summer entertaining

Watermelon recipes for summer entertaining
Photos: National Watermelon Promotion Board except for number 4: The Party Dress magazine

I was happy to share my summer entertaining tips for the 2012 awareness campaign of the National Watermelon Promotion Board in Canada. Since the refreshing watermelons are available all summer long, I feel that watermelon is the fruit of summer.

If you are looking for more ways to serve watermelon to your guests this summer, you will find many more recipes at the National Watermelon Promotion Board Website. I compiled my top 5.

  • My number 1. Another way to serve the Spiked Melon Balls would be on a lollipop.  Serve the lollipops speared into a wheatgrass bed or onto a watermelon.
  • My number 2. If you host a brunch on a hot summer day, replace the classic by the more refreshing Watermelon Mimosa. To make watermelon juice, you simply need to blend cubed watermelon and strain it through a sieve. Try it with a light Champagne.
  • My number 3.  Finish a grown up dinner with this lovely Watermelon Lavender Granita that contains a hint of vodka. Use watermelon or citrus flavoured vodka to enhance the flavour.
  • My number 4. I found my fourth choice on The Party Dress magazine. They got me with the stylish food presentation of their watermelon appetizer with feta and basil. The recipe is a mix between a caprese salad and a Mediterranean Watermelon Salad.

My last recipe idea is a twist on the tacos.

Jamaican Rock Lobster Tacos

  • My number 5.  For a summer picnic with family and friends, impress the crowd with some delicious Jamaican Rock Lobster Tacos wrapped in parchment paper and tied with twine. I would probably prepare my tacos with seasonal clawed lobsters since they are a local product for me.

Writing this post made me hungry. I will pour myself a glass of my watermelon and mint spa water while I cook dinner.

Note: I wrote this post on my free will; it is a not part of the program that I did for the National Watermelon Promotion Board in Canada. 

ENTERTAINING OUTDOOR entertaining

Garden Party: Make your Own Vegetable Bouquets

vegetable flowers

vegetable flowers
Photography by Rahel Weiss via Remodelista

Here are cool ways to decorate your table with produce that come straight from your fridge. Remember that you could use vegetables to decorate the next time that you don’t have time to stop by the floral shop before the arrival of your guests.

Blooming Vegetable Bouquets

The first idea by the UK queen of the homemade Sania Pell pairs a single flower or blooming stem (you could use one from your garden) with a carrot or a bunch of radish. This look works when you have vegetables with the leaf still attached to them. I like that it is unexpected and still refined. Get more inspirations from this casual tea gathering from Sania Pell featured at Remodelista.

Edible Centrepiece

vegetable centrepiece
Photography by Martha Stewart

Then, I turned to see what the queen of entertaining Martha Stewart had to propose. I like her twist on the crudité platter. Line the bottom of  a deep galvanized-metal planter or a ceramic planter with sprouts, and pour in enough water to moisten them. Keep similar vegetables together and vary the colors to create sections. This creates a stunning edible centrepiece.

Tomato Party Favors

favors in seed starter pots
Photography by Lexy of The Proper Pinwheel via You are My fave.

Then, I spotted a DIY project from Lexy of The Proper Pinwheel on You are My fave. Lexy decorated seed planter pots with neon twines and turned them into festive party favors. She put jelly beans in hers but you could put tiny cherry tomatoes.

ENTERTAINING OUTDOOR entertaining

Kim Loves: The First Summer Collection of Dwell Studio

dwell studio summer entertaining collection

dwell studio summer entertaining collection

It is no secret that I am a fan of Dwell Studio. I bought their Owl bedding for my son’s nursery. Once again, I am in awe. This time is with their first summer collection.

dwell studio summer entertaining collection

 1. Summertime Backgammon or Summertime Chess and Checker set $35 USD each | 2. Portable Hitachi $295 USD | 3. Scandinavian Etched Fish Glass and Pitcher from $12 to $46 USD | 4. Laura Windel Sea Life Plates $140 USD for set of 4 assorted plates 

Christiane Lemieux created a range of products that gets the most of summer entertaining. I can’t deicide what I want the most from portable canvas classic board games to the Scandinavian fish etched pitcher and glasses or the sea life plates designed by Vermont artist Laura Zindel.

Indulge a happy bride and groom this summer with a remarkable gift like the Dwell Studio’s table size portable Hitachi. They will be able to savour small treats while looking in each other eyes. The materials made it easy to clean. The dishwasher-safe porcelain bowl with a stainless steel grill and handle stands tall on the wood trivet. It’s gorgeous!

 

ENTERTAINING EVERYDAY entertaining

Ideas to Steal: Carpaccio Served on a Clothesline

Food plating on a table clothesline

Food plating on a table clothesline

I always keep an eye open for easy show stopper food plating that I could use at a party. The carpaccio served on a clothesline today at restaurant Europea in Montreal tops my list this summer.

If you build your own table clothesline ahead of time, you could reuse the concept many times. They did it with big nails and a piece of 2×4 lumber. For an outdoor party, you could assemble a taller and longer clothesline by planting two poles on the ground. A strong fishing line could be used instead of the standard clothesline. With the bigger clothesline version, you could not only hang carpaccio but also small plastic containers or chinese take out boxes.

SOURCING:
+ photo by Pierre Bellerose via Twitter – thanks Pierre for this find.