Cashmere Apron

smashing pumpkin floral for thanksgiving

Pumpkin Lead 1Part of our Cashmere Apron style is the “Entertain” component which is my personal favorite and the center of today’s post.

Everything about this floral arrangement was made with a modern freshness in mind – the pumpkin vase, the Brussel Sprout stalk used as a focal point, the cranberry garland and the persimmons and pears that add a pop of color to the finished decoration.

Follow the simple steps below and your table will be the hit of Thanksgiving. This arrangement was easy and inexpensive to make. All of the florals were purchased at Trader Joe’s (no bunch cost more than $5.99). I stopped at my local Hobby Lobby and found an antiqued black tray in the clearance section, thick burlap ribbon at 50% off and a monogrammed sign with a giant “T” to represent Thanksgiving or Thanks (and of course, my name is Terry). One more stop at Ralphs for a package of cranberries, persimmons and red bartlett pears and I was ready to go. Once all of my materials were laid out on the kitchen table, the arrangement took less than an hour to make. Try to add one unexpected element to your arrangement. I saw the fresh Brussel Sprout stalk at Trader Joe’s and knew it would add the unpredictable touch I was looking for.

Pumpkin Lead collage 1

Pumpkin Collage 2

Pumpkin Collage 3

Pumpkin Lead 2

Floral Tips Final

 

take time to smell the apples

Julian Lead CollageChristi and I chose an idyllic fall day to embark on the All-American “seasonal” pastime of apple-picking.

Having a short-window in southern California for showcasing our winter wardrobes, we busted out our scarves, boots and hats and hit the open road. Armed with steaming coffee, a basketful of road trip snacks and two teenagers in the back to help us capture all of our candid apple-picking shots, we looked forward to the day ahead.

Our destination was Julian, California which is a small rustic town located in the mountains one hour east of San Diego. Julian’s roots date back to the 1870’s and the Gold Rush days. Today Julian is most famous for apples and scrumptious apple pie but attracts visitors who enjoy its charming appeal, multiple offerings from afternoon tea to wine tasting to mining tours, and its four seasons, a rarity in southern California.

A little more than two hours into our drive, we pulled into a quaint orchard, instantly noticing ours was the only car in the gravelly lot. With our enthusiasm still at full mast, we strode into the office to get our apple-picking baskets envisioning ourselves gracefully plucking apples from hundred year-old trees.

We were met by a tall gentleman working at the orchard who informed us, apple picking season is over and the orchard is closed.” Not to be discouraged and hoping to slightly ingratiate ourselves, we listened attentively to a very detailed explanation of apple-picking, why the season ends, when the season begins, how sustainable farming works, etc., etc… We in turn talked about our blog, the drive we made all the way out here and how we really, really, really needed to pick apples. We might have begged a little. I’m pretty sure we did. But you know, it takes five NO’s to get to a YES and we got our YES.

Julian Final 3

Christi and I scampered out to the orchard and filled our bags with apples of all sizes and colors from golden to deep red. And let me tell you, the apples are delicious – crunchy, crisp, full of flavor and possibility. We finished our picking and hopped back in the car to explore Julian. It is a charming and quaint town with a pace that feels unhurried. We strolled up and down the main street, ate lunch in a cute bistro and headed home. On the way out of town we hit the Julian Pie Company with thoughts of Thanksgiving and beautiful pies (check that off the list) being served for dessert.
Julian Collage 2

Having lived in California my whole life, the visit to Julian was a completely new experience. What a little treasure right in our own backyard. The slow pace, tranquil setting, beautiful scenery and quality “friend” time made it worth the trip…apple-picking season or NOT!

If you plan on visiting Julian, we recommend you visit during the “Julian Apple Days,” and have an idea of which orchards you want to visit (see orchard guide here). The Apple Days coincide with the fall harvest of the Julian apples which occur from September through Mid-October or “whenever all the apples are gone!

This week on Cashmere Apron, we will feature two of our favorite recipes made with our very own, hand-picked Julian apples!

halloween past

Halloween Final CollageWhat’s not to love about Halloween? I can still picture skipping through the door from school on Halloween day, the excitement buzzing in my ears. CANDY-CANDY-CANDY. It was all I could do to contain myself until the street lights came on (prime trick-or-treating time). As my own kids grow, Halloween is still a magical night where memories fill every corner. I recall how they once firmly gripped our hands in their oversized costumes, fearful of monsters jumping out at every house. (The pics above from past Halloweens are of my two kids and Christi’s daughter – proof to us that they have grown in front of our eyes).

We always trick-or-treat with the same family. They have two kids and we have two kids. The two olders are in high school now and will hang out watching sports or passing out candy. Thankfully, our two youngers still enjoy the thrill of the hunt. My girlfriend and I follow distantly behind with our red solo cups chatting away. I love the knowing glances we share when we pass a crying baby or a screaming toddler or older kids running at break-neck speed through the neighborhood. We have been there. We laugh and reminisce about the “remember when” stories.

What’s not to love about Halloween? Enjoy your night. Make it special whatever your tradition and memories…

the black widow

Black Widow Final Lead

It’s a week of spine chilling spirits, ghoulish garb, spooky tricks and lots of treats. If you are hosting the neighborhood this Halloween, set-up a fun “spirits” bar for your ghostly guests. You can easily turn your favorite drinks into festive Halloween versions of themselves using printable labels. At last year’s neighborhood party, Christi and I draped a large countertop with a black tablecloth and placed a few different sized boxes underneath to create height and dimension. Add skull-shaped ice and gummy eyeballs to your bar to go with a bevy of beverage choices such as the “Dark & Spooky,” “Zombie Tonic,” “Bone Juice,” and our favorite, “The Black Widow.”

Ingredients
3 parts vanilla vodka
1 part black anise-flavored liqueur (recommended: Sambuca)
1 part espresso
Black licorice, for garnish

Directions
In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients except the licorice with ice and shake to mix. Serve in a cocktail martini glass.

 

Recipe from Sandra Lee

 

halloween mummy cake cones

Lead Mummy ConesNeed a wickedly ghoulish dessert for a Halloween party??? Welcome to Mummywood!

Ingredients
one box Betty Crocker cake mix (white cake used here)
one box  of  basic ice cream cones
candy eyeball decorations by Wilton
Betty Crocker vanilla whipped frosting

Other Items
decorative Halloween themed scrapbook paper
clear Avery labels
2 to 3 white paper napkins
serving tray
stretchable spider webbing
decorative dried mini pumpkins (suggestion only)
decorative fall leaves (suggestion only)
muffin tin

Final Mummy Collage

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake batter according to directions on back of box. Pour a little less than 2/3 cup of cake batter directly into ice cream cone. Repeat until all batter is used.

Place cake-batter filled ice cream cones standing up in each muffin tin well (I used a 12 serving muffin tin). Carefully place muffin tin in oven and bake cake cones for approximately 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Once cool, frost the cones with white frosting until the cake portion is entirely covered. Use a butter knife to fluff the frosting and give it some dimension. Add two candy eyeballs for the mummy eyes.

Tear or cut a long (1/2” or so in width) strip from the white paper napkin. Place a dot of frosting at the top of the ice cream cone (below the frosted cake). Wrap the napkin strip around the cone to create the mummy wrap effect. Place another dot of frosting at the bottom or beneath the cone to hold the napkin in place.

Place Mummy Cones on a silver, black or Halloween themed tray. Surround with mini pumpkins and paper leaves and stretchable spider webbing.

Lastly, cut decorative scrapbook paper into rectangles and label with whimsical mummy names. Stick a corner of the label into top of each mummy cake.

 

 

 

panna cotta

Lead Panna CottaI am not a fan of anything with milk. I blame it on a bad childhood experience (enough said). So when Christi showed up to our dinner party with Panna Cotta, I already knew there was no way the beautiful dessert was going to pass my lips. I mean look at some of the ingredients – skim milk and heavy cream – that was two strikes right there. But, Christi in her persuasiveness insisted the dessert was amazingly delicious. Against my better judgment and knowing I wouldn’t like it, I took the tiniest of bites. “Yes, Christi…I WAS WRONG and YOU WERE RIGHT.” No milky taste to the Panna Cotta at all – just a light and sweet fluffiness enhanced  by a touch of honey and tangy berries.

Serve this elegant dessert as the final course to complement our rustic Italian holiday menu. It can be made in advance so you can actually enjoy an evening NOT spent entirely in the kitchen.

Ingredients

1/3 cup skim milk
1 (.25 ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
honey
fresh raspberries and blueberries

Panna Cotta 2

Directions
Pour milk into a small bowl and stir in the gelatin powder. Set aside.

In a saucepan, stir together the heavy cream and sugar, and place over medium heat. Bring cream and sugar to a boil, stirring slightly. Pour the gelatin and milk mixture into the cream, stirring thoroughly until completely dissolved. Cook for one minute or so, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour into 5 or 6 individual ramekin dishes.

Cool the ramekins, uncovered, at room temperature. When completely cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours but, ideally, overnight before serving.

Just before serving, drizzle honey in a cross-pattern and top with fresh berries.

*Double the recipe to make 10-12 ramekins

antipasto platter

Antipasto 2The Thanksgiving meal is pretty straightforward. Each family has their traditions and their favorite way of cooking the meal. But what about the rest of the holiday season? The number of potential events in the name of “The Holidays” are endless. What happens when you host? Are you a begrudging entertainer shamed into hosting an event? We’ve all held our breath during the pregnant pause or burned a hole in the ceiling with our eyes when the question is thrown out year after year, “What are we having for__________?” “Whose house will ______________ be at this year?” Maybe you are an enthusiastic volunteer and then you are left with another question, “WHAT AM I GOING TO MAKE?” My goal, which has yet to be achieved, is to be so prepared for an upcoming evening of entertaining in my home that I have an entire hour to get ready while casually sipping a glass of bubbly.

This Holiday Meal for 10 is designed with my procrastinating planning skills in mind. Almost everything can me made in advance with the final touches being added right before your guests arrive.

Yesterday’s post featured Holiday Brie with a Spicy Raspberry and Syrah Preserve for a starter. Today we present the dinner course which includes a colorful Antipasto platter, The Best Caesar Salad by Our Friend, Brenda and an Organic Heirloom Tomato Marinara Sauce served with pasta. Tomorrow, we feature the dessert course.

Antipasto Platter Ingredients
20 slices Capicola (this Italian meat has a bit of a kick but is a creative alternative to salami)
20 slices Provolone
small container of marinated artichoke hearts cut into quarters or halves
6 Dolmas cut in half with a serrated knife (grape leaves stuffed with rice, mint, pine nuts. Purchase in a high-end grocery or specialty store)
mixture of pitted Italian olives
small container of red hollow peppers
small container of large marinated Italian beans
one container of mushrooms, cleaned and cut in half and marinated in Italian dressing 1-2 hours before serving
Italian breadsticks
Butter lettuce and arugula for garnish
mini artichokes for display
large silver platter
assortment of small bowls

Antipasto Lead

Antipasto Platter Directions
Use individual small bowls for marinated artichoke hearts, Italian olives, red hollow peppers, Italian beans, and marinated mushrooms.

Separately roll up the Capicola and Provolone. Place the Butter lettuce in the middle of the platter and the mini artichokes on top to begin your display. The Butter lettuce adds a little height and dimension to the display. Arrange all the ingredients around the center of the artichoke display, making sure to add variety with the small bowls and the food not in bowls (Capicola, Provolone and Dolmas). Once your platter has been arranged to your liking, fill in empty spaces and the perimeter with Arugula and Butter lettuce. Place breadsticks in a brightly colored basket next to your platter.

the best caesar salad by our friend, brenda

Brenda's CaesarMy mom’s multi-talented bestie, Brenda, has treated us to many a homemade meal. This salad is one of my favorites because of the lightness and crisp bite of the salad dressing. Caesar salad, at least this one, is the perfect complement to an Italian holiday meal (or any meal for that matter). Thanks for sharing Brenda!

Ingredients

3/4 cup olive oil
4 Tb lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp anchovy paste, or to taste
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 head romaine lettuce, torn into small pieces
Croutons
extra parmesan cheese to mix into salad

Directions
Put the lemon juice, garlic, 1/2 cup Parmesan, anchovy paste, mustard, salt, and pepper in a blender or cuisinart and blend until smooth. With the blender or cuisinart  running, slowly add the 3/4 cup oil.

Make croutons ahead of time or use store bought.

To assemble salad, add extra parmesan cheese (freshly shaved is best) and croutons to the torn romaine lettuce. Toss with the dressing just prior to serving.

Recipe compliments of Brenda Macklin

holiday heirloom tomato marinara sauce

Pasta LeadI love this sauce because it is so versatile. You can make it a day in advance and then gradually re-heat when your guests arrive. If you follow our holiday menu, the only thing you will have to do during the party is cook the pasta (so easy) and toss the salad. You can create a beautiful buffet with the Antipasto platter, Italian breadsticks, Caesar salad and pasta with this delicious sauce. Sprinkle grated Parmesan and your meal is complete.

Ingredients
7 large organic Heirloom tomatoes
4 Tb olive oil, divided
1/2 Tb Kosher salt
Cracked fresh pepper
1/4 cup fennel, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 medium leek, diced
1/2 cup diced organic parsley
1/2 cup diced organic kale
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 large shallot, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1-1/2 tsp Cumin
1 stick unsalted butter
3 Tb Pale Dry Sherry
2, 15 ounce cans organic tomato sauce
1, 6 ounce can tomato paste

Final Holiday Menu Collage

Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Roughly chop the Heirloom tomatoes and fit onto baking tray (it’s fine to squeeze them in). Drizzle the tomatoes with 2 Tb olive oil and the 1/2 Tb Kosher salt. Sprinkle lightly with freshly cracked pepper. Put baking sheet in oven and roast tomatoes for 30 to 35 minutes.

While tomatoes are roasting, chop, mince and dice the remaining ingredients so they are ready to go when the tomatoes come out of the oven.

Once tomatoes have roasted for approximately 35 minutes, remove from oven and let sit. Melt butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat with the remaining 2 Tb of olive oil. Once butter is melted add sherry and stir lightly. Add fennel, carrot, leeks, shallot, garlic, jalapeño and cumin and sauté for approximately 5 minutes. Add kale, parsley and basil and sauté for 2 more minutes until fully blended.

To the Dutch oven add the roasted tomatoes along with the natural tomato liquid that collects beneath the tomatoes when they are in the oven. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste to the mixture and stir all of the ingredients together thoroughly.

With an immersion blender on medium speed, gradually blend the roasted Heirloom tomatoes in the Dutch oven. Blend the Heirloom tomatoes until the sauce is a smoother texture. Let the sauce simmer on low heat for at least 90 minutes. This sauce can be made a day in advance.

 

love your holiday table

Final HolidayTable CollageI love having people over. I don’t have an explanation for this passion other than that’s how I was raised. My parents entertained ALL THE TIME. I can still picture my mom and dad writing out their menus, planning the evening, setting the table and welcoming guests with warmth and humor. My dad never started an evening without fresh ice in a silver bucket on his bar. I can hear the crisp liquid over crackling ice as he whipped up martinis, vodka tonics and scotch on the rocks. I suppose I strive to create that same magic and comfort guests felt in my home growing up.

And here we are on the precipice of another holiday season. Despite all the wonder and joy of the next few months, at times it feels like a game of survival as entertaining goes into overdrive. To combat my stress levels from going to DEFCON 5, I find a plan is helpful- a plan which includes a “go-to” theme and menu for those special holiday nights.

When Christi (the other half of Cashmere Apron who currently resides in Florida), visited a few weeks ago, I put together a simple and rustic themed table and a meal that I can easily roll with into the holidays.

So this week at Cashmere Apron, we are presenting you with one simple entertaining idea- from table and decor to a three-course meal that serves ten. Today’s post is all about setting your table.

Setting a Rustic Dinner Table
10 naturally woven chargers (I found these at Big Lots)
10 cardboard coasters
Felt Letters (I had these leftover from a school project but purchased them at Michael’s)
Gold sparkle spray paint
2 yards of natural fabric
2 yards of thick burlap ribbon (try to find a pattern or design to add interest)

Entertain Collage 1
10 wine glasses (use a variety of styles, sizes and colors. Pier 1 has a great selection and they usually have sale racks)
2 classic looking bottles of Chianti
Candelabra wine bottle topper (I found mine at a local wine store and each candelabra holds 4 taper candles)
4 to 8 off-white, unscented taper candles

Entertainment Collage 3

White or neutral dinner plates
10 cloth napkins (use a few different colors and patterns but stay toward the neutral)
Fresh Rosemary
Lots of Lemons
Variety of vases, large and small
White roses or white flower of your choice (we all have our favs but think natural and simple beauty)
A few stems of lavender or purple sage
Inspiring quotes on ______________ (fill in the blank to fit your occasion). For my dinner party I used inspiring quotes on friendship

Entertainment Collage 2


“May The {Entertaining} Odds be Ever in Your Favor.”
ct-sig

touchdown sweet chicken and bacon skewers

tailgate
Food, Fun, Friends and Football! They all go hand in hand. The tailgate food featured this week at Cashmere Apron includes our “Bump and Run Baby Bells” and our “Touchdown Sweet Chicken and Bacon Skewers.” Most of your tailgate food can be made in advance and finished up at your tailgate (check out the amazing array of inexpensive portable grills by Coleman). Our last tailgate menu featured the above two appetizers plus beef sliders with caramelized onions and melted cheese, roasted corn and feta guacamole with tortilla chips, beer, margaritas and mini cupcakes. Talk about a food coma! Happy Football Season!

Ingredients
1-1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 lb. package sliced bacon
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tb chili powder

Chargers 1

Directions
Preheat grill to medium high heat.

Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes.

Cut each bacon slice so that it is big enough to wrap around each piece of chicken.

Wrap bacon around the chicken cubes and secure with a wooden tooth pick.

Stir together the brown sugar and chili powder. Dredge the wrapped chicken in this mixture. Put these into a sealable container and keep cool until ready to grill.

Coat grill rack with oil and place chicken on the grill rack. Grill for about 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked and the bacon is crisp. Makes approximately 20 appetizers.

Chargers 2Chargers 3

farm-to-table heirloom tomato marinara sauce

Lead Heirloom TomatoEverything about this sauce is good for your body– farm fresh Heirloom tomatoes (cancer fighting, low in calories), kale (superfood packed with enough nutrients to be one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet), parsley (often overlooked as just a garnish, it is a powerhouse of nutrients) and fennel (at its peak from fall to early spring; it is crunchy and sweet with an abundance of phytonutrients).

And everything about this sauce is good for your taste buds. I enjoy wandering through my local farm stand [South Coast Farms] hoping the vivid colors and freshness of the fruits and veggies will light up the think tank in my head. On this particular day, the Heirloom tomatoes filled every corner of a wooden table with hues of reds and yellows and greens. I loaded up my wicker farm stand basket with tomatoes and other veggies and headed home envisioning a bubbling marinara on the stove.

Heirloom Farm Collage

Trust me, I am not one to skimp on taste for health. I try to eat healthy but love food and the creativity of new flavors. The first time I made this marinara, I also made Ina Garten’s Rosemary Polenta to go alongside. No calories were saved (hello butter) but together the flavors came together for a beautiful meal.

Next week, Cashmere Apron is going to hit on some simple entertaining ideas for the hustle-bustle of the holiday season. Look for this sauce to make a re-appearance in a rustic holiday menu for 10.

Heirloom Tomato On Its Own

Ingredients
7 large organic Heirloom tomatoes
4 Tb olive oil, divided
1/2 Tb Kosher salt
Cracked fresh pepper
1/4 cup fennel, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 medium leek, diced
1/2 cup diced organic parsley
1/2 cup diced organic kale
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 large shallot, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1-1/2 tsp Cumin
1 stick unsalted butter
3 Tb Pale Dry Sherry
2, 15 ounce cans organic tomato sauce
1, 6 ounce can tomato paste

Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Roughly chop the Heirloom tomatoes and fit onto baking tray (it’s fine to squeeze them in). Drizzle the tomatoes with 2 Tb olive oil and the 1/2 Tb Kosher salt. Sprinkle lightly with freshly cracked pepper. Put baking sheet in oven and roast tomatoes for 30 to 35 minutes.

IMG_6271

While tomatoes are roasting, chop, mince and dice the remaining ingredients so they are ready to go when the tomatoes come out of the oven.

Once tomatoes have roasted for approximately 35 minutes, remove from oven and let sit. Melt butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat with the remaining 2 Tb of olive oil. Once butter is melted add sherry and stir lightly. Add fennel, carrot, leeks, shallot, garlic, jalapeño and cumin and sauté for approximately 5 minutes. Add kale, parsley and basil and sauté for 2 more minutes until fully blended.

To the Dutch oven add the roasted tomatoes along with the natural tomato liquid that collects beneath the tomatoes when they are in the oven. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste to the mixture and stir all of the ingredients together thoroughly.

With an immersion blender on medium speed, gradually blend the roasted Heirloom tomatoes in the Dutch oven. Blend the Heirloom tomatoes until the sauce is a smoother texture. Let the sauce simmer on low heat for at least 90 minutes.

I have always made this sauce a day in advance which seems to let the flavors meld together even better. This recipe makes enough for eight to ten people+ left-overs. Serve separately as a soup, mix in with quinoa, enjoy over pasta, spread over a grilled steak, use as a pizza sauce…the options are infinite!

 

watermelon margarita

Watermelon Margarita Lead
Christi and I both love to entertain (hence the origination of Cashmere Apron). The question that always brings a slight panic to my mind after inviting people over is, “What to serve? What to serve? What to serve?” Through trial and error (mostly error), I have to come to learn that advance preparation is key. It seems like no matter how much time is set aside on the day of the occasion, there are never enough minutes. I’m usually wildly texting my husband, who is already out with my last-minute list, just to add more items to the last-minute list.

The two recipes that follow today on CA, are a festive drink and individual-sized appetizers. Both items can be made in advance, and when served together, require nothing other than some light dinner fair (a grilled lime chicken salad, easy taco bar, steak quesadillas – check out our recipe archive)…

Ingredients
Watermelon cubes, (if desired)
Kosher salt
3 cups Triple Sec or other orange liqueur
2 – 3 cups tequila
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lime juice
1 cup superfine sugar or powdered sugar
5 cups seedless watermelon, chopped

Watermelon Margarita 2

Directions
If desired, freeze cubes of watermelon on a waxed paper-lined tray for 1 to 2 hours or until firm. Place salt on a small plate. Rub rims of eight glasses with one of the lime wedges. Dip rims of glasses in salt to coat; set aside.

In a pitcher combine Triple Sec, tequila, lime juice, and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour 1/4 cup of tequila mixture into blender or food processor with chopped watermelon (working in batches if necessary). Cover and blend or process until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Combine watermelon juice with remaining tequila mixture. Stir. Chill until ready to serve.

Place frozen watermelon cubes, if using, in salt-rimmed glasses. Pour tequila mixture over watermelon cubes. Garnish with remaining lime wedges.

Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

 

mini-me 7-layer dip

lead 7-layer dip image
I recently hosted a small get together and wanted to serve up an unexpected appetizer. I know my mom has been making 7-layer dip for years but changing it up into individual servings and plating on a large wooden tray added a different element. Easy to make ahead of time, these “mini-me 7-layer dips” pair nicely with watermelon margaritas (which can also be made in advance; see CA archive for recipe).

Ingredients
2 cups Iceberg lettuce, shredded
2 cups Mexican cheese blend, shredded
2 cups guacamole
2 cups light sour cream
4 tsp Lawry’s Taco Seasoning
2, 16 ounce cans Rosarita traditional refried beans
8 scallions, washed and diced
1 package grape tomatoes, rinsed and cut into thirds
1 bunch fresh cilantro
Tortilla chips
Clear, plastic, 5-6 ounce tumblers

Directions
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together sour cream and taco seasonings. Spoon refried beans into a mixing bowl and stir with a fork until smooth. Place all ingredients in front of you in order for easy assembly.

In each plastic tumbler, layer sour cream mixture, beans, guacamole, tomatoes, scallion, lettuce and cheese. Garnish with a sprig of fresh cilantro and serve with tortilla chips and a small appetizer spoon. Pass to your guests using a large decorative tray.

Makes 16 to 18 individual cups.

 

american beauty

Lead FloralLabor Day is here and with it the symbolic final celebration of summer. If you are thinking about an eye-catching hostess gift for that BBQ you’re invited to, why not walk in with this cool flower arrangement. I’m pretty sure, no one else will have one like it. And if you’re the lucky “hostess with the mostess,” this will be the stunning centerpiece of your table.

I wasn’t sure how it would come out when I started to make the arrangement. I knew what I wanted but things don’t always turn out how we envision (just ask my family who told me my last recipe involving spaghetti squash was not “blogworthy”). The recipe really did look different in my head!

This “American Beauty” of an arrangement, however, was given a big thumbs up by my toughest critics- my loving family. And I knew it was a hit when my mom raved about the flowers and attributed it to her flower-making prowess that she declared, “must have rubbed off on you.

Materials
1 dozen deep red roses
1 dozen creamy white roses
1 bunch of blue/purplish flowers (I used Delphiniums)
1 large bunch of Babies Breath
1 long palm leaf
1, 8″x8″ square vase
1 square wet floral oasis
1 yard thick ribbon (I used gold)
glue gun
floral scissors

Directions
Florals 1
Florals 2
Floral 3
Floral 4
Florals 5
Florals 6
Floral 7
Florals 8
Florals 9 final

Finish out the arrangement by lining the outside border with the Babies Breath. This will ensure that no part of the green oasis will be seen. This arrangement will last a while. Check the oasis daily and gently pour in water when it starts to feel dry.

Wherever  your Labor Day weekend invitations lead you; be happy, be healthy, be safe, have fun and LAUGH…

rhett butler knows charleston

image-1

At the end of Gone With the Wind, Rhett Butler tells Scarlett O’Hara that he’s leaving her and going back to Charleston, “where there’s a little bit of grace and charm left in the world.” Truer words were never spoken… Lace up your walking shoes and take a stroll with us down one of Charleston, South Carolina’s many cobblestone streets, or hop in one of the city’s traditional horse drawn carriages and be escorted through this historical city to see the beautiful architecture, plantation style homes and lush gardens.

Christi just visited Charleston with her mom and her daughter and they all raved about the trip (from what she shared, it was a complete foodfest). My mom visited the south this summer as well and said the highlight of her trip was Charleston. I haven’t been yet, but it is definitely NOW at the top of the list. Take a quick peek of this heralded city here…

Charleston has over 300 years of remarkable history that make it a “must-visit.” And don’t be surprised if you are greeted like an old friend at the corner bakery with a wink and a smile. Foodies beware…Charleston is filled with unique and delicious eateries, sure to please the most distinguished palate. Christi said, “Every one of our culinary wishes came true!” Living up to its reputation, Charleston was voted America’s city with the “Best Southern Hospitality,” and also voted (more than once) by Conde’ Nast Traveler Magazine as one of the “Top Ten Places to Visit in the USA.” Time to make some travel plans…

Keeping in line with this week’s theme, you can expect some good Southern recipes in our next few posts (with a slight twist).

Thanks for stopping by, and let us know if you’ve been to Charleston and what you thought!

 

aloha style…day into night

aloha style ...day into night
“WHAT should I pack for Hawaii???” asked one of our girlfriends recently. She has been working her tush off non-stop for the last three years. While previous summers saw us off vacationing, she had her nose to the grindstone. This summer it’s HER turn and we couldn’t be more thrilled. She returns to the island of Kauai, which is a very special destination for she and her family. “Aloha friend! Whatever stylish clothes you end up packing, we are pretty certain that nothing will compare to the glow of your well-deserved vacation!”
So this week’s posts at Cashmere Apron will have a bit of a Hawaiian theme- it’s an homage to our friend on her blissful vacation and a remembrance of past trips we both have taken to Hawaii. Keep scrolling for an island-style cocktail recipe that was taste-tested several times over the weekend, and approved! Aloha! Enjoy your week and a little bit of Cashmere Apron.
ct-sig

the polished preppy

The Polished Preppy

 

Summer entertaining is here-boat rides, beach bonfires, backyard barbeques, swim parties, and concerts in the park. Each occasion eliciting the same question, “What am I going to wear???” We’ve updated the “preppy” look to fit almost any summer occasion. It’s an enduring style that goes hand in hand with crisp shirts, traditional colors, bermuda bags and, of course, loafers. And if you need more inspiration, you can always reference that Eighties tome and fashion “bible,” The Preppy Handbook. Happy styling!
The Preppy Handbook

beachy keen beach bag…

Beachy Keen FinalIt’s time to plant yourself in your favorite beach chair and slide your toes into the warm golden sand of summer. Grab your beach bag, fill it with our recommended “essentials” and start rolling toward that ocean breeze in style.

1. Rachel Roy FEED Bag | 2. Oliver Bonas Neon Water Bottle
3. Literary Summer Entertainment by Goodreads| 4. C Wonder Anchors Away Pendant
5. Wildfox Swim Towel | 6. Ray Ban Aviators in Crystal Pink
7. The Pill Wireless Speaker by Dr. Dre | 8. Ted Baker Polee Flip Flops

 And for just a little more summertime inspiration, click California Girls… to hear Katy Perry streaming her hit.

 

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 11.07.51 PM

 

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 11.08.42 PM

We’re pretty sure you know the rest of the song…so TURN IT UP!

Beach Out,

ct-sig

 

 

father of cool gift guide

Steve McQueen FinalGrowing up, my sister and I would rack our brains to shower our dad with the perfect Father’s Day gift. While many years of random gift giving come to my mind, my personal favorite is the year of the “Sears photo shoot.” It was there that we posed like total pros, sandwiched between the appliance department and the patio furniture. I remember the highly-unflattering, institutional looking blue-gray background screen; my sister in her monogrammed sweater and knickers from The Limited (totally the rage), and me in my high collared, plaid prairie blouse and cords. She had a mouth full of braces and I had yet to grow into my nose. Is a photo of all that awkwardness REALLY a gift? Apparently it was one of the greatest gifts ever as my parents had that photo perma-plaqued and hanging in their home for years (it now adorns a hallway in my sister’s house).

I love seeing that photo. It reminds me that the best gift a father ever receives is the gift of Fatherhood itself. It’s the complete unabashed and loyal love of a man who looks at his children and, no matter what, only sees beauty.

We would love to hear about your most memorable Father’s Day Gift too!

Here’s to all the COOL dads out there and some of our fun picks this Father’s Day. Happy Giving.

Father's Day Collage

1. Nike iD Custom Shoes | 2. Rumba Watch- Perry Silicone Underwater | 3. Rose Compass Whiskey Decanter | 4. AG Jeans The Matchbox – 5 Years-Raw Fade | 5. Persol 714 Sunglasses | 6. Thompson London Designer Cuff Links | 7. Rancho Valencia Retreat |
8. Football Jersey. The season is coming

 

graduation style and the lbd

Updated Mrs. Robinson

Any big event in a woman’s life usually begs one burning question, “WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR?????” We look, we imagine, we shop, we try on, we try on and we try on again. My son’s graduation next week from Middle School had me pondering the same question. I have been hunting for an emerald green dress for a few reasons. Emerald green is the Pantone “Color of the Year” and I have been searching for something in its hue since the announcement. I also have dark hair and olive skin and apparently, as I have been told, brunettes wear that color well.
So I hit the mecca of So. Cal shopping, South Coast Plaza, with hopes of finding that amazing green-toned dress that had been eluding me (I could already hear the compliments in my head). And yet, I ended up with black. Yes, I bought another “Little Black Dress.” I just really, really loved the dress (which is a Karen Millen, the designer of the dress above). It felt good. I think it looks good on and I had a sense of confidence when that zipper went up and it was just the mirror and me (from EVERY angle).
I won’t feel bad about buying another black dress! Look at some of our most beloved style icons – Audrey Hepburn, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Sophia Loren and Grace Kelly. I am certainly no style icon, but definitely channeling the very best!
Style icons Final

graduation time is here

GRADUATION = FOOD + CELEBRATION + NOSTALGIA

Ummmmmmm, why are you in the pantry with the door shut,” I asked my son who is in Final exam study mode. “No reason,” he says and opens the door as I hear a wrapper crackling in his front pocket. Well, of course he is pillaging my secret and apparently poorly hidden candy stash.

Truth be told, I don’t mind him taking the candy. I find it amusing that at age 14, he is sneaking a treat just like when he was a little boy. My memories flow like a film reel. I remember holding his hand as we walked through the doors of preschool 11 years ago; his bright blue eyes big as saucers, his palms sweaty and a nervous sideways grin plastered across his face. Everyone says it and it’s so true, “Where did the time go???” Looking at his school photos in chronological order, I am amazed by the transformation that my eyes see and my heart denies.

He is upstairs studying for the last exams of middle school. I don’t even have to peek in to know that his Nikes are thrown off, at least one sock is missing from his feet, he is chewing on a pencil while memorizing facts under his breath, there is no lighting despite very functional desk lamps, and he is watching the clock for the next ESPN sports highlight segment which will be call a “needed” study break.

And I know bittersweet memories like mine are dancing through the minds of parents everywhere this time of year. We will celebrate our graduate next week. A small party with family and close friends is just the ticket. My son chose his Asian inspired Graduation dinner menu from a local caterer, What A Dish, based on his culinary favorites; meat, noodles and lots of sweet teriyaki sauce. For dessert, he chose a simple vanilla cake by Its All About the Cake  with the emblem of his new high school adorning the top. The meal and the day are all about him.

Enjoy your special graduation day. Maybe you are the host. Maybe you are a guest. And maybe you are remembering your own graduation. Savor and celebrate it all.

To see our favorite graduation party appetizers, scroll down to check out Cashmere Apron’s Ultimate Nachos, Coconut Shrimp and homemade Roasted Corn Guacamole!

ct-sig

 

chrome girl nails it

Jaime.MelissaFinalI received an invite to attend an afternoon garden party in the swanky burbs of Los Angeles. I looked at the invitation and thought, “Hmmmm… a carefree Saturday spent savoring hand-passed appetizers, scrumptious mini desserts and sipping festive cocktails to celebrate the launch of Chrome Girl Nail line…perhaps there would even be some mingling with celebs???” That’s what I call a no-brainer. I invited a few of my best gal pals and we cruised to L.A. for the festivities.

Chrome Girl Nail line is the brainchild of two darling neighborhood mommy friends. They wanted a chemical free product their young girls could pamper their little fingers with while providing an edgy and trendy line of lacquers for girls of all ages.

Flash forward to February 2013. Jennifer Hudson sports Chrome Girl Nail color “Hard To Get” to the Oscars (a major coup). Then, the soft launch of Chrome Girl Nail in a Planet Beauty store in L.A. so impressed that the nail line was put into all Planet Beauty stores. Not bad for two neighborhood friends bonding over their daughter’s manis! Chrome Girl Nail founders Jaime Boreanaz (wife of Bones star/actor David Boreanaz) and Melissa Ravo “officially” launched Chrome Girl Nail at the garden party celebration where all proceeds directly benefitted the Non-Profit organization Dress for Success.

Such a fun crowd

Such a fun crowd

The backyard decor was a dreamy menagerie of white leather, chrome tables and gorgeous springtime blooms. A handsome bartender poured creative and delicate concoctions featuring berries, edible blooms and Veev, an organic Acai spirit. We nibbled, sipped and chatted the afternoon away and had the pleasure of meeting Anna Sophia Robb (The Carrie Diaries), AJ and Aly Michalka (actresses and musicians; 78violet) and David Boreanaz, star of Bones. We spent time at the cleverly created “Polish-N-Play” bar where you could demo all of the Chrome Girl Nail line colors created with such saucy monikers as Barely Legal, Birthday Suit, No Tan Lines, Pucker Up, Shmexy, Sweet Spot and Worth The Wait.

The Party Setting. Supported by my gals Heather, Jill and Lisa <3

The Party Setting. Supported by my gals Heather, Jill and Lisa <3

My sister was the event hostess (yep- that’s how I snagged an invite) and I always find it inspiring to watch her do her thing and move about a crowd so naturally. She spoke from the heart about her friends, David and Jaime, and congratulated Melissa and her husband Aaron as well. She told a story from early in her career that segued beautifully into the mission of Dress for Success and being empowered by how we present ourselves, and how every woman deserves to feel that sense of confidence. It truly was a special afternoon of women supporting women – from my friends coming to the party with me, to our family being there to support my sister in her home, to all of the guests supporting entrepreneurs Jaime and Melissa and acknowledging their success, to the Dress for Success team.

Perfect Ending to the day...sunset dinner at The Ivy at The Shore with my gals...

Perfect Ending to the day…sunset dinner at The Ivy at The Shore with my gals…

There’s a scene from Silver Linings Playbook where Bradley Cooper’s character, Pat, is subjected to his brother’s OTT bragging about how great his life has become while Pat was locked up in a mental institution. Pat looks at his brother, hugs him tightly and says, “I got nothin but LOVE for you brother.” That line sticks with me. I loved being part of such a supportive and positive afternoon. Best of Luck Chrome Girl Nail. We expect you to be all over Oscar nails in 2014.

Now, if I could just get Jennifer Hudson into a Cashmere Apron burn-out tank!

 

get your birchbox on!

IMG_3267I find magazines all over the house with pages dog-eared so I don’t forget to remember all the cool stuff I want to try – a new recipe, a new restaurant, a new trend, a new boutique, a new wrinkle reducer… My iPhone too has a robust and growing list under the NOTES section for the same purpose. And yet, daily life crashes in and all of my dog-eared pages and lists go by the wayside. I LOVE Birchbox because it does all that work for me, loyally landing on my doorstep every month like clockwork. Inside that snazzy box, I unwrap the latest beauty, skincare, body, make-up and fragrance selections in a cute and practical sample size. And I know the products are just for me because I filled out my own beauty profile – my likes, dislikes, problem spots (darn t-zone and crow’s feet), interests and so on…

IMG_3265

I think Birchbox is a brilliant concept. “SAMPLE-LEARN-BUY,” they encourage. If you try a product that becomes more relevant in your life than air, you can purchase a full-size version in the Birchbox store. There’s a rewards program too for purchases, referrals and the like. Personally, I don’t take full advantage of the rewards program but I’m sure many do and it seems like a worthwhile feature. If you have extra time (you never know), you can navigate around the Birchbox site and really pump up your “Beauty IQ” with different offerings-there’s an online magazine, tutorials, #beauty diaries, videos and so on.

IMG_3266

The absolute highlight of Birchbox is the cost – $10 a month. No shipping costs. No hidden fees. No obligations. Just $10 a month. If you are like me, there is little time to hunt down the next new product or trend even though we want to. Birchbox makes the perfect gift for someone or the perfect entry point for your daughter into the world of skincare, make-up and beauty.

Love Your Birchbox

Love Your Birchbox

Growing up, I constantly signed-up for monthly programs of some sort – book clubs, the BMG music club, QVC make-up, Proactiv – you get my drift….Ultimately, we would part ways because it became too costly and I rarely used the full product (some never!). I relish my Birchbox every month and the sample sizes are ideal for using in their entirety, throwing into an overnight bag, placing in a guest bathroom or sharing with a friend. SAMPLE-LEARN-BUY…why not join? Get your Birchbox on today!


mother’s day morning fishing trip

row- row- row your boat

row- row- row your boat

Here is a glimpse of my Mother’s Day fishing/rowing/picnic trip. My daughter loves the ocean and her vintage row boat and thought the perfect Mother’s Day would be for the two of us to get out on the water. We baked muffins, threaded fruit kabobs, and made delicious mochaccino lattes. It was a simple morning filled with laughter, yummy food, and much needed one on one time. Who says that you can’t like your teenager? Get creative with your loved ones on this holiday. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, just take the time to do something that you will all cherish. The funniest part of the whole morning was when my husband saw the fishing poles that we had chosen to take with us. Apparently, the poles were for catching very big fish (like maybe a shark!) Yikes, did you notice the size of our boat??

cool gifts for a new mommy on her special day

What all the new moms want.

hen and chick|earrings|gold charm|chai gift set|chloe perfume
iPhone case|baby bag|charm necklace|pajamas

Being a new mommy is quite an experience and everyone has a story. Cute and petite Christi brought her beautiful girl into the world with barely a sneeze- her hair and make-up in place looking fresh as a springtime daisy. A friend who visited me right after the birth of my first child, took one look at me and my wobbly belly and I knew she was thinking, “Dear God…what happened to her???”

All moms have been there, in one way or another, with their personal stories and struggles filled with laughter, love, awe and humility. We created two “UnWrap It” gift guides – one for the new mommy and a more luxurious version for the mom who has put in her time (at least that is the argument to the hubs). Some items are a bit extravagant, but a mom’s gotta dream!

Happy Mother’s Day from Cashmere Apron

glamorize and economize

Who says you can’t glamorize and economize at the same time? No one would argue that the state of our economy has been less than desirable since…well…..We all know people who have pinched pennies and scrimped on everything from the basic necessities to those luxury items (Gasp!! No cut and color every 4 to 6 weeks?? What’s a girl to do!!)

We know the best times are had with the people we spend them with (and a little creativity never hurts). So, we invited a group of our best gal pals to a themed party called “Sign-Of-The-Times.” The rules for attendance were simple:

  1. Wear a new outfit that cost $25 or less (receipts had to be provided)
  2. Bring an appetizer that cost $15 or less
  3. Bring your best money saving tip related to cooking, fashion, beauty or entertainment

The questions we received leading up to the party were quite amusing, “Do shoes count?” “Does shipping and tax count?” “Where am I going to find an outfit for $25!” “This is not possible!” “I don’t even know where to shop!”

When our stylish guests arrived, they walked the red carpet lined with rose petals and bright, metallic balloons. Both items were purchased at The Dollar Store. Everyone posed for a Polaroid picture that was pinned to a board with their receipt for “proof of purchase.”

Cashmere Apron provided the setting (thank you Christi), drinks, dinner and dessert and followed the exact same rules as our guests. Our menu:

Opening Cocktail:
Sparkling Sangria (recipe found in our recipes archive)

Appetizers
Provided by our guests

Dinner
Christi’s Krunchy Kale salad (a crowd favorite!)
Mini chicken pot pies
White wine
Sparkling water

Dessert
Mini Frozen Chocolate mousse pies
Coffee

Party Favor
Homemade fudge wrapped in parchment paper and tucked into a red sparkling Chinese-Take-Away-Box purchased at Cost Plus World Market.

 And of course, prizes were given for those that followed the rules and those that didn’t!

Everyone (pretty much) followed the rules. And everyone had a great time without breaking the bank. You CAN glamorize and economize! Everything from the invites to the decorations and the menu were planned with cost in mind. Remember that old saying, “The man makes the suit, the suit doesn’t make the man.” The same goes here – just replace “man” with “woman” and “suit” with “super hot outfit!”

Start your planning!