Hostess Gifts for Fourth of July & Summer

These fun stripped paper straws are affordable and are a great gift. Pair them with your favorite drink mix and a pitcher and you have a great gift. Kikkerland makes the blue and white stripes and for other amazing straw designs (including stars and polka dots) check out The Sugar Diva.

If you enjoy baking, try these mini pies. They make a nice homemade hostess gift too.
Pillsbury makes an unroll pie crust. Cut out your mini dough crust shapes that fit in a mini muffin pan and use your favorite apple pie recipe to make a yummy treat.

I like a good gadget. This festive ANT watermelon holder, from Terry's Village, is adorable and sure to spark conversation at your next bash. Just add the watermelon and it makes a great affordable gift!

Festive Fourth of July Party Ideas (set up for TV)

Fireworks, Food, Family and Friends, that’s what I love about the 4th of July. I am a huge fan of a great outdoor bbq so fire up the grill and get your sparkle on with these simple fresh and tasty tips;

Lets face it the food and drinks are the stars of this party, so let me start you off with an easy to make cocktail recipe to keep you cool four your 4th of July bash.

Create a D-I-Y Bar and pre mix this festive red, white and Sauza blue margarita. It is refreshing, and easy to make. For this drink use 1 parts Sauza Blue, 2 parts cran raspberry juice, 1 part lemon lime soda. Combine all in a pitcher and garnish with red white and blue sugar or a raspberry skewer. Serve it cold or on the rocks.

Another reason to love Sauza is that is its price makes entertaining at home fun and affordable.

Keep the party fired up with these terrific treats from the grill. Don’t feel limited to burgers and franks try grilling Salmon kabobs, veggie kabobs and for you vegetarians try bbq’d tofu. Use this handy Kabob Holder from Sur La Table to create your own Skewer Station!

Salmon Skewer Recipe
6 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1lb skinned wild salmon fillets
6 skewers (these are cast iron from Sur La Table)

In a mixing bowl combine all the ingredients except Salmon, set aside. Cube Salmon fillets then marinate for at least an hour. Thread salmon on skewers and grill for about 10 minutes, turning so each side gets browned. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This year’s summer salad is one of my personal favorites, Heirloom Tomato Salad. It is fresh, and again you notice a theme, easy to make. It also adds a nice pop of red to your table. If you can’t find heirloom tomatoes beefsteak tomatoes work too.

8-10 small heirloom tomatoes cut into wedges
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1 tbsp fresh basil (tear, don’t chop)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Feta Cheese (optional)
Toss all together and top with Cheese, if desired.

If you often have unexpected guests to your bbq as my family always does, then extend your menu by adding last minute affordable sides, like mesquite corn on the cob- grill the corn, break it half, then squeeze lime juice, a few dashes of chili pepper and Parmesan cheese. This will be a huge hit with guests and also will taste great with your red white and blue Sauza Margarita.

I love dessert so this year, I decided I can have my cake and eat it too… well apple pie that is. I created this mini apple pie a la mode’s so you get a delicious bite of your favorite pie, but you don’t over indulge. To create these we used a mini muffin pan. I suggest doing this the night before your party. They are great hot or cold. You can bring out your inner child with these other fun treats… red velvet whoopie pies, snow cones and frozen watermelon scoops.

(these in the photo are from an amazing bakery in Brooklyn, NY One Girl Cookies)
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
For the cookies:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 oz. red food coloring (use 1-2 drops more for 4th of July red)

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
21/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Use the whoppie pie mold from Wilton.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, beat in about a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the buttermilk, beating each addition just until incorporated. Repeat so that all the buttermilk has been added and then mix in the final third of dry ingredients. Do not over beat. Blend in the food coloring.

Bake 7-9 minutes or until the tops are set, rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets at least 10 minutes, until they can be easily transferred to a cooling rack. Allow cookies to cool completely before proceeding.

To make the cream cheese frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.

Transfer the frosting to a clean pastry bag fitted with a plain, round tip. Pair the cookies up by shape and size. Flip one cookie of each pair over so that the flat side is facing up. Pipe frosting onto the flat-sided cookie of each pair, leaving the edges clear. Sandwich the cookies together so the flat sides are facing each other and press gently to help the filling reach the edges. To store, refrigerate in an airtight container.

Your food can really be your d├ęcor for this holiday, but when choosing other decorative items choose one main color like blue and use the others as accents. Also, look around your house, use items you own in a new way, for example this is a drink dispenser I’m using to hold flowers. I’m using sand pails as risers for my bar. You can use a colorful sheet as a tablecloth.

And, keep the bugs away from your outdoor bbq with decorative citronella candles. Place them around your table, light them about half an hour before all the guests show up to avoid any mosquito mishaps.

For more great margarita recipes and party tips check out

Happy Summer!

These are a few items that inspired me for my upcoming summer entertaining. I hope these resources can come in handy when you are hosting a party this season.

Top L photo from Verterra dinnerware from fallen leaves
Top middle photo of a sandwich from a party I did with kid friendly ideas
Top R photo yellow straws are from The Sugar Diva
Middle L photo of lemonade is from the
Middle R photo from flicker
Bottom L photo from Avocado Central
Bottom R snow cones from

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all of the wonderful men who help make this world a better place, by supporting their family and being a part of a team.

Check out my friend Monica's article on the new Macaroni Kid Eats site for a few of my Dad day ideas you can create in your own kitchen this morning!

Macaroni Kid Eats