Tag Archives: Dining Room

Color Inspiration for Holiday Entertaining

I’ve been thinking about the upcoming holidays and the traditional color schemes for  entertaining this time of year: black and orange for Halloween; gold, cooper, brown for Thanksgiving; and red and forest green for Christmas.  This year I want to incorporate something new, something more trendy so I looked at the 2012 fall fashion colors.  The Pantone Fall 2012 Colors include a bright shade of purple (the fashion trade refers to it as rhapsody, sugar plum, and gothic grape).  I like a little darker shade — more plum and mulberry is more my style.  I’m going to mix up the color wheel by combining olympian blue with ultramarine green (really the shade of billiard tables) together in what I hope turns out to be a smoky teal green.  I’ll add a touch of rose smoke and flashy pink flambe’ for fun, and I’ve found my color scheme for entertaining this season.

As I dream of fall parties, the perfect holiday table for me will be set with a  tablecloth in an almost rose smoke color called Acorn Contour (from BBJ Linens) around $33.00.  Next I’ll add pink flambe’ handmade fabric runners.  Each mat will drape across the table and serve as individual placements (so you’ll only need one runner for every two guests.)  Pick up fabric at a discount online, at Hobby Lobby or any fabric store and make these simple runners yourself.

For an over-the-top tablescape, I’ve chosen Biltmore Inspirations’ Lotus Leaf Platters to serve as the charger plates for each place setting.  Because these platters are so big, bold and beautiful, I won’t be removing them before serving dinner, even though etiquette books dictate otherwise.  Each gorgeous platter measures 12″L x 18″W x 2.5″H and retails for $69.98/each.  With six to eight of these on the table, this will make a dramatic statement.

Lotus Leaf Tableware

On top of each charger, guests will find a brightly colored braided fuchsia placemat with wavy design. Each mat measures 15″ in diameter.  Found online at Gifted Solution (4 for $16.00).

For serving dishes, I’ve incorporated Biltmore Inspiration’s Pisgah Baking Dishes.  The color of these dishes resemble the soft smoky teal-green Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina, the corporate home to both the Biltmore Estate and  it’s newest division, Biltmore Inspirations.  The single large baking dish measures 11.25″Dia. x 2.75″H and serves  as the dinner plate ($35.98).  The smaller baking dish 10″ Dia x. 2.25″ will be used for any first courses ($45.98 set of two that includes a 8.5″Dia x 2″H dish).  Perfect for serving soup or salad.

Pisgah Baking Dishes

Pisgah Baking Dishes

Each of the Pisgah Baking Dishes are separated by an eggplant colored linen napkin that measures 21″ x 21″ at $10.00/each.  This one’s called malbec from Linoto.   A great color for dabbing those Cabernet wine stains off your lips between courses.

I envision the table to be decorated with similar colored fresh farmer’s market produce.  Purple cabbage, purple potatoes, dark kale, Chinese eggplant, asparagus, and leafy green Brussels sprouts should be ideal.

Other decorative centerpiece details include Biltmore’s new Pisgah Canisters ($59.98 for set of two).  Same beautiful blue-green color as the baking dishes.  The large measures 4.5″Dia x 13.125″H, and medium 5″Dia x 8.625″H).

Pisgah Canisters & Pedestal Dish

Biltmore’s Pisgah Canisters & Pedestal Dish

French Market Buckets

Biltmore’s French Market Buckets

Centered on the table are Biltmore’s French Market Flower Buckets $99.98 set of two (large 8″Dia. at top x 6″ Dia. at bottom x 18″ H. and medium 7″Dia. at top x 4.5″ Dia at bottom x 14″H) filled with silk hydrangeas, chrysanthemums, and other favorite flowers and greenery.

A pair of Biltmore’s Courtyard Lanterns (large 5.75″W x 5.75″D x 13″H $42.98 and small 4″W x 3.5″D x 8″H set of two for $32.98) holding mulberry colored pillar candles completes the tablescape.

Biltmore’s Courtyard Lanterns

Ideally, guests this season will include precious little friends wearing matching velvet dresses and jackets and deep eggplant colored bows in their hair like this one.

The finished table setting should bring lots of ooh’s and ah’s to this year’s festivities.  What do you think?

Autumn-Inspired Tablesetting from Biltmore Inspirations

Festive Tablescape from Biltmore Inspirations

Biltmore products can be ordered at my website.

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Filed under Decorating, Holiday, Party, Tablescapes

Cranberries: What to do with all of that leftover sauce!

Zinfandel Cranberry Sauce

Tomorrow is the day we add dollops of cranberry sauce to our plates of turkey.  Whether the turkey is roasted, deep fat fried, smoked or baked in a bag, this traditional condiment adds a flavorful acidic touch to the fat laden Thanksgiving meal.

The cranberry’s botanical name, vaccinium oxycoccos, literally means “cow.”  Food historian Alan Davidson, author of the Oxford Companion to Food 1999, says that cows (vacco) enjoy eating cranberries and that is how cranberries got their name!  Cranberries historical significance in America dates back to the 1864, when General Ulysses S. Grant ordered that it be served to the troops during the siege of Petersburg.  Although it was the Native Americans who first noticed the natural preservative powers of these berries, it was when they began socializing with the Pilgrims in 1672, that cranberry pies and tarts started showing up on the Thanksgiving table.

There are many recipes for cranberry sauce.  I created this recipe because it uses a delicious bottle of one of my favorite wines, Zinfandel.

Zinfandel Cranberry Sauce Recipe

1 (12 ounce) package cranberries, fresh

2+ cups of red Zinfandel wine (choose one with lots of spiciness)

½ c. balsamic vinegar

1 T. Vietnamese cinnamon

1 c. white sugar

1 T. black peppercorns

1 t. whole cloves

In a non-reactive saucepan, combine the cranberries, wine, balsamic vinegar and cinnamon.  If you’re unsure about how sweet the sauce will be, begin with one-half c. sugar, add more to taste.

Place the peppercorns and cloves in a small piece of cheesecloth and tie shut.  Add to the pot.  Bring the berries to a boil, then reduce to medium-low.

The cranberries will cook completely in 20-30 minutes, bursting and turning deep red.  In the last few minutes of cooking, taste for sweetness and stir sugar in more as desired.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Remove the spices.  Store in a clean jar.  Can be kept for several weeks in the refrigerator.

What to do with the leftover sauce

This sauce is great on Thanksgiving Day, but usually there is an abundance of leftovers.  Here are 15 ideas on ways to use up the sauce:

  • Add 1/2 cup to pancake batter to make cranberry pancakes.
  • Mix with cream cheese and smear on a fresh bagel for breakfast.
  • Place a block of cream cheese on a plate, top with Zinfandel Cranberry Sauce, and serve with crackers for a quick and tasty appetizer.  Or, alternatively, warm a block of Brie cheese in the oven, and top with the sauce.
  • Mix with a tablespoon of cream cheese, and use as a spread for your favorite chicken or turkey sandwich.
  • Using freshly ground turkey, chicken, or pork, make Cranberry Meatballs substituting cranberry sauce for tomato sauce.
  • Mix with a tablespoon or two of orange juice and use as a glaze for a pork roast, or grilled pork chops.
  • Add to a homemade muffin mix, along with a 1/2 cup of walnuts.
  • Add to your favorite BBQ sauce to baste over baked or grilled chicken.
  • Cube baked sweet potatoes and mix with toasted walnuts and minced parsley.  Add cranberry sauce to a few tablespoons of olive oil and drizzle in mixture to make a healthy salad.
  • Mix a few tablespoons with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and red wine vinegar to create a tangy salad dressing.
  • Puree with cream cheese to make a cranberry dip.
  • Using your favorite type of milk (whole, 2%, rice, soy or almond), add 1/4 cup with a sliced banana, 1 T. honey or agave juice, and ice to turn into a cranberry smoothie.
  • Make a quesadilla using cooked shredded turkey or chicken, chopped kale, your favorite cheese, cumin, and chili powder placed in corn tortillas.  Sauté on both sides until warm.  
  • Warm sauce in microwave and drizzle over vanilla ice cream for a delicious dessert.
  • Add to homemade apple pie, or pear crisp, recipes for a festive twist on dessert.

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Filed under Appetizers, Holiday, Party, Recipes, Salads, Sauces, Wines

Spanish Mission Style for your Dining Table

Interior Hallway at Mission Santa Barbara

Photo by Debbie J. Elder

On a recent visit to the beautiful Pacific coastal city of Santa Barbara, I visited the historic, 225-year old Mission Santa Barbara. Locals refer to this 1786-built mission as the “Queen of the Missions,” due to its magnificent Roman-inspired architecture and its place as the 10th of California’s 21 missions continually operating since its beginning by Franciscan friars.  The gorgeous chapel and the flower-filled inner Moorish fountain and courtyard were my favorite parts of the tour.  Until I spied this lovely brick and stucco outdoor hallway.  I loved the elaborate ironwork enveloping the windows and the brightly painted turquoise shutters with brick-red trim.  The thick adobe exterior walls, originally painted by Chumash Indians, now boasts a striking rich-yellow tone. The white-washed years of wear and tear, located below the bottom of the windows, reminds me of tarnished silver. Finally, patterned black ironwork, a frequent enhancement of Santa Barbara architecture, adds a flash of jewelry to the windows.

I thought about how to create this enticing color scheme for dining at home. Envision your dining table showcasing tableware inspired by the Mission colors of muted mustard yellow, Southwestern turquoise, rusty-red, iron black and touches of flashy silver.

In searching online, I found some sturdy dinnerware in a slightly more mint-turquoise shade by Bobby Flay at Kohl’s.  These dishes are perfectly trimmed in rust red, similar to the windows above.  The retail price is $139.99 for a 16-piece set.

Consider pairing this dinnerware with the Dijon-yellow scalloped placemats.  Or, alternatively, a full tablecloth in this collection from Williams Sonoma.

These lovely linens feature a center raised grape motif and leaf pattern. This seems appropriate for our mission theme, after all didn’t the Franciscan monks produce wine?  $56.00 for a set of four placemats, $125.00 – $180.00 for the tablecloths, depending on size.

Complete the table setting with black eating utensils.  A heavy, rustic, forged iron style would be perfect, such as these from the Country Village Shoppe at $64.95 for each 5-piece setting.

Then, add some bowls and serving pieces in a tarnished silver plate, borrowing a few of those antique treasures from your grandmother’s cupboard for the occasion.  Or, I like to search out pretty silver plate pieces with discounted prices at Ruby Lane.

Finally, create a giant centerpiece out of the bright yellow sunflowers growing in abundance by the roadside this month.  And, as an added bonus, they are free!  Add in some green flowering branches from a tree in your yard and arrange the flowers in a silver wine bucket or rustic black urn for a final Spanish touch.

Photo by Debbie J. Elder

Viva La Fiesta!

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Filed under Dining, Tablescapes