Whoa, not so fast with those cobwebs. We know, you thought they’d artfully adorn the doorway, when really – no matter which way you stretch them – they’re a tacky mess in the end. Turn to an expert for this one. Here, lifestyle maven extraordinaire Annie Dean lends décor tips (and a festive drink recipe) for a Halloween soiree that is, as she says, “heavy on style and light on silly extras.”

The Festive Drink
The White Lady is a famous classic cocktail in the Sidecar family, in this case inspired by the 18th-century ghost of the same name who haunts Union Cemetery in my hometown.

October 9, 2013

The miniature sandwiches have been devoured, the crystal vases unwrapped, and the air is full of champagne bubbles and hopeful chatter. It’s time for a few lighthearted – perhaps slightly silly – wedding shower games. Here, we turn to entertaining expert Annie Dean.

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Continue reading “After Mimosas: 3 Bridal Shower Games From Guest Blogger Annie Dean” »

September 11, 2013

 
Foodies, party throwers, DIY lovers – rejoice. Annie Dean is back. And this time, she’s wearing her hostess hat. Quick, easy, and made for all things elegant, here are her secrets to a failsafe centerpiece.

Some of the summer’s most celebrated buds are peonies and hydrangeas. Both varietals are long-stemmed, but the expert hostess will want a centerpiece that is lush and low so as not to stifle across-the-table conversations. Here’s an easy fix for a gorgeous, table-friendly arrangement that is simple and summery.

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Photos by Annie Dean

Continue reading for a step-by-step guide and expert tips from Annie >>

August 9, 2013

 
Get excited. None other than Annie Dean, blogger and food extraordinaire, let us in on her quintessential summer dessert (and how you – yes you – can make it at home) just in time for the Fourth of July spread:

Summer is the season, unquestionably, to bake pies. Growing up, my mom used to bake us all sorts of pies. Blueberry. Peach. Strawberry Rhubarb. We’d never eat them hot, though. After they came out of the oven, we’d let them cool off by an open window in the kitchen and then pop them in the fridge overnight. By breakfast we’d be ready for a slice: the perfect relief from the morning heat. For her pie recipes, my mom has always relied on McCall’s Superb Dessert Cookbook by Mary Eckley, the then-food editor of McCall’s magazine. And for good reason: Mary Eckley was my mom’s godmother. Try this blueberry pie. You’ll forget winter even exists.

Blueberry Pie

McCall’s Blueberry Pie

Filling

  • 2 pints of blueberries, rinsed, patted dry and picked through to remove obvious stems
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • dash of salt

 
Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted before measuring)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

 

To make filling:
Place blueberries in a bowl and add 1 cup sugar mixed with 1/4 cup flour and a dash of salt. Toss until thoroughly coated.

To make crust:
Sift flour with salt into medium bowl. With pastry blender or two knives, using a short, cutting motion, cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Quickly sprinkle ice water, one tablespoon at a time, over all of pastry mixture, tossing lightly with a fork after each addition and pushing dampened portion to side of bowl (pastry should be just moist enough to hold together, not sticky). Shape the pastry into a ball and wrap in wax paper until ready to use. When ready, divide in half and flatten each half with palm of hand.

Roll out each half into a 12-inch circle, rolling with light strokes from center to edge. As you roll, alternate directions. Fold bottom pastry in half and carefully place in a buttered pie dish, taking care to ensure that fold is in the center of the pie dish. Unfold and fit carefully into pie plate, leaving some pastry overhanging on the sides. Cut top pastry into 12 1-inch slices.

Once the bottom crust of the pie has been added to the pie dish, add your filling and make your lattice-top crust. Crimp the edges with a fork and pop in the oven at 425°F for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and filling is fizzling out of the top crust.

Expert tip:
Protect your crusts with a makeshift crust protector. Cut a circle of aluminum foil larger than the circumference of the pie. Cut out a large hole from the center of the foil, just an inch or so smaller than the circumference of your pie. When placed over the pie, the foil will fit just over the crimped edges of the crust. After 20 minutes of baking, add the crust protector to prevent the edges of your crust from over-browning.

Our Sunday Supper: The All-American Feast Boutique opens Sunday, June 30, at 11AM ET.

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June 30, 2013

Summer is sacred. No question about it. Here, top bloggers, chefs, and more share their must-happen summer tips and traditions.

Summer is the Season To

“Summer is the season to…

…bake pies. Growing up, my mom used to bake us all sorts of pies. Blueberry. Peach. Strawberry Rhubarb. We’d never eat them hot, though. After they came out of the oven, we’d let them cool off by an open window in the kitchen and then pop them in the fridge overnight. By breakfast we’d be ready for a slice: the perfect relief from the morning heat.”
–Annie Dean
Blogger, AnnieDean.com

…camp in the White Mountains and grill over an open fire.”
–Armand Toutaint 
Chef de Cuisine, Turner Fisheries

…sit back and let the ingredients speak for themselves.”
–The Editors at Food52

…drink smoothies for lunch.”
–Tina Haupert
Blogger, Carrots ‘N’ Cake, and freelance writer, Health.com

…mix up a few pitchers of margaritas, then kick back with your guests and have some fun.”
–Camille Styles
Blogger, Camille Styles

…join up with friends and share some light, fresh, and healthy recipes. Grill meat, fish, and vegetables, and round out your meals with beans or pasta salads.”
–Reena Dulfon
Blogger, Set to Turbo, and health/fitness coach

…make an heirloom tomato salad.”
–Adam Roberts
Blogger, The Amateur Gourmet

…drink fruity herbal iced teas.”
–Debbie Hallock
Blogger, Deliciously Inspired

…picnic on the Deschutes River, sipping frosty microbrews from the Bend Ale Trail and stoking the campfire for an evening of s’mores under the stars.”
–Tawna Fenske
Communications Manager, Visit Bend, and author

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June 14, 2013