Throw a Casual Soirée

 

Strawberry Pie

Ingredients for Deep-Dish Strawberry Dream Pie. Photography by Rebecca Terrell

 

Soirée is my favorite word. Not because it rolls off the tongue in the most graceful fashion (which it does by the way), but because it has a classy, almost old-fashioned demeanor to it. When I hear the word, I picture sophisticated grown-ups stirring up deep conversations and popping bottles of bubbly.

The idea of a classy dinner party excites me. I love the idea of gathering together in fellowship snacking on tea sandwiches and tiny treats. But instead of white linens, men in bowties and expensive escargot passed around by butlers, I picture a whimsical affair with lights stringing through the trees and lace draped along the tablescape.

A soirée no longer has to mean an over-the-top event. It can mean a casual evening filled with bite-sized delights and cheese plates, with a corn hole game in the backyard. It can mean that you skip the expenses and focus on planning the perfect party.

Personal touches can turn a typical social gathering into a magical soiree. One way to do this is through the food. Rebecca Longshore, the assistant editor of Cooking Light, shared her favorite recipes that are simple, yet elegant.

 “In my opinion, bite-size foods and mini dishes look really classy at a party,” says Longshore. “You can turn almost any appetizer or dessert recipe into a single-serving treat.” So skip the catering and try some of these chic dinner dishes for your next celebration.

Deep-Dish Strawberry Ice Dream Pie

 “With a chocolate crush, strawberry mousse filling and fresh seasonal berries to top it off, this gorgeous pie tastes even better than it looks. Plus, you can make it in advantage and freeze overnight,” says Longshore.

What you’ll need:

  • 30 chocolate wafers
  • 5 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • Dash of salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, divided
  • 1/4 cup seedless strawberry jam, divided
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 cups frozen low-fat whipped topping, thawed

How to do it:
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Finely grind wafers in a food processor. Add butter, egg white, and salt; process until well combined.
3. Gently press mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9.5-inch deep-dish pie plate coated with cooking spray.
4. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Freeze 30 minutes or until well chilled.
5. Slice 1 cup of strawberries; place in large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon strawberry jam and lemon juice; gently stir. Stir in sweetened condensed milk. Gently fold in whipped topping. Spoon mixture into prepared crust, smoothing top. Freeze 4 hours or up to overnight.
6. Quarter remaining strawberries lengthwise; combine with remaining 3 tablespoons jam. Arrange mixture over pie. Serve immediately.

Charred Red Online Dip

 “This simple, refreshing onion dip pairs perfectly with baked sweet potato chips and is guaranteed to be a crowd favorite,” says Longshore.

What you’ll need:
1 cup chopped grilled red onion
1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
Baked sweet potato chips

How to do it:
1. Combine onion, yogurt, sour cream, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, ground red pepper, and salt.
2. Serve with baked sweet potato chips.

Mushroom, Gruyere, and Spinach Quiche

 “A cheesy, spinach quiche partners beautifully with a bright, citrusy salad to serve at a spring party,” says Longshore.

What you’ll need:
5.6 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (about 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons ice water
Cooking spray
3 center-cut bacon slices
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 (8-ounce) package pre-sliced mushrooms
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 cups packed baby spinach
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/3 cup half-and-half
3 large eggs
1 large egg white
2 ounces cave-aged Gruyère cheese, grated

 How to do it:
1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and baking powder in a food processor; pulse 2 times to combine. Combine oil and 3 tablespoons water. With processor on, slowly add oil mixture through food chute; process until dough comes together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead 1 minute. Press dough into a 5-inch disk; wrap in plastic wrap, and chill 20 minutes.
3. Roll dough into a 12-inch circle. Fit dough into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate coated with cooking spray. Line dough with foil; arrange pie weights or dried beans on foil. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until edges are golden. Remove weights and foil; bake an additional 2 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
4. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.
5. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings; crumble. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add shallots to drippings in pan; sauté 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and thyme; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in spinach; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Drain any excess liquid.
6. Place milk, half-and-half, eggs, egg white, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a blender; process until smooth.
7. Arrange half of cheese over bottom of crust; top with spinach mixture and remaining half of cheese. Carefully pour milk mixture over cheese. Sprinkle with bacon. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until filling is set. Let stand 10 minutes.

Like these recipes? Share your creations with us on Instagram at @exodusmagazine.. And be sure to be on the lookout for more mini-dishes in our print edition of Exodus Magazine, coming soon.

 

 

Alternative way of dressing up your photographs

You see people with the photographs hanging by a clothes pin on a string all the time. However, I like to spice mine up a little bit by adding scrapbook paper. Taping scrapbook paper to the back of your photographs helps them look a little more decorated and more appealing to the eye when hanging on the string at the top of your room.

Supplies you will need for this craft:
-Your photographs
-Scrapbook paper
-Tape
-Scissors

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Tear out your scrapbook paper from your book (if you just have single sheets of scrapbook paper ignore this step).

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Trim down your scrapbook paper to be the size you want for the photograph.
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Trim down your photograph. Do this if you want your photograph to look more square or you just want to cut away some excess space in the picture. The photograph should be small enough that it still shows some of the paper that it’s on top of.
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Flip over your photograph and put tape on all four corners. You can use glue or other sticky items, but I think tape is the less messy option.
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Flip the photograph over and press it down on to the scrapbook paper.
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And presto! You instantly have a more decorated photograph and it took hardly any time at all!
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After you do this to all your photographs, you can pin them on a string and they will look really nice!
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By Jenna Adams
Photographs by Jenna Adams & Cole Adams

It’s the vinyl countdown

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Sixty years ago the vinyl record made a name for itself among recording artists and musical junkies. As time ticked on and technology improved, the vinyl record seemed to exit the musical world.

In 1982, Philips and Sony collaborated to sell the Compact Disc commercially. Nearly 20 years later, a record company called SubPop was the first to distribute music in MP3 format. Now that CD and MP3 industries are expanding rapidly, the vinyl record seems to be the lost gem of the music world. Record stores can still be found scattered throughout the globe, two of which are sitting in Birmingham’s historical Five Points. Here are five possible reasons why the vinyl record keeps spinning.

 5. The Parents

“I think what it is, is the parents are beginning to introduce their kids to records again,” said Shirley Bourgeois, one of the owners of Renaissance Records. Many people from today’s generation grew up in a time where vinyl was the most popular medium for music. Their parents still have record players and are playing them for their children to hear.

 4. It’s an art form and a collector’s item

The intricacy of a vinyl record when it is being played goes without comparison. “It’s a form of art that the CD doesn’t give you, the quality of recording is superior,” said Marian Rosato, the owner of Charlemagne Records Exchange. Plus, antiques are something that people enjoy collecting and the vinyl record conveniently falls under that category. Not everyone has records today, so being able to say you collect them is unique. _MG_7075 copy

 3. Different than modern technology

An irreplaceable quality and caliber of music released through the record is undoubtedly matchless with music players today. “It’s really cool to look at a record playing, even if there’s no music, if you just sat there and looked at a record and watched it spin— it’s pretty cool,” said Wilson Brantley, Samford student and vinyl collector.

 2. Nostalgia

Music has the power to bring memories flooding back to the listener’s mind. Vinyl also has this effect on younger people today. “It just feels nostalgic even though I wasn’t even alive,” Brantley said. In a way, vinyl is a powerful tool to help connect people across all generations.

 1. You can’t beat the sound

“It is a novelty item and people like to have the ‘original’ sounds of the artist,” said Mathes Ballard, a student at Samford University and vinyl collector. Shop-owner, Bourgeios, would agree. She said, “To be honest the reason why I think it’s coming back is the sound, they rediscovered the sound.” She walked over to the turntable in her store and grabbed the first record she saw, Crimson & Clover by Tommy James & The Shondells. The rich sounds of “Crystal Blue Persuasion” filled the shop. She smiled and said, “The analog is so much better. It’s just a different sound.” _MG_7049 copy

While CDs and MP3 players seem to be the only way people listen to music today, the vinyl record provides remnants of the musical past. In fact, when asking Bourgeios whether she though vinyl had made a comeback or not, she said, “It has never gone away.”

By Jenna Adams
Photographs by Jenna Adams

Look good this fall and winter with these fashion tips

Do you ever find yourself in the middle of summer staring at your scarves and boots shoved in the back of your closet, longing to be able to adorn them again? Well the wait is over! Here are hottest fashions that women and men can be found wearing this season.

girls

   Two words: military and denim. That’s right, the military look is really in right now as well as denim (and I’m not just talking pants).

The military look can be fashioned by wearing a simple military style jacket. Also, if you don’t have a pair of combat boots, you might want to think about getting yourself a pair! These boots started strutting onto the scene last year and are still hot, hot, hot! Also, if it is still a bit warm outside during the fall, a new trend is wearing your combat boots with a pair of shorts.  _MG_6272 copy

Denim is also making a huge comeback.

Denim was really popular in the 90s, and the trend seemed to die down in the early 2000s. Of course people have continued to wear denim jeans, but now we are starting to see denim vests make it back onto the scene, as have denim tops.

Denim tops are most commonly seen in a button up, long sleeve shirt fashion. Chambray is also a common alternative for the “denim” look.

Besides the military and denim look, sweaters are still a must-have for your fall and winter closet. However, super size it!

Oversized cable-knit sweaters have been in for a couple years now and don’t seem to be exiting the fashion world any time soon. So if you’re a small, go for a medium! If you’re a medium, grab a large. If you want your sweaters to be even looser, you can even go up two sizes. Baggier sweaters even allow for you to be able to layer more underneath on days when the temperature really takes a plunge.

Scarves are always a fun way to accessorize your fall and winter outfits. Infinity scarves are the most popular right now, but in my opinion, triangle scarves are a really fun alternative as well.

_MG_6180 copy If you want to add some prints to your clothing to spice things up a bit, Aztec print is totally in right now. It looks really cool on cardigans and could be the perfect addition to a solid colored top to add some zest.

Finally, an outfit is no outfit without the perfect pair of bottoms to complete the look. Jeans are always a classic, skinny or bootleg jeans make for a neater look. However, if you want to add some color to the bottom half of an outfit wine and olive jeans are a fantastic option. This look often looks best if it’s paired with a more neutral top.

Ladies, if you find that you have some of these items listed hanging up in your closet then chances are you are a fall and winter fashionista!

guys

   Guys, you can be fashionable too. In fact, girls like it when guys are dressed in style. Just as it was for the ladies, denim is a hot commodity for a guy’s closet as well.

Denim or chambray button-up shirts are a simple but useful addition to a wardrobe. Believe it or not, _MG_5878 copy denim or chambray shirts are commonly paired with, wait for it, jeans! As long as the denim is two different shades then you are more- than-likely looking good. Who would have thought that denim on denim would become popular again?

Plaid flannel or button-up shirts are a manly staple. It is almost impossible to find a guy who looks bad wearing plaid (but only in tops; bottoms are an absolute no-no).

Guys, tuck in those shirttails. Trust me, it’s what’s in right now, and it makes you look really nice.

Don’t fear the cardigan!

Yes, I know some of you guys are reading this and thinking, “there is no way I would ever be caught wearing a cardigan.” Well, the cardigan is actually making its way into the masculine world. Proper fitting cardigans could be the perfect addition to a fall or winter _MG_5963 copyoutfit.

Also, tighter pants equals better look.

I’m not saying skin-tight skinny jeans are the way to go (not sure if that looks flattering on anyone!), but baggy jeans make you look really sloppy and like you don’t really care much for your appearance. Tighter jeans with a cuff at the end give the appearance that you care, and trust me everyone will notice.

Brown shoes are almost always a great way to go! I’m not talking just any brown shoe though. Clarks are really popular right now; they give a rugged yet dapper look. Of course, brown Sperry’s are also a preppy alternative, but Clarks are going to be able to keep your feet warmer if it gets really chilly outside.

Dudes, if you keep it rugged but neat, you are nailing the whole fall and winter look!

By Jenna Adams

Photographs by Jenna Adams