Have a Staycation Party!

Can't get away? Bring these glamorous holiday destinations (Aspen! London!) to your home

Photo: Alexandra Rowley

The Staycations:

An Aspen Retreat (see below)
A London Escape
An Island Fantasy

An Aspen Retreat

Aspen “is known for glamour,” says Nicky Reinhard, who, with Ann David, has planned parties for Katherine Heigl and others. To bring Hollywood’s winter playground inside, they pair champagne with comfort foods, decorate with natural elements like pine and birch and load the iPod with holiday standards – and, of course, John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High.” “Make your home feel like a lodge,” Reinhard says. “But don’t go crazy. The reason you entertain is to be with friends.”

Menu by Nicky Reinhard and Ann David of David Reinhard Events in N.Y.C. All recipes can be found on Myrecipes.com


  • Iceberg Lettuce Wedges with Blue Cheese Dressing
  • Sliders with Shallot-Dijon Relish
  • Creamy Mac and Cheese
  • Balsamic Roasted Asparagus
  • Coconut Cake
  • Juice Snow Cones
  • Champagne Cocktails

Iceberg Lettuce Wedges with Blue Cheese Dressing

Serves 4

Blue cheese dressing
1 medium head iceberg lettuce, cut into 4 wedges
6 to 8 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh chives

Pour blue cheese dressing over lettuce wedges. Combine bacon, cheese, and chives; sprinkle over dressing. Note: To lighten recipe, substitute turkey bacon.

Southern Living, April 2003

Sliders with Shallot-Dijon Relish >

Sliders with Shallot-Dijon Relish

Serves 8

½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. ground sirloin
Cooking spray
3 tbsp. finely chopped shallots
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. butter, softened
8 (1 oz.) Parker House rolls
16 dill pickle chips

1. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.
2. Combine ½ tsp. salt, pepper, and sirloin. Divide meat mixture into 8 equal portions, shaping each into a ¼ -inch-thick patty. Lightly coat both sides of patties with cooking spray. Place patties on grill rack; grill for 3 minutes on each side or until done.
3. Combine shallots, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and butter in a small bowl, stirring well. Cut rolls in half horizontally. Spread shallot mixture evenly over cut sides of rolls. Layer 1 patty and 2 pickle chips on bottom half of each roll; top with top halves of rolls.

Elizabeth Karmel, Cooking Light, June 2008

Creamy Mac and Cheese >

Creamy Mac and Cheese

Makes 2 to 3 main-dish or 4 to 6 side-dish servings

1 (8 oz.) package elbow macaroni
1 (10 oz.) container refrigerated Alfredo sauce
½ cup milk
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground red pepper
1 (8 oz.) block cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and keep warm.
2. Bring Alfredo sauce and milk, black pepper, salt and red pepper to a boil in a large saucepan. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese until melted. Stir in cooked pasta. Serve immediately.

Southern Living, Sept. 2005

Balsamic Roasted Asparagus >

Balsamic Roasted Asparagus

Serves 4

1 lb. asparagus
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. bottled minced garlic
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425º
2. Snap off tough ends of asparagus. Place in a jelly-roll pan. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar; sprinkle with salt, garlic, and pepper, tossing to coat. Bake at 425º for 10 minutes, turning once.

Joy Zacharia, Cooking Light, Jan. 2006

Coconut Cake >

Coconut Cake

Serves 12 to 16

1 cup (½ lb.) butter, softened
1 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp. sugar
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 tbsp. vanilla
3 ¼ cups cake flour
2 ½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 ¼ cups milk
1 ½ cups sweetened shredded dried coconut, plus additional for garnish
3 cups whipping cream
1 tbsp. light rum

1. In a bowl, with a mixer on medium-high speed (use the paddle attachment if using a standing mixer), beat butter and 1 ½ cups sugar until fluffy and pale yellow for 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, then yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Beat in vanilla.
2. In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir (or beat at low speed) about a third of the flour mixture into butter mixture. Stir in half the milk just until blended. Stir in another third of the flour mixture, then remaining milk, followed by remaining flour. Fold in 1 ½ cups coconut. Scrape batter equally into two buttered and floured 9-inch round cake pans and spread level.
3. Bake in a 350º regular or convection oven until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on racks in pans for 10 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks and remove pans. Cool completely before frosting.
4. For frosting, in a large bowl, with a mixer on high speed, beat whipping cream with 2 tbsp. sugar until soft peaks form, then fold in rum. Split the layers of the coconut butter cake, making four; spread each of the first three with about ¾ cup of the whipped cream. Frost cake with remaining whipped cream, and then sprinkle top and sides generously with additional dried coconut. Chill at least 1 hour.

Sunset magazine, June 2003

Juice Snow Cones >

Juice Snow Cones

1. Pour fruit juice, such as apricot, cranberry-raspberry, grape, mango, or any other that you prefer, into ice-cube trays (unless shaver manufacturer provides a mold for ice). You will need about ½ cup juice – 6 standard-size ice cubes – for each snow cone.
2. Freeze until firm, at least 2 hours. Place 5 to 6 juice cubes (or follow manufacturer’s recommendations for maximum amount) in a snow-cone maker or ice shaver and process.
3. Lightly spoon shaved ice into a paper cup.

Sunset magazine, August 2003

Champagne Cocktails >

Champagne Cocktails

Makes 6 cocktails

6 sugar cubes 3 tsp. aromatic bitters 1 bottle (750 ml.) brut champagne or sparkling wine, chilled

Put a sugar cube into each of 6 champagne flutes or wine glasses. Douse each cube with ½ tsp. bitters. Top with champagne and serve immediately.

Sunset magazine, Jan. 2008

A London Escape >

The Staycations:

A London Escape (see below)
An Island Fantasy
An Aspen Retreat

A London Escape

Forget the cross-Atlantic trip (and that exchange rate!) – you can create London charm at home, says L.A. party planner Jennifer Sbranti. “Posters with historical landmarks like Big Ben or the Tower of London set the scene. Guests can even take photos with them.” Ignore clichés about British food: Hearty roast beef suppers and rich desserts are where this cuisine shines. And the music can’t be beat. “Create a mix of the Beatles, the Who, Tom Jones and Dusty Springfield,” says Sbranti. “Add in pop and house if you want to dance.”

Menu by Jennifer Sbranti, cofounder of hostesswiththemostess.com. All recipes can be found on Myrecipes.com.


  • Yorkshire Pudding
  • Peppercorn-Crusted Standing Rib Roast
  • Marinated Brussels Sprouts
  • Sticky Pudding
  • Mulled Wine

Yorkshire Pudding

Makes 1 dozen

Begin this recipe 30 minutes before the roast is done (see rib roast recipe). Bake pudding while roast is standing.

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup water
¾ cup milk
3 large eggs, beaten
¾ tsp. salt
6 tbsp. rib roast pan drippings (see rib roast recipe)

1. Whisk together first five ingredients until smooth. Cover and chill 30 minutes.
2. Spoon ½ tbsp. pan drippings into each of 12 popover or muffin cups, and tilt to coat. Bake at 425º for 5 minutes. Quickly pour cold batter into hot pan; do not stir.
3. Bake for 15 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 350º, and bake an additional 15 minutes or until golden.

*Note: If pan drippings are not sufficient, supplement with olive oil.

Coastal Living, Nov. 2004

Peppercorn-Crusted Standing Rib Roast >

Peppercorn-Crusted Standing Rib Roast

Serves 8

Have the butcher remove the bone and then tie it back on. This will give you more flavor, but allow you to easily remove the bone for carving.

½ cup crushed or ground peppercorn medley (green, white, pink and black)
3 tbsp. butter, softened
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tbsp. coarse-ground mustard
1 tsp. salt
1 (8- to 9-lb.) standing rib roast (about 4 ribs)
½ cup red wine
1 (14 ½-oz.) can beef broth
¼ cup water
1 tbsp. cornstarch
Garnishes: sugar pears, kumquats, and fresh rosemary sprigs

1. Preheat oven to 325º. Combine peppercorns and butter, flour, sugar, mustard and salt. Place roast, bone side down, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Spread peppercorn mixture over roast.
2. Bake for 2 ½ to 3 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into roast registers 140º or until desired degree of doneness.
3. Remove from pan and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing.
4. Strain pan juices from roasting pan into a measuring cup. Skim off any fat dripping from top of juices, and reserve drippings for Yorkshire pudding. Return pan juices to roasting pan; set pan over 2 burners. Add wine and broth to pan, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan, and boil 5 minutes or until mixture is reduced to 1 cup.
5. Stir together water and cornstarch; add to broth mixture, stirring constantly, 1 minute or until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat and serve with roast. Garnish, if desired.

Note: Large cuts of meat will continue to cook from residual heat. Final temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees. Allowing meat to rest before carving brings juices back to the center, holding in flavor.

Coastal Living, Nov. 2004

Marinated Brussels Sprouts >

Marinated Brussels Sprouts

Serves 8

3 (10-oz.) packages frozen Brussels sprouts, thawed*
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup white vinegar
1 (2 oz.) jar sliced pimiento, drained
2 tbsp. diced onion
2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. pepper
¾ tsp. salt

1. Cook Brussels sprouts according to package directions, omitting salt; drain well.
2. Whisk oil, vinegar, pimiento, onion, parsley, thyme, pepper and salt until blended; pour over Brussels sprouts, stirring gently to coat. Cover and chill 2 hours.

*2 lbs. fresh Brussels sprouts may be substituted. Cook fresh Brussels sprouts in 1 cup boiling water for 8 minutes or until tender.

Southern Living, Nov. 1996

Sticky Pudding >

Sticky Pudding

Serves 10
Note: If making sticky pudding up to 2 days ahead, tip sauced pudding from pan onto a microwave-safe serving plate, cover with a large inverted bowl, and chill. To serve, uncover and heat in a microwave oven on full power (100%) for about 5 minutes.

¾ lb. pitted dates
About ½ cup (¼ lb.) butter or margarine
About 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
Sticky sauce (recipe follows)
Crème fraîche or sour cream

1. In a 3- to 4-quart pan, combine dates and 1 ½ cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir often until most of the liquid is absorbed, 5 to 7 minutes; watch carefully as liquid reduces to avoid scorching. Let cool at least 15 minutes. 2. Butter and flour a 9-inch square pan. In a bowl, mix 1 ½ cups flour with baking powder and baking soda.
3. In a food processor, whirl cooked dates until smooth. Add ½ cup butter, sugar, eggs and flour mixture; whirl until well blended. Scrape batter into pan and spread level.
4. Bake in a 325º oven until cake springs back when lightly pressed in the center and edges begin to pull from pan sides, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool in pan at least 5 minutes. Invert onto a rack. Cut warm or cool cake in half horizontally.
5. Rinse and dry baking pan. Pour about ½ cup hot sticky sauce into pan. Lay cake bottom, cut side up, in pan. Pour about 2 cups hot sticky sauce evenly over cake. Lay cake top, cut side down, in pan. Pour remaining hot sticky sauce evenly over it. Let stand at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Invert a flat, rimmed plate over pan; holding containers together, turn over, and lift pan off cake. Cut into rectangles and transfer with a spatula to plates. Add crème fraîche to taste.

Sticky sauce:
1. In a 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat, boil 1 ½ cups whipping cream, 1 ½ cups sugar, ¼ cup (1/8 lb.) butter or margarine, and ¼ cup light corn syrup, stirring frequently until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and immediately stir another 1 ½ cups whipping cream into pan. Return to high heat and stir until sauce comes to a rolling boil, 1 to 2 minutes. Use hot, or let cool, cover, and chill up to 2 days; stir over high heat until hot. Makes 3 ½ cups.

Sunset magazine, Nov. 2000

Mulled Wine >

Mulled Wine

Serves 10

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
2 (2 ½-in.) cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
12 allspice berries
2 (750-ml.) bottles or 1 (1.5-liter) bottle dry red wine
Garnishes: cinnamon sticks, orange rind curls

1. Combine water, sugar, orange, lemon, cinnamon sticks, cloves and berries in a Dutch oven over medium heat; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Add wine; simmer 10 minutes.
2. Pour mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into a container; discard solids. Garnish, if desired.

Southern Living, Nov. 2003

An Island Fantasy >

The Staycations:

An Island Fantasy (see below)
An Aspen Retreat
A London Escape

An Island Fantasy

Banish winter chill – and “Jingle Bells” – for a night with a Caribbean fiesta. “There’s nothing wrong with tradition,” says Food Network and Galavisién star Ingrid Hoffmann. “But it’s great to do the unexpected.” Especially when it is so easy. “It’s all make-ahead food: big bang for little effort,” says the Colombian-born chef. A salsa soundtrack and beachy decor completes the theme. “I envisioned a Robinson Crusoe shipwreck – let’s make it a fantasy. It will surprise people and put them in a fun mood.”

All recipes courtesy Ingrid Hoffmann


  • Grilled Pork and Pineapple Skewers with Achiote Sauce
  • Shrimp and Mango Adobado Skewers
  • Snappy Scallop Ceviche
  • Banana Bites with Toasted Coconut

Grilled Pork and Pineapple Skewers with Achiote Sauce

Serves 4

3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. achiote (annatto) seeds
½ cup red wine vinegar
5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. seeded and finely chopped jarred aji Amarillo peppers or fresh habanero
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 lb. pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large red onion, quartered, halved, and cut crosswise
1 head butter lettuce, such as Bibb or Boston
Lime wedges, for serving

1. Put wooden skewers in a pan of water for 30 minutes, so they don’t burn on the grill.
2. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the achiote seeds. Turn off the heat and let the seeds steep until the oil turns a vibrant orange-red, about 5 minutes. Strain the oil through a fine-mesh sieve into a blender: discard the seeds. Add the vinegar, garlic, aji Amarillo, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cover the blender and puree until well combined.
3. Place the pork in a resealable gallon-sized plastic bag. Add the achiote marinade, turn the bag to coat the pork, squeeze out the air, and seal. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
4. Remove the pork from the marinade; discard the marinade. Thread the pork onto the skewers alternating with the pineapple and red onion. Preheat an outdoor grill or grill pan to medium-high (you may also preheat the oven broiler.) Grill (or broil) the pork skewers until they are browned on all sides, 4 to 6 minutes total cooking time. Take care not to overcook or the pork will become tough and dry. Serve the pork skewers on a bed of lettuce leaves and garnish with lime wedges. Pull the pork skewers to a lettuce leaf and eat like a taco. For a great presentation, stick the skewers into a whole pineapple and put on the table with the lettuce and lime on the side.

Shrimp and Mango Adobado Skewers >

Shrimp and Mango Adobado Skewers

Serves 4

4 garlic cloves
1 tsp. coarse salt
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. sweet paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper (or more if you’re brave!)
1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
Juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 lbs. jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left intact
2 large ripe and firm mangos, peeled, sliced, and cut into long wedges

1. Put wooden skewers in a pan of water for 30 minutes, so they don’t burn on the grill.
2. Make the marinade: Put the garlic on a cutting board and coarsely chop. Sprinkle with coarse salt and mash the garlic into a paste with the side of the knife. Put the garlic paste in a bowl. Add the cumin, oregano, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne. Mix to combine. Stir in the grapefruit juice, lime juice, and oil. Pour out about one-third of the marinade and put into a small bowl. Reserve for dressing the salad.
3. Thread the shrimp and mango onto separate skewers and put side-by-side in a baking dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp and mango; cover with plastic wrap. Put in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for about 30 minutes, flipping the skewers occasionally.
4. Grill (or broil) the shrimp until curled, pink and slightly charred on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes total cooking time. Cook the mangos until grill marks appear, about 1 minute on each side. For a great presentation, fill a glass with pebbles and stick the stick the skewers in.

Snappy Scallop Ceviche >

Snappy Scallop Ceviche

Serves 6 to 8

4 sweet potatoes
1 ½ lbs. bay scallops
2 ¼ cups fresh lime juice (11 to 12 limes)
½ cup sweetened shredded coconut
½ small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 jalapeños, seeds removed and thinly sliced in rounds
¼ cup raisins
½ cup coconut milk
¼ cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves, plus leaves, for garnish
1 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sweetened shredded coconut, for garnish

1. Wash sweet potatoes and place in a deep saucepan with cold water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. Remove from heat, drain and allow to cool enough to handle. Peel off the skin, slice into ½ inch pieces, and set aside.
2. Place the bay scallops in a medium bowl and toss gently with the lime juice. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350º. Place the coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes, stirring every few minutes so the coconut toasts evenly. Set aside.
4. Drain the scallops and transfer to a clean bowl. Add the onions, jalapeños, raisins, toasted coconut, coconut milk, chopped cilantro, oregano, and salt and pepper, to taste. Mix well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves and the reserved toasted coconut.

Banana Bites with Toasted Coconut >

Banana Bites with Toasted Coconut

Approximately 26 pieces

6 bananas, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
2 tbsp. lemon juice
½ cup honey
2 cups shredded coconut, toasted

1. In a deep dish, mix the lemon juice and the honey. If mixture is too thin, add additional honey to thicken enough to make it coat the banana slices well.
2. Dip the bananas in the lemon juice/honey mixture. Then use a toothpick to roll them in the coconut until well coated.
3. Transfer the bananas to a wax paper-lined dish and refrigerate until ready to serve. For a nice presentation, place 2 or 3 pieces on a bamboo stick.

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