Anatomy of a Dinner Party: a day in the life of a hospitalityaholic

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Chop It Up, I’ll Eat It

Friday, August 5th, 2016

Good Morning Darlings!

Golly gee whiz, it is HOT here in Georgia. Yes, I know, it’s August. But wow, all I want to eat is chopped salad these days. I’m on a kick and taking Eric with me.

Here is one of the salads we’ve been enjoying recently. I’m a big fan of California Pizza Kitchen and love their BBQ Chopped Chicken Salad. I could eat it everyday. But that would get pricey, so I learned how to make it at home. Would you like to make it for yourself? Let me help!

You can make this at home, too!

You can make this at home, too!

I didn’t say I was dieting, I’m just beating the heat. Add a Corona – don’t judge.

The recipe is from, and I can’t lie, I used tortilla chips and bottled ranch dressing and then threw it all together. If you have the time to follow all these steps, bless your heart.




  1. To Make the Fried Tortilla Strips: In a deep, heavy frying pan, heat several inches of vegetable oil to a temperature of 375 degrees. Working in batches if necessary to prevent overcrowding, carefully add the tortilla strips to the hot oil, submerging them with a metal skimmer or slotted spoon. Fry the tortilla strips until evenly golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully lift them out with the skimmer or slotted spoon and transfer them to paper towels to drain and cool. Set aside, uncovered.
  2. To Make the Garden Herb Ranch Dressing: In a mixing bowl, use a fork to stir together the mustard and cold water, forming a paste. Set aside for 10 minutes. Add the remaining dressing ingredients to the bowl and, using a handheld electric mixer at low speed or a whisk, blend together just until smooth, taking care not to incorporate too much air into the dressing. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  3. To Make the Grilled Garlic and BBQ Chicken: Preheat a stovetop grill or the broiler. In a mixing bowl, stir together the olive oil, garlic, soy sauce, and salt. Turn the chicken breasts in this marinade and leave to marinate at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Grill or broil the chicken breasts until cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator. Cut the chicken breasts into 3/4-inch cubes and, in a bowl, toss with the barbecue sauce to coat well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  4. To Make the Salad: In a large mixing bowl, toss together the lettuces, basil, jicama, Monterey Jack cheese, beans, corn, cilantro, dressing, and half of the Fried Tortilla Strips. Transfer the salads to chilled serving plates. Surround each salad with diced tomatoes and the remaining Fried Tortilla Strips. Top each salad with chunks of Grilled Garlic BBQ Chicken and drizzle the chicken with the barbecue sauce. Garnish with the scallion.

Gobble down like hungry badgers. Crack open another cold beer. Sit in the air conditioning and watch Stranger Things. OMG, I love that show!

What are you doing to beat the heat?

xoxo, Patti

Time to Get Valentining

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Good Morning Darlings!

Is Valentining a thing? It is now!

How will you celebrate? E and I like to stay home away from the crowds and cook a romantic meal together. Complete with cocktails, of course.

Flirtini – isn’t that a fun name? It just makes me want to kiss and hug my sweetie! Here’s the recipe:


Time to get your flirt on!
2 oz. Van Gogh Raspberry Vodka
Splash of cranberry juice
Chilled Champagne
Float with champagne chilled to the top of the glass.
My friends at Van Gogh Vodka are always on the cutting edge of yummy cocktails with their flavored vodkas. Love them!


Oooh, and who doesn’t love chocolate? A Chocolate Almond Kiss would do the trick!

Chocolate Almond Kiss – with extra kisses!


2 oz. Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka
1 oz. Hazelnut Liqueur 
1/2 oz. Dark Crème de Cacao
Splash of Cream 
Shake vodka, hazelnut liqueur and dark crème de cacao into a cocktail shaker with ice. Top with a splash of cream and garnish with a sprig of mint.


For dinner, I’m thinking a nice spaghetti, like in Lady and The Tramp.


Little candlelight, some nice pasta. Amore!

What are your plans?

xoxo, Patti

Meet Annette Joseph

Monday, November 9th, 2015

Good Morning Darlings!

Who is Annette Joseph you ask? Why she’s only an expert on entertaining, cooking, and styling. She regularly appears on The Today Show and Martha Stewart Sirius Radio. Her recipes and party ideas have been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, Epicurious, DesignSponge, MSN, The Huffington Post, Southern Living, and Woman’s World among others.

Her first cookbook, Picture Perfect Parties published by Rizzoli NY, is an engaging how-to guide that provides blueprints for a year’s worth of get-togethers, covering every holiday and occasion.  Her focus is always on making use of items that are already at hand in the house, ingeniously transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary—a style of entertaining that doesn’t require spending a lot of money.

In other words, an Icon. I had the supreme pleasure of meeting Annette at the Ferrari Trento luncheon a few weeks ago and inquired to see if I could interview her so you could get to know her, too. She said yes! Here is the interview. Enjoy darlings! All photos courtesy of Sarah Dorio.

Meet Annette Joseph. She is going to make you a party maven, too!

Meet Annette Joseph. She is going to make you a party maven, too!

Who inspired you as you were starting your career?


There are so many people that inspired me coming up. I think that one of the first people was my boss at my very first job. He taught me about looking at everything and seeing how cohesive a composition was.


Then later I met my very first Art Director, and she was a huge help and influence in making my eyes see like a camera. 


I was very inspired by stylists I assisted while learning my craft, each and everyone of them contributed in a different way to what my style has become to date.


Photographers always inspire me and help me see things in different ways. Even clients have inspired me. In the world of styling the goal is to give the clients what they envision while staying true to your own style.


This is a lesson that I feel is most valuable when starting a career in styling. It will keep you working and it will make more work come your way.
What can you share with other working women on making it all work and not feeling guilty about taking time for themselves?


I think taking time to recharge your creative battery is the most important aspect of the keeping it fresh. This idea of working and not taking anytime off is one that will kill your career.


If you have a family, children you should make time for them and make time for yourself. I take the summers off ( most summers are my slowest time) and live in Italy. The inspiration is astounding and makes me a better stylist.


What are the newest trends in party giving, both in food and decor?


Not sure there is a trend, good parties are good parties. I tend to do parties that are very me.

I think a new trend of outdoor parties with hanging globe lights and long tables is on point, but all the parties  tend to look alike and it’s most important to do you, you’re unique and your parties should reflect that.


The most important thing in my mind is to just entertain in your home.


Find your style and do you. I am not a trend person I am a style person.
You can give fab parties, too! Exactly like Annette.

You can give fab parties, too! Exactly like Annette.

Where do you feel your most comfortable?

Definitely in the Kitchen, I am lucky to have one here in the States and one in Italy. I enjoy them both equally.

Cooking to me is relaxing, creative and my happy place.

How would you like to see your future unfold? Any future plans you can share?

About 2 years ago I started my Style + Photo Workshops

The next one is in February in Marrakech, and then in June in Italy, in my hometown. There is great satisfaction in teaching people how to make the best images they can, plus pass on the 20 plus years of experience I have in the business.


In big future news : We are in the process of buying a farmhouse in Tuscany that will be the location for my Style + Photo Workshops it should be finished in about 1 year. In the meantime I am still styling for clients, styling cookbooks and working on my second book, which will be about my food experiences in Italy. The school is probably my future, I hope to bring all the amazing creatives I know to the school to teach, we will have cooking, art, writing , styling and photography, yoga lessons. I am really excited about this. All my years styling are now turning into the best possible scenario, passing on knowledge, inspiring creative thinking and working with people I love.


Thanks, Annette! Picture Perfect Parties would make the perfect holiday gift for everyone on your list. I’ll be buying one for myself, too! Treat yourself!


xoxo, Patti

Making Meatballs – How Did I Do?

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

Good Morning Darlings!

You all know I love to cook and entertain. When I saw this video, I about lost my mind and knew I had to try this recipe.

I bet some of you have seen this meatball stuffed with mozzarella video, too, right?

Here’s what my meatballs looked like before adding them to the sauce in the crockpot.


And here’s what they looked like all cooked and ready to gobble down.


Don’t you love that tiny plate? I get them at CB2. Here is a link to their new holiday line which I must order immediately. How cute are these? No, I don’t advertise for CB2, but hey, if they feel like sending me the new line, I would not complain. 🙂

So, how did they turn out? Not as expected. Here are my notes:

1. Make bigger meatballs so you can stuff a bigger piece of cheese inside. For some reason, I thought I counted 22 meatballs in the video. Math is not my strong suit. My cubes of mozzarella were small and totally disappeared in the meatball. NONE of the meatballs had that cheesy center I was hoping for. Next time: Make 15 big meatballs with a much bigger cube of cheese. Heck, slather them all with a thick layer of mozzarella cheese. You can never have enough cheese.

2. Brown the meatballs before placing in the crockpot. I know this rule, but got lazy and thought they would be just as good. Nay nay my darlings. The sear really adds to the flavor, so I will be taking this extra step next time.

3. Make your own sauce. DO NOT USE JARRED SAUCE. This probably goes without saying, but I’m saying it anyhow. I make mine with an entire bottle of red wine. Do not judge me.

4. Don’t use almond milk in place of whole milk in meatballs. I thought this substitution would work. It did not. I think it contributed to much tougher meatballs than I would have preferred.

5. After making the meatballs, put them in the fridge overnight and then reheat. Why? They get greasy and after a nap in the fridge, you can skim all that fat off and have nothing but meat and sauce.

Verdict: I would definitely make these again, but with the above tweaks. What a fab way to feed a crowd. Eric and I made spaghetti with this and each had 3 meatballs, which left us with a ton of meatballs and sauce leftover that went straight to the freezer for a busy night. I don’t know about you, but November is going to be crazy busy around here!

Happy cooking!

xoxo, Patti

Jambalaya Night!

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Good Morning Darlings,

It is getting SO cold here in Atlanta. Our seasons swoop in like a hawk. First, it’s blistering hot. Then we have one or maybe two weeks of spectacular weather. Then we are freezing.

To combat the cold, Eric and I made a terrific and easy Jambalaya last night, adapted from Epicurious. Try it and you will have yummy leftovers for lunch!

Makes 6 servings

1 large onion, chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 large poblano pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
3 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, minced
4 oz andoulle sausage, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
1 large bay leaf
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
3/4 cup brown rice, uncooked
1 1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped into bite-sized pieces

Add oil to a large nonstick saucepan. Over medium heat, sauté onion, garlic, poblano pepper and celery until onion is translucent. Add parsley, andouille, chicken, bay leaf, and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring often, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes (with juice), tomato sauce, and 1 3/4 cups cold water. Gently simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Pour rice into the pan and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, 45 minutes or until rice is cooked and absorbs most of the liquid. Stir in shrimp and cook 5 minutes more. Remove bay leaf. Season to taste with cayenne pepper and salt.

Spicy Jambalaya!

Spicy Jambalaya!

Gobble up like mad hungry badgers and sit around the table smiling at each other!

xoxo, Patti

Snack Bracket 2014

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Good Morning Darlings!

It’s Grammy Day, and that means staying home and texting snarky fashion comments with Holly & John. We will whip up something fun to munch while watching, but it is not our biggest food day of the year.

What’s the biggest food day, you ask?

Raising A Glass With Nobilo Icon

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Good Morning Darlings!

How wonderful to see you all – I have been very busy.

What’s new? Click to continue »

Ooh! We’re Going Foraging!

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Good Morning Darlings!

I have always been interested in searching the great outdoors for dinner.

Alack and alas, I don’t even camp. But I certainly love the idea of it.

Hey! I have an idea!

Cookbookery Is Back!

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Good Morning Darlings!

A group of friends started this cookbook club at the beginning of 2012 and invited Eric and me to join.

So, what’s new?

Eating Here and There

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Good Morning Darlings!

I have been so busy, but you have been on my mind.

Join me inside?