The formal dining room. Talk about a room starved for attention. Changing times and evolving tastes have made it more and more a thing of the past. Today, it’s all about open concept floor layouts, grab-and-go meals and a less traditional, more casual way of life.
Pop, fizz, clink! Here’s to ringing in 2018 in style. A new year will be here before we know it and this year we’ve decided to countdown to midnight at home with some of our closest friends. For inspiration on how we’re getting the party started, click here:
ON THE MENU
First things first, let’s talk eats and drinks. Let’s be honest, you know all of your friends’ first question after RSVP’ing will be: “what are we having?” And can you blame them? The holidays are a time to really treat yourself and New Year’s Eve is no exception. Break out your most fabulous dinnerware and serve the thing that tastes best with champagne: Lobster. Mac. And. Cheese. Is there anything more special than lobster and bubbly? We think not. Here’s a fabulous recipe we’ll be whipping up:
LOBSTER MAC AND CHEESE
yield: SERVES 8
total time: 1 HOUR 30 MINUTES
- 3 (6 to 7 oz) lobster tails thawed or fresh
- 1 to 2 pounds noodles of your choice, macaroni or fancy.
- 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
- 1 1/4 cups shredded parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4-5 oz cream cheese
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 1 chopped shallot
- 3 minced garlic cloves
- 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 350.
Shell, clean, and coarsely chop lobster meat. Have patience. Set aside.
Grate all 3 cheeses. Add 2 cups of heavy cream to a double boiler, followed by cream cheese. Add small amount of the shredded cheese to the double boiler, mixing with a whisk. Repeat until the cheese is gone.
Boil water and cook your pasta. Set aside.
Add olive oil and butter to a skillet on med-high. Add chopped shallot and minced garlic. Add lobster meat and saute for 1-2 minutes or until meat becomes opaque. Add 1/4 cup white wine. Saute for another 1-2 minutes then set aside off heat.
If cheese mixture needs thinned out, add white wine in 1/4 cup increments, whisking it in.
In a baking dish, layer pasta, lobster mix, and cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
Before your guests arrive, plan out where you’d like everyone to mix and mingle before dinner is served. We love the idea of having everyone hang out in the living room. You can put on your favorite music hits of 2017 or even a classic movie everyone will love. This is also where you can set out nibbles. Place trays of appetizers atop ottomans or poufsOpens in a new window. This will bring a cozy element to your party, and keep everyone out of your hair while you put the finishing touches on your epic pasta dish in the kitchen.
THE FESTIVE TABLE
To really set your dining tableOpens in a new window apart, decorate it with a New Year’s Eve theme in mind. Make a centerpiece out of noise makers, place flowers in an empty champagne bottle and give everyone a fun hat or tiara to wear. Once the lobster mac and cheese is golden brown and ready to be served, have everyone sit down and raise a glass.
Here’s to 2018. May all your pain be champagne. Cheers!
Imagine this: it’s been a whirlwind month and you’ve been in high gear since Thanksgiving – shopping, decorating, wrapping, and planning. Now imagine that it’s Christmas Day. It’s finally time for the pay off – a peaceful, joy-filled dinner in your cozy dining room. The dining room of your dreams may look a little something like this:
Here are some tips on how you can create a cozy dining room of your own for your Christmas dinner.
Begin with a Great Foundation
Say goodbye to ho-hum dining room tables and chairs. New seating options, from upholstered arm chairs to elegant side chairs and benchesOpens in a new window, provide plenty of stylish seating for you and your guests.
Hint: An extension table is perfect to ensure there’s room at the table for everyone.
Replace the Boring Placemat
Fresh cut juniper under your china adds a splash of green, as well as a burst of fresh fragrance that is decidedly Christmas.
No juniper? Use whatever foliage appeals to you. Carefully selected boxwood, magnolia leaves, and even palm leaves are true foliage favorites. Set aside additional greenery to adorn the rest of the table, adding a few sprigs of holly and ivy for another layer of Christmas cheer.
Add the Magic of Candlelight
Make a bold statement with candles – but not just any candlesOpens in a new window. Weighty pillars with a distressed finish add rustic charm. Consider adding candle holders in varying heights for visual interest and enhanced incandescence. Thread a strand or two of battery-operated fairy lights into the evergreen garland for added glow.
Hint: Use as many candles as you’d like, just make sure to use unscented candles, as fragrance can compete with the aromas of good food. And if you’re using scented candles (pine, cinnamon and peppermint are all wonderful Christmas fragrances!) in other areas of your home, light them 15 minutes before guests arrive so they’re greeted with a pleasant aroma.
Deck the Walls
Creating a cozy dining room means more than just setting the table. Adorn the walls with art and holiday decor to complete the warm atmosphere. A lighted wreath, red and green wall artOpens in a new window, and winter-inspired canvas art all fit the theme.
Baskets and small lighted trees – real, artificial, or even painted wood – add texture.
Hint: Freestanding decorations like these wood trees add homespun texture and charm, no matter where you place them.
And what’s the magic of a cozy Christmas without a heartwarming meal? Keep the menu simple – bonus points for every dish you can make ahead – so you can spend quality time with friends and family. Here’s a simple, and simply delicious, cider ham recipe you can whip up in your crockpot, freeing you up to join in the fun.
SLOW COOKER CIDER HAM
- 1 1/4 cups fresh-pressed apple cider (unfiltered, raw apple juice- I used organic apple cider)
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons smooth or grainy Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 orange, scrubbed
- 1 best-quality bone-in smoked ham (6 to 7 pounds)
- 1 cinnamon stick
Pour cider into a 6-quart slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, Dijon, ginger and pepper. Zest the orange into the bowl and mix the marinade ingredients together.
Rub the marinade onto one side of the ham and place it marinade-side-down into the slow cooker. Spoon the rest of the marinade all over the rest of the ham.
Peel the orange and coarsely chop the pulp, discarding any seeds. Add the orange around the sides of the ham and tuck the cinnamon stick inside too.
Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
To serve, transfer the ham to a platter. Cover to keep warm. Strain liquid from the slow cooker into a gravy pitcher and serve with the ham.
SOURCE: RecipeGirl.com (Reprinted from Brown Eggs and Jam Jars: Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites : Pintail; February 10, 2015 : Recipe: © Aimée Wimbush-Bourque, 2015)
It may be frightful outside but you can make it delightful for everyone inside, especially in the dining room. Warm the space by creating a fresh, inviting look.
Where Do I Begin?
Start with the furniture. Is your table set showing its age or leaving you cold? You may want to look into getting new furniture before decorating.
Start with Great Dining Room FurnitureOpens in a new window
Easily bring a warm feel to the room when you add large, cushiony chairs and roll out a plush rug that insulates the room and your feet from the cold. No one will want to leave the table.
Add a Fireplace
If your dining room does not have a fireplace and you have the space, use a TV standOpens in a new window with an electric fireplace insert as a buffet. Heat and beautiful ambiance is delivered with the touch of a button.
WHEN DECORATING, THINK SEASON
Use a mix of decor in neutral and winter colors. Light blue, sky blue, turquoise and white are popular. Bonus: Decorating with items you can use year round means you won’t have the hassle of packing away dishes and decorations when the holidays are over.
Set the table. Bring tone and texture to your tabletop with stylish placemats. Satisfy your taste for easy elegance.
Keep it simple. Look for patterns you can use for every occasion.
Make it unforgettable. Place flickering candles around the room for perfect ambiance.
Hint: Get candles and candleholders in neutral colors for year-round use. You can add seasonal elements, like seashells in the summer and mistletoe and ivy in the winter.
Hang wall sconces for a soft background glow.
Bring life to the area. Greenery, faux or real, connects you with nature, especially when you’re snowed in.
Yearning for warmth? Hang works of art that remind you of warm places. Seascapes are perfect.
When the room is chilly, have throws on hand so everyone can keep warm.
Look for frosted pinecones, or spray plain pinecones with white paint, topped with glitter. Put them in a bowl or dish and you’ll have an instant winter centerpiece. If you feel crafty, use twigs, branches and winter greenery to create arrangements.
Use risers like these below to provide a winter backdrop for displaying small accents like plants.
Once you apply these ideas, your dining room is sure to become everyone’s favorite gathering spot.
Embrace your entryway easily. Here’s how you can spruce it up with our furniture and decor, because first impressions are everything.
From simple and sleek to fashionably chic, we’re here to let you in on what’s trending and landing in the cart at Ashley HomeStore. We’ve compiled a list of top rated items customers are loving right now and we think you will too. Do you have a favorite? Tell us in the comments below.
Clarinda Accent Chair
Don’t you just adore the virtually armless design of the Clarinda accent chair? It’s the perfect embodiment of classicism with a modern touch. And the medium-scaled footprint works great in any room, including a reading nook. So grab a cup of coffee and a good book because you just found a new guilty pleasure.
Shayla Sofa Chaise
So much style in one petite-scaled chaise? It must be the Shayla. Nothing fits a spatially challenged room or urban loft better than this cozy seating and lounging piece.
Oengus Accent Mirror
Mirror, mirror on the wall who’s the most inspiring and dramatic of them all? That is the Oengus accent mirror. This palladium-shaped mirror is a perfect addition for farmhouse to industrial styled homes. The spacious scale creates an illusion of light, especially where windows are in short supply.
Fairholm 3-Piece Queen Duvet Cover Set
It’s all about the ocean breeze and sand beneath your feet with the Fairholm duvet set. Transform your bedroom into a sweet retreat. We can almost taste the ocean.
Dalinda Pendant Light
Whether you’re eager for a travel inspired getaway or a boho sanctuary, the Dalinda pendant light sets the scene. It’s a natural fit for those who desire soft organic light. The intertwining rope over the metal adds an airy touch over a dining table, kitchen island or even over your nightstand.
Navasota Queen Sofa Sleeper
Functional and fashionable? Yes, that’s what’s so great about the Navasota sofa sleeper. This luxuriously soft seating is certainly dressed to impress and crafted for comfort. While most sofa sleepers have room for one overnight guest, the Navasota houses a queen-size mattress with enough room for two to rest comfortably.
Trinell 63” TV Stand
There’s no doubt the Trinell TV stand is a hot item! Its farmhouse charm is soothing and so is the fireplace insert option. Whether you are locked in the house and avoiding the weather or catching up on your latest Netflix binge, with the Trinell TV stand you’ll always enjoy the view.
Solena Table Lamp
Calling all minimalists. The Solena table lamp’s crisp monochromatic design blends style and substance. Inspired by rattan furniture, the lovely texture and metallic accent are sophisticated enough for any accent table, desk or nightstand.
To check out more of our favorite top rated items, click here.
And don’t forget to share photos of your home with us using the hashtag #myashleyhome.
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