A Dream Kitchen and a Perfect Party Menu

Join us as we discover Hanover Avenue.com's Dream Kitchen with The Café Sucre Farine.com recipes

Join us as we discover Hanover Avenue.com’s Dream Kitchen with The Café Sucre Farine.com recipes!

One thing I love about life is that you just never know what a day will bring.

I definitely find that true right now in my “blogging life”. It keeps me busy as a bee, and it seems there’s never a dull moment – always something new to learn, a fun idea to try, an intriguing possibility to explore and often, a fun new friend right around the corner.

A perfect example occurred one morning earlier this summer as I was checking emails. There were a few important ones and lots of delete-right-away types, but one of them caught my eye. The subject piqued my interest. It read: We used your cookies in the coolest way!


What in the world? I opened up the email to discover it was from an interior designer based out of Richmond, VA, Anne Tollett.

Hi Chris, 

I had to write to show you this! One of our readers won a free virtual room makeover, and we used your cookies in the space! They just seemed so perfect to go with the teacups (and the whole room, really . . . . )

Join us as we discover Hanover Avenue.com's Dream Kitchen with The Café Sucre Farine.com recipes

They are soooo yummy and we have gotten a great response over these little gems  – how could we not? – they’re are adorable! Almost as perfect as any accessory in the room. *wink*

Anyway, I just thought you might get a kick out of this? Here is the link to the whole room below. You are right there in the Buying Guide – whoop!



I could hardly wait to see which cookies she was talking about. When I clicked the link, it turned out that she had come across my Pansy Shortbread Cookies and had used them in her beautiful blue and white design scheme.

Pansy Shortbread Cookies - www.thecafesucrefarine.com

Anne and I emailed back and forth a few times that morning. I found out she has a design studio and website called Hanover Avenue. We ended up talking on the phone later that day, and things just “clicked”. Our imaginations seemed to ignite each other, and it wasn’t long before we came up with an idea to collaborate on…

Anne’s work involves “virtual interior design”. What does that mean? I had no idea, but was quickly introduced to a fascinating new concept. Harper’s Bazaar did an article on virtual interior design and said:

If you’ve always dreamed of a glamorous home makeover experience, but haven’t had the interior designer budget to go along with it, then you’re in luck. The two of you (you and the designer) work together (virtually) to create the perfect curated space based on your budget.

What this means is you can send Anne a picture of a room in your home that you’d like to decorate (or redecorate) and she will come up with a virtual plan with every detail as perfectly laid out as in the photo above (down to the cookies!). This is all done for a flat fee and Anne provides a buying guide for you to go with the room. How cool is that?

The idea we decided to collaborate on was an affordable dream kitchen and a virtual birthday celebration for family and friends. Anne of course, worked on the kitchen design, but requested my input along the way. We had lots of fun working together.

My job was to come up with a party menu that would be served in this lovely kitchen. One would be suitable for kids and adults alike, and would be fairly simple to put together. We both got busy and it’s been awesome to see the results. I’ll share pics of the kitchen first and follow up with my menu.

Join us as we discover Hanover Avenue.com's Dream Kitchen with The Café Sucre Farine.com recipes
Okay, what do you think? Is this not one of the prettiest kitchens you’ve ever seen? Looks pretty high-end, right? Guess what? Anne choose everything you see from Lowe’s Home Improvement! She has some wonderful tips on designing or re-designing a kitchen on a moderate budget.  See the food on the counter? That’s my menu. Anne actually took our Café food photos and photoshopped them on to the counters! Can you believe it?


Join us as we discover Hanover Avenue.com's Dream Kitchen with The Café Sucre Farine.com recipes
I love the way the kitchen and the living all flow together. So great for family time as well as entertaining!


Join us as we discover Hanover Avenue.com's Dream Kitchen with The Café Sucre Farine.com recipes
I love the clean, classic appearance of this kitchen. It looks quite timeless to me!


Anne is sharing lots more details about this delightful kitchen today over at Hanover Avenue. We did a little video together so you’ll actually get to meet Anne in person and see why I was so smitten with her vibrant, fun personality!

And here’s my menu. If you click on any of the pictures below you will be linked to the recipes.

I’ve given four favorite Café appetizer options, but you could easily serve just one of these and everyone would be quite happy.

Best Ever, Super Easy Salsa - Loaded with delicious South of the Border flavor, this fresh, vibrant salsa comes together in less than 10 minutes! www.thecafesucrefarine.com
This fresh, vibrant salsa comes together in less than 10 minutes and can be made a day or two in advance. The flavors just keep getting better! Kids and adults go crazy over it.


Best Avocado Salsa - kind of like a grown up guacamole. Loaded with delicious fresh flavor and texture, the fabulous avocados really shine! www.thecafesucrefarine.com
This simple salsa is loaded with delicious fresh flavor and texture, the avocados really shine!


Pineapple Sriracha Freezer Jam - it's sweet and spicy and SUPER delicious! But guess what else it is - super easy, no canning knowledge needed! www.thecafesucrefarine.com
An addictive appetizer jam that’s sweet, spicy and SUPER delicious! But guess what else it is – super easy, no canning knowledge needed. It’s stored in the freezer so it can be made months in advance. It’s so nice to pull it out before guests arrive and know you have a wonderful appetizer with minimal labor!


Sweet and Spicy Pecans - the most deliciously addicting snack, salad topper, cocktail nibble ever! You will find yourself going back for more! www.thecafesucrefarine.com
It’s fun to have a bowl of these sitting around for nibbling.Warning though, they’re quite addicting – they’ll be going back for seconds…


I kept the main course fairly simple and chose items that would be universally appealing. There are  options to make the menu child-friendly without having to make a whole separate menu for younger palettes.

Lemon Garlic and Rosemary Chicken Skewers www.thecafesucrefarine.com
Kids, adults, teenagers… everyone loves these moist, super delicious grilled chicken skewers. They’re great for entertaining as all of the prep can be done ahead! So easy to serve too!


Israeli Couscous and Orzo Pasta Salad - classic Caprese flavors with a few fun twists! www.thecafesucrefarine.com
It seems that everyone loves pasta – this one has classic Caprese flavors with a few fun twists! We’re also serving a bowl of plain pasta for anyone with a picky pallet.


Limoncello Syrup - delicious, unique and super versatile. This syrup is wonderful drizzled on fresh fruit, yogurt, ice cream, fruit desserts .... www.thecafesucrefarine.com
I think a big bowl of fresh fruit is always a welcome addition. The kids can eat it plain, but the adults can drizzle their servings with a bit of this fabulous Limoncello Syrup. They won’t forget your fruit salad! And if there’s leftovers, you can use it on ice cream, yogurt, oatmeal, cobblers, crisps…


Green Bean Salad with Mustard Seeds and Tarragon - recipe from Ottolenghi's famous deli/café in London. It's fresh, vibrant and so... delicious! www.thecafesucrefarine.com
This one might be more of a nod to the adults, but it’s fresh, vibrant and loaded with fabulous flavor! The recipe is from Ottolenghi, a famous London café/deli.


Lemon, Rosemary and Thyme Focaccia - www.thecafesucrefarine.com
Who doesn’t love warm bread? This delicious Italian-inspired bread is always a hit, so be sure to have extra, as it will disappear before you know it! I love that this bread can be made weeks in advance and stored in the freezer.


So there you have it! If you’re planning a party or a get together, this is a wonderful menu since much of it can be made ahead. I really believe that’s the secret to successful entertaining. Whether you work outside the home, are involved in the community or have young children to care for, it’s essential to organize your time. Choose your recipes, then make a schedule for yourself. I like to try to make one recipe a day for the week or so preceding the get-together. This works well for things that can be made in advance and stashed in the freezer like the Lemon, Rosemary and Thyme Focaccia and also for recipes like the Best Ever Super Easy Salsa where the flavors mingle and keep get better.

Are you wondering about dessert? Of course, it’s a party right? The dessert menu is to-die-for and also completely make-ahead. But you have to wait, we’ll be sharing a whole other post next week featuring the desserts. There’s a fun surprise too, but I can’t tell you about that yet. Sworn to secrecy!!

We’ll be back tomorrow to look at a few other aspects of this dreamy little kitchen. We’ll even peek into the drawers where you’ll see some of my favorite kitchen tools!

Oh, and on Wednesday.. well, you know I can’t stay out of my “real” kitchen for long. There’ll be a fabulous new recipe – Mexican Street Corn Salad. It’s my current obsession, and I can’t wait to share it. I know you’ll love it too!

Mexican Street Corn - this stuff is CRAZY GOOD! Try it and you'll "get it"! www.thecafesucrefarine.com

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