Archive for the ‘Winter Entertaining’ Category

How To Entertain On Winter Weekends

February 4th 2011

winter How To Entertain On Winter Weekends

Winter weekends can make people feel a bit of cabin fever, and certainly they will feel homebound. But there are ways to overcome feeling stuck in a rut due to the inclement weather that can come with winter weather. For example, you can host a variety of events in your home for your guests to enjoy. You can host a movie night. Make it extra interesting by going beyond simply playing a few DVDs. Host your own movie festival based on actors, themes, or plots. If your guests love a certain actor or actress, feature movies that they star in. If your guests love movies about a time period, or a genre such as mobster movies, then show a few of those. You get the idea, and you can get really creative with your choices. You can also plan snacks and drinks around your movie festival that tie in. You can also create excitement with a game night. Plan games to play. Send out invitations based around those games, and serve food that is driven to compliment the mood of the games. This ideas works really well with poker games. You can even get very creative with poker night, by creating themes around your poker games. You can do a night at the casinos, speakeasies, or a modern theme. You can finally host wine and cheese nights. These are wonderful and sophisticated events that can work with the right music and company. There are so many ways that you can enjoy the company of others, and the simple pleasures of life without having to leave home during the winter.

Posted by admin under Winter Entertaining | No Comments »

Chase Away Winter with a Coffee Tasting Party

February 21st 2010

coffee grains 8314 10 Chase Away Winter with a Coffee Tasting PartyWith winter still hanging on these days and my time to garden still weeks away, my thoughts turn to more ways to entertain my friends indoors. Instead of a traditional dinner party, I decided to try a weekend Coffee Tasting Party. If you’ve ever wondered what those different roasts or all those different flavors available at the coffee shop taste like, here’s your chance to taste them.

I love everything about coffee, and these mugs from CasaModa are no exception. With such adorable retro coffee images, they are perfect for a coffee tasting party. Set your party up like a potluck and have a few friends bring over other necessary supplies. Have each guest bring a coffee to try and an extra coffeepot. Try to get whole beans if a grinder or a coffeepot with a built in grinder is available. The flavor of whole bean coffee is fresher and stronger than already ground and vacuum-packed varieties. Coffee is at its best within the first twenty minutes of brewing, so you won’t want to have too many pots brewed at once. Between each cup of coffee, have unsalted crackers available to clear everyone’s palate. Have a coffee station with creamer and sugar and spoons for guests who don’t like black coffee.

coffee Chase Away Winter with a Coffee Tasting Party

I also like to provide some sweet treats with coffee as well. It also gives me a great reason to bring out my CasaModa retro coffeehouse plates which match the mugs. Biscotti, scones, chocolate covered rolled wafers or shortbread cookies are favorites with my friends, especially those who like to dip their treats into their coffee.

After a weekend brunch or weekend dinner out would be the best time to hold your party if you are concerned about caffeine consumption. A nighttime party might keep everyone awake late into the night, so it may not be a good idea to do on a night where everyone has to be at work early in the morning the next day.

A Coffee Tasting can be a welcome addition to any event that might last a long time. We have friends who come over to play games that sometimes can last for hours. The losers of each round has to brew and fix the next coffee to taste for the winners. If you are having a movie or TV show marathon party, a coffee tasting would be a great way to take a break in between shows. Have fun with ways to present your coffee tasting and your friends will no doubt have fun as well.

Posted by Myriam under Drinks & Winter Entertaining | 1 Comment »

Got Cabin Fever Yet?

February 13th 2010

snowywindow1 Got Cabin Fever Yet?There is such a thing as too much snow. After the novelty wears off, you may find yourself stuck inside your house with bored children who simply don’t want to play in the cold anymore. It can be more irritating than a tantrum if you have a week snowed in with your family.

Plan ahead so you aren’t caught off guard. Have a few things hidden in the back of your closet to delight your little ones. Coloring books and special crayons or markers can usually start some projects for the very young. Pick up a few board games when they are on sale at places like Barnes and Noble or Borders. They often have them 75% off for months after Christmas. An origami book and pack of paper can keep them occupied all day. I recommend keeping a shelf just for surprises like this. It works great for last minute birthday parties you may need gifts for too.

It’s a great time to get the whole family too work on that cleaning project that you’ve been wanting to do. You will have to make it fun to get everyone’s cooperation. Think of a few rewards and prizes for different portions of the task. The kid finishing first could get to chose what movie to watch or as each one finishes their task they could choose one dish to have for dinner that night.

Keep a tube of frozen cookie dough on hand for impromptu cookies. They can be easily made with almost nothing to clean up afterwards. Another option is to involve the kids in making lunch or dinner. Older children can be taught easy knife skills, while the little ones tear lettuce for a nutritious salad. Give yourself a break and make a big pot of soup or everyone’s favorite mac and cheese. After all it’s your snow day too.

Once you’ve run out of dvds, try watching some new shows on Hulu.com or get movies direct on your laptop from Netflicks.com. It’s not so bad being trapped with all the modern amenities. As long as your Internet doesn’t go down, you can always google for more ideas when you need them. You may want to bookmark a few craft sites for next emergency while you’re at it.

Posted by Myriam under Children & Hostessing & Winter Entertaining | 2 Comments »

Have a Healthy Valentine’s Day

February 10th 2010

heart Have a Healthy Valentines DayInstead of braving the crowds out at the finest restaurants, try making dinner at home. You know that it’s not a romantic to be in a huge crowd of people all trying to woo their spouse at the same time.

Long waits and rushed service makes this day one of the worst to eat out on anyhow. At home you have complete control over what goes into your special meal.

Instead of wine or alcoholic cocktails buy a flavored sparkling water. Make a mock-tail using organic juices and fresh herbs. Try a mock mojito using lime sparkling water, lime juice, and fresh mint. It’s just as good as the original.

Start out with a low calorie shrimp cocktail. You can  buy some pre-cooked frozen ones, and it’s as simple as thawing them out in the fridge. Fancy it up by placing them around the rim of a Noritake Kona footed bowl. Add a dollop of cocktail sauce and your appetizer is ready to go.

Get some bagged field greens and top with dried cranberries, goat cheese, and slivered almonds. This makes a beautiful salad and really dresses up your table. Serve with a low fat balsamic dressing and a whole wheat dinner roll.

Pasta always has a part in a romantic meal. In stores it’s becoming easier to find whole wheat pasta. At my local Whole Foods store they have a low fat whole wheat cheese ravioli that’s amazing. Warm up a bottle of organic marinara. Toss in some veggies to make this another pretty plate. You can even use a frozen bag of California mix that contains broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. Of course, any fresh veggies you have on hand will work. The veggies add great nutrition and fill you up, so try to have extra veggies whenever you can.

You can cheat a little on dessert and get a couple of individual flour-less chocolate cakes. Trader Joe’s has them. They aren’t expensive and you can pop them in the oven at any time during your meal. My favorite option is fresh berries. They are a special treat in the winter. Fresh raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries make a colorful dessert all by themselves. Add a spoonful of whipped cream and elevate them to a perfect Valentine treat. Make it from scratch and add a few drop of vanilla extract.

After a candle lit dinner at home, you may find yourself staying in more often for special occasions. It will save you money and keep you healthier all through the year!

Posted by Myriam under Holiday Entertaining & Hostessing & Occasions & Winter Entertaining | No Comments »

Snow Day!

February 1st 2010

snowman Snow Day!Parties come in all sizes from giant to just your own little family. A snow day is a perfect opportunity to have a family party to celebrate the day off school and work.

Bundle up and get outside and enjoy the white stuff. Find a nearby hill and take the whole family sledding. Make sure everyone is bundled up tight, and you might want to bring an extra pair of  mittens along for the youngest of your tribe.  Make sure to bring a thermos full of hot chocolate just in case it gets too cold.

Once you walk back home make sure to decorate your yard with some snow sculptures. You could make a few traditional snowmen or really get creative. Who knows, you may have a modern art piece that the whole neighbor will miss once the temperature starts to rise.

Don’t forget to make some snow angels while you’re at it. Once you stand back up go ahead start a snowball fight. You might even be able to get some of your neighbors involved. Just make sure to call a truce before anyone gets too worn out.

When you come in make everyone’s favorite snowy afternoon lunch – tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Make some homemade croutons and they can go straight form the oven into the steaming bowls of soup. Really, any soup is the perfect way to warm up. My friend loves to make a huge slow cooker of vegetable soup in the coldest weather and eat from it almost everyday.

Keeping the kids busy will prevent them for the dreaded boredom. A perfect activity is baking. Kids of almost tan age can help with cookies or decorating cupcakes. Older kids may even be able to invent new cookies. Make a basic sugar cookie dough and get out all your extras like nuts, chocolate chips, even cocoa and crushed peppermint sticks.

After they eat more than a few cookies, you may find your whole family sacked out in the living room. The end to a perfect snow day.

Posted by Myriam under Children & Party Food & Winter Entertaining | No Comments »

Healthier Fondue Party

January 27th 2010

fondue Healthier Fondue PartyNow is the time to get your fondue pot out of hiding. If you don’t have a fondue pot, go to your local thrift store. You’ll usually see a few inexpensive ones there. Mine gets packed up and trekked off to the shed, a friend of mine puts hers in the attic. I’d be interested in hearing form any of you that manage to store it were you can easily get to it. Maybe you could change my ways. One of the reasons I have fondue less often is that it’s so inconvenient to go and get it.

Another reason you may be avoiding fondue night is your cholesterol. You know your doctor doesn’t want a big pot of steaming cheese on your table for dinner. But there is another way! A non-traditional way, but I always love twists on the original.

White beans are the new main addition. Once they are pureed they actually create a perfect fondue every time. The other change is to use low fat or 2% cheese instead of full fat. Combined with the beans it still creates a richly textured fondue. No one will know the difference. Try a porter beer cheddar version, or the more traditional white wine and Gruyere and emmental. Set the table with a colorful array of dinnerware. My favorite for fondue is Sengware blueberry for the place settings with the white bistro ones to hold the food waiting to be dunked into the cheese. In addition to lightly toasted bread, try steamed broccoli and cauliflower, whole baby carrots, even thickly sliced baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.

Make sure to save room for a little chocolate fondue too. I make mine when I start the cheese fondue and keep it warm in a small Crockpot until I’m ready for it. Cut up some cheesecake, vanilla cake, and an assortment of fresh fruit. Try pineapple – it’s one of my favorites.

This is a good opportunity to have a period themed party. You could do the 60′s with smoking jackets and cocktail dresses. Or even the 70′s with polyester outfits complete with clashing colors. Pick the one your friends will have the most fun with.

Posted by Myriam under Party Food & Recipes & Winter Entertaining | 2 Comments »

More Dinner Club Ideas

January 20th 2010

1263697741828 e7883 More Dinner Club IdeasBy now you’ve found 5 other people who would love to do a dinner club with you, so what’s next? Decide how often you will meet. I suggest once a month. If you try to schedule it more than once a month, you  may find people bailing out more frequently. When it’s once a month, people tend to schedule around it.

Pick the person who will host the first one. Even if their apartment is too small, you can always lend them your large dining room, but everyone should get a a chance to pick a theme. A theme can be a color, a holiday, a country or region, even a movie. Last year my club did Spain, cheesy 70′s, porch picnic, and Cajun-Creole food.

For every dinner think of it as three courses, cocktail, and a few appetizers if you’ll be drinking before dinner is ready. If you don’t drink or have a member who doesn’t, still make a special drink that matches your theme, just make a blend of fruit juices, ginger ale, or even fresh made mint-limeade.

We usually do a soup or a salad, but you can have both if you want. Just make sure the portions are small enough that everyone can eat all the courses. The main course can be a one dish meal or you can flesh it out with a few veggies on the plate too. Dessert is often the centerpiece and make sure to have some coffee if anyone likes it.

If you’re planning your first one for February, a Mardi Gras theme would work well. There are tons of red beans and rice, gumbo, and jambalaya recipes you can choose from. Make a bread pudding with whiskey sauce if no one wants to brave making a king cake. Make hurricanes for your main drink using fresh juices and rum.

This month my club meets at my house. We’re doing a fondue night. I found an easy and healthier fondue recipe that uses pureed white beans as its base. It’s still cheesy, but chock full of nutrients and much less fat. I also use 2% cheese. I figure that leaves room for more chocolate fondue.

Before the night is over someone should volunteer to host next months. Everyone can throw out some suggestions for the theme or sign up to bring a certain dish. Set the date then if you can, it’s easier when everyone is in the same place. Most of all enjoy the night!

Posted by Myriam under Dinner Club & Hostessing & Party Food & Winter Entertaining | 2 Comments »

A Get Fit Game Party

January 10th 2010

huls A Get Fit Game PartyWe’re getting closer to the middle of January. How are your resolutions coming? I bet you’ve gone full steam ahead the past 10 days. To make sure you keep your healthy goals, plan a few parties that support your efforts.

Last year we got a Wii, and of course, the Wii fit. It caught on and most of our friends followed. When it was new, we broke it out after every dinner party, but lately it hasn’t been used much. Knowing that we were going to make a point to exercise more, we bought the new biggest loser game for Wii. My friends and I all have some weight lose goals this year and we have agreed to support one another. In this game you set goals for 4, 8, or 12 weeks, so if you want to do this with your friends you’ll need to make at least a weekly date to play and weigh in.

If you don’t have a Wii, maybe you are you friends have an Xbox or other type of gaming system. On these you can still play Dance Dance Revolution to get your exercise in. This dancing game uses a special pad that you step on to register your score as you go along. Most allow at least 4 players at a time. I can promise you all your friends will be laughing within the first 10 minutes. You might not even notice the workout you’re getting, and it’s a fun time for everyone.

The games that come with the Wii fit are also fun to play in a group, even though you have to play one at a time. Trust me, there is nothing funnier than seeing your friend hulu hoop on the balance board with no hoop. There are some fit games that don’t work in a crowd, but I like the ski jump, bubble navigating, and hulu hoop for a party workout.

I like to do this after a healthy home cooked dinner. Try making a lentil soup with a nutrient rich green like spinach or kale and serve with some homemade whole wheat rolls. Another easy option is pasta and a salad. Try some of the new whole grain pasta that has lentils and flax seeds to really get you ready for some after dinner exercising. No matter what you decide, it will look beautiful on your Noritake dinnerware.

Make sure to check out new Wii games that will get you and your friends moving. In addition to the sports games, take a look at Raving Rabbids. It has a variety of games and its own version of Dance Dance Revolution that’s not to be missed. It’s one of the silliest and most fun games I’ve ever played.

Posted by Myriam under Hostessing & Party Food & Winter Entertaining | No Comments »

Have a Healthy Dinner Party

January 6th 2010

veggies Have a Healthy Dinner PartyEveryone needs a break from rich artery clogging fare after the holidays.  So have your friends over for a healthy dinner. Keep it simple and you’ll find yourself having a dinner party every week. It doesn’t have to be stressful at all.

The house may not be as decorated as it was last month, but you don’t need to go all out. A beautiful house plant that you can enjoy the rest of the dark, winter season is well worth the investment. I go to Trader Joe’s to get fresh flowers. They are inexpensive and I separate the flowers in the bouquet into smaller arrangements I put throughout the house. Try putting Asiatic lilies in a small bathroom, they scent the room while they beauty it up.

You don’t need to have the house spotless. It can be an excuse to clean a few things that you tend to put off. For me having a weekly dinner keeps my table cleared of the daily pile of papers it can collect and the rug vacuumed. It works perfect for me, since I procrastinate on my daily chores.

You don’t need to make a meal out of a food magazine. If your friends have a favorite dish of yours you can always make a healthy version of it. I make a version of biscuits and gravy that my friends always ask for. I make whole wheat biscuits and gravy with no fat, vegetarian sausage and fat free milk. You get all of the comfort but don’t regret the indulgence later.

One of my favorite mid-week dinners is slow cooker full of veggie chili or of split pea soup. Be sure to put in dry beans the night before since they take so long to cook, add veggies and seasonings in the morning before you go to work.

Try having veggie burgers and baked sweet potato fires instead of the normal beef and greasy fries. Making a healthy meal is easier than you may think.

Posted by Myriam under Decorations & Hostessing & Party Food & Winter Entertaining | No Comments »

Tips on Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions Part 1

December 28th 2009

calendar Tips on Keeping Your New Years Resolutions Part 1It’s that time of the year. Everyone makes at least one New Year’s resolution even if they don’t admit it. Seeing the calendar start over again feels like the perfect time to wipe the slate clean and have a fresh start. We all make them but how many of us actually keep them? Unfortunately not so many. Here are some ideas that will help you keep yours this year.

Make realistic goals or you may be setting yourself up for failure. This doesn’t mean only make easy goals, but you may need to break down a large goal into attainable smaller goals. This way you get a feeling of accomplishment at each step that you complete on your way to your big goal.

On the flip side don’t have to many goals that aren’t related to each other. For instance it’s ok to have a weight loss goal with smaller goals of writing down all the food you eat and exercise 5 times a week. Don’t try to quit smoking, drinking, lose weight, and find the love of your life all at the same time. There is no way you can reach your goals if you have too many.

Write your resolution down and create a timeline to go with it. Specific goals work better than generalized, vague ones. Instead of ‘I want to be healthier’ try ‘I will exercise 5 times a week’ or ‘I will eat 5 servings of veggies everyday’.

Once you have a goal in mind make a printout of it and put it on your bathroom mirror or on a sticky attached to your monitor. You can also make a vision college with images that remind you of what it is your want to attain. Or find a photo that reminds you of your goal. What you want to do is keep that goal in the forefront of your mind. That makes it easier for you to stick with it.

One of the best things you can do is find a friend who has a similar goal and support each other in it. This could be someone to go to the gym with or to check in with before you make purchase that puts you over your budget. They don’t even need to be in the same state as you, you can always check in over email or im.

Find easy ways to help you meet your goal like serving dinner on your Noritake salad plates instead of using the larger dinner plate. It will fool you into thinking you ate more than you did.

Posted by Myriam under Winter Entertaining | No Comments »

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