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 »

Find Out What Every Summer Party Must Have and Have It

July 8th 2010

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A summer party must have is family and good friends. This is the perfect time to connect with the folks you know for an afternoon of relaxation and fun. Catch up with your brothers and sister, their kids, cousins, aunt and uncles anyone you may or may not see very often. You probably have friends you don’t see as often as you would like to as everyone seems to have busy schedules these days. Take the opportunity to invite co-workers and socialize outside of the office for an afternoon. Forget the water cooler talk and talk sports, hobbies, recent or upcoming vacations – anything other than what a dope the boss is. The collection of family and friends might require a softball game be played or a horseshoe tournament might break out. Or maybe a volleyball or badminton game might erupt. Don’t forget games for the kids. You want them to have fun and not be tugging at your hand out of sheer boredom. It is doubtful the competitive spirit will be doused, unless it rains.

A summer party must have is good food. Whether it is pot luck or host provided, have a variety of food on hand. If your grilling skills are up to par, cook up 2 or 3 of the following: burgers, hot dogs, steaks, chicken wings, ribs, corn or shrimp. Have some appetizers ready when your guests arrive. Maybe some crackers and cheese, pretzels and dip, deli meat roll ups, bite size grilled pizza, shelled peanuts or red pistachio nuts. Provide plenty of drinks to keep your guests hydrated. In tubs or coolers full of ice, chill soda, water, juice boxes, beer and wine. After your guests arrive and before you offer them appetizers point them in the direction of the drinks. Cups are optional but straws might be helpful for the kids. Don’t forget the watermelon and s’mores. It is practically the law those two items be on any summer party menu. Oh, yes. Be environmentally conscience and recycle everything you can.

A summer party must have is fun. As the host it is up to you to make sure everyone has a good time. Introduce your guest to those they don’t know. Find common ground for them to discuss if necessary. Introduce the kids to each other and encourage them to play a game or two together. When it is time to eat, the kids just might like each other enough to take their lunch and sit off by themselves and chat, leaving the adults to do the same. Introduce some games into the afternoon or evening. In addition to horseshoes and volleyball, a fun idea might be to write down on slips of paper famous lines from movies. Each guest that wants to play picks a slip and then works their movie line into the conversation. Keep track of how many lines each participant guesses. Perhaps a prize can be awarded at the end of the day for the winner.

Posted by admin under Hostessing & Party Food & Seasonal Entertaining & Summer Entertaining | No Comments »

Easy Appetizers Are As Easy as One, Two, Three

June 10th 2010

Easy Appetizers

Appetizers are tidbits of food served before the main meal and are intended to stimulate the appetite. They can be hot or cold and are usually finger food. Appetizers sometimes make a meal all their own and can be better than the entre. Bars will often serve salty appetizers to make customers drink more. When I was a kid, the only time we had appetizers was when dinner was ready but dad was late getting home from work. Then we might get a few crackers with peanut butter. I don’t know why we didn’t just start eating dinner.

Appetizers don’t have to be complicated. Easy appetizers can be as simple as a bowl of pretzels or cracker and cheese. The level of appetizer difficulty can be raised slightly by adding pepperoni to the plate of cheese. One of my favorite restaurants serves a bowl of buttery, salty popcorn upon being seated. Another of my favorite restaurants serves bowls of shelled peanuts while waiting for your meal and encourages throwing the shells on the floor.

Here are a couple of my favorite easy appetizers.

First up is “Ranch Oyster Crackers.” In a large bowl combine ¼ teaspoon each of garlic powder and lemon pepper, ¼ cup of vegetable oil, ½ teaspoon of dried dill weed and a 1 ounce package of Ranch dressing mix. Add in 5 cups of oyster crackers and mix until coated well. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes in an oven preheated to 250 degrees. Let cool a bit before serving.

Next we have “Salsa Crackers”. In a bowl mix 1 cup of cottage cheese, 1 cup of Salsa (mild, medium or hot as desired), and chill for about an hour in the refrigerator. Top Triscuit crackers with a teaspoon of the mixture and eat immediately. (Mixture will cover approximately 36 crackers)

Ham Roll Ups” is another easy recipe and sure to become a favorite. In a bowl mix 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, 1 can (2-1/4 ounce) chopped olives, 1/3 cup of thinly sliced green onion. Spread over thinly sliced ham. Roll up jelly roll style. Chill for at least an hour before serving, and then cut into bite size pieces. Mixture will cover 8 to 10 ham slices.

If you like shrimp, you will love “Barbara’s Shrimpie Spread”. In a bowl mix softened cream cheese, ½ cup sour cream, ¼ cup mayonnaise, 1 cup cocktail sauce, 2 cans (4-1/4 ounces each) of shrimp (rinsed and drained), 1 cup of chopped green onion, ¾ cup of finely chopped tomato. Put the mixture into a serving bowl and top with2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese. Chill in a covered container the refrigerator at least 2 hours then serve with your favorite crackers of pita chips.

Here is one more easy appetizer recipe. “Spicy stuffed celery” will compliment any dinner table. In a bowl mix 8 ounces of softened cream cheese with a tablespoon of Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce, a tablespoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and 1 finely chopped jalapeno pepper. Wash and cut celery sticks to the desired length and fill each stick with mixture. Shake on celery salt, if desired. Be sure to have a glass of milk handy if you eat these easy appetizers.

Posted by admin under Hostessing & Party Food & Recipes | 5 Comments »

Have a Hot Dog Party

April 22nd 2010

cookout 002 Have a Hot Dog PartyHot dogs are the perfect cookout foods and they work great for parties too. I always plan a few parties a year around them. I like to have campy parties and weenies scream campy!

Have your friends wear their best touristy gear for a fun costume party addition. It’s easy to forget the stress of your week once you’re in plaid Bermuda shorts, sandals with socks and have binoculars or a camera around your neck.

Make sure to have a tropical fruity drink to accompany your festive fare. Something that looks good with an umbrella straw tucked away in it. I usually choose a pina colada or strawberry daiquiri. They may be predictable, but everyone loves them.

You could even go red-neck gourmet and make a hot dog enchilada casserole. Spread about 2 cups of pre-made chili over the bottom of a greased rectangle baking dish. Wrap a tortilla around each hot dog and arrange on top of chili. Top with the rest of the chili and shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake in a 400 degree oven between 30 – 40 minutes. Serve topped with crumbled Fritos.

If you go for the traditional hot dog feast, make sure to have tons of toppings for your guests. Ketchup, mustard, and pickle relish are requirements. Make a Carolina dog by topping it with cole slaw and chili. You could also make a Greek salad dog with feta, olives, chopped tomatoes, red onion, and touch of Greek dressing. Feel free to add gourmet extras like roasted garlic, red peppers, goat cheese or even nacho cheese.

If it’s raining or you just don’t feel like cooking outside, use your slow cooker. I have a Crockpot trio that has 3 small slow cookers on one base. If you have lots of time you can heat the hot dogs up in the slow cooker. Personally I like to heat them on the stove and keep them warm in the slow cookers. I put veggie dogs in one, turkey dogs in another, and veggie chili in the last one. This way everything’s ready for people as they drop in.

Posted by Myriam under Drinks & Hostessing & Party Food & Spring Entertaining & Summer Entertaining | 5 Comments »

Planting with Friends

April 11th 2010

sunflowerincity Planting with FriendsI don’t know about you, but I have spring fever. I have to admit I’m planting a few things a little ahead of the recommended dates. If you risk it too, make sure to hold back a few seedlings in case a freeze takes out your first planting.

This year I’ve decided to involve my gardening friends in my planting frenzy. About a month ago, I had a seed starting date with one of my oldest friends and we planted heirloom tomatoes, Italian roasting peppers, hot peppers, an assortment of eggplants, light green zucchini and winter squash. I had seed starting trays leftover from last year, some seed starting soil, and we each planted different seeds we already had.

This weekend we exchanged the seedlings that we had planted, so now we have twice the variety with no extra work! Plus, it was fun to open a bottle of wine and chat over a salad when we took a break.

It’s great to trade seeds and seedlings with other people because you may find yourself trying varieties of your favorite veggie that you never knew existed. Then you can trade off days helping each other plant them in your yard, in raised beds, or even in contianers. It all depends on the space you have to grow in this year.

This year it’s still not too late. Make a date with your gardening friends to go to a farmers market or gardening store to buy seedlings. I like to get heirloom varieties. Since heirlooms are not hybrids, you can save the seeds from the plants that you grow this year and grow your own seedlings next year. It’s a great way to save money and insure that these varieties get preserved for future generations.

If you’ve never planted any food before, see if any of your friends would be interested in giving it a go this year. Even if you are in an apartment, try to at least growing some lettuce or herbs on a sunny windowsill. If you have a balcony, try a few containers of your favorite summer veggies. You will be amazed at how differently you’ll look at farmers and food in general after you’ve grown some of your own.

Posted by Myriam under Drinks & Hostessing & Spring Entertaining | 3 Comments »

Throw a Seed Starting Party for Kids

March 16th 2010

sm missyredboots139 Throw a Seed Starting Party for Kids

It’s finally the beginning of Spring. Everyone has a little bit of cabin fever and wants to get outside in the sun. A great activity for kids is growing some flowers and veggies. Even if you don’t have a yard or place for a garden, try planting a few things in containers. Your kids will be amazed at how things grow and they might just eat more veggies because of it!

Starting seeds is easy enough for kids to do, but you’ll want to make sure to supervise. After all, you may be surprised at what children will put in their mouths when left to their own devices. This is a good reason to get organic potting soil or organic seed starting medium. You can get seed starting trays that have soil disks that get big when water is added to them. Kids love to watch that!

First make a few invitations and make sure to invite the parents too. You can never have too much help at a crafty party like this. You’ll want to plan out a few treats for snacks. Try to include some of the fruit or veggies that you will be planting that day. Dress up a salad with fresh strawberries, blueberries and nuts. Then serve it on a unique square dinnerware plate to get the kids even more interested. Make lemonade with pureed blueberries. It’s just as colorful as the sugary drinks you can buy, plus you control how much goes in it.

You can buy peat pots and seed starting medium or get seed starting kits. The kits will cost more, but can be used again next year with new refills for the soil. If you are having a slew of children, peat pots will be the most cost effective. Have boxes or waxed paper bags to send the planted seed pots in so the plants actually make it home in the car.

Lettuce is a great plant to grow and can help kids like salad more. Don’t forget tomatoes, basil, pumpkins and fun flowers. One of my first gardening memories is plating a petunia plant in a milk carton in the first grade. This party is the fancier version, plus in a few weeks, everyone can re-pot the seedlings into their own container garden.

Posted by Myriam under Children & Spring Entertaining | 1 Comment »

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 »

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 »

Make Your Super Bowl Party Extra Special

January 24th 2010

football Make Your Super Bowl Party Extra SpecialI’m not a sports fan, but even I am waiting to find out if the New Orleans Saints are going to the Super Bowl. I lived in New Orleans for 12 years and everyone loves an underdog.

Now that I’ve told you just about everything I know about sports, let me talk party food to you. That’s something I really have a knack for. If the Saints do make their way to the big game, make your party center around the food of New Orleans. Have a big slow cooker full of gumbo and another of jambalaya. This way, your guests will be eating the best food of all the Super Bowl parties on your block.

Most large supermarkets have frozen crawfish which adds an exotic touch outside of Louisiana. Use it in the dishes above or in a dip in place of crab. Also, change up the spices a little. You can try some of Emeril’s Essence, which is also available nationwide. Add a little cayenne or Tabasco to spice it up a bit. You can also do it all the easy way with Zatarain’s Mixes. It’s really all up to you.

If the Saints let us down, you can still do better than a table of chips and pre-made dips. Get out your little dipper Crockpot and make a fondue instead of the usual nacho cheese. Even if you use cheddar and beer in it, it’s still a step above. Have lightly toasted bread hunks, steamed veggies, and you can still have a few tortilla chips out for the die hard junk food fans. Turn a plain old bean dip into something special by adding some goat cheese in place of the usual Monterrey jack and puree some chipolte chilies in adobe sauce to replace the jalapenos.

Create a make your own sandwich buffet. Use your Sengware platters to put out an array of thin sliced meats and cheeses. Have and array of interesting rolls – ciabata, oat, whole grain, sunflower and more. Have a few unusual cheeses, including goat cheese, so the vegetarians have something yummy too. Put out smoked mustards, basil aoili, and even steak sauce, they all make a sandwich more interesting.

Have cute mini cupcakes in place of a big cake. You can make them easily at home and even healthy them up with whole wheat pastry flour if you want to. Make sure to put out a fruit tray so your friends can keep their new year’s resolutions at least a little longer.

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

It’s a Great Year to Start a Dinner Club

January 13th 2010

fork Its a Great Year to Start a Dinner Club If you’re like me, you’re trying to recover from all the holiday spending. I went out to dinner so much that I was excited to finally eat at home again. And, of course, my waist was glad too!

It’s time to re-group and make monthly plans with friends to get back on the social track you enjoy. I love the holidays, but I end up doing to many things because I have to or I should. This year I want to bring in people that I enjoy spending time with and do less of the obligatory visits.

Last year six of us began a monthly dinner club that didn’t quite make it through the holidays. I think the last time we met was October. Now it’s 2010 and time to rev that puppy back up.

What’s a dinner club? It’s a less expensive way to get fancy night out. Only it’s in your or your friend’s house. It’s a great place to try out new recipes, drinks, or to show off your sengware dishes.

We limited our group to three couples. You can always have other dinner parties to accommodate your other friends, but this is a group planning effort. Pick your club members carefully. Do they love food and cooking? Show up when expected? If they hate cooking or are picky eaters it could cause too much drama in this kind of setting. You will also need to get input from any other members of the group before you add the next person. It’s important for the group to jell together for the long run.

Mine started up at my 2009 New Year’s Eve dinner party. Six of us complained that we didn’t see each other enough and were praising each other’s cooking. We decided to meet one Saturday night a month. The host would rotate through each couple so everyone got to be a guest as well.

We each bring a dish or two from a pre-determined menu. In our group the host determines the theme, and guests decide what they would like to bring. We do this at the end of the current dinner club for the next month. Usually we have a main dish, some sides, salad, dessert, and a special drink of the night.

In my next post I’ll talk more about creating your dinner club and give you some sample menus. So make sure to check back later in the week!

Posted by Myriam under Dinner Club & Hostessing & Party Food | 1 Comment »

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