Thursday, June 30, 2011

Red Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese Appetizer

The combination might seem odd at first, but trust me, it is delicious and oh so easy.

This is all you have to do:
Open one bar of cream cheese and put on serving plate
Pour or spoon Red Pepper Jelly over bar of cream cheese
Serve with crackers
Sit back and enjoy the rave reviews

That's it right there on the white plate on the corner of the table.  I'm sure you are skeptical that this is really something people want to eat, but trust me it is.  Before long you will start spreading this combo on toast and muffins - you name it!

You can get the Hot Red Pepper jelly.  It is fine too but I prefer the taste of the regular Red Pepper Jelly. I have also used the Green Pepper Jelly in a pinch but it is not my preferred flavor.  For another option, serve with your favorite fruit spread instead of the Red Pepper jelly. 

Mocktail Bar

Celebrating with a mix your own mocktail bar adds a great element of fun to parties, especially parties with young children.

Stock your "bar" with lots of ice, fruit juices, sparkling water, grenadine, sparkling cider and other mixer ingredients.  Add garnishes such as maraschino cherries, lemon twists, orange slices and lime wedges. Provide plenty of glasses, a martini shaker and a jigger to measure ounces.  It doesn't have to be anything fancy or formal - just fun!

Print your favorite mocktail recipes on cards and place them at the bar for your guests to use.  An easy and inexpensive way to add an alcoholic offering is to include champagne on your bar, if you desire.

Even if you decide to offer a traditional cocktail bar, consider a few of these alternate recipes for the non-drinkers or DD's in attendance.

Below are some of my favorite mocktail recipes.

Yellow Bird
1 oz each OJ, pineapple, grapefruit
2 oz sprite
Add ice
Float grenadine on top and let it dribble for effect

Baby Bellini
2 oz peach nectar
Chilled sparkling cider

Pour nectar into champagne flute. Slowly add sparkling cider.

1 oz lemon juice
1 oz OJ
1 oz pineapple juice
2 oz ginger ale
Dash of grenadine

Pour juices into cocktail shaker with ice.  Strain into a glass and add ginger ale and grenadine.

3 oz peach nectar
2 oz cranberry juice cocktail
1/2 oz grenadine
1 oz Sprite

Mix juices and grenadine in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Strain into glass.  Add Sprite.

Shirley Temple
6 oz Sprite
1 dash of grenadine

Pour soda and grenadine over ice.  Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Mock Mai Tai
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1 Tbsp lime juice

Place ice in bottom of glass.  Add ingredients, stir and enjoy.

Cheers everyone!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pirate Party Invitations

The foundation of a good party is the invitation.  The invitation sets the mood of the party long before the first guest arrives or the first bite of food is prepared.  Taking the extra time to create an invitation is certainly worth the effort.

For our pirate party it was a no-brainer - a message in a bottle.  I sourced the perfect bottle and found them to be over a dollar a piece.  So we improvised with plastic water bottles.  Thrifty and green!

We started out by printing the invitation with a parchment style background.  The wording is as follows:

Ahoy me hearties we're having a party

Ye be invited to celebrate the 3rd birthday of Captain K

Chart yer course for our house
Date______________   Time_______________
X marks the spot

Ye landlubbers (big & small) are encouraged to come dressed in yer pirate best

Yo Ho Let's Go!  Pillage an' plunder await. coming to the party?  Let us know by ________

Once we printed the invitations we crumpled up the paper repeatedly and burned the edges to give it an old, weathered look.

We painted the tops of the water bottles gold, put sand in the bottom and added small sea shells.  The invitations were rolled up tightly and tied with red raffia ribbon before being placed inside the bottled.

Simple, inexpensive and very fitting for the theme.

Salt Potatoes

Salt potatoes are a delightful side dish that just speaks to summer.  If prepared correctly they have a lovely crunchy exterior and a magically creamy interior.  Serve them with melted butter and you have the perfect cookout side dish - really fantastic with steaks or chicken.

I am an avid cookbook reader and just adore the Food Network magazine (picture above from Food Network).  I came across the Salt Potatoes recipe from an issue of their magazine and had to try it.  It is an easy recipe but it does make a mess on your stove.  Trust me, that is a small price to pay for these little gems.

See instructions below.

  • 4 pounds small potatoes , such as baby Yukon gold or baby Reds
  • 2 1/4 cups kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
Put the potatoes, 8 cups water and the salt in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil  over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 30 minutes.

Drain the potatoes in a colander and shake to remove excess water. Let the skins dry in the colander so that some of the salt crystallizes.

Meanwhile, put the butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Serve the potatoes hot with the butter for dipping.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pirate Party Post #1

Over the next month I will be posting several pirate party ideas. My little girl, K's third birthday is coming up. I know, I know a pirate party for a little girl? This is how the conversation went -

Me - your birthday is coming up. What kind of party do you want? A princess party?
K - no, a pirate party.
Me - pirates?
K - yeah pirates, you know mommy, like captain hook and swords.
Me - I know what pirates are, but how do you? Are you sure you don't want a princess party?

And so it goes that we are having a pirate party. So far it has been an absolute blast to plan! Like I said, this will be the first of many more pirate party posts. Say that three times fast will ya?

So for today's first post I am going to show you the weathered bottles we have made.  This is a great way to recycle empty spaghetti sauce jars or other glass jars.  All you need is a glass jar, some regular masking tape and either brown shoe polish, brown paint or a distressing ink pad.

This one is being made with an empty wine bottle.

Tear the masking tape into small pieces.  Don't cut the tape, you will want the irregularity of the torn edge.  Layer the tape all over the bottle until you cover the entire thing.

This is a great activity to let the kids help with.  I lined up several pieces of torn tape for K and she went to town covering the bottle.

Once the bottle is covered, take your medium of choice - we used brown paint because that is what we had on hand, and blot it on your bottle.  Don't paint it on there, you want it to be uneven to give the bottle a worn look.  I found that with brown paint it works best to crumple up a paper towel and use that to blot the paint on the tape.

Cover the entire bottle and let it dry.

We have also made this project with a Coke bottle, spaghetti sauce jar and a pizza sauce jar.

Happy crafting ye landlubbers!

Dancing Butter

Have you ever made butter? Have you ever made dancing butter?  That's what we call it in our house anyways.  It is not a sophisticated butter making process like some out there - we don't worry about separating the curds or kneading in ice water.  We just want a little creamy goodness to spread on a fresh loaf of bread.

All it takes is some heavy cream, a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, a little sea salt, some willing participants and a radio.

Pour the cream in the container.  Add a pinch of salt.  Snap on the lid.  Turn on the music and dance baby dance until your butter is made.  This is a great activity to do with young kids - young, active kids.  They love to dance and shake anyways and kids love to eat something they have helped create.  My daughter was so proud to show her daddy the Dancing Butter we made.

And yes, it was yummy on the loaf of warm bread.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Classic Pooh Baby Shower

You can find inspiration almost anywhere.  My inspiration for this baby shower came from a quote that I saw on a card - "Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart." - Winnie-the-Pooh.  I filed that little nugget away in the "Let's use that at some point for a party" part of my brain.  And when my friend found out she was pregnant I knew I had my shot.

It was a simple baby shower - but aren't those the best kind?  Since she was having a boy, I knew the colors of my living room would already serve as an appropriate background.  I purchased a set of Classic Pooh characters from eBay and set off making the centerpieces with inexpensive baskets and silk flowers.  I also purchased a couple of bee hive shaped honey jars from a discount store and placed those around.  I wanted the shower to have masculine colors but with a feminine touch for the mommy.

The party favors were labeled with a tag that read "The _______________ household is growing by two feet" and had a picture of little baby feet on it.


Up-cycle Silverware Holder

I think this is a great little party & picnic trick that can be customized for any event.  Take a cardboard drink holder from your favorite restaurant.  (6-pack holders work as well)

Spray paint the holder or cover it in scrapbook paper to match your theme. 

We painted this one gold to go along with a Pirate Party I am in the depths of planning.

Below is a Mickey themed carrier that was covered in scrapbook paper for last year's birthday party.

Then put your silverware and napkins in the holes and voila - a silverware holder that is portable and inexpensive.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Hot Pink & Zebra Stripe Party

I planned this entire party around one bolt of zebra fabric that I bought on a whim from a clearance fabric table.  Hot pink & zebra - what's not to love?

This party was for my mother-in-law's 60th birthday party.  I filled the space with lots of tissue paper pom poms and lanterns in hot pink or white.

I then created two large pom poms to be used as the centerpiece on top of a bunched piece of the zebra print fabric.  This gave the party a fun, flirty atmosphere.

The guests were to arrive during evening hours so we planned a menu of classy, but substantial appetizers.

The menu included:
  • Smoked Salmon with a (purchased) Dill and Dijon sauce
  • Homemade meatballs
  • Spinach and Ham/Cheese quiche
  • Ham Rolls
  • Cheese Slaw
  • Cream Cheese & Red Pepper Jelly dip
  • Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail
  • Caprese Salad
It was an easy menu to prepare with a lot of work to be done in advance.  If you are interested in any of the recipes used for the party menu, leave a comment and I will accommodate requests.

We set up small side tables around the house draped in black fabric with vases of pink water crystals and pink Gerber daisies tied with zebra print ribbon.  The candles are battery operated due to little hands running around the house! :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail

All I can say is yum!  This item is in heavy rotation at the parties that I throw.

First of all, who doesn't love shrimp cocktail?  Second of all, who can resist a single serve appetizer in an adorable mini martini glass?

They look great as the focal point of any appetizer station and they are a cinch to throw together.

Rabbit Bread

A couple of years ago I came across a recipe from Taste of Home that showed a rabbit made from frozen bread dough.  I vowed to myself that one year I would make this for our Easter Lunch with my husband's family.

Well this year I finally took the plunge.  And let me tell you, I am so glad that I did!  It was 100% as easy as they said it would be.

Not only is this adorable for Easter but I could totally see it being used for a Veggie Garden or Farm themed party.  Or even a Peter Cottontail - Beatrix Potter party.

Everyone was so impressed and could not believe that it is really as easy as I claimed it was.  I encourage you to make it for yourself and it will be the hit of the party!

All it takes it 2 frozen loaves of bread

Forming the head and body

Waiting to be covered to rise

Finished product before he was devoured!

Drumming up some fun

Recently I was tasked with being in charge of the Toddler Class for VBS.  Finding enough activities to keep them entertained proved difficult but I did find a few gems along the way.

I came across a great link at the Family Fun website for making drums (& drum sticks).  It received 3 out of 5 stars but I decided to try out at least one with my daughter seeing as she is in the target group. 

It was an instant success!  She drummed her way around the house the rest of the evening.  The drum makes a pretty good sound and the drumsticks are a neat addition.  They used colored wrapping paper but we turned the wrapping paper around and used the white side so K could decorate the drum herself.

The finished product with K's artistic flair

Try this project out with the little one in your life and see what kind of fun you can drum up.