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Holiday Entertaining Tips!

Holiday Entertaining Tips


1. Fake it. “A party just needs to hold up for a night,” says Linnea Johansson, author of Perfect Parties: Tips and Advice from a New York Party Planner, who suggests avoiding a pre-party cleaning frenzy. Stash bills and laundry piles. Create clean surfaces and give them a polish, but don’t worry about the dust bunnies under your couch. “This is true for all rooms except the bathroom, where almost all your guests will go,” says Johansson, who advises giving it a good scrub, then adding some candles and a nice hand lotion.

2. Decorate simply. “Flower arrangements can be a total rip-off,”

Photo:James Baigrie, FoodPix/Jupiter


Johansson says. Instead, buy one kind of flower, in one color, in bulk. “Make your own multiple arrangements,” she says. “And don’t forget one for the bathroom.” Alternately, cluster candles into groups. Whatever you use (flowers, candles, etc.), consider height, especially for dinner parties. “The decorations should be low so that guests can see each other over them,” Johansson says.

3. Involve your guests. “If you’re the host and you’re in one room cooking while everyone else is in another room, then it’s just not working out right,” says Brian Yarvin, author of A World of Dumplings: Filled Dumplings, Pockets and Little Pies from Around the Globe. For smaller gatherings, he suggests including guests in the meal’s preparation. Make your own dumplings, samosas or individual pizzas, decorate cookies, or try something adventurous, like a “stone soup” party, where each person brings an ingredient for a soup or stew without telling the others what it is. “If you have motivated friends, it will be less work for the host,” he says. “If your friends don’t like to cook, this isn’t a good idea.”

4. Plan an uncomplicated menu. If a make-your-own party doesn’t suit your pals, keep the menu simple. Make things ahead of time. Mix ready-made food with homemade. Use tried-and-true recipes; you can serve your famous chocolate cake at a dinner party, or cut it into pieces and serve it on skewers with fruit for a cocktail party. For cocktail parties, Johansson suggests her two-and-a-half tray method, in which you prep two full trays and then have a third only half-full with food. When the first tray is half-empty, replace it with the next full tray, and add the leftovers from the first tray to the third half-full tray.

5. Figure out when and where each item will cook. “I’m always thinking about when to make what, where,” says Lucinda Scala Quinn, editorial director of food and entertaining at Martha Stewart Living. “Where can I store it? Will it be on the stovetop? In the oven? On the grill? Bear in mind that three items on the menu shouldn’t have to be different temperatures in the same oven. Identify your set of circumstances, and coordinate them with your heat and refrigeration sources.”

6. Make your grocery lists. “There’s a whole strategy to the grocery store,” says Lori Powell, food director of Real Simple magazine. “For the shopping, break up the list. Buy dry goods and shelf-stable stuff [such as canned items and flour] up to three weeks or a month before. Two to three days before the meal, you will only have to shop for perishable items.” This keeps your fridge from getting too full too soon — and you can spread the cost over a few paychecks.

7. Shop for your groceries with a strategy. “Before you go to the store, organize your list according to the store’s layout,” Powell says. “Compose your list aisle by aisle. Baking items together. Jarred items together.”

8. Prep as much as you can in advance. When making turkey, “I prepare all the ingredients for stuffing the day before and assemble it and put it in a baking dish” for outside the bird, says Powell, who can just throw it into the oven the next day. “You could also assemble a stuffing to go inside the bird, but don’t put it in the turkey until right before you put it all in the oven.” Likewise, Powell says, you can use the day before to wash, trim and chop all veggies. Then, when it comes time to cook them, just pop them into the pan.

9. Splurge on rentals. “If you’re going to splurge, rent glasses and dishes,” Johansson says. “They look nice, match and save you the hassle of doing dishes the next day. When you rent dishes from a company that supplies them for parties, you don’t have to wash them before returning them.”


10. Forget a full bar. “Unless you are hiring a bartender, skip the hassle and expense of a full bar,” Johansson says. “It just gets sloppy.” Instead, prepare two signature cocktails beforehand. Put them in a pitcher and add ice right before guests arrive. For an added splash, pour into cocktail glasses and serve on trays. “It looks great, and it’s more fun to drink specialty cocktails anyway,” says Johansson, whose favorite holiday cocktail is a sorbet bellini: Put a scoop of sorbet in the bottom of a glass, then fill it with sparkling wine. Try a fun flavor, such as pomegranate sorbet.

Article: USA Today Weekend  November 11, 2007

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Today was nice and relaxing!  We did things around the house and then went to the pool for a few hours to read and relax!  When we got home we had to get things ready for Brady’s parents and sister to come over for dinner.  We already had the menu planned so it was time for action!

Napkin of the Night:

Seseame Cabbage Salad

I have posted this before known as napa ramen salad.  This salad includes:

  • Napa cabbage
  • ramen noodle crushed – I used some pretzels tonight too
  • cashews
  • sesame dressing:homemade

I also placed baked tofu around the salad for the fam to try.  I am working on perfecting the tofu, but it went well with the salad and I think I will get it soon!  I will let you know when I do!

Tasty Turkey Burgers

(This recipe was modeled and changed from Oprah’s favorite turkey burgers)

Sautee:

  • 1 granny smith apple chopped fine
  • 1 c. celery chopped fine
  • pam/water to make it moist
  • 1/2 c. arugula chopped
  • 1/2 c. cilantro chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 2 T. chipotle marinade

Mix all of the above ingredients into the ground turkey.  Add more salt and pepper.  Let the turkey mixture sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  Shape into burgers and grill!  Serve with your favorite toppings- mango salsa is wonderful!

Huge Grilled Onions

Slice onions and skewer with a bamboo skewer.  Paint lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic wine seasoning.  Grill them up!

Check out how big this is compared to my cell phone.  This is not a small cell phone either!

We also had fruit salad and baked sweet potato fries!  Way too much food, as usual, but everything we made is great for lunches so you can guess what we are having for lunch.  After dinner we walked to get ice cream!!! I had a dish of pink champagne sherbert and fresh strawberry sherbert.  It was a very pretty pink bowl of delicious ice cream!  I wish I had a pic!

Tomorrow, after going to school to set up my classroom and going to a few meetings, we are making “healthy fettuccine alfredo with grilled shrimp”.  Brady requested it!  I will also get back to posting what I eat – i missed a few things this weekend 🙂 !

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Last night, Brady’s brother Tyler and sister Janelle came over for dinner.  It was low-key and very tasty!  Dinner didn’t take long to prepare but involved lots of cutting – potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.

Baked Potato Fries

  • 4 semi-baked potatoes
  • spray butter
  • garlic wine seasoning
  • salt and pepper

Cook potatoes in the microwave for about 5-8 min so they are softer but not baked completely. Cut into 1/2 inch slices. Spray the potatoes with spray butter and add garlic wine seasoning. Bake at 400* for about 20min. or until crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle.

Baked Zucchini Fries

(Similar to Cooking Light and Happy Herbivore’s recipe, but with less exact measurements.:))

  • 2 zucchinis cut into 1/2 in. strips
  • nutritional yeast ( 1/2c. ish)
  • Italian bread crumbs (1/2c.ish)
  • Parmesan cheese (1/4c. ish
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • salt and pepper

Cut up zucchini. Dip zuc. piece into milk then into mixture made of yeast, parm and breacrumbs. Bake at 400 for about 20 min. or until crispy and brown on the outside. These are AMAZING!!!

Tom & Moz. Salad (Tomato-Mozzarella that is:))

  • cut up tomatoes
  • fresh mozzarella pieces in similar size to the tomato
  • fresh basil, chopped
  • drizzle of EVOO and balsamic vinegar

Tyler’s  Decadent Burgers

  • Lean ground sirloin
  • Worcester sauce
  • garlic seasoning
  • A-1

Mix meat and all seasonings and grill!

The Grill Masters

We walked to get ice cream after dinner (Brady still gets bubble gum because it has big chunks of real bubble gum in it).  After ice cream a few friends came over to watch the Olympics, play Wii and drink Sangria!

* Tonight Brady’s parents are coming over for dinner!  Any good cookout recipes?!

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