Monster Party Dip

Monster Party Dip

Party time again! This time for my adorable nephew’s 1st birthday, he had a monster theme and I was in charge of an appetizer. I went with a family favorite and old stand by, Spinach Dip but you could add any dip to this cute hollowed out bread bowl.

For the eyes I used toothpicks covered with asparagus stalks then topped them with mushroom caps and inserted black olives into the cap.

Monster Party Dip

For the mouth I cut a red pepper into a tounge and used carrot sticks for the teeth.

Monster Party Dip

and for the arms and feet I used chunks of a separate round loaf of bread and uses the asparagus tips for fingers and toes gut from a radish on his legs. I attached them with toothpicks as well.

Monster Party Dip

 

I think it was a great addition to the Monster Party!

Monster Party Dip

 

Sausage with Red Wine and Smoked Paprika

Sausage with Red Wine and Smoked Paprika

 

These are an easy and great little snack for football, cocktail parties or the holidays.

1lb Kielbasa or other sausage ( Andouille or smoked sausage would be great)

2 T olive oil

1 T chopped fresh oregano or parsley

2 t chopped garlic

1 t smoked paprika

1/2 c dry red wine

Cut sausage into 1/2 in rounds. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over med high heat. add sausage and cook until browned. stir in oregano, garlic and paprika. cook for 1 minute. Add red wine and stir. reduce heat to low and cook for 3-4 minutes. Serve with toothpicks.

 

Roll Out the Barrel: Oktoberfest Party

Oktoberfest Party: Photo Booth

It was one of my best friends birthday recently so we decided to throw her a birthday party with an Oktoberfest theme. Whats not to like, beer, costumes, and German food.

To start I decorated with some beer and fall things I had around the house, empty bottles, beer steins, burlap runner, dried wheat and fall leaves. I also bought a blue and white harlequin tablecloth ( the official Oktoberfest pattern) from a party store and hung it over a curtain rod in my family room to make a back drop for a ” photo booth”. I had props like steins, lederhosen, German signs and Oktoberfest bibs from the party store. I set my camera on a tripod in front of it and tried to get shots of all the party goers.

I am also very lucky that I have some home brewing friends who made a keg of beer especially for our party, delicious!  But this is a great time to taste some of the fall varieties of craft beers like Oktoberfests and Pumpkins.

For appetizers I set up a “Pretzel Stand” I had assorted flavors, shapes and sizes of pretzels and dips to go with them. I even made some homemade Pretzel Bites by following this recipe. http://www.snixykitchen.com/2012/10/24/pretzel-bites-with-four-distinct-dipping-sauces/. I made the dough a day ahead of time and covered it tightly with plastic wrap. then boiled and baked the pretzels the next day. I also found that I needed to add about 3/4 c more flour than the recipe called for to get the dough to be the right consistency but I live in Florida and baking here can be weird.

Oktoberfest Party: Homemade Pretzel Bites

Oktoberfest Party: Pretzel Stand

For dips I made a Sweet and Spicy Mustard Sauce

1 c mayonnaise

3/4 c coarse mustard

2 T  jarred grated horseradish

2 T honey

Oktoberfest Party: Sweet and Spicy Mustard

a Chocolate and Toffee Dip

1 brick cream cheese softened

1/2 c brown sugar

1/4 c white sugar

1/4 c cocoa powder

1/2 c toffee chips (Heath)

1 t vanilla

Mix all ingredients together in a mixer on low until combined.

Oktoberfest Party: Chocolate and Toffee Dip

I also made Beer Cheese Dip using an Oktoberfest Beer instead of an IPA.

To make all of the food seem more festive I labeled them with German names on the tables.

For the main course we had Brats braised in Beer, Rouladen, Oma’s Potato Salad, Saurkraut with beer and apples, and Homemade Cucumber Salad

Oktoberfest Party: Rouladen

Cucumber Salad

4 cucumbers peeled and sliced thin

1 cup sour cream

2 T sugar

2 T white vinegar

1 t dried dill

1 t salt

1/4 t black pepper

Slice cucumbers and place in a colander to drain for 20 minutes, then mix all ingredients together in a large bowl

Oktoberfest Party: Cucumber Salad

Last but not least, everyone’s favorite, cupcakes. My friend made 3 different kinds for our Oktoberfest themed party. Apple Strudel, German Chocolate and Bavarian Cream. ( I will try to get the recipes to post on here)

Oktoberfest Party: Cupcakes

Fun was had by all, the food, beer and company was all delightful. Go on try some of these ideas at your next Fall party and share your tips below.

Baked Pumpkin and Sage Ziti

Baked Pumpkin and Sage Ziti

 

I love pumpkin ravioli but who has time or energy to make that, get all the flavor with none of the work with this baked ziti dish.

Baked Pumpkin and Sage Ziti

1 16 0z package of ziti or other pasta cooked and drained

2 c pumpkin puree

2 c ricotta cheese

1/4 c  shredded parmesan cheese

1 T honey

1 egg

1/2 t ground nutmeg

1 T chopped fresh sage

1 T butter

1/2 t salt

1/4 t pepper

1/4 c shredded mozzarella cheese

While pasta is cooking, mix pumpkin, ricotta and parmesan cheeses, honey, egg, nutmeg and sage in a bowl. When pasta is done drain and return to pot, add butter and stir over low heat until melted. Add pumpkin/cheese mixture and stir until evenly mixed. Stir in salt and pepper. Add to a large baking pan and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. Bake for 20 min at 325 or until cheese is melted.

Baked Pumpkin and Sage Ziti

 

Baked Pumpkin and Sage Ziti

 

Baked Pumpkin and Sage Ziti

 

Baked Pumpkin and Sage Ziti

Are You Ready For Some Football?: Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Buffalo Chicken Meatball Sandwiches

It is football season, time for tailgates and parties. Here is an easy recipe that will please a crowd on the weekend or your family on the weeknight.

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

2 lbs ground chicken

1/3 c blue cheese crumbles

1/2 c panko bread crumbs

2 T buttermilk ( you can use regular milk and add 1 t vinegar)

3 T hot sauce

1 t minced garlic

1/4 c chopped onion

1 T Italian seasoning

1 t salt

1/4 t pepper

1 c  buffalo wing sauce (We made our own, melt 1/2 stick butter, add 1 t minced garlic, 1 c hot sauce, and 2 t brown sugar, stir)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. form into balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until no longer pink. Toss with wing sauce in a large bowl. Serve on toasted buns with blue cheese and lettuce. Add shredded mozzarella cheese if desired.

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Buffalo Chicken Meatball Sandwiches

** Entertaining tip, add meatballs and wing sauce into a crock pot and set on warm. Or make smaller sized meatballs and serve as appetizers with a side of blue cheese dressing.

Pool Party: My Nephew’s 1st Birthday

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Under The Sea Cake

I come from a very large family, and my nephew turned one last week and so we celebrated in style.  It was a collaborative effort by friends and family with ideas from everyone and Pinterest. It turned out so cute I thought I would share some of the highlights. The cake above came from the very talented Creative Wine-O, check out her facebook page here. The detail was stunning. The beach ball was the “smash” cake and even the sand dollars were edible.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Watch Me Grow Time Line

To celebrate his first revolution around the sun my sister made a timeline, featuring a picture from each of his 12 months. Use ribbon and clothes pins to hang. Make sure you put it in a place that is easily accessible so all guest can admire it.  We also used this as the back drop when he ate his birthday cake. We placed his high chair in front.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Fish Craft

We hung a fishing net ( available at party stores) over the main food table and attached sand molds to it. We also had a craft table so that some of the older kids could make paper plate fish to hang in the net. We also used sand buckets and shovels to serve some of the food in.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Shark Bite Fruit Salad

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Shark Bite Fruit Salad

One of the highlights of the food table was this awesome watermelon carved into a shark by my brother-in-law. We then filled it with various cut up fruit.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Blow Fish Fruit Platter

He also made a cantaloupe into a blow fish.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Fish Veggie Tray

Vegetables morphed into a tropical fish.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Octopus Spinach Dip

Spinach dip was turned into a jolly octopus using a bread bowl and pretzel sticks.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Hummus Beach

Make your own hummus beach by spreading hummus in a shallow tray ( I used a clear lid to a casserole) and decorate with drink umbrellas and Pretzel Crisp crabs.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Dolphin Finger Sandwiches

I found a dolphin sandwich cutter at Sweetbay, perfect to make mini sandwiches for the kids.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Bait Bucket

Swedish fish and gummy worms turned into an edible bait bucket decoration.

Pool Party 1st Birthday: Party Favors

Each child got to take a bit of the fun home. Our good family friend made party buckets out of plain sand buckets decorated with stickers and ribbon and filled with beach themed goodies from the dollar store.

It was a true success and a joyous celebration of one of our youngest family members birthday.

Mediterranean Layered Dip

Mediterranean Layered Dip

 

Everyone has had 7 layer dip and its delicious, here is a little twist, same idea but Mediterranean flavors. Make this as easy or as difficult as you want, use store bought ingredients or make your own Hummus and Tzatziki Sauce.

On a large plate or shallow bowl layer the following ingredients or be creative and add your favorites, anything goes.

Hummus

Tzatziki sauce or Greek Yogurt

Chopped Tomatoes

Chopped Kalamata Olives

Chopped Pepppadew Peppers or Roasted Red Peppers

Crumbled Feta Cheese

Chopped Fresh Parsley or Oregano

Lemon Zest

Serve with Pita, Celery or Pretzel Crisps

Mediterranean Layered Dip

 

Other ideas, Pine Nuts, Roasted garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Tabouli

 

 

Red White and Blue: Berry Basil Sangria

Red White and Blue: Berry Basil Sangria

This is a light and refreshing sangria that is perfect for summer and the festive colors make it the go to drink for the 4th of July. Want to make a pitcher for the kids, substitute the wine with white grape juice.

1  1.5 liter bottle of Pinot Grigio

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1/4 c basil

1 c white grape juice

1 c strawberries washed and cut into quarters

1 cup blueberries

1/2 liter club soda

Place Strawberries and blueberries in a large pitcher, cover with 1 cup of wine and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour- overnight.

Basil Berry Sangria

In a small sauce pan add sugar, water and 4 large basil leaves. bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves and then turn off heat and let cool. This is a basil simple syrup. It is great for many mixed drinks. I like it with Gin and tonics.

Basil Simple Syrup

Add 1/2 basil simple syrup (straining the leaves out) the rest of the wine, grape juice, and club soda to the pitcher with the fruit.  Taste and add more simple syrup if needed ( This will depend on your tastes and the sweetness of your wine) Add some more fresh basil leaves. Serve over ice. Garnish with more basil and fruit if desired.

Red White and Blue: Berry Basil Sangria, perfect drink for the 4th of July

Graduation Party Revisited

Graduation Party Ideas

I can’t believe it has been a whole year since my oldest graduated from high school. He has now completed his first year of college and is working part time. He votes, pays taxes and insurance and is a true adult in everyone’s eyes but mine, to me he is still my baby. As I see many parents getting ready to celebrate their own children’s accomplishments and graduations I decided to revisit some of the highlights from last year’s graduation party and post them here.

For decorations we did all of our sons school and baby pictures under a sheet of clear plastic on the table, it was fun to reminisce and see all the crazy hairstyles he went through as a preteen. We also rolled the napkins into diploma shapes and tied them with black ribbons. Then made little stacks of them around the table.

Graduation diploma napkins

For food we incorporated his favorite food, chips and set up a chip and dip bar. We set out various types of chips and dips in different bowls plates and cake stands and let everyone mix and match.

Chip and Dip Bar

Don’t worry we also had vegetables for dipping.

Veggie platter

Some dip ideas are… ( click on the link for the recipes)

Salsa and Guacamole

Bacon Horseradish

Kalamata Olive

Beer Cheese

Goat Cheese and Marinara

Sweet Potato Hummus

Pimento Cheese

Also you could include some dessert dips

Creamy Reese’s Peanut Butter Dip

Key Lime Pie Dip

I was lazy and let Publix make the cake, but this book cake would be pretty easy to replicate using 2 different sized rectangular or square pans.

Publix's Book Style Graduation Cake

Congrats to all who graduated and the people that helped them get there, have fun celebrating this momentous occasion.

Sunny Sangria

Sunny Sangria

Here is a yummy sangria guaranteed to bring sunshine on a cloudy day or be the belle of the ball at your next pool party.

Sunny Sangria

1 bottle pinot noir or any light red wine

1 shot ginger liquor

1 shot spiced rum

1 cup orange juice

1 T chopped fresh mint

1 t orange zest

1 orange sliced

1 lemon sliced

ginger ale

ice

Mix wine, ginger liquor, spiced rum, mint, zest and orange and lemon slices in a large pitcher. Fill glasses with ice and add wine mixture until 3/4 full, add ginger ale to fill glass, garnish with mint and fruit if desired.

Adding the ginger ale and ice to the glasses instead of the pitcher keeps the sangria from going flat and getting too watery.

Sunny Sangria