Posts tagged Party Prep
Hot Chocolate Bar

What is the coziest thing that you can think of during these cold winter months? Hot chocolate better be on that list! There's nothing like a hot mug filled with a dessert drink to keep you warm. I took my love for hot chocolate to the next level with a boozy hot chocolate bar! It's such a great party idea. People really appreciate little touches that go into parties. They are part of what make the gatherings memorable. Best of all, this party idea is so easy to execute. I used dishes and cups that I already had to serve the toppings. I used this banner to write "Hot Chocolate Bar." This has been one of my greatest "hostess" purchases ever. The pack comes with all of the letters so that you can make personalized banners for all occasions. I've used it mainly for people's birthdays. I bought a second pack so that I would have enough letters to write out this three tiered banner!

I made homemade hot chocolate with the recipe below. I put it in a crockpot, which was a genius move. It stayed hot the whole time so people could go over to get a cup whenever they wanted to. It was also nice that I didn't have to do anything for it during the party and I could just have fun. I made it a spiked hot chocolate bar by including bottles of peppermint schnaps and bailey's irish cream for people to add to their cups. If you don't mix it directly into the hot chocolate, people have control over how much alcohol they put into it and what kind of alcohol they use. Its also good to not mix it into the hot chocolate directly if you have kids at your get together. Then, the kids can enjoy the bar as well! 

Some toppings that I included are:

  • Marshmallows (duh)
  • Heath bits 
  • Chocolate sauce
  • Caramel sauce
  • Candy canes (you can substitute with crushed peppermint candy as well)
  • Mini white chocolate chips
  • Mini semi sweet chocolate chips
  • Maple sugar powder
  • Pirouettes (the perfect stirrers)
  • Whipped cream

Hot Chocolate Recipe:

Ingredients:

4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate (chopped into small pieces)

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 can (14oz) of sweetened condensed milk

8 cups of milk (I used 2 percent)

Directions:

Combine the condensed milk and chocolate in your slow cooker.

Cook on high for a half hour. Stir the mixture every ten minutes during this time.

Add the milk and vanilla while continuously stirring it with a wire whisk.

Cook for an additional 2 hours on high. Then, lower it to warm.

Use a ladle to serve.

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Blood Orange Margarita For Halloween
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I wanted to make a Halloween cocktail that would pair well with the Mexican food that I've been majorly craving (when am I not though?!). Enter the Blood Orange Margarita! Get it...blood...Halloween. It's stupid easy and perfect since blood oranges are currently in season. I actually got mini blood oranges and they worked perfectly. 

INGREDIENTS (Yields 4 cocktails):

12 oz freshly squeezed blood orange juice 

4 oz freshly squeezed lime juice 

4 oz agave 

8 oz tequila (I used Silver) 

DIRECTIONS: 

Combine all ingredients and pour over ice. You can garnish the glass with a wedge of blood orange if you'd like!  

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Gold Specks Cake
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I slightly adapted Sweetapolita's watercolor buttercream recipe (linked below) for my husband and mother in law's birthday cake. I loved the idea of using edible gold leaf flecks on a cake so I purchased them (and linked them at the bottom of this post). They were easy to use and looked cool with the gold candles (also linked below). The best thing about this cake was that it was still fresh tasting and the m-word (I hate that word!) 3 full days after making it. I attribute the freshness to the cake container/transporter that I linked at the bottom of this post. Shout out to great products that actually do their job and SUGAR! 

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups (285 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups (450 g) superfine sugar
  • 1 cup (120 g) unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) hot coffee (if you can't use coffee, substitute with very hot water)
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, room temperature

Ingredients for icing:

  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (see Notes)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 cups (620 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Edible gold leaf (linked under 'Shop The Post' at the bottom of this post  

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F (180°C). Spray the bottom of three 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line bottoms with parchment rounds. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, and vanilla, and then mix in eggs.
  4. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Divide batter equally among the three cake pans or weigh for accuracy--each pan should weigh about 580 grams.
  5. Bake the first two layers until a wooden pick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with a only a few crumbs, about 23 minutes. Try not to over-bake. Let cakes cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then turn onto rack to cool completely. Repeat with the final cake layer. When ready to assemble the cake, wrap the layers in plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.
  6. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, shortening, and salt on medium speed until very pale and creamy, 8 minutes.
  7. Reduce the speed to the lowest setting and gradually add the confectioners' sugar, heavy cream, vanilla bean paste and water. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until very light and fluffy, about 6 minutes.
  8. The frosting will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bring chilled frosting to room temperature and beat on low speed to soften. If necessary, you can warm the frosting in a heatproof container in the microwave in 10-second intervals, stirring after each one, until smooth and spreadable. Add a small amount of water, one tablespoon at a time, if the frosting needs more "glide."
  9. Put your first cake layer top-up on the cake board or plate, and spread about 1 1/4 cups of the frosting evenly across layer. Put the second cake layer on top and repeat with another layer of frosting. Repeat again.
  10. Using a turntable, if possible, frost entire outside of cake with a thin layer of the frosting to seal in the crumbs. Chill until the frosting begins to firm-up, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, tint the remaining pink frosting (there should be about
  11. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and return it to the turntable. Using a medium straight palette knife spread the icing around the cake.
  12. Add the gold flecks by gently pressing random patches of the gold onto the cake. Serve at room temperature.

http://sweetapolita.com/2015/06/watercolor-buttercream-party-cake/

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Watermelon Margarita For Cinco De Mayo

Now that you've got your Cinco De Mayo outfit, you can move on to what is important...food and drinks! I'm pretty sure that Cinco De Mayo is a synonym for tequila. Look it up if you don't believe me. While a classic margarita is great, it's very 'been there, done that' and since it's a holiday you need to give it a little spin. These watermelon margaritas are awesome. Unfortunately, I can't drink for medical reasons but I always try what I make and this one was definitely tempting me to keep drinking. It's so good that it doesn't even seem like its alcoholic. Normally when drinks are like that it is because they are super sweet and full of sugar. This recipe that I made up isn't sweet and it has a little tang. The reason I really love it is because it is made with real food and fresh ingredients and you can taste the freshness. We always make margaritas and different watermelon drinks in the summer to bring to the pool and this hybrid is definitely going to need to be added to the roster this year. It really quenches your thirst on a hot day since it is loaded with fresh juices! I hope that this cocktail has you salsa dancing this Friday! 

Ingredients (yields one cocktail):

1 shot of tequila

Juice of 5 limes

Juice of 2 cups cubed watermelon

Splash of seltzer (I used lime seltzer)

Ice cubes

Optional: piece of watermelon for garnish

Directions: 

Place ice cubes into a glass

Squeeze the juice out of 5 limes into a glass (I used a citrus press)

Cut watermelon into cubes until you have 2 cups of cubes

Squeeze the juice out of the watermelon cubes with a citrus press into the glass

Add the shot of tequila and stir

Garnish if you choose to and enjoy!

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Baked Berry Brie

Are you looking for the perfect appetizer for this weekend? The melted cheese is so cozy while the berries evoke feelings of SPRING! This is the only baked brie that I've ever made that I LOVE that doesn't involve a dough on the outside of it. It's just that good on it's own! Brie is definitely one of the best cheeses out there. I'd estimate that a third of the weight that I gained while studying abroad in Rome was a result of brie consumption and I don't regret a single bite. Basically, you can't ever go wrong with brie but this recipe takes it to the next level! 

Ingredients:

1 cup candied pecans

2 cups blackberries

1 T fresh lemon juice

1 T honey

1 t vanilla extract

1 wheel of Brie at room temperature

A few blackberries for garnish

A few thyme sprigs for garnish

Crackers (These cranberry crackers compliment the cheese perfectly)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine the blackberries, lemon juice, honey and vanilla in a medium saucepan and place over low heat. Stir the ingredients frequently.

Once you see that liquid has released from the berries and entered the pan, turn it up to medium heat. Stir this mixture periodically.

While the berries juice is reducing, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the wheel of brie on it. Cut out a circle of the rind on the top of the brie and throw it away.  Make sure that you leave the bottom and all sides of the brie in tact. Bake the brie for 15 minutes (or until it is melty)

Once the liquid has turned syrupy (and drips off of a spoon slower than regular liquid), remove it from the heat.

Top the brie with the berry compote and then garnish it with the thyme and whole berries that you set aside.

Serve this hot! 

Links to Featured Products:

Bomber Jacket

Serving platter

Crackers

 

Cranberry Cocktail

This cocktail recipe takes two minutes maximum. Yes, it is that easy! It doesn't hurt that its pretty either. I always have some ginger beer in my fridge. It can take a simple cocktail and make it more exciting. It is not super sweet but balances out the whisky perfectly. Fresh cranberries make for a beautiful garnish too!

Recipe for One Cocktail:

Combine 1 part/1 oz whisky, 1 part/ 1 oz ginger beer, and 1 part/1 oz cranberry juice

Garnish with cranberries

Links to Featured Products:

Dress

Shaker

Jigger

Cocktail picks

Glasses are from Home Goods and are not sold online

Mac And Cheese Bar

This has got to be the easiest party idea of all time. My favorite thing about this "bar" is that it is a crowd pleaser for people of all ages. It's an amazing idea for a kids' party and a fun activity meets meal for a sleepover. However, it is also fun party food for an adult gathering. I mean, who doesn't like mac and cheese?! I made this for grown ups but the toppings could be substituted for any kid favorites. The best part of this whole thing is how easy the set up is. 

You can make any type of mac and cheese that you want to. My favorite mac and cheese recipe is below. Just throw some toppings into bowls and boom--instant crowd pleaser! My mac and cheese bar included....

  • White truffle oil
  • Black truffle oil
  • Sliced, fresh jalepeño peppers  
  • Chopped bacon
  • Diced green onion
  • Broccoli 

Mac and Cheese Recipe:

Ingredients:

4 cups whole milk

8T unsalted butter

1/2 cup unbleached flour

1T salt

1 pound of pasta (I like to use shells)

3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded colby jack cheese

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a pot on the stovetop on low heat.

Add in the milk, flour and salt and stir over the heat until it becomes a thick cheese sauce.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Then, drain the pasta.

Combine the pasta and the sauce in a casserole dish or glass pyrex. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until it is hot all the way through.

Valentine's Treat

Valentine's Day is all about eating treats with the excuse that it's a holiday. Oh, and love. The past few years I have made big batches of puppy chow (aka muddy buddies). Anything that involves peanut butter is a win in my book. Can you imagine a life without peanut butter?! I shiver at the mere thought of it! I put a bunch of puppy chow into cute Valentine's Day bags like these and gift them to friends and family. It's the perfect treat because it stay fresh for a while so you can make it ahead of time. You can find the recipe below and try it this year. Warning: it is highly addictive!

Ingredients:

1 box of Chex cereal (or another crispy rice cereal)

1 cup peanut butter

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

Combine the butter, chocolate and peanut butter in a bowl. Place the bowl in the microwave and turn the microwave on for 30 second intervals. Stir the mixture in between the intervals until it is smooth. Then, pour in the vanilla extract.

Pour the cereal into the bowl and stir until all of the cereal is coated with the mixture that you microwaved. If some of the pieces get stuck together, don't worry...those are actually my favorite pieces!

Place the chocolate covered cereal into a large ziplock bag. Pour the powdered sugar into the bag. Shake the bag until the cereal is covered in powdered sugar. 

Enjoy and try your best to avoid the addiction!

 

 

 

Valentine's Waffle Bar

Looking for a fun idea for your Valentine's party? This waffle bar is calling your name then! Invite your friends over and host a Galentine's brunch with this bar. There is no better way to show your girls that you love them than with some bellinis and waffles. I discovered the best waffle mix ever. Even the waffles that I have made from scratch can't hold a candle to these. You can buy the mix here. 

Here are the toppings that I included in my waffle bar but feel free to use any that you like...

Almond slivers

White chocolate chips (regular chocolate chips would be great too)

Strawberries

Blueberries

Banana slices

Marshmallows

Valentine's sprinkles

Raspberry jam

Ice cream (my personal favorite topping)

Candy hearts (they don't taste good but at least they make the bar pretty)

Whipped cream

Peanut butter

Caramel sauce

Chocolate sauce

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Super Bowl Food

Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner and if you're like me, you are looking forward to all of the food that comes along with it! It is a yearly tradition to eat until it hurts and I wouldn't want to ever stand in the way of tradition. I think that people like to eat a bunch of different things at a party so it is good to make each thing on the smaller side. It seems only fair to try a little bit of whatever each person brings, right?! I mean we can't be rude so we just have to suck it up and eat everything (*sigh*). Poor us! So, this year, I am taking some classic ideas and giving them a twist. I am also making them bite sized (code word for cute)! Let's get #cozycookin! 

Mini Steak Sandwich

These small sandwiches are essentially fancy cheesesteaks. I took the essence of a cheesesteak and essentially threw a diamond necklace on it. The Pretzilla pretzel buns are amazing! They make them for burgers as well and I highly recommend them. They elevate a basic burger, sausage, hot dog, or sandwich. I used skirt steak instead of traditional cheesesteak meat. I also made a garlic aioli sauce that you will want to eat with a spoon (but don't because no one would want to sit next to you during the game with the breath you'd have)!

Ingredients:

Skirt steak (I recommend a quarter pound per sandwich)

1 container of pretzel buns

Mayonnaise (I use Spectrum canola mayonnaise)

1 garlic clove (minced)

Juice from 1/4 of a lemon

Dash of sea salt

1T Olive oil

1 green bell pepper

1 large yellow onion

Slices of provolone cheese (1 per sandwich)

**You can add mushrooms if you want (we just are not fans in this house)

Directions:

Make the garlic aioli sauce by combining the mayo, lemon juice, minced garlic and salt. Set this aside.

Cut the onion and pepper into slivers. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook on the stovetop over medium/low heat until the onions are browned. 

At the same time that you are cooking the vegetables, throw the steak on your stovetop over medium heat. I cooked mine on a grill pan with ridges. Feel free to cook your steak however you prefer! When the steak is almost done, spread a piece of provolone cheese on the top of it so that it melts. 

Spread the aioli sauce on the top of the pretzel bun. Place the steak with the melted cheese and then veggies inside of the bun. Enjoy!

Mini Burger Bites

Is there anything easier than this? I don't think this even constitutes as cooking. Sometimes you just need an assembly only recipe that will still impress people. This one is it!

Ingredients:

Meatballs (I bought frozen vegan ones because I am a vegetarian but you can sub with beef)

Slices of cheese 

Romaine lettuce

Grape tomatoes

Sliced pickles

Ketchup

Any other condiments that you want to put on the side for dipping

Toothpicks 

Directions:

Cook the meatballs on the stovetop (or in the oven)

Cut the cheese into squares and stack it on each meatball

Top with lettuce, half of a grape tomato, and pickle. Stick the toothpick in to hold it all together.

Put ketchup and any other condiments that you like in a dipping bowl on the side

Snowy Cocktail

Finding a wintery cocktail that you actually want to drink is harder than you would think. It is easy to find a hot beverage recipe but let’s be real, how many hot toddies can you drink?! Most of the things that we mix alcohol with taste like summer. As much as I am pining to be on a beach, I think that I need to face the cold hard fact that it is the dead of winter. Luckily, I know the perfect trick for making any cocktail look wintery. I love adding this garnish to champagne because people think that it is so fancy and impressive but really it is so easy!

Let’s make some snowy rosemary for your next drink...

  1. Lay parchment paper down on your counter

  2. Pour a pile of raw cane sugar onto the parchment paper (you can also use granulated sugar)

  3. Run your rosemary sprigs under the faucet to get them wet

  4. Lay the rosemary sprigs on some paper towels to let them dry off a bit (we want them to be pretty damp but not soaking wet or the sugar will get clumpy)

  5. Roll the rosemary in the sugar

  6. Lay the rosemary on the parchment paper to let it dry (you can leave it like this for up to 24 hours if you want to)

  7. Place the rosemary sprig into your glass and enjoy the glistening effect of this magical season without actually stepping outside and into the cold

Links to Featured Products:

Champagne glasses

Wood serving board

Silver decorative vase

Cranberry Mules
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Are you looking for a festive and wintery cocktail? Well, you've come to the right place! Added bonus, it is so easy. The great thing about Moscow Mules is that men and women like them equally. It is hard to find a cocktail that isn't predominantly masculine or feminine. This twist on the traditional Moscow Mules is one that everyone loves. These modern moscow mule mugs add an extra golden touch.

Ingredients (yields one cocktail):

1/2oz simple syrup

1/2oz cranberry juice

2 oz ginger beer

1 1/2oz vodka

1 rosemary sprig and cranberries for festive garnish

Directions:

  1. Combine the simple syrup, cranberry juice and vodka. 
  2. Pour over your one square ice cube.
  3. Pour ginger beer.
  4. Garnish with rosemary sprig and cranberries.

 

Links to Featured Products:

Gold Moscow Mule mugs   /   Square large ice cube tray