Sunday, December 2, 2012

Egg Nog Martini

Egg Nog Martini
Egg Nog Martini


The funniest thing about this delicious drink is that it is a basic Egg Nog served in a Martini glass!  Then again, anything served in stemware always tastes better and looks so much more sophisticated.  Don't you think?

Egg Nog Martini
Egg Nog Martini

1 oz. Vanilla Vodka
3/4 to 1 oz. Almond Flavored Liqueur
2 to 2 1/2 oz. Prepared Egg Nog

Combine ingredients over ice and shake.  Strain into a chilled Martini Glass.  Dust with nutmeg, cinnamon, or try pumpkin-pie spice.

Serves: 1


P.S.,  I made these martinis with prepared dairy-free egg nog.  Have a wonderful holiday season!

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Naughty Things You Can Only Say on Thanksgiving Day


source

Talk about a huge breast!

Tying the legs together keeps the inside moist.

It's Cool Whip time!

If I don't undo my pants, I'll burst!

That's one terrific spread!

I'm in the mood for a little dark meat.

Are you ready for seconds yet?

It's a little dry; do you still want to eat it?

Just wait your turn; you'll get some!

Don't play with your meat.

Just spread the legs open and stuff it in.

Do you think you'll be able to handle all these people at once?

I didn't expect everyone to come at once!

You still have a little bit on your chin.

How long will it take after you stick it in?

You'll know it's ready when it pops up!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

... And now back to our regularly scheduled posts...

 
P.S., I received this email from a lovely "Winter Texan" and thought it was too cute not to share.

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Southern Thanksgiving

I'm not technically a Southerner but I've lived in the Carolinas longer than anywhere else.  So, I think it is about time for me to start incorporating some southern traditions into my family.

Appetizers

Long before I moved to the sunny southern states, I fell head-over-heals with pickled watermelon rind.  That's where we will begin this Southern Thanksgiving Menu.
Pickled Watermelon Rind by TPS
Pickled Watermelon Rind

Main Dish

Fried Turkey seems to be everywhere now.  Years ago, when I first heard about it, I thought how odd to not cook a turkey in the oven.  Here we are today and deep fryers can be found in the grocery stores.
Fried Turkey by Bob Merritt
Best Ever Fried Turkey

Side Dish

My dad makes the absolute BEST stuffing ever!  (I have to say that since that was all I ever knew growing up and have tried to emulate it since).  I remember my first cornbread stuffing and although it was different from what I knew, it certainly was delicious.
Gluten-Free Cornbread Stuffing by EZ Gluten Free
Cornbread Sausage Stuffing

Regardless of the type of gravy; giblet gravy, white wine gravy, bourbon gravy, it's all about the lack of lumps.   One secret to making lump-free gravy is to use a jar with a tight lid so you can shake a small amount of the liquid with the thickener, then slowly add more liquid.  Once the liquid and thickening agent (flour, corn starch, potato starch, etc.) is lump free then add to your pan of liquid stirring constantly.
Bourbon Gravy by The Pure Pantry
Bourbon Gravy

We used to have candied yams with marshmallows on top as a side dish.  My first sweet potato casserole was actually at a Ryan's Cafeteria and not on Thanksgiving day.
Sweet Potato Casserole by Collegiate Cook
Sweet Potato Casserole

Dessert



There are some southern dishes that I have not been able to acquire the taste; sweet tea, salt pork (I actually haven't tried this due to allergies but DH tried it and I thought I'd have to resuscitate him!), chitlins, and a pound of butter (major exaggeration) in about everything.  Don't get me wrong about the butter, I like butter but can my body really handle that much?  I may not order sweet tea but the flavored iced teas served down here in the south are amazing.

The tea, butter and now grits have found their way into my pantry.  Who knows, in a couple more years people might not know I ever lived anywhere else.


P.S.,  I hope you enjoy this Southern Thanksgiving menu.  What Thanksgiving traditions do you incorporate each year?

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hosting a Tea Party - Part 2

The Inaugural High Tea Party committee (me and my good friend) met and brought to order our second meeting and hopefully to finalize our plans.

Well, finalization was not in the order for the day.

The first thing on the agenda was to look at the invitee list.  Wholly Moley!  We had over 20 potential guests that we thought from the overall list would respond favorably.  Oh my goodness, that was way more than either one of us could properly host in our homes.

However, knowing the ladies in the neighborhood, we thought we would be able to successfully get together for a tea on a quarterly basis.

Step back and punt.

First, we went online to see if there were any "official" tea houses within an hour's drive from the neighborhood.  Then we started making phone calls.  We are in the south and for some reason, there aren't many tea drinkers.  There are a TON of coffee places.  We did talk to one gentleman whose restaurant is not a tea house nor has hosted a tea party but he was from New York and is quite familiar with proper tea parties and would put a proposal together for us.

Another restaurant, which is actually in an old house, thought it was a great idea but doesn't have any tea cups or know how to begin to host.  We were quite willing to work with them if they could at least put a menu together for us.  We liked the idea of an old house type setting.  Their food is actually delicious.

We would really like to have a holiday tea party but that will depend on the restaurants getting back to us in a timely manner.  However, (and this is a shocker - sheepish grin) we aren't the only ones wanting to host during this upcoming time of year, so we aren't expecting to hear back from them within the next couple days.  That's probably for the best since there is so much going on during the upcoming months.  Plus it will give the committee more time to gather gifts and other items.

After all, a nice and quiet afternoon with friends sipping hot tea on a cold day in January has a nice ring to it, don't you think?



P.S.,  When is your favorite time of year to host a tea party?

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Thinking about Thanksgiving - Part 2

Last week we started changing gears from candy and goblins to thinking about Thanksgiving.  We thought about what decorations could be carried over, started making our guest list, and looking at what we already had on hand.

This week we are going to delve into our to-do list a little further.

Thinking about Thanksgiving this Week:


  • Are you going to cook, order, or have catered the main dish or entire meal?
    • Place your Order
    • Contact Caterer
    • Measure Oven, Pan, Platter
    • Preferred Cooking Method - Bake, Fry, Grill
  • Invite Guests - During the RSVP, if a guest offers to bring a dish, accept the offer - it's one less item for you to handle (you reserve the right to make the same dish)
    • Keep a running RSVP / Dish list
  • Purchase, Rent, Borrow, Clean or Polish
    • Dinner Plates, Dessert Plates, Glasses, Wine Glasses, Coffee Cups, Silverware, Napkins, Linens, Serving Dishes and Utensils
  • Measure Table or configure Table Arrangements
Large Dinner Party Table - preset stage
This table is made up of 3 separate tables and seated 12
  • Check your Pantry for items already on hand, what needs replenishing and specific items that need to be purchased
  • Make a Grocery List of everything in the recipes including a total count - whether you have it on hand today or not
  • Begin purchasing items you do not have (cranberry sauce, olives, sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkin pie filling, marshmallows, green beans, turkey/ham/tofu turkey) along with your normal grocery shopping - this helps allocate the cost over a period of a few weeks rather than one major shopping excursion
  • Start saving your stale bread for homemade stuffing

Your house is most likely looking pretty good since you've been spending more time inside decorating for Halloween and parties.  Take a breather in this area - besides who ever looks in the bedrooms or closets anyway?

The areas that will matter the most are: Kitchen, Dining Room, Living Room or main rooms, Coat Closet, Guest Bathroom, and Guest Room.  Close the doors to the rest of the rooms and no one will be any wiser.  When you get a moment, visit these rooms in the chance that someone might want a tour of the house.

I have to laugh at the mention of the coat closet.  A couple weeks ago, DH and I had guests over and it was one of those surprise chilly nights down here in the south and a few people actually had light jackets.  Lo-and-behold, our coat closet was not ready!  We had to have our guests pile their coats on the bench in the foyer.  How embarrassing was that?  Rest assured, the coat closet was cleaned out the very next morning.

Good luck to you this week.  Please let us know how it's going.


P.S., What is your favorite side dish?

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hosting a Tea Party - Notes

A good friend and I have decided to host an Inaugural High Tea for the neighborhood ladies.  We would like to have this tea in the beginning of November but not necessarily fall or holiday themed.

We spent an afternoon brainstorming and this is what we have come up with so far.

Tea Party Sandwiches by The Party Times
Tea Party Sandwiches and Cupcakes

Notes:


  • Name for the group?
    • Do we want a theme so we can continue hosting future teas?
  • Invitations
    • Hand Written
    • Printed Out on Pretty Paper
    • Purchased
  • Menu
    • Scones
    • Soup
    • Delicate Sandwiches
    • Cake / Tart
    • Tea - Are tea bags permissible?
      • Lemon / Milk / Sugar Cubes
  • Table
    • How many?  One big one or a few smaller ones?
    • Table Cloth(s) - make?
    • Napkins - make?
    • Tea Party Chairs by Cookin for My Captain as seen on Make and Takes
      Ribbons on Chairs
  • Decorations
    • Tie a ribbon around each chair ( I really like the idea of using white towels (as seen in the photo) or strips of fabric over the chairs and then tulle and ribbon bow ties around the backs of the chairs)
    • Calling Cards by Sample Board Online
      Calling Cards
    • Place Cards
  • Party Favors
    • Writing Cards
    • Calling Cards
    • Tea Bag Holder
    • Herb Plant
    • Mums
  • Activities
    • Make Holiday Ornaments
    • Nothing
    • Decorate Hats


Oh my goodness, I'm sure there will be so many more notes.  We have an idea as to the menu and what we'd like to see happen with this tea party.  We are meeting again to finalize our plans.

We'd like our afternoon to be totally feminine and hopefully over the top.  We envision glitter (well, I do anyway), flowers, candles, dressing up, giggles, and of course fun.  We'd like the ladies to walk away feeling rejuvenated and utterly pampered.

P.S., Have you hosted a tea party?  Do you have any suggestions?

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Children's Halloween Party Drinks

Children have the most fun at parties so why not make their drinks fun too!  Fete a Fete starts us off with some drinks, not exactly sure what is in them but let's say different juices or funky powdered drinks, in beakers and black straws giving us a mad scientist theme.  If you're ever looking for exquisite or unique party ideas, this is the go-to place.  Every detail is captured.
Beaker Beverages by Fete a Fete
Beaker Beverages

Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. has mixed us up one scary looking drink.  Orange soda and ice cream - I can handle.  Now add in gelatin and WOW! this is a totally different creature.
Igor-Ade by chemistry.about.com
Igor-Ade

Wes Martin of The Cooking Channel came up with this (lower calorie) version of the root beer float and the chocolate worm cake.
Cemetery Slime Punch by Wes Martin
Cemetery Slime Punch
Jacqueline at Purple Chocolat Home must have brought back some "fresh" water from her last vacation.  Now, I've heard of bringing home shells and other souvenirs but have to say not water.  Well, she didn't really bring it home with her but she did make it for a special someone.
Swamp Water by Purple Chocolat Home
Swamp Water

Kate at Our Best Bites has a potion that you might remember from Halloween parties at school.  I remember an orange sherbet, lemon/lime soda, and dry ice to make a "witches' brew".  We thought we were so cool drinking something that had something in it that we weren't even allowed to touch!
Mad Scientist Potion by Our Best Bites
Mad Scientist Potion

P.S.,  What Halloween party drink do you remember from years past?

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Thinking about Thanksgiving - Part 1


Halloween isn't even over and we need to start thinking about Thanksgiving.  This is the time of year that everything passes by so quickly and staying on top of things can be daunting.

Being prepared is one way to enjoy all the festivities.

Things to be thinking about right now for Thanksgiving:
  • Guest List
    • Who will be invited?
    • How many guests?
  • Invitations
  • Type of Dinner
    • Buffet Style
    • Formal Sit-Down (How many tables and chairs are needed? 

Formal Table Setting by Etiquette Scholar
Formal Table Setting
  • Traditional foods or family favorites prepared for Thanksgiving
    • Start compiling recipes
  • Dishes / Silverware / Glasses

Mix and Match Table by Belle Cose
Mix and Match Table Setting
  • Linens
    • Paper Napkins
    • Cloth Napkins
    • Table Cloth(s)
  • Serving Dishes
  • Decorations
    • Can any of your Halloween or Fall decorations carry over into November?
That's it for now!  In fact, it probably appears overwhelming.  Most of the items can be done while going through your daily routine.  While you're pulling out dishes for dinner, take a moment and look at all your dishes making a mental count and condition.  Same with the serving dishes and linens.


P.S., What additional items do you include at this time?  Do you follow a week-by-week schedule leading up to Thanksgiving?

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Halloween Bites (Appetizers / Tapas / Hors D'Oeuvres)

I might have to have another party so I can serve up these delectable delicacies.  Who wouldn't want to eat things that crawl or control our bodily functions?



I wonder if Megan was ever on one of those reality shows where the contestants have to eat bugs.  These stuffed cockroaches will be the hit of the party.
Gross Halloween Appetizers by Megan's Cookin
Stuffed Cockroaches (Goat Cheese Filled Dates)

Have you checked out Examiner for halloween tips?  Joanie Pimentel with Sunset Magazine came up with these creepy deviled eggs. 
Spider Eggs by Sunset Magazine
Spooky Spider Eggs

Nikki of Canary Girl is serving up some deliciously gross intestines.  Would you like yours savory or sweet?
Intestines, a Halloween appetizer by Canary Girl
Intestines

In case the cockroaches, spiders and intestines weren't enough to get you hungry, how about a little slice of brain by KiffaKitty.
Brain Cake by KiffaKitty
Brain Cake

I'm so sorry!  I couldn't help myself.  When I came across this last one, it seemed to fit in with the other body organs.
Bleeding Heart Brie by Keen Observers
Bleading Heart Brie

In all seriousness, anything can be made ghoulish.  Using bat or bird cookie cutters to make shapes out of sandwiches or cookie dough, then using food coloring to make the mayonnaise or frosting black or red.  Can you picture using cookie cutters on meat slices then adding some spicy horseradish "blood"?

Red and a little Blue food color mixed with corn syrup adds instant blood drizzled over any dish.  Flavor your blood with vanilla, almond, or licorice.

Plastic spiders crawling across the food or frozen in ice cubes is another way to make the presentation that much creepier.

Light some candles, plug in the black lights, and add "cob webs" in the doorways for instant atmosphere.


P.S.,  What ghoulish food are you serving up this Halloween?

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Easy DIY Halloween Decorations

Easy and inexpensive Halloween decorations that can be done in a day is in order since we're actually running out of month.  A few of these ideas can easily transition into Thanksgiving decorations as well.

Starting us out is an outdoor mesh ribbon that is done in black and orange but if fall colors were used (gold, brown, maroon, orange) this easy bow could transition through November.  If you don't have a light on the side of the house, tying this to the mailbox or a light post would look really nice.

Outdoor Mesh Ribbon Bow by Decorating Ideas Made Easy
Mesh Ribbon Bow

You might not have 10 or 20 milk or water jugs lying around but even a couple would work.  These really are adorable ghosts and what better way to light the path for party goers or trick-or-treaters?

Milk Jug Ghosts by Inspiring Pretty
Milk Jug Ghosts


Chris Barnes came up with this beautiful light piece.  It is a flameless candle with twigs and brown ribbon.  This would be beautiful for an outdoor party this fall.  This is another project that is super simple and will last through November.
Nature Inspired Flameless Candle by Chris Barnes
Nature Inspired Flameless Candle


Debi Lilly from Chicago explains how simply this table adornment can be made.  You might already have some glass floral vases lying around or some glass storage containers.  If you don't, even different sized glasses would probably work.  Add some candy corn, jelly beans, flameless candle, mask and ribbon and you're done!
Candy and Candle Filled Vases by Cheeky Chicago
Candy and Candle Filled Vases


Laura purchased these towels and added a few embellishments but you could easily sew or use an iron-on adhesive to place scrap Halloween or Fall fabric and add some ribbon.  Laura went an extra step and added some sparkly iron-on embellishments.  These would look fabulous in your kitchen but would also make a wonderful hostess gift.
Embellished Halloween Towels by Laura's Crafty Life
Embellished Halloween Towels



Adrienne Audrey of Crafty Little Gnome is very clever.  If you haven't had a chance to check out this website, it is a MUST SEE.  This is another simple and inexpensive project and Adrienne walks us through each step.
Spider Mummy Wreath by Crafty Little Gnome
Spider Mummy Wreath

Some additional ideas:

  • Use a wire wreath or bend a wire coat hanger into a wreath shape, tie bits of fabric or grosgrain ribbon until full.  This can be all black, black and orange, fall colors, or printed fabric that gives a nice fall or Halloween feeling.
  • Spray paint a nice size twig black, place in a urn-type flower pot, add moss and black birds.
  • Glue magnets to the backs of plastic spiders and place them all over your front door as Delia did.

Plastic Spiders on Front Door by Delia Creates
Black Spiders on Front Door

What easy and inexpensive DIY Halloween decorations have you made this year or used in the past?  Please share your ideas and words of encouragement.

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