Diaper Keg – Sunday Fun-day Couples Shower

One of my husband’s best friends, Garrett, and his wife Daniela are expecting a little boy in September! ¬†I of course wanted a cutsie couples shower, and if Luke had his way we would have had had frozen pizzas and beer – so we settled in the middle on a Diaper Keg ūüôā

It turned-out to be a perfect combo of fun, cute, and chill, and was a great way to get the fellas involved in the baby shower process and celebrate the parents-to-be!

Here are the details!

The Concept:¬†The theme of the event was “Baby is Brewing” – guests were asked to bring diapers in exchange for a keg cup!

The Decor: ¬†All of the decor, signage, etc. revolved around beer but with a “girlie” twist!

Diaper Cake:¬†I’ve made diaper cakes before, but for this one I added the dad-to-be’s favorite beer – Milwaukee’s Best – so it tied-in the theme! ¬†If you haven’t made diaper cakes before, they are actually super easy! ¬†Here is a simple tutorial:

What you need:
 РCardboard
– Tissue paper
– hot glue gun
– Paper towel roll
– various-sized rubber bands
– Diapers (any size) – roughly 30
– Ribbon to match your color scheme + any additional “cake toppers”

1. Use a piece of cardboard for the base – you can use cardboard from the diaper box or in this case I used a frozen pizza base!

2. Cover the cardboard base with tissue paper using a hot glue gun then glue the paper towel roll to the base

3. Roll several of the diapers up and wrap with a small rubber band Рset the diapers around the paper towel roll then secure with a larger rubber band.  Repeat for another row until the base is the desired width (3 rows works best).  Do the same thing for the middle layer, only reduce the rows by one so it is tiered.  Repeat until you get to the top!  To add the beer cans, I replaced some of the diapers with the beer then filled-in with more diapers if needed

4. Measure the ribbon so it wraps the width of the base – using a hot glue gun secure the two ends of the ribbon around the diapers, being careful not to glue the diapers so they can be used!

5. Top with any additional kids toys, etc. – in this case we used a fun pacifier to help tie-in our theme (Luke picked it out)!

Beer mug flowers:¬†I found these on Pinterest and thought they were so cute! ¬†I bought 4 large mugs from Michael’s and filled them with gold tissue paper (you can use amber-colored rocks or anything that somewhat resembles the color of beer). ¬†Then you top with cut white flowers – we used daisies but carnations would better resemble the foamy-top of beer!

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Baby-Q Onesies:¬†Using white onesies from Target and paper from Michaels I created a “BBQ” sign to hang over the gift area. ¬†I just taped the letters on the onsies so they could be used again, and used some leftover tissue paper pomanders to help add to the sign!

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Other: I filled-inn the rest with some homemade signs, paper straws/mason jars, and additional pomanders!

The Cake:¬†Another focal point of the party was the cupcake-cake. ¬†I had it made at Target for $24.99 (24 cupcakes) and I was super happy with how it turned out! ¬†It read “from beer bottles to baby bottles” again going with the beer theme!

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The Games: We didn’t do any formal games, but did do “late night diaper thoughts” which always is entertaining with this group!

The Food:¬†We wanted to keep the menu pretty simple and “BBQ-y” but of course still fun! ¬†I actually was out of town for a girls weekend up north so most of the food had to be prepare-able in advance! ¬†Here is what we went with:

Appetizers:
¬†– Popcorn (she’s about to pop!)
Buffalo Chicken Bites (the dad-to-be’s favorite) from one of my other blog posts
 РCorn, Avocado, and Black Bean Salsa from Produce on Parade
Fruit “on the grill” – I saw this idea on Pinterest as well and wanted to try it for our BBQ!¬†¬†You cut a watermelon in half and scoop-out the watermelon so you are left with a bowl. ¬†Fill it with blueberries and use skewers for the grill grates and I used corn on the cob holders for the feet of the grill. ¬†Kabob the fruit and set on-top so it looks like a little grill!

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Mains:
 РBrats/Burgers
– Pasta Salad
(one package skinny spaghetti noodles, 1/2 to 3/4 bottle Italian dressing, 2 TBL plus more to taste Suddenly Salad seasoning, and veggies/toppings of choice like green pepper, green onion, tomato, and pepperoni)
–¬†Beans¬†(6 slices bacon cooked and crumbled, 2 28-oz cans baked beans, 1 Cup pineapple tidbits drained, 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, 1 1/2 Cup ketchup, 1/4 Cup molasses, 3 Tbl yellow mustard, 1/4 cup light brown sugar — saute the onions then combine all ingredients – heat and serve warm!)

Beverages:
 РPunch from another blog post, Water, La Croix, and of course the keg!

It was so fun to celebrate Garrett and Daniela and get the crew together for a Sunday Fun-day!

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Work-Friendly Baby Shower

A lovely co-worker of mine is having her baby soon and we wanted to do something fun for her! ¬†Our goal was to have something low-key and not super awkward since it was during work hours and we work with mostly men ūüôā

If you have read any of my posts before, you know that a key to planning for me is advance prep…unfortunately life happened and I didn’t start prepping for this party until 8:00pm the night before (oops) but by keeping the recipes simple, having great co-planners, and indulging in a glass of wine/real housewives while I cooked/crafted I was able to pull it off!

See below¬†decor, food, and games – it turned out super cute and mom/baby were pleased ūüôā

The Decor:

The party was hosted on a Friday afternoon in a conference room at work.  Despite being at work, we still wanted it to feel like a baby shower.  The conference room was huge so I was nervous about any decorations getting lost, but by creating a few focal points we were able to dress it up!

The main focal point of the room was the food table (I mean everyone loves food so that makes sense right?!). ¬†I found the pomander tissue “shower” idea on Pinterest and had been wanting to try it for awhile! ¬†I have always bought tissue pomanders at Michael’s/Target and never again – I used a tutorial similar to this¬†and it took literally minutes to make each one. ¬†I will admit the “rain drops” took some time – I used paper and string I had at home and cut the paper into tear drops then hot-glued to the string and taped behind the pomanders (and the good news is these can be re-used)!

I purchased a white plastic table cloth at Target and found the banner there as well (why make it when you can buy it?!). ¬†I’ve also found that you can’t underestimate how helpful serving-ware can be in creating a mood for your party. ¬†Although the food would have tasted fine coming out of random tupperware, it just looks so much better when it all matches and there are different levels. ¬†Conveniently for me I got married two years ago any my sister is a registering expert so I have a ton of white platters, bowls, etc.!

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The food table!

Another “food table trick” of mine is to add a cute place for people to keep track of their drinks on the cups. ¬†I used the same paper as the “rain drops” and cut-out little hearts, then hot-glued them to plastic champagne cups. ¬†Adds a pop of color and a little detail!

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The next focal point was the gift/game table.  It is amazing what a flower bouquet from Target and a homemade sign can do to a conference room table!

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Finally (although the pictures aren’t great) we added streamers and a gold “F”¬†in front of the chair the mom-to-be was sitting to draw the attention to her! ¬†These tissue streamers were also purchased from Target and I use them for many of my parties!

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The Menu:

Baby shower food is some of my favorite, because it can be so¬†whimsical and sweet. ¬†Since this was an afternoon party I kept the food pretty “snacky” with representation from both the salty and sweet sides:

  • “Dunkaroo” Dip:¬†This is¬†one of the first recipes I ever “pinned” and I’m not sure why I haven’t made it lately. ¬†Anyone who was born in the late ’80’s knows how exciting it was when you opened-up your lunch to find the amazing frosting/cookie snack that was a Dunkaroo (and if you don’t you missed out – blame your parents). ¬†This dip tastes just like Dunkaroos and is super easy to make!

Dunakaroo Dip

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 2 Cups light cool whip
  • 1 Box funfetti cake mix
  • Graham crackers or vanilla wafers

Combine the yogurt, cool whip, and cake mix and serve with cookies/crackers of your choice!

  • Pineapple Raspberry Punch

Combine 2 liters of lemon/lime soda, one gallon of pineapple juice, and one container of frozen strawberry lemonade for this awesome punch!

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  • Chocolate covered strawberries and Chocolate Mousse Cups

I used to think making chocolate covered strawberries was such a pain, but I dipped two cartons of strawberries in white almond bark in less than 15 minutes – this may be a new go-to treat!

For the mousse cups I used the pre-cooked Phyllo shells and filled them with a made-up chocolate mousse that turned-out really good!

I mixed 4 ounces cream cheese, one small box sugar free instant chocolate pudding mix, and 2 cups light cool whip. ¬†Then I added some vanilla almond milk to help the consistency. ¬†I brought the filling in a bag and filled the cups right before the party so they wouldn’t get soggy. ¬†I will admit that I could have filled them better, they looked like poop in a cup, but they were SUPER tasty (and I may or may not have continued to eat the left-over filling with the left-over vanilla wafers all week)!

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  • Mini Meat and Cheese Kabobs with Crackers

Simply cut summer sausage and crackers into cubes, skewer on toothpicks, and serve with crackers!

  • Popcorn and Sugar Cookies

So I had all intentions of making my grandma’s famous cookie recipe (remember this one?) but I just ran out of time so I went with the still cute and yummy store-bought sugar cookies!

The menu was getting more sweet than salty, so I added 3 types of popcorn with the “she is about to pop” theme – one cheddar, one caramel, and one kettle corn.

The Games:

Planning games has always been my least favorite part of hosting for some reason, so I’m thankful my co-worker Lindsay took over! ¬†As mentioned we work with mostly men, so something super cheesy was out of the question. ¬†We opted for one hands-on game and two passive games so people didn’t feel obligated to participate in everything. ¬†Here they are:

  • Celebrity Baby Game:¬†this was our “active game” where we gave everyone two minutes to fill-out this printable form¬†identifying which baby belongs to which celebrities
  • Mad Libs:¬†We passed around a baby-advice themed mad libs that the mom-to-be read at the end and was pretty amusing!

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  • Diaper Advice:¬†Finally we went with the classic diaper advice game – where we set-out diapers and people could write words of encouragement or wisdom for those late-night changes!

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It was a fun shower and the mom-to-be was happy which was the goal!

Cheers!

Stella & Dot Fundraiser

Anyone who knows me knows¬†the way to my heart is through dogs. ¬†So when my husband’s fantastic and generous cousin Sandi offered to throw a Stella and Dot fundraiser for Secondhand Hounds, I was in. ¬†What is better than wine, food, friends, and jewelry¬†all for a good cause?!

Outside of loving this get together’s theme, I was excited to try some fun and cute but healthy(ish) recipes on the crowd (unfortunately summer is coming, it is time to shed the winter coat and get back in shape). ¬†The party was on a Thursday night so I needed to make things that could be prepared in advance and quick to prep day-of since I work full-time. ¬†The start-time was also 6:30pm so I wanted some hearty options as well since this was likely dinner for the ladies.

Here is the menu I chose:

These were colorful and very healthy/easy to make!  I made these in advance and froze which worked just fine.

My aunt introduced me to this dip – I love it because it is light but also very flavorful, and a good change of scenery from the typical cheese dips.

Admittedly I didn’t have all of the ingredients for these (lemongrass, turmeric, white pepper) but they still turned out great (despite having fish sauce in them, I HATE cooking with fish sauce, the smell is awful). ¬†I served them with store-bought peanut sauce as well since I was afraid I had sacrificed some flavor (they actually turned out good!). ¬†I prepped and skewered these in advance and froze as well.

These were actually easier to make than I had anticipated.  Some of the Parmesan crust fell-off when I removed them from the pan but they were still tasty.  These were actually the crowd favorite!  I made these the night before and heated them up in the oven with the rest of the food for about 10 minutes.

  • Buffalo Chicken Bites¬†kind of made-up by me

I have made various versions of these before, but this time my goal was to use-up what was in my refrigerator. ¬†I cut crescent rolls into about 2″ squares and placed them in a mini muffin pan, so they made little cups. ¬†Bake for about 10 minutes, until golden brown then add the buffalo chicken: ¬†1-2 cups of shredded chicken with frank’s red hot sauce and ranch dressing mix. ¬†I started with 1/4 cup hot sauce and 1 tablespoon of the seasoning then adjusted based on flavor. ¬†Place back in the oven until warm, about¬†10-15¬†minutes¬†then top with blue cheese and green onion. ¬†These were also made ahead of time and frozen!

  • Veggies and my mom’s famous Dill Dip

Carrots, broccoli, and snow peas served with my favorite dill dip (recipe in this blog post)

  • Fruit Skewers with Peanut Butter Dip

Layered strawberries, pineapple, and cantelope onto wood skewers (that I cut in half) and served with a super easy but yummy peanut butter dip (also known as crack dip in my book club) – just two parts vanilla greek yogurt to one part creamy peanut butter. ¬†I have been known to shamelessly eat this with a spoon by itself ūüôā

These little buggers another new favorite dessert party trick of mine. ¬†They are SO CUTE and different than anything I have ever made. ¬†The base is Kodiak Cake Mix which is higher in protein and lower in fat/sugar than a lot of other cake mixes. ¬†My great neighbor Brie introduced me to these and gave the tip to add a tsp of almond extract to the recipe for added flavor. ¬†I used a mini donut pan so the only time consuming part is waiting for the multiple batches to bake. ¬†You place the batter into zip lock baggie and pipe into the donut pan. ¬†For the mini donuts I baked at 350 degrees for 6 and a half minutes – it doesn’t take long so be sure to watch the first time and see what works best for your oven! ¬†Also per Brie’s recommendation I went with a powdered sugar glaze. ¬†I just dipped the little guys into the frosting and they were SO CUTE. ¬†TIP:¬†I made these the night before and stored them in the fridge, when I took them out for the party all of the frosting had soaked into the donut. ¬†They were still very tasty and a big hit, but not up to my visual standards so I would recommend frosting them the day-of.

Outside of food, here are some other fun things I did for the party:

  • Paw Print Wine Glasses:¬†My mother-in-law Roxie helped me pull this detail off last minute! ¬†She cut circles out of black paper and hot-glued them to the plastic glasses as little paw prints for people to write their initials and keep track of their cups!

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  • Dog Treat Party Favors:¬†As a thank-you to my friends for coming, I filled clear/gold cellophane bags from target with dog treats and tied with pink tulle with the note “Thank you for Coming, Love Reuger.”¬†Full disclosure I was going to hand-make the dog treats but ran out of time. ¬†My friends still thought it was cute and it got the point across!
  • Shout out to Total Wine:¬†So this isn’t something special, but in preparation for this party i took my first trip to Total Wine. ¬†MIND BLOWN. ¬†This place is a drinker’s heaven! ¬†I walked-in in total awe, then immediately got overwhelmed. ¬†Have no fear their CRAZY FRIENDLY staff is there to point you to their favorite wines of each type all which were under $10! ¬†As you can tell I’m obsessed and wondering why I never checked this place out before.

Reuger (our current foster pup) got dolled-up for the occasion with a bath and “adopt me” bandanna. ¬†He was definitely a hit with the ladies and made some new friends, which is encouraging for when he is ready to be adopted!

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It was so fun getting my girlfriends from different groups together to chit chat and support a good cause! ¬†Thank you again to Sandi for supporting Secondhand Hounds and to all of those who joined. ¬†I have an amazing group of women in my life ūüôā

If you are interested in Stella and Dot, a portion of your purchases via this link will go to Secondhand Hounds through the 23rd of March 2017!

 

Happy Hour Couples Shower

This weekend we had the pleasure of celebrating the upcoming wedding of our friends Lindsay and Lee!

Lindsay actually went to college with my husband, and through various visits to St. Cloud State and I’m sure some college shenanigans we hit it off and have been friends since! ¬†Lindsay met this fantastic guy at work (insert Lee) and they are getting married in Mexico the end of March (yup can’t wait to escape this tundra for a bit to celebrate them and get my tan on!)

To kick-off the celebrations, my lovely co-hostesses and I opted for a brightly colored Happy Hour-themed couples get together.  We wanted it to be cute, but still boy friendly so a drinking theme seemed fitting.

Lindsay is that always-there-for-you, ever-so-thoughtful friend so we wanted this party to be extra special for her and Lee!  Here are some of the details:

The Invitations: I usually am a Shutterfly gal, but found these cute invitations on etsy and had them sent to Target for printing.  We were able to host the party at an apartment party room which was the perfect set-up!

presentation1The Decorations:

  • Tissue Paper Pomanders¬†handmade by Kayla (directions on how to make here)
  • Marquee “Cheers to the Hermans” Sign¬†using pre-cut paper from Michael’s makes it way easier!
  • His and Her Favorites¬†– a list of the bride/groom’s favorite things about each other written¬†on a chalkboard sign
  • Helium balloons with photos of the bride/groom¬†at different stages of their lives

The Activities:

  • Photo Booth¬†using a ¬†black/gold and a Hawaiian themed back-drop to pull-in the destination wedding!
  • Guess the Memory Game:¬†Guests wrote a favorite memory of the bride or groom, and they had to guess who said it. ¬†This was an AWESOME game for couples, and got more fun as the drinks were flowing ūüôā
  • Guess how many kisses in the jar

The Favors:

  • Blow-up floating flamingo coasters¬†because who¬†doesn’t need one of those for Mexico?!
  • Scratch-off tickets¬†that said “Lindsay and Lee got lucky in love, hopefully you get lucky too”

The¬†Menu:¬†I tell you, with 5 fantastic ladies planning this shindig we did NOT go hungry, lots of good food (I’m probably missing something below :)!

It was so fun celebrating the future Hermans and getting the old gang back together. ¬†A HUGE congrats to Lindsay and Lee, and we can’t wait until Mexico!

 

 

Book-Themed Engagement Party

This weekend I had the pleasure of hosting an engagement party for my college friend Kristen and her fiance Beau! ¬†It was so much fun getting to know Beau’s friends/family and celebrating a couple and friend¬†who has been so supportive of me throughout the years.

They are getting married at the historic (and gorgeous) James J. Hill library in Downtown St. Paul, so I¬†thought a book theme would be fitting and fun! ¬†I had some old books I had purchased from Goodwill left over from book crafts for my sister’s wedding (she got married at the same place!) that I used to create accents throughout the room.

We decorated the bar with a marquee sign using book paper letters and book paper pomanders (directions here)!  I also wrapped mason jars with book paper and ribbon to add a little more to the flowers!

To spice-up the plastic cups, i hot glued hearts to them as a place for people to write their names (by people i mean me, I always set my glass down and lose it!).  The outlines for the hearts then made great accents for the food labels!

I wanted to have some sort of activity, but with 25+ people I thought it would be tough to do an organized game.  Instead I decorated a mason jar and set-out popsicle sticks for people to write date ideas (not going to lie, the date ideas got more interesting as the drinks were flowing!).

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Kristen’s mom bought flowers from Trader Joes and set-out votive candle holders throughout the room which created a romantic atmosphere fitting for the occasion!

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Flowers and votive candle holders always add a romantic feel.

You guys know my thing is making food in advance and freezing it, but since I wasn’t hosting the party at my house (it was at the party room of my friend’s mom’s condo) I had time the day-of to prep. ¬†Plus the menu this time was much simpler with shared ingredients.

I got the My Favorite Murder podcast going (shout out fellow Murderinos) on the speaker and zoned out! (my husband found it ironic that while making food for a love-filled engagement party I was thinking about murderers).

I asked the couple what their favorite foods were to help plan the menu and Kristen came back with pizza and salad (girl, lucky you your favorite food is salad!).  So after consulting with my super-cook sister I decide to go with various types of flatbreads and mini salads as the main course.

The flatbreads were really fun to do, I got to get creative and overall they were very easy to execute!  I just used pre-made flatbread from Target, prepped them all in advance, and baked them at the party (400 degrees for 8-10 minutes).  I made five different kinds:

  • Margherita –¬†top the flatbread with olive oil and garlic powder, then layer thinly sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella

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  • Sausage & Pepperoni –¬†top the flatbread with your preferred marinara sauce (i used Kirkland) and layer ground italian sausage, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese

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  • Apricot brie with carmelized onions –¬†top the flatbread with apricot jam and layer sauteed onions and brie cheese

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  • Buffalo Chicken –¬†I had pre-made buffalo chicken by cooking a package of chicken breasts with 1/2 cup frank’s hot sauce and a package of italian dressinng mix¬†in the crockpot (cook on low for 6-8 hours then shred, great for lettuce wraps!). ¬†I topped the flatbread with olive oil then the buffalo chicken, green onions, bleu cheese, and additional frank’s hot sauce

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  • Cheddar Apple Prosciutto with Arugula –¬†top the flatbread with olive oil and layer white cheddar cheese chunks and diced prosciutto. ¬†Top with thinly sliced apples and drizzle with honey. ¬†Add arugula after you bake it!

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For the salads, you guys know I want my food to be cute, so serving a giant salad bowl was out of the question.  I found these parmesan cheese cups  on Pinterest and they are my new fave.  SUPER easy to make and seem really fancy.  You essentially spread 1-2 Tbl parmesan cheese (I mixed with some garlic powder and rosemary) on parchement paper and bake for 350 degrees for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a shot glass so it forms a cup!

I used the same balsamic dijon salad dressing from New Years¬†¬†and filled the cups with pre-mixed salad. ¬†I loved the color and look, and can’t wait to fill these bad boys with dips, etc. – so much room for activities.

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To compliment the pizza and salad I made this Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Tapenade with crakers and Antipasto Kabobs (cooked tortellini marinated in italian dressing skewered with a mozzarella ball, salami slice, cherry tomato, and an olive).

For dessert, I made cream cheese miniatures and brownie bites.

Here is the full menu:

  • Antipasto Kabobs
  • Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Tapenade
  • Balsamic salad in Parmesan cups
  • 5 Different Flatbreads (Margherita, sausage/pepperoni, apricot brie with carmelized onions, buffalo chicken, and cheddar apple prosciutto with arugala)
  • Cream Cheese Miniatures
  • Brownie Bites

The food was a hit, but most importantly the couple had fun! ¬†We had several cheers to the happy couple and enjoyed getting to know one another. ¬†Can’t wait for the rest of the wedding festivities!

Congrats Beau and Kristen!!

 

Mini Cheesecakes

I am not sure where this recipe came from, but it has been my birthday dessert request since I was a kid. ¬†I love these cheesecakes because they have minimal ingredients and aren’t too rich.

You can make these in muffin-size tins, or for a larger crowd you can make mini ones as well, which is what I did for the engagement party I hosted (who knew they make mini vanilla wafers?)

I topped half of the cheesecakes with raspberry pie filling, and half with melted chocolate and sea salt (Actually i got rid of some old candy in our cupboard and melted some rolos, it worked great!).

Cream Cheese Miniatures

Makes: 25-30 muffin size, 50-60 mini

Ingredients:

  • 3 8 oz. packages cream cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 5-6 drops lemon juice
  • vanilla wafer cookies (regular for muffin-size, mini wafers for mini size)
  • cupcake liners
  • pie filling or topping of choice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and soften cream cheese
  2. Combine softened cream cheese with eggs, sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice
  3. Beat until smooth and creamy
  4. Insert cupcake liners in pan and place a vanilla wafer in the bottom of each liner (flat-side down)
  5. Fill liners about 3/4 full with cream cheese batter
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (tops will crack when they are complete)
  7. Cool and top with topping of choice (pie filling, melted chocolate, caramel, etc)

Enjoy!

They are visually appealing, cute (as you know my favorite), and easy – enjoy!

 

Paper Pomander Balls

My sister got married at the gorgeous James J Hill Library in downtown St. Paul a few years ago.

As mentioned she is a super-crafter, and as part of her book-themed decorations we made these awesome pomanders.  A very good friend is getting married at the same library, so in preparation for her engagement party I brought them back.

Here is What you Need:

  • Paper of choice – I used book paper for the theme (grabbed a book from Goodwill) but any thin paper would work
  • Head Pins (like these)
  • Foam ball (like these, you can pick the size)

Here are the steps:

  1. Tear out 2-3 pages at a time and fold in half 3 times
  2. Cut into what I am calling “jagged ovals” (see the picture below and ignore the chewed fingernails)

3. Separate the ovals and fold in half/crinkle them so they are easier to work with

4. Stick a pin in the center and insert into the foam ball, folding/crinkling the paper as you do

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5.¬†Repeat, spreading out and shifting the paper so it looks flower-like! ¬†Here is the finished product ūüôā

A couple of tips:

  • Overall they are super simple, however I’ll admit that they are somewhat time consuming. ¬†It is the perfect multi-tasking activity! ¬†In my case that meant binge-watching The Fall on Netflix (how can someone so attractive be so creepy at the same time?!)
  • Don’t bring these through airport security. ¬†When I was making these for my sister I and accidentally left one in my carry-on and definitely got stopped at security. ¬†I can only imagine what these looked like in a scanner!

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They can be hung or put on candle holders – a fun decoration!

 

 

 

Easy Food for a Crowd – New Years 2017

First off Happy official New Year!

Luke and I got to ring in 2017 AND celebrate a friend’s birthday at a gorgeous cabin “up north” (aka Northern Minnesota).

We spent our weekend eating, drinking, exploring, and overall celebrating all while in comfy clothes next to a fire.  It was perfect!

I agreed to make a couple of meals, and knowing that refrigerator space would be at a premium (got to have room for beer right?!) and that we would likely be either hungover or consuming adult beverages, I wanted to keep the prep work to a minimum.

For breakfast I decided to make these yummy ham, cheese, and spinach puffs¬†from eatwell101.com.¬† I made these little suckers in advance the week before and froze them.¬† Then to add a little more protein, I also cracked an egg over half of them.¬† I thawed them overnight, so all I had to do that morning was heat them up at 350 degrees and bake¬†for roughly 20 minutes.¬† They were a great use of leftover Christmas ham and went over well!¬† Without the egg they would also make a good appetizer ūüôā

Tip: layer tinfoil on the pan if you crack the egg and spray well as it can get quite sticky).

I completed the spread with a run to Costco Рfruit, bagels, and muffins.  Easy to grab and low maintenance!

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For Dinner I decided to make Roxie’s famous lasagna (my mother-in-law).¬† We needed something hearty to prepare for New Years Eve and I wanted to feed 14 people without breaking the bank so lasagna worked-out perfect.¬† Plus per my advance prep theme I could make it in advance and freeze it.¬† The nice thing also about Minnesota is that we could keep the lasagna outside then set it out the morning-of to defrost….there are some perks to this tundra!

I made two different kinds РTraditional beef marinara and Turkey Pesto.  I served it with two loaves of Costco asiago bread and a salad bar (Arugala mixture, goat cheese, bleu cheese, cheery tomatoes, diced peppers, green onion, etc.).

I will say the salad bar was raised-up a notch thanks to my sister’s AMAZING balsamic dressing recipe.¬† People who don’t even like salad were eating it thanks to this dressing.¬† For those who don’t know, my sister is a true chef – she just combines things and it works, whereas I need recipes.¬† I texted her for this recipe and she was like oh just combine a few ingredients and voil√†…needless to say I made her breakdown portion sizes for me ūüėČ

Lasagna

Credit: Roxie Fox

For the meat sauce:

– 1 1/2 lb lean hamburger
– 1/2 lb italian sausage
– 1 large onion, chopped
– 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 1/2 to 2 tsp salt
– 1 tsp ground pepper
– 1 tsp oregano
– 1 tsp parsley
– 1 Tbl basil
– 2 cans (14 1/2 oz) whole tomatoes (do not drain)
– 2 cans (6 oz) tomato paste

For the cheese layer:

– 2 eggs, beaten
– 1/2 tsp pepper
– 2 Tbl parsley
– 1/2 Cup parmesan cheese
– 1 lb (divided in half) mozzarella cheese
– 24 oz ricotta or cottage cheese
– 12-14 lasagna noodles

Directions:

– Cook hamburger, onion, sausage & garlic until meat is browned over medium heat, drain
– add salt, pepper, oregano, basil, tomatoes, & tomato paste – stir until mixed well, cover & simmer for 1 hour
– cook lasagna noodles, drain, & set aside
– spray 9×13 inch pan and preheat oven to 375 degrees
Рcombine cottage cheese/ricotta cheese, eggs, pepper,  parmesan cheese, & 1/2 lb. of mozzarella cheese
Рin a pan layer noodles, meat sauce, & cheese mixture.  Repeat layer.
– top with 1 layer of noodles and sprinkle evenly with remaining mozzarella
– cover and bake at 375 degrees for 40-60 minutes

Modification options:

РI rolled the lasagna noodles so each noodle made one roll-up Рthis makes the lasagna easier to serve.  To make two batches (24 pieces of lasagna) it took a double recipe of the meat sauce and a triple recipe of the filling.

РI ran out of ricotta cheese, so I used greek yogurt in one batch to keep it creamy.  It still tasted fine!

РTo make a ground turkey pesto version, I subbed the meat with ground turkey, and replaced the tomato paste and one can of the tomatoes with Kirkland (Costco) pesto.  It was SUPER flavorful!  I also added a bit of pesto to the cheese mixture for added flavor as well.

Balsamic Dressing

Ingredients:

– balsamic vinegar
– olive oil
– dijon mustard
– garlic, oregano, basil to taste

Combine 1 part balsamic vinegar to 1 part olive oil (slightly more olive oil) and add Dijon mustard to taste.

I used 1/4 cup balsamic to 1/3 cup olive oil with 1 Tbl Dijon mustard and tweaked from there.

Add garlic, pepper, oregano, etc. per your preference

As a side note Рwe ate those champagne jello shots I posted and they were awful (I mean strong, but tasted terrible!).  I am going to make it my mission to find a better recipe for you guys!

But overall it was a great weekend – I loved catching-up with my friend from growing-up, Greta, and enjoying the Minnesota winter for a change.

Cheers to 2017!

Megan

 

 

Champagne Jello Shots

Happy (almost) New Year!

As mentioned a million times, I love cute, fun food (and let’s be honest, adult beverages).¬† I’ve seen these Champagne Jello Shots floating around online and decided to give them a go for New Years Eve!

They were super easy to make and based on the ingredients have a little kick to them.  Hopefully we make it until midnight after trying these suckers!

I chose this recipe from Delish.com:

Champagne Jello Shots

Credit: delish.com

Ingredients:

– 1 1/2 C. champagne (divided)
– 1 Tbl lemon juice
– 1 Tbl sugar
Р3 envelopes unflavored gelatin (I used Knox, note 4 envelopes come in one box)
– 1/4 C vodka
– sprinkles of choice

Combine 1 1/4 cups of the champagne, lemon juice, and sugar in a saucepan.  Sprinkle gelatin on top.  Let the gelatin soften / sit for two minutes then heat mixture over low heat.  Stir until gelatin has completely dissolved and remove from heat.  Stir in remaining champagne and vodka

Grease a loaf pan (I doubled the recipe so used an 8×8 pan) and pour mixture into mold.¬† Chill for 2 hours, or until firm.

Top with sprinkles and enjoy!

A complete and somewhat unrelated sidebar – I love puzzles.¬† So when I took these out of their pan to take the photo, naturally I had to put them back exactly how they were in the pan.¬† There is something so satisfying about placing that last piece in a puzzle am I right?¬† Anyone?¬† (OK I need a life…but that may have been my favorite part of the process).

Happy New Year!!

Megan

 

7 Make-Ahead Holiday Appetizers

This is how it started.¬† I had a whole weekend where I had nothing to do – A WHOLE WEEKEND.¬† Bored and “needing a project” I decided that my festively decorated home was a waste since only my husband and I would see it.¬† So I (after consulting with my husband) decided we should have a party!

Well then when I had a second WHOLE WEEKEND with no specific activities, I decided we should paint all of the trim in our home in preparation for said party….super aggressive and unnecessary move.

Three days before our party we were doorless, knee deep in white paint (even Stella got paint on her), and had a growing guest list of 25+ people.

It was at this moment that I was SUPER pumped I had pre-made over half of my planned menu.  As mentioned, I hate having to rush the week of a party.  You already have to worry about cleaning, decorating, buying ice, (and in this case finishing your home project).  Being able to pull appetizers out of the freezer is a huge time win!

So if you are looking to get ahead of the holidays, here are some great make-in-advance appetizers (in order of fan favorites)

1.) Buffalo Chicken Bites: I used mini muffin tins to make them more cute (aka bited-sized ūüėȬ†and to maximize the recipe).TIP: Spray your pan REALLY well!

2.) Spinach Dip & Fillo Cups: I love that this was the second favorite because it is all store bought.¬†While you have to prep this the day-of (max 10 min.), you can buy the ingredients in advance and its super quick.¬† You literally buy your favorite spinach dip from the store (for me it’s the stuff from Costco) and put it into the Athens Mini Fillo Cups¬†and pop in the oven on about 300 degrees for 10 minutes or so.¬† You can find the Fillo Cups in the frozen food section by pie crusts and desserts at most grocery stores.

3/4.) Southwest Turkey Meatballs with Creamy Cilantro Dipping Sauce and Asian Turkey Meatballs With Lime Sesame Dipping Sauce: Someone had made these for a bridal shower I attended and I liked that they were a somewhat healthy and hearty option! (they also worked slick in the new triple crockpot my HUSBAND bought on BLACK FRIDAY all on his own.¬† He knows the way to my heart…)

5/6.) Sweet & Salty Family Chex Recipes: I’m not sure where the salty chex recipe came from, but it is a staple in my family.¬† My dad has been making it for years, in the same giant yellow plastic bowl.¬† It is the right blend of spice and salt and I love that the recipe is written on a crusty, over-used post-it.¬† Luke’s mom, Roxie, also makes¬†the most amazing¬†sweet Chex at all holidays and it is a HUGE hit as well! I guess we have Chex connoisseurs in our families?! (recipes below)

7.) Sausage Stuffing Balls with Cranberry Dipping Sauce: I liked this appetizer because it seemed festive and was a bit heartier.  It was also still cute (again I like my food bite-sized) and a great use of leftover Thanksgiving stuffing!

Outside of the treats above, we also had:

  • Caprese Skewers
  • Veggies and Dip (Remember my mom’s dill dip recipe?)
  • Bacon-Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese:¬† This is my party trick and Luke’s favorite
  • Shrimp Cocktail Dip (also a Tucker family holiday staple)
  • Bruschetta Bar (aka French bread, pesto, olive tapenade, and this bruschetta recipe)
  • Cranberry Pecan Mini Goat Cheese Balls (from this site)
  • Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes (from this site – I made these in advance and froze them along with the truffles below!)
  • Peppermint Oreo Truffles (from this site)
  • a Hot Cocoa Bar (using this super unhealthy-but-tasty recipe from Pinterest) with optional Rumchata or Peppermint Schnapps ūüôā
  • Christmas Charades that I printed from this site
  • And a lot of beverage options!

Needless to say we all had plenty to eat/drink and were very merry – It was a successful party and 100% worth the chaos leading-up to it!

Happy Holidays!

Here are the rest of the recipes:

Salty Chex

Combine:
–¬†1 Cup mixed nuts
– 2 Cups pretzels
– 3 Cups each chex (rice, corn, wheat)
– 2 Cups cheese crackers (cheese-its, etc)

For the Sauce:
– 1 Tbl salt
– 3/4 tsp onion powder
– 8 Tbl butter, melted
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1 Tbl lemon pepper
Р4 Tbl worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Combine dry ingredient and set aside.  Melt butter then combine with spices.  Pour over chex mixture and mix to combine.  Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Sweet Chex

In a large roaster pan lined with aluminum foil, combine:
– 3/4 box of Crispex cereal
– 2 cups pretzels
– 1 small can mixed nuts
– 3/4 cup M&Ms

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a small sauce pan, bring to a boil:
– 2 sticks butter (not margarine)
– 2 cups brown sugar
– 1/2 cup light karo syrup

Pour sauce over layered mixture but do not stir.  Place in oven for 7 minutes Рremove and stir well

Return to oven for another 7 minutes – remove and stir, then spread to cool.

Break it up and store in a tight container or bags – can be frozen for 2-3 weeks

Caprese Skewers

– Cherry Tomatoes
– Basil
– Mozzarella pearls
– Balsamic Glaze
– Toothpicks

Layer tomato, basil, mozzarella ball on a toothpick then drizzle with balsamic glaze!

Bacon Wrapped Dates

– Pitted Dates
– Package of Bacon
– Goat Cheese
– Brown Sugar
– Chili Powder
– toothpicks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil then place a cooling rack on-top, heavily sprayed with cooking oil. (this allows the bacon grease to drip to the aluminum vs. cooking the dates in a pool of grease)

Slice a slit in the dates and stuff with goat cheese.  Wrap in 1/3 slice of bacon and insert a toothpick through the whole date.

Place the dates on the sprayed cooling rack and sprinkle with brown sugar and chili powder.  Bake approximately 20 minutes, flipping once.

Shrimp Cocktail Dip

–¬†8 oz. cream cheese (I subbed dairy free)
– 1/2 to 3/4 cup chili sauce
– 1/2 green pepper, chopped
– 1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped shrimp (I buy frozen salad shrimp)
– 1/2 to 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
– 1 small can chopped black olives (optional)
– tortilla chips

On a serving tray, spread cream cheese then cover with chili sauce.  Spread green pepper, shrimp, cheese, and olives until evenly covered.

Serve chilled with tortilla chips