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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Easy Party Ideas

Good morning!  Another early post for me……..I have a big meeting today.  I am super excited, but I can’t share details yet!  Wish me luck……
So we were back in California for the weekend.  I was a co-host of an after-the-fact baby shower.  I handled all of the food.  We all had a great time, and of course, the baby is adorable!  I took pictures of all of the food, and I am very excited to share them with you all. I am thinking this will give you some easy summer party ideas….in terms of food.  This is definitely baby/bridal shower season!   Most aren’t really “recipes”, more like ideas.  I made quick, easy food….that was still fancy!!
Here is kind of a faraway picture of all the food.  We did it as a “finger food” only type thing.  Please excuse the counter in the background.  That was our bar, and it got pretty hairy back there as it was a co-ed shower.  We did this shower at my friend Marc’s parent’s house…..If for some reason you are reading this, Mrs. Kaneko….don’t worry, we cleaned up.
Here is a close-up of my shrimp and grits.  I have given you my recipe for a “hand-held” shrimp and grits before….I did this one a bit differently.  I used the same recipe for the shrimp, but I used real grits.  I put a whole bunch of butter and cheese in the grits and spooned the grits into cute little jars that I found at Walmart.  They hold 4 ounces which is a perfect size.  Using jars looks cuter then plastic bowls, and it is a whole lot cheaper than buying little glass bowls.  You can re-use them for so many different things too!
This dip was actually artichoke and spinach dip that I bought from the deli section of the grocery store.  I stirred in a can of crab meat and sprinkled the top with parmesan cheese.  This totally makes it look homemade.   I put the whole thing under the broiler to heat it through.  I served it with sliced sourdough baguette and breadsticks.  You can also see some of my pimento cheese in the background.  The recipe for that is under the “appetizer” section of my blog.
Above is my favorite new recipe.  I boiled little baby red potatoes for about 10 minutes.  I drained them and cut their bottoms off so they would stand up.  I used a melon baller to scoop a bit of the top out, and then I piped pimento cheese into the top.  I waited until the potatoes cooled a bit before I piped the cheese in because I didn’t want it to melt right in.  I sprinkled green onions over the top.  These babies were delicious.
This is shredded chicken in BBQ sauce stuffed into mini corn muffins.  This recipe is also under the “appetizer” section of my blog.  Clearly I need to work on my photography as this picture and the one above it have some pretty sweet shadows on the bottom.  That’s what you get when you hire cheap help;)  Plus, I had partaken in a couple of adult beverages by that point.
For the chicken above, I used a tub of Llyod’s brand pulled, smoked chicken.  It doesn’t come with sauce.  If you have never tried this chicken….you have too.  The smoked taste is delicious.  It doesn’t even need sauce….but I throw some on for glue.  And because making BBQ sauce is what I do for a living.
This is my strawberry salad recipe from a few weeks ago.  You remember….when we had the Barnes’ family strawberrypalooza?  I used ½ pint jars for this salad.  Again, super cute and re-usable.  I dressed the salad right before the guests came so the salad wouldn’t get too soggy.
Isn’t that a good picture?  I got my dear friend Jessica to snap a few.  She is an actual photographer, so I am sure you can see the difference;)
Aren’t those cookies super cute?  I didn’t make them.  I tried to keep up the charade that I did, but then I spilled the truth.  Those are Pepperidge Farm sugar cookies.  I glazed them with a glaze of powdered sugar and milk.  Once the glaze set, I piped pink frosting on.  The baby’s name is Addison….in case you were wondering.  I think this is a super cute idea for a birthday party, baby shower or bridal shower.  They look really good, and they taste good too!
The cupcakes that I made were super yummy.  I used a boxed white cake mix.  Instead of water, I used pink grapefruit juice.  This gave the cupcakes a really pretty pink color.  I made a vanilla frosting that I piped on the tops.  Frosting from scratch is easy….it is one stick of butter, 16 ounces of powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and about 3 tablespoons of milk, beaten together.  Store bought would work too;)    I sprinkled the tops with crushed pink grapefruit candies.
You could make these cupcakes with any kind of fruit juice.  Then, you can match the flavor juice with candies on top.  Peach nectar would be great, lemonade, strawberry nectar, etc. would all work.  Candies in all of these flavors are readily available too.  Lemonade and crushed lemon drops are my next kind, I think.
So pretty.  Here is another tip.  I made the cupcakes a few days in advance.  I put them in the freezer without frosting them, in a tightly sealed bag.  I took them out to defrost the night before, and I frosted them once they were completely defrosted.  This makes things really easy on you….and it makes the cupcakes really moist.  Just don’t frost them before you freeze them.
There are plenty of other things that can be done in advance too.  The pimento cheese can be made about 2 to 3 days in advance.  It will keep in the fridge.  The chicken for the corn bread cups can be chopped, mixed with sauce and frozen well ahead of time too.  It just needs to defrost and get heated up a bit before it is put in the cornbread.  I also glazed the cookies the day before.
I am a firm believer in getting what I can get done early…early;)  This makes the day of the party really easy.  I also take help from the grocery store when I can.  Boxed cake mix, store bought cookies, store bought dip, etc.  If it looks good and tastes good, who cares who made it?
Here is the lady of the hour…..Miss Addison Elizabeth.  She was kind of giving me the stink eye in this picture, but I promise….she liked me;)
Above is my Addy holding Addison.  Next to her is Addison’s big sis, Ashley. 
There is the happy family!  They had a great time, and I did too!  I hope you try some of these easy recipes for your next party!

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