St. Patrick’s Day Cocktail Recipes – Alcoholic Drinks and Non-Alcoholic Beverages for the Irish and Irish at Heart!

St. Patrick’s Day is a special holiday meant for celebrations and socializing. Green Fin, featuring FinlandiaWhether you plan to throw a St. Patrick’s Day party at your home or simply wish to have a special St. Patrick’s Day cocktail as a pregame or a nightcap treat, you’ve come to the right place. These St. Patrick’s Day cocktail recipes and Irish themed alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are enough to get your party going or just relax before the night comes to a close. We even suggest a number of green smoothies for the health conscious and any expecting moms.

You can enjoy St. Patrick’s Day cocktails with a green color scheme and a festive Irish theme. You can also mix Guinness beer with a few beverages to create special Guinness cocktails and alcoholic beverages for St. Patrick’s Day. Don’t forget to use special Irish and Celtic glassware for an even bigger impact. Consider these fun Irish cocktails and green drinks for your own St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

St. Patrick’s Day Drink Recipes Using Guinness
Many people love Guinness beer, but aside from the Irish Car Bomb, how many can say they’ve enjoyed a cocktail made with Guinness? In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, please enjoy these exciting Guinness cocktails responsibly.

“Guinness is much more versatile than many people think,” says Elizabeth Balduino, who is a representative Guinness. “As you prepare recipes for St. Patrick’s Day, here are a few great beverages to help you toast the day.”

All-Irish Black & Tan, featuring GuinnessAll-Irish Black & Tan

1/2 pint Guinness Draught
1/2 pint Smithwick’s Irish Ale

From a chilled bottle, fill a clean pint glass just over halfway with Smithwick’s Ale.  Open a chilled can of Guinness Draught.  The head will rise.  Prepare to pour.  Place your Black & Tan spoon (regular spoon will also work) face down on the rim of the glass and slowly pour your newly opened Guinness Draught over it.  When the Guinness has risen to just proud of the rim, you’re ready to enjoy the distinct pleasures of The All-Irish Black & Tan.

– Recipe courtesy of Guinness

Black Velvet, featuring GuinnessBlack Velvet

5 oz chilled Guinness
1.5 oz chilled Champagne

Pour Guinness into champagne flute. Add champagne carefully, so it does not mix with Guinness, and serve.

– Recipe courtesy of Guinness

Guinness Shandy, featuring GuinnessGuinness Shandy

1/2 pint Guinness
1/2 pint lemonade

Mix lemonade with Guinness in a pint glass. Serve in a beer mug.

– Recipe courtesy of Guinness

Original Half & Half, featuring GuinnessOriginal Half & Half

1/2 pint Guinness Draught
1/2 pint Harp Lager

From a chilled bottle, fill a clean pint glass just over halfway with Harp Lager.  Open a chilled can of Guinness Draught.  The head will rise.  Prepare to pour.  Place your Half & Half spoon (regular spoon will also work) face down on the rim of the glass and slowly pour your newly opened Guinness Draught over it.  When the Guinness has risen to just proud of the rim, you’re ready to enjoy the distinct pleasures of The Original Half & Half.

– Recipe courtesy of Guinness


Special Note:
As a special sidebar note, Guinness is petitioning Congress to make St. Patrick’s Day an official holiday. You can join the cause by signing the petition at www.proposition317.com.

Green Cocktails and Irish Beverages for St. Patrick’s Day…


Super Bowl Party Planning Tips – Decorating and Food Preparation with Football on the Brain

To create a festive football atmosphere, you might consider some decorations for your home just in time for your Super Bowl party. You can make your own football rice krispie treats with cocoa krispies and marshmallows just like traditional rice krispie treats! (Photo courtesy of morgueFile.com)Super Bowl party decorations are easy to find and also easy to make if you are creative. Check your local dollar store, Wal-Mart, and other mass retailers for ideas and materials on decorating your home for the Super Bowl.

Also, when it comes to preparing your home to host a bunch of rowdy football fans, you should be prepared on so many levels. Most of all, you should be prepared to join in the fun! With that in mind, you’ll want to prepare foods that can be served out of crock pots if possible, or electric buffet servers, electric frying pans, etc. With a buffet line set up, you can truly make the most of your festive Super Bowl party.

For more Super Bowl party planning tips, read on to discover tips and suggestions on decorations and food preparation from our readers. You can learn a few tips and tricks on having a fun Super Bowl party with less hassle.

Decorating Your Home for Your Super Bowl Party
Decorating for a party – especially a Super Bowl party – makes such a big difference in the atmosphere. Even if you only go as far as decorating with both teams’ colors – or your preferred team’s colors – you can truly enhance the atmosphere of your Super Bowl party. Try these decorating tips for Super Bowl parties in your home.

“It’s easy to decorate for your Super Bowl party. Most supermarkets and stores like Target will have generic football decorations as well as decorations that represent your local team and the teams playing in the Super Bowl.”
– Cathy Copeland

“I like to have a party and use all football type serving ware. If you bend a cool whip type container into the shape of a football you can even make large cookies and decorate them with the teams.”
– Rosanne Morrison, IL

Food Preparation for Super Bowl Parties
As the host or hostess, you want to make sure you plan in some time for you to enjoy the party, too. Rather than spend your entire day in the kitchen, why not follow some of these tips for easier food preparation and serving styles for your Super Bowl party? Good luck!

“My tip is do has much as you can in advance – if possible make and freeze as much as you can- what you cannot make and freeze – if it is possible to make it the day before and then store properly.  This will save you a lot of worry and activities on the GAME DAY.”
– Clifton Wade, NC

Super Bowl parties are a blast with the right ingredients! (Photo courtesy of morgueFile.com)“My favorite Super Bowl party tip is to have lots of Pace Salsa on hand. You will need mild, medium, and hot. You will also needs lots of Tostitos chips. If you would like to have some variety you can always add the cheese salsa or you can just add Velveeta cheese to your Salsa and warm it up. I like the salsa better cold, but my son loves the cheese salsa heated up.”
– April Millwood, NC

“My best tip for a super bowl party is to organize the food ahead of time because everyone is always wanting to bring something to help out, so what I have done in the past and will do this year again is send out an e-mail to everyone who I’m inviting and a list of different categories, chips, dips, finger foods, soda, etc. and ask that when they reply to please reply to all so that everyone will have an idea of what’s going to be there and what we still need.  I usually end up taking whatever is left out from the list as well as worrying about the decorations and paper products. All my friends loved when I did this last year and it just made it so much easier to get everything together for the big day and no last minute trips to the grocery store to try and get something from the deli.”
– Kasey Proctor, FL

“My favorite tip is to have a pot luck with all you friends and family so that no one person has to slave away doing everything and you can enjoy the party with all your guests.”
– Joy Venters, OH

“Every year, we alternate hosting the party with our best friends, and each year, the food is themed.  Last year was Mexican, the year before that it was Italian. This year it’s “Comfort Food”. Having themed food adds such a fun element to Super Bowl!”
– Carol Dziuba, NJ

“My tip is that I always make one pot meals in crock pots. That way guests just help themselves whenever they are hungry.  The food stays hot for the duration of the game.”
– Marilyn Wons, FL

“The best tip for a Super Bowl party is to make sure you are well stocked.  Have a variety of drinks and the food should be good but gourmet.  And don’t forget the vegetarians in the crowd.”
– Carolyn Gonzalez, NC

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Thanks to our readers for these fabulous Super Bowl party planning tips!

Super Bowl Party Entertaining Tips

The Super Bowl comes around once a year, so make sure you make the most of it and the time you can spend with family and friends on Super Bowl Sunday. The perfect components to a fabulous Super Bowl Party - Remote, chips and dip, and of course, football! (Photo courtesy of morgueFile.com)When it comes to Super Bowl party entertaining tips and suggestions for how to have a great Super Bowl party, some of the best tips come from word of mouth.

Pay special attention to the kinds of Super Bowl parties your friends and family members host and you’re sure to pick up a few great tips here and there. Beyond immediate connections to fun and exciting Super Bowl party entertaining ideas, you can surely find dozens if not hundreds of fabulous Super Bowl party suggestions online.

Here are a bunch of our readers’ favorite Super Bowl party planning tips and entertaining ideas for a fun and exciting football party in your own home. Consider these Super Bowl tips for a great party for friends, family – especially your kids, and all you invite.

Super Bowl Party Entertaining Tips from our Readers
Life Love Beauty readers kindly shared their favorite Super Bowl entertaining tips. Here are the top suggestions for how to host a fun and exciting Super Bowl party at your own home:

“Invite family and friends over to watch the Super Bowl with you. If your team isn’t in the Super Bowl, then just pick a team to support, or just have everyone support their favorite team. Have everyone bring a food item.  And enjoy the game and excitement of the Super Bowl, which only comes once a year.”
– Patricia Treskovich, PA

“When you have a Super Bowl party, don’t be biased about who cheers for what team. It’s often more fun if there is a rivalry! Make both sides comfortable and welcome (even if they are a Cardinals fan).”
– Katie Smerick, PA

“The first tip is who you invite. You want some friends that get into the game. Then the food, you have to spend the extra money and get the quality spices, ingredients or the best caterer around. Then it’s the atmosphere – I mean put up some posters or balloons. Keep the food hot and accessible all through the evening. And have a wet bar available for refreshments. Have a big cake for the team you want to win. My recipe is Pace Salsa and I cut up tomatoes, pepper, onion, and add ketchup, and a little horseradish, sour cream, mix and serve Guacamole too.”
– David Puglisi, MO

The perfect components to a fabulous Super Bowl Party - Remote, chips and dip, and of course, football! (Photo courtesy of morgueFile.com)“For a successful Super Bowl party, have the game on in multiple rooms, and have them designated as ‘Serious Fans’, ‘Commercials Only’, and ‘We’re socializing during the whole game’.  This way those who want to watch the game without interruption about how cute a player is (and believe me it could happen this year since the Steelers are playing!) 😉  but those who want to watch without interruption can do so, and those who want to comment on things can do so without disturbing others.”
– Jennifer Short, WV

“My tip is that you cook two days in advance so that all you have to do is reheat and the only stuff that you cook on the day of is anything fresh, like fresh fruit, veggies and anything with whip cream or egg whites in to keep these in their fragile states (without weeping).”
– MaryAnne Johnson, NY

“Keep plenty of the different varieties of Pepsi, especially Max. Guests can drink lots of this and stay sober and drive home safely.”
– Dorothy Rozdilsky, IN

“For my Super Bowl party we will have a gaming pool on just about everything from score to number of times the announcer says a certain word.”
– Leann Swinney, CA

“My favorite tip is prepare ahead – like making food ahead and making items them freezing to pop in oven later. Have a cooler out in the living room so there is no walking all around. We have a  all age party where the kids have their own party and watch movies and play games – the ones who want to watch there is a TV going for them too – TVs all over. Relax and breathe- enjoy the game- wear comfy clothes and remember it’s time to have fun, not be a restaurant so have enough jarred salsa and bagged chips, enough drinks and  enjoy. Another big tip is if there is drinking of any kind take away the keys as they walk in the door – one person determines if they are ok to drive and always have a designated driver.”
– Sandy Dulany, AR

“My tip: I let the kids plan a Super Bowl party every year. They are ages 13, 10, and 7. They make a football cake, veggie dip tray, hang streamers and balloons in team colors, make posters, etc… I try to get as much as I can from the dollar store, because we can’t spend too much on this (that’s where
the prize pack would come in handy!). Every year, dad is so ‘surprised’ when he walks into the living room for game time, like he never saw that coming, and the kids are so proud of themselves.”
– Paula Harmon, MI

“My favorite party tip is; DON’T FORGET THE KIDS! We always plan two parties, one for the super bowl in the living room and one for the kids in the playroom. They also have special snacks and games to play!”
– Heather Slater, WA

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Thanks to our readers for these fabulous Super Bowl party entertaining tips!

Food Ideas for Super Bowl Parties

Super Bowl parties call for dynamite menus and exciting food ideas for Super Bowl party munchies. Super Bowl Party Food Ideas (Photo courtesy of morgueFile)Chips and salsa, endless varieties of hot and cold dips, and meat and cheese trays or veggie trays are just the beginning. Don’t forget about main courses, appetizers, sides, and desserts.

You may want to find a way to keep the food warm or allow guests to serve themselves as needed, which allows you to be able to enjoy the Super Bowl and the commercials, food, and party atmosphere just as much as your guests enjoy it all.

Tips on food ideas for Super Bowl parties and how to serve the food are all included here, compliments of Life Love Beauty readers. Read on for suggestions on how to host fabulous Super Bowl parties with great food ideas and food preparation and serving tips.

Super Bowl Parties, Super Food Ideas, and Football Party Planning Tips
What is the best dish to serve at modern Super Bowl parties? What are the most popular menu items for watching the Super Bowl at home? Find out what Life Love Beauty readers suggest as their favorite Super Bowl party food ideas.

“My favorite thing for Super Bowl parties is: the large can of Hormel Chili – no beans, 1 jar salsa and one pound of Velveeta.  Heat and serve as a dip. Just delicious.”
– Cheryl Riecke, LA

“My family loves the Super Bowl! We make a ton of snacks and sit around the big-screen to see the Big Game. My favorite Super Bowl snack is a taco dip that layers of ground beef, sour cream, and taco toppings.  And of course, it wouldn’t be complete without Pace salsa! Delicious!”
– Sarah Zappe, PA

“Make homemade egg rolls the day before and you’re all set.”
– Susan Varney, ME

“Super Bowl Party tip: don’t run out of food or drink!”
– Joanne Schultz, NY

“My Super Bowl party tip is to make foods or have friends bring foods that are representative of the teams playing — makes the atmosphere a little more festive when what you eat is just as much of a part of the teams cheered for!”
– Amy Mayer, NC

“We have four small crock pots that we put warm dips…our favorite is a bar of cream cheese warmed in a can of our favorite chili… kind of an updated version of bean dip.  We also have four cold dips and the buffet includes veggie trays, plain potato chips, corn chips, pretzels and tortilla chips!”
– Cynthia Karen Smith, NV

“Have a large variety of foods to serve.  Some popular snacks served include pizza, chips and salsa, chili, potato chips, nachos and wings.  Serve healthy snacks like vegetables, popcorn and pretzels for those watching their weight.  Offer both alcohol and non alcoholic beverages.  Let other people bring food if they offer. Jazz it up; have some fun with it! Find out the colors of the teams playing in the Super Bowl and create foods using those colors. Punches are easy to create in whatever colors you want, and food, as well, can be dyed to show off your team spirit.”
– Susan Smith, KS

“My tip would be to set up a buffet of many different dishes / foods.  People love all-you-can-eat variety.”
– Frank & Denise Blados

“For a football or any other party, we like plain old tortilla chips with melted Kraft Mexican cheeses sprinkled on and then microwave briefly to melt then cheese.  Of course, we then dip them in our favorite salsa.”
– Dee Sachs, CO

“Usually we order Pizza for super bowl. So no need to cook or clean up – And yes, Pizza can be dipped in Salsa. I prefer the hot and spicy variety.”
– Lester Huffmire, CA

“Make it a potluck so everyone shares the burden.  I love to make green salsa and have it with Fritos.”
– Kathy Scott, ID

“My tip for Super Bowl parties is always to keep it simple! The game stays on fairly late and who wants to be up cleaning into the night!?! Clean as you go and make it easy on yourself!”
– Casey Halladay, NY

“There are so many easy ways to make salsa extra special for the big game. I like to soften some cream cheese, place it in a bowl and pour salsa over it. It’s great with tortilla or corn chips.”
– Julie Keilty, CT

“TIP:  Open up and have fun.  Keep plenty to drink and a lot of Pace sauce and chips!”
– Tommy Amos, VA

“The best tip I can really give is to never run out of chips.  Also, the key to throwing a good Super Bowl party is to never run out of beer.  I have been to parties that run out of beer way before the game starts.  Also, football number boards are a great way to keep everyone’s interest going nonstop for the entire game. The key is to keep everyone happy who is at your party.”
– Jason Nickolay, MN

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Thanks to our readers for these fabulous Super Bowl party food tips!

Traditional Mardi Gras Dessert Recipe – King Cake with Cream Cheese Cinnamon Filling

Many visitors to Mardi Gras and Louisiana natives will tell you that king cake is a vital element of the Carnival season. King Cake is a traditional Mardi Gras dessert. (Photo courtesy of Holly Clegg)The icing colors on king cake represent the feted colors of Mardi Gras – power (yellow), faith (green), justice (purple).

“A king cake is a must during Carnival season,” says Louisiana native Allison Gouaux. “Traditionally, king cakes are made of dough twisted in a circular bread with white icing and purple, green and gold (the traditional Carnival colors) sprinkles. You can either get the traditional cinnamon-flavored cakes or get one ‘filled’ with either cream cheese, pralines, or other fruit flavors. Locals love king cakes from bakeries such as Haydel’s, Randazza’s, and Boulangerie (for a fancy French king cake).”

To follow is a recipe for the traditional Mardi Gras dessert, King Cake With Cream Cheese Cinnamon Filling, from best selling cookbook author and Baton Rouge resident Holly Clegg. The recipe features quick and easy steps and uses commonplace ingredients.

RECIPE: KING CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE CINNAMON FILLING

Makes 16 Servings

“Now, you can make a quick King Cake recipe in your own home any time, without worrying about a complicated yeast dough,” says “trim&Terrific™ Gulf Coast Favorites” cookbook author Holly Clegg. “Kids love helping with this cake year round — try red and pink colors for Valentine’s day, pastels for Easter, and red and green for Christmas!”

Ingredients:
2 (8-ounce) cans reduced-fat crescent rolls
4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Mardi Gras Icing (recipe below)

King Cake is a traditional Mardi Gras dessert. (Photo courtesy of Holly Clegg)Directions:
1.    Preheat oven to 350 F.
2.    Coat a 10-inch round pizza pan with nonstick cooking spray.
3.    Separate crescent rolls at perforations into 16 slices.
4.    Place slices around prepared pan with points in the center.
5.    About halfway down from points, press steams together.
6.    In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, confectioners sugar, and vanilla until creamy.
7.    Spread on dough in the center where seams have been pressed together.
8.    In another small bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon with a fork until crumbly.
9.    Sprinkle over cream cheese.
10.    Fold dough points over filling, then fold bottom of triangle over points forming a circular roll like a king cake.
11.    Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown.
12.    Cool slightly and drizzle with colored Mardi Gras Icing

MARDI GRAS ICING

Ingredients:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1-2 tablespoons skim milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Yellow, green, red, and blue food coloring

Directions:
1.    In a small bowl, combine all ingredients, except food color. Divide mixture into three bowls.
2.    In first bowl, add a few drops of yellow food coloring. In second bowl, add a few drops of green food coloring, and in third bowl add equal amounts of drops of red and blue food coloring (to create purple).
3.    Drizzle over baked cake.

** Recipe from trim&Terrific™ Gulf Coast Favorites by Holly Clegg
(Holly Clegg Publications; September 2008; $24.95, ISBN: 978-0-9815640-05/soft cover).

About the Expert:
Holly Clegg is the author of the best selling trim&Terrific™ cookbook series and Eating Well Through Cancer. The king cake recipe is from her latest book, Gulf Coast Favorites, with 10 percent of the proceeds being donated to the America’s WETLAND Foundation to fight coastal erosion and wetland loss in Louisiana. For more information, visit www.hollyclegg.com. You can order Holly Clegg’s Trim & Terrific Gulf Coast Favorites (Paperback) from Amazon.com for $16.47.

Super Bowl Party Food and Football Recipes

al fresco Buffalo Bistro Bites - Spicy Pigs in a Blanket (Photo courtesy of al fresco)With the Super Bowl getting closer, it’s a great idea to start planning your menu and gathering the necessary ingredients for all your Super Bowl party food and football recipes. The number of guests attending your Super Bowl party will determine the amount of food and beverage to have on hand, but we would love to suggest some Super Bowl recipes for you to try.

Consider these recipe suggestions for Super Bowl appetizers, main courses, and entrees.

Super Bowl Party Appetizers
Appetizers can be a fun part of the meal and a great way to get your guests appetites going. You can choose from a wide variety of appetizer options, but the Super Bowl calls for some special treats. Consider the following Super Bowl party appetizer ideas for your own football bash.

Most In-Demand Super Bowl Appetizer Idea – Buffalo Chicken Dip
Buffalo Chicken Dip is taking the appetizer world by storm. Almost everyone’s heard of it and many people have tried it at another party. Why not steal some limelight for yourself and serve your guests a batch of delicious Buffalo Chicken Dip? Try this Super Bowl Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe from Frank’s® RedHot®.

Frank’s® RedHot® Buffalo Chicken Dip:
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
2 cans (9.75 oz each) Swanson® Premium Chunk Chicken Breast, drained
1/2 cup Frank’s® RedHot® Sauce
1/2 cup blue cheese salad dressing (or ranch dressing)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (or shredded cheddar cheese)
Assorted fresh vegetables and/or crackers

 

Directions:
1.    Stir cream cheese in 9” deep dish pie plate until smooth.
2.    Stir in remaining ingredients.
3.    Bake at 350°F. for 20 minutes until hot and bubbling.
4.    Stir.
5.    Serve with vegetables, chips, and crackers.

Buffalo Chicken Dip Tips:
‐ Substitute ranch dressing for blue cheese dressing and shredded cheddar cheese for blue cheese crumbles.
‐ Make it tailgate friendly – prepare ahead of time and transport in a disposable heavy foil pan.
When you get to the tailgate heat it on a grill and serve nice and hot!
‐ Make this in the microwave by heating it on high for five minutes instead of baking.
‐ Keep it warm in a crock pot or slow cooker

More Super Bowl Appetizer Ideas
Try these other delicious Super Bowl appetizer ideas for your football party. From classic spicy pigs in blankets to chicken ranch pizza with bacon and more, your guests will not be disappointed. In fact, you may be the talk of the town next time Super Bowl rolls around!

Chips and salsa are a classic football party menu item, especially for Super Bowl party food. Pace Foods offers a variety of salsa related recipes on their Web site. You can make mini tacos, chili con queso bites, double cheese crab dip, and much more.

Chicken Ranch Pizza with Bacon:
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
1 package prepared thin pizza crust (12‐inch)
1 can (4.5 ounces) Swanson® Premium Chunk Chicken Breast in Water, drained
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend (about 4 ounces)
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Ranch salad dressing

Directions:
1.    Heat the oven to 375°F.
2.    Spread the soup onto the pizza crust to within 1/4‐inch of the edge. Top with the chicken, cheeses and bacon.
3.    Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden.
4.    Drizzle the ranch dressing over the pizza.

al fresco Buffalo Bistro Bites - Spicy Pigs in a Blanket (Photo courtesy of al fresco)al fresco Buffalo Bistro Bites – Spicy Pigs in a Blanket
Prep Time:  25 Minutes
Cook Time:  20 – 25 Minutes
Cook Temperature:  400 Degrees

Ingredients:
11 oz Pillsbury Low Fat Refrigerator Rolls
2 oz Crumbled blue cheese
11 oz al fresco Buffalo Bistro Bites (chicken sausage)
1 Large Egg
1 Tbs Dried, grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbs Tap water

Directions:

1.    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.    On a clean surface, unroll the dinner roll into a strip.
3.    Flatten with your fingertip to make strip a little wider.
2.    Cut each strip into 4 equal pieces.
3.    Tap a small amount of blue cheese crumble into each strip.
4.    Roll up each Buffalo Bistro Bite in each strip and place on cookie sheet.
5.    Beat the egg with water and brush the dough around the Bistro Bite
6.    Sprinkle with the grated parmesan cheese.
7.    Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown.

Keep Reading for More Super Bowl Food – Entrees and Main Courses…

Cocktail Recipes for Your Mardi Gras Party – The Perfect Hurricanes

Hosting a Mardi Gras party at your home may be more A beautiful Southern Comfort Hurricane, perfect for Mardi Gras. (Photo courtesy of Southern Comfort)economical and more logical than flying down to New Orleans and celebrating with the crowds. With the right cocktail recipes (read: Hurricanes!) and some awesome Creole food recipes, you’ll be all set to celebrate Mardi Gras in style.

Perhaps there is nothing quite like an authentic New Orleans Hurricane Cocktail, but you can still have fun trying to concoct the perfect libation. Remember, there’s always more than one way to mix a drink, so get creative with your Hurricane recipes and please drink responsibly.

Try these exciting Southern Comfort Hurricane cocktail recipes at home:

SoCo Hurricane
1 ½ oz. Southern Comfort
1 ½ oz. sweet and sour mix
1 ½ oz. orange juice
1 ½ oz. pineapple juice
Splash of grenadine
 

  1. A beautiful Southern Comfort Hurricane, perfect for Mardi Gras. (Photo courtesy of Southern Comfort)Fill a hurricane glass, or whatever glass you have on hand, with ice.
  2. Add all ingredients to glass and stir.
  3. Garnish with an orange wedge and cherry.
  4. If you are making it for your group of friends, mix a batch in a pitcher in advance.
  5. Pour over an ice-filled glass and serve responsibly immediately.

Hurricane Recipe Tip: “For a twist on the Mardi Gras classic, try a SoCo & Lime Hurricane,” says Allison Gouaux, a Louisiana native and representative for Southern Comfort. “It combines the sweet flavors of a traditional Hurricane with the sour notes of lime for a complex, flavorful, and fun cocktail.”
SoCo & Lime Hurricane
3 oz. Southern Comfort
1 ½ oz. sweet and sour mix
1/2 oz. blue curacao
1/2 oz. sweetened lime juice

  1. Fill a sugar-rimmed hurricane glass with ice.
  2. Add all ingredients and stir.
  3. Garnish with a lime wedge and cherry.

We hope you enjoy these fine Hurricane recipes, courtesy of Allison Gouaux, a Louisiana native, and our friends over at Southern Comfort. If you’d like to dabble in a few more Hurricane drink recipes, see the following:

Check out a Hurricane Cocktail recipe by Emeril Lagasse at FoodNetwork.com.

Check out four more Hurricane drink recipes at DrinksMixer.com.

About the Expert:
Southern Comfort infuses a signature blend of whiskey, fruit, and spices, rich in the culture and spirit of New Orleans. For more information about Southern Comfort, visit online at http://www.southerncomfort.com.

Super Bowl Party Snacks, Appetizers, and Dessert Ideas

When it comes to planning your Super Bowl party menu, don’t forget the ongoing munchies and the sweet finale to your delicious spread. Celebrate the Super Bowl in style with Football Cookies! (Photo courtesy of morgueFile.com)Your football fan friends will love your event even more when you’ve got every culinary base covered.

Start off your party and kick off your guests’ appetites with some snacks and appetizers first, then launch into your main courses, and bring your Super Bowl party to the perfect ending with a fine array of goodies and desserts toward the end of the game.

Snacks and Appetizer Ideas for your Super Bowl Party

Every loves a good snack like chips, Doritos, pretzels, veggies and dip, and the like. It’s always a good idea to have some of these items on hand… But you can really WOW your Super Bowl guests with the right selection of football party snacks and appetizers. Depending on your desire on the level of involvement, you can make everything by hand or you can lean on some food companies for a little assistance.

What comes to mind first in thinking about snacks and appetizers for a Super Bowl party – well, why not all the wonderful kinds of appetizers you and your favorite football fans would get to enjoy at a restaurant or your favorite bar? From hot wings and mozzarella sticks to chicken and cheese quesadillas, jalapeño poppers, and more, give your guests the football feast they’ll never forget. Oh, and don’t forget the chips and salsa!

Pace Salsa is a must-have for your Super Bowl Party!Chips and Salsa – a No-Brainer for Any Football Party
The Pace Foods “Pace Big Game” party pack makes a festive and hassle-free addition to your Super Bowl party menu. The party pack contains: “We’re #1” foam fingers; squeezable footballs, “Game Day” banner, tabletop football set; football balloons; referee drink holders, a copy of Pace’s 60th anniversary cookbook, a Pace four-pack, including Pace Picante Sauce, Pace Thick & Chunky Salsa, and the two latest additions to the Pace lineup of specialty salsas, Pace Pineapple Mango Chipotle Salsa and Pace Black Bean & Roasted Corn Salsa.

You might also try this recipe for Pace Sunset Dip:

PACE SUNSET DIP

Prep:
5 minutes
Makes: 12 servings

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup Pace® Picante Sauce
Tortilla chips

1.    Spread the cream cheese in a 9-inch microwave-safe pie plate.
2.    Sprinkle with the Cheddar cheese.
3.    Microwave on HIGH 2 to 3 minutes or until the Cheddar cheese melts.
4.    Top with the picante sauce.
5.    Serve with the chips.

With a salsa spread so wide, your football fans won’t know where to begin! The variety of Pace salsa styles ensures salsa lovers will each find something they like. This party pack is also a great option because it gives you some decorations without having to specially coordinate anything. Your guests will love the festive football foam fingers and squeezable footballs for sure.

Farm Rich Mozzarella Bites are a great addition to your Super Bowl Party menu! (Photo courtesy of Farm Rich)Frozen Appetizers that Taste Just as Great in Less the Time
Did you know you can put out quite a spread of appetizers with less work than you’d ever imagine? Farm Rich offers a tasty variety of “baked not fried”, ready-to-pop-in-the-oven (or microwave!) appetizers that excel in taste as well as ease of preparation.

As the host or hostess, you too deserve a chance to enjoy your own Super Bowl party rather than being locked away in the kitchen all day. That’s why it’s a great idea to get a little help from Farm Rich or another company offering frozen appetizer treats. Your guests would never believe these snacks weren’t made from scratch in your kitchen!

Farm Rich Grilled Chicken and Cheese Mini Quesadilla Slices – Consider the Farm Rich grilled chicken and cheese mini quesadilla slices, which offer a satisfying several bites on each piece. The mini chicken and cheese quesadilla slices feature delicious white meat chicken, a perfect blend of mozzarella, cheddar, and Monterey jack cheeses, and an unbeatable grilled stuffed crust. So good you would swear these mini quesadillas came from your favorite bar menu!

Farm Rich Mozzarella Bites – For larger crowds, you can’t go wrong with bite-sized pieces like Farm Rich Mozzarella Bites. These tasty tidbits offer a toasty pizzeria-style dough shell with a cheesy core of real mozzarella cheese. The cheese bites can be microwaved, but why not toss them in the oven for only six minutes for a toastier crust? Serve up a dish of your favorite marinara sauce and you’ll be all set in no time.

Farm Rich Cheese and Chicken with Bacon Panini – For a hearty grilled chicken club with virtually no prep time, try the Cheese and Chicken with Bacon Panini by Farm Rich. These scrumptious mini sandwiches feature a fine blend of 100% real mozzarella, parmesan, and Romano cheeses, a savory pesto sauce and grilled crust. These appetizer options take between 16 and 19 minutes in your oven, or up to one and a half minutes in the microwave for two slices at a time.

Farm Rich also offers other appetizer and bite-sized snack ideas such as mini stuffed pizza slices, battered mushrooms, and cheese sticks. You can find these easy, delicious appetizers in your grocer’s freezer (find a store near you at: http://www.farmrichfun.com/product-locator.php).

Dessert Ideas for your Super Bowl Party
Great American Cookies brand Cookie Cakes can be customized for your own special party. (Photo courtesy of Great American Cookies)From traditional chocolate chip cookies to brownies and ice cream, you can take the easy way out, or you can be creative with your Super Bowl party treats and desserts. Your main decision is whether you want to do your own baking or have your special Super Bowl desserts made for you.

Great American Cookies offers custom-decorated cookie cakes and cookie tins that could be the perfect fit for your football festivities. The cookie cakes are available in small, medium, and large sizes, and in a round or rectangular shape, ranging in price from $10.99 to $40.

Your guests will be dazzled with the football field cookie cake, which features icing markers and end zones as well as a football in the center. A round cookie cake can show off a festive football scene such as goal posts and a football or a football player with a cheer or jeer of your choice. Your guests will never forget thi
s tasty Super Bowl dessert.

Great American Cookies also offers cookie tins in a variety of flavors, including Original Chocolate Chip, Original Chocolate Chip with M&M’S® Chocolate Candies, Peanut Butter with M&M’S® Chocolate Candies, Peanut Butter Supreme, Sugar, Snickerdoodle, White Chunk Macadamia, Chewy Chocolate Supreme, Chewy Pecan Supreme, Domino, Double Fudge, Oatmeal Walnut Raisin, and Pecan Supreme.

If you find yourself too close to the Super Bowl to order desserts for your party, you can always whip up a sheet cake and decorate it like a football field for your party, or make up some brownies or chocolate chip cookies to delight your guests.

* * *

While you’re at it, why not read up on a few more exciting Super Bowl recipes and Super Bowl party tips? Check out exciting tips at Entertaining Escapades: Time to make those Super Bowl party plans. Shout out to a fellow Eagles fan!

About the Experts:

Farm Rich offers a wide variety of delicious frozen appetizers that you can microwave or heat in the oven. Visit Farm Rich online at www.farmrichfun.com or print a coupon for a dollar off your Farm Rich purchase.

Pace Foods offers a variety of specialty and original salsas and cheese salsas. Pace shares many recipes using salsa on the Web, including main courses, appetizers, snacks, and sides. Visit Pace online at http://www.pacefoods.com.

Great American Cookies offers customized cookie cakes as well as cookie tins for all occasions. Pricing is as follows: Cookie Cakes – Suggested Retail Price: Small (8 x 6 inch): $10.99 – $11.99; Medium (16 inch): $20.99 – $27.00; Large (30-40 inch): $29.99 – $40.00; Cookie Tins – Suggested Retail Price:  $16.99/12 cookies; $18.99/16 cookies. Visit online at http://www.greatamericancookies.com.

Alcohol Free Hosting and Entertaining Tips for Holidays or Any Day

As you prepare to host special events at your home, a banquet hall, or elsewhere, remember to keep in mind that all your guests may not be interested in the alcohol. Alcohol free parties can be just as much fun with the right atmosphere. (photo courtesy of morgueFile.com)Some guests may be too young, some may have health concerns or allergies, others may be recovering from addiction, and still others may simply be serving as the evening’s designated driver.

As you plan and prepare for your holiday or special occasion entertaining, make sure to keep in mind that all of your guests may not want to drink. This fact can help you when planning your holiday menu or special event beverage list. As a good host or hostess, you will want to keep the comfort and enjoyment of all your guests in mind. And remember, you can have just as much fun at a party whether alcohol free or not, as long as you have the right atmosphere and chemistry in your group of guests.

These five tips on alcohol-free hosting and entertaining are from Caron Treatment Centers, a national drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility (www.caron.org) that encourages hosts to plan a festive occasion that doesn’t center on the alcohol.

Alcohol free parties can be just as much fun with the right atmosphere. (photo courtesy of morgueFile.com)1. Get Creative: Festive drinks can be “dry.” Look to non-alcoholic drinks such as fruits, juices, ice teas and lemonades as a way to encourage healthy habits.

2. Take Drinking Out of the Party Games: Group games such as “Taboo,” Charades and “Pictionary” will keep people in stitches.

3. Stimulate Conversation: Help keep the chatter flowing by actively making introductions and introducing fun topics.

4. Don’t Make the Bar Center Stage: Place beautifully prepared and presented food and flowers at the center of the table and move the alcohol to the back of the room; make the juice bar a colorful center of attention.

5. Be Safe: For guests who do drink, make sure they have a safe way home or keep taxi numbers on hand to prevent them from leaving and driving under the influence.

It is important to make all your guests feel comfortable at your home, especially if guests are bringing a significant other, friend, or family member who may not know the rest of the guests attending the party. Remember what it feels like to be the only sober person at a party or a bar where you know only a few people? Don’t give your guests that same uncomfortable feeling.

Plan your event with everyone – and their needs – in mind. You can still offer a bar with alcoholic beverages, but don’t make it the showpiece of your party. With the right combination of good conversation, ice breakers, nonalcoholic beverage options, and delicioius menu items, even your nondrinker guests can enjoy a fabulous time at the party.

About the Expert:
Caron Treatment Centers is a national drug and alcohol rehab center helping people to begin a new life. Caron Treatment Centers has offices in Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, and Bermuda. To learn more about Caron Treatment Centers, visit on the Web at www.caron.org.

Holiday Gift Guide for Long Distance Friends, Relatives, and Loved Ones

Holidays and birthdays often bring relatives and loved ones together, even when some of the family may live far away from the rest. Shopping for long distance friends and relatives can be a challenging task for a number of reasons. Dinner and a Movie of the Month Club, available at Amazon.comPerhaps you don’t know these relatives as well as you know your local relatives, which makes gift selection less intuitive. Perhaps your long distance friend or loved one is just plain hard to buy for in the first place.

When selecting holiday presents or birthday gifts for relatives or friends who live out of town or even out of the country, keep in mind that you will either have to ship the present to your loved one, or he or she will have to take it back in with the luggage. Because of this, some gifts that may seem perfect for this person may not be easy to accommodate.

Before you give up on finding the perfect gift for your long distance relatives and friends, allow your creativity and imagination a chance at finding a wonderful present. Try to think of things that don’t weigh a lot or things that don’t take up a lot of space. Consider gift cards and gift certificates and other items that bring a lot of value without a lot of hassle.

Consider these gift ideas for long distance relatives, long distance friends, and long distance loved ones:

Gift Cards or Gift Certificates
As long as you can narrow down a couple of your long distance friend or relative’s interests or hobbies, you will be in good shape to select a gift certificate or gift card as a present. This way, you don’t need to know exactly what your loved ones want or need – they can actually pick their gifts out for themselves.

If your uncle likes electronics, you’d be pretty safe with a Best Buy gift card or a Circuit City gift card. If your aunt loves gardening, you can find a nursery or garden center in her area and purchase a gift card so she can pick out some new plants or flowers that will always remind her of you.

If you really don’t know what to get your long distance friend or relative, you can always opt for an Amazon.com gift card, as the selection of items on Amazon.com is virtually endless, providing something for everyone.

Travel Gift Certificates
A gift certificate for travel offers a gift of freedom and flexibility to your loved one. Depending on your budget, you can give your friend or relative a gift certificate to offset the cost of a romantic weekend getaway or an exciting weekend adventure. If you want to spend a bit more on this person, you can always get a travel gift certificate at BnB Finder.

BnB Finder serves as an online portal featuring many relaxing, romantic, and adventurous vacation getaway destinations. When you order gift certificates for travel with BnB Finder, you are essentially giving your gift recipient the freedom to select the perfect destination based on his or her travel preferences. In fact, more than 1500 locations accept BnB Finder’s travel certificates!

For more information on featured destinations at BnB Finder or to purchase a travel gift certificate, visit BnB Finder online.

Gift of the Month Club
From the traditional to the extreme, you can surely find your long distance loved one an appropriate gift of the month. Some favorite themes for gift of the month clubs include:

Cheese of the Month Club, available at Amazon.comFresh Fruit of the Month Club, available at Amazon.comCoffee of the Month Club, available at Amazon.com

•    Beer of the Month – Men and women alike will truly appreciate your thoughtfulness for a beer of the month gift.

•    Wine of the Month – Wine of the month offers your gift recipient a wonderful and relaxing gift to enjoy with dinner or without.

•    Coffee of the Month – For your favorite caffeine fans and those who claim they can’t start their day without it: (ground or whole bean available) $80.85 for three months of ground coffee$161.70 for six months of whole bean, and many selections available from one month to 12 months

Hot Sauce of the Month Club, available at Amazon.com

•    Hot Sauce of the Month$30 for three months, $55 for six months, and more…

•    Fresh Fruit of the Month$104.85 for three months, $209.70 for six months, $419.40 for 12 months, with other options available.

•    Cheese of t
he Month
– A wonderful choice for your cultured loved ones: $134.85 for three  months, $179.80 for seasonal, $263.70 for six months, $515.40 for 12 months

Chocolate of the Month Club, available at Amazon.com

•    Chocolate of the Month – The perfect present for any chocoholic: $99 for three months, $198 for six months, $296 for nine months, $389 for 12 months…

•    Pizza of the Month – A gourmet treat for pizza lovers: $69.95 for one month, $209.85 for three months, $419.70 for six months, and more…

Pizza of the Month Club, available at Amazon.com 12-Month Spice Blend Club, available at Amazon.com

•    12-Month Spice Blend Club – A great gift for fans of gourmet cooking and new recipes: $125 for 12 months of spices plus authentic Thai rice tureen and ladle

Marinade of the Month Club, available at Amazon.com
•    Marinade of the Month – A tasty treat for the chef at heart: $36 for three months, $62 for six months

Jam of the Month, available at Amazon.com•    Jam of the Month – A nice gift for aunts, grandparents, and anyone who enjoys jam and toast or crackers: $45 for three months, $90 for six months

•    Gourmet Fudge of the Month$65.50 for three months, $264.50 for 12 months

•    Tea of the Month $67.89 – $93.99 for six months (with Dimbula Press or teapot if desired), $117.49 – $142.49 for 12 months (with Dimbula Press or teapot if desired)

Salsa of the Month Club, available at Amazon.com•    Salsa of the Month – This gift would be great for football fans and anyone who loves Mexican food or a good snack: $59.85 for three months, $79.80 for seasonal, $113.70 for six months, $215.40 for 12 months

BBQ Sauce of the Month Club, available at Amazon.com•    BBQ Sauce of the Month – A great gift for your favorite grill master: $36 for three months, $62 for six months

•    Dinner & a Movie of the Month Club – A great gift for young couples and those who enjoy cooking and relaxing together: $89.85 for three months, $119.80 for seasonal, $173.70 for six months, and $335.40 for 12 months

Cookie of the Month Club, available at Amazon.com
•    Cookie of the Month – The perfect gift for your own favorite cookie mo
nster: $67.89 for three months

•    Note: Check around for other monthly gift clubs – many offer unique gifts like jerky, dinner of the month, dessert of the month, etc.

Finding a special gift for a friend or relative who lives far away can be quite the daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Check out these gifts and use your own creativity to think of other special gifts that would also be fitting for your recipient. Try to think of gifts you would like to receive from that person if you were out of town and visiting him or her at home.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our gift guide for long distance friends, relatives, and loved ones. Good luck finding that perfect gift!

19 Tips for Reducing Party Clean-Up Time

*These timeless tips for party clean-up are great for any special occasion!*

Between inviting, shopping, cooking, cleaning, decorating and gift-wrapping, birthday parties and other social events require a tremendous amount of energy, time and creativity. Sometimes the clean up involved with having a party becomes a deterrent to the cause.

The simplest solution may be to “have it at someone else’s house,” but with a few tricks, your cleaning time will be so scant that you barely even notice it. Enjoy hosting parties over and over again with an easy, regimented strategy for eliminating most of the clean up involved before the day is through.

Stop the Mess Before It Starts…
Perhaps the easiest way to reduce the mess made during your parties is to “uninvite” the mess itself.

–    Instead of allowing guests to use your cups and glasses, have an alternative theme for the party. Place ice in a cooler, give out sports bottles as party prizes when guests arrive, and be sure they know the bottles are theirs to keep. This reduces waste due to forgotten cups and removes cups and glasses from the list of items to clean up later. If desired, it is quite easy to find a supplier who will print almost anything on a sports bottle or other novelty item at a reasonable charge – from “Happy 80th Birthday Grandmom” to “Congratulations Class of 2005” and more.

–    Use paper plates and plastic utensils to reduce the number of items that would need to be cleansed. These throw-aways make clean up go much quicker and save on water and soap.

–    If purchasing beer and soda, consider getting a keg of each to avoid empty plastic bottles littering your home. Kegs are typically cheaper than the same amount of beverage in bottles or cans.

–    Use Sterno pans instead of crock-pots. You can save the leftover heating cans but throw away the tin pans once the food is all gone. They are also great for putting leftovers easily away in the fridge!

–    Keep napkins and paper towels available for unexpected spills and messy hands.

–    Place wax paper below desserts and other menu items on serving trays. Rinse after use and be done.

–    Select food based on ease of clean up. Finger foods are a lot easier to prepare and clean up, requiring less silverware as well. Cookies and small pastries are also better because their crumbs are less likely to get ground into your carpets than cakes, cupcakes and brownies.

–    Use paper tablecloths to catch spills and crumbs. Throw them away at the end of the party.

–    Remind guests to bring their own towels for swimming and pillows and blankets for sleeping over if necessary.

Keeping the House Itself Clean…
Prevention is often the best method of preparation, so think of the most difficult places to clean after a party and do whatever you can to keep those places clean.

–    If the day’s weather increases the chances of mud coating your carpets, steps and floors in general, ask guests to remove shoes or at least leave floor mats by each door to the house so they can wipe their feet.

–    Strategically place trashcans around the house where people will easily find them. Keep one within sight near eating areas so that paper plates and napkins find their way to the trash bins. Keep a trashcan in sight if guests will be outside as well – “highly visible” is the best policy.

–    If desired, to make clean up a bit more fun for guests, attach a small basketball hoop to the trashcan and ask that guests only “shoot” non-messy pieces of refuse.

–    Put a floor mat or a layer of newspaper below the trashcan as a spill precaution.

–    Set up plastic bins labeled for each different kind of recycle – cans, glass, plastic, etc. Guests will be more encouraged to dispose of their garbage and empty containers when they know where to put them.

–    Be sure your guests know whether you have a garbage disposal or not.

–    Require all smoking to be done outside in a designated area with ashtrays.

–    Do not wait to the end of the party to clean up – clean as you replace food items. If you notice some empty plates on your way to the fridge, toss them in the garbage as you pass.

–    Encourage guests to throw out trash and recycle.

–    Host outdoor parties when the weather permits.

When clean up takes less time and has your house looking better than ever, hosting parties more often may just become a new habit!

Thanksgiving Entertaining: Hosting Styles to Celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday

Roast turkey dinner, courtesy of morgueFile.comWhen it’s your turn to host the holiday, the choice is yours for how you’d like to feed and entertain your guests. For Thanksgiving, you can host a holiday brunch or an all-out dinner or anything in-between. As you plan your Thanksgiving holiday, consider the number of guests, the age of your guests, any dietary of health issues, the time of day for your event, the amount of food, whether alcoholic beverages are involved, and so on. You may even find that some of your guests’ schedules play into your plans.

As you prepare for your Thanksgiving entertaining, consider these diverse hosting options. Whether you’re inviting your entire extended family, your side and your in-laws, or your friends, neighbors, or anyone else, you may find the perfect Thanksgiving holiday hosting style right here. And, don’t forget your Thanksgiving Party Invitations!

Thanksgiving feast, courtesy of morgueFile.comThanksgiving Holiday Entertaining Options
Once you’ve decided on the guest list, now is the time to begin thinking about the hosting and serving style for your Thanksgiving holiday get-together. To best suit your own entertaining style and the needs of your family and guests, consider these options:

–    Sit-down Thanksgiving dinner

–    Buffet style Thanksgiving dinner

–    Thanksgiving brunch

–    Thanksgiving hors d’oeuvres party

–    Thanksgiving cocktail party

–    Etc.

You may be able to rule out some of these hosting and entertaining styles simply by imagining your guests at your home in one of these situations. Even if you can’t completely figure out the perfect scenario for your event, keep an open mind, for a change in pace can often become an exceptional memory.

Waffles with ham and strawberries, courtesy of Hormel FoodsHost a Festive Thanksgiving Brunch
Sometimes the time of day that you host your Thanksgiving holiday get-together may be dictated by your guests or your own family obligations. Perhaps a Thanksgiving brunch is the perfect way to accommodate everyone’s needs – especially those who need to visit two or more homes in the course of Thanksgiving Day.

As you prepare to host your Thanksgiving brunch, consider your menu from a broad perspective. Make sure you select entrees as well as side dishes, and items from the breakfast category, the lunch category, and the dessert category. Don’t forget about hot beverages as well as cold beverages.

Joan Hanson, test kitchen director of Hormel Foods, suggests the following tips for a mid-morning Thanksgiving holiday brunch:

•   Save cook time. Use fully cooked Oven Ready® CURE 81® ham for more time to spend with family and friends.
•    Sweet & savory waffles. Top waffles with ham strips, sliced strawberries, and maple syrup.
•    Ham scramble. Add cubed ham and Swiss cheese to scrambled eggs for a surefire hit

Host an Elegant Family Style Sit-Down Dinner Party
Perhaps the most traditional Thanksgiving holiday hosting style for smaller groups, an elegant sit-down dinner party works nicely when well planned. The difficult part is getting everything cooked on time and arranged on platters that can be passed around the table for all guests to enjoy.

A family style sit-down dinner for the Thanksgiving holiday puts a lot of strain on the hostess, some of which can be alleviated if her spouse and children are willing to assist with small tasks like carving the meat, placing all the accompaniments in bowls, placing the bread in the basket, and so forth.

Thanksgiving Dinner Alternative Place Card Tip: Eva Ingvarson, party planning expert at Evite.com suggests creating “Photo Shoot Table Settings”.

“Ask each guest to email you a family or childhood photo of themselves,” she says. “Print out photos and put in small, inexpensive frames as a place card. This reminder of family is a nice touch for people missing loved ones on this holiday, and it provides a fun ice-breaker.”

Roast turkey dinner, courtesy of morgueFile.com

Host a Buffet Style Dinner Party
While families are growing larger and hostesses are inviting more and more guests to the special holiday meals, a buffet style dinner party may be the perfect entertaining style for Thanksgiving. As long as you have a number of crock pots, hot plates, chafing dishes, and other small appliances to keep the food warm (as well as places to plug in these devices!), you should be all set for a fantastic buffet style meal.

As you prepare for your buffet style Thanksgiving dinner get-together, make sure you cover all the bases – main course, side dishes, bread, condiments, beverages, etc. The nice thing about a buffet style dinner party is that your guests can attend to their own tastes and appetites, leaving you to enjoy your own meal once everything is cooked and set out.

Host an Hors D’oeuvres Party
Sometimes a gourmet full-course meal just doesn’t fit the ticket. If you find that a sit-down meal or even a holiday buffet isn’t the right fit for your guest lists, why not consider an hors d’oeuvres party? You can even spice things up with special holiday cocktails or an assortment of wine, if you like. An hors d’oeuvres party gives you the flexibility to mix and mingle with your guests rather than being a slave to the kitchen for much of the event’s duration.

For your menu selection at the Thanksgiving hors d’oeuvres party, don’t be afraid to get a little creative with your food. When possible, incorporate Thanksgiving favorites like turkey, ham, and mashed potatoes into the hors d’oeuvres recipes. You might consider pierogies, turkey and cheese in a puff pastry, etc.

Here are some additional tips on throwing a Thanksgiving hors d’oeuvres party, as well as two recipes from Chef Brad Thompson of Lever House in New York City.

RECIPE: Artichoke and Bacon Spread

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Time to Table: 55 minutes
Yield: 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons artichoke mixture; 10 servings

Ingredients:

5 slices bacon
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 can (14 oz.) quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
30 Carr’s® Table Water Roasted Garlic and Herb Crackers

Method:

1.    Crosswise cut bacon into 1/8- to 1/4-inch slivers. In large nonstick skillet cook bacon until brown and crisp. Drain off fat, reserving 1 tablespoon. Remove bacon from skillet and drain on paper towels.
2.    Return reserved bacon fat to skillet. Stir in onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in carrot. Continue cooking for 3 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in vinegar and rosemary.
3.    Set aside four pieces of artichoke. Stir remaining artichoke pieces into mixture in skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until liquid evaporates. Remove from heat. Stir in salt and pepper. Cool slightly.
4.    Transfer artichoke mixture to food processor bowl. Cover and process until smooth. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Stir in half of the cooked bacon.
5.     Cut reserved artichoke pieces into thin slivers. Spoon about 2 teaspoons artichoke mixture on each cracker. Garnish with artichoke slivers and remaining cooked bacon pieces.

Wine Note: This recipe pairs well with Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir.

RECIPE: Eggplant and Tomato Ratatouille

Prep Time: 2 hours
Time to Table: 3 hours, 15 minutes
Yield: 1 3/4 cups eggplant mixture; 14 servings

Ingredients:

3 cloves garlic, divided
1 medium eggplant (about 1 1/4 lb.)
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium fennel bulb
3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 2 cups total)
4 sprigs fresh basil leaves
42 small fresh basil leaves or fennel leaves (optional)
21 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (optional)
42 Carr’s® Rosemary Crackers

Method:

1.    Cut one of the garlic cloves into quarters. Very thinly slice remaining two garlic cloves. Set aside.
2.    Lengthwise cut eggplant into halves. Use sharp knife to cut 1-inch-deep diagonal cuts on flat sides of eggplant halves. Insert quartered garlic clove into cuts. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. In 15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pan place eggplant halves, cut sides up. Bake at 300°F for 30 minutes. Turn eggplant. Bake at 300°F about 1 hour or until eggplant is soft.
3.    Meanwhile, core and very thinly slice fennel bulb (you should have about 2 1/2 cups). In medium saucepan cook fennel in remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat about 10 minutes or until softened. Stir in sliced garlic. Cook and stir over medium heat about 3 minutes or until garlic is fragrant. Stir in tomato. Remove from heat.
4.    When eggplant is cool enough to handle. Scoop out and coarsely chop pulp of eggplant. Stir into mixture in saucepan. Add 4 sprigs basil. Cook, covered, over low heat for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid. Continue cooking, uncovered, over low heat about 10 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
5.    Let stand at room temperature about 20 minutes. Remove basil sprigs. Stir in remaining salt and remaining pepper. To serve, spoon about 2 teaspoons of the eggplant mixture on each cracker. Garnish with fresh basil leaves and tomato halves, if desired.

Wine Note: This recipe pairs well with Robert Mondavi Private Selection Merlot.

Host a Thanksgiving Potluck….