Sunday, November 28, 2010

Simple, Make Ahead Party Appetizers!

This one's for you V....

A few days ago I got an email from my good friend asking for easy party appetizers that can be made ahead for a holiday party that she's having next weekend.  Of course she asked me the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so here's her answer!

Baked Brie
1 Brie Round
3 Tbsp Raspberry Preserves
1/4 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
Crescent Roll Dough

Preheat oven to 375.  Take 4 triangles of the crescent roll dough, and make a square, pinching the seams tightly to avoid leaking brie.  Place the brie on top, followed by the raspberry preserves and chocolate chips .  Take the other 4 triangles of dough, and make them a square.  Lay over the top of the brie, sealing the crescent roll dough together on both sides.  Make sure that all of the seams are sealed tightly!
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the brie is golden.  Serve with crackers, apple, and pear slices.

Tomato Basil Bruschetta 
Loaf of French Bread
2 Tomatoes
1 Ball Fresh Mozzarella
Fresh Basil
Salt and Pepper
Balsamic Vinegar

Thinly slice the bread, and toast the slices.  In the meantime, chop into tiny chunks the tomatoes and cheese, and julienne the basil.  Mix all together in a bowl, adding salt and pepper to taste.  Arrange the bread slices on a plate and top each with a scoop of the bruschetta topping.  Sprinkle with a little balsamic vinegar, and serve.

You can't go wrong with a fruit platter with a simple low-fat yogurt dip as dessert.  People are consuming so many calories with alcohol this time of year, go with a slightly healthier dessert!  

Chicken Pesto Cheese Bread 
1 Loaf Raw Bread Dough
1/4 Cup Pesto
1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 Grilled Chicken Breast

Spread out the bread dough, and smear pesto in the middle.  Chop the chicken breast, and spread that with the cheese.  Seal the dough, and bake the loaf on a greased pan for 35 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Slice, and serve!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner for 18, oh wait, 15!

Today is going to be a busy day!  I am hosting Thanksgiving for 15 tomorrow and I hurt my back pretty badly at the end of last week (still not sure what I did), so I have to give myself plenty of time for prepping!  This is my first time actually hosting my biological family for any type of event, so I'm a little nervous. 

My dad is the second oldest of 6 boys, though the oldest passed away when I was about 6, and while he and my mom were married for 25 years, she never hosted his family for a holiday.  My youngest uncle's wife has been doing both Thanksgiving and Christmas for at least four years now, and my grandmother and I thought she could use a break. 

On Sunday after church, Gimpy came with me to the grocery store to buy everything.  I was cooking for 18, and so wanted to get a 24lb turkey.  Problem was, they sold out of the 20-25lb in the kind I wanted, and were trying to get me to pay close to $3/lb for a 24lb in another type!  So Gimpy had the brilliant idea that I should get the 28lb, and just save myself $20.  Check, and check.  My aunt and uncle who always flake on holidays called me yesterday to let me know they weren't coming, so down a few people, but still enough food for 18.  Good thing I have a dad and a sister to send leftovers home with! 

I have to map out everything I'm making, and figure out the timing over the next two days, giving myself extra time for my back :(

So this morning, I woke up and made the brine for my turkey!

Turkey Brine
1 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
1 gallon low sodium chicken stock
Rosemary, thyme, garlic cloves, parsley, scallions

I put all the ingredients together, brought to a boil, making sure to dissolve the salt and sugar completely.  I then put it in an easy pour pitcher, and left it in the mini fridge to cool while I'm at work.  When I get home, I'll pull out Mr Turkey, give him a good rinse down, clean out his insides, and put him in a brining bag with the above mixture and another gallon of water.  I'll then put him in a cooler on the balcony filled with more ice water to keep him chilled.  Tomorrow morning, he'll come out of the oven, get a rinse, and put in my roasting pan! 

After my turkey is taken care of this afternoon, I'll chunk up my butternut squash and sweet potatoes, get them roasting in the oven, and roast some garlic at the same time.  I'll then prep my corn casserole, broccoli casserole, my green beans (not in cheese or cream thank you very much!), make my pecan pie, cube my bread for whisky sausage stuffing, prep my baked brie.....  Lots of work to be done! 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Guess What Arrived Today....

The koozies for the 3rd Annual 12 Bars of Christmas!  I am so excited, because now we can really start to get people in the holiday spirit.  We have 52 people who've RSVP'd for the pub crawl so far, but with over 100 who haven't yet responded, I am confident we'll hit at least 70 this year.

Three years ago we launched the first 12 Bars of Christmas, and didn't like the idea of everyone wearing Santa Suits, or matching tee shirts.  Call me crazy, but I love to let people tap into their individuality, and go nuts with their costumes.

The rules of 12 Bars is simple.  Pick 12 bar locations, and keep in mind you need to be able to walk between them, or at least the last 10.  Tell your guests that they have to wear their finest holiday gear - tacky Christmas sweater, santa suit, antlers, slutty elf costume, whatever they want!  They then bring money for the koozie, I charge $3 each, and then they'd better be prepared to drink their way through the day and night!

Determine your approximate number of attendees, and then approach the bar owners or managers, and let them know the date, the approximate time you'll be there, and how many people.  If you can get drink specials, that's even better for your crew!  

I always let the managers and owners know that all the people on my pub crawl will have matching koozies, and show them what they look like.  That way, everyone can just show their koozie to get the drink special, and the bar doesn't have to print up bracelets or anything.  We stay at the first bar for an hour and a half, and then try to limit to an hour each bar after that.  

Next step!  The invitation.  I like to send it out at least 5-6 weeks in advance because the holidays get a little busy for everyone.  We also always make sure our pub crawls are the same weekend every year!  Always the Saturday before Christmas.  Let the guests know the order of the bars, the drink special at each one, and how to join if they're late.

Then sing this little jingle....

On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, A frosty beer just for me.
On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Two friends a laughing
On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Three stout ales 
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Four full glasses 
On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Fiiiiive Jaaaaaager bombs
On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Six straws a sipping
On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Seven drinks a spilling
On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Eight drunks a singing
On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Nine dudes a stumbling 
On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Ten shots a downing
On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Eleven pints guzzling
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, Twelve bars of crawling 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Drunken Scavenger Hunt around Town! - Now with pictures!

Tomorrow night I am organizing what can only be called a drunken night around town.  I've decided we need to mix it up a bit, and get out to some new places, as well as break up the group of 40+ of us into smaller groups!  I've organized a scavenger hunt!

Gimpy and I are having people meet at Gingerman at 8 to have the first beer.  We'll give everyone to about 8:30, and we'll announce the rules and pass out the lists.  They'll have from 8:30 to 12:30 to gather as many points from the list as they can.

Here's my list!

5 Pts - Picture with a person in a band tee shirt (5 bonus points for their fave song  
10 Pts - Business cards with handwritten cell phone numbers on them (we will check them...)
15 Pts - Chug a drink against another person (photo evidence required)          
5 Pts - Picture with a person who has a musical instrument
20 Pts - Photo evidence of someone serenading you, or you serenading them

6 Pts - 6 different beer bottle caps
Unlimited - 1 Point for every matchbook from a bar or restaurant
25 Pts - Photo with someone in a uniform, any uniform
50 Pts - 6 person human pyramid (photo evidence)

10 Pts - Take out menu
15 Pts - Photo of one team member working behind the bar
75 Pts - Find Julie at Match, and figure out her favorite shot.  One team mate has to take shots until you get the right one - you don't both have to take them, but Julie will initial off when you get the right one!
     a. Sex on the Beach
     b. Slippery Nipple
     c. Buttery Nipple
     d. Blow Job
     e. Red Headed Slut
25 Pts - An empty nip bottle
10 Pts - Photo of the worst hair you can find
20 Pts - Cocktail umbrella
Unlimited - Wine corks, 1 point for each
5 Pts per person - How many people can you fit in a bathroom stall? (Photo evidence required)

75 Pts - A Zima
15 Pts - Picture with the preppiest person at the bar
25 Pts - 5 cocktail napkins with phone numbers and lipstick kisses

Gimpy and I will also include some clues where they have to figure out what bar we are at to end the night.  They have to report in at 12:30, and then we'll judge them, and announce the winners!

It was a really, really good time!  We had a blast, and I think that everyone around town also enjoyed my friends darting in and out.

Monday, November 8, 2010

New Year's Eve Nightmare...

Right now I'm in the middle of a New Year's Eve nightmare.  We've been talking about booking a ski house for weeks, and got everyone on board.  This isn't an event I am planning, I've just been serving as a consultant....

So the idea was, get all our friends together and have a big dinner on NYE, and then all hang out at the house and drink and have fun together.  More of a grown-up night than most of us have been having lately.  We'd have about 20 people (ideally 22), ski a few days, roast some marshmallows, and just have a good time in general. 

It's recently come to my attention that about half of our group, plans on going out to a bar on New Year's!  It's not something I can swing, the weekend alone is going to be close to $600 per person, and Gimpy and I are even skipping Hawaii in January for it (don't even get me started on how bummed I am).  I kind of feel that if we have a big group traveling 3 hours away, we should ALL do the same thing New Year's Eve - the whole point of it is to be together, not all go up to VT to do things on our own. 

This is when we need more friends in couples.... Luckily we have brunch Sunday to all talk and get on the same page - we need to get this straightened out ASAP!