Dinner Party Tips & Tricks

March Grooves

Because I’m HAAAAPPPPYYY.

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March is just around the corner! To help keep you in a great mood or to help you get there, here’s an earful of happiness.

March Playlist:

St. Paul and the Broken Bones… are awesome. With New Orleans influence, this soul band gets you going! Their song “Call Me”, is my personal favorite. Other great picks include: “Everybody Knows” & “I’m Torn Up”. (picture above)

Pharrell Williams… you will be dancing & groovin! The jazzy top hit makes anyone smile.

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Aloe Blacc… is the man! Other great hits include: “Love is the Answer” & “I Need A Dollar”.

John Legend… a beautiful singer who can melt your heart and groove. “All of Me” is a great new hit.

The Fray… “Love Don’t Die” is a great song to jam to in the car. Windows down… take my advice!

Valentine Party… Success!

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The “Anti-Valentine” Party was quickly transformed to a true Valentine celebration when I noticed just how much I love pink. Here are a few snaps of the party and my girls! I’ve also included my “secret” Love Bug Punch recipe.

Love Bug Punch

(serves… a lot)

2 Bottles of Champagne

2 Bottles of White Wine

1 Can of Frozen Lemonade

1 Can of Frozen Limeade

1 Can of Strawberry Daiquiri

Rasberries for yumminess and aesthetics!

Here are the few pictures of the decor that I snapped!

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DIY Glitter Bottles and Polka-Dot Champagne Glasses (which later tumbled)

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Lights and all in action!

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Roomie Pic!

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I highly recommend throwing at least one valentine party in your life. It is a fabulous celebration of pink and friends!

Anti-Valentine’s Day Party

Happy Single Awareness Day!

Valentine’s Day is… great. Sometimes. However, when you are single and have no man to sweep you off your feet with a dozen red roses and chocolates, it’s a great excuse for a party!

This year, my roommates and I are hosting our first ever Anti-Valentine’s Day Party. This isn’t going to be some depressing event though where we sit around and eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s while watching The Notebook. No way. This party is going to be legen…. (wait for it)… dary! -I’ve been watching How I Met Your Mother again.

Attire:

Of course full out obnoxious PINK! I’m talking over the top, all the shades of pink and red you can get your hands on. Maybe even a nice bobble heart handband.

What To Do:

 Gather your best friends, make a tasteful, yet strong, party punch and turn up the music. We have asked guests to bring their favorite valentine treat. For a twist though, make cupcakes with black icing instead of pink!

Decorations:

I’ve been cutting out paper hearts for DAYS. Black, red and pink hearts will create a nice swooping banner for across room. Then I’ve bought way too many rolls of streamers in red and pink. I want the house to be as pink as it can be. After all, just because we are single doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate each other!

Games:

Okay, so this may or may not be from the movie Valentine’s Day, but we are totally getting a PINATA! My only hope is that we do this before we start drinking. Anyways, fill up your pinata with fun retro candy or big wax lips!

Here are a few things from Party City that I’m thinking about getting to help get everyone in the “anti”-valentine mood!

heart.sunglassesWho doesn’t love heart-shaped sunglasses?!

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And these funny cupcakes as a sweet treat!!

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^^Basically… your house should look like this. ^^

(Minus that engagement photo. Boys… YUCK!)

Starting a Supper Club

Supper Clubs are a great way to meet new people and reconnect with old friends.  Many have talked about starting one but don’t know where to begin! Here are some tips on how to get started!!!

1. Who to Invite:

You don’t want to have a massive throw down so let’s keep the guests to 8-10 max. What I think can be fun is for the hostess to invite 4 or 5 and ask them to bring a friend or date! That way new people are constantly meeting!

2. Set a Date:

Check with people’s schedules and see when works best for others. I’m planning on having one of the first Sunday evening of every month.

3.  Decide who brings what:

Appetizer, Entre, dessert. I’d say BYOB. (Wine that is). You can put 2 people on appetizers, 2 on entres, 2 on dessert and others can bring supplies such as napkins, plates, utensils if you are deciding to make your clean up MUCH easier.

4.  Budget:

Typically I would tell people not to go crazy. There are many food items you can make for a group of 8-10 for under $15. However, if someone wants to splurge… I’m not opposed!

5. Themes:

Keep it interesting! You could have indoor picnic nights, wine and cheese nights, passport nights… these themes can also effect the dress code for the evening and music!! I.E. costumes & playlists

6. Tablescape:

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on flowers, but a little effort doesn’t hurt! Get some baby’s breath and cut them to place in a short glass. Candles are also another great way to set the mood without going overboard on price. (I know y’all have candles at home.) Tablecloths are optional as is putting out all the china! Remember how great an easy clean up sounds.

7. Menu:

Print out the menu and say what item is! Encourage guests to try everything. It is a fun way to break the ice by trying new things together. Also include who provided the dish!

Hopefully this will encourage you to start a supper club or at least get some friends over for dinner! It doesn’t have to be fancy… it’s not the last supper-just a nice relaxed evening with friends.

Lime & Honey Glazed Salmon with a warm Black Bean Corn Salad

This is the most perfect summer dish I have ever found. It is so light, satisfying and healthy! Made this with a friend and it was sooooo delicious.20130716-175521.jpg

Do realize though that this requires more ingredients than my usual recipes…

What you will need:

Extra-virgin olive oil (4 tbsp)

1 Medium red onion (chopped)

2 large garlic cloves (chopped)

Red pepper flakes (1 tspn)

Ground cumin (1 tspn)

Salt & Pepper

Honey (3 tbsp)

Chili powder (1 tspn)

Salmon filets (about 4, 6 ounce)

1 Red bell pepper (cored, seeded & chopped)

Corn (1 can or frozen bag)

1/2 cup of chicken stock or broth

Black beans (1 can, rinsed and drained)

Fresh cilantro (handful, chopped)

Baby spinach (6 cups)

2 limes (juiced)

WHEW. Okay, let’s get started!

1. Place a medium skillet over medium heat with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add in onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 4 minutes and stir occasionally.

2. While that is cooking, place another medium skillet over medium-high heat with the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil.

3. In a separate dish, combine the juice of 1 lime, honey, chili powder, salt and pepper. (This will be the marinade for the salmon)

4. After coating the salmon in this mixture, add to hot skillet and cook until just cooked through. (4 minutes each side)

5. Jump back over to your first skillet with the onions and garlic and go ahead and add in the bell peppers, corn & chicken stock. Let that cook for about 3 minutes.

6. Add in black beans and cook until beans are heated through, then remove from heat and add juice from a second lime, chopped cilantro & spinach. Toss and wilt the spinach and then season to taste.

Presentation time!!

Serve the lime and honey glazed salmon over top of the warm black bean and corn salad and ta-da!!

Hope you enjoy!

 

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Favorite Wines

Okay, you caught me! Not exactly an hors d’oeurve, but still just as important!

No party is complete without the booze! Let’s face it, it helps lighten everyone’s mood. Or even at the end of a long day, a glass of wine seems just fine!311meJs5qoL._SL500_AA300_

White Wine Favorites:

Pino Grigio Absolute Favorite is….. Kris!

Experts say: Enticing aromas of acacia flowers, citrus, tangerine, and hints of apricots and almonds. Kris is lean and refreshing on the palate with hints of blossom and honey.

MSB says: Beautiful to cook with and drink! Not overly sweet like other pinot grigios and well priced! About $13

Chardonnay Absolute Favorite is….. Alamos!

Experts say: The mouthfeel is full and rich, with concentrated ripe pear and fig fruit mingled with vanilla and sweet spice oak flavors. The finish is clean and fresh with bright, crisp acidity.

MSB says: Not overly heavy like most chardonnays! One that everyone can enjoy.. about $12

Red Wine Favorites:

Pinot Noir Absolute Favorite is… Kris! (again!!)

Experts say: Deep ruby red in color with purple hues, KRIS Pinot Noir shows enticing aromas of ripe black berries and red forest fruits, followed by firm yet fine-grained tannins on the palate.

MSB says:  The only red wine I will drink! Yes, again I have chosen a Kris wine. Can’t get enough of their great taste and price! $14

Classy, yet Sassy

Typically at dinner parties, you will hear great voices of the past such as: Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald. And though these musicians are classic and fit most dinner parties just fine.. we are now in the year 2013!  It is time to celebrate new music!

Here are some of my new favorites mixed with artists I grew up listening to all with an old jazz feel!

1. Gregory Porter

2. Esperanza Spalding 

3. Cecile McLorin Salvant

4. Keb’ Mo’

5. Taj Mahal 

6. Diana Krall