Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spanish Theme Party- Tapas

If you’re tired of the standard barbecue fare for your summer get-togethers, why not try something more exotic, with a Spanish theme? Tapas—the tiny, tasty tidbits that are typically served with a glass of wine in Spanish bars—are fun, easy, and work well for both small and large gatherings.  A Spanish-themed party is a fun way to experience Spanish culture. Incorporate delicious Spanish foods from all over the Latin world into your menu, decorate with bright colors and get the party started with add some lively Spanish music and dancing.

image courtesy of socialcouture
Serving Latin cuisine is essential at a Spanish-themed party. You can stick to one country's cuisine or serve a little something from a variety of countries, using little paper flags from the different countries to identify the dishes.
 photo courtesy of lbratina
Here are a few country-specific dishes to consider:
Paella is a traditional saffron rice from the Valencia region, which is on the coast south of Barcelona. It consists of rice, beans, green vegetables, meat or seafood, and saffron and olive oil. Jamón Serrano, a dry-cured ham, is another traditional Spanish dish served cold in very thin slices. This ham can be part of a tapas bar that includes other small plates of cold, warm and fried items.

Here is a super easy gazpacho recipe I found online that everyone raved about:
1 large jar of salsa
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 clove of garlic, diced (I used 3 or four, YUM)
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 c. tomato juice
Tabasco to taste (I put in about 3 tablespoons for kick)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 sliced avocado, for topping
Sliced French Bread for garnish and dipping

Combine all ingredients, except avocado and bread, in a large food processor.
Blend ingredients to desired consistency.
For best flavor, place soup in the refrigerator overnight.
Top with avocado slices and bread then serve.
The ingredients in this soup can be changed and substituted to suit any taste. There is a lot of room for variation in gazpacho. Mix and match to find your favorite version.

One simple idea is to make a large batch of sangria, a wine punch from Spain made with a lot of fruit.


  • 1 Bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Rioja reds, Zinfandel, Shiraz)
  • 1 Lemon cut into wedges
  • 1 Orange cut into wedges
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Shot brandy
  • 2 Cups ginger ale or club soda


Pour wine in the pitcher and squeeze the juice wedges from the lemon and orange into the wine. Toss in the fruit wedges (leaving out seeds if possible) and add sugar and brandy. Chill overnight. Add ginger ale or club soda just before serving. If you'd like to serve right away, use chilled red wine and serve over lots of ice.
Addition ideas: sliced strawberries, peaches, handful of fresh blueberries, raspberries, kiwi, a shot or two of gin, brandy or rum, a cup of ginger ale, citrus soda pop or lime juice. 
Bright colors will set a festive mood for fun and laughter. Use the flags of different Spanish countries to add color and authenticity to your party. Hang a pair of maracas on your front door to welcome guests and make a little noise every time someone arrives. Use plenty of candles, string lights, torches and lanterns to bring a festive feel to your garden or porch. Get lights that look like strings of hot peppers for added fun.

Remind women to wear shawls (especially if the party is outdoors)

Spanish culture is known for its lively music and dancing. You can go traditional or popular, depending on your mood. There are many Latin dance CDs available through online outlets. Putumayo World Music is one company that has produced a number of compilation CDs of Latin music guaranteed to liven up your party. Some popular artists with widely available CDs include include Celia Cruz (classic salsa), Shakira (pop), Juanes (rock), Mark Anthony (salsa), the Buena Vista Social Club (Cuban), Aventura (Bachata) and Los Tigres del Norte (Norteno).
If you budget permits, hire a live Latin band to play mariachi, flamenco, bomba or salsa music.

Fashion Friday: Zooey Deschanel

Weekly Meal Planner: Week 11

Whole-Wheat Chili-Mac
PointsPlus® Value: 6
Servings: 6
Preparation Time: 18 min
Cooking Time: 30 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy
This one-pot hearty meal can easily be altered to meet your family's tastes. Try subbing ground turkey breast for the beef and whole-wheat spirals for the elbows.
12 oz Beef, ground, 93% lean/7% fat, raw
1 medium Onion(s), uncooked, chopped
14½ oz Tomatoes, canned, stewed, Mexican-style, undrained
1¼ cup(s) Tomato sauce, canned
2 Tbsp Peppers, chili, green, canned, diced, drained
2 tsp Chili powder
1 tsp Durkee Cumin, ground, or other brand
1 cup(s) Macaroni, whole-wheat, dry
15 oz Beans, kidney, canned, all types, rinsed and drained


1. In a large skillet, cook beef and onion until meat is browned, about 10 minutes; drain off fat. Stir in undrained stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili peppers, chili powder and cumin; bring to a boil.
2. Stir in uncooked macaroni and kidney beans. Return to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until macaroni is tender, about 15 minutes. Yields about 1 1/4 cups per serving.

North African Turkey Kebabs

PointsPlus® Value: 4
Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 9 min
Cooking Time: 15 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy

You’ll love the hot and spicy flavors of these quick-to-fix ground turkey skewers.


1 pound(s) Turkey, breast, ground, raw
2 clove(s) Garlic, fresh, minced
2 Tbsp Cilantro, raw, fresh, chopped
1 Tbsp Juice, lemon, fresh
2 tsp Ginger root, raw, fresh, peeled and grated
1 tsp Coriander, raw, cilantro
1 tsp Sauce, pepper or hot
¾ tsp Durkee Cumin, ground, or other brand
¾ tsp Salt, table
¼ tsp Cinnamon, ground


1. Spray the grill rack with nonstick spray; prepare the grill for a medium-hot fire.
2. Combine the turkey, garlic, cilantro, lemon juice, ginger, coriander, hot pepper sauce, cumin, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl; mix well. Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions. Roll each portion into a cylinder 5 inches long and 1 1⁄2 inches in diameter. Chill 30 minutes. Insert a skewer, lengthwise, into the center of each cylinder.
3. Place the kebabs on the grill rack and grill, turning every 3 minutes, until the turkey is cooked through, 12–15 minutes. Yields 1 kebabs per serving.

Turkey Reuben

PointsPlus® Value: 5
Servings: 1
Preparation Time: 5 min
Cooking Time: 6 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy

Here’s a deli favorite — an old-fashioned, cheesy, rib-sticker made much healthier by using light cheese and turkey breast.


2 slice(s) reduced-calorie rye bread
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
3/4 oz low-fat Swiss cheese
2 oz deli-sliced turkey
2 Tbsp sauerkraut, squeezed of excess moisture
1 spray(s) cooking spray


1. Place bread on a work surface; spread 1/2 tablespoon mustard on each slice.
2. On one slice, place cheese, turkey and sauerkraut. Top with second slice of bread, mustard-side down; press down gently.
3. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray; set over medium heat. Add sandwich and press down on it lightly while it cooks (you can even rest a flat pot lid or a heat-safe plate on top of the sandwich). Cook, turning once, until toasted and cheese has melted, about 6 minutes. Yields 1 sandwich per serving.


For the best-tasting sauerkraut, search out the prepared, refrigerated varieties in the deli case at your market.

Kale with Bacon and Cannellini Beans

PointsPlus® Value: 5
Servings: 4
Preparation Time
: 10 min
Cooking Time: 32 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy

A fantastic combination of flavors and textures. Serve as a
side dish, use as a pasta topping or enjoy as a room temperature salad.


3 slice(s) uncooked reduced-fat bacon
3 clove(s) garlic clove(s), minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup(s) onion(s), diced
1 pound(s) kale, stemmed, roughly chopped
1 cup(s) canned chicken broth, or beef broth
15 oz canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar, in the raw


1. Set a large, heavy pot or skillet over medium heat; add bacon and cook to desired crispness. Remove bacon from pot and set aside; leave bacon drippings in pot.
2. Add garlic and red pepper flakes to bacon drippings; cook, stirring, until garlic becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes.  Add kale; cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to wilt, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add broth; cover and simmer over low heat until kale is just tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add beans; simmer, uncovered, until liquid is almost evaporated, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in salt, vinegar and sugar; sprinkle with crumbled bacon and serve immediately. Yields about 1 1/4 cups per serving.

Real Simple Lasagna

Recipe & Photo By: Real Simple
  • 1 26-ounce jar pasta sauce
  • 1 18-ounce bag frozen large cheese ravioli, unthawed
  • 1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 8-ounce bag shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) grated Parmesan
Modification: I will add part-skim ricotta with the spinach & ground beef
Heat oven to 350° F. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Place 12 ravioli on top. Cover with the spinach and half the mozzarella. Add another layer of ravioli and the remaining sauce, mozzarella, and the Parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake until bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes more.
Sides: Salad and garlic bread

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: Food Trucks

Everywhere I look I am seeing gourmet food trucks pop up and boy are they delicious! What a creative and stylish way to cater an event.


Green Wedding Shoes

Check out this local Foodies on wheels
Tree Root Espresso and Edibles
marination mobile
where ya at matt

Wedding Wednesday

 A Bridal Shower to remember! This adorable and glitzy party I found on Hostess Blog.

- Imported and domestic cheeses delicately garnished with fresh fruit- served with baguettes and crackers
- Crudites’ – spring veggies tucked in a tiny glass vessel and dipped with homemade creamy ranch dressing
- Oriental Salad Boxes (“Kiss of the Orient”) that consisted of  crispy Napa lettuce, soba, chili’s and almonds served in a Chinese to-go box with chop sticks
- Red Pepper Soup Shooters with a heart shaped grilled cheese sandwich garnish (creamy…refreshing…with a little comfort on top!)
- Turkey Tea Sandwiches made with little raisin bread triangles, layered with scallion cream cheese, fresh turkey and basil
- English Cucumber and Tarragon Heart Tea Sandwiches
- White Chocolate Dipped oreos, topped with edible gold sprinkles
- Mini Red Velvet Coconut cupcakes
- Mini Peanut Butter Chocolate cupcakes
- Red Velvet Cake Pops, dipped in white chocolate, topped with edible gold sprinkles
- Caramel Popcorn cones
Two-tiered and “Made with Love” by the bridesmaids, using funfetti cake mix, funfetti icing, faux diamond cake strands and faux diamond bling.

– Photography: Jihan Cerda Photography
– Food & Dessert: Lombardi’s Catering
– Flowers: Pineapple Planet Productions & Event Design
– Event Design: Pineapple Planet Productions & Event Design
– Lounge Furniture vignette: Pineapple Planet Productions & Event Design
– Rentals: Encore Event Rentals
– Location: Private Residence
– Favors: DIY crafts from Michael’s

Monday, May 23, 2011

Summer BBQ Party

I found this great party idea on one of my favorite sites... Hostess Blog

This party is so easy! You set up a "Make your own Hot Dog" station
The best part about the decor is the plastic red picnic table you can buy at the dollar store. You cut it up to embellish everything!

The free printables were found here  you can fill in the blank labels with the free font found here
Also on the same link above you can find recipes for regional hot dogs... like the Texas Chilli Dog and LA West Coast Dog.
The plastic yellow and red baskets are perfect for this theme and are only 3.99 for a set of 6 at Party City.
Hot Dogs
All the fixings
Corn on the Cob... On a Stick
Potato Salad in individual serving cups

Decor: Think Red, Yellow and Blue.
Red Picnic table cloth cut up to embellish Red and yellow sodas
Blue table cloth
Large Red Bucket to keep drinks on Ice

Texax Chille Dog

Ball Park Angus Beef Frank
Spicy Chili
Jalapeno Peppers
Hot Dog Bun

D.C. Monumental Dog

Ball Park Angus Beef Frank
Banana Peppers
Red Peppers
Sliced Pickles

West Coast Dog

Ball Park Angus Beef Frank
Green Onions
Bell Peppers or Jalepenos

Carolina Hot Dog

Ball Park Angus Beef Frank
Cole Slaw
What to Pour:
Fresh Squeezed Lemonade
2 c. sugar
1 c. fresh lemon juice (about 5-6 large lemons)
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
1/2 c. loosely packed fresh mint leaves (optional)
8 1/2-10 1/2 c. water, divided
Ice cubes

Watermelon Crush
8 cups seeded, cubed watermelon (about 4 pounds)
1 1/3 cups light rum
1½ cups freshly squeezed orange juice, or more to taste
½ cup orange liqueur
¼ cup powdered sugar, or more to taste
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice

Fresh Squeezed Margaritas
Mr. T's Sweet and Sour Mix
2 Limes, juiced
1 Tangerine, juiced
2 Oranges, juiced
1 Grapefruit, juiced
Lime Wedges to garnish