Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Time to make those Super Bowl party plans

Yes, so, it's only Tuesday but I couldn't wait to post this one any longer! It’s a good thing everyone enjoyed the delicious food during the Eagles’ last playoff game, since no one was having a good time watching our team lose to the Cardinals (who they defeated 48-24 in the regular season)! Despite the Eagles loss, my friends and I are still planning to throw a Super Bowl party. Even if our team isn’t playing, we can’t pass up an excuse for a fun get-together!

I don’t have a TV large enough, or fancy enough, to host the ever-important (commercial) viewing party. So, one of my good friends is hosting all of us at her house, and I offered to bring some food to help her out.
I had to think about recipes that would travel well, since I’ll be making them at home and bringing them to the party. I decided I’d bring my Buffalo Chicken Dip and make pulled pork sandwiches. Then all I have to do is bring some rolls for the sandwiches and some crackers for the dip and we’re all set! I’m going to make both dishes before the party, and then we will use slow cookers to keep them warm. Once I arrive, I can just plug it in, heat it up, and enjoy!

Here's the recipe for my Pulled Pork Sandwiches:

1 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 1/2- to 4-pound boneless pork shoulder roast, netted or tied
1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Campbell's Condensed French Onion Soup
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tbsp. packed brown sugar
12 round sandwich rolls or hamburger rolls, split

1. Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook until it’s well browned on all sides.
2. Stir the soup, ketchup, vinegar and brown sugar in a 5-quart slow cooker. Add the pork and turn to coat.
3. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 9 hours* or until the pork is fork-tender.
4. Remove the pork from the cooker to a cutting board and let stand for 10 minutes. Using 2 forks, shred the pork. Return the pork to the cooker.
5. Divide the pork and sauce mixture among the rolls.
*Or on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours.

I just recently found a blog that I love to help me plan all of my themed parties and seasonal events: theme-party-queen.com! Check it out!

For more great party ideas, notmadeofmoney.com and celebrations.com have some great tips on throwing a budget-friendly Super Bowl party.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Tailgating Tips from Good Morning San Diego!

The Super Bowl is right around the corner, so check out these cool tailgating tips from Good Morning San Diego!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Party: Tonight!

So I shared with you my plans for the party set up and theme, but here are my “dining and entertainment” selections for the evening. I plan to portion the food dishes into “finger foods” and share on small plates in order to add a formal touch to the party.


The most important part of any party! I’m creating an All-American menu, with a special emphasis on Chicago, in honor of Mr. Obama’s hometown. Here are two recipes I’ll be making:

Deep Dish Barbecued Chicken Pizza

3 tbsp. Vegetable Oil
1 medium red onion peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced mushroom
1/2 tsp. salt divided
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked skinless, boneless chicken breasts thinly sliced or shredded
1/2 cup hickory-flavored barbecue sauce
1 12-inch pre-baked pizza crust
2 cups grated smoked gouda cheese or shredded mozzarella

1. Heat oven to 450ºF. Cover baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil.
2. Rinse chicken. Pat dry. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
3. Heat vegetable oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken. Sauté 2 minutes, or until exterior is no longer pink. Remove chicken from pan with slotted spoon.
4. Add onion and mushrooms to pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sauté 3 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Remove pan from heat.
5. Return chicken to pan. Stir barbecue sauce into chicken and vegetables. Place pizza crust on baking sheet. Arrange half of cheese on pizza crust. Top with chicken mixture. Top chicken with remaining cheese.
6. Bake at 450ºF for 10 to 12 minutes, or until crust is crisp and cheese melts. Let stand 3 minutes before cutting. Serve immediately.

• For true “Chicago” flair, I’m making my pizza with a “deep dish” crust.
• To save time, I’m using Swanson® Premium Chunk Chicken. I’ll be able to skip right over steps 2 and 3, plus I won’t have to worry about defrosting and shredding boneless chicken breasts.

Franks Under Wraps (a spin on the Chicago-style hot dog)

Prep : 15 minutes
Bake : 15 minutes

½ package (17.3 oz.) Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet)
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
10 frankfurters (about 1 lb.) , cut crosswise into halves
Prepared mustard

1. Thaw pastry sheet at room temperature 40 min. Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix egg and
2. Unfold pastry on lightly floured surface. Cut into 20 (1/2") strips. Wrap pastry strips
around frankfurters, pressing gently to seal. Place on baking sheet. Brush with egg
3. Bake 15 min. or until golden. Serve with mustard for dipping. Makes 20 appetizers.

• If you’re going with the Chicago-theme, serve with yellow mustard, relish, onion, tomato, pickles, peppers, and celery salt, but NEVER ketchup!

Games & Entertainment
Of course we’ll be watching live coverage of the Inauguration on television, but we’ll also have plenty of games to entertain us:

1. Predictions
Give each of your guests a form where they can each make predictions about the night’s events. For example
• What color dress will Mrs. Obama/Mrs. Biden/the Obama girls wear?_____________________
• How many times will Obama say “change” during his speech? _________
• Who, if anyone, will cry? (Can be someone at your party or shown on TV)____________________________
At the end of the party, tally up the results. The guest with the most correct predictions, wins!

2. Name Game
• Before the party, create a list of words that are “off-limits” for the party. (For example, “Obama,” “America,” “Democrat,” “Republican,” “Bush,” “President,” etc.)
• As each guest arrives, give them a necklace with quarter tied to it. (I use ribbon and tape the quarters to the ribbon, but you can really be creative about what you use here. You could, for example, hand out mini-American flags instead of necklaces).
• Each time a guest is caught saying one of the “off-limits” words, they must forfeit all of the necklaces they have accumulated to the guest who catches their slip-up.
• The person who has the most necklaces at the end of the night wins!

3. Quiz
• Distribute a trivia quiz to all of your guests, which they can take in teams, or individually.
• After everyone is finished, go over the correct answers out loud and have each person or team grade themselves. Have a prize ready for the winner!
• If you search online for “Inauguration Quiz” you’ll find several you can use. Here’s my favorite.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Inauguration Party Preparations

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’re well aware of the fact that Tuesday is Inauguration Day for President-Elect Barack Obama. And no matter what your political affiliation may be, you’ve gotta admit, it’s going to be a historic day.

Since the majority of us can’t make it D.C. for big day, why not host your own Inauguration Party?

Here’s how I’m planning to invite my guests and set the theme for my own “Inaugural Ball”:

1. Invitations
To save money, I’m using a website that lets you design and print free invitations. Since it’s hard to find invitations made specifically for Presidential Inaugurations, I’m just altering one that was meant for a 4th of July party. Americangreetings.com and Invitationland.com both have some great options, or you can always use evite.com to send your invitations via email. (A great option if you don’t have time for snail mail!) Plus, evite.com does have invitation templates made up just for the Inauguration…how easy is that??

2. Theme
Well this one seems pretty obvious. I’m sticking with the red, white and blue color scheme and America-themed décor. And an added bonus of this theme is that you can find plenty of “Stars and Stripes” party supplies meant for 4th of July on sale this time of the year. You can try partyamerica.com.

3. Dress Code
My party is going to be a true Inaugural Ball…complete with a dress code!

I know most of my girlfriends still have old prom dresses sitting in the back of their closets, and if not, they surely have a bridesmaid’s dress handy. Or, if worse comes to worse, I’m recommending they check out local thrift stores. The point of my “ball” isn’t necessarily style – humor will get you in my door as well! The only rule is my guests can’t spend more than $20 on their whole outfit (this includes the guys as well). I can’t wait to see what kind of suits the guys can find for that price!

Of course, if you want your guests in less formal attire, you can always ask them to wear red, white and/or blue. Everyone has something that fits those criteria in their closet!

Friday, January 16, 2009

NFC Championship Party!

If you’re a fan of any of the football teams still vying for a spot at the Super Bowl, you must be pumped for the playoff games this Sunday. So why not invite your friends over for a Playoff Party (or crash the home of whoever has the biggest TV)?

With two brothers and a dad who are all lifelong Eagles fans – and who have lots of friends who are lifelong Eagles fans – I know the living room will be a sea of green and white bodies on Sunday. And those bodies are sure to be hungry.

Well, if you can’t beat em’, join em’, right? So on Sunday I’ll be donning my Eagles jersey and making a huge pot of chili. It’s easy, inexpensive, and always a crowd-pleaser, especially on cold winter days. I’ll keep it in a slow cooker so everyone can help themselves when they’re ready and I don’t have to worry about keeping it hot. Here’s the recipe I’ll be using:

Hearty Chili
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Serves: 6 (you can double or triple the recipe if you need to!)

1 ½ pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Tomato Soup
1can (about 14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
½ cup water
2 cans (about 15 ounces each) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin

1. Cook the beef in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until it's well browned,
stirring often. Pour off any fat.
2. Stir the beef, onion, garlic, soup, tomatoes, water, beans, chili powder and cumin in a
3 ½ quart slow cooker.
3. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours.

I'm serving it with slices of cornbread and a Romaine salad tossed with fresh chopped basil, chives, and Italian salad dressing.
Couldn’t be easier!

Also, I had several more requests to make buffalo chicken dip for the game. It’s becoming a football-viewing necessity among my family and friends! It even has it’s own website: www.buffalochickendip.com. The website has a printable recipe, easy step-by-step directions, and great tips and ideas. So, no matter who you’re rooting for on Sunday, at least everyone can enjoy the food!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Fiesta Bowl Party

Since I’ve just graduated from college, many of my friends hosted bowl game parties this year. I think the best one was our Fiesta Bowl party because Mexican food is my favorite! This was our opportunity to revel in the college football traditions that we miss so much from home. Of course I contributed my now almost famous buffalo chicken dip recipe, but the rest of the party potluck was focused on Southwestern foods.

We “kicked things off” yes, pun intended, with my easy chicken quesadillas. My friends also thought that a funky Mexican dish would complement these well so we made a chunky salsa cheesecake as well.

Here is the recipe:

1 cup crushed tortilla chips 

1/2-cup butter or margarine, melted

2 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened

1 pt. sour cream
2 eggs 

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced

1/8 tsp. ground black pepper 

1 jar (16 oz.) Pace® Chunky Salsa

Mix tortilla chips and butter. Press into bottom of 9" springform pan. Place in shallow baking pan.
Combine cream cheese, sour cream and eggs in bowl. Beat until smooth, using electric mixer at medium speed. Stir in cheese, onions, garlic and black pepper. Pour cheese mixture into prepared pan.
Bake at 350°F. for 30 min. or until set. Cool cheesecake on wire rack. Refrigerate until serving time. Remove from pan.
Top cheesecake with salsa and cut into wedges.

For dinner we made a big batch of fajitas and let everybody roll their own. This was a hit and it served a lot of people. We sautéed peppers, onions, mushrooms, chicken and spices together and left a bowl out on the table. We told everyone to bring an item to contribute to our “fajita bar” and we had everything: warmed tortillas, some chopped lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. Then everyone could make his or her own creative combination and there was certainly plenty to go around. This is a fun (and cheap) party idea that we will use again!

And maybe it was our Southwestern-themed karma coming into play, but to top things off the Texas Longhorms won the game!