Category Archives: Party ideas

>Alexia House Party Recipes

> The folks over at House Party recently invited me to be one of the hosts for an Alexia Simply Extraordinary House Parties, and since I was curious about how these House Parties work, I accepted this one to find out.
I was sent a hostess pack that included coupons for free Alexia frozen food products, and I used them to create recipes for the party. So I invited some fabulous ladies (and their beautiful kiddos) over for an afternoon of snacking and good conversation.

Along with Bellini’s and Lemonade to go along with our Alexia menu. To make the most of the Alexia products I picked up a the store I made:

Alexia Onion Rings with Chipotle Ketchup (1 cup Ketchup, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 pepper in adobo sauce, minced – I removed the seeds so it wouldn’t be too spicy – all mixed together and allowed to sit overnight)

Alexia Spicy Sweet Potato Fries with Blue Cheese Dip – (3/4 cup mayo, 3/4 cup sour cream, 4 oz crumbled blue cheese, mixed together and allowed to sit overnight)

Pulled Pork Sammies on Alexia Focaccia Rolls – (Pulled Pork recipe follows) – I added some bagged broccoli slaw with just enough mayo mixed in to keep the mixture moist. That is good stuff- it really maintains its texture, I doubt I will use regular cole slaw mix again in the future!

Keri’s Southern Sloshed Pulled Pork:

In a crock-pot combine:
1/2 pint Jim Beam
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
and mix well to dissolve sugar

Then add 1 lb pork stew chunks or pork roast of your choice cut into chunks.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours, adding water to keep moist as needed, until pork falls apart when touched.

Remove pork from crock pot with slotted spoon or strainer, discard cooking liquid.
Shred pork and add 1/4 cup of your choice BBQ sauce (I used regular Safeway brand) and 2 Tablespoons to pork, stirring well to make sure it is evenly coated. Serve with rolls and slaw for topping. (I made little sammies and cut them in half so it would be easy for guests to grab them and not get messy.)

All the guests left with recipe cards and coupons for Alexia products. It was a fun afternoon.
I served the end of this Pork to The Hub for dinner last night along with corn and some extra onion rings (I know, I know, so starchy) and he loved it. Actually everyone asked about how I cooked the pork.
Between this and the Salmon glaze the other day, I am starting to think that Jim Beam is one very handy man to have in your kitchen!

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>Cookie Exchange Cheese Dip

>I’ve had a few ladies who attended ask me how I made the crock-pot cheese dip that I brought to the cookie exchange. It is almost as sadly simple as the cookies I took, and not from a dip recipe or anything. I knew I wanted to do something different than the (always delicious, btw) Ro*tel/cheese type dip with tortilla chips (mostly because I thought it would be done by others, and it was.. it was actually a very cheesy CE, much to my extreme delight!)
So I whipped up a double batch of this cheese sauce and poured it into the crock pot. Then I added:
-1 bunch scallions, white and green sections, diced
-2 diced Roma tomatoes
-1 Tablespoon of prepared refrigerated horseradish

I stirred it all up and let it stay nice and warm in the crock pot, and served with Triscuts. My inspiration was all those delicious cheese balls and spreads you find around the holidays, with port or horseradish or other wonderful things mixed in – they always call for a hearty cracker, and they ALWAYS call for Keri to have another shmear on said crackers.

Anyway, the dip turned out well, and held really well in the crock pot for the hours of the party.

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>BIL loves his pork loin..

>Do with that information whatever you will.. The point is, while the ILs were in town for the 4th, I wanted to be a good Sis-in-law and cook him his favorite meal since he was staying with us.
Trouble is, it is COMICALLY easy to dry out a pork loin by following the instructions on the little vacuum sealed packages they come in.. And I had no clue if he liked any of the pre-marinated ones or not, so I just got two plain loins (to feed 9 people) and searched for a good marinade recipe..
Nothing was EXACTLY what I wanted, to so I just kind of winged it… I mixed 3 tablespoons of brown sugar with 2 tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce, then added 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons of ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper – I stirred all of this into a thin paste and rubbed it on all sides of both the loins (heh heh heh -“loins” – Bevis and Butthead moment) and let them sit out of the fridge coming up to room temp for about half an hour with the rub on them.

Then (and this is the step that alot of packages don’t include that makes all the dif, I bet) I browned each of them on all sides just to seal everything in, and finished in a foil-lined, covered roasting pan at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes (letting sit sealed up out of the oven for about 5 minutes just to let the juices settle back into the meat.

I also made an absolute MOUNTAIN of oven roasted potatoes (my mom, MIL, and BIL’s GF ALL asked how I made the potatoes like it was some new-fangled thing… I swear my mom used to do that when we were young, but she acted like she never had.. Selective cooking memory!)

MIL brought a “coke salad,” which I believe my Great Aunt Helen used to make, but it seemed to involve walnuts IN jello, so I didn’t really care for it; and her homemade mac and cheese (The Hub’s fave) which seems to have improved a bit, actually… it seemed more saucey than I remember… and of course I bought BIL some cranberries in sauce to put on his pork (his fave). My mommy brought a giant veggie tray (to rescue us from all those carbs!) and we all ate ourselves silly.

The pork turned out perfect, if I may toot my own horn (did some one say “toot”? Sorry, I have the mind of a 7 year old boy today) – It was juicy and the rub made it flavorful and it was a nice switch from more typical 4th of July meals.

Maybe the pork loin is no longer banned from my Kitch after that experience. (After all, I do like to rub a good loin).

tee hee hee

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>Tea time Baby Shower

>This past weekend we celebrated one of my favorite mommies-to-be (and I actually am pretty much surrounded by them lately, it seems) with a Tea/Shower at our girlfriend’s lovely loft in the ballpark neighboorhood. It was wonderful, and my co-hosts came up with all kinds of yummy munchies.

Here were my tiny tea sammies, on dark rye, filled with garden veggie cream cheese and finely diced ham:
and here is the whole spread, complete with diaper cake from the amazing Becca (it was her first one, isn’t it beautiful?) She also made the artichoke balls, in front on the left, which I will try to get the recipe for (very tasty)
Behind the balls (HA, stop it!) on the riser-style serving dish are Amy’s amazing Crostini with garlicky white bean spread, which was insanely good, imo… it is actually a Skinny B!tch recipe, from Skinny B!tch in the Kitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin –

Garlicky White Bean Spread on Crostini
Makes 40 bite-sized appetizers
10 slices whole-wheat bread
1–2 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained
2–4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh Italian parsley and/or bail
Additional chopped fresh Italian parsley and/or bail, or diced roasted red peppers for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Trim off crusts of bread if desired and cut each slice into quarters. Brush bread with coconut oil and arrange pieces in a single layer on 1 or 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Bake for 8–15 minutes until dry and slightly browned.
While crostini is cooling, combine beans, 2 cloves garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in food processor. Puree, stopping to scrape the bowl as needed. Taste and add more garlic or salt as desired. Stir in the 2 teaspoons of chopped parsley and/or basil.
Top each crostini with about 2 teaspoons of bean spread. Top with a sprinkle of chpped hers or a couple of pieces of diced peppers, if desired. Arrange crostini on a platter and serve.

Becca also wrapped brie in pizza dough (or Kristen did, really, with some momentarily hillarious results due to improper dough-to-cheese ratios) instead of the usual puff-pastry, and I liked it better, I think.. it held up to all the cutting and digging that goes along with trying to actually SERVE yourself some of the brie…
Anyhoo – I have been lazy about this blog lately, but there are big posts coming – I have been doing testing for my first “truly simple, truly healthy, truly delicious” recipe, and let’s just say that The Hub has endured some less-than-stellar versions of Mac and Cheese as I try to perfect my own recipe that actually fits that description.

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>Use what you have entertaining!

>My fabulous friend MG came over for a little HH at Home last night, and I mixed up some martinis (duh – that is like second nature now – VICTORY, I have succeeded in making the cocktail hour come alive again!) and decided to skip the store and use what I had at home to make some munchies to accompany our drinkys..
Apples have been on sale for a song all over the place lately (hello Target and your free apple opportunities) so I cut up an apple, half of a giant cucumber, some sharp cheddar (2% even, what a healthy snack!) and grabbed some tortilla chips… I piled it all around a container of Spinach Artichoke dip that I had in the freezer and TAAAAH DAAAAA! – Quick, healthy, yummy, and affordable!!

It was perfect… I would have set it outside for some quality patio time, but alas, the wind was a whippin’ like crazy right then!! Oh well – you can’t control the weather, right?

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Filed under Beyond Easy, Cocktail Time, Party ideas, Penny Pincher

>YAY for dinner guests!!

>On Friday I get to make dinner for our best “couple friends” and I am SO excited…. they are expecting their first baby in July (really close to when my Sissy is due with my nephew, actually) and it is so exciting to share it with them…
But let’s face it, Keri is excited that she gets to entertain!! The Treehouse hasn’t seen a lot of action in the entertaining dept lately -not really because of the food budget (a great dinner with friends can be as simple as a pasta dish with crusty bread and a salad… add a carafe of inexpensive Chianti and wonderful guests, and that dinner will be bliss – I assure you..), but more because the Treehouse, with its giant patio, shines in the warmer months as the perfect place to gather for our friends in the neighborhood… and I am so happy that the season is rolling back around!!

I am going to make them the now famous sweet and spicy chicken with grilled potatoes and veggies, Mrs. Couple-friend is bringing a big salad and we will kick off the patio entertaining season with good food, great friends and (I am sure) big laughs..

My goal this summer will be to find great recipes for simple, inexpensive food that I can proudly share with the people I love – to be a warm and gracious host and put the emphasis on my guests enjoying themselves (and me getting to enjoy them), to see The Hub smiling in the glow of the gel-fuel fire pit, drink and cigar in hand and laughing with the guys, and know he is happy to be at home and surrounded by our friends – just like me..

/cheesy speech…. but I still can’t wait..

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>Game time appies for pennies!!

> Last night we headed off to the resident Michigan State fans’ home to root for their team in the big game.. (sorry guys, but believe me, us Buckeye fans have SO been there)
The Hostess with the Mostest, Kristen made this amazing pulled pork in mole that we ate in tacos with all the fixings (MUST get that recipe -the pork had fantastic flavor) – so I wanted to contribute something that complimented that menu for an appetizer.
Enter my old friend the refrigerator biscuitempanada“!! (also here with an Italian twist)
I never thought of it before, but my quick trick of folding whatever matches the menu into a biscuit and serving as an appie is shockingly inexpensive..

The store brand of these biscuits is $0.40 for a tube of 10 at my grocery store.. that is 80 cents for 20 little empandadas!! I filled them last night with a mix of spicy refried beans – all 20 took less than half a can of beans, and I sprinkled in a bit of shredded cheese and a dot of Tabasco sauce…
I flatten each biscuit, place a bit of filling, wet my fingers and pinch the edges together.. for extra shine I used an egg wash (egg beaten with a touch of water in this case, tho I use milk when baking sweet things) on them before I baked according to the biscuit package directions.

Seriously, I made 20 of those things for less than 3 bucks!! They were good on their own, but I did whip up some of my super-klassy yogurt sauce for dipping, since I had the stuff to do it.

People loved them.. YAY for refrigerator biscuits!!

Oooo, I bet they would be great with fruit filling, or jam, and a little sugar sprinked on top before baking…

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>Lighter Side- Beef Satay

YUM!! Made this Cooking Light Recipe for Beef Satay last night and it turned out perfect!
Seriously, the meat was tender and juicy and the hosin gave it the perfect flavor – and the dipping sauce was an easy recipe that I will use again and again, for sure!!
The only step that they ommited was soaking the skewers.. if you use wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 minutes before threading the steak on, to avoid scary oven or grill fires!!
These would be a great addition to a cocktail party – they come off the skewers easily, and the sauce has a good consistancy so it wouldn’t drip if people migrated with them.. For dinner we had some brown rice with carrots and soy sauce.

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>Lighter Side – Chicken Enchilada Soup…

> I have to pat myself on the back for this one, because it was 100% my idea, and it turned out just the way I wanted it too… I have been trying to come up with ways to give The Hub and I the flavor and satisfaction of foods we love, but in ways that might keep us from ballooning into weeble look-a-likes… Mexican food is something we both love – and so I came up with this:

-brown one med chicken breast in the bottom of a dutch oven

-add 1 can of tomato soup made to directions on the can

-add one can Ranch style beans

-add one small can corn

heat mixture until simmering, then add 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon adobo paste (depending on how spicy you would like it) and remove soup from heat.

Serve bowls with garnish of 1 tablespoon 2% grated cheese and a dollop of yogurt sauce (mix zest of one lime with a 1/4 cup plain lowfat yogurt)

I skipped the cheese and just had the yogurt sauce (which cooled down the spicy soup)…

The Hub ended up eating some tortilla chips with his, but that was his call… He liked the soup, I loved the soup – and it really did taste like an enchilada…


One other mention – last Friday I made bison sliders – I pressed out a thin layer of ground bison and used my round cookie cutter to make perfect little patties… then seasoned each with garlic salt and pepper before cooking on the indoor grill. I put The Hub’s on dinner rolls, but ate mine plain with roasted veggies… they were a yummy way to bring happy hour home and would be fun to make for game day or something similar…

aren’t they cute?

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Filed under Beyond Easy, Chicken, Lighter Side, New Twist, Party ideas

> blogger.ever.

>I took NO pictures, not one, of the food for the party… We had a couple arrive VERY early for the party and it just kind of threw off my mojo or something… Honestly I was kind of bummed…
I was so flustered that I forgot the last minute things I needed to remember – like putting my flat iron away after it cooled down, so it sat in our front bathroom looking janky until like 9:30 when I finally went to the loo and saw it… 😦

I really wish I had taken pictures because my table scape was freaking awesome… I laid down some silk magnolia stems that had a touch of shimmer to them on top of a pale green and cream table cloth… for the antipasti platter, I actually did two – one which sat on my awesome old picnic basket, and another which sat below it, with grapes cascading between the two….. after I got the other platters in place, I put a sprinkling of mini christmas ball ornaments in icy blue, silver and matte white around the the table too… It was my best one yet…

Anyway, the tuscan mushrooms mentioned in the last entry were a HUGE hit – people loved them so much… all the food turned out great, although I would make my “mini flat breads” bigger (I used a biscut cutter to do them this time) just so they would sit up on the grill a bit more during cooking…. also, the white bean garlic puree was really tasty, but my sis pointed out that people liked the individually portioned things better, so I think I would spread it on crackers instead of serving it in a bowl if I was going to serve it again… but the recipe was spot on – great flavor!!

Also, between the antipasti boards and various recipes, I roasted and used 7 heads of garlic… if I ever need that much again I would probably buy it pre-roasted, just because The Hub was not thrilled that there was a pan of roasting garlic in the oven for 5 hours on Thursday night… (woops).. I personally thought it smelled amazing when it was roasting..

Anyway, I suck, party is over and I have no pics to show for it… no one is more dissapointed than me, I promise… I am SO mad at myself…

Seriously tho… try those Tuscan Mushrooms… oh, and don’t show up 40 minutes early for a party even if it is “to help” unless you have cleared it with the host… Those are my tips for the holiday season… chin chin…

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