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Five Delicious Food Ideas For A Girl’s Game Night Buffet

February 16th, 2018
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Robin’s beautiful Girls Game Night Buffet filled with a variety of food items to accommodate various dietary options.

I treat invitations to parties a lot like invitations to dance, I NEVER SAY NO! Unless we have a conflict that evening or we’re out of town, I try my best to attend, bring something delicious, and have a fabulous time.  However, there are caveats. Brace yourselves, I’m about to share something crazy… I’m not a big fan of game nights… there… I said it!  Most people love game nights, but I’m a bit more complicated than most people, especially if the host does not want to disclose what game we’re playing… I guess you can call me a bit of a control freak!

But recently, a friend of mine sent me an invitation to her Girls Game Night.  As I always do, I asked “What can I bring?”.  She asked me to bring  a fruit platter and my mind was immediately at ease because at that moment I knew… FOOD WILL BE SERVED!!

Party food is my weakness, I will show up practically anywhere to partake in delicious party fare.  I love seeing what hosts have put together in order to impress their guests or what menu they feel is relevant to their occasion.  Yes folks, this is my passion. I especially love appetizers.  You can even ask our friends.  If you expect my family to come over for dinner, brace yourselves because we will clean off all your appetizer plates, my children included. I’m sure we are breaking some or even ALL the rules of being a good guest, but that’s just the way we are. We may take a few bites from your dinner buffet, but your appetizer set up will disappear! This goes the same when you come to our house for dinner.  Most guests are shocked at how many appetizers we put out and truth be told, if we could JUST serve appetizers, we would! So, when I was invited to a party where I knew most of the food will be appetizers (like a game night), there was NO WAY I was going to miss out on that! Plus, Robin is one of those stealth hostesses.  She never talks about entertaining, but come to one of her parties, you will be amazed at how she entertains like a pro!

Robin’s Girls Game Night was fabulous.  First of all, I have to give her credit, she knew her guest list well.  This all female group was sure to have some dietary restrictions. Carb free, gluten sensitivities, vegetarian, and we’re just talking about ME.  But there were also guests who just wanted to eat healthy and avoid red meat. Yet again, Robin handled everything like a pro.

Here are the five tips I learned from her party.

DON’T OMIT THE CARBS! Unless you know that every person you are inviting is on a carb-free plan, don’t forget to set a few delicious carbohydrates on the buffet. They help fill people up, plus… they are delicious!

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Robin’s beautiful Girls Game Night Buffet filled with a variety of food items to accommodate various dietary options.

2. CONSIDER AN INTERESTING SELECTION OF SALADS. Salad for a game night? Yes, especially when you want to keep it healthy.  I’m not a big fan of just finger food on game night, simply because I hate having to clean my game board or game pieces of powdered cheese or red sauce. I’ve read on various blogs that if you can’t eat it with your fingers or a stick, the food item should not be served on game night.  I disagree! Having food items which can be eaten with a fork is totally OK.  In fact, it gives people the opportunity to take a break, step away from the game table and serve themselves. I loved Robin’s idea of serving pasta, cucumber, and Mediterranean style salads.

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Girl’s Game Night Buffet… loved the fruit and vegetable platters. A must at any party!

3.  VEGGIE + FRUIT PLATTER ARE ALWAYS WELCOMED. No matter the guest list, a fruit and vegetable platter is a must. These platters can accommodate any guest and bring beautiful color to the table.

4. CHEESE, CHEESE, CHEESE. This is another great platter to incorporate into any game night buffet. It appeals to the low-carb guest and it’s wonderful  accompanied with a complementary wine, if you are planning on serving alcohol.

5. SURPRISE YOUR GUESTS WITH SOMETHING UNIQUE. There’s a significant difference between a girls game night and a super bowl party! You don’t have to think potato skins, chicken wings, pigs in a blanket, meatballs, or the many expected dishes during a sports game night. Women love to be surprised with a unique and healthy dish, something they may even try to prepare on their own in the future.  Robin served salmon which paired wonderfully with the hand-crafted olive bread, salads, and vegetables. The presentation was so beautiful and the salmon disappeared! We all wanted the recipe!


Five Fun Family Traditions for Valentine’s Day!!

February 14th, 2018
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Cheese Fondue, perfect for a Valentine’s Day treat.

Valentine’s Day is a special day in our house.  This is the day we have dedicated to two things…expressing our LOVE for each other and making fondue!! Although we love to make fondue on more than one occasions, we’ve had years go by when the fondue pots were no where to be seen, so making fondue a Valentine’s Day tradition in our family, guarantees that no matter how busy we get during the year, there is one day that fondue will DEFINITELY be served!  Our fondue meal consists of two courses… the cheese fondue, which we serve with various meats and dippers and a chocolate fondue which also include lots of delicious dippers such as fruit, Rice Krispies, marshmallows, and pretzels.

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Valentine’s Day Chocolate Fondue with LOVE dessert plates.

There are also a few other Valentine’s Day traditions we try to incorporate.  Our goal is to show our children that you can have a day of love, celebration, and appreciation, even if you are not romantically involved with someone.

Here are a few other traditions we  incorporate:
1. GOING AROUND THE TABLE AND TALKING ABOUT WHAT WE LOVE ABOUT EACH PERSON. This is such an easy and fun activity and certainly should not be reserved just for Valentine’s Day.  We should tell our family how much we love them, every day… but you have to admit, there is no better day to do it than Valentine’s Day and you can make a point of being especially mushy and lovey! For instance, we talk about what makes each person at the table special and unique.  It’s not the easiest thing for some people to talk about (especially my boys), but once they get started, they typically have no problems expressing themselves.

2. BRAINSTORMING ON HOW TO MAKE OTHER PEOPLE IN OUR LIVES FEEL LOVED. We enjoy teaching our kids that gestures of kindness and appreciation do not have to be grand or complicated.  Sometimes we talk about what they can do for their grandparents (maybe draw a picture or write down some of the things that make their grandparents special). Sometimes we brainstorm on ways to make our friends feel good, especially if they are down or feeling lonely.  Even quick gestures of respect, like saying thank you, excuse me, or holding the door open for someone, can generate a smile.

3.  WATCH A FUN VALENTINE’S DAY MOVIE AS A FAMILY. Movie night is always fun, but you can make it extra special on Valentine’s Day by snuggling up together on the couch and watching a fun Disney movie such as Lady and The Tramp, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, or even the Sound of Music.

4. HAVE A SPECIAL VALENTINE’S DAY MEAL TRADITION.  For our family, a fondue dinner is our big Valentine’s Day event. But you can create something that is unique and special to your family. What about a red dinner and red dessert (lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs in a red sauce and red velvet cake)?  Heart shaped Pizza? Heart shaped pancakes or waffles for breakfast? I read in an article that a man and his wife always had a picnic on Valentine’s Day (they must have lived somewhere warm).   Another family started celebrating February 15th, when all the chocolate would go on sale… you have to admit, pretty clever! Whatever you choose, it should be a reflection of what your family loves and enjoys.  Even something as simple as sharing a box of chocolate with your loved ones, on Valentine’s Day, can be a memorable tradition.

5. LOVE NOTES. Instead of spending money on commercially made Valentine’s Day cards, encourage your children to write you love notes and you should do the same for them. This tradition doesn’t take much time or money but can be the most valuable of all, especially if your children decide to keep their love notes for years to come!


Fun Cake Decorating Hacks!

February 10th, 2018

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of being a regular guest on Better Kansas City.  Mother’s Day was coming up and the producer wondered what great ideas I may have to save people time and money.  I came up with three cake hacks which were easy to implement and didn’t cost a lot.  As Lisa Teachman, one of the wonderful Better Kansas City hosts,  was preparing for my interview, I was quickly assembling these cakes on set.  Believe it or not, this was my easiest assembly EVER!  Typically, I’m assembling my food and setting up to the very moment my segment is about to start.  This time, it was so easy, I had a chance to even chat a bit with some of the audience members.

My first two hacks were simple store-bought cake decorations.  For one, I used fruit.  Simply adding some fruit on top and around the cake made for a much prettier presentation than the store-bought cake decorated with sprinkles.  My second cake had fresh flowers and feather butterflies. I made sure the roses were organic and were not sprayed with any type of chemicals.  The feather butterflies were purchased at Michaels and came on a metal twine which I sterilized and inserted into the cake. None of these items are edible, but if you are having a party and you want to display your dessert, this would be a stunning way to do it.  Just remove the flowers and butterflies before you cut and serve the cake.  You can also use edible flowers, if they are available in your area.

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M & M Magic Waterfall Cake

For the chocolate lover, this M&M Magic Cake is super easy to create and will WOW your guests.  Just cover a pretzel stick in chocolate, roll it in M&Ms or Reeces Peanut Butter Cups, and insert it into the cake.  Arrange  candy to look like a waterfall and pool the rest around the cake.  Place the wrapper of the candy on top of the pretzel  and it will look like the candy is cascading directly from the wrapper.  Trust me, you’ll get ooooh and ahhhs from your guests.

A Quiet Super Bowl Sunday 2018 with a Paleo / Keto friendly Appetizers!

February 5th, 2018

We had some big plans for Super Bowl Sunday 2018! My sister was having a big party and I was planning to bring several of my favorite dip platters.  However, life had other plans for us.  Our poor little doggie got super sick and we couldn’t leave him at home alone, so we called my sister, canceled our plans and decided to have a Super Bowl Sunday at our house.

My husband eats paleo, so it was important we had non carb options for him to enjoy.  I loaded our coffee table with plenty of vegetables and a few pork rinds,  as well as some fun snacks for my kids, which included Chex Mix and tortilla chips.  My husband’s two favorite dips were on the table… my famous Smoked Bacon and Gouda Spinach Artichoke dip (super low carb), which I will include in my book as well as a paleo Seven Layer dip recipe which I found on the internet. I also added some  lettuce leaves for him to create delicious wraps, he loved it and so did my kids!

Although our plans changed last minute and we didn’t get to go to a large party, we appreciated the time with our family and our sick little doggie, who actually felt a lot better on game day!