October 9th, 2018
As I was going through my photos, I stumbled upon this beautiful fall wedding which I think is wonderful to showcase during my October post. My husband’s cousin, Elliot, married the love of his life, Dawn, in St. Louis. Their reception was at the St. Louis Botanical Gardens and it was spectacular. I loved all the beautiful fall details as well as the personal touches Dawn incorporated into their wedding design. Beautifully done, Dawn and Elliot!
My husband and I enjoying the setting at the St. Louis Botanical Gardens wedding reception.
Wedding dinner buffet filled with a large assortment of delicious cheeses, fruit, and appetizers.
Dawn and Elliot’s dinner buffet was overflowing with delicious menu items which included fruit, nuts, crackers, breads, and lots and lots of different kinds of artisanal cheeses as well as a huge selection of hot appetizers.
Hot d’oeuvres were also served and they were absolute perfection!
Bite sized sandwiches as well as shrimp cocktail shots were also on the buffet. They were displayed with such clever creativity.
More hot d’oeuvres! Bacon wrapped scallops… YES! I love how the serving platters are all different.
The reception was outside, the weather was perfect, and what a beautiful view!
Love this simple yet creative centerpiece. You don’t have to spend a ton of money for perfection! LOVE IT!!
Obsessed with this pumpkin cart filled with white pumpkins for guests to take home. Who doesn’t want an adorable pumpkin to take home and enjoy in October?
Love the chalk-board menu!
September 27th, 2018
Had book club at my house again and wanted to create a beautiful “fall” appetizer table… but nothing too complicated. I had some hummus left over from the weekend… beet hummus and basil hummus. Additionally, I prepared some quinoa Mexican inspired salad with corn and beans. It was DELICIOUS!!! I also prepared a beet salad because I LOVE to add red to my menu.
For a healthier alternative, I served greens so that people can build a salad foundation with lettuce and spinach and then top it off with the quinoa or beet salad.
The appetizer platter was very simple. It included bread and crackers, for the hummus, as well as various kinds of cheese. Last but not least, I purchased a flatbread at my local supermarket’s frozen food section, right next to the pizzas. It was easy to bake and my friends thought it was a wonderful addition to the table. I mean, who doesn’t love some freshly baked flatbread with their salad?
September 27th, 2018
Appetizer platter and hummus dips
I am obsessed with appetizer platters. I love making them a bit unique and always try to incorporate my own personal twist. We had friends stop by and I wanted to create something that would remind us all of fall. So, I made my three favorite hummus dips … Avocado Hummus, Beet Hummus, and Basil Hummus.
My cheese party platter.
Then, I brought in the different cheeses. I included Cheddar, Parmigiano, Brie, and a super neutral mild cheese. I also added some baked cheese, just for fun.
I also added some fruit, such as pears and grapes, because they seem to be a favorite among this group of friends. Of course, crackers and chips are also a favorite, not only with the cheese but with the hummus dips. The crackers were all store-bought name brand. Nothing fancy or expensive, since this group of friends had no preference for fancy crackers and to be honest, I think they are a total waste of money.
Last but not least, I added some fun elements which my friends may have not expected. A little bit of honey (which is DELICIOUS with the baked cheese) as well as almonds, preserves (for the Brie) and dark chocolate which goes wonderfully with the parmigiana cheese.
February 16th, 2018
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!
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.
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!
September 13th, 2015
Having a party? Your guests will love the idea of choosing whether they want their salad tossed or on a skewer. Here is one salad served two ways. You can either have it tossed or enjoy the same ingredients beautifully combined and skewered.
1 Fresh Cucumber
1 cup of black olives
13-14 feta cheese squares
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp minced garlic
Slice cucumber, drain olives, and cut feta cheese into squares. Assemble the salad on skewers by starting with the black olive, followed by two to three slices of cucumber and finished off with a square of feta cheese. If serving as both a tossed salad and skewers, arrange the skewers around a large flat plate. Once you have created the outer circle in skewers, fill the inner circle with the individual ingredients. Start off with a bed of lettuce, add cucumbers, followed by slices of black olives and finish off with crumbled feta cheese. You can either sprinkle the salad dressing on top of the mixed salad or you can toss the entire salad in another bowl and place the tossed salad inside the inner circle.
To make dressing, mix the balsamic vinegar, garlic, and olive oil together until combined.
If you are only serving the skewered salad. Start off with pouring a small amount of dressing on the plate or your serving platter. Place the skewered salad on top of the dressing and let sit for a few moments. You want the feta cheese to absorb some of the dressing. Then sprinkle the dressing on top of the skewers and serve immediately.
September 1st, 2015
You will fall in love with this delicious salad and it looks so beautiful on a plate! This recipe serves four!
- 4 Pears
- 4 cups Butternut squash or yellow squash (chopped into quarters)
- 1 bag Mixed greens
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries, blueberries, or cherries
- 1/2 cup Feta cheese
- Ingredients for the Maple Vinaigrette
- 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 4 Tbsp Grade B Maple Syrup
- 4 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/2 cup Olive oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Cut the squash into quarters, place in a bowl, toss with a bit of olive oil so it is well coated and salt to taste. Roast the squash in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until the squash is to your desired tenderness. In the meantime, cut the bottom of each pear slightly so it can stand on its own in the salad bowl. Then, slice the pears and then re-stack the pieces so they look whole again. Set aside. Fill each salad plate with a bed of mixed greens and then place the sliced pear on top. Add the squash around the pear. Sprinkle the Feta cheese and dried fruit. To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until it is well blended. With a spoon, pour the dressing on top of the pear, then around the pear onto the other ingredients until you have the desired amount.
May 24th, 2015
What is one of the easiest parties to throw? A wine and cheese tasting party, of course! Just ask your friends to bring a bottle of wine and a wedge of their favorite cheese, and before you know it, you’ll have a buffet worthy of royalty!! You can even make a “theme” out of it. Ask your guests to only bring a particular kind of wine (red or white) or narrow it down to a wine from a specific region. You can also choose a single type of cheese you want your guests to bring. For example, ask everyone to bring only their favorite sheep cheeses or only goat cheeses. It’s fun to see what people enjoy and you don’t have to take on the financial burden of paying for all the cheese and wine, which can get pricey!
As the hostess, I love making fun recipes which guests can sample. As I said in my TV segments, I don’t typically like to have all my dishes be experiments, but I at least try one dish which is a little bit out of the box. Here are three recipes which I find to be easy and very attractive and they are all perfect for a wine and cheese tasting party!! One of the recipes, the easy Antipasto Plate, was contributed by a very talented florist and friend, Rhae Adams, owner of FOUND IN NATURE.
Would you like to watch these dishes be prepared? You can go to the videos page and find the recipes you like and watch how simple they are to create. http://www.partytipz.com/media/
Rhae’s Simple Antipasto Plate
Go to the marinated and canned section of your store and find what you love. I love purchasing these items at Trader Joes since they are all right next to each other. Some of my favorite things are:
1 can of Artichoke Hearts
1 jar of marinated olives (stuffed with almonds, onions, garlic, or whatever
1 jar of marinated red and yellow peppers
1 jar of pre-made tamponade
1 jar of sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
additional jars of items you like
goat or sheep cheese
Make sure to drain all jars of the water or olive oil. Cut up the items (such as artichoke hearts and peppers into small pieces, carefully arrange all items on plate, making sure that the colors go well together. Use chopsticks to move and arrange items neatly on the platter and use paper towels to absorb any extra liquids which may mix on the platter. Lastly, add your favorite cheese have a selection of various crackers, and add some fresh bread. Enjoy!
Cheese Stuffed Strawberries
1/2 bottle of white wine
25 small slices of Fontina cheese
Balsamic vinegar or balsamic reduction sauce
Soak strawberries in wine for 24 hours
Slice and fan strawberries
Slice fontina cheese into thin and small slices which can fit inside the
Place each slice in the strawberry crevices
Drizzle balsamic vinegar or reduction sauce on the strawberries
Top off with almonds or mint and enjoy
Meat or cheese tortellini
Grease the skewers with oil
Skewer a tomato, followed by mozzarella cheese, salami, tortellini and
repeat until you cap off with the last tomato. Arrange finished skewers on
platter and drizzle with balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and serve
May 26th, 2014
If you are one of those people who can’t seem to get out of the “cheese and crackers” plate, you will LOVE this article!
A few weeks ago, I invited one of my favorite couples to my place for an “ultimate” cheese experience. Knowing that cheese was their weakness, I thought… why bother with dinner, we’ll just make the appetizer our main meal… needless to say, my guests loved it!
Something I hear from many of my friends is that they can’t seem to get creative with the cheese plate. It seems like it’s always an after thought with the main meal taking most of the priority. Well, here is a cheat sheet of some of my favorite things to add to a cheese spread. Use all these ideas, or just a few. I guarantee these items will always be a success!
Olives are a staple on a cheese plate, however marinated olives are even better! Most supermarkets have a plethora marinated olives at their deli section and I love that you can buy them by the pound and choose the amount you would like to serve. However, they tend to be a bit pricey and if you are sticking to a budget, making your own is always a better option. I simply mix a little garlic (not too much) and my favorite spices (but not too spicy) in olive oil and pour over my favorite olives. Let them stand for an hour and you should have a great addition to your cheese plate.
A Variety of Cured Meats
Whether you choose salami, prosciutto, or ham, cured meats are always a delicious addition to any cheese platter. If you don’t like cured meats, you could also serve deli meats, such as roast beef, turkey, or chicken slices. Your guests will love making their own combinations of cheese, crackers, and meats.
A Variety of Breads
Most people opt for crackers with their cheese. And if you are serving a cheese plate as an appetizer, before a big meal, this will probably be a great option. However, if you would like the cheese spread to be your main meal (maybe for a wine tasting party), consider adding various kinds of breads to the table. Bread can fill up those hungry guests and adding additional bread accoutrements such as olive oil dip and soft cheeses will guarantee that no one walks away from your party hungry. Also, consider using breads that are “out of the box” and your guests would not normally consider purchasing, such as olive ciabatta any flavor challahs, egg breads, etc. Of course, have one “neutral” bread that everyone would like such as a french baguette.
Fruit is a MUST!! Fruits are beautiful, delicious, and best of all, help the digestive process. Fruits have always complemented cheese and the best part of creating a cheese platter is adding fruit which may be out of the box a bit. Grapes are always great, but fruits such as figs, cherries, and strawberries look beautiful and taste great with cheese. Of course, doing a bit of research and checking to see which cheeses go with which fruit is always recommended. For example, stay away from any high acid or citrus fruit. But it’s not rocket science so don’t overthink it! And don’t forget, dried fruit is wonderful too!!
Honey is a wonderful addition to any cheese platter. It is the perfect juxtaposition of sweet and sour. Generally, I recommend you use varietal honey which is made from bees who pollinate on just one flower rather than bees that pollinate a bunch of different kinds of flowers. Also, just drizzle a little honey on the cheese, don’t soak it. A little goes a long way!
Honeys goes really well with aged cheeses that have a good amount of nuttiness. Parmigiano-Reggiano, a tangy Cheddar, or any of the alpine cheeses (Comté, Gruyère, Appenzeller). Other sweet and creamy cheeses like ricotta, goat cheese, or feta are wonderful with a citrus based honey. Don’t forget the blue cheeses which are spectacular with honey. For some, the spicier the better, but you may want to experiment to see what you and your guests like the best.
Other Wonderful Additions:
Pepperoni Chips – Simply place pepperoni slices in your oven at 375 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until they get crispy and serve!
Chocolate – Did you know that dark chocolate and Parmesan cheese have been scientifically proven to work well together. That’s right, scientists have actually proven that these two items are perfect for pairing. Here’s the link to the full article on HuffingtonPost Taste, it’s fascinating. And the good news is that your guests will be WOWed by your brilliance 🙂 Another cheese you may want to try with chocolate is mozzarella cheese. But don’t over do it, just a small amount will make a huge impression!
Fondue – So many of us think that we have to have wedge cheese on our cheese plate, but a hot delicious and creamy fondue will bring oohs and ahhs! Plus, they are very easy to make
Nuts – Don’t forget the nuts!! Almost any nut will look wonderful on your cheese plate. You can do a little research to see which nuts pair well with cheeses, but honestly, it’s hard to go wrong. My ultimate favorites are almonds and cashews. They work well with most cheeses.
Preserves – Fig preserves are incredible on top of a delicious brie! Other preserves such as plum, apricot, and even wild blueberry are unbelievable!! Stop in at your local supermarket or gourmet grocer and talk to the cheese monger about the best pairings for their cheeses. I find that the people behind the counter can answer all my questions and even teach me a thing or two! Also, if there is a special gourmet cheese section at your grocer, take a look around to see if other items are displayed. Many times, the cheese section has all you need to find the perfect preserves.
Things to avoid would be vegetables, spicy foods, heavy garlic flavored crackers and breads, citrus or high acid foods, and Tannic Red Wines.