Tree Trimming Party & Decadent Brownies Recipe

Tree Trimming Party & Decadent Brownies Recipe

Christmas is a time for family and friends, we all love to get together during the holiday season.  If you’re looking for an excuse to throw a quick informal get together with friends and family how about a tree trimming party? These days you may want to limit your party to a few close friends or maybe just family, depending on your community’s rules and regulations.

It shouldn’t take long to organize and should be relatively inexpensive to host.  Best of all you get the tree trimmed while visiting with  a small group of friends and family!

Here are some ideas to get you plan your tree trimming party!

Since it’s a very informal gathering you can call, text, or email invitations.  However if you want to and you have enough time you can also send invitation cards.  Just be sure you get a general idea of who will be attending.  No matter how informal the event you will still need a fairly accurate guest count so that you have enough food and drink.

To accommodate as many busy schedules you might consider setting a time period instead of a specific time.  It’s also a good way to socially distance.  For example you can let guests know that the tree trimming will be from 6pm-9pm in the evening and they are welcome to drop by at a specific time within that time frame; you’ll just need to decide on a time slot so that you don’t exceed the guest limit.

Have the tree set up and the decorations ready to be hung before the first guest arrives.  It’s not the time to haul stuff out of closets or the garage when the house is filled with guest.  If possible have ornament hangers already on the ornaments, or at least easily available.

Play some Christmas music during your party, it gets everyone in the holiday spirit.  Encourage everyone to sing along.

The easiest and really best way to serve food and beverage is on buffets, bars, or stations.  Guests will be arriving at different times and they will be busy during the time that they are there.  A buffet or stations will allow guests to serve themselves.  Just be sure you have someone periodically check the food to see if anything needs refilling.

Sandwich bar

If you are serving a meal, brunch, lunch, or dinner a DIY sandwich bar or pancake bar are the easiest and most economical choices.
To keep everything sanitary you may want to pre-package sandwich fixings and condiments so that guest can grab what they need for their sandwiches.  For instance place portions of deli meats and cheeses in clear plastic sandwich bags, use packets of condiments, and provide a basket or tray of single serve chips.

Pancake bar

For  breakfast or brunch a pancake, waffle, or french toast station would be great.  But these days you many want to do a cereal bar using single serve little boxes of cereal instead.  You can also have a selection of single serve fruit cups and juices.

Snack bar

If you aren’t serving a meal you can set-up a snack station, you can serve finger foods, tea cakes, and other snacks.  All single served packages of course.  Just put the bags of chips, popcorn, twinkies, and other snacks in pretty baskets and trays and you’ll have a festive table in no time!

Candy barWhatever you decide to serve you will need a beverage bar and a sweet station.  They don’t have to be fancy, but at Christmas time everyone expects sweet treats!  You can pre-package individual treats in clear plastic bags, yes even cookies and brownies.  They can double as favors!

Guests can take them home or enjoy them while trimming the tree!

This post contains affiliate links


Speaking of brownies I thought I’d share my recipe for

Decadent Brownies

Ingredients:

1 Cup Butter

3 1/2 OZ.  Guittard Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bars

3 Tbs. Valrhona Cocoa Powder

1 1/2 Cup Flour

1/2 Tsp. Baking Powder

1 Tsp. Salt

4 Eggs

2 Cups Baker’s Sugar

1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

1 Cup Guittard Milk Chocolate Chips

Directions:

Pre-heat Oven to 350 degrees

Place butter and baking chocolate in a double boiler to melt.

Set aside and cool.

Prepare 9×13 baking pan with butter or baking spray.  Set aside until ready to use.

Sift dry ingredients except the sugar together.

Place eggs in stand mixer (you can use a portable mixer) and beat until creamy.

Slowly add sugar while beating.

Add vanilla and cooled butter mixture and mix well.

Stir in dry ingredients until just combined.  Do not over mix.

Spread in prepared baking pan.

Sprinkle chocolate chips over the batter.

Bake 30 – 35 minutes or until center is set.

Cool completely then cut into bars.

 

Fun Ideas For An All-Adult Party!

Fun Ideas For An All-Adult Party!

If you’re going to be having a party, then you may want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of it. The most important thing is that everyone is going to be able to enjoy themselves, and that’s why you’ve got to think long and hard about some ideas to make your party great. In this article, we’re going to be taking a look at what some of these ideas are, so keep reading if you would like to find out more.

Go Do Something Childish

The first thing that we are going to suggest is that you go and do something childish. It’s hard being an adult, and it’s exhausting. It’s for this reason that sometimes we just want to take a step back and do something fun, maybe even a little bit childish. For example, you could all dress up as characters from a film or TV show and have a fancy dress party. Or, you could head out and go bowling, go to a laser quest center, or whatever else you think you might enjoy. The point is for it to be as fun as possible, so something that you used to enjoy when you were a child might be a good idea. Think about the things that you used to love to do, and then choose one for your party.

Hire A Bar

Another thing that we are going to suggest is that you hire a bar. Not everyone drinks alcohol, it’s true, but for those who do, this is going to make the party that little bit better. A company like Party Pony Trailers LLC may be able to help you out here as they have mobile bars! This means that if you want the party to be at your home, but you also want a bar, then something like this is the perfect solution! 

Or, you could simply just have alcohol on the table and allow everyone to mix their own drinks. At least you can be sure they’re going to like what they make for themselves!

Game Night

Finally, have you thought about having a game night? Everyone can get involved, and it can be a super fun idea. Choose a bunch of different games that everyone can play together, and then let the fun begin. Ensure that all the games you’ve got are suitable for the amount of players that you are going to have so that nobody ends up left out. Get some snacks, a few drinks, and this could be the perfect night in for you and your friends. It might not be the same as having an actual party, but it’s just as fun for a small gathering!

We hope that you have found this article helpful and now know some of the fun ideas that we’ve got for an all-adult party. These ideas don’t make up an extensive list, so there are plenty more things that you can do if you would like to. Hopefully, you have a great time, and so does everyone else involved. 

Thanksgiving Party Ideas for Kids: Fun Activities, Crafts, Treats!

Thanksgiving Party Ideas for Kids: Fun Activities, Crafts, Treats!

This is it! The final countdown to Thanksgiving Day! Are you still searching for that last-minute kiddie game? Still short by a couple of creative crafts? Or maybe you need just one more treat to complete the family feast? Well, here’s a roundup of great Thanksgiving party ideas just for kids (with helpful how-to’s included) covering all 3 of those areas to make this holiday extra-special for you and your loved ones. Enjoy!

From turkey toss games to tic-tac-turkey, here are five unique ways to keep the kids happy at the party:

1 – ‘A Thankful Heart’ activity [Let’s Lasso the Moon] 2 – Tic-Tac-Turkey [How Does She?] 3 – ‘Thankful Pumpkins’ activity [Busy as a Honeybee] 4 – Turkey Toss Game, made with Kiwi Crate’s Thanksgiving Kids Craft Box [via The Celebration Shoppe] 5 – Artsy Leaf Rubbings [Snack Picks.com]

 

KID-FRIENDLY CRAFTS/PARTY DECORATIONS

Thanksgiving party crafts and decorations for kids

Make fun party crafts and decor. while getting the kids involved, too! We just love these 7 unique ideas from pompom turkeys to boat treat holders:

1 – Cupcake Wrapper Turkeys [Oh My! Creative] 2 – Pompom Turkeys [Mom on Timeout] 3 – Autumn Leaf Mask [Small + Friendly] 4 – Turkey Pinwheels [Parents.com] 5 – ‘Indian Corn’ Favors [The Fickle Pickle] 6 – Pilgrim Boat Treat Holder [Sheek Shindigs] 7 – Tree Centerpiece [Catch My Party]

 

THANKSGIVING SWEETS AND TREATS FOR THE LITTLE ONES

Thanksgiving party sweets for kids

What would a party be without sweet treats for the little ones? Take these 6 scrumptiously cute ideas, and you’ll be seeing smiles all around:

1 – Pilgrim Hat Cookies [Craftily Ever After] 2 – Mini Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cakes [The Chic Site] 3 – Turkey Rice Krispie Treats [Shugary Sweets] 4 – Cheesy Turkey Snacks [Living Locurto] 5 – ‘Little Gobbler’ Cookies [7th House on the Left] 6 – Trail Mix in a Turkey Treats Holder [Fiskars]

Are you planning a kid-friendly Thanksgiving party this season? Or, planning a kids’ table at the celebration? Please leave a comment and share an idea! You might just help a busy mom out there!

Boneless Beef Short Rib Kalbi Kabobs

Boneless Beef Short Rib Kalbi Kabobs

Kalbi KabobsOne of our favorite food is Korean Kalbi, or barbecued beef short ribs.  We usually order this at one of the local fast food Korean restaurants, but it’s pretty pricey; you get 3 thin short ribs, a couple of scoops of steamed white rice, and a choice of 4 side dishes (kim chee, bean sprouts, tofu, etc.) for a over $12 a plate.

My husband’s main complaint about the local restaurants isn’t the the price or the serving size of the kalbi, it’s about the flimsy plastic utensils they provide which usually snaps in half the moment you try to cut into the meat.  Hence he has decided not to patronize any of the fast food style Korean barbecue joints.

There are sit down Korean restaurants where you can grill your own meats, the meal comes with many side dishes, soup, and steamed rice; but they also come with a hefty price tag.  The last time my girlfriend and I stopped at one for lunch it cost us a little bit over $65, and that’s without drinks or tip! Not to mention that was the least expensive barbecue dish on the menu!  The food was good, specially the kalbi, but I’m sure we won’t be repeating it often.

To solve all these issues I’ve found a great Korean Kalbi recipe to make at home.  I make it of our Sunday barbecue and it was a big hit with my family.  I used thin cut boneless beef short ribs which I threaded  on to bamboo skewers to make them into kebabs.  You can use bone-in short ribs and don’t have to thread them on to skewers, I do however recommend that you use the thinner cuts so that the marinade will infuse the meat better.

I served this with steamed white rice, macaroni salad, and kim chee cabbage;  it was even better than the plates we get at the Korean restaurants at less than half the price! (The short ribs cost $6.97 a pound, if you get the thin cut that’s 6 short ribs).

Another way to serve this is on small white corn tortillas with shredded cabbage, just like the Korean Kalbi Tacos from the food truck in L.A.!  We served it this way for my mom’s 80th. birthday party a few years ago.

Just in time for your Labor Day barbecue!  Here’s my recipe!
Boneless Beef Short Rib Kalbi Kebabs
Makes 18 skewers
Ingredients:
3 lbs. thin cut boneless beef short ribs (you should get 18 short ribs.  You can use bone-in ribs if you prefer)
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbls. fresh ginger – finely grated
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 tbls. minced garlic
1 tbls. white sesame seeds
1 tbls. black sesame seeds
2 stalks green onions – chopped
Directions:
1.  Cut short ribs into thirds if you will be threading them on to skewers, if not then don’t cut them.
2.  Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.  Mix until sugar dissolves.
3.  Pour marinade into large ziplock bag.
4.  Put meat into marinade and marinate in the fridge overnight.
5.  Thread meat on to skewers and barbecue on the grill to desired doneness.  If you’re not making kebabs then cook ribs on the grill until done.
Boneless Beef Short Rib Kalbi Kebabs
Serve hot immediately off the grill.
Looking for more grilling inspiration?  Check out PersonalCreations.com and see how people grill around the world!

 

 

 

Boneless Beef Short Rib Kalbi Kebabs
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
12 Skewers 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 12 Hours
Servings Prep Time
12 Skewers 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 12 Hours
Boneless Beef Short Rib Kalbi Kebabs
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
12 Skewers 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 12 Hours
Servings Prep Time
12 Skewers 30 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 12 Hours
Ingredients
Servings: Skewers
Instructions
  1. Cut short ribs into thirds if you will be threading them on to skewers, if not then don't cut them.
  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Mix until sugar dissolves.
  3. Pour marinade into large ziploc bag.
  4. Put meat into marinade and marinate in the fridge overnight.
  5. Thread meat on to skewers and barbecue on the grill to desired doneness. If you're not making kebabs then cook ribs on the grill until done.
  6. Serve hot immediately off the grill.
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Finger Foods and Other Food Ideas Kids Will Love

Finger Foods and Other Food Ideas Kids Will Love

Summer’s in full swing and like me you’re probably racking your brain for new breakfast, lunch and snack ideas for the kids.  My grandkids have been home since March and each day finding something they want to eat is becoming more and more challenging.

“I’m hungry” and “grilled cheese, spaghetti, etc. are all boring” has become the standard refrain at our house.  My grandson who insisted he ‘NEEDED” cases of Chef Boyardee Spaghetti “O”s back in the spring now say’s they’re “boring”.  Of course when asked what he’d like instead the reply is almost always “I don’t know”.  This leaves me searching for something new and different for lunch and snack times.

One thing I do know is that just about all kids love finger foods; and sometimes taking a “boring” sandwich and re-packaging it into something fun is all it takes to make meal times go smoothly.  This can be as simple as taking a PB&J or any type of sandwich and cutting them in to 4 small triangles!

Or you can change it up and call lunch or snack time “Tea Time” and serve a small selection of finger foods.  I love tea time and my grandkids do too!

But life isn’t all that easy, so here are a few food ideas that your kids might enjoy!  They might just save a bit of your sanity!

Eggs in Frame

I have been making these for years, started when my kids were small. This is a great breakfast idea and kids almost always think it’s pretty cool.

Just cut a hole (any shape) in the middle of a slice of bread and fry an egg in the hole.  You’ll end up with a fried egg on a toasted piece of bread.  I usually use a bit of butter to fry these in.

Silver Dollar Sprinkle Pancakes

Add some sprinkles or chocolate chips into your pancake batter and instead of making large Turpancakes make smaller ones about the size of a silver dollar.  If the chain restaurants can do it so can you!

Turkey & Cheese Pinwheels

These are a family favorite!  You can pick some up ready made from Costco or you can make them at home.  It’s super easy!

Click here for this recipe!

 

Ham & Cheese Sliders

Sliders of any kind are great finger foods both kids and adults love.

These Ham & Cheese Sliders are another family favorite.  I usually make a tray of them and the kids just grab as they want.  A tray lasts thru lunch and snacks all day!

Click here for this recipe!

Taquitos

Not everything needs to be homemade.  Sometimes you just don’t feel like making lunch from scratch.  No worries, there’s always frozen alternatives.

We always keep a box of frozen Taquitos in the freezer.  They’re great for lunch or snacks, just heat them up in the oven and you’re good to go.  I like to serve them with salsa, melted nacho cheese, and sour cream for dipping.

You do know kids love to dip!  My  year old grandson Jaxon is all about dipping these days!

Pigs in Blankets

Pigs in Blankets is another favorite and a staple at many of our kids’ parties.  But to truly make it a finger food you need small ones.

I cut the hot dogs and crescent dough in  half.  Roll each hot dog section in one of the dough sections, place on parchment paper and bake.  Serve with whatever hot dog condiments you prefer.

Fruit Kabobs

I’m sure you know kids love food on sticks.  So dress up fruit by cutting them into balls and other interesting shapes, then string them up on skewers.

Older kids will love them.  For younger kids skip the sticks and just serve them the fruit cut in to different shapes, you should also cut melon balls and grapes in halves to keep toddlers from choking on them.

 

 

 

 

 

Mango Cream Cheese Cake

Mango Cream Cheese Cake

Mango Cream Cheese Dessert

Mango, the king of fruit as it’s known in many parts of the world, is not high in calories and is an excellent source of beta carotene, vitamin A, and potassium.  It’s also very delicious!

Now that we are in peak mango season my husband has been bringing home loads of this sweet juicy fruit.  We love them fresh but also love to make them into different desserts.  This year’s bumper crop has allowed me to whip up all the recipes my family loves and create a few new ones.

This Mango Cream Cheese Dessert is a long time family fave!  I got the recipe years ago from a cookbook my aunt gave me.  It’s one of those loosely bound cookbooks the local churches publish every so often to sell in a fund raiser, it contained a compilation of their members’ favorite recipes.  This cookbook was published in 1985.  My cherished copy is in poor condition, missing it’s covers, grease stained, fading, and taped up; it’s moved with me from Hawaii to Texas and back twice!  Old as it is the recipes are still our favorites.

This dessert takes a bit longer to make as it is made in 3 layers and can take all day, you have to wait for the crust too cool and the layers to set.  I tweaked it a bit to make it a bit simpler.  It is definitely worth the effort!  You end up with a refreshing creamy dessert on a cookie crust that is perfect for summer barbecues or any other time!

I make it in a 9″ x 13″ pan, the number of servings will depend on the size you cut it, in my house that means it will barely serve 6.  Whenever I make this it never stays in the fridge for more than a day or two, it’s that good!

If you can’t find fresh mango you can use peaches or your favorite fruit, just change the jello flavor to compliment the fruit.

Mango Cream Cheese Cake

Ingredients:

3/4 butter – softened

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

3 boxes (3 oz. size) lemon jello

4  cups boiling water (divided into 1 cup & 3 cups)

1  8oz. cream cheese – softened

1 cup sugar

1  8oz. container cool whip – thawed

1 envelope Knox unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup water at room temp.

4 cups sliced mangoes (about 3 medium sized mangoes)

Directions:

Mango Cream Cheese Dessert

Crust:

1.  Mix butter, brown sugar, and flour in large mixing bowl until it is crumbly.

2.  Press into 9″ x 13″ baking pan.  Be sure you get it all the way to the sides and into the corners or the other layers will seep under the crust and you will end up with an upside down mess.  (It will still take great, but will look unappetizing)

3.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool completely before proceeding to the 1st. layer.

Mango Cream Cheese Dessert

1st. Layer:

Before you start this layer dissolve 1 box of lemon jello in 1 cup of boiling water.  Let cool completely to room temperature.  Stir every so often to keep it from hardening.

1.  Beat cream cheese with sugar.  Fold in Cool Whip.

2.  Slowly pour COOLED jello into the cream cheese mixture.

3.  Gently stir the jello/cream cheese mixture.  It will be a bit loose with a few clumps but that’s ok.

4.  Pour into the crust.  Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 -3 hours.

Mango Cream Cheese Dessert

2nd. Layer:

Before you start the next layer dissolve 2 boxes of jello in 3 cups boiling water; soften unflavored gelatin in 1/4 cup water at room temp.; add softened gelatin to jello until dissolved.  Let cool completely to room temperature.  Stir occasionally to keep the bottom from setting.

1.  Arrange sliced mangoes on top of 1st. layer.  It doesn’t have to look neat as the fruit may float when you pour the jello over it.

2.  Pour COOLED jello mixture over mangoes.  BE SURE your jello is completely COOLED before pouring over the mangoes!!  If the jello is hot or warm it will dissolve the cream cheese mixture and you will have a mess on your hands.   Refrigerate until firm, I usually leave it overnight.

Cut into desired size and serve.  Lifting the first piece out of the pan is the hardest part, be sure you cut clean thru to the crust and use a cake server to get under the crust and lift the whole piece out.
My first piece usually falls apart so I use it to “taste” the dessert.  Once you get that first piece out the rest is easy, just remember to cut thru to the crust every time.

This dessert will keep in the fridge for several days, that is if you can refrain from snacking on it.  At my house this dessert rarely lasts more than a day!


Mango Cream Cheese Dessert
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 Squares 1 Hour
Cook Time Passive Time
20 Minutes 5 Hours
Servings Prep Time
8 Squares 1 Hour
Cook Time Passive Time
20 Minutes 5 Hours
Mango Cream Cheese Dessert
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8 Squares 1 Hour
Cook Time Passive Time
20 Minutes 5 Hours
Servings Prep Time
8 Squares 1 Hour
Cook Time Passive Time
20 Minutes 5 Hours
Ingredients
Servings: Squares
Instructions
Crust
  1. Mix butter, brown sugar, and flour in large mixing bowl until it is crumbly.
    Mango Cream Cheese
  2. Press into 9" x 13" baking pan. Be sure you get it all the way to the sides and into the corners or the other layers will seep under the crust and you will end up with an upside down mess. (It will still take great, but will look unappetizing)
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 - 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely before proceeding to the 1st. layer.
    Mango Cream Cheese
1st. Layer
  1. Before you start this layer dissolve 1 box of lemon jello in 1 cup of boiling water. Let cool completely to room temperature. Stir every so often to keep it from hardening.
  2. Beat cream cheese with sugar. Fold in Cool Whip.
    Mango Cream Cheese
  3. Slowly pour COOLED jello into the cream cheese mixture.
    Mango Cream Cheese
  4. Gently stir the jello/cream cheese mixture. It will be a bit loose with a few clumps but that's ok.
  5. Pour into the crust. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 -3 hours.
2nd. Layer
  1. Before you start the next layer dissolve 2 boxes of jello in 3 cups boiling water; soften unflavored gelatin in 1/4 cup water at room temp.; add softened gelatin to jello until dissolved. Let cool completely to room temperature. Stir occasionally to keep the bottom from setting.
  2. Arrange sliced mangoes on top of 1st. layer. It doesn't have to look neat as the fruit may float when you pour the jello over it.
    Mango Cream Cheese
  3. Pour COOLED jello mixture over mangoes. BE SURE your jello is completely COOLED before pouring over the mangoes!! If the jello is hot or warm it will dissolve the cream cheese mixture and you will have a mess on your hands. Refrigerate until firm, I usually leave it overnight.
  4. Cut into desired size and serve. Lifting the first piece out of the pan is the hardest part, be sure you cut clean thru to the crust and use a cake server to get under the crust and lift the whole piece out. My first piece usually falls apart so I use it to "taste" the dessert. Once you get that first piece out the rest is easy, just remember to cut thru to the crust every time.
Recipe Notes

This dessert will keep in the fridge for several days, that is if you can refrain from snacking on it. At my house this dessert rarely lasts more than a day!

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