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!

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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. 

Create a Tapas Board for Your Next Get Together

Create a Tapas Board for Your Next Get Together

Now that summer is in full swing and 4th. of July Barbecues, Cook-Outs, and Picnics are done it’s time to plan simple adult get togethers.  Sure the hot dogs, burgers, games, and fireworks of last week were great even though at our house it was on a smaller scale than usual (social distancing and all are still practiced at our house); but I for one am ready for something calmer and more sophisticated.

For the rest of the summer, at least until Labor Day, I’m thinking adult time with a few friends are in order.  Under normal times friends and I usually get together for meals at our favorite restaurants, but with the ominous warnings of second and third waves of this virus going around it seems that most of us are avoiding public places that can possibly get crowded.  So small gatherings at our homes are just the thing.

But hosting any type of event no matter how small still calls for some planning.  Basically what to serve, I don’t worry too much about entertainment as my small gatherings are usually “talk story” time as we say on the island.  I focus more on what to serve.  I try to keep it simple, something I can prepare and serve quickly so that I can spend most of the time with friends and not in the kitchen.

Recently “Boards” have become the rage when it comes to at home entertaining.  I’ve seen Cheese Boards, Charcuterie Boards, Snack Boards, Breakfast Boards, French Fry Boards, and more; some of them are quite elaborate. Boards are really just a way to display and serve food based on some sort of theme.  I love it!   I love and embrace the whole Board idea!

After toying with this whole Board idea I decided that a Tapas Board was something I needed to make.  And why not?  I filled it with our favorite hot and cold Tapas.  Well actually I couldn’t think of a neat way to put my favorite Gambas Al Ajillo on it so I had to serve it on the side, but no big deal.  So what’s on my Tapas Board?  I have Patatas Bravas, Torta (Spanish Omelette), Blistered Peppers, Olives, Pickles, and Queso Fresca. I served a basket of breads on the side, mostly for dipping in the Gambas Al Ajillo’s buttery garlic sauce.  Now served with cocktails, wine or a pitcher of Sangria (I love the Cava Sangria made with a sparkling wine) this Tapas Board is amazing!

Here are a few ideas and recipes you can put on your Tapas Board.  Just remember Tapas are really small portions of Spanish food or any other food you prefer. And a Board is basically a display of the food you’re serving creatively placed on a wood or glass cutting board or tray.  So go ahead and create a Tapas Board for your next gathering!

This article contains affiliate links.

Patatas Bravas

Click here for the recipe!

Torta

Click here for the recipe!

Blistered Peppers

Click here for the recipe!

Blistered Olives

Click here for the recipe!

Gambas Al Ajillo

Click here for the recipe!

 

 

 

 

You can also add:

Olives

Pickles

Cheeses

Nuts

Crackers

Dried or fresh Fruit slices

 

Should You Get Your Kids a Dog for Their Birthday This Year? 5 Considerations to Make

Should You Get Your Kids a Dog for Their Birthday This Year? 5 Considerations to Make

Undoubtedly, receiving a puppy on their birthday is any kids’ idea of the perfect present. However, should you get them a puppy as a surprise? Will they be able to care for your pet for the years to come? 

It is undeniable that welcoming a pet into a household has wonderful benefits, from making your family more social to helping you adopt a more active lifestyle. 

However, before rushing to the nearest breeder, there are some considerations that any parent should do. Don’t underestimate these, as they can genuinely make a difference in the experience you will live with your dog for the years to come.

Photo by Kai-Chieh Chan from Pexels

https://www.pexels.com/photo/portrait-of-a-smiling-young-woman-with-dog-332974/

Getting your kids ready to care for a dog

A dog can change the life and habits of a family, which is something to keep in mind before introducing a dog into a household. Even if you are fully conscious of these changes and ready to adapt, you should avoid surprising your little ones with a puppy for your birthday.

Instead, getting them to participate in the process can help them adapt to the idea of having to care for someone else. Something that you should communicate with your children before adopting a pet include:

  • The necessary change in habits – dogs, especially when they are still puppies, might need a precise routine to follow, which might not be the ideal for you. Indeed, a puppy might need to walk very early in the morning or late in the evening. Your kids should be aware that this is something they might have to attend to, even if it does not fit their schedules.
  • Training – a young puppy will not be house trained at the moment of adoption. You might be fully prepared for it, but your kids should learn to do their part towards it. 
  • Compassion and care  – a dog is a lifelong present that can drastically change everybody’s lives in your household. Your kids need to understand to treat him or her as part of the family and with respect. Indeed, dogs, especially when they are still puppies, are highly responsive to their surrounding environment. Their owner’s behavior can shape their personality and have a significant impact on their attitude.

Ultimately, as ASPCA suggests, pets should be gifted only to individuals that have expressed the desires of owning one, and they are familiar with the responsibilities that come with it. If you are giving a dog to children younger than 12, you should be ready to take full responsibility for training, development, and care.

Educating your kids

Undoubtedly, a dog can fill any children and adults with joy from the moment of bringing him or her into the household. However, your children need to understand that a dog is not a toy to play with until it becomes cumbersome to care for him. 

  • Statistics and choices

While it might not be the easiest of subjects for a conversation with your kids, they should be aware that 6.5 million pets end up in shelters every year just in the US. Speaking about these types of statistics might help them make a conscious choice regarding adopting a pet and sensibilize them to such topics. 

  • Spraying and neutering.

Preventing pets from reproducing is another way to control and limit the number of animals abandoned and currently in shelters. It is essential, especially if your family cannot care for more than one pet at a time.

  • Microchips and collars 

Caring for a dog might also mean that you have to take precautions in place if an excited puppy gets lost on your daily walks. If found by someone else, they need to have the pet owner’s contact details to return it.

  • Pet safety and emotional care 

Lastly, it is vital to instill in your child the importance of treating your dog with care and compassion. Indeed, these loving creatures might be their best friends for the years to come and bring considerable benefits to their development – such as reducing anxiety and providing protection. However, the relationship should be mutual and based on emotional care.

A pet comes with responsibilities.

If you have already decided that your family is ready to welcome a dog, you should not underestimate the responsibilities that come with it. As we have seen, in the case of children younger than 12, you might have to take full responsibility for the dog’s development.

However, as your children get older, you could consider splitting the pet care duties. You might decide to ask your children to feed or walk the dog once a day if this is possible. Alternatively, your little ones might be in charge of picking up the dog’s toys and reorganizing them. 

These might seem little tasks at first, but they can help any family deal with necessary daily tasks. Moreover, you can use this time to teach your children to be accountable and assume their responsibilities. All this might represent a steep learning curve for the whole family, but it will be worth it!

Photo by bin Ziegler from Pexels

https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-dog-beside-little-girl-1364756/

A shelter dog vs. a breeder dog

After clarifying all the points above, it is time to decide on the adoption process. Purchasing a dog from a breeder and adopting it from a shelter has pros and cons. 

Adopting a dog from a shelter

A shelter dog is usually older and sometimes hybrids of mixed-breeds. These characteristics might prevent you from enjoying the puppy stage and have you deal with pre-existing issues. 

If you are not sure about the dog’s behavior and character, it can be dangerous to expose your kids to it. Indeed, if you don’t know how the dog can react in certain situations and what are triggers that can spike episodes of aggressiveness, you should speak to an expert first.

However, sometimes, in shelters, you can find well-behaved and trained dogs that belong to a specific breed. While they might still be older than a puppy, this choice can reduce the number of dogs euthanized each year.

Finding a breeder

On the other hand, deciding to purchase a dog from a respectable breeder allows you to have the first choice on its pedigree and breed. In turn, these characteristics help you choose the right dog for a family with kids. 

Wisely picking a breeder is essential in this case. Indeed, many breeders mainly focus on breeding puppies to increase their incomes. Such unethical practices can be highly detrimental to the health of the parents as well as for the puppies.

However, others are sustainable and knowledgeable and aim at breeding only healthy and high-quality puppies. If you have opted to purchase a dog from a breeder, head to this page to find a highly respectable breeder.

Picking the breed and the puppy

The choice of what dog to get has to take into consideration many factors. Aside from your budget and financial status, you should evaluate the size of your flat or house, as well as the time availability. Some breeds might be more kid-friendly, and some dogs might require a much higher level of exercise than others. 

Ultimately, while contemplating your kid’s opinion, you should speak to the rest of your family and experts before making a choice. When picking a puppy from a litter, remember that the puppy might become excited if the people around him are, and also, kids tend to make their choices based on emotions. Instead, it is vital to make this choice logically to find a puppy that matches your needs perfectly. 

 

Cinco de Mayo Celebration – Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa Recipe

Cinco de Mayo Celebration – Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa Recipe

It’s Cinco De Mayo again and to me that’s the best excuse for a celebration featuring Mexican food and drinks!  Not that I need a reason to enjoy Mexican food, I’m just crazy about it!  No one ever has to twist my arm into making a pitcher of Margaritas or a tray of tacos and burritos.

 

But Cinco De Mayo is still a great excuse to throw a party!  You don’t have to be Mexican in my opinion to celebrate.  But if you really must know the reason Cinco De Mayo is celebrated it’s a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War.  Just in case you were thinking it’s the Mexican Independence day, it’s clearly not.  I believe the largest Cinco De Mayo celebration is in Puebla.

History aside Cinco De Mayo has become somewhat a part of American culture simple because it involves great food and drinks I think.  What ever the reason it’s a great time to throw a party or at the very least have a “Mexican” night with the family.

It doesn’t have to be an invite the whole neighborhood block party, you can keep it simple and have a pot luck with friends and family or simpler still enjoy some Mexican dishes with just the family.  Here’s a few fun ideas you can use to make your celebration fun for all!

Set up a Margarita Bar

Guests can help themselves to margaritas, you can serve the classic margarita or add a flavored one or two like mango and strawberry.

If you’ve got kids or for any one wanting something non-alcoholic (like the designated driver) put bottles of Jarrito in a tub of ice, don’t forget the bottle opener!

Or set up a Horchata bar with several flavors of this refreshing Mexican drink.

Put up a Pinata

Pinatas are always fun.  They’re colorful and full of candy, what’s not to like?  You can use your pinata as just decoration or you can actually have the kids break it.

If you consider breaking the pinata with a stick too violent, I’m a bit iffy on it too, you can cut a flap on the bottom of your pinata and attach ribbons or string to it.  The kids just have to tug on it to let the candy and other treats out.  This is a safer option specially when there are toddlers involved!

 

 

Set a colorful table!

Use colorful dinnerware at the table and as serving plates.

They don’t have to be ceramic, you can mix and match colorful paper or plastic plates.

 

Decorate with bright colors and props

Dust off the maracas and sombreros and haul out the serapes.  Use colorful balloons, fabrics, banners, paper lanterns and flowers to spruce up the party area.

Don’t forget colorful baskets they can hold everything from flatware to favors!

 

 

 

Serve lots and lots of Mexican Food!

Tacos, burritos, nachos, chimichangas, enchaladas, you name it!  Serve up lots of your favorites.  If you’re just wanting to keep it simple then focus on an entree like fajitas, and serve up sides of rice and beans.  But don’t forget the salsa and guacamole!

If you don’t  a lot of time to cook then whip up a pot of my Beef Barbacoa, you can use it in tacos, burritos, nachos, salads, or whatever you want.  Best of all it’s made in an Instant Pot and can be made in less than 2 hours.  Your friends and family will think you slaved over a hot stove all day!

Here’s the recipe!

This article contains affiliate links

Beef Barbacoa

Ingredients:

3-4 Lbs. Chuck Roast cut into large chunks

2 Tbs Minced Garlic

3-4 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce (you can buy a can in the Mexican section of the grocery store) – chopped

1 (4oz) can of diced green chiles

1 Onion finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

3 Bay Leaves

1 Tbs Cumin

1 Tbs Oregano

1 Tbs Sea Salt

1 Tbs Black Pepper

1/4 Tsp Ground cloves

3/4 Cup Beef Broth

2 Tbs Olive Oil

Directions:

Turn on pot to Saute and heat olive oil

Sear meat chunks in the oil

Add the remaining ingredients on top of the beef

Cover and make sure valve is set to “Sealing”

Change pot setting to Manual and adjust time to 60 minutes

Once it’s done let it sit in the pot for 15 minutes then carefully turn the valve to “venting” to depressurize the pot

 

Remove cover and shred beef – it shouldn’t take much to shred it by now the meat should be falling apart.

Leave in juices until ready to use

Use to fill tacos and burritos or to top nachos.  Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges.

You can store leftovers in its juices in a sealed container in the fridge for about 5 days or freeze up to 3 months.

 

 


Beef Barabacoa Nachos, Beef Barbacoa Street Tacos, or Barbacoa Quesadillas are just a few dishes you can make using the Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa recipe!

Adult Halloween Cocktails

Adult Halloween Cocktails

Halloween is a time for kids, costumes, candies, and fun.  But who says it’s just for kids?  Halloween is loved by the big kids too!  Adults love to dress up and act silly too!  And we certainly enjoy the treats too!  My favorites are those bite sized chocolate bars, specially Snickers!  But if that spooky caldron  of Halloween Hawaiian Punch doesn’t quite do it for you, or you’re looking for something a bit boozy here are some fun Halloween Cocktails for you!

So get out your shakers and blenders and break out the booze to mix up some of these fiendishly yummy Halloween Cocktails!  They’ll be a spooktacular addition to your Adult Halloween Party.  Or you can whip some up and snuggle up with your partner once the kids are tucked in after a long night of trick or treating!  However you decide to imbibe please do so responsibly and don’t drink and drive!

halloween cocktailsThe Flavor Bender’s Witches Heart Halloween Cocktail looks ghoulishly lovely![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

halloween cocktailsWalking Dead fans will swoon over this Walker Blood Sangria from Cravings of a Lunatic. [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

 

 

 

halloween cocktailsThe Black Beard Cocktail from Honestly Yum will surely chill your bones.  It looks pretty terrifying but don’t be daunted!  It’s a sweet cocktail made with spiced rum and chocolate stout. [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

halloween cocktailsWhip up Tammilee’s (from Tammilee’s Tips) Candy Corn Cocktail.  It uses whipped cream vodka, yum![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

 

halloween cocktailsSmarty Had a Party mixes up this creamy concoction called Liquified Ghost. [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

halloween cocktailsThis Witch’s Brew by Self Proclaimed Foodie is bewitchingly simple and tasty. [spacer

height=”20px” id=”2″] halloween cocktailsThe Tipsy Bartender’s Soul Reaper Cocktail is scary delish and packs quite a punch! [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

halloween cocktailsFor Rent’s Green Potion Halloween Cocktail is simple to mix.

 

 

 

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