Sunday, March 7, 2010

7 Lucky Tips for Planning a Party

HCA - This one's for you!

Wes invited his coworkers out to our house for dinner this weekend, which gave me an incredible excuse to get some recipes and pictures for 3 Gals. Here's a tip I found useful when planning this party - pick some type of theme when hosting a party. It will help you get started when you're deciding what to buy for decorations - even if it's just a color theme. I went with St. Patty's Day since we're in the throes of March. And, I'm not ashamed to admit most of my green goodies came from stores like the Dollar Tree and Marshall's - being thrifty is important! I'd much rather spend my money on a new outfit for the party. I'm posting some more party planning tips below. Enjoy! -Allison Y.

This first picture is Alison's Eezee Peezee Baked Zeetee. See our February postings for the recipe.

*Party Planning Tip #1 - Look at the Dollar Tree for some festive garland. This is a quick, cheap, and easy way to jazz up your table a little bit.

Gorgonzola Yummies
Adapted from Southern Living - April 2008.

Ingredients: 8 ounces cream cheese, softened, 1 (5-oz.) container crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, 2 teaspoons finely chopped onion, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1 cup cooked and crumbled bacon, apple slices

Directions: 1. Beat first 5 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until well combined. Cover tightly, and chill at least 1 hour or until firm (can chill up to 3 days). I chilled it overnight. 2. Roll cheese mixture into 3/4-inch-round balls. Roll each ball in bacon. Serve immediately, or cover and chill until ready to serve. If chilled, let stand 30 minutes before serving. Serve with apple slices

*Party Planning Tip #2 - To keep your fruit from turning brown, toss it with lemon juice. I did that with my apples, and I could tell the spots that weren't covered because they changed color pretty quickly.

*Party Planning Tip #3 - Keep presentation in mind. This is an important tip to consider. These gorgonzola yummies were not that impressive on the plate until I added the sliced apples around the edges. The prettier it looks - the more people are drawn to it!

Fruit Skewers
These fruits skewers always end up a hit at parties, and they are much friendlier to the waist line than cupcakes and cookies! It's fun to eat anything as a kabob, and the presentation is much prettier than just throwing out a party tray from the grocery store. I only used pineapple, strawberries, and grapes, but you could incorporate apples, cantaloupe, melon, etc. I served the skewers with a fruit dip. Yum, yum, yummy!

Ingredients: 1 large package of strawberries, 1 large bag of green grapes, 1 container of large pineapple chunks (found in the produce section - you can slice your own pineapple if you prefer), package of small to medium sized skewers, lemon juice

Directions: Cut strawberries and pineapple chunks into bite-sized pieces. Slide the strawberries, grapes, and pineapple chunks onto the skewers in alternating patterns. Use the grapes as a filler, only putting a few strawberries and pineapples on each skewer. Squeeze lemon juice over kabobs to keep the fruit looking pretty.

French Cream Fruit Dip
Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen.
Ingredients: 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 cup whipping cream, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 lemon, zested and juiced, pineapple juice

Directions: Soften cream cheese and then whip with powdered sugar. Whip cream and sugar together until it forms soft peaks. Combine beaten cream cheese, whipped cream, lemon juice and zest; continue to beat, adding just enough pineapple juice to achieve desired consistency. Serve with fresh fruit tray or fruit salad.

*Party Planning Tip #4 - Use labels. I wish I had last night. The fruit dip was not eaten, but I promise you it was delicious! People just did not know what it was. To prevent this from happening, fold a little piece of card stock in half and use your prettiest handwriting to write out a label. See Alison J.'s engagement party pictures for examples.

*Party Planning Tip #5 - Plan the layout of where each dish will go the night before your party. Alison J. taught me to do this years ago at my housewarming party. This tip has saved me a lot of time and stress since then when having people over. Use sticky notes to label each dish.

Buffalo Chicken Puffers

Recipe adapated from Beth Durnell's Buffalo Chicken Crescent Puffs - Pillsbury Bake-Off Contestant

Of all the recipes I made last night, I was most excited about this one. I did a cooking faux pas by trying a recipe for the first time for guests, but these looked so amazing I just had to do it. There is a video at Pillsbury's website if you're a visual learner, but I added some pictures of the preparation process because it could be a little confusing for a beginning cook. Make sure you spread the rounds far apart on the baking sheet. They are small at first, but they double in size. You don't want them to smoosh together!

Ingredients: 2 8 oz. packages cream cheese (softened), 3 Tablespoons hot sauce - I used Moore's Buffalo Wing Sauce, 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese, 1 cup finely chopped chicken cooked chicken breast, 2 8 oz. cans crescent dinner rolls, 1/3 cup salted or unsalted butter (melted), 2 cups panko-style bread crumbs

1. Line cookie sheet with sides with waxed paper or cooking parchment paper. In medium bowl, mix cream cheese and pepper sauce. Stir in blue cheese. Stir in chicken until well blended. Shape mixture by tablespoonfuls into 32 (1 1/2-inch) balls; place on cookie sheet. Refrigerate 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350°F. If using crescent rounds, remove from package, but do not separate rounds. If using crescent rolls, remove from package, but do not unroll. Using serrated knife, cut each roll evenly into 16 rounds; carefully separate rounds. Press each round to 3 inches in diameter. Place chilled chicken mixture ball on center of each dough round; shape dough around ball to cover completely.

3. In shallow dish, place melted butter. In another shallow dish, place bread crumbs. Dip dough balls into butter, then roll in bread crumbs. Place 2 inches apart on large ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 17 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. Serve warm.

*Party Planning Tip #6 - Plan when you're going to put things in the oven. This is important because foods cook at different temperatures and at different lengths of time. Lucky for me, I was able to put the sausage balls and chicken puffers in the oven at the same temperature and for the same amount of time.

French Baguettes with Miss Bonnie's Gourmet Cheddar Cheese Spread

This is the easiest thing to make and absolutely delicious. I served these with the baked ziti, but they make a great appetizer too. Miss Bonnie is sold locally at Ukrop's and Kroger for about 5 to 7 dollars a jar - definitely worth the splurge! Wes's boss, Alyson (yes... another one!), helped get this together while I was busy fixing other things. This is a no fail recipe - so you can get your boyfriend, husband, whomever to help you. Delegate responsibility in the kitchen when possible. Control of the kitchen can be hard to let go, but you'll be thankful in the long run!

Ingredients: 1 large french bread baguette (sliced), 1 jar of Miss Bonnie's Gourmet Cheese Spread

Directions: Spread a generous portion of the cheese spread on top of each baguette. Pop those babies in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes until warm and gooey. Done!

Party Planning Tip #7 - Don't slice french baguettes yourself! I was on the phone with Alison J. while at the grocery store, and she shared this amazing tidbit of information - the bakery will slice your baguettes using a fabulous little machine in under a minute. Seriously, I love this tip.

Sausage Balls
You'll find this recipe in our February posting for Alison's engagement party.


  1. this spread looks so good - i really like the gorgonzola yummies and buffalo chicken puffers! going to have to bookmark this for sure, thanks! :)

  2. what a great place to come for some great recipes - thanks for sharing..