The Housewarming Party Part Two

Alright, recipe time! I have just a few I want to share, starting with the snacks:

Mini Meatcakes
(Recipe makes aprox. 36 mini meatcakes, maybe more.)
I was inspired by a large-size version of these I found at Whole Foods once upon a time. I was so bemused by the idea, but theirs were pretty bland. I just made this recipe up as I went along, so feel free to improvise with the spices as it suits you!

3 lbs ground beef
1/2 of a white onion, very finely chopped
2 stalks celery, also very finely chopped.
2 eggs
1/2 cup herb-garlic breadcrumbs
2 cloves of garlic, mashed
1/2 teaspoon each seasoned salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 package of garlic-herb instant mashed potatoes, made according to box's instructions
You will also need either mini muffin tins or little individual silicone baking cups, mini muffin liners, a pastry bag, and a large star tip for it.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients except mashed potatoes and stir until thoroughly combined.
3. Pack the mini muffin baking dishes with the meat mixture and flatten the tops. Pop them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. They should be browned on top and have bubbling juices, just like a regular meatloaf.
4. when they come out of the oven, it is important to let them cool and set up a bit. Then use cooking chopsticks to transfer them to fancy paper liners, and when you pop another batch in the oven you can start piping the mashed potatoes on top. Ice them high just like cupcakes! 
These were the biggest hit at my party, just be sure to let people know that they are not in fact cupcakes or they will get quite a surprise!

Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms
(Recipe makes 1 dozen mushrooms)

I have become good friends with a couple of vegans as of late and I wanted to make sure I did some snacks for the party that they could enjoy. But really, I had no idea what to do. Dennis suggested stuffed mushrooms and I just made up a recipe that seemed right. They turned out to be the most delicious stuffed mushrooms we had ever had - vegan or not - and they will be returning when I go to a 4th of July party at a certain vegan friends house.

1 dozen large mushrooms, Creminis or Buttons work fine
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 of a small container of vegan cram cheese
2 med. zucchinis, finely grated (A microplane works great for this!)
1/4 cup or more Italian-style herbed breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp each paprika and ground coriander
1 clove garlic, mashed
Seasoned salt and pepper to taste
Sprinkle of ground cumin

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Clean the mushrooms and tear out the stems, save these for soup later. Place them cap side down in a shallow baking dish and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with cumin, seasoned salt, and pepper, and bake for 10 minutes until just starting to wrinkle around the edges. Set aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. You need to add enough bread crumbs until the mixture starts to form a dough-like substance and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Also, be sure to add a good amount of seasoned salt, it makes the flavors pop.
4. Using your hands, divide the zucchini mixture into 12 equal portions and roll them into balls, place one inside each mushroom cap and put back in the oven for another15 minutes, until just starting to brown on top. Sprinkle with a little more cumin if you like.

And now, on to the cocktails. Dennis and I had slowly been amassing a decent selection of alcohols and learning to mix drinks in the moths preceding the party. The key to a good cocktail, we found, was to give it your own twist and just include the flavors you like. Recipes are not the end-all-be-all when it comes to mixed drinks. I prefer my cocktails a little less strong than most recipes, so keep that in mind when using these. And also keep in mind that each recipe makes a big jug of cocktail.

Drowning Mermaid
This recipe was inspired by a drink of the same name made at our favorite local tiki bar. It was the definite crowd-pleaser. Serve this garnished with a cocktail umbrella and a slice of pineapple if you like.

1 bottle coconut rum
1 bottle Hypnotiq
1/2 gallon guava juice
2 cans coconut water
1 quart pineapple juice
1/4 bottle passion fruit rum
Dash of blue food coloring

Darling Clementine
This was a cocktail of my own invention. I made it mostly because we had so many orange-flavored liqueurs in the house. It is not too terribly sweet and goes nicely with cheese and crackers. Mix this up and dilute it half and half with sparkling water in a glass of ice.

1/2 gallon orange juice
1 bottle sweetened lime juice
1 small bottle Cointreau
1 small bottle Grand Marnier
1/2 bottle Triple Sec
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup agave syrup

The Perfect Bloody Mary
I am a huge fan of Bloody Mary's but I am pretty picky about them. They need to be salty and spicy with lots of tangy flavor. This is the one I like best, but most people will probably want a little less spice.

1 quart spicy Bloody Mary mix
1 quart V-8 picante
1/2 gallon Clamato
1 quart vodka
Squirt of Siracha chili sauce
Brine from 1 jar of green olives (Use the olives for a garnish.)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch celery, to garnish

Bonus cocktails! Leave the bottles for these out and let guests mix their own! Serve over ice.

*1/2 Bailey's and 1/2 Chambourd makes a Chateau Kiss - Delicious! Garnish with a blackberry.

*1/2 Kahlua, 1/4 vodka, and 1/4 half-and-half makes a White Russian. Garnish with a pinch of nutmeg and a couple chocolate and coffee Pocky.

*1/2 Midori and 1/2 sweet and sour mixer makes a Midori sour. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

*1/2 Chambourd and 1/2 Dr. Pepper makes a Cham-Wow! Our dear friend Aaron actually invented this one at our Memorial Day BBQ. All it needs is a paper straw. Delicious!


How-Tuesday #19!

Happy How-Tuesday! This week I have a paper CD case, easy pots de creme, and a little diagram for tying ties.

I always thought making pots de creme was difficult but our old friend The Pioneer Woman takes the guesswork out of it for us in this great photo tutorial/recipe.

This is a video tutorial on how to make a paper CD case with a closure using just a piece of printer paper, the CD, a pen, and scissors. It is quite fun to watch and a useful thing to memorize. Watch it here.

Lastly, here is a link to a diagram of the 4 standard ways to tie a tie. A useful thing for the guys, sure, but it is great to know how to do this for girls as well, so we can tie our guys' ties when they don't remember how. ;)


The Housewarming Party Part One

Whew! I finally finished the editing of all the photos from the housewarming party! You can check out the entire set on my flickr here. It was an amazing party. I really hope everyone had a good time, I know I did! We decided to make it a mid-1960's themed cocktail party, so we asked people to dress in the period and bring hors d'oeurves that were very 60's. Everyone brought amazing food and drinks, and in addition Dennis and I made some fun stuff and big jugs of cocktails! Here are a few highlights:

Alex looked amazingly lovely. Taken by Vanessa.

Look at Adam! He has a vintage bowling shirt and the greatest pants I have ever seen - hounds-tooth polyester bell bottoms. Swoon.
All of the rest of these were taken by me and Aubrey on my camera. Here is the jug of drowning mermaid (recipe is coming in part 2), and all the drink accouterments including paper straws, swizzle sticks, and frilly shiny things that served no purpose whatsoever!
(From right to left.) Suzanne, Jenn, Earl, Rachael, and Star-Shine mingling. And oh man all the food people brought! Deviled eggs and lots of meat and cream cheese combos on toothpicks, so classic!
The whole gang in my kitchen. Well, almost the whole gang. of the 40 slated to attend about 30 showed up. What a party!
Darling Clementine and Bloody Mary jugs. Recipes coming up!
The night was punctuated by a lot of people busting out these silly games that are along the lines of rock, paper, scissor and patty-cake but more fun lol. This one was called HA! I really don't know how it was played...
And this one had no name but was super fun and silly. We were in the kitchen playing it forever. Basically you stand 2 feet apart and put your hands up, and try to knock the other person off balance just by clapping your hands to theirs hard and fast. Sounds silly, I know. And it was.
 The main star out of the goodies I made were these...  They look like mini cupcakes, but they are in fact mini meatloaf bites with mashed potatoes on top. I made a lot of goodies and will post the recipes in Part Two.

Alex made a delicious vegan pineapple upside-down cake that was gone so fast!
Sarah, the lovely date of Adam and his amazing trousers up top, also came decked out in a period-perfect dress and great hair and accessories too. Love her!
One of the best things to come out of the party was a gift from Natalie and Guy. Natalie introduced me to Strawberries Romanov: Take a strawberry, dip it in sour cream, then roll it in light brown sugar. Om nom nom. Sounds weird but it was one of the most delicious desserts ever! Be forewarned though, it will ruin plain strawberries for you forever...
I snagged this right before the first guests arrived. I love that dress...
And last, but certainly not least, is the single greatest picture to come out of the evening, and it cracks me up every time.
Oh Alex and Patrick, I love you guys!

To be continued in part two with the recipes...


How-Tuesday #18!

This week I have links to teach you how to make a cone out of bacon (lol), a box pouch, and sponge balls for the pool!

Yes, that is bacon. I cannot lie - I want to make these really, really bad and experiment with different fillings. Here is the how-to!

This sweet little pouch looks complicated to make but this is a great tutorial that really breaks the process down. Check it out here.

And lastly, these little sponge balls are a great idea for a kids party at the pool or beach and a much nicer alternative to the traditional water balloons. Here is how to make them.


How-Tuesday #17!

Hi all! I think I may have missed a week in there somewhere, but i have a bunch of new goodies to share! This week we have a recipe collection of condiments, a braided headband, and home made hair removal wax.

If you have ever tried home made mayo then you know how amazing the difference can be compared to the junk in the jar they try to pass off as mayo. I have made it before and it really is super easy, and this page has recipes for ketchup and mustard too! Check out the recipes here.

I love braids lately. I have been growing my hair out in hopes that I will someday be able to braid it. But until then, just like last week, I can relish the new braided accessories popping up everywhere. Here is the tutorial for this one.

And lastly, I love making cosmetics at home. They are way cheaper, waste less packaging, and are free of the nasty and often questionable chemicals. This is a great recipe for sugar wax for hair removal, and I love that it is made from stuff we all have in our kitchens and it uses fabric strips that can be washed and reused over and over. Try it!