PARTY PACKAGE!!! Post #4: Mediterranean Cucumber Bites

Now for our last one, we are gonna take a breather from the calories and heavy treats. Give your guests something light to make them feel good…but still tasty as I’ll get out!! This here is the perfect solution!! Also, get this…as far as I have heard, this would be approved for Perfect Weight America during Phase 2, and it’s gluten free!!! And it will give your health-sensitive guests something they can snack on without guilt. There seems to be one in every crowd!! How funny that I am becoming the one!! Though I still have a ways to go for my self control to be in check…as you will note if you read my spinach dip post 😉

Mediterranean Cucumber Bites

This is such a classic Mediterranean flavor combo…and the feta was a huge draw for lots of people. I even prepared them hours early and they were still crisp and fresh when I took them out of the fridge for the party!!

I made about 36 cups, we had a few left over that were snatched up and put on “take home plates” pretty quickly 😉 I think I only ended up with two in my fridge for the husband to try!

Sooooo, here’s what you need:

  • 4 Cucumbers

  • A small red onion, or about half a medium one, chopped nice and small. (It’s one of those things that you can eyeball, you don’t want it to be overwhelming but it definitely needs that flavor kick! I personally love red onion!)

  • Red bell pepper, finely chopped

  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped

  • A generous 1/3 C sliced black olives

  • ½ Tbsp dried oregano

  • Crumbled Feta to taste. The original would have had me use ¼ C…I did more somewhere between 1/3 C and ½ C. TABBY LIKE FETA!

  • ½ C Parsley, chopped

  • Juice of 2 lemons, plus zest (if your lemons are big, use the juice of 1 ½ then do a taste test!)

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

And here’s how you do it!!! It’s hard to believe something this cute can be this easy!

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the veggies, olives, feta, lemon juice, zest, salt, pepper and herbs. Taste. Adjust salt, pepper, and lemon juice as needed. But it shouldn’t need much change!!

  2. Peel your cucumbers, but not all the way if you want them to look cute and stripey!! Leave thin strips of the green skin for a beautiful presentation 🙂 Trim the ends so they are flat, then cut each cucumber into slices that are about an inch thick. Bite sized, yay!

  3. Take a melon baller (so handy!) and scoop a “bowl” into the center of each slice. Obviously you need to leave walls and some flesh in the bottom so your filling doesn’t fall out!! 🙂

    Aren't they just so cute sitting there awaiting their filling? :)

    Aren’t they just so cute sitting there awaiting their filling? 🙂

  4. Spoon your Mediterranean salad filling into the center of your cucumber bowls!!! Put on a pretty plate or platter, and enjoy making people happy!!! Perfect addition to a night of fun!!

Thanks for looking at my “Party Package,” I hope you’ve enjoyed this 4-for-1 special 😉 I can’t wait to throw another party so I can try more recipes and share my successes with you 🙂

Thanks to richestoragsbydori.blogspot.com for the inspiration! These were a big hit!

PARTY PACKAGE!!! Post #3: White Wine Sangria

Yeah baby. That’s all I can say. Perfect amount of sweet in my opinion, with a nice fresh fruit flavor! And the basil was such a nice, unexpected touch. It was comforting and refreshing all at the same time, and everybody that tried it loved it!!! And everybody that couldn’t try it because they were pregnant…whined cause they wanted to try it. That’s a good sign, right? 😉

Note that I took this photo after the party, yours will not start out with this much color in the liquid :)

Note that I took this photo after the party, yours will not start out with this much color in the liquid 🙂

It was so pretty, and so yummy, and so easy that I just want to stop talking and tell you how to make it for yourself!! So here we go!! Feel free to slim down the proportions for a more intimate gathering, cause I made it party sized 🙂

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb fresh strawberries, trimmed sliced

  • 2 apples, diced into little squares

  • ¾ oz-ish fresh basil leaves (I went light on them since it was my first attempt, feel free to change it to your tastes. The original called for much more but I was cautioned that basil can be overwhelming)

  • 2 bottles of your favorite Chardonnay (I used Barefoot and in the mix it was quite good)

  • 1 C sugar

  • 1 Bottle sparkling white grape juice. Yummy.

And here’s how you do it!

  1. Don’t cut up the basil leaves!! Massage them a bit, or “score” them with a fork to release their flavor. But leave them whole. It’s prettier and I’ve heard they can get stuck in your teeth if you slice them up.

  2. In your serving vessel, put a layer of fruit, some of your sugar, more fruit/basil, more sugar, etc… Let it sit for at least 10 minutes. Ours sat a little longer cause I was looking for the sugar to turn pink…it will draw out the juices of the fruits and pull out wonderful flavors 🙂

  3. Add your liquids, and stir well!!! You can add ice if you’re gonna serve it fast but I didn’t want it to get watered down so I served ice on the side 🙂 Up to you!

  4. Drink responsibly, and enjoy! I sure did!! And so did my guests. Some of them were repeating themselves over and over…. “This is so good!” Haha, it was cute. And a sign that you should try this 😉

PARTY PACKAGE!! Post #2: Spinach Dip Bites!

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These were definitely the favorite of the things I served at our girls’ night!! And I think you’ll love them too!!! They are pretty seriously delicious…I was so nervous because I had never made a spinach dip before, so I had no reference to know if it was a good dip recipe!! Well after a few tastes, adding a little too much of this and balancing it out with a little extra of that…I plopped them into the oven, took them out about 20 minutes later and passed them around and was met with lots of “OH MY GOSH”’s. As you can imagine, seeing as it was a girls’ night 😉 But really. They were that good. And how fun that they are so cute and everybody gets their own little serving…or 5…I mean…WHAT?! This gluten-free, Maker’s Diet girl didn’t cheat that bad did she?! *Hangs her head in shame* But hey…that just goes to tell you how good these little beauties are! 😉

So really, please make these. Your guests will love you forever.

Oh, and it made me about 24 little bites of Heaven 🙂

Here’s what you need!!! 🙂

  • 2 Cans Refrigerator French Bread Dough, like Pillsbury

  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

  • 4 Cups Baby Spinach, coarsely chopped. I still had pretty big pieces.

  • 3 Cloves Fresh Garlic, minced (or about a 1 ½ tsp of the minced stuff in a jar)

  • 6 oz Cream Cheese, softened

  • 1 C Sour Cream

  • ¼ tsp Chile Powder (Plus a few extra shakes!)

  • ¼ tsp Garlic Salt (Plus a few extra shakes!)

  • ¼ tsp Sea Salt

  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste…I’m from the Kirkwood family…we like lots of fresh ground black pepper!!! Can I get a witness?!

  • Parmesan, shredded

  • Mozzarella, shredded

  • Non stick spray, or oil or butter!

And here’s how you do it! It’s not that tricky!

  1. Preheat your oven to 350!

  2. Spray two muffin tins with cooking spray, or oil them however you choose! Of course if you are like me and only have one muffin tin you can do it in shifts, the guests loved walking in to the smell of them cooking and having a fresh hot batch coming out mid-party, after the first batch was gone! Yeah that’s right…they didn’t last long!

  3. Slice each roll of dough into 12 slices, about an inch thick. If you are doing shifts, leave the roll you aren’t working with in the fridge cause they are easier to manipulate when they’re cold, and they won’t stick to your fingers that way!

  4. Squish them down into disks, about 3 inches across, and press into your muffin cups. They don’t have to come all the way up the sides! Just so you have a bit of a “cup” to scoop your filling into 🙂 Speaking of, let’s set aside that tin and make you some deeeeelicious filling!

  5. Heat oil in a pan (I just used my soup pot) over medium heat. Add your chopped spinach and stir for about 3 minutes. It should be nice and wilty by then!

  6. Add garlic, stir and cook for about another minute.

  7. Add the rest of your ingredients other than your Parmesan and Mozzarella, and stir until its combined and you don’t have any huge chunks of cream cheese. Alternately, you could add the Parmesan into the filling if you want…I just didn’t do it that way haha!

  8. With a cookie scoop, or just a simple spoon, scoop your spinach dip into each of your waiting bread “cups.”

  9. Top with shredded cheese!! This is where I used both Parmesan and Mozzarella! And I didn’t measure, which is why I didn’t give you any quantities…I just know I love cheese so I put a real generous topping!!!

  10. Bake for about 20 minutes. That’s how long mine took but you should probably start checking them around 17 minutes. You’re just going for a light golden brown crust on your cheese and tint to the edges of the bread.

  11. Put on a cute little plate or platter. Leave out and watch my favorite magic trick…it’s the disappearing appetizer!!! 🙂 And have fun at your party!!

Creamy, spinachy, cheesy bliss!

Creamy, spinachy, cheesy bliss!

Thank you, picky-palate.com for the inspiration!!! Next time, when I have more time…I can’t wait to try and figure out how to work in artichokes! Glory!!! 😀

PARTY PACKAGE!!! Post #1: Build Your Own Parfait Bar!

Parties are fun!!!

Hosting parties is really fun!!!  Until you find yourself laying in bed at night weeks before wondering what to do to make it a glorious experience, how to make it just perfect so everyone will enjoy it and want to come back for your next one!!  And then you get stressed and if you’re not careful…you’re gonna forget why you were throwing a party in the first place, and you will lose every opportunity to enjoy your own party!! And how will guests have fun if you can’t even have fun?!?  GEESH!  Please, please…let me help you!  Let me save you a little stress!!!  I threw a party just this past Monday, chose some recipes from Pinterest…and got great reviews!  I would love to share my success with you so next time you find yourself offering to host a party…or even just bring some snacks…you have a menu ready to go!! I am posting this in a sequence throughout the day…be watching for posts every other hour!  You don’t wanna miss this! 🙂

Just a shout out to these two breathtaking beauties!!  Thanks for giving me a reason to throw a party…you were worth every minute and beyond, and we are going to miss you so bad!!!  It’s so sad when friends have to leave for short or long times…but we celebrate each one’s future cause we know they’re gonna be good!

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On to business!!! Idea #1 of the evening: Build Your Own Parfait Bar!!

Built and photographed by the famous Mr. Rodgers! I need to have him take the pictures more often!!

Built and photographed by the famous Mr. Rodgers! I need to have him take the pictures more often!!

This is so fun, you can make it amazingly cute, and it can also be as cheap or as extravagant as you choose!!  And …this just in…you could also keep it gluten free and low calorie if you so desire as well!!!  Or you can give it a dessert spin and cram in the calories, it is a party after all!!!  You are the artist here, you have the power, so have a little fun!!  I wish I had time to take pictures of my cute little display for you to see!!  But let’s just be real here…when you get home from work at 6, and your party starts at 7:30…you don’t really have time to snap cute pictures 🙂  But I had everything out with little hand written labels…and even a reminder that some guests have allergies so to not mix serving spoons between bowls.  😉  If you are gluten free, or have someone coming that is…I highly recommend doing this, especially depending on the degree of their sensitivity or allergy.  Anyways…on to the fun part…brainstorming ideas for the food!! Here is what I put out, please please PLEASE don’t feel bound to it….use your wonderfully creative God-given imagination and come up with ideas!!  And I’d love it if you would share them so I could use them next time 🙂

BUILD YOUR OWN PARFAIT BAR SUPPLIES USED:

  • French Vanilla Yogurt ($3 for large containers at Sam’s Club)
  • Chocolate Pudding
  • Strawberries, sliced
  • Blackberries
  • Bananas, sliced
  • Angel Food Cake, cut in chunks
  • Granola (I used Kashi Toasted Berry Crumble…omg so good!)
  • Coconut
  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Honey
  • Agave
  • Whipped Topping
  • Ice in a bowl (to keep yogurt cold)
  • Serving bowls (Dollar Tree!!)
  • Napkins
  • Plastic Spoons

DONE!  It looks like a lot, but it is not complicated…slice a couple things, put it all in bowls, set it on a table and label if you want…and you’re done!!!  If I had a larger budget, there are a few more things I would have gotten.  Wanna look at those too so you can get more ideas?

OTHER POSSIBILITIES:

  • More fruit (blueberries, raspberries, cherries, kiwi, mango, pomegranate pods?)
  • Pie fillings? (I saw a can of blueberry pie filling…it looked heavenly and would have been so good!)
  • Brownies, cookies, etc…
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Greek Yogurt, Plain
  • Maraschino Cherries

Man! I want more haha! I had two last night!!  I hope you get a chance to use this idea!!!  You can customize it based on the taste buds and lifestyles of your guests…or if you have garbage guts and health nuts both coming…they will all still be happy!!  Have fun with this 🙂

See the layers of deliciousness?!  Berries, yogurt, cake, yum!

See the layers of deliciousness?! Berries, yogurt, cake, yum!

Easy Veggie Saute

There’s nothing quite like the classic flavor of simple sauteed veggies!!!  And nothing quite like the knowledge that you aren’t just making your taste buds happy….you’re also making your body feel better one good choice at a time 🙂  The most labor-intensive part of this is chopping the veggies, haha!  I hope you enjoy, I sure did!!!

 

Here’s what you need:

  • 8 oz package of your favorite mushrooms.  Or you can use two different types 🙂
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper
  • 1 Medium Yellow Squash
  • 1 Medium Zucchini
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 C Chicken Stock
  • 2 Tbsp Amino Acids, or Tamari Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Prep! Chop your veggies and mince your garlic!
  2. Get a big pan for sauteeing…a wok would probably work too since its a lot of veggies!!  Add your coconut oil and heat to medium high.
  3. Saute your garlic for about one minute.
  4. Add your other veggies and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the liquids and oregano, stir so its all coated, and saute for about 4 more minutes.
  6. Enjoy!!!

Want some pictures?! Yeaaaah!

Veggies, chopped…

Simple Sauteed Veggies

Veggies, cooked and DELICIOUS!

Simple Sauteed Veggies 2

 

Thanks again perfectweightamerica.com 🙂

Marinated & Grilled Ahi Tuna!

This was one of those “it’s so simple I didn’t think it could possibly be this good” recipes.  It had so much flavor I was amazed, and it didn’t feel like I was eating a “light” piece of fish…felt more like I was biting into a freshly grilled steak! So satisfying!  You really gotta try it!  And…you guessed it…super healthy!!!  If you want to take it to the next level, go for all organic!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 Tbsp Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Ginger, grated or paste.  (I use paste,so easy and organic!)
  • 2 Fresh Limes, juiced
  • 3 Tbsp Braggs Amino Acids, or Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce
  • 24 oz Ahi Tuna Steaks
  • Salt and Pepper

Here’s the super simple directions 🙂

  1. Combine coconut oil, ginger, lime juice, and amino acids/soy sauce.
  2. Lightly salt and pepper tuna.  Very light on the salt since you are using soy sauce!!
  3. Pour marinade over the tuna, and let it sit for 20-30 minutes.  That’s all you’ll need! Tuna seems to soak up flavor real fast 🙂
  4. Heat up your grill or grill pan 🙂 High heat-ish.
  5. Grill about 5 minutes per side.  Admire your pretty grill lines, and serve with a nice hearty veggie!!! I’ve got some you can try over at https://feedingmrrodgers.wordpress.com/category/veggie-sides/.  😀

 

Hope you enjoy this fantastic way to eat fish…so satisfying but good on the body!!

 

Ginger Soy Tuna 1

This is what it should look like after its done marinating! This is right after I threw them on the grill!!!  Don’t you just want to sink your molars into one of those?!

Ginger Soy Tuna 3

 

Grill lines!!!!!!  I LOVE GRILL LINES!!!

 

Ginger Soy Tuna 5

 

This is me serving it with roasted tomatoes, which were surprisingly delicious…and that’s coming from someone that usually doesn’t like tomatoes!!!  Maybe I’ll share that one next 🙂  Be watching!!  And let me know what you think of the tuna!