Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A CEREALsly Fun Dinner

Who doesn't love a party you can come dressed in your pajamas?  That is exactly the kind of party I hosted last night.  It was a CEREALsly Fun Monthly Dinner with all the decorations and food made with various cereals.

Invite:  I designed the invite on Photo Shop and tried to use names of cereals somehow in the wording. Another cute idea would be to mail mini cereal boxes to each guest with the party details, but I was last minute (as usual), and sent my invites by email.

Entry Decor:  I made this Frosted Flakes sign out of foam board and card stock.  It took me some time to draw and cut out Tony, the Cricut letters, and put it all together, but I think it's GR-R-REAT!!

Here's a close-up.  I also put a bowl of frosted flakes in front of the entry sign.

Inside Decor: I set my table with a bright green tablecloth and then made cereal themed centerpieces.  In the middle of the table I filled an outer vase with Fruit Loops and an inner vase held colorful flowers.  I also saved two milk cartons and used them as vases on each side of the glass vase.

Above the table, I hung empty cereal boxes with fishing line.

For place cards, I bought individual boxes of cereal, and attached a spoon with alphabet beads (bought at Michaels) that spelled out the guest's name.

My 5 year old daughter helped me make the napkins rings.  I think she ate more Fruit Loops than she put on each ribbon, but she was eager to help!

I made this banner out of cereal box fronts to put behind my beverage table.  Oh...and a little photo prop for the evening out of another cereal box..

It was hard to think of cereal brands that went with wine, but I settled on Oh's and Total to inspire the labels I wrapped around my red and white wine.

This is the full image of the labels.

I didn't get a good photo of the wine charms, but I used the charms in Lucky Charms cereal.  I threaded a needle through the charm and attached them with sewing thread.

Menu:  All the cereal party theme ideas I saw online served just various cereals, but since I was serving dinner, I needed to adapt the menu for a late day meal.  I had to invent entrees, but all were delicious.  We started off with a green salad.  To add in the cereal, I made croutons out of Mini Wheats (not the frosted kind). I poured melted button over the mini wheats and seasoned them with garlic salt and Italian seasoning.  I baked them in a 300 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  They were actually very tasty on the salad.

For the main dish, I served chicken coated in Corn Flakes.  This was yummy, and I will definitely make it again.
1 3/4 cup corn flakes
1 egg
1 cup nonfat milk
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 lbs chicken (I did 7 whole breasts)
3 tablespoons margarine (melted)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put corn flakes in a bowl or pie tin.  In a medium bowl, beat eggs and milk.  Add flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika and mix until smooth.  Dip the chicken in the batter and roll in crumbs.  Place on a pan with foil and drizzle with butter.  Bake uncovered for 45-60 minutes.

I also served crispy rice to represent Rice Krispies.

On top of the green beans, I sprinkled Grape Nuts right before serving.  These don't have much flavor, but they gave the beans a crunchy kick.

For dessert, I made a crust out of Cocoa Pebbles. I mixed 3 cups of Cocoa Pebbles, 1/2 cup of melted butter, and 1/2 cup sugar and then shaped this on the bottom of a spring-form pan. After it hardened I topped it with vanilla ice cream, a layer of fudge, then more ice cream.  For decoration on the top I sprinkled more Cocoa Pebbles and drizzled butterscotch.

Favor:  As a parting gift, I made each guest Chex Mix.  I used Photo Shop to create a mini cereal box inspired by the Rice Chex box front and just added the word Mix to it. The slogan on the back of the box read "Chex you later.  Can't wait to MIX it up with you again!"

This was a really fun party, and I had a lot of fun decorating for this one.  There is so much you can do with this theme that it is CEREALsly fun!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Frozen Fantasy Dinner

As a Christmas gift, my mother-in-law wanted to host a "Fantasy Dinner" for our family.  A few days after Christmas, she kicked us out of the house, and she spent the entire day decorating for this surprise.  We returned home to beautiful decor with blue and white lights on our patio, candles everywhere, elegant decorations, and even floating candles in our pool.  We ate off her China, and had a great time eating by candlelight.  She encouraged me to use parts of the decor for my January monthly dinner.  When my daughter saw all the light blues and whites, she immediately suggested I do a Frozen party.  I didn't want to "Let it Go" to waste, so I began planning a Frozen Fantasy Dinner.

Invitations: I originally designed this invitation without Olaf on it because all the guests would be my female adult friends, so I didn't want to go too Disney and too kid-like.  However, I decided to add Olaf in the end because he's just so lovable.  I guess he is "worth melting for!"

I lined the driveway and walkway leading up to my door with lit candles in light blue and white bags. I borrowed my daughter's Frozen poster for the entry door and added "Love is an Open Door" to it using my Cricut machine.  It wasn't my original plan for the door, but when time was short, plan B was put into action.

Although the dinner my mother-in-law put together was hosted outside, the weather was a bit chilly for me. I didn't want my guests to get a "Frozen Heart", so I moved many of the decorations inside. Over the dinner table, I strung blue icicle lights in a V pattern.  Along the wall, I had blue lights and hung sparkling ornaments from the strands.  My mother-in-law had already used Snow "spraypaint" on the windows, so I kept this to add to the ambiance.

I set the table with a white tablecloth and a sheer blue sparkled netting over it. I used beautiful blue chargers (purchased at Michaels) under each plate.  The vases and candle holders were all from the Fantasy Dinner.

Here are some closeup shots of some of the centerpieces.

Once the lights were low, the sparkle and candles really set a "fantasy" mood.  (That's the Frozen movie playing in the background).

I made blue snowflakes out of Popsicle sticks for the place cards. I cut the sticks in half, rounded the edges, glued them together, and painted them.  The beads I got from the Dollar Tree and added them right after the paint so the paint would dry and hold them.  It worked and I didn't have to use glue.  To make them stand up, I took the wick out of tea lights, widened the hole, and stuck the snowflake inside.

I found photos of the Frozen characters online to use as wine charms.

Menu:  As an appetizer when guests arrived, I served snowflake cracks and cheese.  I discovered at the grocery store that Ritz makes snowflake shaped crackers this time of year, so I picked those up. I used a cookie cutter to make the cheese snowflakes.

I used the same cookie cutter to make cheese snowflakes on Elsa's Snowflake Salad.

I tried to incorporate the Frozen characters into each aspect of the meal, so the main dish was turkey meatballs that I named after the Trolls in the movie.

With them, I served cooked carrots -- Sven's favorite snack in the movie.

And of course mashed potatoes that I used a butterball scoop to shape into snowmen to represent Olaf.  Black pepper and a small wedge of cheese (leftover from the appetizer) made the buttons and nose.

Anna and Elsa both love chocolate, so I decided to serve Chocolate Fondue as my dessert.   I served a milk chocolate fondue and a peanut butter chocolate fondue.  Both were popular.  For dipping items, I had strawberries to represent Anna's Frozen Heart, cubes of pound cake to represent Kristoff's ice blocks, pretzel sticks to represent Olaf's Arms, and marshmallow's to represent the giant snowballs Marshmallow throws.

Favor:  I needed a super simple and easy favor, so I decided to give the guests Hershey's Hugs since
Olaf loves warm hugs.  I found a tag online, and I changed the wording to say, "Here's some warm hugs!"  The little blue boxes I found at the Dollar Tree -- 8 for $1. You can't tell in the photo, but the boxes have little white dots on them.

It was a beautiful party to start off 2015.  Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Twelve Days of Christmas

I was out of town for Thanksgiving and returned home with ONE day to plan my monthly dinner for December 1st.  To avoid as much stress as possible, I decided to go with the first thing that came to my mind...The 12 Days of Christmas.

Invite: Quick invite designed on Photoshop with some images I found on the internet.

Entry Decor:  I wanted to make numbered signs leading up to my front door counting from 12 to 2, but I ran out of time. I think it would have been a cute addition, but lucky for me it rained and I wouldn't have been able to have them out anyway!  I did make the 1st day of Christmas sign on the door. I used poster board and card stock to create the tree, leaves, pears, and partridge for Partridge in a Pear Tree.

Inside Decor:  I designed images for each of the 12 days of Christmas to use as ornaments on my centerpiece.  I found images on Google and then used PhotoShop to make each of them fit the look that I wanted. I printed out the text of the song to place inside the vase.

I was trying to incorporate as many of the 12 days into my food and decor as possible.  Since I had 7 guests able to attend this monthly dinner, I tried to come up with a place card for 7 Swans a Swimming.  I ended up making origami swans out of typing paper and then using my Cricut to cut numbers.

Five of my guests had gold rings around their napkin to represent 5 Golden Rings.  The other guests had plain napkin rings.  I found these gold rings at Ace Hardware.

I served our wine out of milk bottles to represent 8 Maids a Milking.  Each glass had a number on it, so whichever number they picked up corresponded to the swan they sat in front of at the table.  I found the milk bottles at Michaels for a dollar a piece.

Since we were drinking out of milk bottles, I made milk inspired labels for the wine bottles.

Menu: One of the appetizers I had out as guests arrived was chips and salsa.  I called these 4 Calling Birds. I used a bird shaped cookie cutter to cut out tortillas that I baked in the oven.  These are really simple to make.  Cut them out, place them on a cookie sheet, spray with PAM, sprinkle with salt, and bake for approximately 7 minutes at 350 degrees.  Yum.

The second appetizer was deviled eggs I called 7 Geese a Laying. I didn't get a good photo of these, but I think most of you know what deviled eggs look like!

We started the meal with a green salad I called Partridge in a Pear Tree.  The salad included romaine lettuce, Feta cheese, walnuts, craisins, and sliced pear. I served it with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  It was very tasty.

For the main course I served Cornish game hens to represent 3 French Hens.  I made a glaze mixing butter, orange marmalade, and fresh rosemary.  I brushed the hens with this mixture regularly throughout baking and baked them according to the wrapper's instructions. For added fun, I placed each hen on a "nest" of spaghetti squash that I had cooked then seasoned with butter, salt, and pepper.

On a side note, I did end up cutting the hens in half, so each one served two people.  I felt like I already had a lot of food being served, so half was enough.

I served zucchini cut into long strips as well as garlic bread sticks to represent 11 Pipers Piping.

I bought onion rings to bake as well. Each guest got 5 Golden Rings.

For dessert, I bought ice cream drumsticks to represent 12 Drummers Drumming. I felt a bit guilty not making my dessert from scratch, but time was crazy and it went with the theme, so I accepted the guilt and went with it!

Favor: Even though not all of the girls were able to attend this particular monthly dinner, there are 10 of us total in the group. Trying to incorporate all lyrics of the song into my evening, I decided to make these marshmallow ballerinas to represent 9 Ladies Dancing.  These are super easy.  My 5 year old had a blast helping me make them.

I designed this tag which completely reflects how I feel.  These 9 women have brought so much joy into my life.  Their friendships have inspired me and helped me to grow throughout all the years I have known them. I truly feel blessed to have each of these ladies in my life.

Happy December everyone!