Thursday, February 26, 2009
Fabulous Dinner Parties on a Budget
Article By :Jeanne Benedict
Use these simple decor tips to transform your fete from frugal to fabulous.
Embrace traditions around the world by hosting a dinner party that celebrates the flavors of another country. Best of all, these international menus for 6 guests were designed with your wallet in mind to give your party high style on a low budget--each party menu only costs $50!
I've included an Estimated Cost Breakdown so you can tally it all up and save even more by using items that you may already have on hand.
When guests ask what they can bring to your dinner party, suggest a bottle of wine or spirits from the country whose food you are featuring, since wine and cocktails are not included in the budget breakdown.
Italian cuisine offers such a variety of flavors, from the white cream sauces found in northern Italy to the hearty red tomato sauces enjoyed in the southern part of the country.
Delight dinner guests with an Italian menu that clocks in at around $50!
Olive Polenta Squares (recipe below)
Easy Fettuccine Alfredo (recipe below)
Green Salad with Diced Tomatoes and Oil and Vinegar Dressing
Espresso Trifle Martini (recipe recipe below)
Estimated Cost Breakdown:
Olive Polenta Squares
$2 - 1 (3.8 oz) can sliced olives
$3 - 1 (1 lb.) box cornmeal
$2 - 1 (2 oz.) container chicken bouillon squares (about 15 count)
$5 - small (8 fl. oz.) generic brand bottle olive oil
$2 - 1 dozen eggs
$4 - 1 pint heavy whipping cream
$5 - 5 oz. wedge Parmesan cheese
$4 - 2 (1 lb.) boxes fettuccine; dry pasta
$2 - 1 head romaine lettuce
$2 - 3 Roma tomatoes
$0 - olive oil (included above)
$3 - small (8 fl. oz.) bottle red wine vinegar
Espresso Trifle Martini
$5 - 1 store-bought pound cake cut into cubes (frozen desserts)
$4 - 6 cups prepared vanilla pudding
$2 - 1 shot espresso (purchased from a coffee store like Starbucks)
$2 - 1 (lb.) box granulated sugar
$47 - Estimated Total
Olive Polenta Squares:
2 (3.5 gm) chicken bouillon cubes
2 cups water
3/4 Cup yellow cornmeal
1 (3.8 oz) can sliced olives
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Bring water and bouillon cubes to boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Slowly sprinkle cornmeal into water while quickly whisking mixture. Continue whisking for 3 minutes smoothing out any lumps as mixture thickens. Replace whisk with wooden spoon and cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens, about 1 minute. Spoon should stand in mixture and polenta will come away from sides of pan. Remove from heat and stir in olives.
Spread mixture on to a lightly oil baking sheet making ½-inch thick rectangle of polenta. Cool until polenta is set, about 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve as an appetizer.
Makes 6 serving
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 5 oz.)
2 large eggs
1/2 Cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 lbs. fettuccine ( about 1 1/2 boxes dry pasta)
Add 1 teaspoon salt into a pot of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add fettuccine and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the Parmesan, eggs and cream into a large serving bowl and whisk until combined.
Pour pasta into a colander to drain. Immediately add to serving bowl and toss with Parmesan sauce mixture until coated. Serve hot.
Makes about 6 servings.
Espresso Trifle Martini
1 shot espresso (purchased from a coffee store like Starbucks)
3/4 Cup water
1 Cup sugar
1 store-bought pound cake, cut into cubes
6 individual portion cups of prepared vanilla pudding (Jello brand)
Add espresso, water and sugar into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool.
Alternate layers of pound cake cubes and pudding into 6 individual Martini glasses. Pour cooled espresso syrup over the top of each one and serve.Makes about 6 servings.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Mardi Gras is a day of great fun so why not have your own Mardi Gras? The colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green and gold. This occasion can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Before your guests arrive, have a mix of jazz music loaded in your CD or MP3 for your guest to enjoy and it is a simple element to add a festive ambiance to your occasion.
FOR THE TABLE: Cover your table with a white or green tablecloth. For your centerpiece, place several green, purple, and gold hats down the center of your table along with Mardi Gras masks and lots and lots of beads. Or at each place setting, have a mask and necklace for each guest to wear.
KEEP THEM ENTERTAINED: Make sure you have activities that will entertain even the youngest one. Make your own mask is a fun activity and craft for any age. When everyone is finished, hold a contest for the most creative.
FOR THE FOOD: There are hundreds of recipes for this celebration such as crawfish, jambalaya, shrimp creoles, gumbo, red bean and rice just to name a few. However, it is very important not to forget the King’s Cake as part of your Mardi Gras menu.
The most important thing to remember about a Mardi Gras party is it is a fun idea to gather and do and be a little wacky for one day, so enjoy yourself and have fun.
1/2 cup ice
2 fluid ounces light rum
2 fluid ounces passion fruit flavored syrup
1 cup lemon-lime flavored carbonated beverage
1 ounce lime juice
1 fluid ounce 151 proof rum
In a shaker, combine ice, light rum, passion fruit syrup, lemon-lime flavored carbonated beverage and lime juice. Shake well and pour mixture into a Hurricane or other large specialty glass. Float the 151 proof rum on top of the drink.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
11/2 oz Patrón Silver Tequila
1/2 ounce Patrón Citrónge Orange Liqueur
Fresh raspberry juice
Dash organic cranberry juice
Fresh lime juice
Gold sugar rim
Orange wedge dipped in gold sugar for garnish
Wet the rim of a cocktail glass using an orange or lime wedge.
Rim the wet with gold sugar, shake off excess sugar and set aside
Pour the liquid ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Strain into the prepared cocktail glass.
Garnish with an orange wedge dipped in gold sugar.
Recipe From: http://cocktails.about.com/od/tequilarecipes/r/red_carpet.htm
Hollywood Martini Cocktail
3 oz vodka
1/2 oz black raspberry liqueur
Dash of pineapple juice
Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Recipe From: http://cocktails.about.com/od/vodkadrinkrecipes/r/hollywood_tini.htm
If the Martini is the Emperor of Cocktails, drink to dilettantes and super-spies, then the Manhattan is without a doubt the Mafia boss, libation to outlaws, hardened working men, and the women who love ‘em. Speaking of, Marilyn Monroe was a fan of the Manhattan, showcasing it in the comedy Some Like It Hot (1959).
2 oz. Rye or Bourbon Whiskey
3/4 oz. Sweet Vermouth
Fill half a cocktail shaker with ice and shake or stir the Rye or Bourbon and the Vermouth until just chilled. Strain into an equally chilled Martini glass and garnish by sinking the cherry to the bottom.
Recipe From: http://www.nostalgiaholic.com/wp/261/classic-cocktail-bar/
Monday, February 16, 2009
Trader Joes: Mushroom Turnovers, Mini Quiches, Mini Tacos, Assorted cheeses and crackers, mixed nuts
Here are some ideas to add a glamorous ambiance to your Oscar Party. As you know we are all about the table. And for this occasion, we suggest doing a buffet. This allows your guests to nibble throughout the evening. Cover your buffet table with a white or black tablecloth. You can place large gold stars on top of the table or purchase star shaped confetti to sprinkle all around the table. Another fun idea is to purchase movie memorabilia and have them on display on your buffet table. Although paper products are the easiest, it might be easier to have your guest use regular plates. The plates can be salad side, but being that most guests will have them on their laps while eating, it would be easier and steadier to eat from. Plastic utensils and themed paper cocktail napkins would be appropriate however.
This is another opportunity to ‘Fake The Food.’ Costco, Trader Joes and Whole Foods all have wonderful ready-made appetizers and finger foods that require minimal effort. Stay tuned for more food/recipe ideas. To make it even easier for you have each guest bring their favorite finger food to your party.
Because the Oscars signify class, glamour and elegance - requests that your guest come 'dressed up' for the evening. Roll out the red carpet at your entrance to your home (visit a carpet store and ask for any remnants or use a red runner). Snap a picture of each guest as they arrive (the photo can be put into a simple silver or gold frames and made into a party favor for them to take home). Give each guest an Oscar party pool ballot and have them select their choices of winners. At the end of the awards, tally up the ballots to see who had the most correct and send the winner home with a little parting gift for the highest score. Stay tuned for more Oscar Party Ideas to make the evening memorable.
For a finishing touch, load your CD player with academy award winning sound and have the songs playing in the background to enhance this hollywood ambiance.
If you have a suggestions, we would love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, February 13, 2009
3 oz Asti Spumante
1. Shake in a martini shaker and serve in a martini glass.
2. Garnish with a raspberry or pink edible rose pedal.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
If celebrating Valentine's Day is a family affair, creating an ambiance of fun can be easy. Make a centerpiece that is edible. Fill vases up with colored sugar or the tiny cinnamon hearts then make a bouquet of different lollipops or cookies on a stick. Another fun idea is to place mini cupcakes in the center of your table in a heart shape. For a place card, unwrap a plain chocolate bar and using a toothpick, write or (scratch) the name of each person and place it in the center of each place setting.
Table for 2!
When it is party for two, creating a romantic ambiance most always starts with candles. A centerpiece can be created simply by taking a round platter or large charger and placing various sized pillars in the middle. For more texture, add colored pebbles, sand, or conversation hearts to the bottom of the pillars in the platter.
Monday, February 2, 2009
The mission of Light a Heart is to provide families with the resources to be able to have trained, full time one-to-one care to maximize the quality of life.
For each candle purchased, a portion of the sale goes to supporting children and young adults with autism and epilepsy.
This candle created by the Mill Valley Candleworks not only offers the incredible aroma of red currant, it supports a wonderful cause. It is now available at Table Ambiance.
The heart shaped candle makes for a wonderful Valentine's gift for teachers, friends, family or for someone you care about. When a candle is lit, it just makes things better.
To learn more about Light A Heart visit http://www.lightaheart.com/.
For more Valentine's Day table settings and gifts visit us at http://www.tableambiance.com/.