Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's Party Time

I spent all day Friday sitting in a class to better prepared me to take my CMP in January. When it was finally over I met Jim for dinner and then came home to start crossing off large chunks of my to-do list. As a meeting planner I've learned that the LIST is your best friend. For me, I need to get my thoughts on paper - for one it helps me organize everything I need to do, and it also helps me rid my brain of little things I need to remember. Get it on paper and you don't have to stress about keeping every little detail in your head - that is what your list is for. Around Thanksgiving I started looking through magazines and online for menu ideas. Last year I had a cocoa and dessert party. This year I'm going back to a buffet of hors d'oeuvres and cocktails. About two weeks ago I finalized my menu and made a list of everything I was planning on making. This helped me to realize if I was heavy on cheese or needed more meat items. Jim and I are expecting about 25 people - half men, half women. Knowing this, I need to have an adequate amount of filling appetizers, which is why I'm serving Hot Roast Beef Party Sandwiches and Chipotle Meatballs in Peach Pecan BBQ Sauce along with Shrimp Skewers. For those who like to pick and snack (like me) I have several dips - a spicy cheese spread, a vegetable, a creamy. Also, I tried to select dishes that I could make ahead of time and would also hold together well sitting out on the table - Procuitto Pinwheels and Fig with Stilton Squares. My list consists of the name of the dish, where I found the recipe (so I can locate it when it's time to make it), I add a check mark when I have all the ingredients for that recipe and then I write "MADE" when the dish is complete and in the fridge or freezer.

It's finally party day. I've been looking forward to this Saturday morning for a long time. Like a kid on Christmas I woke up at 6:30 AM with butterflies. Today is the do or die final step for our Holiday Cocktail Party and I'm loving every minute of it. I have no idea what it is about throwing a party, but it is so freaking exhilarating!

I accomplished A LOT last night. I finished making all the dishes except for three that I will do today: Flourless chocolate cake, Roast Beef Sandwiches and Fig Stilton Squares. All three of those should be a sinch to make. I cleared the buffet table and set out all of the dishes I will use today.

This is a very helpful tip from my mom: use stickies to lable what food goes where. This saves you time when you are trying to put food on the table AND arrange it on your table at the last minute. Go ahead and lable the dishes, then you can move them around and plan the flow of your buffet. This is also a good time to look at what needs a serving utensil, and GO AHEAD and set those all out now too! Do as much the week ahead as possible.

These minature picture frames are a great idea too. I bought these at Hobby Lobby for HALF OFF the original price. They have many uses too. I like to write or print the name and ingredients of dishes and set these out as my food markers. I love to talk about food and especially my homemade stuff, but when the 19th person asks you "what is this?" you will wish you had put out a card labeling all your dishes. Alternatively, add a ribbon to the back and your favorite picture and this makes a great Christmas ornament for your tree. I've seen this in magazines that sell four of these small silver picture frames for $20. I bought these for $1.99 each!
I created this set up by the door. Allyson is baking custom cookies for me that look like our party invitations. As guests leave I will give them each a cookie and thank them for coming. Jim laughed at me, but I put a little sticky on top of the dish that says "cookie from allyson." Lable EVERYTHING so you won't have to guess what you meant that side table for the night before.

Now, let me share one of my recent recipes.

1 can condensed milk
2 tsp instant coffee
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
2 tsp chocolate syrup (I do not reccomend the sugar free chocolate syrup, but this is all I had)
16 oz heavy cream (2 cups)
4 eggs
14oz Irish liquor

Then I added an additional:
1 T instant coffee
1 T chocolate syrup
16 oz heavy cream

The recipe is simple: Put everything in a blender and BLEND.

Condensed milk.

Instant coffee.


Almond extract.

Chocolate Syrup.

Heavy cream.


Whiskey. I used a good old Irish Whiskey.

This is what it looks like before. This is what it looks like after.

I tasted a bit of this stuff and WOW was it strong! I mean REALLY strong. So I went back to the blender and added another 2 cups of cream and more coffee and chocolate.

This was much better. About a half glass of this will be plenty for dessert! In the Bailey's commercials, they always serve this over ice. I'm not sure I would like that. I covered and placed in the fridge - and will take it out tonight to serve to guests.

AND... I've been tagged! Julie at The Sporadic Cook sent this to me and I thank you s so much for tagging me. This was fun to write, and gave me a much needed break. So here we go, seven things you never wanted to know about Mandy!

  1. My favorite Don't Miss TV Shows are Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Barefoot Contessa, Eli Stone, The Unit, Worst Week, Big Brother, The Bachelor.
  2. Shows that I cannot watch are any of the CSI or SVU - any crime dramas that are "harsh." They really upset me and I think about those victims for days after watching shows like that.
  3. I laugh out loud and/or cry in the card aisle when I'm shopping for birthday/thank you/thinking of you/miss you/get well soon cards.
  4. I love to pluck - give me a good pair of tweezers and I will go to town on your eyebrows. Jim loves this about me. yeah, right.
  5. One reason I like coconut is because it's the food that keeps on giving. Hours after you eat coconut you can find a piece stuck in your teeth and enjoy the flavor all over again.
  6. Throwing parties is up there at the top 5 things I love to do. Although Jim would share with you that I have a mini freak an hour before guests arriving. Jim always stays calm and doesn't react to me at all, he simply brings me a glass of red wine - which does the trick. I love that boy!
  7. I'm a big Laurie Notaro fan, her books are so hilarious - I can't help but pass them on to my friends as soon as I finish one.

Now it is my turn to tag, here are the rules:


  1. Have a wonderful party! It looks like you've got everything ready . . . and the homemade Bailey's looks delicious. Thanks for the tag - I'll post tomorrow!

  2. Hey Mandy, welcome back, we missed you!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE your table for all the party goods...I'm a huge fan of white platters and I have a gazillion of them. I lay everything out too before I start but the labeling idea is new to me...AWESOME idea...thanks for the tip...oh and I'm so excited you tagged me. This will be my first game as a tagger...I'll try hard to do you proud...hehehe, my dad's from Kentucky and he uses those kinds of lines. I'll work on my post today.

  3. I'm so cracking up right now...I just read your coconut comment and it brought me back to my teenage years when I wore braces...I always found food hours, sometimes days later...hahaha.

  4. Wow so impressive. All those post it notes we do think alike. I am a planner as well and have all my meal lists its so funny. The baileys sound so good I gotta make it. You deserve a big pat on the back for all that hard work.

  5. Happy party day!!! It is probably in full swing as I type! :)

    I do the same thing with platters & post-its! My husband is slowly turning me into an organized person! Love the frame idea...I will use this next time...thanks!

  6. Thanks for playing! Now put down those tweezers.

  7. First of all, I LOVE those black and white dishes. Seriously. LOVE doesn't even begin to describe it.
    I think it's almost creepy as I was reading through this that we do so many of the same things. Sticky notes in bowls? Yep. Lists of lists? Yep. Mini frames to label what's on the buffet? Yep. I got mine at Hobby Lobby too, in the wedding aisle. I think they were intended as name card holders... but I use them for labeling dishes.
    You watch The Unit? We own Seasons 1, 2, & 3. I was devastated last year when the strike almost ended the show. I was one of those freaks googling to figure out whether they were renewing the contract or not. Anywho, this is waaaaaaaay to long! I finally added you to my links though!

  8. Hey Mandy! Great post!!! I finally finished the tag ~ sorry it took so long. Anyway, hope you enjoy it.


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