Easily Entertained

... parties, crafts, & celebrations that are anything but ordinary!

Category: Parties (page 2 of 2)

Krycek Mix–the perfect one handed snack

Chex mix is the ultimate one handed snack. Whether you are playing a game, holiding a beer (or a baby) or even learning to cope after the Russian mob cut off your arm like everyone’s favorite X-files villain.

To pay homage to Alex Krycek we decided to make an old family recipe for chex mix (or goop as my grandmother called it).

You will need:

  • 3/4 lb butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 lb pecans
  • 1 lb lightly salted peanuts
  • 7 oz. Cheerios
  • 6 oz Rice Chex
  • 11 oz thin pretzel sticks

 

chex mix

First melt butter in a bowl in the microwave. Then, add in the Worcestershire sauce and salts to the melted butter. Mix well. Add all dry ingredients in a large turkey roasting pan.

Easily Entertained Tip: Use a large roasting pan with a smooth bottom so the butter and spices don’t get caught. We used the Circulon non stick pan.

Pour the butter and spices over and mix well. Bake at 250 degrees for 2 hours, stirring every 1/2 hour. Cool thoroughly. Makes 5 1/2 quarts.

Chex Mix in pan

 

 

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X-Files Season Finale Viewing Party

As we get ready for the final episode of season 10, we will be sharing some X-Files themed recipes that will help make your viewing party out of this world!

Wow (or perhaps repulse) your guests with this series of specimen-themed drinks and treats that taste waaaay better than they look. Your guests will be amazed that these aren’t only for display.

IMG_9098Taking inspiration from this post by Evil Mad Scientist we scoured the grocery store for ideas and inspiration.

You will need:

  • A selection of jars and other sealed glass containers.
  • A selection of canned fruits, broths, noodles, teas, etc. depending on what you want to combine.
  • Paper labels

Since we are all fans of bubble tea, our first thought was that we needed some tapioca pearls. We’re lucky enough to frequent a fabulous place called ViVi Bubble Tea and they were nice enough to give us a big scoop of already softened large, black pearls.

You can make your own by cooking 1 1/2 cups large black tapioca in boiling water for about 6 minutes. Then turn off heat, cover and let sit for 30 minutes. Make simple syrup by bringing a cup each of water and sugar to a boil.  Once all the sugar is dissolved, transfer the syrup to a bowl. Then drain the tapioca pearls and soak them in the simple syrup.X-Files specimen jars

For our specimens, we added the pearls to cucumber flavored Gatorade, and our homemade lychee tea.

Lychee tea

Ingredients

  • Black or green tea sweetened or unsweetened, your choice
  • Canned lychees in syrup
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Prepared tapioca pearls, strained from syrup
  • Ice if desired

Add the prepared tapioca pearls to the bottom of your jars and pour the tea over it. Add some of the lychee syrup and condensed sweetened milk to taste and ice if desired.  Attach the specimen label of your choice with a dab of glue.


X-Files specimen jars


For the other jars, we used: canned plums in some of their syrup, the remaining lychees in their syrup, canned herbal jelly from Asian market also in tea, chicken noodle soup we bought pre-made from the grocery store, black bean noodles sautéed with garlic, olive oil, basil and red pepper and chicken sausage in chicken broth.

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From here the only limit is your imagination.  Any number of different canned fruits, pickled vegetables, soups and drinks can be combined for a colorful array of edible treats for your more adventurous guests to try.

 

 

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DIY X-Files shadowboxes

Bring the X-Files to your home or office with these decorative shadowboxes.

Sadly, we are almost out of new episodes…but here is a set of X-Files inspired frames that you can make to help you remember to always Believe and more importantly… to Trust No One.

These are really easy to make!

For the “I want to believe” shadowbox you will need the following:


x frame supplies


Cut the cardstock to fit the back of the shadowbox (this will be your background color and will be visible around the outside edge of your Mountain sticker, so choose a color that matches your design.) and it glue down.

Then take the 3D sticker and attach it to the center of the backing.

  • Use your Silhouette to cut out your vinyl stencil as well as your spaceship.
  • Start by drawing a rectangle the same size as your glass panel
  • Resize the I Want to Believe saying to fit inside of the rectangle, select both shapes, and click “Center” in the Align Window.
  • Since we will be placing the text on the inside of the glass, remember to reverse it.

Once the space ship is cut out, glue it to the foam backing (or foam dots) this will pop it off the background and give it some added dimension. Then glue it onto the mountain scene.

Next, take the glass and place the phrase where you want it to sit.

Make sure to use the right vinyl. You want to cut permanent adhesive vinyl like Oracal 651.  It has a stronger adhesive on the back and is ideal for smaller designs like this.

Cut your design, weed it, and get ready to apply it to the glass.

Before you do, place a piece of paper on the table below the glass. This will help you ensure that you are applying the text evenly.


xfiles

 


Use clear transfer tape to move your design from the vinyl backing to the glass.  Use as little tape as possible and cut the tape and the backing down as close to the vinyl as you can. Then peel off the tape to transfer it to the glass.

Once the design is on the glass, carefully remove the transfer tape and burnish the vinyl down again with a Silhouette scraper.

And a perfect finishing touch is to display the shadowbox with the Mulder and Scully Funko Pop Figures.

Funko pop

Easily Entertained tip: Don’t have a cutting machine?
Just print the saying onto a transparency and place in the frame!


photo 3-7

For the “Truth is Out There” shadowbox you will need the following:

Start by cutting cardstock to fit the back of the frame and glue down. This time the cardstock will be the full background image, so choose something with a slight pattern that matches your design.

  • Use your Silhouette to cut out the phrase and spaceship.
  • Draw a rectangle the same size as your glass panel
  • Resize the Truth is Out There text to fit within the rectangle, select both shapes, and click “Center” in the Align Window.
  • Make sure to reverse the text since we will be placing it on the inside of the glass.

xfiles2

  • Cut your design, weed, and then apply the vinyl to the glass.

Once you have the vinyl phrase on, sprinkle the aliens into the bottom of the frame. Put the back of the frame back on to hold the aliens into place.
When complete, remember to place the frame under a light so that your aliens can charge and glow in the dark.

IMG_9568

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X(files) marks the spot this Valentine’s Day

“It seems to me that the best relationships, the ones that last, are frequently the ones that are rooted in friendship. You know, one day you look at the person and you see something more than you did the night before. Like a switch has been flicked somewhere. And the person who was just a friend is suddenly the only person you can ever imagine yourself with.”

Scully from: The Rain King (1999) season 8, episode 6 of the X-files


This Valentine’s Day, give the gift that says: I would go half way around the world, brave a frozen tundra and fight a vast government conspiracy just to be with you.  Well actually- to rescue you from a tube of alien goo, but still…

Of all the great love stories- Mulder and Scully are one of the best!

Who needs Romeo and Juliet, when you can have Fox and Dana- a couple so deeply in love, they don’t need to use fake, gushy pet names to express it.  Hell… they don’t even need to use actual first names!

Yet, through all the years, dangers… and the occasional coma- is there any doubt of their ever-lasting love and devotion to each other?

For the Mulder or Scully in your life this Valentine’s Day, we suggest one (or more) of these X-files themed cupcake jars.

Easy to love and even easier to make.


IMG_9072


You will need:

  1. Half pint canning jars such as Ball,  as many as you would like to make.
  2. Cupcakes.  Either homemade from your favorite recipe, made from a cake mix following the instructions on the box or store bought.
  3. Icing. Can be either homemade from your favorite recipe or your favorite store brand.  If you’re using pre-made cupcakes that you purchased, you don’t need additional icing.
  4. A decorating bag and tip or a large Ziplock or other plastic storage bag.

We started with a list of X-Files themed sayings:

  • You’re my Mulder
  • You’re my Scully
  • Trust no one… except me
  • You make me want to believe
  • You’ve abducted my heart
  • I find you sMuldering
  • I want to believe yours
  • Valentine, you are smoking hot

Feel free to use these, or come up with some of your own.  If you do, and don’t mind sharing them, we would love to hear them in the comment section of this post!

For this particular project we used Duncan Hines cake mixes, Chocolate and signature Red Velvet and Cream Cheese Icing.

Bake the cupcakes following the recipe on the box, or whatever recipe you have decided to use. Even though we will be removing them later, it is still better to bake the cupcakes in wrappers.  We used a mix of different types and colors that we had left over from past projects.

While your cupcakes are cooling, take the bands and lids off your jars and wash them.  Let them dry while you print and cut out your top labels. Feel free to download our labels here: xfiles.

The labels can be printed on whatever type of paper that you prefer- cardstock, full-sheet sticky labels or plain, old copy paper.  We used plain, old copy paper. Then cut around the outside edge.  Don’t worry about them being perfect, the bands on the jar lids cover the edge!

photoOnce the cupcakes are cool, remove the wrappers from the ones you plan on using in the jars.  If you are using store-bought cupcakes, remove the papers from these as well since the cupcakes will be eaten directly from the jars. Each jar should take about two cupcakes.

Once the papers have been removed, start by putting your first layer into the jars.

Right side up, upside down… there’s no special instructions here other then to push them into the bottoms of the jars.  If you’re using just-baked, icing-less cupcakes- smoosh away!  If you’re using the already pretty and completely finished type from the store, you’re going to have to be a bit more careful here and drop them in.

Once all of the bottom layers are in the jars, it’s time to do the first layer of icing. If you are using a decorating bag and tip, we like to use Wilton 12 in. Disposable bags and a star decorating tip.

Of course, almost any decorating tip that you would use to pipe icing on the top of a cupcake is fine.  Also, if you don’t have a decorating bag, you can use a plastic storage bag, fill it with icing, cut off one corner and use it just like you would a decorating or pastry bag.

In a pinch, you could probably use a spoon or butter knife here, but it will be harder to get a nice, even layer of icing this way.

Fill your bag with icing, then twist the top closed and slide the icing down towards the tip or the corner of your plastic bag to get rid of air pockets.  Now you’re ready to add your first layer of icing!

Start gently piping along the inside of the jar in a circular motion following the edge of the jar around and in toward the center until the entire top of the cupcake is covered.

Now… you want a decent layer of icing, but not too much.  Remember that you’re going to need to fit a second cupcake and another layer of icing in there!
Once you are done with your icing, put your next cupcake layer into all of the jars pushing down a bit to give yourself a little more room. If you are using finished store-bought cupcakes, put your second one on top of the first and try to neatly push it down on the first layer so that both cupcakes fit into the jar.

photo 1-5 (1)Easily Entertained Tip:  If you find that your second cupcake is too thick and it doesn’t look like you are going to have enough room for your top layer of icing- you can trim your cupcake from the bottom and make it a thinner layer.  In fact, you could cut all of your cupcakes in half and do even more alternating layers of thinner cake and icing.  You could even go a little crazy and add other layers of fillings like fruit, pudding, pastry cream or lemon curd. (yay lemon curd!)photo 2-7

Once all of your layers are in place, top with more icing and if you like, colored sprinkles.  Don’t go too high with the icing- you’re going to want to leave a tiny bit of space near the lip of the jar so that you can get your lids back on.

As for the lids… there are a few ways to do this.  We used to stick the images to the jar lids. You can do this if you like, and it’s really pretty easy if you chose to print your image out on full-sheet sticky labels.   In that case, cut out your circles, peel off the backing and stick them to the top silver parts of the lids.

If you are using cardstock or copy paper you can simply place the lids on your jars, the paper circles on top of the lids and then hold them in place when you put on the final bands of the jars.  You may need to hold them centered in place as you turn the bands, but once they are on there, they will hold the labels tightly in place.  And then the person you gave them to has a nice, unsullied jar to keep after they’ve eaten their cupcake.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Cool as a Cucumber Sandwich

Or perhaps a canapé depending on your mood.  In any case, cukes are where it’s at for a versatile, fun and even healthy, party food powerhouse.

Image from RebuildingChampions.com

Image from RebuildingChampions.com

As far as cocktail parties go, finger foods are the best line of defense.  Small and visually appealing, they do not require utensils, and massive amounts of dishes.  Plus, they aren’t too drippy so they probably won’t stain your tablecloth, pets or guests.  They are also small enough to allow partygoers a nice variety of tastes as opposed to a giant vat of one single item… Sorry Not sorry, Velveeta dip.

A canapé consists of a base, usually bread or crackers,  a spread, a main item, and a garnish.  The spread is traditionally either a compound butter or a flavored cream cheese.  For our party, we made two versions using cucumbers as the main ingredient – once as the main ingredient and once as a combination of both the main ingredient and the base.  Both recipes are similar in idea and ingredients, but structured differently to appeal to different tastes and different diets.


Cucumber Sandwiches

photo 3 (4)We love a good cucumber sandwich.  It’s both fresh and healthy AND creamy and bad for you… all at the same time!

INGREDIENTS:

  • (1) 8 oz. brick of cream cheese (your choice: full fat, half fat or vegan)
  • ¼ cup of sour cream (any version)
  • ¼ cup of mayo (any version)
  • 1 packet of Good Seasonings Italian Dressing
  • Bread (we used plain white bread, but a favorite variation is whole wheat pita)
  • 2-3 cucumbers (either English or your general garden variety.  Cut into slices about a ¼ of an inch thick)

DIRECTIONS:
Bring cream cheese to room temperature or soften in microwave.  Stir together with the sour cream, mayo, and Italian dressing packet.

Spread on one side of bread then layer with cucumber slices. Spread the cream cheese mixture on another slice of bread then top off the sandwich and cut.  (If using pita, cut the pita in half and spread the cream cheese mixture inside on both sides.  Then layer the cucumbers inside and cut each half into 3 triangles.)


Easily Entertained Tip: Make sure you spread the mixture on both sides of your bread to avoid the sandwiches falling apart as you artfully arrange them on your serving dish people try to eat them.


At this point you can do squares, triangles or rectangles/strips.  You can leave the crust on, or cut it off.

As you are making the next sandwiches be sure to keep your finished ones covered with a damp, clean towel.  The bread can get stale quickly if just left sitting out.

We suggest that you make the cream cheese mixture in advance, assemble the sandwiches closer to your guests arrival to ensure top quality!  The mixture can even be made a few days in advance and stored in the fridge.  This is actually recommended, because it gives the flavors time to mix and marinate and get all good like.  Just remember to bring it to room temperature the day of the party so that it’s easier to spread.  You can also cut your cucumber slices and store them in a ziplock bag in the fridge.  We like to throw a damp paper towel in there too to keep them from drying out.


Cucumber Canapés

photo 2 (2)For a lighter version of Michele’s Cucumber Sandwich above, we recommend you try out Montana’s Cucumber Canapés, which give you and your guests all the flavor with less fat and carbs!

INGREDIENTS:

  • (1) 8 oz. brick of Neufchâtel (it has much less milk fat than its cream cheese equivalent)
  • ¼ cup of plain Greek yogurt (any brand)
  • 2 tsp fresh dill
  • 2 tsp fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp fresh chives
  • 2-3 cucumbers (either English or your general garden variety.  Cut into slices about a 1/2 inch thick)
  • sliced radish for garnish

DIRECTIONS:
Bring Neufchâtel to room temperature or soften in microwave.  Stir together with the Greek yogurt and fresh herbs.


Easily Entertained Tip: You know we love to pipe our spreads from the Deviled Egg post, so break out your tips again for this recipe!  However, make sure to finely chop your herbs so that they don’t get stuck in the piping tip.


Pipe the mixture onto your cucumber slices and garnish with a slice of radish.

– M&M

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A Good Old Fashioned Threesome… Followed by a Good Old Fashioned

Old FashionedWell, now that we have your attention…

We regret to inform you that were aren’t talking about THAT kind of threesome.  Unlike Don, Megan and her friend Amy’s tryst following that very bohemian get together in Season 7… we’re talking about 3 versions of everyone’s favorite cocktail party staple- the deviled egg. (Quite a departure from Season 7, huh?)  We’ll be following that up with a recipe for one of our personal favorite cocktails, the classic Old Fashioned.  Because after our threesome, you’re going to need a stiff drink.


These days, a girl’s got to keep her options open.  And, who doesn’t like a three way?  Appetizers, we mean.  We love a recipe that can easily be tweaked several different ways to suit all those picky eaters vegetarians/gluten free/paleo guests in your crowd.  Take our deviled egg recipes, for instance.  We have you covered whether you are a vegetarian with a craving for something spicy, an average party guest looking for a delicious nugget to pop into your mouth, or even something in between (aka, all you flexitarian’s out there)! Deviled Eggs

Why should deviled eggs be on your cocktail party list?  Because they are easy, fast to make, endlessly customizable, and the perfect option for your friends that are watching their weight.  One large hard boiled egg has 6 grams of protein, and is generally the best low carb appetizer option for your guests.  They are also rich in choline which helps reduce brain inflammation, which we think is a pretty awesome side effect to indulging in our deviled egg recipes!  Because let’s face it, after a Mad Men theme cocktail party, your head is sure to be hurting the next morning!


Traditional Deviled Eggs

Traditional Deviled EggsINGREDIENTS:

  • 12 hardboiled eggs
  • 2 dashes worcestershire
  • 1 tablespoon pickle relish
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • seasoned salt and pepper to taste
  • sliced black olive and seasoned salt for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Slice your hardboiled eggs in half and scoop all the cooked yolks into a bowl.  Mash, and add all the remaining ingredients, mixing until smooth.  Pipe the yolk mixture into your egg white halves and enjoy!

Guilty Pleasure Deviled Eggs

Bacon Onion EggsINGREDIENTS:

  • 12 hardboiled eggs
  • store bought real bacon crumbles
  • French fried onions
  • chives

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare the yolk mixture like the traditional deviled egg recipe.  Top each egg with bacon crumbles and a French fried onion.  Enjoy!

Guacamole Deviled Eggs

Guacamole Deviled EggsINGREDIENTS:

  • 12 hardboiled eggs
  • 1/4 cup store bought guacamole
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sliced fresh jalapeños for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Slice your hardboiled eggs in half and scoop all the cooked yolks into a bowl.  Mash, and add the store bought guacamole, mixing until smooth.  Pipe the yolk mixture into your egg white halves, top with a jalapeño slice, and enjoy!


Easily Entertained Tip: An absolute must for deviled egg preparation is a piping tip to take your appetizers from “homemade” to “how the hell did she do that?”  We recommend stocking up at your local craft store when they are running a coupon (aka always), since these tips can be used for everything from cupcakes to meatloaf (no really).  If using a piping bag to fill your eggs, just make sure that you are dicing your mix-ins small enough not to clog the tip.  (We hate when that happens.)


The Old Fashioned

In our opinion, the Old Fashioned has everything a cocktail needs – something sweet, something bitter, a nice shot of booze, and fruit.  And, we all know that the fruit here is very important since it makes this cocktail healthy!  The Old Fashioned falls into the category of what our friends like to call, “old man drinks.”  It’s an ongoing joke that we think is supposed to be offensive, but it isn’t.. we’ll take a classic cocktail over a pink or blue, cotton candy flavored frozen-tini any day!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • a sugar cube or 1 1/2 teaspoons simple syrup (Easily Entertained Tip: To make simple syrup combine the same amount of sugar to water and microwave until sugar is melted.  Stir and let cool.  We used ¼ cup sugar mixed into a ¼ of a cup of water.)
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters** (We used orange)
  • a slice of orange
  • a maraschino cherry
  • a splash of seltzer water (or not based on your preference. It’s good either way.)
  • ice

DIRECTIONS:

Combine the bourbon, sugar cube or simple syrup, and bitters in a glass, then add ice and stir.  Top with the orange slice and maraschino cherry and enjoy!

** Or you can make your own bitters with this fantastic how-to on Liquor.com.

– M&M

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Mad Men Inspired Fare for the Modern Gal

MM CollageMad Men. We love the style. The booze, the décor, the food… or well, we WANT to love the food.

We love the look and the idea of the food – the eye-catching, bite-sized canapés with their olive and radish garnishes, the tangy creaminess of a good deviled egg, and even the occasional miniature hot dog floating in a sea of sweet and sour sauce.

But let’s be honest here… how much cream cheese and processed meat can one girl eat in the name of being social?!? Especially now that at least half, if not every 3rd person in your circle of friends is on the: eat-like-a-caveman-cauliflower-is-a-reasonable-substitute-for-all-food-groups-diet.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

For the next few weeks, during the run of this final season of Mad Men – yes, we are still trying to come to terms at the thought of a future with no Joan(!) – we are going to be running a series of recipes and tips on how to throw a totally modern and yet totally retro cocktail party, that ALL your friends will enjoy.

So without any further delay, here is the first recipe in our series so that you can enjoy all the food, and the fun, of the Mad Men era with decidedly less of the cream cheese that comes along with it!

Boozy Basil Olivesphoto 3 (2)

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