A friend of ours got engaged this month. To celebrate, we hosted an engagement happy hour. I kept it simple with an easy menu of appetizers and desserts. I found blackberries on sale last weekend and used them to make both a cocktail and a dessert and were delicious.
To make it easy, I premixed two cocktails before people arrived: my summer sparkler, and blackberry lemonade.
1 can frozen lemonade
1 cup blackberry vodka
1 bottle San Pellegrino (or other sparkling water)
handful of fresh blackberries
At this time of year, I love using fresh berries with cream and often make a mixed berry trifle with strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. This time, I used only blackberries and the trifle was still delicious. First, I cut a pound cake into squares of about the same size. Next, I zested fresh ginger into a small pot and added blackberry vodka and cooked on low for a few minutes. I used the ginger-vodka mixture to pour over the pound cake. I created the layers by starting with pound cake on the bottom, then fresh whipped cream topped off with blackberries. I just repeated the layers until I ran out of cake. I topped it with a few mint leaves from my herb garden.
Maybe you can give one of these a try for your next party or just for the weekend. Enjoy!
This past weekend we threw a small, winter party. Since it’s cold, I thought it would be fun to get together with friends over chili and a few cocktails.
We had four different types of chili along with a choice of toppings and additions. This was a really easy menu to prepare ahead of time. In fact, I made three of the four chilis myself and used Crockpots so they all cooked the day before while I was at work. I used two recipes from this round up of best chili recipes.
I don’t know why I haven’t done this before, but it finally dawned on me that food presentation in the kitchen could be a bit prettier if, instead of just putting containers of food on the stove, I covered the stove with a tablecloth. I used a big, plain white tablecloth, since that’s what I had, and I used a cake stand underneath the tablecloth and the ceramic birch server on top to provide varying heights. I just put the Crockpot inserts in place right on top of the tablecloth.
Those clear, glass containers on the silver tray below are repurposed jars that originally came filled with candles.
For dessert, I picked up cookies from the cookie bar at Whole Foods and set out a three tier assortment.
The day of the party, I premixed two cocktails and setup the drink station with water, ice, and a few bottles of wine, so guests could easily serve themselves. [The Sparkler is my 'End of Summer' cocktail renamed since it's now winter]
I set the tables in both the kitchen and the dining room with different themes. The kitchen had the familiar black and white setting similar to the party in the fall. But this time, I was able to use my DIY chalkboard place cards on top of upside down wine glasses to mark the place settings.
In the dining room, I used my new disco ball as a centerpiece. I found it at Party City a few weeks ago but I haven’t quite decided where it will reside.
Since chili was on the menu and we didn’t really need other utensils besides a spoon, I set the table with the napkin underneath the bowl and the spoon set simply on the side.
I added a few other ‘wintry’ touches with foam snowflakes on the windows and snowflake covered disposable cups for water, and a few fresh bunches of creamy hydrangeas.
After dinner we played a game of Apples to Apples. It was a fun evening with friends and fun to put the small details together. How do you prepare or decorate for a dinner party? Any fun themes or tips?
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