I threw a Favorite Things party recently for a girls night in. The concept makes for a fun a night: get together with friends and gift them one of your favorite things. There seem to be several variations but here’s how it worked (and this is exactly what I put on the invitations): Please choose one of your favorite things costing no more than $6. Bring 5 of those to share with the group. You will also go home with 5 new favorite things.
It’s fun to discover what your friends like and find new things. I also asked everyone to bring their favorite appetizer or dessert. This makes it even easier to host because you don’t have to stress about providing everything yourself. For the non-wine drinkers (more for me!), I made a festive punch. Here’s the recipe so you can give it a try!
2 cups cranberry juice
2 cups pineapple juice
1 cup banana flavored rum
1 cup vodka
5 cups ginger ale
Combine all ingredients in a pitcher or punch bowl, stir well, and enjoy over ice. Let me know if you give it a try!
Last month, I hosted lunch for eight and I kept the menu really simple and it worked out so well. All of our guests said the soup was delicious. I was so happy!
I basically have one set of ‘dressy’ dishes: the china we registered for for our wedding. Nine years later, and I’ve managed not to break any of the place settings. The dishes are Mikasa’s Cameo Platinum setting and I like them because they are simple (white) and elegant (platinum edging). Since I pretty much always use the same dishes, it’s fun to create different looks with the other table decor. This time, I used silver chargers as well. I found them at Goodwill a few months back but I noticed Michael’s carries them too (and right now they are on sale!).
In the center of the table, I placed a glass vase of corks, disco ball, small bunches of fresh flowers, sparkly mini pumpkins, and a candle on top of a piece of burlap. I made sure there was still room for the two main food items: soup & salad.
I put the faux wood ceramic server on the table as a trivet to have a place for the hot pot of soup and the salad bowl was placed on the other side. I like using my faux apples for place card settings, but I changed it up and used fresh leaves from the yard as place cards instead. I wrote the names on the leaves with a gold Sharpie paint marker.
I made my own Shrimp & Corn soup, which warmed us up on a cold day, along with a chopped salad.
5 slices bacon
4 celery stalks diced
1 small yellow onion diced
2 parsnips (cut into pieces)
3 medium red potatoes (peeled and cut into pieces)
4 cups frozen corn
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
medium sized shelled, deveined shrimp (as much or as little as you prefer)
fresh crushed black pepper
Cook bacon in pan and set aside once cooked. In the same pan, using the oil from the bacon, saute celery and onion with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer sauteed celery and onion to a pot large enough for the volume of soup and pour in chicken broth, water, and potatoes and parsnips. Cook until root vegetables are tender. Use an immersion blender to blend cooked parsnips and potatoes in liquid. Add in cream and then corn to the pot and continue cooking on medium. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Once seasoned and ready, add in shrimp and cook until pink and firm. Sprinkle served soup with crumbled bacon and a few slices of green onion. Bon Appetit!
We also enjoyed a wonderful dessert made by one of our guests. The blackberry tartlets were delicious and I’ll have to figure out the recipe to make them again: blackberries in a baked pie crust topped with cream cheese. Easy and yum!
Let me know if you have any other easy lunch menu suggestions or if you try out this soup!
Note: The Projects page has been updated to include a quick reference for recipes too!
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