Monday, February 25, 2013

 Happy Monday! I don't know if you watched The Oscars but in our house it's a pretty big thing! For the past 14 years we have been having parties, big and small, with our family and friends.
Every year they start the show a bit earlier than the one before and this year they started the "Red Carpet" at 4pm our time (PST). The actual show began at 5:30. We always invite people to arrive for the Red Carpet and have the food hit the table very soon after that point.  
 For the past 6 years this wonderful Gold Guy has been our centerpiece. A gift from a good friend, the Gold Guy is perched on a film reel and threaded with real celluloid film. We also created the "Star Studded" backdrop using a black plastic tablecloth and tinsel stars in gold, white and silver. 
 We always print out our ballots from and put one with a pen on a clipboard for each guest so it's easy to fill out. After everyone fills out their ballots, before the actual awards are given out, we trade them around so no one is checking their own ballots. The person who guesses the most categories right wins a prize. This year Nate won by guessing 15 of the 24 categories right and is getting a Blu-ray edition of ARGO! ( case you are wondering, this movie freak has only won twice in 14 years. Dismal, I know. To add insult to injury, the person who won this year did NO research at all...and, yes, still won. I don't know if that says more about my research or how unpredictable the Academy can be! LOL!)
 During commercial breaks I ask multiple choice trivia questions. Every single person, even the kids, gets to take home at least two prizes. Now, these are not big prizes. In fact, some of them come from the Dollar Store. We love finding the out-of-the-ordinary at Cost Plus World Market. The guys get oddly named beer, the girls something fun to cook or decorate with, the kids some sort of candy or toy. Each item is $5 or under. I then put them into paper bags with their names on them so I can hand them out when they get the trivia answer right. And everyone gets two answers right...guaranteed! LOL! (yes, we give out BIG hints if needed!)
 As always, it's the details that make the difference. I made up these little food pics out of some folded card stock and toothpics using double stick tape to hold it all together. Each Best Picture Nominee got a pic. 
 Tory makes great water bottle labels for all of our events. These little Oscar beauties fit right in! It is always a great idea to have bottled water around for everyone and not just soda or beer.
 While home cooking is always a great idea, this party isn't supposed to be a hard party to do, so make use of some great pre-made these Girl Scout Lemonades! Oh, excuse me...these "Life of Pi" Lemonades! 
 Or our grandson, Parker's, favorite the Girl Scout Peanut Butter Patty! This is a great way to make that little Girl Scout happy at the supermarket AND get to have one or two while making sure there are no leftovers hanging out at your house. 
 But I do make a lot of homemade goodies. And I'm here to share the recipes with all of you! These chicken terregon sandwhiches are a house favorite, especially since they are SO easy to make. Take two chicken breasts and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder and dried terregon. Bake till done at 400 degrees and then let them cool completely. Chop up into very small cubes and mix with ranch dressing and two green onions chopped up. Done!
 My BBq Pulled Pork recipe is about as easy. Take a small pork roast, about the size of a 4x6 photo, a half bottle of your favorite BBq sauce, 2 small onions diced up and 1 TBS garlic. Cook in a crockpot for 5 hours on high. The meat will just shred. These are SO good!
 Here is how homemade becomes Semi-homemade and works! I bought the crispy sundried tomato bread rounds, used canned stewed tomatoes that have been cooked with basil and shredded mozzarella cheese. I chopped up the tomatoes and put a little on each crispy round, topped each with the cheese and baked them till the cheese was melted. Yummy!
 Just about as easy were these Creme Cheese Puffs. I use canned biscuits that I flatten out a bit and then use to line a muffin tin. The filling is 8oz of creme cheese, 1 cup chopped spinach, 1tsp garlic powder, salt and pepper that is mixed together well. I spoon a bit of the filling into each biscuit line muffin cup and then pinch the edge of the biscuit together in or or two places. Then bake till golden at 375 degrees. Very creamy and good. Great for any vegetarians that may be at your party.
 The most complicated of the recipes was these "taquitos". Ok, let's be real, they are more like burritos. I used 2 chicken breasts, 4 oz salsa, 2 Tbs hot pepper sauce and 1 large onion diced. I put all of that into a crock pot and cooked it for 4 hours on high. The chicken shreds easily at this point. Let this cool completely and then add in 8oz of creme cheese, 4oz grated cheddar cheese and 2 green onions chopped up. Mix really well and then divide the mix up over 10 tortillas that have been warmed in the microwave. Put a big in the first third of the tortilla, fold over once and then fold in the ends and fold over again. Place onto a cookie sheet and bake till they are crispy and golden brown.
 We all LOVE mac n cheese. I can not express how much. But since it has about a bazillion calories we save events like this one to make some up. So use whatever is your favorite recipe for this part of your party. I, personally, make a quick "roux" from butter and flour with milk and then add in grated cheese, salt and pepper. Put that into a cassarole dish and sprinkle with a mixture of breadcrumbs and grated cheese and back until it's golden brown.

Now if this all seems like a LOT of cooking here is another secret. ALL of the food can be made DAYS ahead of time. Make up the fillings and either freeze or refrigerate.  Then all you have to do is assemble the day of the party and throw that into the oven for a quick bake or heat up the filling, like the bbq pork, and put onto rolls or buns. So instead of hours of cooking on the day of the event, it's really just a little cooking here or there in the days before the event.
We finished up our night with some Silver Linings Lemon Cake. This is actually referred to as "Aunt Patty's Lemon Sunshine Cake" in our family and is just some kind of serious wonderful. I now only make it for crowds because I could, literally, eat the entire thing myself without any help at all. You can find out all about how to make this incredible goodie over at the Cake Blog

So the night was a success. By and large, those we wanted to win, won. Seth was a pretty good host. He went too far at times, of course, but then, don't they all. It went a bit long, of course, but then, don't they all? Next year we'll be taking a year off but coming back in 2015 with a HUGE themed Oscar Party. 

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