Tag Archives: entertaining

Winter Entertaining

Here in Fresno it is pouring rain! So when you entertaining wouldn’t you like to serve something warm and comforting? You know, like soup or chili? Of course not! I mean bowls are hard to handle and spill easily, right? There are options!

I can’t be the only on who has a million mugs (each with a story;). That is a perfect way to serve soup or chili when you are entertaining a group! This isn’t the time to pull out your matching white mugs but it is perfect for your mix and match collection. That way everyone knows which mug is theirs! Then you have a handle to hold it and they are deep enough that you can keep a spoon securely!

This is a win!!

Easy and Affordable Entertaining

Super Bowl parties are always a lot of fun! We want to make sure that they are fun and easy for the host as well as the attenders! That comes for balancing both time and money! There are some easy ways to get the most out of your party pennies and your weekend.


1. Don’t make everything and don’t buy everything! Analyze what is a good investment of time to money! If the ingredients are expensive or the process time consuming then choose to buy that dish! A good example is tortilla chips. You can get a giant bag at Costco for less than $4! It would take you hours to make them and due to the process, they probably wouldn’t be as good;). But ministuffed red potatoes/potato skins are super cheap and easy to make! And refried beans are even cheaper and easier;).


2.Use you attendees for those items you don’t want to cook!!! I know that things like wings and breaded cheese sticks are very popular but they are hard to perfect at home. This is the perfect thing to ask someone to bring! You just mention that you saw a coupon last week (which I did;) and that would be an awesome contribution! Then they feel good because they get to bring something and don’t have to cook! Win/win!


3. Be honest!!! We all want to offer a variety of veggies but no one ever eats them! I love the look of the $10 veggie plate from Costco. But do you know how many times I have had left over broccoli that I have cooked for dinner or the tomatoes I later have to use in salads? Umm, just about every one;). Save yourself some money and buy a few pounds of baby carrots for a couple of dollars. Those will actually be eaten! And you don’t need celery unless you are serving wings or Bloody Mary’s;).


4. Themed food that all works together and can hang out all day is always a win! I tend to go with a Mexican theme.  Up to a few days before I will make a huge batch of beans in the crockpot. I will turn most of them into refried beans the day of. People are always impressed with homemade refried beans but it is so cheap and easy! Then the day of I put a big old cheap pork roast inthe crockpot with plenty of seasonings and make a batch of rice in my rice maker. I pair them with fresh corn tortillas from Vallarta (or any Mexican grocery), Costco tortilla chips, salsa, guacamole, shredded cheese, sour cream, shredded lettuce, limes and queso fresco. Then let everyone eat how they want! Some will have carnitas tacos, some will do nachos and so on. Everything will hold great all day!

5. An easy alcohol plan! We are not big drinkers so I always have ice tea and soda on hand even if we do have alcohol. Every party planner I have ever read says to focus on 1 signature mixed drink. For a Mexican theme you can always go with maragarita’s. You have the cocktail and the components so an industrious gues can make what ever they want out of the components;). And if you are beer drinkers have plenty of just 1 kind on hand. When you have to many drink choices it can be over whelming to figure out how much of what to buy;).

I wouldn’t shop for alcohol at the grocery store. I would hit Costco or Beverages and More. You can get on the BevMo frequent buyer plan an,d even if you are like me and only buy alcohol once a year, it adds up! Also you get emails so you know when your favorite brands are on sale. Extra win? They take manufaturer’s coupons!!!



6. Dessert is essential! It doesn’t have to be fancy but does need to exist! Have a batch of brownies or some cookies. Pair it with a bowl of candy and you are good.


And I have left my number 1 rule to the end….DON’T HAVE FOOD THAT YOU OR FAMILY WILL NOT EAT AS LEFTOVERS! No one wants to ever run out of food. So make sure you will eat the leftovers. Then when you are still recovering the next day there will be plenty to eat in the house!


Entertaining is really that easy!


Bumble Bees

Aren’t these cute? The kids were delighted with this little treat and it was just assembly.

Round Cookies
White icing
Blue Coloring
Yellow Coloring
Mini Twix
Large Marshmallows

Take any round cookie as a base. Here I am using premade lemon sandwich cookies but homemade would work just as well. Then I took a can of premade white icing (though homemade would have worked) and split it. Some I tinted blue like the sky. And some I tinted yellow like bees. Then I iced the cookie in blue and placed a Twix in the middle. I put the yellow icing in a sandwich bag and cut a small whole in the corner. Then just add 3-5 strips on each Twix. Then cut the marshmallows in half and stick them on the sides of the Twix.

And there you have yummy bees!

Sweet Potato Empanadas

Yummy looking, eh? I got to participate in a Holiday Recipe Exchange over at Collective Bias. I got this wonderful recipe from Yoly over at Cuponeado! I was looking for a new appetizer and I think this super easy recipe fit the bill!

1 medium sweet potato
½ cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons Parkay
½ teaspoon of ground cinammon
2 pie crusts (or puff pastry)
1 egg, lightly beaten


Thaw out the pie crusts.
Meanwhile, cut potato in half and place unpeeled in a pot and cover with water.
Bring water to a boil and cook until tender, about 20-30 minutes.
Drain and rinse under cold water. Rub with towel to peel skin off.
Mash potato with the butter. Add cream cheese and cinnamon and mix well.
Pre-heat oven to 400F degrees.
Lightly flour a cutting board, to make handling the dough easier.
Using a rolling pin, roll it out thin (about 1/16 inch).
Cut circles in the dough approximately 3 to 3 ½ inches across, using a wide
mouth jar or glass.
Add a spoonful of the mixture in the center and fold over dough. Use a fork to
crimp edge.
Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
Brush the top of each empanada with beaten egg.
Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the turnovers turn golden.
Remove and allow to cool on a rack for approximately 10 minutes.

The only change I made is that I sprinkled Cinnamon Sugar over the empanadas before I put them in the oven! They were quite tasty and a hit at my Sunday School table;).

(Disclosure: While I was compensated by Collective Bias to write this post, all the opinions are mine and mine alone!)

Super Easy Pasta Bake

This is one of my big make ahead dishes. I always make it when I need to feed a crowd easy and for cheap! I buy the chicken breasts in bulk and cook them all up one day. Then I buy pasta in bulk and frozen spinach at Winco and the big bag of shredded mozzerella cheese from Costco. I stash pasta sauce in the pantry when it is on sale. I buy the disposable aluminum foil dishes from the dollar store (or the big pack at Costco from Christmas time). Then I make them up about 6 in just about 3 hours! I find they cost less than $10 to feed 8-10 people.

1 lb (or 2 cups) cooked, cubed, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 package frozen, chopped spinach: thawed and throughly drained
1 jar of pasta sauce
1 lb of pasta: cooked and drained
Mozzarella to top generously
To cook the chicken I put it on a baking sheet. Season it, put water in the bottom of the sheet and cover with foil. Then cook at 350 degrees for a half an hour. Let the chicken cool enough to handle and cube.
Then mix all the ingredients together except cheese. Then place in the baking dish. Top with cheese. This is the point you can cover tightly with foil and place in the freezer. To cook (thawed) just place it in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Make sure the cheese is throughly melted.
That is it!!! A yummy, hot, homey meal that can just live in your freezer.

Easy Chocolate Pecan Pie

I love this twist on the classic pecan pie. It is becoming a family tradition for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. I totally cheat and use a deep dish frozen pie crust.


4 ounces of semisweet chocolate (which is about 2/3 cup)
2 tablespoon margarine, melted
3 eggs
1/3 cup of sugar
1 cup of corn syrup (light or dark)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pecan halves
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell,
homemade or frozen

In a double boiler melt chocolate and margarine. Let cool. Beat eggs lightly and then add the sugar, corn syrup, chocolate mixture and vanilla. Stir until blended, I use a wire whisk to mix it thoroughly. Mix in pecans. Put the pie shell on a lined baking sheet. Then pour in the filling. The pecans make sink to the bottom, don’t worry it will all even out. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes or until the knife inserted midway between the center and rim comes out clean. Cool to room temperature before serving.

Peaches and Cream French Toast

This is a great recipe that our Mentor Mom Doris made for our MOPS breakfast and it was yummy!

1 cup packed Brown Sugar
1/2 cup butter, cubed
2 tbsp corn syrup
1 can (29oz) sliced peaches, drained
1 loaf (1lb) day old French bread, cubed
1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese cubed
12 eggs
1 1/2 cups half and half cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a small sauce pan, combine the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved: pour into a greased 13in x 9in baking dish. Arrange peaches in dish. Place half of the bread cubes over peaches. Layer with cream cheese and remaining bread. Place the eggs, cream, and vanilla in a blender: cover and process until smooth. Pour over top. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean.
Serves 12

Chocolate Almond Popcorn

This is something I try to always have on hand during the holidays but it is great all year. It keeps for quite a while if you keep it in an airtight container so it is great to pull out for those drop in guests or to take as a hostess gift.

1 cup popcorn kernels, popped
3 cups unsalted whole skin-on almonds (about 1lb), toasted
1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 stick unsalted butter
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp kosher salt
(To the almonds you can put them on a cookie sheet in the oven at 250 degrees. Cook 15 minutes until you just start to smell them. Or put them in a skillet on the stove top and cook them on medium/low until you smell them. DON’T LEAVE THEM, NUTS BURN EASILY)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Put popcorn and nuts in a large bowl and set aside. Put sugar, corn syrup, butter, cocoa powder, and salt into a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a gentle simmer (about 5 minutes). Make sure to stir the mixture. Then pour the sugar mixture over the popcorn and nuts. Don’t pour it all in one spot; try to cover the popcorn and nuts. Toss until it is all coated. Put the mixture on rimmed cookie sheets. Bake, stirring every 20 minutes, until the mixture is almost dry to the touch (about 1 hour). Then cool completely on the cookie sheets. Store it in an airtight container.

Wordless Wednesday: Blosson Cupcakes

These are the cupcakes that I made for NerdPid’s 2nd birthday. Since we still have plenty of Castle Cake from the NerdPie’s 3 days earlier I wanted to keep it simple and just did enough for the one meal. All I did was frost the chocolate cupcakes with light purple frosting. Then I cute a big marshmallow into 4 pieces. That is just a jelly bean in the middle.

I will warn you, don’t cheap out on the marshmallows. The cheaper ones are stickier and harder to put down on the cupcakes.

Brownie Peanut Butter Bites

I got this recipe out of a Pampered Chef cookbook. I made them for MOPs. I also make these for all my parties and they are always a huge hit. The only problem is that they are a bit rich so they go great with milk. This is an awesome recipe to make with kids. You mix up everything while they unwrap the peanut butter cups

***Frugal hint: If you watch the after holiday clearance, you can also get the mini peanut butter cups for a fraction of a price. They always come out with different holiday themed wrappings that the stores have to get rid of them. Then remember, chocolate and peanut butter store well.


1 package of brownie mix (I use about a 20 oz family size box but the original recipe calls for 15oz)
1/3 cup hot water
1/4 cup oil
1 egg
48 mini chocolate covered peanut butter cups


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients well except for mini chocolate peanut butter cups. Place liners into your mini-muffin tins (you really needed to line them). Fill the cups half way with batter and then press in a mini chocolate peanut butter cup into each cup. Bake 13-20 minutes or until the brownies are set. I use 2 Pampered Chef mini-muffin tins and it takes 13 minutes. Cool completely.