Christmas Brunch

I had so much fun with Christmas Brunch this year. I have wanted to do a “Girls PJ day” for a while, and with all my Christmas decorations up, I knew I was ready!

I made a quick video  – check it out here! 

Also, here’s my Trello board, where I have organized all my thoughts going into the brunch, provided a few recipe click-throughs, my grocery list, etc! Hope it inspires you!

 

Photo Dec 03, 11 06 11 AM (1)

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Dinner Party: Taco Night!

This Friday night, I had a little fiesta of my own. I invited 6 friends over, and let them vote on what they might want. Taco Night won! So, I went on pinterest and pinned a few ideas.

Follow Julie’s board Dinner Parties on Pinterest.

And here is what I chose to do for the night!

Apps:

  • Bowl of multi grain chips
  • Salsa
  • Queso

Chips were in the bowl (still in the bag) out on the table as soon before I left for work, and then I bought pre-made salsa, but added some fresh cilantro to it before putting on the table. I also heated the queso in a small crock pot cooker, so it was nice and warm. (And, was gone in about 30 minutes!) All three were ready to eat on my living room table at 6:25, for my guests to show up at 6:30. They were all on time. Also, don’t forget to have app plates and napkins already out!

Main Dish:

  • Tacos- soft and hard shells
    • I put them in the oven at 6:00 pm on warm
  • Chicken – frozen, and had options of either pulled or grilled
    • I added diced tomatoes, chicken broth, taco seasoning and ranch dressing
  • Ground Turkey
    • I cooked this at 5:45, with taco seasoning
  • Cilantro Rice
  • Black Beans
  • Corn

I borrowed my sister’s 3 pot crock pot! I can’t find hers, but just for an example. That way I could keep all my meat warm, but use the stove top for other cooking. I had 1/2 my mixture for the chicken already in the pot too, warming. The Cilantro rice was super easy. I cooked the 2 cups of rice by the directions with chicken broth, and then right before everyone got there, I added in the chopped cilantro.  I also had the black beans and corn heated on the stove top.

Toppings:

  • Cilantro
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Avocado
  • Green onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Red and yellow pepper
  • Jalapeno pepper
  • Limes

I forgot the sour cream and a Siracha dressing that I wanted to have out. Everyone loved this, as they could add whatever they wanted to their tacos! The more, the merrier.

Signature Drink:

  • Chopped Strawberries
  • Lemonade
  • White Grape Juice
  • One Can of Sprite
  • Mint leaves

Yum. This was so refreshing. I let them add what the wanted – champagne, chardonnay or vodka. We ran out of champagne, but it was fun to try other things too.

Dessert – Brownies on a Skillet

  • Brownies – that I made on Thursday night
  • Ice Cream
  • Condensed Milk
  • Chocolate Syrup

I have these small cast iron skillets, and you just want to make sure these are pretty hot. I usually reheat the brownies, then add the condensed milk over it (should bubble), chocolate syrup and ice cream when you are ready to serve!

Couple of things I learned:

  • You can always plan better and differently. But, you don’t know until you start experimenting.
  • Chop alllllllll your veggies the night before. You just run out of time.
  • Frozen chicken and ground turkey are super easy to use for this.
  • Fresh meat will spoil after a few days in the fridge. Gross. And, waste of money …leading to a last minute dash to Walmart.
  • Lay out and organize all your bowls, plates and spoons before anyone gets there. Once everyone arrives there’s no time! Especially for some who likes to talk as much as I do! I learned this from my sister!
  • I wish I would’ve put labels on the bowls too. I had two left over, and couldn’t remember what they were  for… so, we didn’t have sour cream or the Siracha sauce on the table.
  • I wish I had thought to pull out my galvanized tub, and had the wine/ champagne/ vodka in the ice. It would have kept them cold and looked pretty.
  • There is never enough ice. I’ve got to get better with that.

What a fun night. I’ve learned from this one, and am ready for more. Sorry, I was so busy talking I didn’t grab any pics!

Stuck on Events: Class Reunion

I think that someone messed up. Surely I haven’t been out of school for 10 years. Should I feel older? I still feel so young. It really hurt my feelings that I had to plan a 10-year high school reunion. Where has the time gone?

(Also, just of note, I didn’t get a lot of pictures. Sorry! I’ll do my best to describe it, and have borrowed a few from friends here!)

Well, regardless how I feel about being 10 years, it was time to plan an event. I’ve heard horror stories from some of my friends that have done reunions in the past. They pay for a place, and no one shows up. They go to a fun location, and people think it’s too expensive. I’ve heard ranges of prices of what people have paid, and I’ll be honest, I really didn’t want to fork over more than $20. I feel like I can get a meal under that price, and surely – per person – that’s enough to throw a class reunion.

So with all these things in mind, I started doing a little research. My small town does not have a ton of options for restaurants (there are three), one country club, and a few event spaces. I felt like it was easier to just have the event at a football game – that way you could see old teachers, everyone knew where the location was, and we could keep the costs for an event space to a minimum. We rented a tent (which in retrospect was a great move, and a tropical storm was making her presence known over South Alabama) and picked a spot in the end zone of the football field, right as you walked in so you couldn’t miss us!

Next up – what do we eat?  We have one of the best cooks in all of Alabama (maybe anywhere) and anytime I’m home and the Cherry Street BBQ is open – I’m there! He also caters, so that’s an easy decision. He provided BBQ, sauce, buns, baked beans, and cole slaw – who doesn’t love that meat? For dessert, I grabbed some cookies as well as a picture cake from Publix. I love picture cakes, and they did one up right for us! I found an old picture from our class dressed up for homecoming in an old chest in my room. It worked perfectly for a cake, and I picked that up on Thursday during my lunch before I hit the road. Food – check! All I had to do was pick up on the way in to the reunion on Friday. (I did get a little help from my mom to get the food to the field on time, so I could be there to decorate.)

How do we tell everyone? Thank goodness for Facebook! I was able to find most of our class members. I used my status updates and personal messages to alert them to a Survey Monkey link I created – mainly to determine the best weekend. I actually gave only two weekends, and my classmates could pick which was more convenient. The majority of our class picked the weekend of Oct 4, and provided their email addresses. I followed with an invitation I created and sent through Paperless Post – which is an easy to use software for any e-vite. You can check who has opened it, and it’s free! Classmates could RSVP for themselves and a guest with a check. This really helped us stay within our budget and not expect more people than had committed to come. And with a very inexpensive price, most people went ahead and RSVPed quickly.

What all would we need, other than food, location, and people? I ran by Walmart before traveling, and grabbed plates, drinks (Sprite, Coke and Water), forks, trash bags and napkins. Anything I could by before getting home, I did. I knew it would be helpful if I did get in a time crunch.   With my car loaded down with these utensils, decorations, and the cake, I headed to Alabama Thursday night after work.

I felt like Friday went rather smoothly. I did get in a little time crunch as I forgot to allow the fact I live a good 30 minutes from town; but, the decorations were up with the help of friends that came early, food was there on time with the help of my mom, and everyone showed up around 6:45. Their payments for the reunion also covered their entrance to the game, and we caught up with each other, ate and watched the MA Vols win!  We did run out of water though, but we had plenty of other drinks!

Saturday night, in case people were still around and wanted to hang, they could all met at Prop and Gavel to watch football, have appetizers and drinks. We had a few teachers show up for this too, which was so fun to get to catch up with everything at Monroe Academy.

Overall – I think we pulled off a great class reunion!

(Photography credit – Suzanne Cox White)