Tips for Planning the Perfect Winter Olympics Party (guest post)

USA,USA,USA!!!

USA,USA,USA!!!

Hi Party People!  I’ve been super busy these last few days so today I have a special treat for you… a fellow blogger, Quinn has written a post for you that will give you some ideas on how to plan an AWESOME Olympics Party.  I don’t know about you, but I absolutely cannot wait to watch my favorite winter sports… (forced to watch hockey by Dave) Figure Skating, Snowboarding, and who doesn’t love Curling?!  Check out these great tips and let the games begin! (May the odds be ever in your favor…)

Kinda obsessed with the flying tomato...

Kinda obsessed with the flying tomato…

Trying To Plan The Perfect Party For The Olympics? Here Are Some Things You Might Need!

The Olympic games will be here in a couple of days and many people have begun the party planning process. Sometimes, finding the perfect cocktail or appetizer dish can be difficult.

My husband and I host many sporting event parties over the years. Each year, it gets a little bit easier to host a party because I feel I have found out how to make the party planning process smoother. Below are a few tips for having a great Olympic party:

Break Out the Décor!

What’s a better way to celebrate than decorating for the theme? Break out the national flags and homemade Olympic rings. Even Fourth of July décor would work just fine with the red, white and blue theme!

Plan A Fun Game

Even though the Olympics are really exciting to watch just in itself, playing a game can ensure your guests have a great time! One thing I suggest is buying an array of international beers and holding a blind taste test! Use a score sheet with quirky descriptions of each beer. Whoever guesses the most correct wins a (homemade) medal!

Choose A Great Appetizer

The Olympics come around only every 4 years making them unique. An Olympic party simply would not be the same without a unique appetizer. My husband enjoys a bacon-wrapped meatball dish that I make. My party guests love it, and people are always asking for the recipe. I use the recipe from this site.

Personal note: My husband purchased me a casserole dish a couple of years ago from here as a token of his appreciation for hosting every year. Every time that we have guests over I use it! One of the many great things about this dish is that it can be microwaved and is also dishwasher safe. I would encourage anyone to get a casserole dish that can be used and reused.

Pick A Patriotic Cocktail

Everyone loves a tasty drink. What’s more patriotic than a Red, White and Blue Sangria? As the name suggests, it is perfect for the Olympics. My husband and the party guests, as well as I enjoy the sweet taste. If you are looking for a great Red White and Blue Sangria, then you should consider checking out this website.

When planning a party, it sometimes can be hard to break out of the normal mold, especially if it’s tailored towards a certain event. Over the years, we’ve switched things up and our guests seem to really enjoy it! I hope these tips help out for this year’s games!

-Written by Quinn from Healthy Living by Quinn

More about our special guest blogger, Quinn:

Quinn is a self-proclaimed health enthusiast. She loves spending time with her husband and two boys. When she’s not driving her boys from sports practice to sports practice, she enjoys a nice glass of wine and a good book. 
Blog: healthylivingbyquinn.blogspot.com

Spinach Colcannon & the Kerrygold Holiday Contest

Back when I worked at Trader Joe’s, I was introduced to Kerrygold Butter.  At first, I didn’t understand why or how one butter could be different from another… but then I tasted it.  Wow.  Kerrygold uses milk from grass-fed cows to produce extra creamy, sweet, and rich butter.  You can absolutely taste the difference.  One of my co-workers from Trader Joe’s, Will, is obsessed with Kerrygold.  When I started my blogger partnership with them, I immediately thought of my friend Will and his love for this special butter.

Will- this recipe is for you!

This version of mashed potatoes isn’t just your normal Thanksgiving style smashed Yukons with some milk and butter.  This recipe was inspired by the Kerrygold butter itself- it is my version of the classic Irish dish Colcannon.  Typically, Colcannon is a mashed potato dish made with cabbage and loads of butter.  In this recipe, I used crumbled bacon, scallions, and in place of cabbage I used tons of fresh baby spinach.

Spinach Colcannon made with Kerrygold Butter

Ingredients:

3lbs Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt

8 Tablespoons Unsalted Kerrygold Butter, plus more for serving

3 slices Bacon, cooked and chopped or crumbled

1 6-oz bag of baby Spinach

3 Green Onions, chopped

1 cup Skim Milk

Sea Salt, Fresh Ground Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder to taste

Directions:

1.  Put the chopped potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water.  Add 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil.  Boil the potatoes for about 15-20 minutes or until they’re fork tender.  Drain.  Put the potatoes back in the pot.

2.  In a glass measuring cup, heat the milk in the microwave about 30 seconds at a time until warm.  Meanwhile, start to smash the hot potatoes with a fork or a potato masher.  Add the butter, a tablespoon or two at a time, mashing into the potatoes.  Now, pour about half of the milk into the potatoes and stir.  Add the chopped bacon, spinach, and green onions.  Stir.

3.  Add more milk if the potatoes are too thick.  It’s all about how you like them to taste!  Add sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder starting with 1/2 teaspoon of each.  Add a sprinkle more until you like the way it tastes.  Serve hot with a pat of butter on top.  Enjoy!

Click here to check out Kerrygold Butter and Cheeses!

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And for your holiday season enjoyment… check out this ah-may-zing song about… you guessed it!!  Colcannon!  Hilarious.

Hallmark’s Get Carded Challenge

Just in time for the holidays, I participated in a challenge sponsored by Hallmark.  I saw another blogger post about this challenge and really liked the idea of it.  I feel like there aren’t too many other little things in life that feel as good as getting unexpected snail mail.  This is why I loved this challenge!  Another thing?  I get to give a package of TEN cards to one of my lucky readers!!

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The Challenge:  Send 7 cards in 7 days to 7 special people.

I was so excited to send my cards out and make my 7 friends feel special :)

I didn’t take pictures of all of them, but I wanted to show you a few… they were all so different and pretty.

My 7 Cards were sent out to 7 VERY special people…

Kat:  My SOULMATE :)  Katerina is one of my best friends and an absolute doll.  Kat lives in Dallas so sending her some surprise snail mail was really fun! Kat is my girlfriend who just got married and I just wanted to take a second to tell her how excited I am for her and her husband to start their new life together.

The “B” Family:  The Thanksgiving card was sent out to Dave’s Aunt and Uncle who live close to us at home.  They missed our amazing Thanksgiving this year to go on vacation in sunny Florida, so I wanted to send them a little love.  Also Dave’s Aunt Naomi just broke her ankle so she could use a little extra love!

Cynthia and Jared:  My dear friends who I never get to see because they live in a pretty house down in VIRGINIA!  Cynthia and Jared came to visit Dave and I during Thanksgiving “break” and we had such a great time catching up, eating delicious food (of course), and drinking wine and good beer.  I sent the two of them a cute card to thank them for the visit… we had such a great time!

Stacy:  I actually mailed Stacy’s card right in front of her :)  Stacy is my supervisor at my new job and has been a complete lifesaver to me for the past six months!  I look up to her for absolutely everything, not just at work.  We keep each other company on long drives between appointments and pretty much throughout the entire day, every day.  We both have had a TOUGH and very busy month at work, so my card to Stacy was to brighten up her day!

Mom:  Had a very pretty card with a very sweet message that I had to send to my Mom.  We pretty much talk all day/everyday, but she surely wasn’t expecting a card in the mail!  My Mom is my best friend- she’s just the best… and everyone that knows her feels the same.

Dave:  There was a cute card in my pack that sang a country song but the message on the front was just too darn cute to not send to my FIANCE!  (We still don’t say that outloud… just too weird!)

Allie:  My food blogging friend Allie needed some cheering up.  I wanted her to know that I was thinking about her and maker her smile… sometimes we all could use that, right?  Allie has been super stressed with trying to plan her own wedding- that’s something I can absolutely relate to these days!

I have three more cards left and will be sending them in the next few days as a bonus!

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If you’re a blogger and are interested in signing up for the Get Carded Challenge… click here!

ALSO- we all get to use a 30% off coupon at Hallmark.com for the rest of the year!  Just use this coupon code at checkout: BLOG30

Now, for the moment you’ve been waiting for…  Here’s how to win your own pack of TEN Hallmark Cards!!!!!  Enter as many times as you want between today and December 22nd.  Good luck!

CLICK HERE to enter!  WIN 10 Hallmark Cards

Chai Tea Eggnog Cookies & 2013 Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

Oh hey bloggy friends!  It’s been too long, hasn’t it?

The holiday season is the perfect time to make happy food.  It’s a time to momentarily forget our diets, stop counting the calories, and just sit back and enjoy some yummy comfort food.  For me- that kind of food is dessert!  And my favorite dessert has to be cookies :)

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This is the second year I’ve participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, and I cannot wait to tell you about the delicious cookies I made!  Here’s how it works:  I whip up a huge batch of cookies and send a dozen to three different bloggers that I am assigned to.  The best part… three different bloggers send ME a dozen cookies each!  It’s such a fun way to try new recipes and share with friends in the holiday spirit.

Today, I’m going to share the recipe I made with you.  I have been dying to try this creative semi-homemade recipe from Southern Living for a few years now.  I left out the glaze topping in the hopes that they would be better for shipping to my FB Cookie Swap friends… and they turned out so fabulous!  I know it sounds a little strange at first, but the flavors are amazing.  The eggnog keeps the cookies unbelievably moist.  These are the perfect addition to your holiday cookies repertoire!

Chai Tea Eggnog Cookies

Ingredients:

1 Chai Tea Bag

1 package Sugar Cookie Mix (Betty Crocker)

1/2 cup Melted Butter (one stick)

1 large Egg

2 Tablespoons Eggnog

Cinnamon Sugar

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350. 

2.  Remove tea leaves from bag- discard bag.  Mix tea leaves, cookie mix, butter, egg, and the 2 Tablespoons of eggnog until well blended.  

3.  Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper or silpat lined baking sheets.  Flatten dough with the bottom of a glass dipped in cinnamon sugar.

4.  Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned.  Remove and cool on a wire rack.  ENJOY!

Original Recipe from:  Southern Living

I am LOVING the Kerrygold butter I've been using this winter... so creamy!

I am LOVING the Kerrygold butter I’ve been using this winter… so creamy!

I got to make a huge batch- had to make FOUR dozen... three for the swap and one for us :)

I got to make a huge batch- had to make FOUR dozen… three for the swap and one for us :)

Flattening the cookies and adding some crunchy cinnamon sugar

Flattening the cookies and adding some crunchy cinnamon sugar

All done!

All done!

I love the flecks of Chai Tea that you can see throughout the cookies.  They are crunchy on the edges and nice and chewy in the middle.

I love the flecks of Chai Tea that you can see throughout the cookies. They are crunchy on the edges and nice and chewy in the middle.

We’re Engaged!!!!!

Sorry I’m not sorry for being MIA for the past two weeks…

It’s because Dave and I GOT ENGAGED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After 5 Years of dating he finally popped the question and I (of course) said YES!

Who has time to cook when there’s so much planning to do and things to celebrate?!

I will be back soon, I promise!

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Night Market South Street

Not too long ago in mid-August, Dave, Adam and I took a walk down South Street over to the Night Market.  The Night Market is a street food festival in Philly sponsored by The Food Trust, featuring the best food trucks and restaurants in Philly.  The goal is to “celebrate up-and-coming neighborhoods and showcase Philadelphia’s diverse food and drinks and vibrant arts and culture scene”.  Sounds like a good time to me!

With so many booths and trucks to visit, the three of us (along with some of our other regulars- Mike and Mer) decided to grab one item from the trucks with the shortest lines and share everything in order to try as many things as possible!  We ended up doing really well and left VERY FULL of delicious Philly food.  Here we go:

1.  Bloody Mary with Old Bay Vodka

2.  Homemade Gnocchi, Mamma Maria’s

3.  Black Garlic Wings, Cheu Noodle Bar

4.  Sausage Cheesesteak on a Pretzel Roll, Alla Spina

5.  Hard Cider, Frecon’s Cidery

6.  Roast Pork Sandwich, Esposito’s Porchetta

7.  BBQ Chicken & Cheddar Egg Roll, Foo Truck

8.  Braised Meatball Wrap, Foo Truck

9.  Pizza, Nomad Pizza

10.  Coconut Hibiscus Popsicle, Lil’ Pop Shop

WHEW!  Okay, now time to drool!

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The boys waiting in line :)

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Gorgeous night at the Night Market!  Look at the crowd, soooo many people!

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My 15 Minutes of Fame

Here I think I am… writing about a meal I had at a food truck because I’m so busy with moving that I have no time to cook.  Little did I know that this little post about the fabulous Thai-Mexican Mashup Food Truck, Cucina Zapata… would lead to my 15 minutes of fame.  That is- as long as it makes it to the final cut.

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Today I got to be interviewed along with my new blogging friend Amanda (Amanda’s Blog ) for a show on Food Network & Cooking Channel called Eat St.  We got to order some tacos, curry, and their famous Captain Crunch Crusted Tilapia Burrito and talk about it!  I even got to bring my fellow blogging bff Allie (you should know her by now but… Allie’s Blog)!  We had a lot of fun chatting with fellow C.Z. lovers, hoping we will get to be on the episode.  Keep your fingers crossed!  

In honor of this amazing food truck and special opportunity, here is my post about Cucina Zapata!  

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It’s about time.  I finally live in the city… and I finally got to eat at a food truck!

The only problem is- I think I’m hooked!  If only I worked in Philly too… hmmmmm…

Anyway, the Food Truck I decided to try was Cucina Zapata in University City.  Cucina Zapata serves the most unbelievable tacos- Thai style.  Just look at their Twitter account profile… “Remember when you were like, Damn, I could go for some Thai food…..in a taco. Well, here it is. You’re welcome.”  That really explains what they’re all about!

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I decided to try the daily Curry, which was Veggie Red Curry at the time.  I also wanted to try a taco, so I went with the Short Rib… really how could I pass that up?

Like, OMG this stuff is spectacular.  Check it out!

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I could NOT believe how much food it was too.  The curry was so hearty and spicy and was served with a whole bunch of Jasmine Rice.  The taco was just pure heaven.  Stuffed with tender meat, fresh veggies like tomatoes, cabbage, and avocado… even just one would be enough for my entire lunch!  YUM!

I absolutely cannot wait to go back… I may have to drive all the way out to University City to try more Thai Tacos!

Follow them on Twitter to see what kind of specials they have everyday!  @Cucina_Zapata