I want to say that I didn’t eat a whole plate of nachos by myself but that would be lying.
Can you honestly blame me? I wouldn’t judge you for eating a whole plate of nachos on your own. Go ahead, I won’t tell!
It’s December already and the year is winding down. I think there is a significant group of people (most of America…) who are very grateful to see the end of 2016. I will agree that there are elements of this year that have been less than awesome and yet there have also been some amazing highlights. It might be possible that every year looks something like this. Highs and lows, it’s the way it goes. Did I just write a song?
I am not going to lament on the election. I think that has been covered already. I have decided to turn to other pursuits like reading funny books, buying sweaters with animals on it, snuggling with Mr. JD and reciting Elf quotes. I might have come up with the cure for disappointment. Just follow these steps and you can wake up every morning telling yourself it will all be ok. It might help if you have a dog like Mr. JD who just happens to be hysterical and a big cuddle bug. If you don’t have a Mr. JD then you may try snuggling with a baby or a cat, both are reasonable substitutes, though I would warn that the cat may scratch. If this doesn’t work then you can always turn to the holiday spirits, thank goodness for eggnog am I right?!?!
Since this year isn’t making the top ten list I think I’ll make the most of December by eating plates of nachos (jk, I need to be able to wear all those animal sweaters!!!), being obnoxious about all things holiday related, perhaps partaking in winter sports and of course, ending most evenings with a steaming glass of hot cocoa topped with a ludicrous amount of marshmallows (obvi). Doesn’t this all sound great?
How are you celebrating the holidays this year? Are there any fun things I should be adding to my list? Leave a comment below telling me how you plan to make the most of what is left of 2016. I hope you find a way to make these nachos part of your plans. I promise you wont be disappointed!
Guys! I have this secret obsession with starting a dinner club. It’s not a secret anymore since I just told you about it, ha. Seriously, anyone who knows me, knows I love to host gatherings. I mostly love hosting when it involves food (which is always). Also, you probably know I have an obsession with all things fall. So, of course I had to put those two things together! Recently, I co-hosted a fall inspired dinner party with my co-worker and I think it was a huge success. Here are some of our tips and pics!
Pick a location – We wanted to have the party outside so we had to decide between backyards. When doing a party outside make sure you have a fairly flat yard if you want to put a table on the grass. Know where your electrical outlets are if you want to use any sort of lighting or music. HAVE A RAIN PLAN! We live in Pittsburgh and we have our fair share of rain, make sure your location allows for flexibility if you have rain or snow. (It did start pouring an hour before our dinner but we waited it out and luckily our guests were more than happy to help us get things set up when it was dry.)
Sketch out a menu before you send the invite – This was a really crucial step. We actually made some pretty good decisions on the theme of the menu and number of dishes before we sent out the invite. We decided to focus on a Mediterranean feeling menu but wanted to make sure there were fall elements in each dish. We also decided on our protein early on because we knew that would drive a lot of the expense. Chicken is always a cost-effective way to go and there are plenty of ways to make it sexy! Also – remember your veg friends; they appreciate you thinking of them and making sure they don’t have to just eat salad.
Make a Pinterest board – Shortly after menu planning we set up a Pinterest board where we could both pin things that inspired us and dishes that looked yummy. Ultimately, most of the recipes we chose came from Pinterest. This is also a good way to focus in on specific elements of the party that you want to make sure you capture (i.e., I was committed to having a blanket bench and luckily she had a bench so I brought the blankets!)
When it comes to decor, simple can still be elegant – I subscribe to the notion that when you want something to look really classy, just add candles! We kept the decor very simple, the tables were covered in butcher paper (a roll from Michaels cost $7.00) and we used mason jars with tea lights as decoration along with two vases of dried flowers (see picture below). A simple accent of burlap and twine helped to keep the rustic fall look. The food was all served family style which means you need plenty of room for your dishes on the table. A strand or two of lights can also make a huge difference. Don’t fuss with fancy dishes or glassware! If you want to spend money, spend it on more candles!!!! Fun platters can also serve as a great way to bring color or detail to your table.
Buy in bulk – We made a Costco run a week before the dinner to pick up ingredients that were non-perishable or had a long shelf life (nuts, cheeses, dried fruits). Buying in bulk can be a great way to save on the cost, we had also planned dishes that had similar ingredients so things could be used in multiple dishes.
Full bar vs. wine or beer – We talked about this a good deal. Do you go with specialty cocktails? Do you get a bunch of wine and beer? Ultimately, you should do whatever you think your guests will like. We had a feeling a lot of our guests would bring some wine so we decided it would be easier to just have wine (we ended up going through lots of wine!!). To save on money, encourage your guests to bring their favorite wine or beer. Most people want to bring something as a token of appreciation so let them!
Time out cooking so that you don’t have to stand in the kitchen the whole time – We did some prep work the night before (mostly sauces and cutting). Make sure you pick recipes that are simple enough that you can execute in a few hours. Time everything out based on prep time and cook time. If you want to pre-bake anything make sure you don’t overcook it. Your guests wont know what things are supposed to look like so you get to be the judge before things go out!
Don’t Stress! – I have had my fair share of kitchen meltdowns but I have learned that the biggest part of entertaining is the time spent with your guests. Unlike a restaurant, your guests usually don’t come in with a lot of expectations (unless you have hosted before and then of course, you have to live up that haha) so just roll with it! If it rains, it rains. As long as you have plenty of wine I am sure it will still be a great time!
You are probably wondering why it has been so quiet over here at HPB. I wish I had a super exciting reason for being MIA but the reality is far less interesting. It just seemed so busy lately. I was just busy. Busy means a lot of things I suppose. More nights out with friends and co-workers, weekend excursions, networking events and building an organization with 5 badass ladies! I mean, this is like a legit kind of busy right? I totally ate at all the places and took pictures of all the things. If you follow me on Insta then you know I might be obsessed with the new “snapchat” thing since I clearly don’t get snapchat (still trying…) and you have probably seen more pics of me being a total goofball then you had ever wanted to see but I feel like it’s important you get to see the real me. Turns out the real me is really into selfies and photos of Mr. JD. But anyway, here are some of the things I ate and drank in July and August. Sorry it has been so long. hope you forgive me!
Man, I really want to talk about these political conventions and such…
Sike! Let’s talk about tostada’s and how much I obsess about Mexican food. I just celebrated my 30th birthday (crazy right?!) and when we were planning the party everyone asked me what kind of food I wanted. At first I was thinking it needed to be a huge spread of all sorts of fancy things or this big catered affair. I went to my family and asked them what they thought I should do, they asked me what my favorite food is and without hesitation I screamed “TACOS!!!”. I really, really, really like tacos. Me encanta tacos! I guess everyone loves tacos but I have some pretty interesting stories to support this love obsession. These are not particularly flattering stories so I will spare you.
The hubs and I take every opportunity to try tacos from all sorts of places claiming to have the best tacos. Since the hubs is from SoCal he feels inclined to compare all tacos to the real deal on the West Coast. As you can imagine, very few come close. He likes the simple street style, not overdressed in toppings, meat, onion, cilantro, lime. We both feel strongly that the best tacos come on corn tortilla’s and those tortillas should be able to handle the weight of the juicy meat wrapped inside without crumbling in your hand.
When I was looking for the best tacos to serve at my party I was fortunate to stumble upon the Yelp page for Edgar’s Tacos. We were already familiar with Edgar and his tacos from our visits to the Strip District. I was literally jumping out of my chair when I saw that they catered. I picked up the phone and immediately booked them for the party. I could not wait!!! I talked about tacos for days (probably weeks) leading up to the party and had firmly decided that the party was taco and tequila themed. Life goal – eat ALL the tacos and drink ALL the tequila. Guys, it was so perfect! I should have taken pictures but I was too interested in eating and general partying, my bad! I did get some pretty delicious cupcakes with pictures of tacos and tequila bottles on them (see below), I thought they were hilarious and delicious.
If you are from Pittsburgh or just visiting make sure you visit Edgar and his amazing tacos. You will not be disappointed!!
You are probably thinking, wow that was a great story but you did not make tacos. Ok, so I didn’t make you tacos but I did make tostadas which are basically flat tacos. The real story to these tostadas is that I had to figure out a way to use the tons of tequila I had leftover (there wasn’t really that much left…) and I figured I could whip up a quick marinade for my chicken and then use the chicken for whatever my heart desired (tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, etc.).
I received these plates as a bday gift from one of my co-workers. I guess she was well aware of my mexican food obsession or she has magical powers. Oh, also, I ate these for breakfast…no judging!
Summer greetings friends! So far July is living up to its reputation. There have been muggy days and nights, also some amazing days and nights. I am not complaining! The 4th came and went. Hopefully you saw some pretty cool fireworks. We didn’t actually watch the fireworks this year so I need to find me some of those before the summer ends. Guys, guess who is turning 30 in 6 days?! I am actually very excited about it, I am ready to be out of the 20’s. Also, after 25 I basically forgot how old I was every time someone asked me. Whenever someone asks me how old I am now I tell them 30 (I have been telling people that for like the last 3 months haha). Anyway, my next post will probably feature highlights from my birthday celebrations and all sorts of wise things I automatically picked up after turning 30.
Here are things I ate and drank in June. It was a pretty delicious month!