murder mystery tour is waiting to take you away

10 tips for throwing a budget savvy dinner party for 20 people

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Last weekend, I had a blast planning a Murder Mystery Dinner Tour in East Troy for a fantastic group of people. Here's what I did to make things easier: 

1. Use flatware and plates you have on-hand. Not everything has to match perfectly, in fact it's sometimes better if it doesn't. We mismatched clear and white plates for service and used 3 different flatware sets...gold, silver, and more silver -different shape. Nobody cared and everyone thought that table setting was lovely.

2. Use nature. We pulled leaves, branches, and flowers from the park. A weeping willow tree is the perfect companion for bright, happy yellow flowers. 

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3. Have lots of bread and easy dips/tapenades on the table to start. Store-bought is fine as long as you garnish and make beautiful. This helps fill people up and gets them drinking and laughing together.

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4. Always plate the food if you are trying to control portions. I plated the salad, dinner, and dessert so I knew that everyone was receiving the same amount and no one got seconds....still hungry?? Eat more bread :)

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5. Potatoes should be the starch of choice for any dinner party. They are affordable, delicious and go a long way. 

6. Slow cook meats. They stay moist, are always perfectly cooked and falling apart with flavor and yumminess. For chicken and salmon, cook to temperature and add a pan sauce to help add flavor and keep moist during serving. 

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7. Say vegetable medley on the menu. You can buy vegetables that look the best the day of the party. Don't limit yourself to anything concrete. 

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8. Make a menu that is easily Gluten & Dairy-free. That way, you don't have anyone chiming in last minute with special requests that you can't accommodate. So many things are naturally dairy and gluten-free. I always use vegan butter and olive oil when cooking vegetables and searing meat and I use almond milk in place of cow milk. Feel free to do the same. I promise nobody notices.

9. When it comes to dessert, don't give a choice. Plate a small scoop of whatever you have to offer. Only crazy people will turn down dessert. Don't give them that option. Dessert is the highlight of life. EAT IT!

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10. Make sure to have fun and enjoy yourself when entertaining. If you have found that you are someone that can't relax while putting on a show, then hire someone else (me) to do it for you. 

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lemon pepper salmon

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pan seared chicken cutlets

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braised beef tenderloin

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roasted vegetables

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vegan truffle mashed potatoes

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key lime pie

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mixed berry cobbler

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chocolate pecan pie

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vanilla bean whip

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Healthy Lunch Box

Check out this awesome video from my friends at WeAreTeachers.com. Drizzling never looked so good. (Maybe I should be a hand model?)

The challenge was to spend $25 on groceries and create 5 unique, easy-to-make lunches that anyone could take to work. It's like taking a trip around the world without leaving your kitchen. Asia, Greece, Italy - all from one rotisserie chicken. Stop spending all that money running out to get Panera or fast food and bring a lunch made with love instead. Oh and it's not just for teachers but for construction workers, lawyers and professional clowns too!

 

BBQ Chicken Pita

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7_27 BBQ Chicken Pita Instructions.jpg

Chicken Caprese Salad

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Chicken Salad

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Greek Pita

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Sesame Stir Fry

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7_27 Sesame Stir Fry Instructions.jpg

Next week...dinner party on a budget.

Spice Up Your Summer!

I'm writing this on the first day of Summer, my favorite time of year! This past week, we've settled into our new home, adjusted to our new commutes and are just focusing on getting to know our new neighborhood. I'm so pumped to try out the Farmer's Market that's only a mile from our house. I plan on throwing the kids in a wagon and walking there on the trail behind our house. (http://www.brookfieldfarmersmarket.com/)

I set up my happy place. Isn't it beautiful??? It all starts in the kitchen and I needed to have everything in its place to feel at home. 

This week's recipes all have a little kick to them. Black bean burgers, Sweet and Spicy cauliflower, Chipotle Salmon Cakes and Stuffed Peppers. We really try to eat vegetarian as much as possible because I want my kids to love and crave veggies so we figure just give them no option!

In the theme of spicing things up, the kid's rooms are starting to come to life, beginning with the closets. Decorating a new house is a little like seasoning a meal, since it's all about accents. As we get more settled, we'll show more of the house. 

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Spicy Week Grocery list

 

Black Bean Burgers

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DON'T YOU JUST WANNA TAKE A BITE???

The black bean burgers are super versatile and they freeze well. I always double the recipe when I make them and freeze half. I like to crumble them into tacos, make lettuce wraps when I'm feeling like I need to lighten my load, or have them with sriracha on a salty pretzel bun when I need a reward.  

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BLACK BEAN BURGER 

 

SWEET AND SPICY CAULIFLOWER

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STUFFED PEPPERS

The stuffed peppers are a client favorite. Even people that think they don't like stuffed peppers like these and they ask for them on repeat. Pete and repeat were on a boat and Pete jumped off. Who was left? Repeat. Pete and repeat were on a boat and Pete jumped off. Who was left? Repeat.Pete and repeat were on a boat and Pete jumped off. Who was left? Repeat.

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what do you call a fish with a tie? sofishticated.

CHIPOTLE Salmon cakes

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Next week will be the weekend before the 4th of July, so we'll have a special grilling focused menu. See you then!