enertaining

DIY Naturally Bound Dinner Menu

I love the idea of using both things that I have on hand, and things from nature in this quick and cute way to bind up a dinner menu (or a note card, or wedding program, etc).  This simple project takes only a few household supplies and is super easy. Keep reading for the full instructions!

You will need:

  • Cardstock Paper
  • Paper Punch
  • Small tree branch
  • Elastic

Punch two holes where you’d like the sheets bound just slightly wider than your rubber band.  Poke one side of your rubber band through each hole, securing with a cut snippet of a branch.

There you are!  It’s so quick, but sometimes little details can make the biggest impacts!

Have a BEAUTIFUL Day!



* Photo Credits: House of Ernest

Bloody Mary With a Twist–of Bacon?

That’s right!  Bacon!  I recently attended a party at a friends’ house.  The gentleman of the house LOVES BACON.  I mean–REALLY LOVES BACON.  Being the geek-type individual he is (and I love him for it) he went surfing the internet to find a recipe for a bacon bloody mary. They were a huge hit.

The bacon bloody mary proves a belief that I have had for some time.  Find ways to incorporate things you love in other things you love.  You will create some unique combinations that you can share with friends and family.  Your food and drinks can be a reflection of you and your personality.  Don’t discount a recipe that has an ingredient that you don’t like or that you think is too expensive.  Instead consider things that you DO like or a less expensive substitute.

A small example, my significant other is not a big fan of white meat (breast) from chicken.  So when I make recipes for him that call for chicken breast, I substitute chicken thighs.  They tend to be about the same price (sometimes a little less expensive) and the flavors are not significantly altered.  In fact, because it has chicken thighs rather than breast, he enjoys them more.

Another variation that I often incorporate is substituting a portion of a recipe calling for ground beef with some ground pork or pork sausage.  If a recipe calls for two lbs of ground beef for something like a meatloaf, I will often use one pound of ground beef and one pound of ground pork or pork sausage.  This provides a new depth of flavor AND adds moisture to the dish.  This trick can be used in meat sauces, meatloaf (as mentioned), meatballs, in pasta dishes, etc.

This can be a particularly useful approach when it comes to vegetables as well.  My chili recipe calls for three types of beans.  I use one can of chili beans, one can of kidney beans and one can of black beans.  Say, for instance, you don’t care for black beans.  No problem at all.  Simply substitute a can of white beans or pinto beans instead.  The recipe will suit your taste, but at the base, the recipe will not be substantially altered.  The substitutions can even be more extreme in some cases.

As an example, I will give you a recipe below as originally written.  I’ll substitute a number of ingredients so you can see how this might work for you.

Original Recipe

Published in Kraft Food and Family Magazine Holiday 08/Winter 09 Issue

Creamy Crab and Red Pepper Spread

2 green onions, thinly sliced, divided

1 tub (8 oz) Philadelphia 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese

1 can (6 oz) lump crabmeat, drained

½ cup Kraft 2% Milk Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

½ cup finely chopped red peppers

1 Tbsp. Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard

Ritz Reduced Fat Crackers

Reserve 2 Tbsp onions.  Mix remaining onions with all remaining ingredients expect crackers; cover.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour.  Sprinkle with reserve onions.  Serve with crackers.

MY VARIATION

Creamy Southwest Chicken and Pepper Spread

2 green onions, thinly sliced, divided

1 tub (8 oz) Philadelphia 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese

1 can (6 oz) chicken, drained

½ cup Kraft 2% Milk Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

½ cup finely chopped fresh pasilla (also known as poblano) peppers

1 ½ Tbsp. Kraft Mayonnaise

A few drops of chipotle pepper sauce or other hot sauce of your choice

Ritz Reduced Fat Crackers

Reserve 2 Tbsp onions.  Mix remaining onions with all remaining ingredients expect crackers; cover.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour.  Sprinkle with reserve onions.  Serve with crackers.

It’s just that easy.  Try revamping some of your favorite recipes or recipes you read.  Transform them to meat your taste (and your family’s taste).   The example above is a bit simplistic in that the elements really are basically the same.  You can go a little further out when you modify recipes, just think things trough for texture and flavor combinations.

Have fun inventing!  Best wishes for love, laughter and elegence in all common things.

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