Archive for Party Ideas and Themes

How to plan a football party

The most wonderful time of the year is finally here…. FOOTBALL SEASON!! You know what that means….Time to start planning a football party!!!

Here are some basic key factors to consider when planning a football party:


This might not seem like a big issue, but it is. Are you focused on having a party on a certain day and time or for a particular game? Most times are not published until the week of the scheduled game, especially if it’s for a big matchup. You might have to be flexible, or be prepared to have a party that lasts for several hours.


Kids or no kids? Guests from rivalry teams or no? Whatever you choose, just make sure everyone invited can play nicely together in the same sandbox. Healthy rivalries are a great part of the football tradition. When it gets out of hand, however, no one has fun!


Beer is a staple for many football fans. So is Jack and Coke. If you’re on the West Coast or have an early game, Bloody Marys and Mimosas are quite popular! No matter what you provide (or have guests bring), PLEASE make sure you have enough water on hand so everyone stays well hydrated.


When you are throwing a football party, it is not the time to break out the filet mignon and scalloped potatoes. You also don’t have to limit yourself to chips and salsa.

Some of the most popular dishes I serve for football parties are Buffalo Chicken Dip, Meatballs, and Taco Dip. I’m actually going to attempt to make my Bacon Cheese Ball into the shape of a football for a party this weekend. Stay tuned to see how it turns out!!

If you would like more detailed information about how to throw the Ultimate Football Party, along with all of our best football friendly recipes, you can purchase and download our guide and cookbook for just $10.

football party


July 4th BBQ

Lemon Thyme Chicken with Feta Herb Salad

The 4th of July is right around the corner. We don’t have a set tradition in my house and are always up for something new. Last year, we hosted a family reunion. This year, a great friend from high school is flying in from Texas with her 3 kids to spend the week with us. The two of us somehow got talked into running The Peachtree Road Race the morning of the 4th. (Still not sure how that happened exactly. I hate the heat and she hates running. Put them both together and you’ve got two people who will be running straight for the beer stand after we cross the finish line). For those of you in Atlanta, we are in the “W” start wave. We decided it stands for “What have we gotten ourselves into?” Anyway, after a nice long shower, we will be headed to a friend’s house for a fantastic July 4th BBQ

Chances are you are headed to a BBQ of some sort if you’re not hosting one. We’ve got some great ideas that are always a hit for get togethers like this! 


Sausage Balls

Buffalo Chicken Dip (Denise’s Specialty for over 10 years)

Peach, Prosciutto and Ricotta Crostini (Denise’s “Healthy” Favorite)

Bacon Cheese Ball  (Melissa’s favorite for a hot day)

Jalapeño Popper Dip (Denise’s “Not so Healthy” Favorite)

Bacon Wrapped Smokies


Pasta Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette 

Sensation Salad (Denise’s original favorite)

Kale Caesar Salad with Polenta Croutons (Denise’s new found favorite)

Grilled Romaine Salad with Tomato and Corn Tumble

Watermelon Salad with Papaya and Honey Citrus Vinaigrette (Melissa’s favorite for a refreshing bite)

Grilled Caprese Salad (Denise’s favorite on the grill…and it’s pretty impressive)

Tomato Cucumber and Onion Salad


Macaroni and Cheese (Melissa’s ‘you’ve got to have it’ at a BBQ side)

Baked Potato Bar (Denise’s favorite to serve when kids are around or there’s a big crowd)

Grilled Peaches (Melissa’s favorite for summer BBQ’s light side)

Sauteed Broccolini with Lemon and Garlic

Peas and Asparagus

Garlic Green Beans (Denise’s favorite)

Zucchini with Feta Cheese and Tomatoes

Summer Squash and Zucchini


Gourmet Burger Bar

Grilled Chicken Wings with Ranch (Melissa’s favorite for a bit different)

Roasted Pork Loin with Peaches

Drunk Chicken 

Stuffed Zucchini

Marinated Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs (McNacks’s most popular recipe)

Tuna Steaks with Fresh Salsa (Clearly a Melissa favorite, Denise isn’t touching this)

Lemon Thyme Chicken with Feta Herb Salad (Denise’s Favorite)

Grilled Flank Steak with Lime, Honey, Garlic Marinade

Spicy Grilled Shrimp (Melissa’s awesome and spicy favorite)

Grilled Chicken Wrapped in Rosemary and Bacon


Lemonade Pie (Denise’s Favorite)

Peach Cream Pie (Melissa’s Favorite)

How to Make a Bacon Bowl

Bacon Bowl

For a while now I’ve been wanting to make a Bacon Bowl. It wasn’t exactly the kind of thing I would make on a regular night, so I decided to save this for a special occasion…Baconfest – The Sequel!

It was easier (and messier) than I thought it would be. Here’s how I did it as well as some tips that I figured out in the middle of the process…

How to make a bacon bowl

1. Line a large microwave safe plate with parchment paper. Tip: Cut off excess edges of the parchment paper. My plate was so big that the excess paper hit the door of the microwave when it spun, causing the bacon to move. 

2. Put 8 or 10 (depending on the size of your plate and microwave) slices of bacon side by side on the parchment paper. Make sure it’s an even number. Fold back every other piece halfway and horizontally place another piece of bacon. Return the bacon to its original position. 

3. Now, fold back the other pieces of bacon and place a strip of bacon horizontally. 

4. Repeat to create a lattice. 

Bacon Bowl

5. Place bacon in the microwave and cover with a paper towel. Cook on 60% power for 10 minutes. Remove the paper towel and use more to dry the bacon. Tip: This is greasy. Have your trash can nearby so you’re not dripping across your floor. 

6. Put a dry paper towel on the bacon and cook on 60% power for an additional 10 minutes. Carefully remove the plate from the microwave. Tip: Use oven mitts. It’s going to be hot. 

7. Get a large measuring cup (I used a 4 c. glass measuring cup from Pampered Chef which I’m sure many of you have)! If you don’t have this, use something similar in size and you will be just fine. Tip: Put paper towels underneath your measuring cup to catch the greasy drippings. 

8. CAREFULLY invert the bacon lattice over the measuring cup. Place back in the microwave (with the paper towels underneath) and cook for about 10 more minutes on 60% power or until the bacon is done and holds its shape. 

9. Using oven mitts, remove the bacon and place on paper towels to cool. 

Bacon Bowl

10. Turn it back over and fill it with whatever yumminess you like. I chose cubes of delicious cheese!!!

Bacon Bowl

One Dish/Two Ways: It’s Greek Week!

We decided that for this week’s version of “One Dish/Two Ways” we would be much more flexible in how we would go about preparing the meal. We did this mainly so neither one of us can break any rules (or be accused of breaking any rules).

Wow…flashback to high school…or was it just the last one dish-two ways competition.

Anyway…the concept for this week was very simple – Awesome Greek Food Recipes !

Here’s what we came up with:

Denise’s Delicious Greek Menu:

Melissa’s Amazing Greek Menu:

  • Shrimp Saganaki – sautéed shrimp with ouzo, tomato, feta and parsley
  • Spinach Pie (variation of Spanakopita)
  • Kale salad with apple cider and honey vinaigrette – no recipe needed. It’s just 2T honey, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and your taste of olive oil – I do a bit less than 1/4 cup
  • Roasted eggplant
  • Arborio rice with shallots
  • Tzatziki (store bought!!)

Now, as we go through this week of posts, keep in mind:

(1) Denise made the theme suggestion of Greek Week

(2) Greece is primarily a coastal and island nation in close proximity to Italy and Turkey with borders on the Mediterranean Sea, Ionian Sea and Aegean Sea.

map of greece

Beyond that, we hope you enjoy the carnage that is to come!!



Our most recent “Fest” was Cheesefest this past weekend. Did it top Baconfest, or Winefest?  No. However, how can an evening of cheesy food be bad? As I teased on Facebook the other day, I made a Fontina Cheese, Sage, and Panko Breadcrumb Stuffed Pork Loin Wrapped in Prosciutto. It really was as good as it looked. (Note: if you haven’t liked our Facebook page, you really need to…that’s where we post some really funny stuff. Just click on the Facebook icon to your right.)!

We had some fantastic dishes brought to our house. Melissa did her famous Scalloped Potatoes, as well as her Tomatoes and Feta Salad. We had a friend recreate our Pimento Cheese with Candied Bacon recipe. There were spinach pinwheels, sausage pinwheels and desserts that were too pretty to even eat…although they were devoured in seconds! Crab dip, spinach casserole, doctored up Cheez Its, Stuffed peppers with goat cheese…I can’t even name it all!! The food was fantastic, and no one suffered from a heart attack the next day due to clogged arteries! I’d call that a SUCCESS!!!


Cheesefestphoto 2


Winefest Recap

Well THAT was a fun night!! I think the consensus is that Winefest was the biggest hit of all the “fests” to date! Everyone hit a home run with the food this time! In the coming week, I will be sharing the recipes for Drunken Cheesy Bread, Amazing Chicken in Garlic White Wine Sauce, Chocolate Red Wine Cake….just to name a few! There was such a great mix of food and no one went hungry. 

The wine tasting was great fun! We had 2 bottles of white wine (a chardonnay and a sauvignon blanc), 9 bottles of red (red blends, pinot noir, cab, zinfandel and merlots) and a pinot beer to try. The prices ranged from $8-$20. The tasters were really getting into it.

Of course, comments were made that the “dump bucket” was my big Alabama pitcher…but that’s neither here nor there.

When the tasters were done filling out their tasting cards, they put them in a holder so we could see which wines won the tasting.

Wine Tasting

As it turns out, this crowd is not much into white wine. Both whites came in pretty low in the overall taste test. The reds, however, were all over the map. All of the wines were rated high and low by the guests. It goes to show you that the taste of wine truly is a personal thing! 


How to host a Wine Tasting

Wine TastingWinefest is tonight!!! Hosting a wine tasting party isn’t the same as hosting other types of parties. There’s a little more planning that goes into it. Here are a couple of key tips and ideas to host a successful wine tasting party. 


8 tips to hosting a successful wine tasting

1. Don’t feel like you have to do everything yourself. Have your guests pitch in! We are having everyone bring a dish made with wine. We also asked for everyone who wants to participate in the wine tasting to bring a bottle to share. Oh yes…and Dominos for the kids!

2. Have food specific for the tasting. We are setting up our wine tasting in the bar in our basement. You always hear about “cleansing the palate” when you are tasting different wines so we have bread, cheese and fruit to help with this. We are not offering any of those tasteless crackers!

3. Use glasses not plastic. If you are going to have a wine tasting, you really have to use glass! You cannot properly taste wine in a solo cup, really! With this many people, you probably don’t have enough of the proper shape for each varietal in a cut crystal glass, but glass is still key. Just try to use the ‘generic’ shape glass.

4. Dump buckets and water. It’s important to have a dump bucket so guests can dump any wine that they don’t want to finish drinking. You also want to have some pitchers of water so guests can rinse their glass between tastings if they want. However, if tasting in the same varietal, it’s best to have remnants of the previous wine than water anyway. 

5. Have a tasting sheet. The goal of a wine tasting isn’t to get drunk off of lots of different kinds of wine. It’s to try new wines that you wouldn’t normally have the chance to taste and see what you like! We have a sheet for guests to rate the wines on aroma (bouquet, nose), flavor & texture, finish, and appearance (color, legs, etc.). It will be fun to see which wines come out the winner!

6. The blind taste test. There are different ways to have a wine tasting. We have decided to do a blind taste test so each bottle will be wrapped in foil with a number on it. The guests will be given an index card to write down the description of the wine they brought on one side. That will be what the guests see when tasting the wine. On the other side of the card, it will be the name, vintage, year and price of the wine. We don’t want people to see the type of wine they are drinking or the price point until they have decided whether or not they like it!

7. Beverages. It might be a hard concept to grasp, but not everyone likes wine. You should have other options for the guests who don’t like wine or don’t drink alcohol. You also need water. Lots of water!!!

8. Have fun.  As with any party you host, have fun!! You are entitled to it as much as your guests are. For more ideas of planning a party, make sure you visit the Entertaining with Ease section of our website.

Valentines Day Card from Tiny Prints