Sunday, January 10, 2016

Everything is Better with Bacon Party!

While the majority of people are thinking of getting in shape and eating healthy as their New Year's Resolution, I decided to make our January monthly dinner theme the exact opposite.  Our theme was...Everything is Better with Bacon! The inspiration for this theme came after one of my girlfriend's (who loves bacon) received a 2016 Bacon calendar for her birthday a few days before this party. Seeing just the cover of this calendar gave me the idea, and I ran with it.

Invite:  I made the invitation on Photoshop.  Not super creative this month, but I do like the saying, "It's Time for Swine...Let's Wine & Dine!"

Entry Decor:  As usual, I made a sign out of foam board and card stock.  I used my Cricut to cut the letters and free handed the pig and bacon.  Next to the sign, I set out my children's beanie baby pig and a mini calendar I borrowed from a friend.

Table Decor:  I borrowed some burlap squares to lay on top of my tablecloth.  Then I made a bacon table runner out of card stock.  For centerpieces, I made a vase of bacon roses, a wooden pig, and bacon candle holders.

The bacon roses for my centerpiece were very simple to make.  I just rolled each piece of bacon and secured it with two toothpicks.  The toothpicks kept the rose elevated when I placed each rose in a spot on a mini muffin tin.  I baked them in the oven until they were cooked through.  Once they cooled, I pulled off the petals of some fake flowers I bought at the dollar store, and stuck the stem through the bottom of the bacon rose.  I needed something heavy to hold the stems in place, so I filled the vase with rocks and tied a light blue handkerchief around the vase to give it some color.

Here's a close up of the bacon roses.

For the wooden pig, I simply traced a pig image on wood and my husband used a scroll saw to cut it out.  My kids now use it as a cutting board in their pretend kitchen.

To make the bacon candle vases, I used my tortilla shell pans.  I turned one pan over on a baking sheet and then layered strips of bacon to cover the bottom and up the sides.  I wrapped 2 other strips of bacon around the outside. I set another tortilla shell pan on top of that to keep it in place while baking.  Not sure if you have to do this, but it seemed to work.  I baked them in the oven about 15 minutes or until they were cooked and crispy. I set each "vase" on an upside-down cereal bowl that was covered with a handkerchief.  I put a little wax paper under the bacon so it wouldn't get grease on the handkerchief.

For the place cards, I wanted to find wooden pig die-cuts to paint with chalkboard paint, but I couldn't find them at the craft store.  Instead, I used my Cricut to cut pigs out of black card stock, and I wrote the guest's name with paint pen.

I wanted my napkins to look like bacon too.  I bought burgundy napkins and then cut white card stock in wavy strip shapes to place on top.

Drink Table Decor: I used the burlap again on my drink table and to make a hanging banner. I created a pig garland with black felt pigs.  On my mantle, I borrowed several items from my bacon-loving friend...

The 2016 Calendar that was the inspiration for the party as well as some other bacon themed items (cookbook, Bacon Soda, bacon mints, etc.). I liked the saying about Friends are the Bacon Bits in the Salad of Life, so I printed it out to frame.

For wine charms, I found various sayings about bacon on Google images and printed them small enough for charms.  I backed them in card stock and tied them around the glass stems.

I ran out of time to create anything super creative for my wine labels, so I made them quickly.  The best I could come up with was red and white S-wine.

Menu:  I started with a couple appetizers.  The first was a Bacon Cheddar Dip with chips.  This recipe was AMAZING!  The only problem was that is was so delicious we kept eating and eating it!  We were all practically full on the appetizers before we even sat down for the rest of the meal.  Definitely make this dip for something though as it was delicious.

The second appetizer was mozzarella sticks that I wrapped a slice of bacon around. This was an experiment.  It was good, but I would recommend cooking the bacon a little bit before wrapping it and placing it in the oven.  I like my bacon a little more crispy than it turned out  just in the oven.

We started the meal with a wedge salad. I LOVE wedge salads, so I had to incorporate it into this meal. I made them small hoping it wouldn't be too filling.

For the main dishes, I served a Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Bacon and asparagus wrapped in bacon.  I followed this recipe for the chicken in terms of ingredients, but I cooked the entire thing in the oven rather than first hot frying it, then oven, then broiler.  For the asparagus, I wrapped 5 stalks inside one thick piece of bacon and seasoned it.  It went into a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

For dessert, I served mini cinnamon rolls sprinkled with bacon bits.  To make these, I used a package of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls.  I cut each one in half and reshaped it into a circle. I then placed them in my mini muffin pan to bake.  After baking, I drizzled the sugar glaze on and sprinkled with bacon.  These were yummy!

Favor:  As a take home gift, I found these silly Bacon cups at Party City.  I made Rice Krispie Treats with Bacon and included them inside. These were actually very tasty treats.

We had a very FILLING time, but it was FUN!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Charlie Brown Christmas Party

Watching A Charlie Brown Christmas this time of year is one of my favorite holiday traditions, so I couldn't pass up making this my December monthly dinner theme. It was really a fun theme to get the holiday spirit rolling, and we had a blast as usual.

Invite:  I wanted to create something original for the invite.  I decided to create the invite out of a Peanuts comic strip, so I spent hours surfing the web for a winter-themed comic strip that I could alter.  Once I found it, I used PhotoShop to replace the old text with what I wanted to say as well as create a new title for the comic.  I downloaded the Peanuts font called Groundnut for all the writing inside the bubbles.  Have to toot my own horn here, because don't you just love how it turned out!?

Entry Decor:  I made the Charlie Brown sign on form board.  I used my Cricut to cut the letters and free-handed the Charlie Brown.  I spoke with the woodshop teacher at my work/school about making the doghouse.  I paid him for the materials, and he made it for me!  All I had to do was paint it and add the lights and a stuffed Snoopy that my kiddos already had.

Inside Decor: I used a red tablecloth, and printed out several 8.5" x 11" Peanuts holiday comic strips to tape together and use as a table runner. I made a Charlie Brown Christmas tree out of a stem from my family Christmas tree, my son's blue crib sheet, and a red ball ornament I found at Dollar Tree. My kids already had the 3 character stuffed dolls, but I made the vases to place next to each one.  I bought the clear vases from the Dollar Tree and painted them with acrylic paint.

For my napkins, I bought bright yellow napkins and made a zigzag out of black card stock. I glued the zigzag together on the back.

For place cards, I used the same idea as the invitation.  I found a box from a Peanuts comic strip whose picture visually matched each of my guests.  Then, I used PhotoShop to change the speech bubbles to reflect each guest and include her name.  I made the place card stands out of shelled peanuts that I hot glued together.  You can't see, but there are three peanuts on the bottom and then two stacked on top of the back peanut to hold the place card upright.

Here are a few more of the place cards for pure enjoyment. I especially love the two for my English teacher friends!

For wine charms, I printed out photos of the characters in A Charlie Brown Christmas to attach to each glass.

I made the wine labels out of two Peanuts comic strips that I adapted to fit Red and White wine.

Menu:  I started the evening with a few appetizers.  The first was Snoopy's Snack Mix.  This is my mom's recipe of Chex Mix which is absolutely yummy. I bought a dog bowl from the Dollar Tree to serve it.  The Snoopy is another clear vase I painted.  The ears are black felt.

I also served pigs in a blanket and two flavors of boneless chicken wings.  I called these Pigs in a LINUS blanket and WOODSTOCK'S wings.

For the main dish, I made my favorite recipe for Chicken Chili.  It is so easy to make and it just heats in the crock pot, so it is always a go-to recipe for me. I called it Charlie's Chicken Chili to have some alliteration.  Alongside the chili, I served a Caesar salad I called Sally's Caesar Salad.

I also served rolls. I bought Pillsbury breadsticks and shaped them into balls instead. After they cooked, I spread butter on the top of them and sprinkled some Parmesan cheese. These were Pigpen's Dirt Balls.

For dessert, I kept it simple.  I made brownies and served them with a scoop of peppermint ice cream. I also added a peppermint patty as a garnish.  I called them Charlie Brown-ies with Peppermint Patty Ice Cream.

Favor:  I bought jars of peanuts from the Dollar Tree to use as my favor. I used card stock to make the yellow band and black zigzag to go around each one. I created the round label for the top with one of my favorite quotes from A Charlie Brown Christmas - "It's not what's under the Christmas tree that matters, it's who's around it."

It was a fun way to end 2015.  Merry Christmas!