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Jun 13 2011

Are You Party Ready??

Published by under Friends,Parties


This post is dedicated to all the hosts and hostesses out there who love to entertain and are looking for some great tips on how to throw an impromptu party! Our friends at Foodbuzz and Electrolux helped sponsor our last-minute BBQ that we threw for a few friends so that we can share our party-planning tips and ideas with you. The “Are You Party Ready” campaign is brought to you by Kelly Ripa, who is encouraging people to visit her site at Kelly-Confidential.com to take the challenge which will automatically donate $1 to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund and be entered for a chance to win a new Electrolux French Door Refrigerator.

We have hosted many parties throughout the years that took a lot of time to plan and execute – mainly because we are so committed to providing great food for our guests. Believe us, it’s very exhausting to host parties for a large group of people – not only before, but also during and after! So to make our lives easier, we’ve learned through our experiences to take some shortcuts when it comes to party-planning. This is your quick guide to some great tips that we have used in the past and also during our most recent BBQ party.

We borrowed a friend's place to throw the last-minute BBQ, which worked out perfectly because it was a nice sunny day and our friends were up for some good food and drinks. What makes a BBQ easy is that you can purchase pre-marinated meat to grill, or grab what you have in the fridge that can grill.

We opted to purchase pre-marinated Korean BBQ beef because it's quick and easy and is a huge crowd pleaser. If you don't want to pay the extra money to purchase pre-marinated, then you can buy the meat and make your own mixture to marinate overnight.

Preparing for a BBQ requires some side dishes, and the ones we chose to do are quick and simple and does not require too much work or ingredients.

Pasta salad is one of my favorite go-to party dishes that can feed a big crowd. It's great because it's a cold dish so it's okay to leave out during the party. You can be creative with the ingredients you add to a pasta salad with what you have on hand. Then just pour Italian dressing over the pasta salad for a light subtle flavor.

What better way to treat your guests than to have something fresh? Salsa or pico de gallo with chips is a great way to stretch your ingredients and have your guests snack during the party. Instead of spending time chopping ingredients, a quicker way is to throw them into a blender to make a zesty salsa.

This is probably the best shortcut - a platter of chex mix to let your guests snack on during the party.

Even if you have a last-minute party, it doesn't mean you can't think about decorations! My best tip is to re-use old decorations, such as these pretty lanterns, to bring some fun and life to the parties. Store the decorations where it's easy to find so it can be used again at a moment's notice.

Besides what we did for the BBQ party, here are some more tips on what you can do in advance to prepare for any last-minute entertaining for your family and friends:

  • Stock up on wine, champagne, and soda when it’s on sale and keep it handy for guests when they happen to give you a “surprise visit.”
  • Always have paper plates and plastic utensils to avoid doing major clean-up at the end of the party.
  • Purchase snacks that have long shelf-lives that do not need refrigeration, such as chips, cookies, and crackers – these are great to have for guests to snack on in case you didn’t have time to prepare any meals.
  • Keep in mind for some quick go-to recipes that you can prepare without using a lot of ingredients or ingredients that are readily available in the fridge or cupboard.
  • Never underestimate the power of freezing! If you ever make a big batch of food that you know will still taste good after you freeze it, then that would be something you can serve to your guests if you don’t have time to cook the day of the event.
  • Have a box that you can put all of your miscellaneous party supplies in, such as table covers, place settings, candles, decorations, centerpieces, etc. This way you can get to it quickly and decide how you want the place to look before your guests arrive.
  • Always have some entertainment options for your visitors, such as board games, video games, music, and so forth. Besides eating and drinking, you’ll want them to have a fun and memorable time.
  • And lastly – don’t stress out! Your guests will understand if it’s an impromptu event, so do your best and have a good time!

So what party tips and advice can you share with us? We’d love to hear them!

Oh, and don’t forget to visit Kelly-Confidential.com to submit your last-minute entertaining ideas for your chance to win the Electrolux refrigerator!

6 responses so far

Jun 10 2011

Succulent Shrimp Scampi


We had our friends Sarah and Mark over for dinner the other week and we wanted to prepare something easy that didn’t require having to stop at the supermarket for ingredients. I like to resort to a recipe that only needs a few fresh ingredients that will make the dish really pop! The Shrimp Scampi that we prepared is full of flavor from the butter, garlic, tomatoes, lemon, and basil tossed together with angel hair pasta and a whopping mound of shrimp. It goes perfectly well with a nice glass of white wine. The only thing I regret is not making more so everyone can have seconds!

We sauteed 1 lb. of 31/40 shrimp that has been peeled and deveined in 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. It should take about 2 minutes on each side for the shrimp to cook through. Transfer the shrimp to a large bowl and set aside.

In the same skillet, add 5-6 garlic cloves that has been minced (or pressed through the garlic press). Next, add 1/2 tsp dried hot red-pepper flakes.

Next, add 1/2 cup dry white wine, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper. Cook over high heat for about 1 minute. Finally, add 5 tbsp butter to the pan until it melts.

Now add in 1 cup of diced tomatoes, zest of 1 lemon, and the juice of half the lemon.

Finally, add in the 3/4 lb of cooked angel hair pasta and the shrimp and toss evenly to coat. If you plan to use more pasta, then increase the ingredients for the sauce. Another tip: reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water and add it to the mixture to keep it moist, if necessary. We didn't have to use the pasta water since we had the extra liquids coming from the tomatoes and lemon juice.

And don't forget your fresh basil! If you don't have basil, you can substitute for flat-leaf parsley.

Now you can plate the Shrimp Scampi and sprinkle with some grated Parmesan cheese to make it look like it took more work to make than it really was! This is a great go-to recipe when you plan to have guests over last-minute. These ingredients should be things you already have in the kitchen, so it makes it that much easier to prepare. Grab your fork and dig in to this lovely elegant meal!

To view or print-out this recipe, click here: Succulent Shrimp Scampi

21 responses so far

May 31 2011

May Giveaway – Elemaris Water Filtration Pitcher


It’s the last day of the month and I’m finally able to post the May giveaway. Like I always say, better late than never! You guys will really like this month’s freebie!

MAVEA , the North-American division of Brita Germany, just came out with a sleek, new design for a premium water filtration pitcher called the Elemaris. The Elemaris comes in five different colors: Eggplant, Ruby-red, Sage, Black or White.

We received the white one of our choice and have been using the pitcher to filter our tap water to drink everyday. Before this, we were using the reversed osmosis filter for the water dispenser in our fridge, but have been too busy to replace the filter. We then resorted to water bottles which is very costly and very bad for the environment. I am liking the new water pitcher more and more because I know I am not being wasteful by using the plastic water bottles. Check out Inspired Water for water tips and why water matters.

This 9-glass water capacity pitcher has a silver-treated filter which discourages bacteria growth. The Smart Meter filter change indicator measures water hardness, water volume, and length of time in use. It’s made of BPA-free plastic and the used filters can be recycled. And of course, it is also dishwasher safe! We absolutely love our water pitcher because it’s so easy to use, the water tastes great, and the design is really modern and sleek!

The Smart Meter

You can purchase this regularly for about $30-$40, but we are going to give THREE (3) of them away for free to 3 different winners! Enter for your chance to win!

Contest Rules:

  • Be a subscriber of The Food Addicts
  • Leave a comment letting us know how you currently consume water – is it by a water filtration system in the home, a water filter pitcher, water bottles,  tap water, or another way? Why should you be selected to win the Water Filtration Pitcher by Mavea?
  • Contest ends Tuesday, June 7th at 11:59PSt. US entries only please!
  • Here are the winners!!! Eric S., Cheryl W., and Kelly H. Congratulations!!

Thanks and good luck to all of our readers!!

Disclaimer: In compliance with the FTC Guides, updated 10/5/09, this article has material connections.  The Food Addicts (TFA) received no fees for hosting this giveaway on behalf of Mavea.  Mavea will provide 3 Elemaris;  1 Elemaris was also provided to TFA at no cost by Mavea to facilitate the review process.  TFA does not endorse the company mentioned above.

41 responses so far

May 23 2011

Outdoor Luau Party with the Girls

Published by under Parties


With the great spring weather we’ve been having, it’s only fitting to enjoy a nice ‘themed’ party with my girlfriends in the comfort of my backyard. I was lucky to be the few that was chosen to throw an outdoor party, compliments of Cost Plus World Market and Foodbuzz . With a nice budget, I was able to purchase a variety of great products at Cost Plus for my Hawaiian luau-themed party, such as unique items to build a colorful table scape and even Hawaiian-flavored alcohol to stock my tiki bar! I had a fun time shopping at Cost Plus to find the different essentials I needed to complete my party, and was pleasantly surprised at how diverse the store is in having everything you can possibly need for entertaining. They have indoor and outdoor furniture, home decor, kitchen and dining accessories, snacks, alcohol, and more. It was definitely a one-stop shop which made party-planning that much easier! Of course, to make my life even easier, I catered the Hawaiian food so that I can spend more time decorating and less time cooking! If you are planning a party in the near future, be sure to check out the Cost Plus World Market eCatalog here.

I wanted a very colorful table with luau decorations, so I opted to get a Bohemian-style table runner along with floral plates and big green and blue bowls. The bright yellow flowers were from our garden and it just bloomed so timing couldn't have been better!

Since the plates and bowls were already bright and colorful, I wanted to get white napkins to balance out all of the color. Adding a cute umbrella toothpick completed the table setting.

One of my favorite things I bought at Cost Plus is the appetizer spoons! I've always wanted this and I finally got to use it. Each spoon had a little bit of macaroni salad, which is a classic Hawaiian side dish which I thought would be fun to put on a spoon.

Spam musubi is a must-have for any luau! We have made these many times before, but for this party, I had them ordered to save time.

Some of the meats the girls got to munch on: BBQ Chicken, BBQ Short ribs, Kalua Pork and Cabbage, and Chicken Katsu. All of these are delicious comfort food of Hawaiians, so it was nice to enjoy a part of this unique island flare!

What's a luau without a Tiki Bar?! The Kona Longboard beer and Maui Splash wine were both purchased at Cost Plus. I loved how they had this to fit my theme perfectly!

One of my other favorite items I got was this cute mesh food tent so that the flies and bugs don't get into the food since the party was outdoors! I also purchased the Hawaiian Kettle Corn there too, which was a huge hit.

A few of the girls were camera-shy, but I got a picture with Kim from Ravenous Couple and Kathy. Thank you for coming with your cute Hawaiian clothes!

And last but not least, my Shih-Tzu Chester says Aloha!!! He, too, got into the spirit of the luau-theme! What a blast to spend a nice afternoon with my friends. Thanks Cost Plus and Foodbuzz for sponsoring the party!

9 responses so far

May 20 2011

Six Taste Food Tour in Santa Monica


Six Taste Food Tours is the fastest growing company in Southern California’s food tourism industry. It was started in August 2009 by USC grads, Jeff Okita and Alex Tao, who both have a passion for good food. Los Angeles is such a culturally diverse county that offers a fantastic variety of cuisines, so it just made sense for Jeff and Alex to start Six Taste Food Tours to offer entertaining tours that are location-themed throughout Los Angeles.

We were recently invited by Jeff to join him on the Santa Monica food tour to explore some great restaurants by trying generous samples at each stop. This 4-hour walking tour took us around the heart of Santa Monica, near the Third Street Promenade. Our tour guide, Therese, led a group of us to 6 different establishments ranging from bakeries to wine bars! It was an amazing experience and we were both so highly impressed by her enthusiasm and knowledge of Santa Monica, as she shared historical facts, local tips, and reasons why these restaurants were chosen for the tour.

If it weren’t for Six Taste Food Tours, we would never have discovered some of these amazing eateries and we definitely recommend them for anyone who wants to try something new or need to suggest something fun for out-of-towners. Among the Santa Monica food tour, they also offer Little Tokyo, Hollywood, Thai Town, New Chinatown, and Delicious Dumpling tours. The company hosts more than 200 guests each weekend, partners with more 70 restaurants, and has over 200 Yelp reviews averaging 5 stars! An impressive track record for a company who isn’t even 2 years old yet!

The walking tour was around Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. It was a beautiful day to explore the city with fellow food bloggers!

Our first stop was at Röckenwagner Bakery/Café, located at 311 Arizona Ave. This bakery offers salads, soups and sandwiches featuring produce from the farmers market, but the bakery is best known for its daily baked breads and pastries.

We got to try a variety of goodies here, including some delicious hot coffee.

This bakery developed the first pretzel croissant. Hard like a pretzel on the outside, but soft and flaky like a croissant on the inside, the textures were definitely great together!

Scones.. not your typical scones. These were super moist raspberry scones that were soft and buttery.

We also got to try a couple other baked goods before getting to take some of the treats to-go! I didn't want to overeat on our first stop!

Next, we walked to the Tudor House, which is a little British market and English Tearoom Restaurant, located at 1403 2nd St.

Santa Monica has a very large British expat population, so that's why there are a lot of British eateries and pubs throughout the city.

At this stop, we got to try the popular Cornish Pastie, which is essentially a puff pastry stuffed with different fillings, such as meat, cheese, spinach, mushroom, etc.

We conversed over sampling some of the Cornish Pasties. They were bloody good!

After the Tudor House, we hopped along to Border Grill at 1445 4th St, which is a famous restaurant co-owned by Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, who have both been on Top Chef Masters. There are 3 locations, including a Border Grill food truck.

The group sat together to enjoy the food inside the restaurant that was decked out with colorful wall paintings that were actually painted by the two chefs themselves.

We started off munching on homemade tortilla chips with 3 different salsas: tomatillo salsa, smoky chipotle salsa, and roasted arbol salsa.

The Plantain Empanada consisted of roasted plantain, black beans, poblano chile, and cotija cheese.

Next we tried the Amarillo Ceviche Tostadita, which is mahi mahi with aji amarillo chile, ginger, and lime. This was my favorite!

The last small bites we tried was Potato Rajas Taco, which has creamy roasted potato and chiles, mexican cheeses, and pickled onion. For our parting gift, we also got to take a freshly baked sugar cookie along with a "Free Margarita" card for our next visit. Yay!

At this time, I was really stuffed but we weren't through with the food tour yet. Luckily the next stop was a wine bar, so I could manage that! Pourtal Wine Tasting Bar, located at 104 Santa Monica Blvd, is a small establishment that offers do-it-yourself wine tasting!

The vending machine wine tasters are quite the novelty for us, as this is our first time ever wine tasting like this. We each received a $5 card and in order to try the wine, we had to insert the card and then press the button to pour the wine of our choice.

Showing you guys how it's done! I sorta wish I had a $50 card instead... sigh.

Our next visit wasn't exactly at the restaurant... instead Therese took us walking down PCH with an amazing view of the beach and the Santa Monica Pier.

She then surprised us with these amazing sandwiches that she got from Bay Cities Italian Deli, located at 1517 Lincoln Blvd. She had it in her thermal pack because it would be too far for us to walk to the restaurant, not to mention the lines are always long! The salami sandwiches were full of flavor and the bread just soaked up all the juices from the filling.

To end the tour, we were presented with a fantastic selection of gelato at Angelato Cafe, located at 301 Arizona Ave. There were so many choices ranging from pomegranate to chocolate-peanut butter.

We each got a generous scoop of anything we wanted. This reminds us of our honeymoon in Italy where we ate gelato every day because frankly, that's what you do when you're in Italy!

We are so thankful that Six Taste gave us the opportunity to try one of their amazing tours! Therese and Jeff were great hosts who gave us a one-of-a-kind and entertaining experience. We encourage you guys to go on a food tour to try good food, meet new people, and celebrate the greatness of LA. We wish Six Taste the best with their successful company!

5 responses so far

May 10 2011

Purple and Green Kale Chips

Published by under appetizers,Gardening


We love to incorporate what we grow in our garden to our kitchen adventures – and kale just happens to be one of those ingredients that grew so abundantly throughout the winter and spring season. Last year, we also grew kale and shared a recipe, Toscana Soup, which many of you enjoyed making yourselves, so thank you for trying it out! Kale is one of those very hearty green vegetables that most people don’t prefer to eat due to it’s rough exterior, but once you cook it down or crisp it up, you’ll be  amazed at how great it tastes and how beneficial it is for you with it’s high antioxidant properties. If you are one of those people who haven’t experimented with cooking kale, then here’s a chance for you to try something simple, easy, and addicting to eat – baked kale chips.

We weren't kidding when we said we yielded a lot of kale in our garden! Almost looks like a forest. That's Daniel busy cutting some kale for me. We also cut a bunch and gave away to family and friends. There's more if anyone wants some!

We grew a mix of purple and green kale so we used both to make the kale chips. You can't really taste the difference between the two, but it's nice to have variety.

The stem has to be removed because it's really tough to eat, so I just sliced the leaves down the middle, then into smaller bite-sized pieces.

Make sure you thoroughly wash and rinse the kale leaves. Since we grow everything organic, there are some bugs that like to hang out under the leaves, so I make sure they are gone! The kale leaves need to be dry before it's seasoned, so I like to put it into my salad spinner to spin all of the excess water out. (One of my favorite kitchen tools!)

Scatter the kale leaves onto a lined baking sheet (either with foil or parchment paper), and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar. Then sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. It goes into the oven at 350F for about 10 minutes until you see it shrink and getting crispy.

This method to make kale chips is commonly used but be creative and use different seasonings to give it more flavor. I've also tried adding paprika, garlic powder, and apple cider vinegar before baking. As you can see, I have made this a lot at home, and I wanted to experiment with various seasonings. For this post, we wanted to add something special for the kale chips, and that's herbed butter for dipping. For those who are picky eaters, you know butter may change their minds! The results of your kale chip should be extra crispy and light - almost like it's melting in your mouth. Beware: they are highly addicting to snack on, but who cares, it's good for you!

To view or print-out this recipe, click here: Purple and Green Kale Chips

14 responses so far

May 05 2011

Mini Churros

Published by under Desserts

The origin of churros goes back to Spain where this “Spanish donut” is usually served for breakfast dipped in hot chocolate. But around here, we consider churros to be more of a snack or dessert – something you can purchase at the local fair or flea market. A couple of years ago, we got invited to Eva Longoria’s restaurant Beso in Hollywood for a fabulous dinner with Foodbuzz . This is where we got to try her famous churros which she turned into a sophisticated dessert with a creamy dipping sauce. We got to meet Eva that night and she is just as sweet as her Beso churros! We made a mental note to try to make our own churros, and two years later, it finally came to fruition. This fried dough snack was much easier to make than I thought… and the best part is that it only involves a few ingredients that everyone should already have! Just get yourself a pastry bag with the star tip and you’ll be well on your way to making delicious churros covered with a lovely cinnamon-sugar coating.

In a small saucepan, bring 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), 1 cup water, and 1/4 tsp salt to a boil.

Then add 1 cup of flour and stir until the mixture forms a ball, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

Transfer it directly to a mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix this on low speed until cooled to about room temperature.

Add 3 eggs, one at a time, and mix until dough is smooth and combined.

Transfer the dough to a pastry bag with a large star tip. We couldn't find our pastry bag so we used a ziploc bag and cut the corner to fit the star tip.

Make sure the oil is at 350F before you pipe the batter. Use scissors to cut the batter as it's going into the oil, about 3-4 inches if you want them small.

Let it swim around until it's golden brown. Don't crowd them by adding too much at one time.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the churros to paper towels to remove excess oil. Then immediately roll them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture (shown below).

We used 1 cup of sugar with 2 tbsp cinnamon (we actually used Saigon Cinnamon that we got from Spices, Inc.). Also for extra flavor, we added some vanilla bean!

Drop the mini churros in the sugar mixture and coat it evenly.

See how easy that was to make churros? From start to finish, it could be fast as 20 minutes. We love the crunch of the outside with the sweet cinnamon sugar and the warm soft dough on the inside. It's very similar to a donut! And here's a quick tip: If you want to serve it the next day, just reheat it in the oven at 200-250 degrees for about 5 minutes or until warm. I'm so glad we finally got the opportunity to make homemade mini churros! And yes, I like my desserts "mini-sized."

To view or print-out this recipe, click here: Mini Churros

6 responses so far

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