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Tablescape Tuesday: Cinco de Mayo

You guys!  Doesn’t it feel like summer is right around the corner?!  It all starts with the warm spring days and then the holidays, like Cinco de Mayo, start happening.  Before you know it you’re next to the pool all day!  I’m getting so excited.

Today, I wanted to share a fun way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.  It’s this weekend and the perfect opportunity to have a party.  Plus, it’s also the Kentucky Derby the same day, so you’ll get two for the price of one parties!  Some friends of ours are actually hosting a Cinco de Derby party, and I think it’s the best mash up in a long time.

Taco party, cinco de mayo party ideas, fish taco dinner party, mexican dinner partyIt’s no surprise to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with tacos and margaritas, but doing it with fun decorations and a full tablescape takes it up a notch.

Taco party, cinco de mayo party ideas, fish taco dinner party, mexican dinner partyI love that Cinco de Mayo lets you have so much fun with color.  Color in the tablecloth and color in the fresh food.  Welcome to my Cinco de Mayo fish taco party!

Taco party, Cinco de Mayo party ideas, fish taco dinner party, mexican dinner partyI set my table up using a Mexican themed blanket as a tablecloth.  The perks of living in San Diego for so long was getting some authentic Mexican gear!  Plus all the tacos.  With that as the base I then added our taco bar and decorated with small, faux cactus around the platters and dishes.

Taco party, Cinco de Mayo party ideas, fish taco dinner party, mexican dinner partyTaco party, Cinco de Mayo party ideas, fish taco dinner party, mexican dinner partyFor the menu I mixed it up a bit by doing fish tacos.  I still dream about the Taco Tuesday shrimp tacos at Cafe Coyote in Old Town San Diego.  They have this white sauce on them that is so delicious!  I tried to replicate that but with a cabbage slaw to add some freshness.

Taco party, Cinco de Mayo party ideas, fish taco dinner party, mexican dinner partyHere is a similar Mexican slaw recipe to the one that I used.  It adds a nice crunch and freshness to your tacos.  I made my food prep easier by just using store bought frozen fish.  This kind is great because they have a fairly crunchy outside once they are baked.

Try putting your food out on a big board or platter.  It gives everyone access to everything they need to build their taco.  All it takes to dress up your platter is by adding all the things you are using anyway.  I added extra cilantro and avocados around the platter.

To top off the tacos I made a sriracha mayo by mixing about equal parts and then just drizzling on top of the tacos.

Taco party, cinco de mayo party ideas, fish taco dinner party, mexican dinner partyTaco party, Cinco de Mayo party ideas, fish taco dinner party, mexican dinner partyI also made a Mexican corn salsa to put alongside the tacos.  Here is a recipe that I used.  I didn’t use cotija, and I roasted the corn for a few minutes before making the salsa. It added a delicious deeper flavor then just having used plain corn.

Taco party, Cinco de Mayo party ideas, fish taco dinner party, mexican dinner partyThe table turned out so cute and on theme.  Plus adding a few extra little things like the tablecloth and cacti made the evening so fun.

Taco party, Cinco de Mayo party ideas, fish taco dinner party, mexican dinner partyTaco party, Cinco de Mayo party ideas, fish taco dinner party, mexican dinner partyTaco party, Cinco de Mayo party ideas, fish taco dinner party, mexican dinner party

Cinco de Mayo Cucumber Margaritas

To help wash down those fish tacos, I made a yummy batch of margaritas.  I used this recipe to make a cucumber infused margarita that is so refreshing.

I will say that these are somewhat labor intensive because you have to juice the cucumbers.  But they are so worth it!

Taco party, Cinco de Mayo party ideas, fish taco dinner party, mexican dinner party

Taco party, Cinco de Mayo party ideas, fish taco dinner party, mexican dinner partyCheck out that other Mexican blanket decorating our bar area.  Thanks to my makeshift Christmas card holder, I was able to just put the blanket over the twig and bring the look of the table throughout the whole party.

Do you plan on celebrating Cinco de Mayo this year?  Try doing it with some fish tacos and little cacti!

 

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Tablescape Tuesday: Blue and White Spring Tablescape with Ginger Jars

It’s time again for one of my favorite series here on the blog, tablescape Tuesday.  In this series, I give you inspiration and tips on setting up and designing all kinds of tables around your home.  Dining tables for dinner parties, like today’s post, or coffee tables, end tables, and party tables.

If you were around a month or so ago, you saw that for Lent I tried to have a different family over for dinner every week.  This tablescape was for one of those dinner parties.  I got so much pleasure out of putting these dinner parties together.  Some of the tablescapes, this one included, are some of my favorite I’ve ever done.

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blue and white spring tablescape, ginger jar centerpiece, spring table ideas, gold flatware, spring dinner partyblue and white spring tablescape, ginger jar centerpiece, spring table ideas, gold flatware, spring dinner partyI used my super clearanced ginger jars as vases for a spring mix of flowers.  I loved how the blue and white ginger jars tied into my new blue cloth napkins. The napkins are from Homegoods.  It’s a great place to find quality cloth napkins at reasonable prices.

blue and white spring tablescape, ginger jar centerpiece, spring table ideas, gold flatware, spring dinner partyblue and white spring tablescape, ginger jar centerpiece, spring table ideas, gold flatware, spring dinner partyPlace cards don’t have to be anything fancy.  A simple tag with some nice handwriting is all I used for this dinner party.

I definitely think when having people over for dinner that haven’t been to your house before it’s a really good idea to use place cards.  Place cards help alleviate that awkward dance around the table where people are trying to figure out where to sit.

blue and white spring tablescape, ginger jar centerpiece, spring table ideas, gold flatware, spring dinner partyI always like setting out serving dishes on the table before any food is done. This helps me to make sure I know how all of them will fit on the table.  It’s a great way to plan out your tablescape.

One of my best tips is to do this and add post-its to the platters.  Labeling the platters like this lets anyone know where to place food or dishes as they are brought to the table or eating area.

blue and white spring tablescape, ginger jar centerpiece, spring table ideas, gold flatware, spring dinner partyI was inspired by the menu to make the tablescape my version of what I thought a Tuscan table would look like in spring.  Blues, whites, and texture with wicker.

For dinner I made a beef ragu that cooked in the crockpot all day.  It was so tender and delicious.  I put it atop papparadelle pasta, which is so pretty I’m shocked I haven’t used it before.

blue and white spring tablescape, ginger jar centerpiece, spring table ideas, gold flatware, spring dinner partyblue and white spring tablescape, ginger jar centerpiece, spring table ideas, gold flatware, spring dinner partyYou can find the recipe for the beef ragu here. It was pretty easy to put together too, plus it looks so pretty on a platter.

blue and white spring tablescape, ginger jar centerpiece, spring table ideas, gold flatware, spring dinner partyI added a super simple arugula salad and some crusty bread to round out the menu. I love how the green of the salad and the green in the florals make the blue and white ginger jars pop even more.

blue and white spring tablescape, ginger jar centerpiece, spring table ideas, gold flatware, spring dinner partyMy goal with a lot of these posts is to inspire you to take something from what I’ve done and have your own celebration.  One easy thing you can take from this post to use at home is to serve dinner from a platter with your family gathered around.

Wouldn’t it be nice to take your typical spaghetti dinner and serve it from a platter around your dining room table?  If you want to add in a nice place setting, centerpiece, and place cards that’s even better.  I hope you feel inspired to do just that the next time you have spaghetti!

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5 Ways to make Serving Water Pretty

Howdy, did you enjoy the fun color combos I talked about earlier this week?  Today’s post however was brought on by something that happened at our Easter brunch.  Keep reading for the full story below.

5 Ways to Make Serving Water Pretty

how to serve water at a party, water serving ideas, party ideas for serving water, how to make water look pretty, infused water ideasAt brunch on Easter we were running a bit behind getting all the food ready and set up, thanks to a late night at church the night before.  I didn’t have time to add any tasty or pretty things to our water dispenser and it just looked so bland.  I quickly cut up a lemon and threw it in because that’s all I had on hand.  Mostly though I couldn’t handle having an empty looking water container.

So today I wanted to share a few ideas on how to dress up serving water at a party.  It’s a basic necessity to have at any party, but making it pretty might encourage guests to stay even more hydrated.

1. Use Dispensers

This is the main way I serve water at any of my own parties.  I have a great glass dispenser and stand that I got several years ago that still works wonderfully.  However, I don’t just fill it with water and call it good.  I like to add things to the dispenser to flavor the water or make it look prettier.

There are a ton of water additions that taste great and look pretty.  Any of these work great:

  • lemon and cucumber
  • strawberries, blackberries, raspberries
  • cucumber and mint
  • orange and lemon
  • lemon and lime
  • mint and lime

It’s also really easy to dress up your water dispenser with fun signs, ribbon, or party decor.  Love the bandana on the dispenser below at a cowgirl party.

2. Pre-mixed Mason Jars

Serving individual glasses of water is great, but pre-mixing them in individual mason jars is even better.  They look so cute with the lids, plus they’re spill proof.  That makes them great for kids parties, especially these plastic mason jars.

3. Pitchers or Carafes

I recently used my collection of carafes to serve water and thought “why hadn’t I done this before?”  I mean I use them for mimosa bars all the time, just not to serve water.  It was such an easy way to keep a reserve of water on the table to refill glasses when needed.

I have open top carafes, but getting some of these would be a great way to serve water at the table.

4. Dressed Up Water Bottles

Water bottles are an easy way to keep party guests hydrated, but they aren’t that pretty to look at.  There are a ton of places to make custom labels for your water bottles, but that seems like a waste of time in my opinion.

I’d rather set up or display the bottles in a prettier way.  Grouping a large amount of like items together is always an impressive way to display something and that’s no different for water bottles.

I love the idea of grouping water bottles together in interesting containers like buckets, crates, suitcases, or troughs.

5. Water Glasses

Serving water in traditional glasses isn’t totally out of style, but there are fun ways to do it.  I love using a collection of party coordinated colored water glasses instead of clear glass.  They can make a big impact and help bring in the color scheme of your party.

Try renting glasses from a party rental company instead of having to buy and store a bunch of glasses you may not use regularly.  But if you want to buy some, I love these, these, and these.

With any of these pretty water alternatives it’s a great idea to dress up the ice too.  You can never go wrong with adding fruit or flowers to ice cubes, or even glitter.  Just be sure to not put ice cubes in drinks with things that aren’t edible.  Love this ice mold I made for the holidays with a bundt pan, fruit and herbs.  It looked beautiful in our punch bowl.

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I hope some of these ideas give you inspiration to use at your next party.  Like I said before serving water is necessary, but making it look pretty is almost as important.  Here’s to no more bland water containers!

 

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Christmas Cookie Exchange Printables

Fa la la la la la la la lots of cookies!  Christmas is synonymous with baking, eating, and exchanging cookies isn’t it?  I’m sure there are many a cookie exchanges planned that you are preparing for.  To help you out I’ve created some super easy cookie exchange printables to go along with your favorite cookie recipe.

I’ve talked about how to host a cookie exchange before here.  I think they’re a great way to find new recipes, try new cookies, and mix up the selection you have at home.

Now if you’re invited to a cookie exchange this season all you have to do is print out these tags and add them to your plate of cookies.  Be sure to include the recipe so the other party guests will know how to recreate your favorite recipe.

Cookie Exchange Printables

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These tags are great to tie onto a plate of cookies, but they are simple enough to use for gifts and presents under the tree too.  Just click on the picture, download, print, and cut the tags out.

Do the same with the recipe cards below.  These would also make a great gift if you wanted to do a cookie mix in a mason jar.  Just attach the recipe to the mason jar full of cookie ingredients (only the dry ingredients) and deliver to friends and neighbors.

Need an even faster gift?  Print the recipe cards out below and attach to a store bought cookie mix.  Add a festive kitchen towel or mixing spoon and you can wrap all you need for this gift up at the grocery store. 
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Growing up I loved being in the kitchen making cookies with my mom.  We usually did the standard chocolate chip cookie.  We did it so much growing up that I have the recipe memorized and it only takes me a few minutes to whip up a batch of these cookies.  This is a double edge sword though.

It’s great that I can quickly throw some cookies together, especially if I’m in a time crunch.  But when I’m craving chocolate chip cookies, it’s almost too easy to make some and then they are too accessible around the house for munching.

Want to know my biggest piece of chocolate chip cookie baking advice?  Buy this butter flavored Crisco to replace the butter in the recipe.  It gives you perfectly chewy cookies.  #nocrunchycookiesplease

What’s your go to Christmas cookie?  Do you have any special cooking baking memories from growing up?

 

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My Favorite Easter Brunch Recipes

There are a few time throughout the year where brunch is basically a necessity.  Mother’s Day, my birthday, bridal showers, and Easter.  These occasions are just synonomous with brunch in my opinion.  Today I want to give you a few of my favorite recipes that almost always show up on my brunch menu.

For the star of the show, I usually have a ham for Easter.  Ideally I like to purchase a Honey Baked Ham, but some years I drop the ball and don’t order it in time, or want to save a little money.  I’ve made this recipe from The Pioneer Woman a couple of times, and it turns out to be almost as good as a honey baked ham.

As a seasonal side dish, I love to have carrots at my Easter brunch.  It also doesn’t hurt that the Easter Bunny loves carrots!  This recipe from Anne Burrell on the Food Network has served me well.  The carrots are buttery and the thyme gives them a nice herby flavor that’s a little unexpected.  I also love to use the mini carrots and leave the tops on like in the picture.  They are just so cute on your table that way.

I haven’t made this salad before, but it looks absolutely amazing.  It’s full of seasonal favorites for Spring like asparagus and peas.  Plus if you put goat cheese on anything, I’m pretty sure I’m going to love it.  I’m definitely looking forward to making this salad all throughout the season.

For the past several Easters, and most growing up, I remember having coconut cake as dessert.  Maybe it’s because the coconut looks like a fluffy bunny?  My mom always used to make this cake with Jiffy white icing, but this recipe takes the cake and icing to a whole other level.

I love that the recipe uses a box cake mix, because let’s be real, that just makes life a little easier, right?  The additions to the box cake mix increase the coconut flavor and make it super moist.

Those are a few of my favorites that have been seen at my Easter brunches in the past and I plan on a few of them popping up this year too.  Here are a few other options that would make great brunch additions as well.

Brunch Menu Items

  • Breakfast Casserole I’ve made this casserole a few times lately and it’s super easy and delicious.
  • Deviled Eggs, I swore I’d never make them again after Easter a few years ago.  They are just too finnicky, especially if you can’t get your eggs to peel.
  • Waffles with whipped cream and this berry compote
  • Yogurt Parfait station, with fruit and granola.  It’s super easy, and kids love it!
  • Fruit Salad
  • Assorted pastries.  I always make a delicious Cream Cheese Bread recipe for Easter.  It’s one of my husband’s families recipes and it’s quite the process (I’m talking a few days), but so worth it.  Check my Instagram on Easter to get a sneak peak!

I hope some of these recipes make it onto your brunch table!  I’m getting excited for all the yumminess!  What days do you feel absolutely require a brunch?  It’s probably one of my favorite meals!

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Celebrating everyday!