Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tabasco Flavor Bowl - My 1st House Party!

Over the weekend I hosted my first House Party!  I applied a couple of months ago for the Tabasco Flavor Bowl and was selected to be a host.  I quickly sent out my invitations, confirmed the attendees, and my House Party Party Pack arrived a couple of weeks before the party.  If you haven't heard of this, it's pretty cool!  House Party coaches you along the way, provides activities to complete, suggestions for your party, and lots of fun party favors and goodies in your party pack!

The hosts had a couple of dates from which to choose to hold the party - I chose Sunday so that we could pair it with watching a football game on TV.  It worked out perfectly that the Arizona Cardinals were playing at the same time I had planned the party!  But we also had a challenge of our own....

Tabasco's Original Red Sauce was up against their Chipotle Pepper Sauce in the Tabasco Flavor Bowl. I went to their recipe page and came up with 2 drinks, 2 dips/salsas, and 2 meat dishes to serve at the party.

The Tabasco Flavor Bowl Challenge

While prepping for the party Sunday morning, I asked my 8 year old son to get the contents of the party pack and and to place around the house.  He went above and beyond with this task!  Not only did he create different stations (like the picture station and cheering stand), but he also created 3 Tabasco-themed games....and to top it off - a schedule of events!  The apple does not fall far from the tree.....

He was so excited about all of this and made sure to remind me that we should stay on schedule to make sure we got through all of the games and activities that were planned!

Picture Station with Props from Party Pack

Cheering  Stand with Props from Party Pack

Our games included:  Pin the Cap on the Tabasco, Hot Tabasco (like Hot Potato but with the red Tabasco football included in our Party Pack, and Tabasco Says (like Simon Says - that included an example!).  The games were stationed around the house - and even one outside.  Super proud mom!  :)

Tabasco Themed Games and Activities Created by My 8 Year Old Son

Now for the food!  I am sharing my images with you - but sending you straight to the Tabasco site for the recipes!

I offered two cocktails, yes, both with Tabasco sauce in them!  I served a wine-based Tangy Sangria that featured the Original Red Sauce.

Tangy Sangria

I also served a Chipotle Bloody Mary that included a good dose of the Chipotle Pepper Sauce, of course!

Chipotle Bloody Mary

The Guacamolillo is more of a sauce, then a dip - but everyone thought it was great with the tortilla chips!  I will certainly make this again to serve with tacos!   This was another dish with a dash of the Original Red Sauce.


The Chipotle Salsa was also delicious with the tortilla chips!  Super fresh and the right amount of smoky flavor from the Chipotle Pepper Sauce.

Chipotle Salsa

In the crockpot, I served another easy dish using the Original Red Sauce - Sausages in Beer.  I modified the recipe some by using just over two pounds of Italian turkey sausage from Jennie-O - one package of sweet and one package of hot.   It was great!  And - a bit of a surprise as to which one you were actually going to eat when choosing them!  :)  

Sausages in Beer

Last but not least, I used the Chipotle Pepper Sauce to make Smoky BBQ Wings.  These were delicious!  

Smoky BBQ Wings

I also knocked out a homemade cheese pizza for the kids - but most of them ate all of the food with the Tabasco sauce in it!  Once they knew there would be a vote - the definitely started to eat more of the food to make sure they were making the right choice!

The voting closed at 4:00 p.m. and by a win of just 3 points, the Chipotle Pepper Sauce beat out the Original Red Sauce.  

It was a very fun afternoon - topping it off with a win for the Arizona Cardinals, and of course, the history making play of the night, Peyton Manning's record breaking touchdown!  Go Broncos!

We wrapped up the party with a group photo (taken by The Hubby) with all of our fun photo props from our Party Pack.

Group Photo with Party Pack Props from House Party

As our guests were leaving, they were able to take great party favors home with them including: coupons, coasters, Koozies, recipe cards, and these miniature four packs of Tabasco samples!

Party Favors from House Party

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bruschetta with Tomatoes, Arugula, and Burrata

As you may know, I recently purchased some Burrata, made a few different dishes with it, and now I am here to share the recipes and photos!

I put together this appetizer, fully knowing that I am not a huge fan of tomatoes - but - I need to start eating more foods that I don't usually eat, so added them to the dish.  Guess what?  I enjoyed them.

Any baguette type of bread will do, but Safeway had this Artisan Kalamata Olive Bread that looked delicious, so I tried it - and loved it!

This would also be good with a slice of fresh mozzarella instead of the burrata - I hope you'll try it and share back with me your thoughts!

Bruschetta with Tomatoes, Arugula, and Burrata
Serves 6-8 as an appetizer

1 loaf of baguette style bread - the kalamata olive loaf I used was wide, so cut the pieces in half
8 ounces of Burrata, sliced (one slice for each piece of bread)
Small bunch of arugula - stems removed
4 ounces of cherry tomatoes, sliced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar - for drizzling

Arrange the slices of bread on a large serving platter.  Layer the ingredients on the slices of bread with the Burrata first, then 1-2 leaves of arugula, then 3-4 slices of the cherry tomatoes.  Drizzle each piece with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Serve immediately.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pink Party Weekend - Celebrating Victory Over Breast Cancer!

I have a friend.  Her name is Holly.  She was a good friend of The Hubby's in collage, she had random "jobs" at our wedding over 18 years ago, and she has since become a very good friend of mine.  Whenever she visits, we have made it a tradition to go bra shopping together.

Things changed in January 2013 when I was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer.  After a bilateral mastectomy in June 2013, our bra shopping days were on hold.  You can read more about my story here.

Holly planned a trip to Phoenix for Spring, 2014.  After my "no cancerous activity " PET scan in December of 2013 - we decided to make a weekend of it.  I gathered my girlfriends and hosted a Girl's Pink Party Weekend to celebrate our boobs, our bodies, our health, and most importantly - our friendship.  

On Friday, a number of my girlfriends met for happy hour at Kona Grill at San Tan Village and then went shopping afterwards. Shopping after a few cocktails is always fun!  We hit jewelry stores, clothing stores, and most importantly - Victoria's Secret.  After my {almost}final breast reconstruction surgery in February of 2014, I was in need of a few new things!

After shopping, we headed back to my house for a couple of more cocktails, continue chatting, and to try a Kinky Bubbly.  I wanted to serve a something pink and something with champagne.  Of course The Hubby suggested pink champagne (duh!) but I wanted a little something different.  So we poured bubbly into flutes and topped it with Kinky Liqueur.  It was a little sweet - one was plenty - but it was fun and different! 

The next day was a biggie.   Four of the girls who went out Friday night (myself included!) had scheduled individual boudoir sessions with Gretchen Wakeman Photography.   We decided that in our 40s (well, the majority of the 4 of us were in our 40s - I don't want to discount the one who is not!) NOW was the time to do this.  I wasn't feeling so confident about myself with the significant amount of my scars from the 5 surgeries my body endured over the course of the past year - but moved forward with our plan.  I was also repeatedly reminded that photo editing can be done.

We hired Makeup by Jen B to come to my home and make us all look amazingly beautiful  Seriously. This was an important step!  I was headed to the M·A·C counter for makeovers until I bumped up against prom night and couldn't get in!  I'm so glad we used Jen.  Since the photo sessions were taking place in my home, once one girl was ready to go, she could start having her photos taken while the next girl had her makeup done. It was perfect!

Gretchen made it so easy for us and did an awesome job getting the best shots possible.   This was an all day process so I served champagne (of course) along with a big platter of fruits and veggies (you know, so we wouldn't feel bloated).  We had so much fun, drinking champagne, listening to fun music, enjoying each other's company, cheering each other on - I wouldn't have changed any of it!

No boudoir photos here :) but you can contact Gretchen about setting up your own boudoir session!

At the end of the shoot we decided to don t-shirts and have Gretchen take a group shot.  Yes, I am the one in pink with the very short hair.

Photo by: Gretchen Wakeman Photography

That night we headed to dinner at Gordon Biersch - this time WITH all of the hubbies!  The four of us looked amazing with our makeup and hair still done!  After dinner, we went to a favorite nearby bar for the rest of the evening to dance and sing karaoke.

I also had party favors made (of course!) for each of my girlfriends who helped me celebrate the weekend!  Some girls went to happy hour, some to dinner, some to everything!  It was awesome!  My friend Nancy of Seasons of Joy made these GORGEOUS cookies - amazing!  She actually sketched out each of the designs herself!  You'll have to check out her store on Etsy - she is ridiculously talented! After taking some great pictures, Nancy was kind enough to wrap in plastic and tie with a bow!  Pink of course....

Cookies Designed and Decorated by Seasons of Joy

Cookies Designed and Decorated by Seasons of Joy

Cookies Designed and Decorated by Seasons of Joy

I had a CT scan in June that came back as "normal".  I say that with quotes because there were a lot of words around it - but it was translated to me as "normal".  I just finished "the final touches" of my reconstruction surgery in September.  My family and friends have been my rock throughout this.  I was so happy to have so many of my friends able to celebrate this nonsense being in my "rear view mirror" as my dad would say.  Thank you for all of your support - I love each and every one of you!

Cheers to the PINK!