Party Time

C and I love hosting parties, especially since we bought our house.  We haven’t had one since we moved to England.  That year felt like forever!  So, we finally put a date on the books and hosted a summer BBQ on Saturday.  One perk of hosting the party?  It made us finally clean up some of the house that we had been ignoring and unpack a few more boxes.

When planning a party menu I try to do a mix of easy/known dishes and something new.  This time we planned to grill so had bratwurst and sliders for the main, veggies, potato chips, greek 7 layer dip, hummus, pita chips and mac and cheese.  For dessert I made frosted cookie cups and a simple fruit salad of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.  The sliders were an Ina Garten recipe and turned out great!  I think I’m going to start using the recipe for regular burgers too.  The Greek 7-layer Dip was a new recipe for me.  It wasn’t demolished by the guests so I’m not sure what everyone else thought.  However, I couldn’t get enough of it (I even had the leftovers today for lunch).  The mac and cheese was also a new recipe made in the crockpot which was easy and super yummy.

We had a great time!  It was nice to catch up with everyone, share our home and food and just kick back with friends.

These two bonded quite nicely

Lacey had tons of fun but was partied out by the time our last guest departed

 

 

Now, here are some recipes!

Greek 7-Layer Dip (Found on Our Best Bites)

1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened (I used Neufchatel)
1 tsp. dill weed
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed (I used garlic powder)
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 c. hummus
1 c. seeded, diced cucumbers
1 c. seeded, diced tomatoes
1/2 c. chopped Kalamata olives
1/3 c. chopped green onions (about 3 green onions)
1/2 c. crumbled Feta cheese
1/8 c. minced fresh parsley

Combine the cream cheese, seasoning, garlic, and lemon juice until combined. Spread in the bottom of a pie plate or a small, shallow baking dish. Then spread a layer of hummus. In order, create layers by sprinkling the cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, onions, Feta cheese, and parsley. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. Serve with pita chips, fresh vegetables, and/or flatbread.

So stinking good!

So stinking good!

Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese (found on Brown Eyed Baker) – I doubled the recipe for my 6 qt slow cooker

12 ounces (3 cups) uncooked elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1½ cups half & half
3 cups (12 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 ounces Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Directions:

1. Spray 3½ to 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Cook the pasta to al dente then drain. Place the macaroni in the slow cooker, add the butter and stir until melted.

2. Add the evaporated milk, half & half, 2½ cups of the cheddar cheese, the Velveeta, salt and pepper; stir to blend well.

3. Cover and cook on low for 2 to 3 hours (if you have a larger slow cooker, decrease the cooking time). During the last 15 minutes of cooking, sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of cheddar cheese. Once done, turn the slow cooker setting to warm until ready to serve. 

Cookie cups in process

Cookie cups in process

Frosted Cookie Cups (cookie cups adapted from What Megan’s Making, frosting from Bitchin Camero)

Cookie Cups:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Generously spray mini muffin tins with cooking spray (be very generous – I had several stick and ended up as crumbs)

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer combine butter, sugars and vanilla until creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time mixing well between each.  Add the flour mixture in gradually, beating until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Spoon the dough into muffin cups filling approximately 2/3 full.  Bake in preheated oven 6-8 minutes until tops start to turn golden brown.  Cool in pans for 5 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting:

1 sticks (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract in bowl of electric mixer with paddle attachment.  Once combined switch to whisk attachment and beat on high until fluffy, approximately 3-5 minutes.  Place in piping bag with tip attached.  Pipe onto cookie cups when cooled.  

The deliciously simple result

The deliciously simple result

 Now go cook up something delicious.  Happy Summer!