Monday, February 4, 2013

The Weekend of Parties

Things have been a little crazy around here lately.  Since the beginning of the year I've spent much of my free time working on sprucing up our little home.  The past week and a half I spent nearly all of my free time repainting the main living areas of our home from the cheap, unwashable builder basic beige to a slightly more pleasing beige in a MUCH higher quality paint.  Over a month ago I had set a date for a fun little Swap Party I wanted to host for some girl friends and soon after realized that I set the party for the same weekend as Super Bowl (hubby and I traditionally host a big Super Bowl gathering with 20+ friends).  Hosting two big parties in a row gave me the push to spend much of January painting and decorating so we could show off some of the changes we were slowly making to our home.  I'll share some of those in another post soon.

Last Saturday I hosted a Swap Party with a sweet little mimosa bar, a coffee/tea bar, and lots of brunch appropriate appetizers.  Unfortunately we were hit with quite the snow storm that morning, shrinking our party down to five girls.  We still had a great time chatting, swapping accessories and decor, and munching on the spread I had prepared.

When planning the menu for the party, I knew I wanted a brunch themed assortment of food; everything bite size to make eating while talking/swapping easy.

I prepared a Mimosa bar with options for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic Mimosas with orange and also raspberry/peach juice for a few flavor combinations.  In addition to the Mimosas, I had my Keurig set up for coffee, tea, hot chocolate, etc. and made a picture of Lemon Cucumber Mint Water which is always refreshing and a hit.

The menu included plenty of gluten-free and vegetarian options as I had a few girls in attendance with dietary restrictions.  I made Bacon, Leek and Cheddar Mini Quiche (some crustless and others without bacon), Mini Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, Mini Cream Biscuits which I served with country ham and strawberry jam, Melon and Prosciutto and Melon and Mint Skewers, Cucumber Bites with Garlic Herb Filling, Cheesecake Stuffed Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Chocolate Dipped Clementines, and Salmon Mousse on gluten free crackers.  Everything was well received and we had a lovely time!

Then came our Super Bowl Party.  Planning and hosting a party for a group of 20 folks is quite the task, so I didn't get any great photos to share of the evening.  I did; however, manage to snap a few mediocre photos of the Bacon Chocolate Stout Cheesecake I made for dessert.

This was quite the unique combination of flavors.  The cheesecake itself had a pretzel graham cracker crust, a filling flavored with chocolate stout and studded with Beer Candied Bacon, and was topped with homemade Hot Fudge Sauce, more Beer Candied Bacon, and fresh whipped cream.

Overall the cheesecake was very well received (I'm pretty sure I witnessed one guest enjoy three slices).  Personally I was kind of on the fence about it.  I'm not typically a fan of sweet/salty combinations (which this certainly was with the pretzel crust and bacon), and I'm definitely not a beer drinker.  I really enjoyed the chocolate flavor of the filling and found that the beer wasn't particularly noticeable.  Honestly, as much as I love bacon, I think I'll continue to prefer it in more savory applications.  That said, our guests seemed to enjoy the cheesecake and I certainly thought the finished result had a lovely presentation!

Now that I've survived a month of home projects and a week of prepping for two big parties, I'm looking forward to a little down time from hosting.  I sure do love planning a party, but it's exhausting work!

Have you thrown any fun parties recently?

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