Valentine’s Day Greek Date-Night

We came up with a themed date night for our Valentine’s Day by a sort of happy accident. We started off by saying how much we wanted to make this or that. Then we realized that all those things went together in a way.
All of the photos belong to the original bloggers. Please click the hyper-linked text to find their amazing recipes they shared with the world.

The important stuff—What are we eating!?

We have had gyros before and my Sister in Law (SiL) swears that if I can make naan then I can make my own pita bread. I’m not going to use the more traditional lamb because of the cost. Instead we are going to use some beef steaks I found on sale.

Our appetizer will be relatively simple. I’m planning on doing hummus and sweet bell peppers for dipping. Maybe some carrots if we have them on hand too, but I don’t want to overeat before we get to the main event. There will be plenty of food. If you’ve never made hummus before then don’t worry. It is much like guacamole. There are some essentials and after you get them dumped in the bowl you fix it to your taste. A can of chick peas, lemon juice, salt, garlic and pepper. You’re pretty much in business if you have those things.

To alleviate crunch time stress I am going to make the pita bread the pita day before. Allow them to cool, cut them into halves to create the pockets and put them in zipper bags until our supper the next night.
Here is the recipe for pita bread that I will be following. Looks simple, right?

I will also likely make the tzatziki sauce the day before. As with most

tzatziki infographic

sauces, I feel like it will be more tasty after sitting over night anyway. Tzatziki sauce is basically cucumbers pureed, yogurt and some herbs/spices. It is awesome! Of course if you hate yogurt and cucumber then stay away. Here is the recipe I will be following for Tzatziki sauce. I will however point out that I will not be allowing the yogurt to drain for 2 hours. 30 minutes will suffice.  Check out this cute little infographic on how-to make tzatziki or click the link above for word directions.

gyro

The gyro recipe will more or less follow the one found on Tide and Thyme (again). I figure as long as I add some lemon and thyme and other Greek-ish spices that the meat will be just fine. For veggie stuffing in my gyros I am planning: Olives, spinach, tomatoes, and feta cheese.

Sidedishes: The sides will be relatively simple since they are not the main and delectable main stage player that the gyros will be. We are going to make up a box of Suddenly Salad. Yeah, I realize that is silly with all the homemade things surrounding it, but I really enjoy those pasta salads and the lack of work they entail. The second side dish is going to be homemade sweet potato fries. I haven’t completely nailed down a favorite recipe but I’ve been scrounging on Pinterest for one that speaks to me. I kinda want to do an olive oil, salt and rosemary topping for them and I definitely want to cut this fairly thin so I get a good crispy fry. Oh, I should clarify that by “fries” I mean that I bake them on a cookie sheet.

The final thing on our menu for the evening is less Greek, but much more realistic and easy. I decided the most important thing was the gyros

lemon brownies

and I don’t want to spend hours slaving over the dessert too. I have been wanting to make these Lemon Brownies for ages! I love lemon desserts, chocolate desserts or chocolate and fruit desserts. Yeah…I kinda have a sweet tooth. This recipe is of the mix and dump persuasion so I think it will fit our evening the best.

My mom suggested this last part and I figured, why not dive in?!
Mom owns a copy of My Big Fat Greek Wedding  so we’re going to greekweddingwatch that as we eat our gyros, salad and fries. I hope that we’ll be full as ticks by the end of the evening. Seeing as the hubbster doesn’t drink wine or champagne I’m not sure what specialty drinks we might have. He will probably stick with his sweet tea or diet coke. I might get a small bottle of something special just for me. And you know that once you remove the cork is spoils if you don’t finish it in one night. 

Questions for my Readers:

Is a themed Valentine’s date too cheesy for you?
I’ve got a lot riding on if all these recipes turn out right. Would you try a new recipe on a special night?
Are you
, like us, trying to avoid going out on the 14th at all costs? I gave up trying to battle the crowds years ago. Staying in are where it is at!

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Luau Island Party

A couple of weeks back I went on a mini-vacation, just to get away from it all. I decided that I was going to the beach….In Illinois.
My SiL, Beth and brother planned an epic Luau party. Here are pictures, links, descriptions and recipes to what we did for our Par-tay.

Kat dance pose

Essential Party Supplies

  • Accessories
  • Food
  • Music

Accessories

Believe it or not, it is very difficult to find Luau related party garb in September. However, true party planners never come up empty. After visiting several stores we got serious and ended up at a party supplies store. We hunted all over before finally getting desperate and asking gentleman sporting an officials vest—He was labeled as a Halloween Expert.

He also turned out to be a store expert and pointed us directly to the quarter aisle of luau supplies. We didn’t need much. We left the store with three sparkly leis in our favorite colors. We also grabbed a pack of shiny umbrellas to embellish our drinks. I brought some large colorful smoothie straws from home. They were purchased at salvage for $1.25.

Some things we didn’t find in the store is pictured above. Because money can’t buy a Hawaiian style skirt such as this! If you’re looking at cost or supplies needed: Staples and stapler, grocery sacks, and a binder clip for quick clasp of skirt. We’ll get to how you make it later.

Essentially, we purchased all of our accessories for under $10.

Food

island drink blenderI would call the drinks daiquiris, but truly, they were so much more than that. We added: very ripe bananas, frozen strawberries, mango, fresh pineapple, and tropical punch flavored white rum. Blend well and serve immediately with awesome umbrellas.island drinks

asparagus       Asparagus. Yes, I did just have this in my fridge and it needed to be cooked up. I love asparagus. If you cook it, I will eat it. This were laid out on a cookie sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roasted in the oven until delightfully crispy.

waikiki chicken prebake

The very best and the highlight of supper was our Waikiki Beach Chicken and Tom’s Waikiki Beach Tofu (he’s vegetarian). Want to know the original recipe that Beth based the above on? Here is the original Waikiki Beach Chicken recipe.
We loved it! Here are some of our recommendations: We backed off the sugar in the sauce to 3/4 cup instead of a whole cup. You could back down to a half cup. We liked ours on the salty side, no worries, a dash of soy sauce and overnight the flavors mellowed so it was even better! We used boneless skinless chicken waikiki beach chicken platebreasts and it did seem to take forever in the oven—This could have been because we were starving and are like small children waiting for Santa.

I don’t have much advice about the tofu version. Tom said it was delish though. If you have questions, please hit me up and I will consult the veggie-guru that is my brother.

Music

Why is music so important? Don’t ask such stupid questions. This will set the mood and help aid in the silliness that is a faux-Hawaiian. The more important question might be, Kat, what did you listen to? That is something I will answer. We used Spotify to keep our music rolling throughout the evening. No, they aren’t paying me money to use their name and yes, I wish someone was paying me for this drivel.

lilo and stitch ST spotify blogThe obvious first choice here, the soundtrack from Lilo & Stitch the Disney flick. Now, I don’t care if you like the movie or not. The music is sweet.
Beth and I wanted to get in the mood before the party got started. Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride and a little Elvis. How can you go wrong?

luau mix spotify pic for blogTom was smartsies. He found this premade Hit Nation playlist on Spotify and it had nice nice tunes on it. Both playlists are, as you may have noticed, finite. We needed more music so we added some tracks from these selected artists: Beach Boys, I accidentally added and discovered Spike Jones and His City Slickers, and more songs from that dude that sings Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole, I didn’t know either).
I am pretty sure I have discovered that next silly artist that my brother will get into. Spike Jones and His City Slickers have lots of weird and funny songs. Go ahead and listen to Water Lou (drip, drip, drip). I am sure that it is on….ah, there you are.

Tom also added some more awesome ambiance to our party by muting and playing this youtube video that shows 43 minutes of Hawaii landscapes and such. It was beautiful. If you need something to play in the background of your life, I highly suggest this.

Let me know, via comments, if you are interested in a step by step instructional blog on how to make a Hawaiian style “grass” skirt. Just to recap, we used grocery sacks (Kroger has brown!) that were fanned out or staggered then stapled together. If you are making one for a child or small adult you may want to add a second layer around to add more fluff. Cut slits almost to the stapled area (leave about two inches). Use a binder clip to pin it around the waist quickly. Do not try to go to the bathroom in these guys—you will want the quick removal aspect. T making skirt

Tom is cutting the slits in his grass skirt.

Beth dance pose

 

K&T drinks poseK&B drinks pose

Now, go and enjoy your own luau party!!    We did some hula dancing tutorials on youtube, but ultimately were too full and just laid around the rest of the night. It was great fun!!

Subconscious Messages and Book Party Games

image
Yesterday, I was planning some games for my SiLs Golden Birthday Party (where your age matches the numerical day you were born). I have several great games in the forming stage of awesome.

The party is a Potluck/Bookluck, in which guests will bring a dish inspired by a book, its recipe and a copy of any kind of good book for the birthday girl.

This game is Book Title Guesstures/charades and yes, I realize that I did not invent this game. Guests will pull a slip of paper with a book title on it and have to act it out.

This was the first bit of my kids’ book list…notice anything wrong?
Shortly after starting this list I went and got a beer because I obviously needed one.

Other book related games include,
Book Think–Given a letter of the alphabet, players must come up with a book title or character. “The” and “a” do not count.

Book Scavenger Hunt— Large pile of picture books and chapter books. Players must find words, sentences, characters, copyright dates, photos of the author, etc.

Book Pickup Lines– Nerd/HP glasses and offer the best bookish pickup lines to birthday girl. We will try to write these down or record people saying them.

Poem Writer Book Search– Each player must create a poem, but their word bank only consists of those found in a kids picture book.
Making Bookmarks— Okay, this is a craft not a game, but I figure this might be fun to try. Stamps, construction paper, ribbon, jewels, etc.

Who is it?— Group activity or one at a time. Either played as a 20 questions game or as group guesses. Read off hints and everyone writes down who the clue is about. Then go thru list again and reveal the identities.

Location on a Budget

I was talking with my sister yesterday and I might have found a place to have my wedding.

My first location fell through. I wanted to get married at a huge rented house so that after the reception no one would have to drive home at the end of the party. Sadly, the contact never replied to my calls or emails.

My sister and I may have found a second best choice. This wedding is on a super budget. I’m not settling for things that I’m unhappy with, I just don’t think that I should spent thousands on my wedding. That money should go towards living after the wedding and for the honeymoon.

Let me explain how much money I’m saving on this wedding. I have the sexiest red dress that I bought for under $100. Yup, beautiful dress that I can wear at many other occasions.

Just one way to wear my sexy, convertible wedding dress

Locations I’m looking at are still outdoors and are much cheaper options. One consideration is renting a room in the community center.

Pros:
I’d be able to rent a projector from the comm center and it would only be a couple hundred dollars
Cons: It would be indoors and we would likely have to tone down some of the exuberance of the party considering I am not going to spend $15k renting the entire facility.

The option I’m more seriously considering is renting the park in a town close to where I live. How can that be less expensive, you may ask. Well, it’s a small town and the park property is a large community picnic shelter, some playground equipment and a grassy field. It is also the place where the town holds their annual festival.

The stage area at one end of the picnic shelter.

Pros: Groups under 20 people can enjoy this recreation area for free. Groups larger than 20 must pay a fee to rent. Get this: $25. Also, flushing toilets, play area for children who can’t toast champagne and get hammered drunk.
Cons: No sound system/projector and unlikely place to set one up.

I need to call the city and make sure $25 is really how much they will charge me for an all day event rental. There will likely be some refundable deposit as well in case my guests were to tear something up.

Question to my readers: How much would a sound system rental cost? We’re talking CD/mp3 player compatible and large speakers for blaring dance music; no DJ services needed. I’m hoping that, by putting my feelers out early enough, I will be able to find a friend who can loan me a sound system.