Last Minute No-Cook Picnic Recipes

Easy red, white, and blue Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries. Image/detailed directions at: thekitchenismyplayground.com

Easy red, white, and blue Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries. Image/detailed directions at: thekitchenismyplayground.com

 

 

 

Scrambling for get-togethers can be daunting. Especially on super picnic weekends like July 4th. Here are a few last minute no-cook recipes that can save you time in the kitchen:

 

 

Star-Spangled Mini Trifles

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Last Minute Appetizers

Tortilla Pinwheels are visually appealing, easy to make and you can't eat just one! Image courtesy of appetizerrecipes.blogspot.com

Tortilla Pinwheels are visually appealing, easy to make and you can’t eat just one! Image courtesy of appetizerrecipes.blogspot.com and the Frugal Gal’s own recipe is below.

 

 

We’ve all been there…more people show up at our party or the food is going quick. Maybe it was a last minute effort to have a party. No matter which reason fits your scenario, you can make a fabulous spread quickly.

The Biggie: Asking for Help

No matter what, it won’t help you feel any better if you’re frazzled with stress because you’ve done it all yourself. At least one of those friends and family members that are at the party or coming can help. Understandably, some of us have more pride than others, but swallow it and face reality that you deserve a good night too.

You can also avoid everything on your shoulders by asking people to bring a dish to pass. Yet, this doesn’t always solve the problem since not everyone gets that a dish to pass means one large enough for a crowd. So here are some last minute appetizers that can save the night. Continue reading

Part 4: Let the Baking Begin

If you have a love for sweet and salty together, you'll love Butterscotch Haystacks. Image courtesy of verybestbaking.com

If you have a love for sweet and salty together, you’ll love Butterscotch Haystacks. Image courtesy of verybestbaking.com

 

 

This is part 4 from the series Get Ready for the Christmas Baking to Begin! This is the final installment in the series, where you’ll find the recipes for Butterscotch Haystacks, Coconut Balls, and a Truffle recipe that can be used in many variations.

 

 

 

 

Butterscotch Haystacks Continue reading

Get Ready for the Christmas Baking to Begin!

Homemade Christmas cookies warm just about everyone's heart.  Find your favorite recipe that you can pass on for generations. Image courtesy of Debbie Morrow, All Rights Reserved.

Homemade Christmas cookies warm just about everyone’s heart. Find a favorite recipe that you can pass on for generations to come. Image courtesy of Debbie Morrow, All Rights Reserved.

The days are ticking quickly by and if you are anything like me, you already have your supplies on hand. No? Well, I can offer you my most requested cookie/candy recipes that have been pleasing people for over 35 years. Since some directions are longer than others, multiple posts will be needed as follows:

Part 1:                                    Part 2:  Chocolate Italian Balls
Spicy Gingerbread Cookies               Peanut Butter Balls
Italian Butter Balls                                 Almond Sugar Cookies
Rum Balls

Part 3:                                    Part 4:  Butterscotch Haystacks
Chocolate Fudge                                 Coconut Balls
Italian Neapolitan Cookies                  Truffles (multi-flavored)

Part 1: Spicy Ginger Bread Cookies

Gingerbread man image courtesy of What Ronronia Wants

Gingerbread men image courtesy of What Ronronia Wants @ blogspot.

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Fall Centerpieces to Fall in Love With

Simplicity at its best: Nature, harvest, and candles come together with a log with holes drilled for candles and accented with leaves, gourds, and mini pumpkins. Image courtesy of The Berry and SAS Interiors.

Simplicity at its best: Nature, harvest, and candles come together with a log leftover from pruning. Image courtesy of http://www.theberry.com and SAS Interiors.

Now with Halloween behind us, it’s time to begin planning our Fall or Thanksgiving centerpieces. These ideas below can work with a dining room table, mantle, or accent pieces. Best of all, not only are they charming, they are quick to craft and easy on the pocketbook. Click on each image for more info.

 

When making a dining table decoration, keep in mind the size of your table and the amount of space that will be needed for a Thanksgiving meal. But most importantly, keep it simple to save you time for other – more important things: enjoying time with friends and family. Now THAT is something we can be truly grateful for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15+ Unusual Pumpkin Seed Recipes

Spicy Roasted Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds image courtesy of girlmedallyn.wordpress.com

Spicy Roasted Sunflower and Pumpkin Seed image courtesy of girlmedallyn.wordpress.com

Many of us have waited until the last few days before Halloween to carve our pumpkins. The reasons vary from the lack of time/motivation to ensuring we don’t have a pumpkin that molds too soon.

Honestly, I like to cut them early. But I’ve tried the bleach method, and others. I followed the directions faithfully but still my pumpkin rotted by Halloween. So now – the last minute – my pumpkins get carved. Which means, pumpkins seeds are done at the last minute as well.

After scouring the internet for flavor choices I thought I’d add a quick note to help those who are also last-minute carvers and seed makers:

Not like the old days of having a 2-day prep, Food Network has several flavors to complete within approx. 30 minutes – Italian, Sweet and Salty, Indian, Spanish and BBQ.

If those flavors don’t appeal to you, why not try:

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Seeds
Jalapeno Pumpkin Seeds
Bourbon Pumpkin Seeds
Sweet and Salty Chocolate Pumpkin Seeds
Jerk Pumpkin Seeds

Maryland Pumpkin Seeds
Drunken Pumpkin Seeds
Ginger-Orange Pumpkin Seeds
Candied Pumpkin Seeds
Caramelized Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin Pie Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Don’t use the old 2-day drying method. Follow the directions for drying on the Food Network link and you’ll be eating those seeds by the end of the night. If any of you try some of these recipes, give me a critique. I haven’t tried all of them, but they sound delish!

Happy Halloween!

 

 

 

The Guilty Pleasure of Making Gruesome Foods

A body cavity cake with ribs made from white chocolate and every organ is made with a different flavor cake and filling. Image courtesy of Debbie Morrow. All Rights Reserved.

A body cavity cake with ribs made from white chocolate and each organ made of a different flavor cake and filling. Image courtesy of Debbie Morrow. All Rights Reserved.

Confessions of a Party Planner

I must confess: it is a highlight for me to get an emotional response from guests before they even taste a morsel at my Halloween parties. But beyond their visual appeal (or gruesome effect), it has to be undoubtedly tasty.

Luckily, it usually only takes a few brave souls to initiate the tasting of horrifying foods and giving them the thumbs up. Word-of-mouth is very powerful and thanks to those who initiated the food fest, a chain-reaction will occur of good conversations, laughs, and most importantly, everyone else digging in.

Below you’ll find awe-inspiring Halloween recipes that have been tested by my own party attendees or are on my “must try” list from my peer’s tried and true recipes. Continue reading

DIY Halloween Invitations You’d Die For

With just over two months before Halloween, party planners have already started contemplating invitations, decorations, and more. Here are a few over-the-top invite ideas that can kick-start enthusiasm in any invitee.

Many of the sites listed have tutorials and it would be interesting to know which one is your favorite.

If you have an idea to add to the gallery, shoot me a message so I can share your creativity. Happy Halloween Planning!

Easy Last Minute Grad Party Favors and Snacks

Guest couldn't resist the grad party hats that can be made in a variety of ways without any cooking involved. Photo courtesy of Mark Morrow, All Rights Reserved.

Guests couldn’t resist the party hats made from a variety of possible edibles. Photo courtesy of Mark Morrow, All Rights Reserved.

With the onslaught of graduation parties within the next few months, people are now scouring for party ideas more than ever.
Since I had the opportunity to just throw one of my own, I can offer some helpful tips that will save time, aggravation, and money.

Graduation Party Hats

These hats can be made with a variety of pre-made cookies, candies, and Fruit Roll Ups. You – the maker decides which is the easiest and most cost effective.

You’ll Need:
Chocolate-covered graham cracker squares
Choice of cap bottoms:
Mini brownies – premade as in mini brownies snacks or you can make your own brownie mix and use a mini muffin pan.
Mini muffin liners (if making own brownies)
OR  Peanut butter cups OR Round Chocolate Cookies – The choice is yours.
Choice of Tassel Tops:
Black or red string licorice OR Fruit Roll Ups (any color)
Candy buttons OR mini M & M’s OR other small round candies
Choice of frosting that hardens quickly:
Royal recipe, or my plain 10x frosting recipe: 1 cup 10x sugar, a tsp. of vanilla and enough water(add tbsp at a time) to make a very thick frosting. Mix well until smooth. Cover if not using right away or it will harden quickly.
To seal tassel top:
You can either add chocolate flavoring/cocoa to darken a bit of frosting to the side (1/8 cup) OR  melt choc. chips, melts, Kisses, or plain bar – you’ll need no more than 8-10 kisses for 40.

Before going into the directions, let me go over the most inexpensive options and my own mishaps during the process:

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Inexpensive Balloon or Decoration Party Weights

Make your own table decoration weights. Image courtesy of http://www.awesomeevent.com/blog/category/cheap-balloon-weight-centerpieces/

Make your own table decoration weights. Image courtesy of http://www.awesomeevent.com/blog/category/cheap-balloon-weight-centerpieces/

With every party, aesthetics is important.Yet, paramount to most party planning – is cost. Each table should be decorated with a theme of colors and/or genre.Whether it is a Hawaiian Luau or a graduation party – an overall theme should exist.

Part of each table decoration often includes balloons or other lightweight decorations that need some kind of weight to keep them in place. Sure, you can purchase those balloon weights at your dollar store. But as the table count goes up, so does the cost.

Being the frugal gal, I thought of several ways to hold down the graduation caps for an upcoming graduation party. With 10+ tables to dress, I needed to consider what would travel easy and look good – even if the caps were lifted by curious guests.

Light Bulb Moment

For previous parties I’ve made my own weights using Plaster of Paris in a variety of containers: decorative Chinese food boxes, decorator cups, mini flower pots, etc. For this event, having to deal with the mess of preparing the mix along with the added drying time, just didn’t appeal to me.

This is when it struck – why not fill balloons with play sand or better yet – the more inexpensive counterpart – salt? It worked like a charm. It cost only $1.50 per 11 weights and it took less than an hour of working the salt into the balloons.

Since these were not going to be seen in generally, it was the easiest and most inexpensive solution.

Three items are needed to make balloon or table decoration weights. The cost for 11 weights: $1.50. Image courtesy of Debbie Morrow, all rights reserved.

Three items are needed to make balloon or table decoration weights. The cost for 11 weights: $1.50. Image courtesy of Debbie Morrow, all rights reserved.

Here’s what you’ll need: Continue reading