Couchgating and the Best Roasted Salsa Recipe

Along with Autumn comes football and along with football comes food, games and fun!  This week, I am partnering up with my friends at Wayfair, to bring you the best of tailgating at home, otherwise known as Couchgating!

couchgating-02

 

As a family, we have gone all out for football parties and sometimes we only go so far as to open up a bag of chips.  When you do want to go all out, it’s important to have the right tools at hand, to make your day as fun as it is easy.

This was our set up last year.

Couchgating and the Best Roasted Salsa Recipe

As you know I am usually not for buying entertaining items that are specific to an event, that way you can use them year-round.  When you look at the picture above, the only thing overtly “football” about the food table, was my sons toy football.  Somehow it still looks like a game day spread because of the colors I chose and one small accent.

Below are some of my favorite picks from Wayfair for a successful couchgating party!  All of these items are versatile for all kids of entertaining.

  1.  Frozen drink machine – Granted, I don’t actually own one, but I want one.  If you have more than a few people over, I’m sure it would avoid making individual drinks with the blender.
  2. Serving platter set – I found a couple of cute football shaped platters but in the end, I always choose the ever-versatile white platter.
  3. The couch – I know this is pretty obvious, but it’s crucial for being able to sit around for hours, and if you are like us, we all end up lying around the couch.  That’s one of the perks of having a huge couch.  On another note, although my couch is big, we are not super happy with how comfortable it is, so we end up using a bunch of pillows to add support.  Don’t be afraid to buy a couch from a trusted website, where you can also read reviews.  I purchased mine at a store and I’m sure that had I seen reviews, I would’ve chosen differently.
  4. The grill –  This simple round grill is still my favorite.
  5. Serving cart – Another one that I don’t own but have wanted for years.  Geez, I wish my husband read my blog!  So many gift ideas!  Actually, maybe that’s why he doesn’t. :-) )  A serving cart can bring the party to you.  It’s great if you are moving the party outside, or if you want to bring a few of the items from the big table, closer to you.
  6. Grilling tools and utensils –  I know that there are some awesome grilling sets available, but there is no tool that I prefer over a good ol’ pair of tongs.  That goes for indoor cooking as well, just a shorter length.

 

frozen-drink-machine                       serving-platter-set

Frozen Drink Machine                       platter-set

 

awesome-couch        awesome-grill

couch-wayfair    Grill

 

Serving Cart         grill-utensils-tools

Bar cart           Grilling tongs

 

One more thing!  I wanted to share with you my roasted salsa recipe which is perfect for your couchgating party.  Perfect for anything, really.  It’s my favorite and I have tried so many salsa recipes!

Couchgating and the Best Roasted Salsa Recipe

Roasted Salsa Recipe

Ingredients:

20 tomatoes (Roma tomatoes)

7 jalapeños

2 onions

7 garlic cloves

1 large bunch of cilantro

1-2 tablespoons of salt (depending on the size of tomatoes)

 

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 375.

Cut up the tomatoes and onions into large chunks and spread onto a baking sheet pan.  Remove the caps off the jalapeños, then cut the jalapeños lengthwise, and remove the stem and some of the seeds (read tip below).  Add the 7 whole cloves of garlic.  Toss everything onto 2 sheet pans.

Heat tip: In order to keep the heat off your hands, you may want to wear gloves when cutting up the jalapeños.  For really hot salsa, do not remove the seeds of the jalapeños.  For medium-hot salsa remove the seeds from half of the jalapeños.  For medium salsa, remove all the seeds from the jalapeños.  For mild salsa, hold the jalapeños under running water and remove the seeds and inside membrane of the jalapeño.   

Couchgating and the Best Roasted Salsa Recipe

 

Place the trays in the oven and roast for about an hour.  Check the trays after 45 minutes, so that the roasted tomato mixture does not burn.  You should see a bit of char on the edges of the onions or tomatoes, but nothing should look like it’s burning.

Remove the trays from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  When you can handle the contents, place them in a bowl and take them over to your food processor.  I suggest you do the following in 2 or 3 batches to avoid over filling the processor.

Place a good amount of the roasted tomato, onion, jalapeno and garlic mix into the processor, I then add a small bunch of cilantro and a bit of the salt.  Process until desired consistency and then add to a large bowl or container.  Continue to do this in batches until you have used all the roasted mixture and the cilantro bunch (and the salt to taste).

Couchgating and the Best Roasted Salsa Recipe

This makes about 4-5 large jars depending on the size of the tomatoes you use and the jars, of course.  I like to use a canning funnel for this because it makes pouring easier.  The salsa will still be somewhat hot at this point so be careful.

Nothing left to do but, enjoy!

Couchgating and the Best Roasted Salsa Recipe

I hope your team wins!  Either way, enjoy your couchgating day!

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HolidaysConFamilia #CollectiveBias

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

I probably go almost the entire year without having overnight guests.  My family and my husband’s family are both Cuban, and many of us live within 20 miles of each other.  Don’t worry – we like everyone so that’s not a bad thing.

During the holidays, that changes.  Not the liking family part – just the overnight guest thing.  There is one person that spends every Christmas Eve overnight at our home year-after-year and that is my mom.  Like most Cubans, we host a large Christmas Eve (Noche Buena) party and all the family is invited.  Sure, we have little parties and get-togethers during the year that we invite just a few family members, but this special night – everyone is invited!

My mom spends the night because my kids wake up super early (Christmas or not) and are eager to open up their gifts.  She fears that if she goes home with my dad, she will oversleep and miss out on the boys’ reaction.  She is awesome like that.

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

I know that I am not the only one that has overnight guests over the holidays, so I wanted to share with you some ideas to make your guests feel really special during their stay.  I love the feeling when I check into a hotel and all the towels and toiletries are laid out for me.  It’s a message that says “we’ve been expecting you” (the bill under the door sends a less welcoming message..ha!)  We can convey the same sweet message to our family that stays overnight with this welcome basket.  Many of the items, you probably already have around the house.

Place a stack of towels either inside your basket or in the bathroom, but make sure that your guest knows it’s for them.  White Towels are my favorite.  I love how fresh they look and they match any decor.  If you want to make it even more special, tie a silk ribbon around your towels like I did here.

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

If you like the sweet little square printable that is next to my towels, you can click below and print one.  You can re-use this little sign every time you have an overnight guest.  Even if all you do is place a sign or a note, a chocolate and a bottle of water by their bed, it sends your guests the same message – “We’re so glad you are here!”

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

At the very bottom of the basket, I placed a super comfy throw for my guest to snuggle up wherever they choose.  It also added height so that the contents could pop out of my basket.

Here is what I included inside the basket – A box of Kleenex, some Cottonelle wipes, little soaps, a candle

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

I found this little orchid at BJ’s Wholesale Club and I tucked it in there.  Usually, I will place flowers by the bed.

Place necessities like toothbrushes, bottled waters and chocolate inside the basket.  Chocolate is a necessity, ya know.

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

Tucked away in the back is a magazine and lotion.

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

During the holidays, I stock up in the bathrooms with a lot of Kleenex and toilet paper.  Remember to make it visible so that your guests know that they can help themselves.

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

That’s the entire welcome basket.  Of course, you can add even more goodies and customize it for your guest.

Oh, I almost forgot!  You can also write your wifi password on the back of the little printable (above).  Your guests will surely ask for that.

Truth is my mom always feels welcome in our home, but this year I intend to make my mom feel extra special with her basket.  This year I will handle the little things so that we can all focus on the big things.  Things like this…

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

The Kimberly Clark products at BJs make it easier for you to be there for your family with the cooking/prep/etc, so that you are able to be there for them emotionally and spend more time with family and less time shopping for what you need to prep for the Holidays.  If you don’t already have a BJ’s membership, here is a FREE 60-Day BJ’s membership offer (Valid through 12/31).  For more great ideas on how to stock up and make family feel special during the holidays, you can check out the #HolidaysConFamilia Social Hub here.

Overnight Guest Welcome Basket

I purchased many of the items above at the place that you go to when you want high quality and quantity – BJs Wholesale Club.  Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below!

KCC BJs Holiday Giveaway

 

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Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BOOItForward #CollectiveBias

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

The holidays are not just for the kids and Halloween is no exception.  On Halloween day we do make it about the kiddos and their cute costumes but I also love the idea of the adults getting together to celebrate before the 31st.  Today I will share with you 2 things – How to put together a BOO kit (I will get to that later) and how to put together a little dessert party for your friends and family.  I promise that both ideas are super easy and super fun!

First I want to share with you a little party that I put together and how quickly it came together.  I chose an empty wall in my home and placed a small 4ft table against the wall.  Then I placed a black tablecloth to cover the ugly little table (sorry table).  Then I propped up a piece of cardboard on the table and rested it on the wall.  I covered that with another black tablecloth and got to work on my favorite part – the decor!

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

Part of the ease of this little party is that everything is store bought.  I purchased pumpkin scones and caramel apples and used the white pumpkin to hold the chalkboard sign.  I found a pack of those chalkboard signs for a dollar a while back and I had not used them until now.  I am not sure if they are re-usable since they are made out of cardboard but hey…$1.00?  I’m not complaining.

Tip:  Think of the backdrop for your party.  Will it be greenery (if outside) or a blank wall?  Adding a piece of cardboard to rest on the wall creates an easy and inexpensive backdrop.

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

I found these caramel apples at Walmart.  I dressed them up with a little ribbon and placed them on a stand.

Tip:  It is important when setting up parties to think of varying heights on the table.  Cake stands can be used for more than just the obvious.  If some items are high up and others low on the table, there is more visual interest. 

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

Everyone loves tiny desserts, at least I hope they do because I made a whole bunch of these!  These little containers and spoons are disposable which is a plus.  Inside is greek yogurt (you can also use a quick cheesecake filing), caramel drizzle and a TWIX® for a finishing touch!

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

Delish!

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

Fall is in the air and in your punch with this yummy fall drink.  It’s a 2L bottle of 7UP®, 1 orange sherbet, 8 oz or orange juice, 8 oz of cranberry juice, cinnamon sticks, sliced lemons and oranges.

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

I rested the dispenser on a small, black cupcake stand and these cans were a perfect fit underneath it.

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

Cute straws also decorate the table.  I have so many colorful straws in my party stash!  They are inexpensive and I often buy a pack before I even need it.  If I don’t use it for a party, my boys will gladly use them for their juices.  I also scattered little M&M’s® on the table as little edible “confetti”.

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

In the beginning of this post I promised that I would help you put together a BOO kit.  To be honest I had never heard of this but now I love the idea!  BOO’ing is when you put together a kit that usually includes yummy treats and other Halloween inspired items and you place them inside a bag, and finally you drop it off on your neighbor’s doorstep.  Although dropping it off at our neighbor’s is a great idea, this year I will use these BOO kits as teacher’s gifts!  I love any excuse to treat my boys’ teachers and extend my gratefulness to them.

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

So here is what I did:

1- I printed the card and sign.  You can download the sign here.

2- I cut the “We’ve Been BOO’d” sign.  You can use this to place on the outside of your bag or inside so the recipient can continue to BOO others!

3- I folded the “You’ve Been BOO’d” sign and taped the edges.  This card will be placed inside the bag.  I signed this card with my boys’ names since they are giving them to their teachers.

4- I chose the bag that I would use for my Boo kits.  I chose simple black paper bags.

5- I decided what I would place in each bag.  I used chocolates, pencils, teeth, paper straws, soda can, necklaces and a little pumpkin.

6- I made tags that read “You’re a Spooktacular Teacher” and used a 2 inch round cutter to cut.  If you don’t have a round cutter, you can use scissors and cut a square shape.  You can find the free printable here.

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

I hope they love it because we sure had fun making them!

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

Take advantage of this coupon to create your own BOO kit: Save $1.00 on TWO (2) 2L or 6pk 8oz cans of any flavor Sunkist® Soda, 7UP®, Canada Dry®, A&W®, Squirt®, or Sun Drop®

Here is a shot of where I found the items at Walmart.  Speaking of Walmart, make sure to enter (look below) for your chance to win the #BOOitForward sweepstakes for $1000 Walmart gift card!

Spooky and Sweet Halloween Entertaining

You can also enter to win a $1,000 Walmart eGift Card!  How exciting is that?!  See below for details.

#booitforwardsweepstakes

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Easy Entertaining – Fancy in Five

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

 

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and EDWARDS®, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #EdwardsPies http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Lately we have been on an entertaining binge here at Graceful Order…so why stop now, right?  It’s the summer after all and everyone wants more fun and less work.  So I partnered with EDWARDS® to bring you Five entertaining short cuts that will make you feel fancy without breaking a sweat!

I set up a quick, easy (and pretty) dessert and coffee table for my friends that looked like it took all morning to put together, but we know otherwise (and now they know too because they read my blog – at least I hope they do!).

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

 

1.  Use tiered servers and cake stands.

This has to be my favorite tip to elevate (literally) any party.  Here I used cake stands in different sizes for cake slices, a whole cake, one for a plant…  I collect cake stands and most of them are either white or silver so that I can use them together and they always match.

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

2.  Add an orchid to your table/buffet.

I love orchids!  I think they are the best value and really dress up any table!  They cost as much as a bouquet of flowers but lasts much longer.  Pictured here is a $10 orchid that I purchased at Walmart.

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

3.  Make the coffee ahead of time and use a thermal dispenser.

I have been doing this for years!  I always make coffee 30 minutes before guests arrive and I know that a good thermal dispenser will keep it hot for hours!  That way I don’t have to fumble with filters and filling up a dispenser when I could be hanging out with my friends.

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

4.  Use nice napkins, preferably cloth.

I know, I know…cloth?  That means laundry.  While pretty disposable napkins are totally cute and ok to use, cloth ones elevate your table that much more.  I wash them and immediately remove them from the dryer before wrinkles set in.

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

5.  Purchase a ready made frozen cake from EDWARDS®.

Or better yet, already have one in the freezer!

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

You don’t need to make everything yourself and it’s ok to outsource certain things.  Especially when those “certain things” come out of the box looking like this!

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

The only thing I did was remove it from the aluminum pan and place it on my fancy schmancy cake platter.  Voila!

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

I actually served it with a side of chocolate syrup but no one used it.  It already has the perfect amount on the cake!

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

 

The cheesecake I pre-cut for my guests because I knew my friends would go for that option first.

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

I added a bowl full of berries to a gravy server so that they could help themselves.

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

 

And help themselves they did!  My friends are not shy!  They like food and never need a reason to eat a good dessert.  That’s why we get along.

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

 

So whether you are a cheesecake girl or you prefer another of the many varieties that Edwards offers, your friends will love your pie!  I mean, your company…

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

If you want to dig into one of these pies you can use the following coupon to use at Walmart (that’s where I bought mine).

“Save $1.00 on any ONE (1) EDWARDS® Whole Pie by taking advantage of the Walmart EDWARDS Ibotta digital rebate (while supplies last)”

Enjoy and remember what Julia Child used to say “A party without cake is just a meeting.”!

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

How to Set a Proper Table Setting

Don’t you love those friends that you can let your hair down with?  The ones that don’t care if you serve them sweet tea out of crystal or a red solo cup?  Those are our favorite kind of friends!  But as much as I like casual and laid back I also want to know how to set a proper table, even if I rarely do it.

What if you go to some formal event and you have no idea what to do with those 5 forks in front of you?  Ahhhh!!  Well in our home it never gets more formal or complicated than the picture below.  We don’t serve too many courses since the chef, sous chef, hostess and clean up crew is little ol’ me.

How to Set a Proper Table Setting

There are many levels to the formality of setting a table.  Technically the plate should be 2 inches from the edge of the table but none of my friends carry rulers so I don’t bother with those details.  The basic idea with all the utensils is that you eat a meal beginning with the outside silverware and work your way in towards the plate.  If the salad is served first followed by the main course, then the salad fork would be on the outside and the dinner fork would be closest to the plate.

On the left you would place all your forks.  The dinner fork should be placed to the left of the plate and the salad fork to it’s left.   The dessert fork goes horizontally above the dinner plate and the dessert spoon goes directly above the dessert fork.  The tines of the dessert fork face towards the dinner knife.  The dessert spoon faces the forks.  Honestly, where the dessert fork and spoon are supposed to face always trips me up and really it’s not a big deal, but like with anything else…it’s good to know!

How to Set a Proper Table Setting

You can have quite a few glasses per person, depending on how many drink varieties will be served.  You can begin with the water goblet above the knife and then to the right of it white or red wine glasses, followed by champagne flutes if you do an opening toast.

In our home I rarely place wine glasses on the table, as we usually are already drinking wine by the time that we sit at the table, so everyone already has their glass in hand.

The napkin can be placed on top of the salad plate, folded lengthwise beneath the salad plate, beside the forks or below the forks.

Bread and butter plates would be above and to the left of the dinner plate.  If the dinner plate was the center of a clock, the bread plate would be at 10am. In this case (and in every case in our home) I omitted the bread and butter plate.

The dinner knife is placed to the right of the dinner plate.  Knife blades always have the cutting edge facing the plate.  If soup is served, a spoon may be placed to the right of the dinner knife.

How to Set a Proper Table Setting

 

I leave you with one of my favorite tips!  You know when you are seated at a restaurant (especially the round tables) and you can’t figure out which is your glass and which is your bread plate?  Simply position your hands in the “ok” sign and you will instantly know which is which.  Your right hand will form a “D” and your left a “B”.  Bread and Drink – easy as that!

How to Set a Proper Table Setting

It’s the effort to set a pretty table that your friends appreciate, not a table setting that needs rulers and protractors to measure silverware spacing.  Entertaining is about opening your home and making your friends feel welcome.  We can do that in so many different ways – by setting a pretty table or by making something from scratch or ordering in and chatting on the couch (with our feet up, of course)!  There are many ways to make our friends feel special and a well set table is just one of them.

Pinky up!

 

Other related Graceful Order posts:

Mother’s Day Table Setting

Setting a Beautiful Table on a Budget

The Thanksgiving Table

Fall Table Setting