A Wizard of Oz Party

A Wizard of Oz Party.

Yesterday, I shared a recipe for Butterscotch Haystacks that I mentioned I made for a  Wizard of Oz Party.  Today, I want to share some more of the super simple treats I prepared for our little group of 11 ADULTS who decided we wanted to watch the Wizard of Oz together.

I prepared a salami, cheese, and olive tray in the shape of the infamous Yellow Brick Road.

And oh what a joy it was to answer my cell phone at exactly the assigned start time of our little party to be asked to come outside…..

When I stepped out onto the porch in the dark and looked into the driveway, a group of seven silly, sweet friends had their arms linked together in a row and came skipping up to the porch singing, “We’re off to see the Wizard… the wonderful Wizard of Oz…” as if they were on the yellow brick road.

I knew we were in for a fun night!   One friend dressed as a scarecrow and another in the “outfit” she wore when she saw the movie for the first time – jammies, a blanket, and pig tails!

We had Bugles “Tornadoes” to dip and munch….


along with Potato Sticks “Scarecrow Straw” and Cheese Curls “Lion Tails.”


There were Hershey’s Kisses “Tin Man Hats”

and bowls of Skittles and Dark Chocolate M&M’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

We gathered at the bar first for drinks and toasting to get the evening started, then made our plates and settled into comfy seats (some even on the floor) to watch the classic we had discussed weeks before talking about how scared, yet fascinated we were as children.   (Notice even Charlie – peeking from front bottom right below – and his friend Gemma hunkered in.)

For almost two hours, we were mesmerized as if we were children, yet noticing so many more things as adults.  We sang along and recited phrases.  We laughed, we gasped, we recounted childhood memories…

It was a silly theme and reason to get together, yet somehow turned into a sincerely authentic experience…

Maybe I’m still on the Brene Brown buzz of vulnerability and courage to be oneself after reading her latest book, Braving the Wilderness, but I woke up the next morning (granted a bit fuzzy from a wee bit too much wine), but feeling completely joyous and connected and complete.

What would life be like without friends?  I hope I never have to know.

And remember……….

You’ve always had the power my dear.  You just had to learn it yourself.”

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Neiman Marcus Dip

neiman marcus dip

Next Sunday is the Super Bowl – an annual event in the U.S. that even non-football fans often enjoy just for the great commercials, celebrity national anthem and half-time show, parties, cocktails, beer, and yummy food and SNACKS!

This Neiman Marcus Dip is a MUST-HAVE for Super Bowl parties, whether you are hosting, taking something as a guest to a party you are going to, or just hanging with the family at home.

It is so amazingly easy and even  more incredibly addictive and delicious (though probably should not be eaten too often as it is a bit far from healthy, which is probably why it is so amazing!)   

I am pretty sure you will be considered a snack dip rock star if you make and serve this to your family and friends.

neiman marcus dip closeup

I first tried this Neiman Marcus Dip at my DIL Colleen’s Christmas Cookie Exchange Party this past December, and I made it for a recent Steelers Playoff game when the family was all over.

And though our Pittsburgh Steelers did not make it to the Super Bowl this year, we will still be watching, and we will surely be snackin’!

So whoever you are rooting for, win or lose, you will still be happy that you had this yummy dip!

Neiman Marcus Dip

Ingredients:neiman marcus dip closeup

  • 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 lb bacon, chopped and cooked very crispy
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 cups mayonnaise

Directions:  Mix all together in large bowl and refrigerate at least 2 hours for flavors to meld together well.  (The day before is even good.)

Serve with crackers, corn chips, tortilla chips or celery sticks.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Crockpot Chicken Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches

chicken philly cheesesteak 2

Last week, I made some yummy chicken sandwiches: Chicken Philly Cheese Steaks, which were easy peasy and full of flavor.

Just imagine juicy, shredded chicken with ooey gooey melted cheese and sweet caramelized onions and peppers on a buttery, toasted bun.  Sound like heaven?

Crockpot meal to the rescue!

If you’re looking for an easy, satisfying dinner, lunch, picnic or party pleaser, look no further, and enjoy these yummy sammies.

I know we did!  We enjoyed ours with some fresh garlic green beans and a vinaigrette-based light cole slaw.  Do I have you hungry yet?

I found a recipe I tweaked every so slightly from CinnamonSpiceandEverythingNice.com.

chicken philly cheesesteak

Crockpot Chicken Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches


Ingredients:chicken philly cheesesteak 2

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp each onion and garlic powder
  • Olive oil for sauteing
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 2 large sweet onions, sliced
  • 2 large red or orange or yellow bell peppers sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 buns
  • 8 slices Mozzarella or Provolone cheese (or your fave)
  • Pickled Jalapeno or Banana Peppers or Pickles to garnish
  • Hot sauce if you want to “zip” it up some more

Directions

Add the broth, mustard, Worcestershire, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and black pepper to a crockpot set on high and whisk together.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place on top of sauce in the crockpot.

In a skillet, saute the onion, peppers and garlic in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, cook, stirring occasionally for 5 – 7 minutes. Remove half the mixture and place on top of chicken in the crockpot and save the other half for serving.  You can store it in a small covered container in the refrigerator.

Cook the chicken mixture on low for 6 – 8 hours.

During the last hour shred the chicken with 2 forks right in the crockpot and let cook in the juice.

Reheat the onion, pepper and garlic mixture you set aside earlier.

Butter the insides of the buns and toast on a hot skillet until golden brown. Lay your choice of cheese down then top with chicken, some of the onion mixture and pickles or pickled peppers and hot sauce if you like.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Holy Guacamole!

guac cover

Our family LOVES Guacamole!

and it is so easy to whip up in just a few minutes if you have a couple of ripe avocados on hand.

quac ingred

Here is my super simple, but SUPER YUMMY recipe for Jodi’s Holy Guacamole!

INGREDIENTS:
4 ripe avocados
1 lime
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 large sweet Vidalia onion, chopped
1 ripe tomato, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt to taste (1/2 – 1 tsp)

Cut the avocados in half, pit, and scoop out flesh by using a tablespoon.  Place in bowl.

quac 2

Then coarsely chunk/smash using a pastry blender until it looks like this – takes less than a minute when the avocados are ripe.

quac 3

Squeeze the juice of the lime over avocados and mix well.

quac 4

Add remaining chopped ingredients:  garlic, onion, tomato, cilantro; and then salt to taste.

quac 5

Easy Peasy!  Serve with tortilla chips.

Jake and Colleen came over Sunday, and we ate it all!  First some before dinner, then polished it off after dinner with a couple drinks and a game of Scrabble (Which PS I won the first game!  Beat Jake by ONE Point! You cannot realize what a big deal this is – LOL!  Jake takes his Scrabble very seriously.  🙂  So he won the second game.  We will have to have a tiebreaker SOON – Game on Jake!)

scrabble
Enjoy the Guac!  It really is pretty killer!

quac last

Cheers & Hugs,

Jodi

 

Jack Daniel’s Bacon Mac n Cheese

JD Mac N Cheese Cover

If you are looking for an extra special version of Mac n Cheese to take to a picnic or party or special event – meet Jack Daniel’s Bacon Mac n Cheese.

We were heading to “The Best Book Club Ever” this weekend and were to bring wine and cheese or a cheese dish.

Well – knowing “The Best Book Club Ever” host’s love of all things Jack Daniel’s

JD Mac N Cheese JD

and pretty much everyone’s love of bacon – I couldn’t resist this combo to try out and take.

JD Mac N Cheese Bacon

I found a recipe by Julie Espy of White Lights on Wednesday and tweaked it up Jodi-style, then doubled the recipe since we were feeding a crowd, and put it in the crockpot to keep warm after baking.

JD Mac N Cheese Hot from Oven

I have to say – it was a hit.  What a yummy combination of bourbon soaked smoky bacon that gets candied with brown sugar and cayenne for a kick that stays with ya and creamy cheese and noodles.

JD Mac N Cheese

This should probably not be on your regular weekly dinner menu (though you may want and crave it after experiencing) because it is only low-fat and low-calorie when served at parties….

JD Mac N Cheese Plated

But when partyin’, it goes great with an icy glass of Jack and lime.

If you want a crowd pleaser, make this for your next gathering!

Jack Daniel’s Bacon Mac n Cheese

1 lb thick sliced bacon
½ cup Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey + 1 Tbsp
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound macaroni pasta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (do not use pre-shredded cheese in the bag!)
1 cup smoked gouda cheese, shredded
1 lb ball fresh mozzarella cheese, broken into pieces
½ teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, bring ½ cup Jack Daniel’s to a boil. (WATCH CAREFULLY – and cover with a lid.  I didn’t put a lid on mine and was making double.  I put it on to boil, turned around, and when I looked back, a flame 2 feet high was rising from the boiling alcohol.  No worries – we all survived – just lost a little Jack in the process.)  Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until reduced to 2 tablespoons. (My flaming alcohol reduced very quickly, but I don’t recommend that method!)  Remove from heat.  (I really think you could make this without even heating the Jack and may just skip next time, so feel free to do that if  you prefer.)

On a plate, combine brown sugar and cayenne. Dip bacon into Jack Daniels and then press each side into brown sugar mixture to coat. Place on a baking sheet (with sides if you don’t want bacon grease and alcohol dripping in your oven).  Bake for 7 minutes, then flip and bake for about 5 more minutes.  Remove the bacon to a plate coated with non-stick cooking spray to cool.  Chop bacon when cool.

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. Drain pasta; set aside.

While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add flour, and whisk to combine.  Add 1 tablespoon Jack Daniel’s and whisk into roux. Whisk in 1 cup milk until combined. Add remaining milk. Whisk frequently until sauce thickens and begins to bubble. Add cheeses; whisk until cheeses melt and sauce is smooth. Add paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over pasta, and add chopped bacon. Stir until pasta is completely coated in sauce.

Bake for 30-40 minutes uncovered until top begins to brown and cheese sauce is bubbling.

ENJOY!

Cheers & Hugs,

Jodi