Tag Archives: party

Easy Caprese Bites

Tomato, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella is one of my favorite flavor combinations.  It tastes light and fresh.  This appetizer was one of the first to go at our party last week.  The best party appetizers you can eat with your fingers (plus, that means no forks to wash…1 less thing to clean right?!).

These couldn’t be easier, and look gorgeous just sitting there on a plate. The Christmas colors just happened to be a bonus.

You’ll need:

fresh mozzarella cheese in tiny balls or cut up into bite size pieces

grape tomatoes

fresh basil

toothpicks

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Wrap a basil leaf around a tomato and mozzarella ball. Hold together with a toothpick.

It’s complicated.

These would be fantastic drizzled with a bit of balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil!

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What is your easiest party appetizer?  Share your recipe in the comment section!

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Skinny Pizza Dip

Who doesn’t like pizza?  Really though.  I’ve never met a person that doesn’t like pizza. If you don’t, I don’t think we can be friends anymore.

Mr. FSL despises anything that is classified as a “dip”.  He thinks all dip is gross.  Especially if there’s any sour cream or cream cheese involved.  He actually makes this odd mock barf noise when those particular ingredients are mentioned out loud.  Not kidding.

I made three different hot dips in my new triple crockpot buffet thing-a-ma-bobber.  I made low fat  turkey taco dip (recipe here) and a full fat bacon and cheese dip (I’ll post that next week 😉 ).  I didn’t tell him what was in the pizza dip and he took it upon himself to test it.  He said verbatim “Woah! You need to make this again!  It’s awesome”.

I’ve eaten pizza dips before.  They are dangerously addicting.  I’m always the girl at the party with sauce around her lips when this stuff is around. Embarrassing.

I got my saucy little paws on the recipe so I can hoover it down without an audience to gross out make it for parties.  I doctored it up to make it lighter so I can eat twice as much.  I switched out the full fat version for low fat.  I don’t choose the non-fat version when it comes to dairy because it tastes weird to me and it tends to have a watery consistency.  Ew.

Here’s how I made it…

2 packages of low fat cream cheese (if you’re like my husband, insert weird belchy noise here)

2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning

2 cups

2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 (16oz) jar of pizza sauce

1/2 cup diced green bell pepper, olives, onion, olives, (whatever “topping” you like on your pizza)

1 Baguette sliced for dipping

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In a bowl, combine the cream cheese and the Italian seasoning.

Spread in the bottom of the crockpot.

Next, sprinkle 1/2 of the shredded mozzarella and 1/2 of the grated cheese over the cream cheese mixture.

Pour the jar of pizza sauce on top.

Sprinkle the remaining cheeses and any “toppings” on top.

Put the crockpot on high for about an hour, then switch to low heat for 3 hours to serve.

I’m a bad blogger.  I forgot to snap a finished photo.  You’re just going to have to take my fatkid word on this one.  It was demolished in like an hour flat.  All of it.  My husband said it tasted like a cross between bagel bites and pizza rolls.  I though it tasted more like Elio’s Pizza.  Either way, it is something you need to make.

Now.

Go ahead.

I’ll wait 😀

What’s your fave party dip?

Red Velvet Pudding Shots

I swear I’m not a lush.

Once I find something that is a hit at every party, I try every variation I can think of.  Here’s the latest incarnation of the pudding shot.

Red Velvet.

I was getting ready for our annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Party.  Pudding shots were a must.  I had pistachio and I had cookies & cream already mixed and poured.  Ready to roll.  I wanted something festive and all I had was vanilla pudding.  I grabbed this lovely bottle instead of the usual whipped cream vodka.

1 1/4 cups of Devil’s Food Cake flavored vodka

3/4 cup of whole milk

a packet of instant vanilla pudding mix

a lot of red food coloring

a tub of cool whip

Mix it all up!

Pour into squeezable shot cups.

Top with whipped cream & garnish!

Poof! Holiday cheer in a cup!

Rocco’s Ugly Sweater Party Dilemma

So, this weekend is our annual ugly sweater party.  See last year’s highlight reel by clicking  here.  If you’re feeling lazy, here is a mini sampler of the fun.

We usually have Rocco sleep at his grandparent’s house.  This year we figured we’d let him in on the action.

Mr. FSL & I went Christmas shopping this past Saturday.  We stopped at good ole Tar-Jay for some wrapping paper , tape, boxes, etc… He grabbed a coffee at the in-house Starbucks.  I stalked the dollar section and found ugly dog sweaters.  If Rock is going to be at the party, he might as well represent.

Sunday morning I wanted to try it on my little pork chop of a Maltese.  He was clearly ecstatic about the sweater selection.

I remembered having a few Christmas things for him stashed away in a closet.

Here are his Christmas Eve PJs. Okay, maybe he need to switch to lo-cal puppy chow these days, but who doesn’t add a little fluff around the holidays?!

Santa Paws hat.

And my personal favorite, the naughty elf.

Big mistake giving him a rawhide toy before our little photo shoot.  He gnaws until it’s gooey.  His mustache is a disaster.  Our apologies for Rock not being photo ready.

I’m having a tough decision.  What should he wear to the 2011 FSL Ugly Sweater Party?

Me, Myself & Irene

Okay.  I haven’t posted in a week.  Our computer is dead. The data was deemed not retrievable by Best Buy’s  Geek Squad.  All of our photos, videos, important documents, etc.

 *dramatic sigh*

I can’t NOT post because I feel guilty and I’m a bit addicted to it.  Blogging has become a real outlet for me.  Plus I feel out of the loop with all of my blog friends.  I  haven’t posted even with this 6″ notebook computer because it repeatedly deletes entire paragraphs without notice, it’s crazy hard to surf the net, and forget about loading pictures onto it.  I don’t want to write crappy posts, but that’s what comes of it when I try to on this thing. 

 

Please hang in there guys.  We are doing all that we could to try and get a new computer from Sony.  I refuse to pay for another computer since it crashed on its own less than 6 months in. 

In other FSL news, Hurricane Irene slammed CT.  My mom lived here with her cat and dog for 2 days. Casa FSL is in good condition still (except for a piece of siding that got ripped off of the house from the crazy wind).  The neighborhood that I grew up in (where my mom & dad’s house is), was completely flooded.

You’ve got to see this.  Click here to see my town’s devastation from the hurricane. The town beach was nonexistent!  The high tide & moon phase plus the hurricane completely sucked up the beach.  The entire section of town is under water.  Amazing.

While all of that was going on, I was hosting dinner party after dinner party!  We were one of the lucky households that didn’t lose power!  700,000 people lost electricity during this storm.  We had a great time in spite of the bad weather. 

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Did you get hit by Irene?

Wedding Week Part 4

Picking up from the “To Be Continued…”  The reception!  This was the most fun part of the whole event!  The party!  The ceremony was a bit more serious and very romantic, but it was nice to let our hair down after all of the planning, stress, and anticipation.

So much researching and decision making goes into this one day, and it all goes by so quickly  in a blur of camera flashes and kisses.  I am so thankful that our photographers (See their blog here!  They are truly amazing!!) got so many pictures of the details that I surely missed during all of the confusion and happy chaos.

Here’s where our guests “signed in”.  My husband and I are very fortunate to be able to say that both of our parents are still together.  We thought it would be a nice touch to have their wedding photos displayed.

To hold cards or gifts we used a birdcage that we decorated with some flowers & tulle.  The ornament is from Lisa Leonard Designs.

Instead of a guest book we did this…

And the stones sit in decorative bowls in our living room.  They are always a conversation piece.  I didn’t want a book that just collected dust, plus it’s more fun to write on a stone 😀

Instead of buying favors that everyone most likely will throw out, we opted to make a donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. and my mom really wanted matches because she’s a kook.

I thought it was a fun idea to have baloons with long ribbons all along the dance floor (it reminded me of the prom scene in the 80’s flick “She’s Out Of Control” which was a favorite by the way).

I found these in TJMaxx for like 2 bucks and printed our names on them.

We didn’t go for the traditional cake topper, or even the funny bride dragging the groom.  We got these monograms & I’m making some sort of wall art with them soon 😉

We cut our cake to the song ” I wanna grow old with you” from The Wedding Singer, fun &goofy, but still sweet. If you’ve never heard it…

I thought I’d surprise him with a fun groom’s cake.  Since he is an avid skier, the cake looked like a ski boot 🙂

 

The banquet hall just installed uplighting literally the day before our wedding and they were excited to try it out, so they threw it into our package for free! It really made the room feel festive and romantic. Plus there is a warm pink glow in all of the photos.

 

Here’s what each table looked like…

At 11:00 my grandparents kissed us goodbye for the night. I couldn’t believe how fast the day flew by!  We were so busy taking photos and thanking people for coming that I only had a couple of bites of food, and drank nothing but the toast. We only had 1 hour left to party.  So that’s exactly what we did.

When it came time for the bouquet & garter toss, Mr. FSL had a little trick up his sleeve (literally)!  Instead of pulling the garter, he pulled out a pair of huuuuge granny panties!  It was so funny! Did I mention he put them on his head??! LOL!

The rest of the night was filled with dancing & fun!

I think a great party is all about the fun details!  Thank you guys for stooping by to relive our wedding with us!  If you are planning your own wedding, I hope this little series helped to spark your imagination a little!  If you’ve already said “I do”, what details were your favorites at your wedding?

Love you guys

xo

Mindy

Wedding Week Part 2

Keeping on with Wedding Week, today’s post will be about planning.  It’s not an easy task to put together every detail of such a huge event and have it all work out beautifully.  Our wedding went off without a hitch thanks to careful planning.  This is especially odd because I am suuuuper disorganized!  I owe much of my wedding organization skills to my Matron of Honor, Jackie.

She signed me up on The Knot.com.  All you do is enter your wedding date and the site lets you know when you need to do what.  For example, when you log in, your checklist will pop up and tell you that you should be thinking about ordering your invitations, offer you different wording options, show you a zillion examples of cool invites, etc. I am notoriously forgetful, and I didn’t forget ANYTHING because of this website!  Plus, there is a budgeter, a guest list manager, and so many other useful tools.  See it here.

Here’s a list of great websites that I obsessed over thought were really useful resources…

Style Me Pretty is a fantastic site that is packed with inspiration, real weddings, and some sweet D-I-Y stuff.

The Wedding Chicks have some great downloads, and tons of ideas!!

Martha Stewart Weddings is run by the D-I-Y queen herself!  You won’t believe all of the ideas on here!

The Inspired Bride has so many D-I-Y ideas plus how to maximize your budget.  My favorite feature that this site has to offer is the color palettes.  There are so many different color combinations to choose from (and some you may not have envisioned before, but will love!) with moodboards.

A huge part of planning your wedding has to do with inspiration. I actually found inspiration at Victoria’s Secret!  Meeeeoooow 😉 !  LOL!  In their shopping bags actually.  I loved the hot pink, fuchsia, light pink & black combo (I added silver for some sparkle).  It screamed party to me!  Here’s a peek at my inspiration that came to life through the details of the day.

How to negotiate with vendors 101: Okay, before I went through this experience, I was not known for my sweet Donald Trump-esque deal making capabilities. I thought you went to a florist, tell them what you wanted, they told you how much it would cost, and either you could afford it or you find a new one.  Well, this approach got me 4 outrageous quotes and really panicky.  I finally was running out of options.  We couldn’t stretch the budget any more and I refused to end up with really low quality (which was apparently all we thought we could afford).  I finally decided that I had nothing to lose, so I made an appointment with a florist that had gorgeous (and really expensive) flowers.  I told the consultant that I thought they were the best florist in the city (which is true) and that I knew I probably couldn’t afford them.  I told her exactly what I could spend and told her what I had in mind.  I asked her if she could do this tastefully on our budget.  She said absolutely!  So the moral of the story is: tell the vendor that you love their work, you don’t want to sacrifice quality, and tell them the maximum amount you can spend.

Don’t try to make everyone happy.  It will never happen.  If you love seafood and your brother-in-law hates it, just make sure to  have at least one alternative. If you love orange, and your maid of honor hates it, she can choose whatever color she wants for her own wedding.  You don’t have to be Bridezilla either though. When choosing bridesmaid dresses do take into consideration the various size and shapes of the girls.  Don’t choose strapless if you have a few top heavy ladies.  Nobody wants a wardrobe malfunction during the bouquet toss!  There are a few cute dress lines (like J.Crew and Alfred Angelo) that have dresses in the same colors,  but different necklines or hem lengths.  Every girl can look different but still look similar.  I let my bridesmaids wear their hair however they liked, and wear whatever jewelry they liked too.  I always hated my hair up and I was in a wedding once where we HAD to wear our hair up.  Needless to point out, I wasn’t a happy camper.  Leave them a little wiggle room.

 

Baked Mac & Cheese Cups

Last week, I hosted “Girl’s Night In” here at casa FSL.  Drinks & apps.

I like to think of myself as an adventurous cook.  When it comes to cooking for a group of people though, I feel that it’s best to stick with traditional crowd-pleasers.  I made turkey-chili queso (here’s the recipe), a balsamic bruschetta type concoction, and baked mac & cheese cups…which went the fastest of the three apps.  This dish is usually really filling, unless they are in small portions.  When it comes to apps, finger foods are king.  Plus, they’re cute 😛

The best part about this recipe, is that you can make them a day ahead of time, & pop them in the oven when you need them.

Here’s how I made them:

Cook 1 box (1 pound) of elbow macaroni in boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain.  You just want to par boil the pasta because it will finish cooking when you bake the cups.  Mushy pasta is disgusting, trust me.

Coat 24 muffin tins with nonstick spray, then sprinkle a teensy bit of grated cheese into the bottom of each cup.  This will create a nice, cheesey crust on the bottom.

In a large sauce pan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter.  Whisk in four tablespoons of flour for about two minutes.

Whisk in 1 1/2 cups of milk, and keep stirring for about five minutes.

Measure 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar, 1/2 cup shredded monterey jack, and 1/2 pound of thinly sliced american cheese. 

Stir them all into the buttery milk mixture  until smooth.

Remove from heat.  Add two egg yolks & a dash of paprika. Stir.

Fold in the macaroni until evenly coated.

Fill baking cups with the mixture and sprinkle with grated cheese.  This is the point where you can pop them into the fridge to finish at another time or continue on now.

Put these into a pre-heated oven at 425 for about 10 minutes or until tops start to turn golden brown.

Let them cool for about five minutes before serving.  I used silicone bakeware so I can pop them out (and so nobody accidentally throws them away).

Recipe stolen borrowed from Food & Wine Magazine, tweaked by yours truly 😉

Enjoy!

Looking Back…What A Rockin’ Year!

Today is my last day of school!!! Actually, it’s a half day 🙂  I am uber psyched!  Every time I reach the end of something, I reflect.  I reflect to see what I’ve learned, what I could do better next time, and how I’ve grown as a person from the experience.

As I look back,  it was a great year for me.  I have so much to be thankful for.

Here’s my last year in review…

June 2010: I had my bridal shower, bachelorette party, and found out our offer was accepted on our first house! Click here & here to see what our house looked like before we bought it.

July 2010: I went from Mindy Mac to Mindy P!  I married my best friend July 30th. See pics of that here. We paid a honeymoon visit to Negril, Jamaica.

August 2010: I turned 28, moved into my in law’s house and gained 8 pounds because my mother-in-law is an amazing cook!!  Click here for her crockpot chicken & potatoes recipe.

September 2010:  We finally closed on our house!!!

October 2011:  We moved in!!! Mr.FSL turned 32.  His vineyard birthday party is where we snapped this picture…


November 2010: November 1st was the inaugural post (about jalapeno infused tequila no less, lol! See my first post here).  I got my wisdom teeth pulled. We hosted our first family holiday at casa FSL!  I made my first Thanksgiving turkey!! (Hear about that mess new experience here)

December 2010: Our first married Christmas in our new home!  Instead of a housewarming party, we had a “Bad Christmas Sweater Party” and made a shot-ski!  Hear all about that crazy time here.

January 2011: The snowiest winter on record for CT! Actually, there was so much snow, our roof that extended over our beck deck (which extends the entire length of the house) collapsed!  Hear about that craziness here. Here’s a shot of my husband and his dad & our borrowed snow blower on the back deck.  That lovely metal piece in the background used to be our roof 😦

February 2011:  We took a much needed vacation to Salt Lake City, Utah!  We went skiing on some of the most beautiful terrain & ate at the oldest saloon in the state! Get the scoop on that trip here, here, and here.

March 2011: We threw our first rager!  About 100 people came to our house for a surprise party.  We had the pizza truck & a comedian, great time.  I got the DIY itch & painted a chalkboard wall in our kitchen & decorated it for the occasion. I drew Yankee Stadium & a pic of the b-day boy on it…

April 2011: My chicken tortilla soup recipe was featured by Oxygen Magazine!!  I was sooo excited, it’s my fitness bible (get the recipe for that here)! My husband & I did a photo shoot in a haunted opera house (see those pics & the insane video here)  My craigslist desk makeover was “Freshly Pressed” and is still the most popular post on Finding Silver Linings to date.  I was stoked and amazed that I was also a  “Pop Pressed” featured blogger!  Crazy!!!

Are you kidding?! I was so excited!

May 2011:  My mom & I had the best Mother’s Day ever!  We hit up Manhattan for a spa day, made it on TV, and ate at one of the best restaurants in the country!! (Hear all about it here).  I started my vegetable garden!

June 2011:  Here we are! Finally feeling settled at our house.  Getting the hang of keeping up after laundry, cooking, cleaning, wife-ing, ya know, that whole thing.  All in all, what a wonderful year!  I can’t wait to see what summer vacation brings!  You all know I have a list of stuff to do!!

Sorry for the uber wordy post.  I guess I am feeling a bit nostalgic. Looking back does that to me.

Thanks for sticking around 🙂  I love you guys!!!

xoxo

Mindy

Good Thing We Packed Our Sea Legs!

Good thing we packed our sea legs, because it was one choppy, sloppy, wet wedding weekend! 

Here’s the Cliff Notes version…

Way too late the night before, I decided that it was time to pack. Here’s me on the bathroom floor trying to gather toiletries.

We woke up at 6 AM which was about six hours from the time this photo was taken.  I thought I’d be a zombie all morning, but for some odd reason, when I have to get up for work it’s really hard to get out of bed.  When I have to wake up to catch a Ferry to Block Island for an awesome time, I spring out of bed chipper as can be.  Weird how that works huh?

We hit traffic on the way to the ferry, and had to run (literally) with our bags to catch it.  Thankfully we made it or we would have been late to the wedding. 

We checked in to our hotel (that I forgot to take a photo of, but here’s one from their website…).

I didn’t spend much time scouring the island and snapping shots because it was raining the entire time we were there!  I felt so bad for the bride. She had always wanted a beach wedding, and here we are in the pouring rain.  Like the blog title says, we definitely had to find the silver lining on these clouds. 

I packed the green dress and the peach dress in case I changed my mind.  I asked the bride & her sisters when we were all hanging out at their beach house and sipping mimosas (my fave!).  The thought the green was too dressy.  So, I took the bride’s advice and went with the peach.

Mr FSL & I ran in the pouring rain, with my heels in my hand (I wore flip-flops to run in 😛 ).  Good thing I wore my hair in a ponytail, or it would have looked like this:

and not in a good way.

Here’s me with wet hair stuck to my forehead.

The wedding had to happen inside.  If you’ve ever been to Block Island, it was at Ballards. Here are a few pics of the inside…

And outside…

Yikes.

After the food, the drinks took over for most people. 

Here’s my photo reel of the night’s events a la The Hangover Movie (they go from good to crazy as the night went on:

The maid of honor was my partner in crime all night… 

Me & my bff April (the bride’s sister) realizing that we just cut the friggin cake.  Uh, not okay, lol!  Luckily, the bride thinks we are hilarious.  Phew!

All better!

The next morning was not pretty.  Still rainy. 

 We went into a few vintage shops. 

 

Saw some nice stuff…

I fell in love with this rug, but the mark up on the island is crazy, so I went home with a hangover and some Laffy Taffys from the candy shop.

Woah.

 

What did you guys do this weekend? 

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done at a wedding?! Please make me feel better…