St. Patrick’s Day is simply about food, drinks and having a good time. It’s a day to celebrate with your friends, be a little silly, and eat and drink until your heart’s content. Most years we have a group of friends over for an early St. Patrick’s Day dinner, and then we hit the town. With that said, I always try to feed my friends and family a good foundation of food to handle the rest of the night’s activities.
This year I’m making a few of my favorite green-ish appetizers and then several main course options. That way people can pick and choose what they want, and I get the benefit of having leftovers for a few days after the celebration.
Irish Grilled Cheese (pictured above) is what we’re eating to kick things off. These are super easy, especially because I can pre-assemble them, and then everyone can use the panini press to make them as they please. Simple, delicious and fun.
Get the recipe: Irish Grilled Cheese
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You’ve decided to skip the big dinner and throw a New Year’s Eve party, but it’s just one day away. Don’t fret; there’s still time to throw an all-out bash that will also allow you to enjoy time with your guests.
So let’s throw a party! I’ve compiled a few of my favorite recipes that will complete your menu (with bubbly, of course). Keep the items small, but make sure they’re filling:
Hummus — it’s a must for any party at my house. You can make it the morning of your party and it only takes mere minutes to whip everything up in a food processor. Toast up your own pita chips, too, and this one is good to go.
Try this recipe: Red Pepper Hummus With Toasted Pita Triangles
Spiced nuts (pictured above) are great to have on hand for the holiday season and the same goes for New Year’s Eve. Make these the day before, reheat them for a quick minute in the oven, and serve them at your party. Feel free to get creative with this recipe, like I did, and add other nuts besides pecans.
Try this recipe: Food Network Magazine‘s Sweet-and-Spicy Pecans
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Father’s Day is all about chocolate and letting Dad watch whatever TV he wants that day. At least it is in my family. You see, in our family of four, there is only one guy, my dad. We out number him in everything. He wants to watch football? Too bad, we’ve got the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy to watch. Game seven of the playoffs? Nope, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills just started. So you see, the girls win almost all of the time. But not on Father’s Day. We’ll let Dad watch just about whatever he wants and we promise to only complain a few times.
My dad is a chocolate fanatic. I don’t know how he manages to stay so fit when he always has a constant supply of homemade chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cheesecake, chocolate brownies, chocolate layered cake etc., stocked in the freezer in case of a sweet tooth “emergency.” So when Father’s Day rolls around, it’s a no-brainer that we’re going to make him something that’s going to satisfy his chocolate sweet tooth.
This year’s Father’s Day treat is The Pioneer Woman’s Chocolate Sheet Cake.
It’s decadent to say the least and it’s exactly what Dad needs this coming Sunday. Plus, it makes a boatload of cake that you could share with your neighbors or fellow dads celebrating this special day.
Get the recipe
It goes without saying that Mother’s Day is always a fun day in our house. Instead of giving her gifts every year, I like to cook up a big delicious brunch so we can all lay around the house, eat great food and relax. It’s something we do quite well.
My mom is also quite the picky eater, so I have to tailor my menu to fit her palate. One thing that I can never go wrong with is any kind of baked goods. We have a sweet tooth in my family and these Blueberry Muffins that I’ve adapted from Alton Brown are always a hit.
I brightened them up with lemon zest and raspberries, and then whipped up the most addictive Chantilly Cream. Heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and a vanilla bean is a match made in heaven.
These blueberry-raspberry muffins topped with Chantilly Cream are the perfect way to show your mom some love this Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful mothers out there, and thanks to my mom for being so amazing.
Get the recipe for Blueberry-Raspberry Muffins
St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and this year I’m celebrating with a classic Shepherd’s Pie. It’s basically my go-to dish for this yearly celebration, along with a few Irish-inspired cocktails and beer.
My favorite Shepherd’s Pie recipe comes from Mr. Alton Brown.
It’s a foolproof recipe that will knock your socks off. I jazzed it up a bit by adding some Dubliner cheese into the potato topping to give it that extra Irish kick. What makes this even more special is that rather than making a big casserole dish of Shepherd’s Pie, I turn this into individual portions by make the pies in a muffin tin. How perfect is that for a fun St. Paddy’s-themed evening with your friends? Grab a mini Shepherd’s Pie and a Guinness and call it a night.
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Mardi Gras is the perfect excuse for a party, and not just any party — a New Orleans-themed party. I don’t know if you’ve been to New Orleans (NOLA for short), but let me tell you this: Those people know how to party. I was there last year for a quick week and even this California girl had a hard time keeping up with the nightlife. That aside, you can’t forget the amazing Cajun and Creole food on every corner and the unforgettable cocktail scene with live music that pours into the streets at night. If you can’t head down south for Mardi Gras this year, re-create a NOLA-inspired appetizer for Fat Tuesday.
And who better to take inspiration from than the king of NOLA himself, Emeril.
This Mardi Gras Jambalaya from Emeril is one of my all-time favorites. I’ll make this for a big dinner party any day, but I wanted to turn it into an appetizer so it would be easy to eat — people can grab a bite and run back to the dance floor.
Get Gaby’s Creole Shrimp Skewer recipe »
Now that the holidays are officially over and most of us are in cookie detox mode, it’s time to bring on the lighter appetizers for fun get-togethers you might be throwing. I’m a huge fan of Spinach Artichoke Dip. It’s one of those classic comforting appetizers and it’s perfect for these midwinter gatherings I’ve been throwing. Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean that fun and simple soirees have to go away. I’ve been having friends over for casual midweek dinners and introducing them to new lightened-up recipes.
This Spinach Artichoke Dip from Ellie Krieger is the perfect example. You’ll never guess that this recipe is lightened up because it’s still super flavorful and just as addicting as its full-fat cousin. Plus, it would be an excellent addition to your upcoming Super Bowl menu. I made a few changes to spice things up a bit more and make it extra delicious. My favorite mix-in wound up being the addition of pepper jack cheese — it gave the dip an extra kick.
Get Gaby’s lightened-up version »
It’s holiday baking time and that means one thing: cookie exchanges. These simple soirées are hands down one of my favorite type of parties to host or attend during the holiday season. It’s a great way to get a ton of your friends together, share the holiday spirit and stock up on lots of different holiday cookies. If you’ve never hosted or been to a cookie exchange, the concept is pretty simple: Make your favorite kind of cookies, bring them to the party and give them away. In return you get a plethora of cookies from your friends that you get to turn around and take home to your family. So basically, you’re spreading a little of your holiday baking love and getting some serious love in return. I always serve some savory nibbles at these parties to make sure no one goes into a sugar coma. A cheese plate with some crackers or a dip duo with some pita chips tends to do the trick.
This year, I’m all about these Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies from Ree Drummond.
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