Thursday, January 2, 2014

How to enjoy an easy, everyday hot cocoa bar

If you enjoyed a hot cocoa bar or two during the holidays, you'll love this easy and inexpensive way to keep a mini hot cocoa bar at the ready all winter long.

Christmas may be over, but for many of us the chilly winter season has only just begun. That means fun-filled skiing and snowboarding weekends, marathon snow shoveling sessions and cozy evenings spent indoors. But no matter how you spend your time during the cold winter months, there is nothing that warms you from the inside out like a big mug of hot cocoa.

So, up your hostessing game by staying prepared with a mini hot cocoa bar to warm your guests (or just yourself) this winter. Simply keep some regular and white cocoa powder stocked, a bottle of flavored syrup and perhaps some Bailey's, a can of whipped cream and most importantly a wide selection of toppings.

Our favorite way to maintain the fun of a hot cocoa bar, but in a more compact, easy to store format is by keeping a selection of toppings in a Masala Dabba . These uber affordable, Indian spice boxes are fantastic for a variety of different pantry storage uses, including keeping a mini hot cocoa bar nicely organized. Simply head to your local bulk food store, load up on toppings like mini chocolate chips, toffee nibs, mini marshmallows, and salted caramel sprinkles. Store a sampling of each in the small cups that are included with the masala dabba and then cover the whole thing up with the lid. The toppings are kept air tight and can be quickly brought out for unexpected company or for a cozy movie night in with your significant other.

If you live in a multicultural area, a Masala dabba can be easily found at most any Indian grocery store. For those who don't have access to these stores, check out Amazon for a wide selection of dabbas to suit any budget.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Pinteresting Cookie Recipes for your Holiday Cookie Exchange

Ladies and gentleman, cookie exchange season is nearly upon us and if you’re anything like we are (more than slightly competitive), you've already started thinking about leaving the competition in the dust (or flour, you know). So whether you’re already planning your “Best Overall Cookie” acceptance speech, or if you simply enjoy drooling over images of sweet, buttery cookies, here are our favorite cookie recipes currently found on Pinterest.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

5 fantastic food stations for your Christmas Party

Hosting a Christmas party is a lot of fun and the perfect way to pump up the holiday cheer. However, anyone who has ever hosted a party knows that if you aren't careful you can end up spending you’re entire party in the kitchen. Parties are for celebrating and socializing with friends, not stressing out over the food. So we've gathered a list of some of our favorite party food stations to keep your guests happily nibbling and you away from the stove.

Baked Potato Bar – A baked potato bar takes all of the deliciousness of the mashed potato bar and makes it even easier for you! Providing a potato bar is an excellent way to give your guests a filling meal that leaves you free to join the party.  Simply pre bake your potatoes in the oven and then keep them steaming in a crock pot or disposable catering trays. The toppings are totally up to you. We like to include something hearty like chili or pulled pork and then a selection of things like queso, sour cream, crumbled bacon, corn, caramelized onions, etc. The sky's the limit really. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

5 Interactive Christmas party ideas

Wondering what to do if you're interested in hosting a Christmas party but dancing isn't really your thing and a traditional cocktail party isn't in the budget? Here are 5 fun, interactive Christmas party ideas that are sure to help you celebrate the season your way!

Cookie Exchange - Fun and frugal, the cookie exchange has become a go-to party for many holiday hostesses (and hosts). Simply invite a small group of friends and instruct them to bake (no store bought cookies here) at least six dozen cookies. Some are to share and other to be packed up and taken home. Most often there are prizes (or award certificates) given for best cookie.

What's required of the host: Some festive decor, invitations, beverages and a few savory finger foods. Awards can be store-bought gifts or award certificates. If you want to go all out, provide pretty cookie bags or gable boxes for your guests to take their cookies home in. You can also ask the guests to wear an apron or festive clothing.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How to host a memorable wine tasting party

Hosting a wine tasting party is a wonderful way to celebrate any occasion, from Christmastime to an impending wedding, a milestone birthday or just because. As an option it's easy, interactive and can be as affordable or expensive as you choose.

Here are a few of our favorite ways to ensure a memorable wine tasting party:

Go Blind - Make it a blind wine tasting party for added fun! Cover your bottle labels with numbers so that guests don't know the winery, type or vintage. Then have them rate each wine on score cards. Be sure to include an inexpensive wine and a high quality vintage in the mix, then see if the aficionados in the group can tell the difference!

Go Global - Feature wines from different parts of the world and tailor your finger foods, decor and music to reflect the theme.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

10 Tasty Toppings for Your Hot Cocoa Bar

It's hard to believe but the Christmas season will be here before you know it, and you know what that means? Christmas parties! This is the most wonderful party season of the year, and whether you're hosting an office party, a cocktail party at home or a magnificent cookie exchange, there is one must have to make any holiday gathering extra special, and that's a hot cocoa bar!

There's nothing like a sweet, creamy cup of hot cocoa during the holiday season, and setting out a spread of delicious and at times unexpected toppings is always a delight to your gusts. Here is a list of our 10 favorite topping for your hot cocoa bar:

1) Whipped cream - An obvious choice, but it doesn't have to be an ordinary choice. Add some wow to your whip by forgoing the spray can and whipping up some fresh and flavorful options from a carton of whipping cream (available in next to the milk in the dairy case), some sugar and a handful of flavorings.  Add some sugar and vanilla for a classically flavored cream and then offer a few fun alternatives like rum flavored whipped cream, or cocoa. You can even make a butterscotch flavored whipped cream by adding a touch of brown sugar and some butterscotch extract.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wine and cookies for Christmas

The warm weather is finally here, and yet we're dreaming about dashing through the snow and ho ho ho. Work has just begun on our 2013 Christmas collections. We have several new Christmas party invitations and Christmas decoration party packs, but we're also thinking about bringing back a couple of old favorites like our Winter Wine-derland wine exchange/wine tasting party and our Gingerbread cookie exchange pack. There's nothing like indulging in past favorites, especially at Christmastime!