We love entertaining and don’t do it as much as we should but we’re working on it! One of the things we’ve been trying to stick to over the last 8-9 months is having a regularly scheduled game night. We’ve had 3 or 4 to date and they’re always a hit. The thing we haven’t done yet is have a Poker (Texas Hold ‘Em) dedicated night which is something I’ve been wanting to do. We decided this month’s game night (last night) would be dedicated to playing Texas Hold ‘Em. I’m also please to announce that our game night is being featured as part of Foodbuzz‘s monthly 24, 24, 24 event which is a live blogging event featuring 24 meals, in 24 hours, on 24 different blogs around the world. I participated back in November for the Thanksgiving edition. Definitely go check out what everyone else cooked up this month!
As much as I love entertaining. Its stressful for me. I’m a perfectionist. I want the house to be in perfect order and I want to prepare a fabulous meal all from scratch. Our friends deserve the best. This is a problem though as I never seem to have enough hours in the day to do everything that I want to do. When it comes to planning a party, the key is planning, planning & planning!
- Clean the house thoroughly a week in advance. Touch-up the day before the event.
- Plan your menu more than a week in advance (check out the menu planning tips below)
- Plan the decor and purchase everything in advance
- Make a detailed shopping list and cooking plan (just like we did for Thanksgiving!)… can’t waste valuable time the day of running to the grocery store for the cheese you forgot!
- Consider your audience. Notice the lack of veggies in ours? Yea, that comes from experience. They rarely get touched when we have game night. Vegetarians in attendance? Make sure you have plenty of options.
- Consider the weather (grilling when its negative 10 or pouring rain probably doesn’t work too well!)
- Consider time constraints and make as many dishes in advance as possible (And if you’re a food blogger, fixing food that can be prepped in advance makes photographing it easier! hehe. Night time light is not a food blogger’s friend!)
- Trim down the bar. Rather than leaving a full bar out. Choose two choice drinks that are premade where guests can help themselves.
- Plan 3-4 drinks per person for a 3-4 hour party
With all that in mind, we put together our menu:
Mini Cheesecake with Strawberries
When it came to the bar menu this event. We left our “stocked” bar (tequila, whiskey & vodka usually) out since it rarely actually gets touched– mostly beer drinkers! We did opt to do a signature cocktail for last night’s event which was a White Russian. They were a big hit. As was all the food!
1.5 shots vodka
1 shot Kahlua
1 shot half-and-half
Combine first two ingredients over ice in a glass. Float cream on top.
And lastly the reason you’re probably really here… the recipes! This mini cheesecake recipe is something my mom has been making as long as I can remember. No clue where the recipe came from but they’re so simple and so tasty. Perfect for entertaining, or anytime really! They’re a huge hit in our family!
Mini Cheater Cheesecakes
18 vanilla wafers
2 (8oz.) packages cream cheese
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 375°. Line 18 muffin tins with cupcake liners (fill any empty tins with a little water). Drop a vanilla wafer into the bottom of each liner. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Fill the liners 2/3 full with mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until set. Top each with fruit topping of choice.
1/4 c plus 2 Tbsp Flour
Pinch of Salt
1/2 Stick (4 Tbsp) Unsalted Butter, Cut into 4 Pieces
2 1/2 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, Coarsely Chopped
1/3 c Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1 large egg
For the optional Glaze:
2 oz. White Chocolate, Finely Chopped
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly butter two miniature muffin pans, each with a dozen cups, and place them on a baking sheet. Whisk together the flour and salt.
Melt the butter, chocolate, and brown sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over very low heat, stirring frequently with a heatproof spatula and keeping an eye on the pan so that nothing overheats or burns. When the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat and cool for a minute or two. Stir the vanilla & egg into the chocolate mixture. When the mixture is well blended, add the flour and stir only until it is incorporated. You should have a smooth, glossy batter.
Spoon the batter into 16 of the muffin cups, using about a teaspoon of batter to fill each cup 3/4 full. Put 1 teaspoon of water in each empty cup. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until the tops of the buttons spring back when touched. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 3 minutes before carefully releasing the buttons. Cool to room temperature on the racks.
To make the glaze: Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Stir constantly and don’t leave the chocolate for even one minute- white chocolate scorches easily. As soon as the chocolate is smooth, remove from the heat.
One by one, dip the tops of the buttons into the chocolate, twirling the buttons so that you get a little swirl at the center of each one and the excess chocolate drips back into the bowl. Refrigerate the buttons for 15 minutes to set the glaze.
Source: Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan