Tag Archives: easy party ideas

The Tower of Bacon

Gentle Readers, sometimes, bacon is more than the flavoring, more than a garnish, more than a bit. Sometimes, bacon is the guest of honor. Recently, in my professional life, I had cause to order 100 pieces of bacon. Just bacon. It was for a Tweetup called #vBacon, and I was not kidding. To the extreme credit and creativity of the staff at Cable Car City Pub, they brought this out.

Behold the Tower of Bacon!

Behold the Tower of Bacon!

That’s right, it’s a tower of bacon. Essentially a deconstructed BLT, lettuce and tomato served as garnish. It was bacon shock and awe. There were pictures taken, poses with, bacon inception even.

Bacon Inception

Bacon Inception: Photo credit @revolize

I’m well-documented as being a bacon fan, and this bacon was tasty. Lesson here, sometimes, when you have an event, less is more. Beer and bacon, yes, that is enough. They tried to push me into fancier appetizers, but I kept saying, just bacon please. The result was 150 happy technologists.

Will don ears and bacon for charity! Annual #v0dgeball tournament for Wounded Warrior Project.

Will don ears and bacon for charity! Annual #v0dgeball tournament for Wounded Warrior Project.

Have you ever thrown a party around a single ingredient? Post a comment below, or Tweet at me with #vBacon in your Tweet!

Send your bacon photos, your kitchen questions, and your food confessions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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It’s almost time for Sunday Weekly Menus again. Wow, blink and September is halfway gone!

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Filed under Bacon Brackets, Kitchen Philosophy

How to Throw and Impromptu Cookout and Why You Should

Gentle Readers, there is nothing better than cooking out in the summer, unless it’s someone else doing the cooking. If you need an excuse to have a party or gathering, and really, who doesn’t, light a fire in the grill, and start dialing out. It’s a potluck on a grill, what could be easier?

Let there be fire! Chicken on the barbie.

Let there be fire! Chicken on the barbie. (As stated by an actual Australian.)

This past week, I had some truly delicious grilled chicken, consumed outside after the blazing heat had died down. Food tastes better outside. Food cooked over fire, better still. And if you supply the main and distribute the sides, it’s an easy occasion.

Outdoor dinner, summer style.

Outdoor dinner, summer style.

Here was the menu:

Grilled Chicken: Marinated overnight in a top-secret blend of flavorings and spices (top-secret because I could not read all of the labels of the myriad Asian chili sauces my hostess with the mostest used).

Grilled Chicken in Spicy Asian Marinade. Burnt skin was at a premium.

Grilled Chicken in Spicy Asian Marinade. Burnt skin was at a premium.

Corn on the Cob: Need I say more? Boiled, with butter and salt. Yum.

Corn on the Cob for the Win!

Corn on the Cob for the Win!

Watermelon: Again, I could eat my weight in this stuff, and it’s designed to be consumed outside.

Summer happiness = watermelon

Summer happiness = watermelon

Random Whole Foods Side Salads: I’ll confess, this was me. I was working up until the cookout, and my hostess graciously let me off the hook. I brought quinoa and some firecracker slaw. I am back to my quinoa addiction, a perfect summer food.

Whole Foods Quinoa and Firecracker Slaw: Working Mom Food

Whole Foods Quinoa and Firecracker Slaw: Working Mom Food

Watermelon Semifreddo: Days later, I’m still dreaming about this dessert. Courtesy of my friend over at The Professor’s Table, this is a happy marriage of something like an ice-box pie top with a boozy watermelon granita bottom. I am seeking the recipe, or will direct you to her site if she posts it there. I didn’t think I could love or crave watermelon more. I was wrong.

Watermelon Semifreddo: I Think I Love You

Watermelon Semifreddo: I Think I Love You

We all brought things to drink, everyone did work to make the meal happen, and we ate outside. It was relaxing, delicious, and memorable. All that a summer meal should be. So go, create a moment outside of your kitchen! Thank me later. (Or invite me now. :))

Outdoor wine table.

Outdoor wine table.

Special thanks to the Friday night crew. It was awesome: you continue to remind me why I love food.

What’s your favorite thing to cook on the grill? Post a comment below, or Tweet my way. I am on vacation, but listening.

Send your invitations, spare watermelon, and actual questions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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On Friday: Not Quite Carbonara Recipe (or Vegetarians Welcome)!

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Filed under Kitchen Philosophy, Punt!

The Art of the Effortless Party

Every once in a while, you meet someone who is truly a hostess with the mostest. For me, Gentle Readers, that person is Rocking Writer, who manages to toss together dinner for any number of people in a snap, have a party in the middle of a downpour, and never ever lets ’em see her sweat. She is the epitome of effortless grace in the kitchen, and The Practical Cook unabashedly studies her methods.

An Effortless Party Table with Flowers

An Effortless Party Table with Flowers

Top 5 Tips for a Practically Effortless Party

1. KISS. We all know this  one, keep it simple stupid. If you want an effortful party, make individual fussy appetizers and everything from scratch. If you want to go for something simpler, keep it simple. Limit the dishes to something salty, something sweet, something hot, something cold. Variety, but not too much of anything is key.

2. Flowers. The little touches matter. Put flowers on the table, instant party!

3. Nice Dishes. What are you saving them for? Now is the time to whip out the good and interesting pieces. Again, if you followed rule #1, clean-up won’t be so bad.

Close-up on the effortless party spread. Guacamole, pastry puffs, hummus, cheese, done.

Close-up on the effortless party spread. Guacamole, pastry puffs, hummus, cheese, done.

4. Buy Some, Make Some. This table proves a rule I’ve learned many times over at my annual Christmas dinner. People like pigs in a blanket. You can slave in a hot kitchen, or you can accept that some party foods are faves for a reason. Buy some dips, make one or two special things, save your energy for pouring drinks.

5. Invite Interesting People. Not food related perhaps, but key. Good conversation overwrites any eyebrows that might be raised about culinary choices. Remember, this is an effortless party you’re throwing, not a sit-down 5-course gourmet dinner party. Sometimes, the effortless party conversation can be about food. The Practical Cook loses no opportunity for field research!

So thank you to Rocking Writer for well, rocking, and for the invite. I am inspired and reminded that food and community are inseparable and important.

Are you an effortless host? Post your comments and tips, I need ’em!

Send your party invites and pictures to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, a product review: Frozen Polenta with Spinach and Carrots from Trader Joe’s.

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Filed under Kitchen Philosophy, Punt!