Monday, October 11, 2010

It's HALLOWEEN time...a fun party idea!

The most mature member of the Dazzle team, our mom, LOVES Halloween time! She loves the decorations, the food, the pumpkins, and most of all...throwing the party that brings all of our family and friends of all ages together for a night of fun. We pull out all the stops from scary looking food and drinks (that are actually quite delicious once you get past the appearance!) to full Halloween decorations.
This year we will be trying something new for our cauldron of party juice: creating an edible frozen hand that protrudes from the cauldron and looks super creepy when you reach in there to fill your own cup. I found this recipe on and it sounds like a great touch to add to our personal Halloween party!

Witches Brew

Here is a picture of what your yummy "brew" can look like! The recipe suggests preparing the hand several days in advance so it is thoroughly frozen for the day of the party. Here is what you need for the hand:
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 2 1/2 cups cranberry juice
  • 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  1. To make the frozen hand: Wash and rinse the outside of a rubber glove. Turn glove inside out and set aside. In a 4 cup measuring cup, combine the thawed raspberries and cranberry juice.
  2. Pour 2 cups of the raspberry mixture into a small saucepan. Sprinkle the gelatin over and let stand 2 minutes. Warm over low heat, stirring constantly, just until gelatin dissolves. Mix back into the reserved raspberry mixture in the measuring cup.
  3. Pour raspberry mixture into the inverted glove. Gather up the top of the glove and tie securely with kitchen twine. Freeze until solid, or several days if possible.
  4. To serve: Carefully cut the glove away from the frozen hand. Place the hand, palm side up, leaning against the back of a large punch bowl. Simply add in your juice ingredients of choice and add some gummy worms for garnish!
The suggested juice combination for this particular recipe is super easy: 2 liters of ginger ale and 2 liters of sparkling apple cider. We, however, will be turning this Brew into something a little more exciting...probably some fun and delicious jungle juice! We will be posting pictures of our Halloween parties and would love for you to share yours as well. If you need any help with an upcoming holiday party, as always, please contact us through e-mail, telephone, or message us on facebook!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Peter Pan B-day Party

Click here to view these pictures larger

Dazzle Building a Pirate Ship!!!

In August we found out that we were going to be throwing a Peter Pan Birthday party for a four year old boy. We were really excited and they have an amazing backyard so we immediately decided that we were going to create Neverland and have all the different areas like "Pirate's Cove" and "Indian Camp." So Ashley, being the efficient woman that she is, went online to research inexpensive ways to construct a pirate ship. She discovered Mr. McGroovey's which came with very basic instructions on how to build a ship out of seven cardboard refrigerator boxes and a kit of rivets to hold the pieces together.
Unfortunately, we had some trouble coming up with that many refrigerator boxes so we used some large wardrobe moving boxes and other pretty big boxes but it totally worked out. Ashley's husband is quite handy so he helped us to measure out the pieces and we started by taping the edges and cutting the pieces with an exacto knife.
Then we pieced it together to ensure that everything fit properly. The next step was drilling three holes in each meeting point so we could attach the rivets to secure the ship. This part was challenging! Ashley would poke her end of the rivet through while I peeked in and then made sure to put my rivet in the opposite way so that they clicked and then we would both push as hard as we could to make sure it attached securely. This was quite painful for our fingers but was a great method! We did this all around the boat until we had a complete skeleton of a pirate ship. We decided that was enough for one day and moved it to the side of our yard and discussed how we would paint it.

Over the next few days my mom and I got the paint and Ashley and she started painting. First, they did the bottom half a really cool mustard color, then they taped off sections and painted black, red, and blue trim and cut out holes for windows. We used latex paint so that it would be a little more sturdy and decided to buy a little plastic steering wheel that we attached with a nail so that it would spin and the kids could pretend to drive it. They really seemed to like that touch! I used white paint on a black cloth that I cut up to look old and raggedy and made a skeleton so that it looked like a pirate flag. When we moved it over to the Congo's house, where the party was, we had to reconstruct the ship and we nailed in some ply wood for additional durability. Then we added all the little finishing touches like draping fishnet over the side, attaching paper parrots that we purchased, and blowing up blue balloons and stapling them to the side to look like waves in the ocean. Our finished product looked amazing thanks to lots of hard work!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

On hosting a BBQ in your 20 something's...

Lucky for us 20-somethings we can get away with not only bring your own booze (B.Y.O.B) parties, but bring your own meat as well! We are at an age where friends are still just thankful to have some free food, and a place to hang out. It is a trend that young adults have been in the process of embracing for quite some time now, and it seems that it is largely accepted in most social circles for this age range.

It is a great and affordable way to be able to get a large group of friends together. Don't be afraid that people will be offended, because in my experience people are just excited and appreciative to have someone plan a fun get together. My husband and I are actually hosting a bring your own meat and booze party this Sunday. Not only does it make hosting a BBQ much more affordable by taking the high priced items out of the mix, but it makes it much less stressful, and more manageable! With meat and beverages out of the way all you need to focus on is a couple appetizers, some sides, and a dessert. Because we have an event to focus on this Saturday we plan to keep Sunday very simple.

The appetizer will be "Bean Dip" which is something that my mother-in-law is famous for. Bean dip is crazy easy, and a real crowd pleaser. In addition to this cheap and delicious option we will have home made guacamole, and Baked Southwestern Corn Dip. (The recipes will be at the end of this post).

As far as sides go, it is preferable to have three to cover all your food groups (some type of carbohydrate, vegetable, fruit), but for cost and time purposes it is acceptable to only choose two. If you get creative you can often incorporate the three food groups into two sides. For instance, I have decided to do an orzo salad with fresh vegetables, and a strawberry spinach salad. See, carbohydrate as orzo, check! Vegetable inside orzo salad and the strawberry spinach salad, check! Fruit, strawberries, check!

For dessert I always like to have something chocolaty and something lighter or fruity. To make this easy we are going to make brownies and cupcakes. Depending on the heat level we may also have Popsicles or ice cream. A really fun thing to serve to guests on a hot day are the new 'Lil Drums" by Nestle. They're delicious and people seem to love them!

Bean Dip

1 can Frito-lay bean dip
1 8 oz. container of sour cream
1 8 oz. container of cream cheese (softened)
1/2 package of Lawry's taco seasoning
10 drops Tabasco sauce

Combine all ingredients, stir well.
Spread into shallow pie plate.
Cover with 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend.
Bake 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Serve with tortilla chips or Frito scoop chips!


4 ripe avocados cubed
1/4 finely chopped red onion
2 finely chopped jalapeno peppers
1 clove minced garlic
1/8 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1 large chopped tomato
juice from half of one lime
1/4 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

Stir together and enjoy!

Baked Southwestern Corn Dip

1 15oz can corn
1 1/4oz can black olives
1 4oz can green chilies
1 fresh jalapeno chopped
1 roasted red pepper chopped from jar
1 cup shredded jack cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients together, pour into greased 1 1/2 quart casserole and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips.

Orzo salad

1 box orzo
2 chopped bell peppers
1 chopped red onion
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped basil
1 cup feta cheese
1 large chopped cucumber

Cook orzo according to package directions. Let cool.

Saute bell peppers and onion until barely softened (about 4-5 minutes). Let cool.

Toss all ingredients together and add dressing.

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 clove minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together until dressing thickens and combines.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

4 cups baby spinach
1 pint washed strawberries
1 small package slivered almonds

Wash and tear spinach into bite size pieces. Slice strawberries. Toast almonds under broiler until lightly browned.

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1/2 tsp minced onion
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar

Mix all ingredients together until sugar is dissolved. May not need to use all the dressing. Pour on just before serving.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Kristen VanDiggelen's Art Show in SF

The amazing Kristen VanDiggelen had an art show on Wednesday, August 11 in San Francisco and we styled and catered the event after her guest artist this month. Nanda does beautiful paintings of ice cream and jelly doughnuts and such so we created a retro and fun theme complete with colorful trays that we made and a variety of unique desserts and appetizers. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Click here to view these pictures larger

Monday, August 2, 2010

End of Summer Party Idea!!

So, while debating about what this post should be about I suddenly realized that giving you an end of summer party idea could be quite useful. It may seem cliché and predictable but I'm going to give you some ideas that will mix things up a bit so don't quit when you see that it's a Luau!

Okay, I know, but to make yours different you are going to go with a Hawaiian "mixed plate" theme rather than typical Luau food, which will be expected. If you have never been to Hawaii or haven't been for a long time I will remind you of the deliciousness of what a mixed plate entails.

Usually there are two scoops of sticky white rice, a scoop of potato macaroni salad or a green salad, and some sort of teriyaki meat. The meat is typically very thinly sliced beef, and a good-sized chunk of chicken, or pork. The reason I thought of going this route is because I was just in Hawaii and I must say that these mixed plates are to die for! The meat is always so moist and flavorful and the simplicity of the white rice with it just makes a party on your palette!

Now, to re-create this Hawaiian goodness the trick will be some excellent, sticky teriyaki sauce, a very sharp knife, and time! The trick to the beef is to get a large cut that has even marbling of fat throughout it. I would recommend a flank steak, which is also referred to as a flap steak. You will need a sharp knife to slice the beef VERY thinly (1/4 inch if possible). Next you will marinate the thin slices in that sticky teriyaki sauce. The best recipe I have found is as follows from .

Marinade (enough for at least 4-6 pounds of meat):
1 cup of soy sauce (Any kind)
1 cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons of Chili Garlic paste (more or less for hotter/milder)
2 tablespoons of minced/crushed garlic
2 tablespoons of minced/crushed ginger
1/4 cup of Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
Hoisin Sauce

Throw everything except the hoisin sauce into a 1-gallon Ziploc back and mix well. Break apart brown sugar clumps, garlic and ginger.

Once well blended, put your meat in the bag, zip and toss around for good coverage.

Marinade in the refrigerator for a few hours min, up to 24 for best results. Each time you walk in the kitchen, flip the bag around for better coverage.

Get your grill nice and hot (at least 500F)

Grill steak to liking. Flap meat is best served on the rare side and doesn't stand up well beyond medium rare. About 1-2 minutes per side.

Once you flip the steaks (only flip once) brush grilled side with hoisin sauce and let finish cooking. Cook these with lid up, as I don't want the oven effect cooking the meat anymore than the direct heat does.

For the teriyaki chicken, you want to get a whole bone in chicken with the skin on because those are what makes the meat tender. You will want that sharp knife again to cut the chicken into ten pieces (here is a how to link if you've never done it) Then marinade the pieces in the same teriyaki recipe as above for up to 24 hours for best results, and grill the pieces until cooked through.

The kalua pork is traditionally cooked in the ground for several hours with banana leaves and ti leaves, but I have found a very innovative recipe from that is much more realistic for those of us living in the suburbs that delivers the same results!

4-5 pound pork butt
2½ tablespoons Hawaiian salt (substitute kosher salt)
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
1 banana leaf (substitute 4-5 whole, unpeeled bananas)
4-6 ti leaves (substitute aluminum foil)

Trim any excess fat from the roast. Make several shallow long cuts along the roast or pierce liberally with a fork. (This allows the salt and liquid smoke to penetrate the meat.) Rub with salt and liquid smoke. Wrap the roast with banana leaf or in the absence of same, place whole bananas on top of meat.
Cut the ribs from the ti leaves and wrap over the banana leaf. Substitute aluminum foil, if ti leaves are not available. (Ti leaves can often be obtained from a local florist). Tie securely with twine.

Roast in a 325-350 degree oven for about 45 minutes per pound. When meat is done, remove ti leaves, banana leaf (or bananas) and shred pork.

The last piece of this mixed pate puzzle for your Luau themed party is the "potato mac" salad as they call it. This is a very traditional recipe and allows you to add in whatever you think sounds good.

Macaroni-Potato Salad
(Serves 8)
½ lb. macaroni
8 hard-cooked eggs
3 red potatoes, cooked and cubed
1 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vinegar
2 cups mayonnaise
½ tsp. ground allspice
½ tsp. pepper

Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain. Separate egg yolks from egg whites. In a small bowl, mash yolks and chill. Chop egg whites; put into a large bowl with macaroni and potatoes. Stir in salt and vinegar; chill overnight.

Add egg yolks and remaining ingredients; gently mix into macaroni mixture. Chill.

Now that we have all the food out of the way we can discuss a couple Hawaiian cocktails! I am going to suggest going with the standard Mai Tai and the delicious Lave Flow. Directions are as follows...

Mai Tai
This will give you one gallon. To alter the quantity go to

2 cups light rum
1 cup dark rum
1 cup 151 proof rum
1 cup orange curacao (orange flavored liqueur)
1 cup almond flavored syrup
1 cup simple syrup
10 limes, juiced
1/2 gallon fresh orange juice

In a large jar or drink cooler, combine the light rum, dark rum, 151 rum, orange liqueur, almond syrup, simple syrup, and lime juice. Stir and top off with orange juice. Do not use grenadine if you want the true Mai Tai! Serve in 8 to 12 ounce glasses with ice.

Lava Flow
This yields one serving. To change the serving size click on the link above.

1/2 cup strawberries
1 fluid ounce light rum
1 fluid ounce coconut rum
1 banana
2 fluid ounces pineapple juice
2 fluid ounces cream of coconut

Place strawberries, light rum, and dark rum into a blender. Puree until smooth and pour into a tall glass. Rinse out blender, then puree banana, pineapple juice, and cream of coconut until smooth. Slowly pour the banana mixture into the strawberry mixture and watch the lava rise!

Alright; food, check. Drinks, check. Now decorations and ambiance!

One fun thing to do is to purchase a couple kid pools from your local CVS or Target, and some playground grade sand from your Home Depot. Pour the sand into the kid pools so they are 1/4 to 1/2 full and then fill the rest with water. You can also add some store bought seashells to make it extra authentic. Next put some chairs around the pools so your guests can cool their feet at the beach as they sip on their Hawaiian drinks!

To add to the ambiance, tiki torches are always fun, as well as plumerias, orchids, hibiscus, and birds of paradise. Then some Hawaiian music featuring a ukulele would really top it off!