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How to Throw a Party for Carnival

How to Throw a Party for Carnival

We head to SushiSamba for tips on creating the perfect Brazilian bash

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carnival

Americans typically associate the revelry before Lent with Mardi Gras, but worldwide the biggest celebration of the holiday that most refer to as Carnival is in Brazil. During the weeklong festivities the whole country is overtaken with the holiday, which is celebrated with feasts, parades, costumes, and dancing.

So where better to get the inside scoop on how to throw your own party for Carnival than SushiSamba? We spoke to Sean McCloskey about his best tips for making the party feel as authentic as possible. His first must-have is drinks. A Carnival party must serve "anything that is cachaça-based like a caipirinha," he says. He suggests that if you want to make something beyond the typical caipirinha, you could add tropical flavors like tangerine or lime.

In terms of food, he suggests serving "things that are very big in the brazilian cultures, like antichucos, which are skewers of meat or fish." And for décor there must be some green decorations, and perhaps even a few Brazilian flags.

For more, watch the video above, and if you want to go to a ready-made Carnival celebration you can head to SushiSamba in New York, Miami, Chicago, Las Vegas, or London!


Throw a carnival party!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step right up to this fun-filled extravaganza.

Welcome your guests to an old-fashioned carnival with balloons and games galore. No carnival is complete without a popcorn stand. To make yours, pick up rolls of tickets, washi tape, twine, plastic baggies, coloured construction paper and clothespins from your local dollar store. Start by creating the outline of your stand on a blank wall using washi tape. Hang lines of tickets from the stand’s “counter” using washi tape and cut out letters from construction paper to label your stand. Next, stuff plastic baggies with flavoured popcorn, then fold a rectangular piece of construction paper (decorated with polka-dot stickers) over the opening and staple shut. Tape the ends of two long pieces of twine to your wall, just under your sign. Clothespin baggies to the twine, creating two rows of hanging popcorn. Come game time, the kids will have a blast with activities like ball and spoon race, knock ’em down, “stilt” walking and poke-a-cup. To satisfy the hungry crowd, serve up nosh like hot dogs and hamburgers, corn on the cob and pink lemonade—with several sides of popcorn, of course.

HOW TO MAKE A POKE-A-CUP PRIZE BOARD

1. You’ll need a foam board, glue gun, washi tape, tissue paper, plastic cups, elastic bands, shredded paper, small toys and trinkets.

2. Decorate foam board with washi tape. Hot glue the base of cups to the board, placing them in straight lines.

3. Fill each cup with shredded paper and a toy. Place tissue paper over each opening and secure with elastic. Have kids poke to reveal the prizes!

GAMES TO PLAY

Knock ’em down

Roll patterned paper around empty tin cans and glue the edges. Stack them and use a plastic ball for tossing.

“Stilt” walking

Use a hammer and nail to poke holes into opposite sides of empty cans. Feed heavy string through both holes in each can and knot the ends. Let kids try walking on them while holding strings.

Ball & spoon race

Give each kid a small ball from the dollar store and a spoon to balance it on. Get the kids to race to the finish line without dropping their ball.

Download and print our templates from todaysparent.com/printables on card stock (we like to use white, a bright colour and a pattern) and cut them out. Glue the party info on one side of the smallest rectangle, then layer, smallest to biggest.

A version of this article appeared in our April 2015 issue with the headline “Carnival party,” p. 20.


Carnival Treats You Can Make At Home

Bring the carnival home with these state fair-inspired recipes. From sweet treats to deep-fried delights, they're sure to make you smile — no ferris wheel required.

Photo By: Matt Armedariz ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Tara Donne ©FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Mini Corndogs

Crispy, golden and slightly sweet, corndogs are an iconic carnival dish. Trisha serves hers with both ketchup and mustard sauces for dipping.

Homemade Funnel Cakes

Bring the carnival home with this classic fair dessert. Fried dough is crisp and golden brown on the outside and soft and cakey on the inside. Covered in a shower of confectioners' sugar and sprinkle of cinnamon, it's the perfect fun dessert for a casual get-together.

Barbecued Turkey Legs

These massive barbecued bird legs are a street fair staple. Now you can make them at home with an easy dry brine that eliminates the need for submerging them in a big pot of salted water.

Cotton Candy Lemonade Slushies

Consider these slushies the ultimate two-in-one treat: frozen lemonade concentrate gets blended with cotton candy to make a bright pink beverage that screams of carnival fun.

Fried Apple Hand Pies

Hand-held apple pies in a flaky, deep-fried crust? Yes, please! You can even make these pies ahead (and stock them in your freezer for up to 6 months) so that the only thing you have to do when you're craving a carnival-inpsired sweet, is fry them.

Spiced Kettle Corn

Melissa's sweet-salty kettle corn is a crowd-pleasing 10-minute treat.

Deep-Fried Tagalongs

These gooey deep-fried treats are the perfect excuse to buy another box of Tagalongs® at the next Girl Scout cookie sale. The chocolate-covered peanut butter cookies are dipped in a sweet batter that gets an extra peanutty boost from powdered PB. They're fried until golden and served with a dusting of powdered sugar and chocolate sauce for dipping.

Fried Cheesy Pickles

For a Southern-style snack, wrap pickle spears in cheese and egg roll wrappers and fry until golden.

Mexican Grilled Corn

Tyler adds tons of flavor to in-season grilled corn on the cob by making it Mexican-style with cheese and chili powder.

Deep-Fried Cheesecake Bites

As Ree says, this recipe &ldquois absolutely ridiculous in a really delicious way.&rdquo And really, isn&rsquot that what carnival food is all about?

Sausage, Peppers and Onions

Giada says these street-style sandwiches are a staple in Italy, but we've been known to see them around the fair. She starts by browning sweet Italian turkey sausage, then simmers the meat and veggies in tomato paste and marsala wine for added depth of flavor.

Fried Ice Cream with Cereal Crust

Hot and crunchy on the outside, cold and creamy on the inside &mdash these cereal-crusted ice cream balls are the perfect project for someone with a sweet tooth. Choose one of our fun combinations &mdash or create your own!

Caramel Apples

A deep, rich caramel makes for a classic shiny caramel apple.

Double-Fried French Fries

If you&rsquore looking for a classic French fry, Guy&rsquos recipe can&rsquot be beat. He fries potato slices twice to ensure a crispy finish and perfect consistency.

Frozen Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches

Giada coats the tops of her cookies with chocolate-toffee candy bars before assembling these decadent ice cream sandwiches.

Fried Elvis Banana on a Stick

Elvis goes to the county fair, when his favorite flavor combination is deep-fried and served on a stick.

Soft Pizza Pretzels

Who doesn&rsquot love a pillowy pretzel? For a fun spin on the classic recipe, season the pretzels with Parmesan, garlic and Italian herbs and serve with marinara for dunking.

Mini Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and waffles are a match made in heaven &mdash so why not chicken and waffle fries? To make this easy app, bake chicken nuggets and waffle fries as the labels direct. Top each waffle fry with a nugget, skewer with a toothpick and drizzle with spicy honey.

Mozzarella Sticks

Giada coats mozzarella in Italian-style dried breadcrumbs and freshly grated Parmesan cheese before frying. These cheesy sticks can be made and frozen before cooking up to two days in advance.

Funnel Cake Ice Cream Sandwiches

Vanilla cake mix makes up the batter for Trisha&rsquos funnel cakes, which sandwich a big scoop of sweet vanilla ice cream.

Idaho-Style Finger Steaks

These golden and crispy deep-fried steak strips are what happens when chicken-fried steak meets chicken fingers. We like them dipped in a homemade "fry sauce" or bottled cocktail sauce, but ranch dressing would be great too.


How To Throw a Winter Solstice Party

Each year, the winter solstice falls on December 21 or 22, the shortest day (and longest night) of the year. And it’s a great excuse to throw a party—before everyone disperses to faraway places for the rest of the holiday season. Here are some tips for celebrating the brighter days ahead.

Set the time: Typically, a solstice party is held during the afternoon, to celebrate the fleeting daylight hours. Since it’s the shortest day of the year, twilight will occur early, so you can watch the last of the sun fade away. Don’t let the early nightfall get you down: At this point, the days can only get longer!

Light it up: The light outside may be dwindling, but your party can still shine brightly. Illuminate the shortest day of the year with lots of candles. Place taper candles in reflective silver holders on the table adorn the mantle with an assortment of pillar candles in various heights and widths. A fire in the hearth or an outdoor bonfire can become a cozy focal point.

Break out the green: At its core, the solstice is a celebration of nature, so use lots of green to remind you of the outdoors—whether in the form of evergreen boughs on the mantle or tabletop, or green napkins accenting the buffet.

Eat and drink with seasonal cheer: Warm, winter-appropriate food and drink will entice guests. Go traditional by serving food and drink associated with St. Lucia’s Day, the Swedish expression of a winter solstice celebration. Observed in many European countries, St. Lucia’s Day originally coincided with the solstice before the reformation of the Gregorian calendar.

Traditional Lussekatter (Saffron Buns)

These traditional Swedish yeast buns, known for their delicious saffron flavor, can be made in a variety of different shapes, including an “s,” a figure eight or a cat.

¼ teaspoon saffron threads
1 tablespoon yeast
1 cup milk
½ cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
½ cup butter (1 stick)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1 egg white, beaten

Using a mortar and pestle, pound the saffron threads to break down strands.

Mix the yeast with ¼ cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Set aside.

In a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter and remaining milk. Add the crushed saffron. Allow the liquid to cool.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and remaining sugar. Stir the yeast into cooled milk mixture, then mix well with dry ingredients. Add the beaten eggs.

Knead the dough in a bowl for 5–7 minutes. Place the dough on a floured board, and knead another 7–8 minutes. Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning to coat the dough on all sides. Cover the dough and put it in a warm, draft-free place to rise, about 1 hour.

When dough has risen, knead it lightly to push any air out divide into 10–12 small pieces. Roll each small piece into an 8–10-inch strip. Shape each strip into desired shape, either an “s,” a figure eight or a cat. Place the buns on lightly buttered cookie sheets. Cover them with a cloth and allow them to rise until double in bulk, 1–1½ hours. When the dough has risen, brush it lightly with the egg white. Bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool on wire rack. Makes 10–12 buns.

Wine pairing: Try an off-dry German Riesling or Alsatian Gewürztraminer, suggests Matt Gundlach, sommelier and wine director at Moto in Chicago. “The small amounts of sugar in these wines will play nicely with the sweetness of the buns and raisins,” Gundlach says.

Traditional Cuccía (Sicilian Wheat Porridge)

Sicilians celebrate the solstice just as heartily as the Swedes. Their legend holds that St. Lucia brought wheat berries to their starving ancestors during a famine. There are many variations on cuccía, including savory versions with beans. Here we share a sweet rendition in addition to raisins and cinnamon, you can add chocolate shavings or orange peel.

1 cup wheat berries
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups whole-milk ricotta
½ cup raisins
Honey, to taste
Cinnamon, for garnish

Soak the wheat berries in cold water, and store overnight, covered, in the refrigerator. The following day, drain the wheat berries and place in a large saucepan with the salt and enough water to cover by 2–3 inches. Cook the wheat berries at a slow simmer, partially covered, about 1 hour or until tender. The kernels will open up slightly.

Drain the wheat berries and combine them with the ricotta. Blend in the raisins and honey to taste. Pour the porridge into a large serving bowl and dust with cinnamon. Serve warm or at room temperature in small bowls. Serves 12.

Wine pairing: With this sweet version of cuccía, Gundlach suggests sipping Moscato d’Asti. Its mild sweetness will stand up to the porridge, and its honey flavor will complement the honeyed ricotta. If you’re opting for a savory porridge, match it with a Sicilian Inzolia, a nutty white wine that’s not overpowered by oak.

Traditional Glögg (Swedish Mulled Wine)

While many versions of this Scandinavian yuletide punch exist, every rendition invariably calls for red wine, orange peel, clove and cardamom. If you’re pressed for time, prepare this drink one day early and reheat it before serving.

½ cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
4 whole cloves
6 cardamom pods, crushed
1 orange peel, cut into strips
1 ginger root, peeled and cut in half
1 cup brandy
2 cups Pinot Noir, or other light-bodied red wine
2 cups Port
Raisins, for garnish
Blanched almonds, for garnish

In a large pot, combine the sugar with 1 cup of water. Over high heat, stir the liquid with a wooden spoon until the sugar is completely dissolved, and then bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium, and add the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, orange peel and ginger. Stir again, keeping the liquid at a simmer.

Add the brandy, wine and Port. Taste the punch, and add additional sugar or spice to taste. Strain and ladle into mugs. Garnish with almonds and raisins, and serve warm. Serves 6.


HOW TO THROW A PARTY ON A BUDGET - SAM'S CLUB FOOD IDEAS

Let's start with finger foods/appetizers.

The party trays at Sam's Club are a very cost-effective way to provide appetizers for your guests. They require no work unless you want to put them on a different tray! We've had all of these before and they were delicious. I actually picked up the fruit and cheese party tray to have the day of my sister's wedding while we were getting ready - it was a hit!

  • Fruit Party Tray (6 lbs): $19.98
  • Vegetable Tray (4 lbs with dip): $9.98
  • Fruit & Cheese Party Tray: $22.98 (we've seen these marked $5 off before!)

Moving to the main dish.

We typically grill out (using our Kamado Joe) or use the slow cooker when we have people over. Smoking meat on the Kamado Joe provides a lot of food for a low price. We have smoked chicken, pork, and salmon for a gathering.

Throwing dinner into the slow cooker is also a cost-effective and time-effective option. Check out our slow cooker recipes, we really love the chili recipes!

If you do prefer to use the oven, our Clean & Simple Roasted Chicken and Roasted Italian Herb Chicken are very popular recipes!

If you want something else to compliment the meal, have more options, or just don't want to cook at all, try one of the following options from Sam's Club:

  • Meat & Cheese Tray $29.98
  • Assorted Wrap Party Tray $34.98
  • Chicken Salad Croissant Party Tray: $24.98 (we've also seen these $5 off before too!)
  • Ciabatta Sandwich Party Tray with Honey Mustard: $26.98
  • Buffalo Wraps (1.6 lbs): $11.97
  • Take & Bake Pizza: $8.99

Mmmmm. dessert.

Just like Costco's, the cakes at Sam's Club are delicious! I bought one for my sister's wedding shower, bachelorette party, and she also ordered Sam's Club three tier cake for her wedding cake (and also had other desserts).

While we do love Costco cakes, they only offer one size. Sam's Club offers multiple sizes (from a 10" round cake to a cake and cupcake combo) and range in price from $15-$65. You can learn more about Sam's Club cakes here.

  • Pie Trio (Apple, Cherry, & Blueberry): $9.98
  • Double Crust Cherry Pie 39 oz: $5.98
  • Double Crust Apple Pie 41 oz: $5.98
  • Apple Lattice Pie 12": $8.98

We hope that you and your guests enjoy your party!

You are a Sam’s Club lover too?! Check out our additional Sam’s Club related content:


30 Carnival Party Ideas

Does your little one love to go to the carnival? Then throw him a carnival-themed birthday party! Thanks to websites like Pinterest, it's now easier than ever to find an assortment of carnival party ideas online. While there are many types of activities to choose from, it's important that you incorporate ones that your little one will enjoy. "It's gotta be fun, and wouldn't it be great if it wasn't pointless fun?" says Russell Ginns, a children's game designer, writer, producer and composer. Ginns suggests that you create meaningful games that require skill or brain power.

Before you begin to think of the specifics, you should determine a time and place for your child's party. "The magic number for a kids' birthday party is 2 hours," says Juliet Boydstun, a co-owner of The Coop, a play space in Los Angeles. "It is just the right amount of time for everyone to have fun, run around and get their sillies out. [This time frame will] leave your guests (little and big!) wanting more!"

And don't forget the tunes. "Music is an essential element in setting the party mood," says Boydstun. "Go for upbeat, fun tunes that are kid appropriate (no swear words) but enjoyable to parents as well."

Here are 30 carnival party ideas to help you create the best kids' party on the block:

  1. Invitations
    Create fun carnival-themed invitations and include game tickets for each guest. Find a printable one at See Shells Space.
  2. Guess the Jelly Beans
    Encourage party guests to use their noggins with Catch My Party's guessing game.
  3. Prize Booths
    Get inspired by Catch My Party and use apple baskets to display ticket prizes.
  4. Hand Out Hats
    Even little guests can dress the part with these circus tent party hats from Oh Happy Day.
  5. Carnival Signs
    Download The Red Balloon's template to create DIY carnival signs.
  6. Photo Backdrop
    Brooklyn Bride shows you how to make a photo backdrop out of colorful tickets.
  7. Game Booths
    If you're handy, build game booths from 2x4s covered in plastic tablecloths. If you're not, card tables covered in plastic will work just fine.
  8. Banner
    Create a party banner with help from All Things Mama.
  9. Lemonade Stand
    Lemonades in various flavors accented with syrup and fresh fruit are a refreshing party treat. Oh Happy Day has three recipes to try.
  10. Hot Dogs
    Stephanie O'Dea shows you how to cook up to 60 hot dogs in a standard crock pot.
  11. Sweet Treats
    Get inspired by Sweet Designs and use paper cones to serve treats like caramel corn.
  12. Funnel Cake
    The smell of fried dough instantly creates a carnival atmosphere. Girl Versus Dough has a DIY recipe!
  13. Cotton Candy Cupcakes
    Mix carnival cotton candy with birthday treats using this recipe from Oh Nuts!
  14. Chocolate Covered Frozen Bananas
    An easy, fun, kid-friendly carnival treat that can almost pass as healthy -- healthy for carnival fare, at least!
  15. Candy Apple Bar
    Chop up some apple slices and put them on individual skewers (squeeze on lemon juice to keep them from browning). Then, dip the slices in different sweet sauces and toppings.
  16. Tin Can Crash
    Get inspired by Simply Cumorah and wrap tin cans in colorful paper. Then, instruct kids to try and knock 'em down using tennis balls.
  17. Ring Toss
    Mom Endeavors shows you how to create a ring toss game in your yard using pine panel, dowels and rope.
  18. Temporary Tattoos
    Create a temporary tattoo booth with lots of designs for kids to choose from.
  19. Bean Bag Toss
    Sailrite gives you instructions on how to make your own bean bag toss game.
  20. Balloon Darts
    Create a balloon dart board, like Landee See, Landee Do.
  21. No-Sew Fabric Tassel Garland
    Decorate your carnival with Pretty Prudent's DIY tassel garland.
  22. Penny Toss
    Lay out a flat target and instruct little ones to try to land their pennies on it.
  23. Circus Tent
    Little Miss Momma shows you how to make your very own circus tent!
  24. Prizes
    No carnival is complete without prizes! Collect a mixture of candy, stickers, mini toys and other items.
  25. Playing Card Favor Bags
    Follow Lil Blue Boo's tutorial to make fun party favor bags for your guests.
  26. Chalkboard Labels
    Little Bit Funky shows you how to create chalkboard labels. You can use these labels to label prizes, games and food.
  27. Face Painting
    Face painting is one of the few things kids will sit still for at a party.
  28. Ping Pong Fishing Game
    Follow Chickabug's tutorial to set up this fun game using plastic fish bowls, cellophane and rubber fish.
  29. Three-Legged Race
    This classic game is fun for all ages!
  30. Prize Punch Board
    Make every kid feel like a winner with East Coast Mommy's prize punch board.

Need some extra help organizing or setting up the party? Hire a babysitter or housekeeper to help out for a few hours.

Cara Stevens is a freelance writer living in Connecticut with her husband and two children. She has authored several books for children and writes frequently about parenting, hair care, DIY crafts, parties, food and healthy living. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


How to Throw the Perfect Preakness at Home Party

This year, the Preakness Stakes is back in its usual spot two weeks after the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve and Pimlico will have limited fans in attendance. If you’re planning to watch from home, we have your guide on how to throw the ultimate party to celebrate the middle jewel of the Triple Crown below.

Décor:

What’s a party without a few decorations? Below are some fast and affordable Preakness party decorations for your consideration.

Be on-brand with the commemorative 2021 Preakness glasses – they’re the perfect vessel for a Black-Eyed Susan, the official drink of the event! (More on that below.)

And I’m also deeply into this Maryland flag banner.

Maryland foods for your viewing party:

Every Preakness viewing party needs some Maryland-inspired dishes. Here’s a selection of morsels for you to have on-hand for May 15:

If you’ve never had crab dip before, you’re in for a good time. Cheesy, hearty, and savory, this is a great dish for a cozy fall Preakness at home. I really love this version from Sally’s Baking Addiction, but you can’t go wrong with the official Old Bay recipe!

I will not judge you for grabbing some crab cakes from the grocery store and popping them in your over (I will do the exact same thing), but Once Upon a Chef has your back if you want to make them from scratch. Alternatively, if you’re vegan or just don’t want to deal with making crab, One Green Planet has you covered.

Stuffed ham:

I’d never heard of it before, but I am intrigued: the official Visit Maryland website has an easy recipe for this centuries-old dish which I would definitely like to try when I have a small army to feed.

Baltimore pit beef:

It’s a roast beef sandwich turned up to 11. You know you want it, and the Washington Post shares a recipe from Baltimore’s own Beef Barons.

Berger cookies:

I’d never experienced the wonder and the glory of Maryland’s Berger cookies until my friend Stephen Bardsley introduced them to me and, let me tell you, I am a much happier person having learned about them. There’s time to order the original before the Preakness, but here’s a good copycat recipe from King Arthur Flower if you want to make your own!

Smith Island cake:

A multi-layer cake that’s just as beautiful as it is decadent? Yes, please! Once again, we turn to Visit Maryland for two spins on this classic. I’ve never seen icing made in either of these ways, so I’m very game to try this!

Cocktails:

You’re going to need something to accompany all of this delicious food! From cocktails to beer to nonalcoholic options, we have something for everyone below.

The official cocktail of the Preakness Stakes is the Black-Eyed Susan, and if you’re a fan of fruity and refreshing cocktails, this one’s for you. The Spruce Eats has a very nice version for you to enjoy this Preakness.

Another cocktail beloved by Marylanders is the Orange Crush. Fresh-squeezed orange juice for adults, this delicious beverage pack a punch and taste like summer.

Are you a beer drinker? Then be sure to snag some National Bohemian (lovingly known as Natty Boh’ in Baltimore) for your Preakness Party. Even if you’ve never had the beer before, I bet you’ll recognize the mascot when you see it!

Want to serve a sophisticated mocktail with Maryland roots? Meet the Salty Sage, which sounds absolutely wonderful for a fall afternoon of horse racing.

Betting:

Wanna play the Preakness? Check out 1/ST Bet, and app and website that offers legal betting on the Preakness Stakes. Not only are they the official digital wagering platform of the Preakness, but they also sponsor our Gambling Calculator which will help you figure out the costs of your bet. Also, if you sign up for 1/ST BET using promo code 500ABR, new players will receive a special offer that will start you out with up to a $500 bonus. Just be sure to get an account set up before Preakness Saturday – sometimes it can take a little while to process funds into your betting account. Still have questions? Check out a post called “Betting on Horse Racing, Explained” which offers advice for new horseplayers or, visit Dos and Don’ts for betting online to learn more about playing the ponies from home.


How to Throw a Clamtastic Seafood Boil Party

Show your friends who is king crab this summer! Party in style with these seafood boil party ideas.

Equip Yourself

Don’t let your friends walk in and catch you boiling the clams in a sauce pot. A seafood boil requires equipment.

Aside from the typical party items, you will need:

  • 5-gallon pot
  • Steamer
  • Large steel mixing bowls
  • Aluminum foil
  • Grill and grilling utensils
  • Broiler pan
  • Shell crackers
  • Large aluminum pans for discarding shells
  • Disposable seafood bibs
  • Cloth napkins
  • Lemon scented wet wipes

You may also want to grab large, scented garbage bags to keep at the ends of each table. Seafood can get stinky.

Sea Food and Eat It

Bring variety to the party! Sure, it all centers around the boil, but also make side dishes that incorporate different flavors of the sea.

For the boil itself, you will want:

  • seafood of choice
  • sausage
  • favorite seafood spice
  • corn
  • potatoes
  • onion

Use family favorite seafood boil recipes, or try this one. You can also tweak the recipes to suit your preferred taste by switching up the spices.

Spice It Up

The spices you use can make or break your seafood boil. Know how to flavor your meal with intention!

If you’re throwing a crab boil, do not pass on the Old Bay Seasoning. This 18-spice mix brings in the robustness of New England.

For a shrimp boil, you may want to bring in Cajun flavors that sizzle up the heat from the deep south. Though not as fragrant tasting as Old Bay Seasoning, Cajun seasoning will still spice it up nicely.

For a lighter, fresher flavor, season the pot with cilantro and citrus juice. This conjures up the taste of a Mexican summer but still allows the sweet seafood taste to come through.

Refresh Your Guests

Offer an assortment of refreshments. Offer both non-alcoholic and adult beverages. Depending on your party theme, you may want to go with craft beers or make your own fun cocktails.

Create a Theme

Sure, seafood boil can stand on its own as a theme. But jazzing it up a little will really show the thought you put into this. Plus, it adds to the excitement.

  • A ‘Pinch Me I’m Dreaming’ theme, with whimsical decor
  • Hawaiian Luau
  • Surf’s Up
  • Happy as a Clam

Get creative and have fun with this. Whatever sea theme you choose, pay close attention to detail to everything, including the spices you choose, the main event dish, your decor, and even your attire.

This takes a whole lot of time and effort. If you don’t have time to prepare all the food, you may want to consider seafood delivery from www.crabdynasty.com.


The Jamaican Plate Breakdown

We take a look at the flavors and ingredients, moving clockwise from the jerk chicken on the left, that make Jamaican food so intensely (and beautifully) flavored.

All About Allspice
It’s simply not jerk chicken without allspice, which lends warm notes to the marinade.

Sweet Thing
When fried, ripe plantains develop a crunchy, caramelized exterior, no sugar added. That sweetness is a nice balance to any heat you may encounter from salads or spices.

Milk It!
This creamy take on rice and peas calls for coconut milk, which adds a distinct richness and sweet aroma to the dish.

Hot Stuff
Scotch bonnets (and habaneros) are very, very hot. If this is your first time cooking with them, stay on the low end of the range when making the mango and cucumber chow.


How to Throw a Cooking Party

Cooking all alone in your kitchen can seem like a chore, especially if you aren't particularly gifted -- or interested -- in the culinary arts. But when you invite a few friends over and turn it into a party, suddenly cooking becomes a lot more fun. A cooking party is a great excuse to host a get together, and enjoy some delicious food that you and your friends make together.

There are a lot of reasons to host a cooking party. You can throw one for your child's birthday, or use the party as a team-building exercise for your employees. It's also a great way to celebrate the beginning of summer, or an excuse to visit with your neighbors.

Whatever your reason for throwing a cooking party, you want to do it right. In this article, you'll get some fun cooking party theme ideas, find out how to plan your party and learn what supplies you'll need to have on hand before your guests arrive. At the end of the night, you'll know you've had a successful party when your guests go home full, happy -- and a little more skilled in the kitchen.

If you have a reasonably large kitchen you can host a cooking party right at home. But if you're somewhat space challenged or your kitchen is in need of major renovations, host it at a local cooking school or restaurant (which will cost more, but will also save precious clean-up time). Some companies will bring the party to you, and others will host it at their facility. A few companies will set up a cooking demonstration in your kitchen with the goal of selling cooking equipment to your guests.

If you're planning to run the party, make sure you know how to cook. Your guests are going to expect some guidance as they work their way through the recipes. If you're not much of a cook, consider hiring a professional chef to man the kitchen for you.

Once you've decided on a location, figure out how many people you want to invite. Don't go overboard. Depending on the size of your kitchen, it's better to keep the guest list small (six to eight people) so that everyone has room to cook, and there's enough space in the oven for everyone's dish. If you're having the cooking party at a restaurant, you can have 20 or more people, but you still don't want so many guests that you don't have time to spend with them all.

Next, figure out what you'd like to cook. A good guide is one entire meal -- an appetizer, two entrees, and a dessert. Choose recipes that are relatively easy to assemble and that you know you can make without the evening ending in disaster (a sunken souffle can really put a damper on a cooking party).

If you're hosting a kids' cooking party, plan a kid-friendly dish that children can customize. Pizza is a perfect choice because kids can roll out the dough and add their own toppings. Cookies that they can bake and decorate themselves make for a great dessert.

Finally, prep your guests. Send them the menu and/or recipes ahead of time, and let them know what to bring, like wine or a particular ingredient.


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