Chobani Mezé™ Dip – The Lighter Side of Summer

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Light and delicious

Our house goes through quite a lot of Chobani yogurt all year long, so imagine how thrilled I was to learn about Chobani Mezé™ Dips – bringing something a little lighter to summer parties! Newly released for your summer entertaining, Chobani Mezé™ Dips are a savory, rich, and creamy collection of dips that will make a splash at pool parties, barbecues, and other summer festivites.

Light and delicious

Three of the new Chobani Meze Dips

The best thing about Chobani Mezé™ Dips is that they are all natural, GMO-free, healthier options to other party dips.  With only 1 gram of fat and 25 calories per serving, these dips are much lighter alternatives to the mayonnaise or sour cream based dips you probably usually put out on your summer party table.  These dips are even lower in fat and calories than hummus, which I see quite often at summer parties.

Chobani Mezé™ Dips are made with real, fresh vegetables and the Chobani Greek Yogurt you’ve come to know and love. The dips comes in four flavors, so there’s one for every party theme and every party goers taste.  During a recent family game night, I served a selection of the three I found at our local Wegmans – The Roasted Red Pepper, Three Pepper Salsa, and Smoked Onion and Parmesan, and every single one was a hit across the board.

Delicious

Smokey Onion and Parmesan

The kids tended to gravitate towards the Smoked Onion and Parmesan.  This is like your family favorite onion dip all grown up.  The smokey onion flavor with the nutty, bold Parmesan cheese made this creamy dip the most popular at our little get together.  The flavors are powerful, with the smokey onion bringing a whole new vibe to “onion dip”.

Yogurt based healthy

Chips and Dip, the lighter, healthier way

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If you like your dip to come with a kick, the Three Pepper Salsa is for you.  Made with green, chile, and jalapeno peppers, the dip is spicy and cool at the same time, gaining favor with the heat lovers at our game night.  This was perfect with veggies and chips, and of the three flavors we tried, this may have been the most popular.

Add some heat to your summer table

Three Pepper Salsa with pretzels

If sweet heat is more your speed, the Roasted Red Pepper should probably show up at your next party.  Packed with flavor and a slight kick, this was my favorite.  It reminded me of some vegetable dips I’ve had, but with a bolder flavor and the tiniest bit of spice, making it interesting and delicious.

Sweet, spicy, delicious

Sweet Heat for your Summer Soiree!

Sweet Heat

Roasted Red Pepper

As if there’s no enough good already going on here, the Chobani Mezé™ Dips are gluten free, kosher certified, and made with milk from cows that have not been treated with hormones.  The dips also claim to be less than 5% lactose, and while I’m not lactose intolerant, that may be low enough for someone with a mild intolerance to still enjoy the creamy deliciousness that is Chobani Mezé™ Dips.

We had mostly chips and pretzels in the house, and no matter what chip or pretzel was dipped into the various dips, we really gained some fans,

There’s plenty of summer left to go! If August is time for your family beach house vacation or backyard pool party, Chobani Mezé™ Dips are the perfect summertime addition to your get together.  They’ll help to keep you swimsuit ready while satisfying the craving for something creamy and delicious.

For more information about this great new product, check out Chobani Meze Dips!

Showing My Disney Side

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No one loves to throw a party as much as I do.  Well, unless you consider my husband, who knows the house undergoes a thorough scrubbing in preparation for a party.  I guess, therefore, he loves to throw a party more than I do, since he doesn’t do any of the scrubbing but benefits from a clean house.

But I digress.

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When I found out I was selected to host a Disney Side @Home Celebration, I thought it was the most fan-freaking-tastic way to combine my love of all things Disney and party planning!  I didn’t peek at anyone else’s posts to see what was in the box, so it was a complete surprise when the amazing celebration in a cardboard box showed up today!

The first thing I saw when I opened the box was this adorable overnight bag –

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Even making me think about Walt Disney World or a Disney Cruise is enough reason for me to throw a party, but wait, there’s more!  In addition to some great Bingo games, RunDisney chEAR posters, ESPN Wide World of Sports bracelets and bumper stickers, instructions for face painting with a Disney flair, Disney trivia cards, a Disney vacation planning DVD, and recipes/activities, the box came with:

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Boxes of HP Photo Cards, so we can capture the memories and share them with friends!

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Adorable cookie cutters – or sandwich cutters – as the case may be!

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An iPhone case

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Yummy Craisins snack boxes!

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Stickers! Who doesn’t love stickers!

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Measuring cups from The Chew! Do you think Mario Batali packed these himself?

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Mickey paper goods – napkins, plates, cups, cupcake wrappers, and decorations

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Sweetie posters – how cute would these be as a Valentine gift?

I can’t wait to celebrate with some Disney friends!

 

2011 Christmas Party Invitation

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You’ve waited all year and it’s finally time! The 2011 Christmas Party Invitation is here! Please join us in celebration of the holiday season at our 2011 Skamarakas Family Christmas Party.
Please click to watch the invitation if it did not start playing for your immediately.  Right click to view full screen – and give it a few seconds to begin playing!!

Trick or Treat…or Something Else Entirely?

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I don’t think Halloween is any scarier than when I was a kid, but I know I certainly stress more now that I’m a mom!  But now, moreso than when I grew up, there are community alternatives to traditional trick or treat.  And even if your neighborhood doesn’t participate in one of the cool alternatives, borrow one of these and make it your own!

Trunk or Treat

These are popping up all over the place in this area!  I see quite a few Church groups and community organizations opening up their parking lots to parishioners to come and hand out trick or treats from the trunks of their cars!  The theory here is that you are usually with people you know from your church or neighborhood community group, so you know who your kids get candy from.  Some folks go all out with car decorations, but others just stand there with a bucket of candy to hand out.  It’s great fun – and especially for little ones, who don’t want to walk up and down steps, it’s an easier method of trick or treating.

Halloween Party

This seems like a no-brainer, but t

ry convincing kids who have visions of sacks full of Hershey bars and Skittles that they should stay inside for Halloween.  The best way to do this is to ask each family that brings a kid to bring a bag of candy.  You can set up trick or treat stations around your house and in your yard with a game of some kind at each station.  For each game completed, the kids get a piece of candy.  Alternatively, set up a night of watching scary movies and games, and while the kids are watching movies, make up treat bags to hand out as they leave using the candy the everyone brought! 

Treat the Elderly

Check nursing homes or assisted living facilities in your area – or even senior citizen apartment complexes.  For many of these grandmas and grandpas, it’s a huge treat to see the little ones dressed in costumes!  Many nursing homes permit trick or treating in common areas, and the residents are happy to hand out candy and comment on how cute the kids are!

Theme Parks – Not Just for Summer Anymore

You don’t have to live in Orlando or be traveling to Walt Disney World for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party to check out theme park Halloween festivities.  Many theme parks – even those that close when the weather gets cold – have some Halloween festivities.  Many have trick or treat stations set up for the kids to gather goodies, plus you may find Halloween themed shows or characters.  In my area, there are Halloween events at Six Flags Great Adventure; Hershey Park; Dorney Park; and even down the shore!

You could even organize a street fair for your neighborhood; a party at your kids’ school (complete with Halloween parade); or pitch in with a bunch of family and rent out a community center for a big family Halloween bash. Just remember to have lots of treats, lots of games, and lots of fun!

Christmas Party 2010 – The Aftermath Part 3

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Let’s move on to the main event, shall we?

This is where things get fuzzy.  This table WAS just for the main parts of the meal – entrees and side dishes.  As my dining room table has grown in size over the years (hmmmm, so has my waist size – coincidence?), it seems I add more stuff to this table that maybe should be elsewhere?

Anyway, what ended up on this table was the spinach dip – which was gone entirely.  The vegetable crudite, made only with veggies I and my girls will/can eat, so when I have leftovers, it’s not leftovers of stuff I end up throwing away.  We went through nearly the whole tray.  Then we had a pickle (dill spears and sweet gherkins) and olive (black and green) tray – with marinated mushrooms, mostly because I had an extra space in my dish.  I had nearly the whole tray left.  Apparently, this was not an olive year.

We had at the other end of the table my baked ham, served cold.  I had a bunch of that left, but ham doesn’t do well in the chafing dish for the length of time the party was.  I might have to work on that.  In the front right is the grape pizza – which was almost entirely gone.  In the crock pot was my roast turkey, which was a big hit – and that was a surprise.  Aren’t people still eating turkey soup, turkey sandwiches, and turkey croquettes from Thanksgiving?  I put the cranberry sauce next to it in case people wanted to make a whole Thanksgiving meal/sandwich kind of thing.  I had half of the cranberry sauce left.  Next year – awesomesauce (this is an homage to my “brother” on the Moms Panel, Jonas, and I have no idea what one would even make awesomesauce out of – perhaps Damn Good Dip?).

The gorgeous looking “wreath” is a broccoli/ham/cheese ring, made with a recipe from my friend Amy.  Amy has elevated herself to Best Friend For Life with this recipe!  Almost as soon as I put the ring on the table, it was entirely gone.  I’m sorry I didn’t make the whole table just these rings – it got RAVE reviews.  No awesomesauce or damn good name necessary.

Meatballs, Sausage, Bruschetta – oh my!  The bruschetta is nestled safely back in my fridge, as it was the lone “not touched” item on the table.  The second crock pot has meatballs and sausage in it, and I had only a container left.  Even the Italians commented on how good they were (thank you, Ragu, which may very well be the original awesomesauce).  The chafing dishes contained stuffing – my stepmom’s recipe- which also won critical acclaim; and kielbasa.  One pan of kielbasa was entirely eaten, but the second pan was too dry and untouched.  I also think we got better kielbasa at the Polish deli, but to save time, I bought it at Wegman’s deli.  Next year, we’re back at the Polish deli (yeah, I keep saying next year after I swore never again).

Then we had desserts.  I inevitably forget SOMETHING on the table.  This year, it was the dip for the fruit salad.  I had a mini-meltdown over desserts.  I ordered a case of cranberry bliss bars from Starbucks, along with peppermint brownies, and my bliss bars were accidentally dispensed to Starbucks patrons with obviously discriminating palates.  I was pissed.  Almost pissed enough to never set foot in Starbucks again.  I ended up replacing it with a red velvet roll (no one touched it, as pretty as I thought it was), cupcakes, panettone, petit fours, and blueberry cake (they were hard to replace).  I had desserts of all kinds left, especially since people brought more desserts in.  I don’t have a photo of the beautiful carrot cake my Aunt Barbara made, but I heard it was delicious!


What kind of desserts do people like at these things?  Clue me in.

Christmas Party 2010 – The Aftermath Part 2

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Food, glorious food!  Here’s what we served at the party – and a breakdown of what people didn’t eat.

Starting with the cheese course.  I’m not a fan of strong cheese – I prefer mild and softer cheese.  The tray included Havarti (my favorite), Stilton with cranberries (which looked pretty but must have tasted terrible, because I ended up tossing nearly the whole thing), Swiss, for Jim, who loves it (blech), and a sharp cheddar (blech again, but my family loves it).  The only thing I tossed off of this plate was the crackers and the Stilton.  That would have made a nice lunch!  Next year – well, it’s easy to do cheese, and it varies from year to year whether it’s a hit or miss.  Maybe I’ll change it up with some Fabulous Beekman Boys goat cheese!

Downstairs snack foods are always tricky.  It’s usually mostly kids playing down there, but this year, it was mostly grown ups.  For the first time EVER, in the 20 plus years we’ve had a holiday party, I threw away potato chips and onion dip.  I almost always have to refill the chips and dip.  The buffalo chicken cheese dip – FLOP.  Thank goodness I can’t take credit for creating this hot mess.  Even the grown ups deemed it too spicy and unpleasant.  Chips and salsa – no one ever eats chips and salsa.  Jim makes me put it there every year, because he prefers it to sour cream based dips.  Next year, he’ll have to sit and eat the whole thing.  If there was going to be a next year.  17,003.

We also had girl scout nuts (they were spicy), and a snack tray from Target with my favorite ever trail mix – the pumpkin one.  Fortunately, no one ate it, so it quickly became all mine.

The thing that looks like a pizza is the seafood surprise dip.  I love how this dip tastes, I really do, but no one ever eats this thing.  I make it for Jim, because he loves it, but even he didn’t find time to get downstairs to eat any of it.  I think, and rightfully so, food with the word “SURPRISE” in the name probably frightens people off.  A heart attack is a surprise – not good.  A car accident is a surprise – not good.  A tax audit from the IRS is a surprise – not good.  Next year, I’m still making this, but instead of calling it seafood surprise, I’m calling it Damn Good Dip.

This was also downstairs, and there is only one snackable item on the table – the dark chocolate covered, metallic almonds that Jim bought.  I don’t think people realized this was not just a decoration.  These were delicious, but I had to go downstairs, open up the candy jar, and pass them out.  The metallic thing also freaked people out.  Next year?  These will be called Damn Good Nuts.

Stay tuned for Damn Good Stuffing.

Skamarakas Family Christmas Party – The Prequel

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This is the six foot hoagie we had at our Christmas party two years ago.  It didn’t go over as well as I had hoped, but it sure did save me a ton of time and effort.

This year, with little time and a very budget conscious husband, I’m trying to come up with unique ideas to add to my buffet table for our holiday open house on Saturday.

This Saturday.

As in, in four days.

I’m roasting a turkey, baking a ham, and probably putting out kielbasa, meatballs, and sausage.

But what about side dishes?  Snack foods?

I am completely out of ideas, and desperate for help.

This is what I need from you guys.  Ideas.  Loads of them.

The logistics – needs to be able to stay out from 4 o’clock until 9 o’clock, and I don’t want to spend the whole party in the kitchen, rotating appetizers in and out of the oven.

I’m looking for something that’s not the usual cheese platter, chips and dips, vegetables, and fruit salad.

So what have you got?  Send me your best ideas!

Keep in mind that not only am I no Matha Stewart, I’m not even a Rachel Ray.  Or a Semi-Homemade whats her name?  The easier, the better 🙂

Inside Starbucks coffee talk with Sandi

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Inside Starbucks coffee talk w/ worlds greatest barista Sandi & picking up coffee for tonights party. Came out with a bag that turned into this setting for tonight’s party.

Why did I need to buy coffee? Contrary to public opinion, almost every picture ever seen of me, and my husband, I actually don’t drink coffee.

2008 Christmas party planning – step 1

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This year it will be a simple affair, as shown in the picture attached. Jim and the kids will do all the work and I will mingle around all day, and end the night with a foot massage, back rub, a hot cup of tea, a pumpkin scone and a nice night of undisturbed sleep in a new pair of warm Christmas flannel PJ’s

Step 1 – start seeing if we are going to have a Christmas party. This involves Jim asking me if we are going to have a 2008 Christmas party around December 1st, after I’ve been asking him since July 1st.

Step 2 – We are having a 2008 Christmas Party!!!!

Step 3 – I ask Jim what to do and he tells me “Um, go read your Christmas party blog entries from the previous years”

I am on Step 3 now….unless reading about the earlier parties reminds me of how much work they are and we just order Dominoes