Category Archives: Food

Lady and the Tramp party!

Recently some friends and I have started what I hope will be a long-lasting monthly tradition… Disney nights! We’re all big kids at heart who can really appreciate quality kids’ movies, and we enjoy reminiscing on the Disney movies we grew up with. But these aren’t just evenings where we get together and watch a movie. We’re taking it a step further and making it a potluck dinner party, while sprinkling some creative themed fun in there 🙂

While I’m not really into huge parties or anything, I absolutely love getting together with friends and finding an excuse to celebrate in a light-hearted, casual fashion (such as the Nintendo party we had a little while back). There are tons of ideas out there on Disney-themed KIDS parties, but very few ideas for adult gatherings. I’m hoping to change that – I’m sure I’m not the only big kid at heart here!! (Although many of the ideas we use are definitely kid-friendly and would be perfect for a family night or birthday party).

I’ve mentioned this before, but another thing I’ve noticed is that so many ideas out there involve a lot of junk food (sooo many kids parties revolve around pizza, cake and candy after all!). This may not be bad in moderation, and I’m sure this will happen plenty of times during our Disney nights, but I find it a really fun challenge to insert healthier meal and snack ideas into my parties whenever possible. Less guilt after the party, and that also means we can party more often without feeling bad too!

Let’s get started! For our first Disney night, we decided to go with Lady and the Tramp.

We’d decided to watch the movie after we had dinner, so while that was being finished up we hung out and chatted and enjoyed a little salty appetizer: a cheese and meat plate.

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At the center was a cheese ball – I mean cheese paw print! – surrounded by sliced summer sausage and crackers. The cheese ball was soft so that you could use it as a spread or make little cracker sandwiches, and it tasted amaaaazing (click here for the recipe we found). You could use almost any food you like for this one, the important thing was the paw print shape to match the theme. Hummus or peanut butter in the center, surrounded by various raw veggies would have been a lighter option for this starter snack.

The choice for dinner was obvious: spaghetti and meatballs of course!!

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A classic meal that can be as simple or extravagant as you’d like – and if you really want to go for a lighter dish, you could always make zucchini noodles or use veggie meat balls or whatever you like. My friend and our host made an absolutely delicious plate, it was definitely the star of the show.

After finishing our meal, we then moved into the living room to start the movie… and enjoy our desert.

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Again, having fun with the theme, we went with puppy chow! What better way to watch a Disney movie than with crunchy, sweet, chocolatey peanut butter goodness? The (new and unused!) dog bowl added another element of fun, and if you use that you can put whatever dessert or snack you’d like in it. A dog bowl of grapes or other fruit would be a healthier way to have fun with dessert.

And the last thing we had that I probably had a little too much fun with was drinks!

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I wanted to incorporate the Siamese cats somewhere, so I got a pack of dry-erase markers and decorated a few mugs with their faces. This was a little trickier than it had sounded, but I’m happy with how they turned out! For the drink itself, I simply had some milk, which both fit the theme and paired well with the puppy chow. You could use soy milk or whatever you prefer – and if you’d like something a bit more grown up, try having almond milk with a splash of vanilla cinnamon Bailey’s.

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I had so much fun planning and executing all the fun ideas we had for this party, and I really enjoyed revisiting my childhood! If we continue to do this every month you can bet I will blog about it 🙂 Hope these ideas help!

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Nintendo-themed party!

Ok, this post is a fun one 🙂

It was just recently Ross’ birthday, and while we had a nice quiet evening to ourselves on the actual day, we had a bit of a grander celebration this past weekend, and it was a success! We are close friends with another couple (Brooke and Jeremiah), and Jeremiah recently had a birthday too, so we thought we’d do a joint birthday celebration!

And thus Brooke and I decided to throw a Nintendo-themed birthday for the boys. It took some planning and work, but overall it was totally doable and affordable and we had so much fun! If you’re looking for some easy ideas on your own Nintendo party or craft ideas, look no further 🙂

Oh and yes, we are all grown adults that still love Nintendo. What of it??
I’ll take you through this from the point of view of the guys. We had them stay at one of our apartments while us girls prepared the other apartment, keeping everything hush hush. Once we let them know we were ready, this is what they saw when they reached their destination…

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Yaaay! A pretty standard birthday banner, sure. But what’s this little Nintendo Land sign hanging on the front?

Enter if you dare…

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It’s a Nintendo Wonderland!! We had set up decorations all over the place, all themed after some of our favorite classic games.

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These adorable balloons were so easy to make – we just got some plain white and pink balloons and drew on them with Sharpie. Ta-daa, a slew of Boos and Kirbies floating all around!

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(We had some Starbomb playing in the background when they came in. Ready to partay!

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I apologize for the lighting on this one, it completely slipped my mind to close the blinds before taking the picture! But the entire dining area had Pokemon-themed decorations. Can’t go wrong with Pokemon!

But that wasn’t the best part….

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Mario costumes for all! I’m so happy with how these turned out 🙂

I had originally wanted to make a variety of hats for different characters, but this whole costume thing was a last-second decision so I didn’t have enough time to really conceptualize it all… But in the end, I rather like us all matching!

Here’s how to make a Mario costume:

The hat was much easier to make than I had first anticipated! I got all the supplies at Michaels – they had red caps that I could by as-is, and I bought red and white fabric and some fabric glue too. Word to the wise… watch out on what fabric you buy. The red fabric should match the red of the cap, and it’s best if you can find some relatively thick fabric, especially for the white one. I didn’t pay enough attention while at the store, and my fabric was actually pretty see-through. I had to glue four layers of fabric on top of each other so that you couldn’t see the red hat underneath! It turned out fine in the end, it was just a bit more of a headache.

To put these together, lightly draw a circle on the white fabric with a pencil. Take your time to measure out the circle and make sure it’ll look okay on the hat. It’s better to make the circle a little too big at first, it’s always easier to trim just trim it later.

Glue the white circle onto the hats with fabric glue (if you can see pencil marks on the fabric, make sure to glue them with the pencil marks facing down so that you can’t see them). Let it dry.

Repeat a similar process with the M’s, this time out of the red fabric. Again, take your time and make sure you like the shape before you cut. Glue these on the white circles and let them dry.

Not particularly fancy, but super easy and they look great! The fake mustaches I got in the clearance section of the store among the kids’ toys. I personally don’t recommend wearing them all day, but they do complete the outfit! At least wear them for the pictures 🙂

10The birthday boys!

10bThe sneaky planners of this fiesta.

After socializing for a bit and enjoying all the decorations, it was time for our first big activity. What could be more fitting than Go Karts?

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It was time to enjoy Mario Kart IRL. Aww yessssssssssss.13

We definitely got some comments from those who knew what the heck we were wearing. Someone even asked for a picture while we were in the cars. So much fun!!

After some racing and playing at the arcade, we headed back to the Nintendo Land apartment for the next activity…

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See that Yoshi figure on the left? I think he’s trying to say something…

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Ok, THIS is probably what excited me the most 🙂 A Yoshi Egg Hunt! I LOVE treasure hunts, and I think I like making them even more than I like following them.

The Yoshi eggs were super simple to make – I literally just printed them out and wrote clues on the back. One clue led to the next, having the guys run all over the apartment, until they reached their final prize (a birthday present!)

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I tried to come up with a variety of clues: a couple that only Ross would know, a couple only Jeremiah would know, and some they could both figure out. That way they could both feel like they were able to contribute.

After this last activity and opening presents, we played a bit of Mario Kart (digital this time :P), and then it was time for us girls to prepare some food! The guys played some card games upstairs while we took over the kitchen. Some more geeky surprises awaited…

First up, appetizers!

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I love these little Fire Flower appetizers! One thing that makes me sad about party food, is that way too often it’s a lot of junk food – chips, candy, cookies, etc. I’m fine with that in moderation, but I love it any time that I can cheat the system and get something a little healthier on our plates (while still making sure the snack is tasty and fun – it is a party after all!)

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Omnom! Got some veggies in there and used Greek yogurt for the dip… Probably would use less cheese next time (it was the one part we couldn’t finish – we wanted more veggie believe it or not!!), but overall this was a fun and delicious snack, perfect with the Nintendo theme.

Full disclaimer – I grabbed this recipe from the fabulous Youtube channel Nerdy Nummies. Check out the video here if you want to learn how to make these!

And finally, dinner time! Specifically, PIZZA! Ok, back to some typical junk food, but at least the dough was whole wheat?

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And yes… that’s a Pokeball pizza. It makes me so happy 🙂 And super easy to make – we just used some Pillsbury pre-made pizza dough and molded it into a circle. Then we added our sauce and cheese, and we used some black olives to separate the circle in half and make the middle line of the Pokeball. On one half we added a bunch of pepperoni to get that red color, and on the other we added a little extra cheese to make sure that side was white.

Since we were four people we thought we’d be a little short with only one pizza – the other one is not Nintendo-themed, but it provided some extra with other toppings (mushroom and bell pepper, yum!)

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The finished Pokeball! So fun!

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So much tastiness! Instead of doing a birthday cake, we all went out for some ice cream after this, then we came back to have some drinks, play some Cards Against Humanity, and just had a grand old time. I have great memories of this day, it was definitely a success!

19The aftermath… You can see the Pokemon decorations a little better though!

 

So there you have it! Many of these ideas would be perfect for all ages and any occasion to party if you love Nintendo, so I hope this helps inspire you!!

 

Food for thought #1: Portion control

So I’ve discussed exercise before (even had a post on it recently!) but haven’t really gotten into a health aspect that’s probably even more important… diet. Now, everyone has an opinion on what types of food we should be eating, how much etc, and I don’t pretend to be an expert on the subject. But I LOVE food, love trying to be healthy, love having fun with it… and I have some thoughts and experiences I’d like to share!

One thing that can sometimes be a struggle (especially here in the US) is portion control. Growing up, I would typically watch what I ate, but not necessarily how much, and it’s something I’ve been thinking about more lately. It really can make a difference, I’m sure I’d feel better about myself if I always had just what I needed to not be hungry, instead of having those occasional moments where I’ve eaten too quickly and realize I had more than I needed. It can be hard to have that self-control when breakfast was hours ago and you’re starving!

Ross and I had discussed this topic before, and one day he came to me with a new project for us to help with portion control. I was enthusiastic to try it and it’s been working pretty well for us so far!

The tactic is not altogether novel: 5 smaller meals a day instead 3 bigger ones. So during the work week, one of us makes breakfast, and the other packs a healthy snack, and we’d both pack our own granola bar or something as well. Meaning our day would contain: breakfast, mid-morning snack, small lunch, mid-afternoon snack, and dinner.

I even set up a little space on my whiteboard at work to keep track of what I’m eating. Having a snack to look forward to makes it easy to get through the day with a smaller meal – and something about setting up a little schedule and checking things off makes it more fun for me!

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Packing snacks has also helped me get a bit of my bento-making fix. Here are just a couple of ways to pack hummus & veggies!

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Pack the hummus in the box itself

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Or pack the hummus dip separately (and a sweet treat every once in a while is A-ok in my book!)

 

Also an excuse to use ALLLLL the mason jars! I’ve been a little obsessed with these recently…

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Breakfast: overnight apple oatmeal. Mid-morning snack: rest of the apple with peanut butter energy bites. Lunch: salad with potato, tomato, green beans, chicken and egg. Afternoon snack: Sweet peppers and dill greek yogurt dip.

It’s not always easy to follow this regimen – it requires way more planning than I’m used to. So we’re not always great about sticking to it, we’re definitely still experimenting. But it’s still a fun project that I’ve been enjoying and plan to continue working at! ☺ I’m now always looking for cute, fun, tasty and healthy snacks!

Thanksgiving 2014

Last week I had a wonderful vacation visiting my family for the holidays ☺ While Thanksgiving is not a holiday that Belgium celebrates, over the years we’ve started picking up the tradition, and I really look forward to it nowadays.

This year was the first year we had an American join us too! It was so great to have my boyfriend Ross there – not only did he and my family get to know each other… but he also happens to be an amazing cook.

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Sister is excited for a full morning of cooking!

 

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So much good food in the making!

 

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Everyone had a job… good times 🙂

 

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Head chef at work.

 

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First up – appetizers! Brie and jam pastry puffs

 

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The buffet! So much wonderful food laid out!

 

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A beautiful plate of food if I ever saw one! On the menu: arugula salad with grapes, goat cheese and candied pecans; shallot butter green beans; root vegetable medley; and the classics! Turkey, stuffing and cornbread.

 

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For dessert, yummy apple crumble.

 

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Master chef deboning the turkey after a fabulous meal. So many great memories~

I love the holidays ☺ Can’t wait until Christmas!

Picnics and barbecues

I love summer! The sunlight, hanging out at the pool… and the food! This past weekend I indulged in a bit of outdoor meal goodness.

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This picnic consisted of some lettuce tacos, sweat breads and plums. Not your typical picnic fair but who cares! It was delicious and I got some bento making out of my system.

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Then the boyfriend really wanted to do some grilling… who am I to argue? Good food + fresh air + good friends = a might fine summer’s evening!

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Dinner consisted of sliders, hot dogs, grilled zucchini and corn… But the star of the show was the grilled pineaple with frozen coconut milk and a banana rum sauce. OMIGOD.

So go outside and get some air! Hope your summer days are sunny 🙂