Tasty Appetizers for a Summer Party


For summer get-togethers we love the chilled and the grilled, and we don’t even want to look at the oven. Here we present the building blocks for a range of luscious appetizers that fill the bill for summertime tastes and preferences.

Dream Cream
It starts with an 8-ounce package of cream cheese or Neufchatel. Release it from the package into a bowl and let it soften at room temperature. Better yet, speed up the process by using a microwave-safe bowl and the defrost mode on the microwave oven. Check the consistency of the cheese after a few seconds of “zapping.” Stop when it’s very soft but not melted.

Once soft, you’ll create a filling or a spread, depending on what you stir into the cheese. A tablespoon or so of ranch dressing mix and a pinch of snipped chives form a foundation for pinwheel appetizers; the cream cheese spread goes on a tortilla wrap that’s then layered with fresh vegetables (pepper strips, sliced green onions, etc.), olives, herbs, and maybe meat and more cheese. Go here to see what they look like after they’re rolled, sliced and picked.

Another recipe we like mixes cream cheese with adobo, green onion and diced tomatoes as a creamy stuffing for colorful, crisp pepper halves.

Cream cheese appetizers should be made and chilled for two hours before the “unveiling.” Consider presenting these beautiful bites on clear tableware so they get the spotlight they deserve.

Con Queso
Quesadillas are delightful made on the barbie, and there are so many creative variations you need never make the same kind twice unless you want to.

Match the heartiness of this offering by placing them on gingham-patterned plates and use bandannas as napkins.

You normally use the grill in two steps for these appetizers. The first time is to cook the meat and the second round is for melting the cheese in the assembled quesadillas — and adding those awesome grill marks. :)

Our current quesadilla crush is a marinated steak teriyaki with fresh pineapple and mozzarella.

Cute Cukes
Have you seen these? You cut cucumbers into thick (1” to 2”) slices and hollow out one end with a melon baller or small spoon to create a vehicle for almost every kind of filling imaginable.

They are clever and simple, just as we like it. Just start with the right cuke, which is a slicing cucumber that’s long, straight and smooth.

Whether you peel it depends on your own taste, thickness of the skin and whether it’s been waxed. A lot of cooks like to peel selected parts of the cuke for vertical dark stripes in the finished cups.

You could fill the cups with dollops of your favorite tuna salad recipe and garnish with springs of fresh dill, or follow Martha Stewart’s lead with a batch of gazpacho. A lemon or red pepper hummus is really good, plus gives you the flexibility to use your favorite prepared product if you like.

Save extra cucumber from your hollowing-out exercise for cocktail time.

Cheers!

Everything You Need to Know About Hosting a Summer Party for Tweens


Everything You Need to Know About Hosting a Summer Party for Tweens

Beat the Heat

Pinata's are fun for all ages!

Pinata’s are fun for all ages!

Use water balloons as balls in a fun game of dodgeball.  Not only is it a classic group game it will help cool off your guests as they enjoy themselves.  Water balloons can also be turned into piñatas that surprise the player with a shower of water when they break the balloon.  Or add a regular piñata as another game to play.

Make the Decorations a Game

Place small favors in balloons that way each child is able to break a balloon and earn a favor.  Any small favor in a balloon can turn a regular balloon into an individual piñata for each of your guests.  If you would rather not pick up the pieces of broken balloons then hanging gliders would be another option.  Before the activities the gliders make fun decoration.  During the activities it is quite simple to have a glider flying contest.  Simply take them down and see who can throw theirs the furthest.

Angry Birds

If you want to integrate some bird slinging and pig popping fun into your party an Angry Birds party would be right on target.  With decorations and tableware to fit this theme you can make sure only the birds are angry at your party.  You can create your own levels for your guests to defeat.  Set up blocks in fun configurations and fling your bean bag birds try and knock them all down.

Hawaiian Party

Personalized Surfboards from Shindigz!

Personalized Surfboards from Shindigz!

Break out the leis and grass skirts and have a luau this summer.  Invite your guests to participate by donning Hawaiian print shirts, grass skirts, and as many leis as they want.  With a few surfboard and palm tree standees any space can look like an island paradise.  To add to the fun have a limbo or hula hoop contest to see who has the most island spirit.

Even the pickiest tweens will find themselves having fun at your party this summer.

Impress Mom with One of These Tea Sandwiches – Three Ways


Yes, you can take Mom out to eat for Mothers Day…

Or you can really impress her with one or all of these easy to make Tea Sandwiches from the Shindigz Recipe Website.

These irresistible Tea Sandwiches are quick, easy and delicious!

These irresistible Tea Sandwiches are quick, easy and delicious!

Be sure to clean up afterwards too!

Bookmark these recipes for a quick, tasty and impressive lunch anytime this summer!

America Idolizes “The Voice” According to Shindigz National Poll


Image courtesy of the Voice Facebook page

Image courtesy of the Voice Facebook page

Since the early days of television, with shows like The Original Amateur Hour which migrated from radio to TV in 1948, Americans have loved watching amateur musical talent from the comfort of home. But it was over fifty years later before the genera became a hit.   American Idol debuted during the summer of 2002 and gave television audiences the first opportunity to vote for their favorite artists each week.

American Idol kicked off a national craze that inspired many local communities to host their own vocal competition parties. There has been a growth in populaity of music themed decorations each year since Idol debuted.

Over the past decade, several shows have challenged American Idol’s dominance, including America’s Got Talent, X Factor, and now The Voice.  Television producers never disclose exactly how many total votes their shows receive, but millions of viewers are believed to participate each week.  Recently, TV ratings have given The Voice a slight edge in total viewership to take the show to the top.

Shindigz, a leading seller of party supplies, conducted a nationwide online poll to see if American Idol has lost its luster and the results were conclusive.  The Voice captured 62.5 % of the votes, compared to 17.5% for American Idol when voters were asked, “What’s your favorite music reality show?”  The remaining votes were divided between America’s Got Talent and X-Factor, which are both on hiatus this season.

Easter Egg Hunts are Getting Bigger in 2013


Easter involves many traditions ranging from special religious services at sunrise to chocolate Easter bunnies in baskets.

One favorite Easter tradition that is passed down from generation to generation are egg hunts.  These usually are small family events or church sponsored gatherings, but some have grown in recent years to be much larger public gatherings.

Last year, the community of West Frankfort, Illinois was expecting 50 youngsters at their egg hunt event. Instead, over 250 children showed up ready to fill their baskets with colored eggs. This year Newtown, Pennsylvania is planning to hide 3,000 plastic eggs filled with candy and prizes for their community Easter egg hunt. Plus, the Easter Bunny will be on hand to greet the children.

The Guinness World Record for a hunt total 501,000 eggs. This scavenger adventure involved over nine thousand children at the Cypress Gardens Adventure Park in Winter Haven, Florida in 2007.

Baby Smiling while holding an Easter egg beside basket“Easter egg hunts, Easter parades and Easter pageants are all continuing to grow in popularity according to our sales figures for 2013”, reports Keith Bansemer, Director of Internet Marketing with Shindigz, a leading party supplier. “Every year, we’ve seen a steady increase in orders for baskets, bunny stand-ins, and egg-themed favors tied to these events.”

In Washington, D.C., the First Family will host the 135th annual White House Easter Egg Roll. This is a variation of an Easter egg hunt that began with President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878. This year the Obama family expects more than 35,000 people will be joining them on the South Lawn for games, stories, and, of course, the traditional egg roll.

Meanwhile, some communities have expanded Easter egg hunts to include  furry family members. According to the Columbus Dispatch in Ohio, “Acme Training is holding an egg hunt just for dogs. The pooches will hunt for strategically placed treats, and the owner of the dog that can find the golden egg will win an Easter basket containing $100 in prizes”.

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