slow cooking expert and mom to three
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A Year of Slow Cooking

Monday, May 7, 2012

I Had A Cranberry Party


plateful of cranberry goodness




A few weeks ago I had a cranberry party. And I only had to make one thing with cranberry juice, but I'm a total over-achiever and made FIVE things. BOO-YAH!
(recipes below!)

The Back Story:

The Simply Cranberry Cocktail people (through BlogHer) contacted me and asked if I'd like to throw a dinner party and use their new Simply Cranberry Cocktail as a springboard for the menu-planning.

I was already familiar with the Simply Orange Juice Company--we like their orange and apple juice an awful lot, and I'm a complete and total sucker for a challenge.

Before I responded, I texted Adam:
"Hey, we need to have a cranberry juice party, sort of an Iron Chef thing. You cool with that?"
He wrote back: "a la cuisine!"

I love that man.

I was given coupons for Simply Cranberry Cocktail by the Simply Orange Juice Company, and BlogHer paid me for my time and to purchase supplies for our cranberry party.


I then set to work planning the menu: baked brie with cranberries, cranberry martinis, cranberry chicken, triple-threat cranberry brisket, and cranberry fluff for dessert (scroll down for all the recipes).

To round out the meal I also roasted asparagus and made mashed potatoes (out of a box! Capital K classy, I tell you...).

Just so you know: Simply Cranberry Cocktail can be found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store; it is kept chilled from the time it is blended with not-from-concentrate cranberry juice and gently pasteurized with no added preservatives. It's sweet and tart and unlike other cranberry juice cocktails in that you don't shudder after drinking it.

I decided this was a really good excuse to buy cranberry red tablecloths and retire the ecru tablecloths I usually dig out of the china cabinet. (I'm pretty sure stained and bleached and then stained and bleached tablecloths are ecru. Right?)

Since we were having our party on April Fool's Day, I also bought silly straws and nose glasses for everyone out of the dollar bins at Target.

I invited my two best friends (guess what their names are? did you guess? wait for it... wait for it...
JENNIFER and JENNIFER) and their families. This meant we had 6 adults and 9 children for our dinner party. I set up two tables, with the idea that the kids would be at one and the grownups could sit at the other, and we'd all sit down and have sparkling dinner conversation and lovely table manners.

Bree Van de Kamp Hodge would be so proud.
(of course she's on trial for murder right now, but I think Gaby is about to confess.)


It was wonderful.


I need to have dinner parties more often. I think sometimes in the name of saving money I forget it's the little things in life that matter--good friends, good food, and good fun.

Someone else picking up the bill is awfully nice, too.
Thank you Simply Cranberry Cocktail !!


Recipes:

I don't have any photos of the brie because I may have already had a cranberry martini (or 2? not sure) before I thought to take pictures, and by then we pretty much killed the whole thing.

I used the candied pecan and cranberry brie recipe I made back in 2008 but didn't use the pecans because one of our little friends has a nut allergy. I did, though, add a drop of balsamic vinegar to the brown sugar and a bit of rosemary they way I did with the balsamic apricot brie.

8 ounce-brie round
1 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon crushed rosemary

Stir topping together and place on top of the brie. Place the brie into an oven-safe bowl or dish and plop it into a slow cooker for about 2 hours, or until melty and gooey and delicious. Serve with apple slices and your favorite crackers. I'm not supposed to name brand names in this post, but we used the popular round gluten free crackers that come in the white box. Email me if you don't know what I'm talking about!











Cranberry Martinis

Since The Cocktail Lady was at our house I figured I'd use her expertise, and we came up with the most awesomest cranberry martini recipe ever. She also lent me her drink shaker because I accidentally gave away the one we got as a wedding present in one of our many moves.
Thanks, Jen! xoxo

Fill the drink shaker half-full or so with ice.
For each drink, add:
1 shot Simply Cranberry Cocktail
1 shot citrus flavored vodka
1/2 shot Triple Sec
1/2 shot Sweet and Sour Mix

Shake well and serve in chilled martini glasses with sugared rims. (Adam did the glasses by rubbing a cut lime on the edge then dipping the glasses in Baker's Sugar. He froze them for 2 hours or so before the party).
We were able to double this recipe and get two drinks in each shaker.

And they rocked.
Srsly.


Cranberry Glazed Chicken:
4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 large onion, peeled and diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce
1 (16-ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2 cup Simply Cranberry Cocktail
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Place the chicken into the bottom of your cooker (frozen is fine). Add diced onion and garlic. In a mixing bowl whisk together the soy sauce, cranberry sauce, and juices. Pour this mixture evenly over the top of your chicken. Cover, and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or until chicken is fully cooked (if you cook it longer, it’ll shred—it’s up to you!)
With tongs, carefully remove the chicken and place on a serving platter. Whisk together the cornstarch and cold water to create a slurry. Stir this into your slow cooker to thicken, then serve over mashed potatoes or polenta.

Triple Threat Cranberry Brisket:
5 pound beef brisket
1 onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (16-ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
1/4 cup gluten free soy sauce
1/2 cup Simply Cranberry Cocktail
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Place the meat into the bottom of your slow cooker insert. Add onion and garlic. In a mixing bowl, mix together the can of cranberry sauce, soy sauce, juice, and dried cranberries. Pour this combination evenly over the top of the meat. Cover, and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or on high for about 6 hours. Your meat is finished when it has begun to lose it’s shape and can pull apart easily with a fork. Serve over mashed potatoes with a spoonful of sauce.

Cranberry Fluff Dessert



I was channeling TW from Retro-Food.com when I decided to serve this dessert. I knew I wanted something we could all eat together and didn't want a big production (think ice-cream bar) or a huge mess to deal with later (again, think ice-cream bar). But I wanted the kids to like it and the adults to at least give it a half-hearted thumbs up.


I was WAY SURPRISED. We licked the pyrex clean. All 6 adults and 9 children couldn't get enough.



2 cups boiling water
2 (4-ounce) packages cherry gelatin dessert
1 cup Simply Cranberry Cocktail
1 (8-ounce) container whipped dessert topping, room temperature, divided
1 (15-ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 package shortbread cookies (or something similar. Ours were gluten free, of course!)



Whisk the dried gelatin powder with the boiling water until it's completely dissolved. Whisk in the juice, and then refrigerate the mixing bowl for 90 minutes. You want the gelatin slightly set, but not really. 

Now stir in 2 cups of the dessert topping and the entire can of cranberry sauce. Pour this mixture into a 9 x 9 glass baking pan. Refrigerate for 4 hours, or until completely set. Spread on the additional whipped topping and dot with shortbread cookies.


Cranberry retro yumminess. It's tart, but not too tart, and sweet, but not too sweet.
It was the perfect end to a perfect night. And you know it was good when you wake up to this in the morning:


I had so much fun and feel so lucky to have the best friends ever. Thank you to Simply Cranberry Cocktail for giving me an excuse to have a party. And for the realization that I shouldn't have to have an excuse to have friends over--I should just do it!


 I'm pretty sure we're not going to have a UTI anytime soon...

Guess what? 


Simply Cranberry Cocktail understands that sometimes it's just not possible to have a spur-of-the moment party when you're busy living your life and all "extra" (HA on the extra!) income goes towards retirement, or college, or braces, or new tires. So they are offering to help out by giving one lucky winner a $100 Visa gift card to spend however you'd like.
Maybe you'd like to have a cranberry party of your very own?


What is your favorite way to make a party or get together at your home more festive? Tell me about it in the comments for a chance to win a $100 gift card.


Rules:
P.S: I didn't make these up. 



No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:


a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.


This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.


I'll randomly select a winner from the responses (leave an email address or sign in so I can find you!) and will make sure the gift card gets sent out promptly.


The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 5/7/2012 - 6/1/2012

updated 6/2/12: This CONTEST IS NOW OVER. A representative from BlogHer will contact the randomly selected winner. THANK YOU to all who entered!


Be sure to visit the Promotions & Prizes page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!


"Simply Cranberry" is a trademark of Simply Orange Juice Company.



BOO-YAH!

299 comments:

1 – 200 of 299   Newer›   Newest»
Nikki said...

I usually pick a theme for the food and drink: mexican (with margaritas), italian (with wine), etc - it makes it easy but fun

Anonymous said...

I would love to win the gift card and have party with friends. We are a military family about to move, so the timing is perfect. I love cranberry juice! amberfluhr@hotmail.com

Elena said...

Nice music and fresh flowers make party more festive

elena150980@yahoo.com

Elena said...

https://twitter.com/#!/ElenaIstomina/status/199681079144230912

elena150980@yahoo.com

NHGirl said...

I like to create playlists that compliment the theme of the party. One of my favorite themes for a get-together is a Spanish theme, with music from Barcelona. Crossing my fingers for the $100 gift card!

barbaraence said...

Wow! That is so unique and fun! And I'm SO going to look for Simply Juice Cranberry when I go to the store tomorrow! Awesomeness!
We like to invite guests...and then figure out what we want to do based on our guests preferences.
If we won this, we'd have a welcome party for our baby due soon!

shannon_in_love said...

MUSIC!!! definitely. loud music...and liquor :)
great post!

queeneulalia said...

i tweeted about the giveaway here: http://twitter.com/#!/queeneulalia/status/199689641937469441

Amie said...

Wow, you really did put a lot into this one! I love anything and everything cranberry-related. Seriously. Love it. I have a cranberry/white chocolate dessert recipe sitting on my counter right now just waiting for me to find a spare moment to make it. As for jazzing up a party? We bring out the fancy schmancy china (that was actually made in Japan) and the real linen napkins. We may even use our crystal glasses. As for drinks, everything looks better in the big glass punch bowl, especially cranberry juice and sprite. Yum yum yum. Your dessert sounds amazing. Way to go.

Rebecca Major said...

I'm going to have to try some of those recipes. My favorite way to spice up a party is to have all themed food... if you have great food, any party will be a success. :) We also boot up Rock Band if things get too quiet!

MemeGRL said...

Love this post--I love cranberry brisket & can't wait to try this one.
To make things festive? I try to get everything done before the guests arrive so I can just enjoy the party too!

Hot Mess Housewife said...

I like to make my get-togethers more festive with bright colors - tablecloths, napkins, and plates! (usually paper or plastic 'cuz I like easy clean-up.)

Myrnie said...

Invite really festive people!

Heather of Kitchen Concoctions said...

What a fun party! To make things more festive at my parties and get togethers? Well I usually like to set up a table with all the food or at least the desserts with pretty plates and serving utensils. I usually don't match things up because I love the fun and color that using mismatched dishes bring. I also try to have fresh flowers on the table or somewhere in my decor.

Gail said...

To make my parties more festive I break out my '50s Branchell Color-Flyte Melmac dishes. They're colorful and non-breakable and are identical to the set my family used when I was a little girl, living in St. Louis. Fun memories emerge every time I use them!

Wendy said...

I think if you make an effort to present your food in a pretty way it automatically makes an event more festive.

("I'm pretty sure we're not going to have a UTI anytime soon..." -- that made me snort and laugh out loud.)

daisy @ wendolonia.com

Carey said...

Love cranberry anything but will definitely have to try the cocktail. I think the main thing that makes a party festive is having good friends like you mentioned in your post. And great food, music and fun games always help too :)

Suzy said...

hmm I have to say I've never hosted a dinner party -EVER in my whole life! If I did host a party though I'd like casual - maybe a theme with old movies or 'older' movies from my generation(like Raiders of the Lost Ark or Star Wars) and some kind of casual food- no china LOL - something colorful and fun I think. maybe some card or board games or puzzle - ok maybe these boring choices are w hy I don't have many friends to have a party with LOL!
Susanna
quilt938 *at* clear.net is my email

Suzy said...

oops I didnt mean by no china for me that yours was bad - half asleep - it looks and sounds awesome and I'm envious of those who can pull it off - I'm just a much more casual person! :-)
Susanna

themamacurd said...

Always always have a theme!!!! Incorporate the theme into decor and the food!

JenFisher said...

A good soundtrack and tasty cocktails, usually based on a theme (season, occasion, etc).

Whitney said...

... I add booze! :)
Seriously, though -- I'm a grad student and we do have a lot of gatherings that involve booze, the best way to kick it up is to add some sort of home-made food element. My favorite is pizza because I can whip up a dough super quick in the morning and it's ready by the evening... and who doesn't like to pick pizza toppings?

Don said...

I like to buy special napkins and table decorations and use the "good dishes" Since I am not a great cook, I gotta make the atmosphere great!

Joan Murray said...

I can never time any of my food to finish at anywhere the right time, so I usually cook the day before, and do it really potluck style. I have a counter that divides the kitchen and dining room, so I just plop everything there. I once had a family gathering, and the kids didn't want to sit at the kid's table, so we all sat where ever, so the casualness of food and seating was so much fun.

alandjoan*at * juno.com

Faith (the Vampire Slayer) said...

That all looks amazing! I don't cook enough these days but I'd love to try the chicken recipe.

Lynn said...

I love a good party, but this weekend when my friend's dh is out of town and she needs me to take her kids until she staggers home from a long week of extra work, the secret to our dinner "party" together will be Chinese takeout!

quinn said...

The most enjoyable dinner parties are the ones where I've invited interesting people who don't know each other but who have at least one thing in common. Lots of conversation, lots of laughter, good food and drink...perfect party!

Louisa said...

I like to make things festive by adding flowers! It's kind of cliche, but fresh flowers really make any room so much nicer.

Nowheymama said...

This party sounds perfect! I love cranberry juice.

I like to have guests help with things if they want to; getting everyone involved is fun.

Tracy and Aaron said...

Every year my family has an "iron chef" like contest at the reunion in October. Last year it was cranberries and my husband made a killer (slow cooker) pork tacos with a cranberry-chipotle sauce. I'm licking my lips reading about your cranberry party. And that would be how we like to throw a party - everyone ends up in the kitchen cooking/eating together.

Amanda said...

Our get-togethers with friends usually involves ordering a pizza and breaking out the Wii controllers. Yeah, we're party animals! ;) A dinner party sounds like lots of fun and when you have a dinner party with Brie as an appetizer, well, that just makes it all fancy-nancy. :) Thanks for the chance to win!

Lesa said...

I love to decorate my house to match whatever season the party is in.

L G said...

We host poker parties at our home so the atmosphere is generally festive! I usually make a yummy dessert and break out the fine china (and by "fine" I mean the paper plates!)

Mami2jcn said...

Lively music always makes things more festive!

mami2jcn at gmail dot com

Rosa said...

Nice party decorations and lively music enhances any party.

Mami2jcn said...

tweet:

https://twitter.com/#!/mami2jcn/status/199854809883488256

mami2jcn at gmail dot com

meekamoojiandmommy said...

I usually try to have one yummy and slightly unusual snack and drink - something that takes it out of the ordinary daily food grind! :)

Alicia Pearson said...

comfort food is how we like to have parties!!

Shari said...

We go old school with the kids' birthday parties - streamers and balloons! You can never have too many balloons.

Mrsblocko said...

Music!

Faith said...

I love potlucks, because I love the different foods that people will bring. However, this can lead to a lack of continuity, so when I am hosting a potluck I try to come up with a theme (game foods, summer grilling, mexican, etc) to constrain the dishes too. This way everything on your plate will still be enjoyable to eat together!

T2Nashville said...

Having everyone bring their favorite dish makes for easier planning for me and surprisingly tasty dishes!

t2nashville (at) charter (dot) net

Savannagal said...

I don't have very many parties because I live quite a distance from most of my friends. But when we do get together at my home, I try to have something special for everybody. I know my friends' likes and dislikes and I try make my meals and cocktails fit their tastes. I want everyone to feel my love.

Mir said...

I like to make gatherings festive by using frilly toothpicks. For... whatever. Everything. Everyone knows frilly toothpicks make everything way better.

Mir said...

I tweeted: http://twitter.com/#!/wantnot/status/199870396080730114

ania said...

Good music, and inviting people to get up and dance. Nothing formal, just kind of like, "Oooh, I love this song" and sharing memories of what the songs that come on remind us of.

Music is where it's at.

(Also, about cranberries. I love putting dried cranberries in pasta recipes. I boil pasta al denta, and season and lightly brown it in a pan. I add in vegetables and herbs, and then add the cranberries in for the last minute or two. They plump up and add a nice something to every other bite. Pasta sauce is optional.)

ania said...

Tweeted about it:

https://twitter.com/#!/aniamevoke/status/199874029186846721

Becky said...

I love Simply Orange and I love cranberries, so I can't wait to try this.

I like to use our special serving dishes that we love and make everything match and themed.

Aaron Tunell said...

I like to make food based on a theme, and then I make a lot of it. I love making Mexican food especially.

Stacie said...

Wow! The dessert looks amazing! I might have to try it.
I like to have great background music. It can make a dinner party go from good to great:)

frenchtwistedwoman said...

I love cranberries and these recipes all sound amazing. I ended up here as I recently posted a very simple, very delicious martini I made (with St. Dalfour fruit spread) and wanted to check out some other martini recipes. Here's mine if you want to try it. http://frenchtwistedwoman.com/2012/05/07/fruit-spread-confiture-des-fruits-riviera-martini/ Thanks for the great cranberry juice ideas!

DarknessFalls said...

I was looking for a dessert recipe for this weekend, perfect timing!

Amber F. said...

Make sure the liquor cabinet is well-stocked =)

amy said...

I like to make parties more festive by sticking with a theme...patriotic, spa, cranberry, whatever. Then do as much as I can around that theme.

ReCreations said...

We like to host campfires in our backyard. S'mores always add to the festivities!

Dianna said...

I can't wait to try the martinis! Look yummy! I like to use music to make things festive. And fun drinkwear and dishes.

mathmahna said...

I really like using the theme of a different game each party...our group of friends gets together once a month to play some of these games:

Apples to Apples--apple theme meal and desserts in the fall

Oodles--we have noodle dishes (usually Chinese)

Next month we're playing Rummy Cube--wonder what our theme should be for this one??

mathmahna said...

I really like using the theme of a different game each party...our group of friends gets together once a month to play some of these games:

Apples to Apples--apple theme meal and desserts in the fall

Oodles--we have noodle dishes (usually Chinese)

Next month we're playing Rummy Cube--wonder what our theme should be for this one??

Lisa Garland said...

i like to show home videos, or have a family football game, everyone has a great time!
Lisa
grlndls@yahoo.com

Andrea said...

I love tapas food and then pick a theme around that... When entertaining I like finger foods best... last party i had 2 courses- lighter bites (spicy shrimp on toast, brucetta 3 ways, veggies/dips/ crackers AND then for the main course - mini crab cake sliders, bite sized mac and cheese, cocktail meat & chicken balls... lots of tastes for all!

Becca Lupton said...

No UTIs for sure! Hahaha! My best plan for having a party is to just do it! The house will never be 100% presentable, the timing perfect etc. Take the leap and make a plan and have fun! I also love pandora for a nice party mix that I don't have to think about.
If I win, my email is abcdelupton@gmail.com. Thanks!

Natasha said...

These cranberry recipes sound yum! My favorite way to make a party more festive is with a batch of yummy sangria. Goes with everything!! Nroberts77@msn.com

Judy said...

We're having small groups over each month this summer and some of these recipes would be great. walker88@bellsouth.net

Craving Savings said...

Good food always makes the party but sometimes it's those little touches - like having someone's favorite drink, or remembering to make your chocolate chip cookie recipe that your bff's husband couldn't stop talking about that really make it an event!

maura said...

To really liven up a party, I mix a signature cocktail and serve in fun glassware! My husband and I moving into our first house next week and I think a house warming party with Simply Cranberry cocktails would hit the spot!

Connie said...

Love these recipies and cranberry inspiration. I think I need to go directly to the store and buy some of this juice. Thanks for the giveaway!

Ann said...

I make sure that my main dish is from the crock pot, so *I* can be festive and not stressed with cooking at the last minute.

TheBraleys said...

https://twitter.com/#!/abraley/status/199936554511249408 Keeping my fingers crossed for that $100 gift card :)

soifua said...

that cranberry fluff sounds so yummy ... I think I need some of those shortbread cookies though :)

Beth Shout said...

Dont usually have a theme when people come over... Just the theme that I'll cook and they'll eat! Ha!

Beth Shout said...

Dont usually have a theme when people come over... Just the theme that I'll cook and they'll eat! Ha!

Crayl said...

My husband happened to be standing behind me while I read this post...he kept saying, "That sounds good, ooo, that sounds good too". LOL

Mrs. Saves-a-Lot said...

I usually have get-togethers around holidays, Thanksgiving, etc. I make way too much food and always try to add a few new recipes to the mix. Playing games livens up the party too!

mrsvcoupons AT gmail DOT com

aaflood said...

I once purchased 25 sombreros at a thrift shop & now, anytime we have a party/dinner party/children's birthday party, everyone has to wear a sombrero. Obviously, there is usually Mexican food & always margaritas. I should probably get a new "gig" but I'm so good at this one now! I wonder if I could make cranberry Mexican food...

Courtney B said...

a bbq pit, good music and a pool always make a party more festive!:)

thanks for the giveaway!

vanitizebaby at yahoo dot com

Katherine said...

I like to have fun decorating with homemade decorations and fun colors.

Tj And Amy said...

I like to use crepe paper and the hanging laterns they are way cheap and you can use it for anything.amypugmire@live.com

Tj And Amy said...

tweet. amypugmire@live.com
https://twitter.com/#!/1amypugmire/status/199946678302801921

akronugurl said...

i would make cocktails :)
freebiel0ve@yahoo.com

akronugurl said...

https://twitter.com/#!/akronugurl/status/199948922414837760

freebiel0ve@yahoo.com

Lissa said...

https://twitter.com/#!/MmeLayman/status/199949109493374976

Lissa said...

I like to invite fun people and have a variety of food/drink to choose from!

Janice H said...

We just enjoy having friends over - usually they bring the salad and dessert, I make the main dish. No real theme, just good friends, good food, and good drinks (would love to try the Simply Cranberry martini's!). Hope to get the gift card - it's time for another get-together!
kinneybrooms@verizon.net

Heather said...

I LOVE themed dinner parties! I'm famous for them, actually. My friend has probably had the best one yet - a garlic themed party. We had garlic coming out of our pores for days :)

Leanna said...

I like to cook a big elaborate dinner for my friends and family, cooking is my favorite way to show my love for my family. I love cranberry juice and plan to make several of these recipes.

Debbi Does Dinner Healthy said...

Haha! i loved the part about not getting a UTI, that's what I always think about with cranberry juice! I like to always have a new recipe for get togethers. We're having a small get together this weekend and I am trying to find new appetizers and a new dessert.

Chris said...

I love colorful placemats and napkins, and like to use interesting and pretty serving dishes. Sometimes the good china too!

lyrixx23[at]gmail.com

Arleen said...

Lots of color to match the theme, cool music, frozen (yay Blendtec!) drinks, party games. Guests bring potluck dishes. Easy and almost stressless

Rita said...

Sometimes just adding flowers can make things more festive. The cranberry fluff looks wonderful. Thanks for the chance to win.

Marny said...

I love themes for dinner parties! I prefer homemade decorations over store bought ones so I can tailor them to the theme as I see it. The look and food should match and it's even more fun if you can incorporate some fun and silly games to go with it!

Cherie Averill said...

We host game night parties almost every weekend - sometimes twice a week! Sometimes I cook dinner for everyone and sometimes we all bring food to share. Most of the time, we have a nice dessert and snacks on the tables. It's soooo much fun!

joanna said...

I love themes ... also a few good cocktails, lots of good music and great food all really get the party started!!!

Megan said...

My favorite way to make a party more festive is after we eat, we put a movie on for the kids and pull out a board game. We get to keep talking, no falls into a food coma and the kids are occupied.

Thanks for the giveaway!

megandurant AT gmail DOT com

Anonymous said...

I try to keep it small-3 couples is a good size so that everyone feels included.

susie dot bruins at gmail

Diane said...

I would love a summer cookout with my kids and grand kids with out door games and water fun...
Lots of sunshine and just an all around full day of family and good food !
dwmarks33@comcast.net

Ashley said...

I make sure we have great music.

hewella1 at gmail dot com

Little Ol' Liz said...

My party planning secret?

Hold it at my Sister's house!

There's a suprise element if you don't tell her before hand!!!!!!

Amy said...

I like having a themed dinner party when we entertain. Makes things more fun!

Heather said...

Keep things simple right? Hard, but the best way to do it and still have fun!

Heather

Anonymous said...

I am so excited to see this post. I just picked up Simply Cranberry at the store last week. I love all of their other offerings, so I knew I had to try this one. I love cranberry juice and this has to be the best (by far) that I have ever had. Can't wait to try all of the recipes!

may said...

I think it's festive when someone else does the cooking. Ha!!

Kelly said...

Go for a pot luck - the food is always good.

Lisa S. said...

I make things more festive by playing bar tender and playing music.

Tom said...

I bring out the Wii controllers and wine!!

Amanda said...

I love having music to go along with the party! I love creating mix CDs!

Racheal said...

I think the best way to have a fun party is to have everyone show up and help you make the food. Not only does it get everyone talking but it is easy to just buy everything you need and set it out. As a plus my boys and I don't get sick due to contaimination from gluten! r5coat at live dot com

Auntie Pam said...

I have two big family parties a year, one at Christmas and the other in the summer. I find my family likes if I stick to the usual menus with a surprise or two. For instance, last Christmas it was the usual ham and fried turkey, but they loved the crock pot creamed corn recipe I got from this site! galfrom_mich@yahoo.com

Stacey said...

We usually have a theme, and make drinks (and/or desserts!) that are related to the theme. I like it because I get to try something I normally wouldn't have.

henning.stacey@gmail.com

Stacey said...

Tweet
https://twitter.com/#!/shenning321/status/200060373498466304

henning.stacey@gmail.com

Stephanie said...

What a great party! When I host a get together, I love having good food and good friends - the easier the better!

jcm2 said...

Music, wine, and take-out food! :)

joannemoore2@gmail.com

Jen R. said...

I like to have flowers and pretty glassware and the little drink umbrellas! :) Thanks for the contest!

Anonymous said...

Entertain Outdoors! We live in Los Angeles and are lucky to be able to have parties on our patio most of the year. I also love it because our house much too tiny to have more than a couple of people over for dinner.

debbie Fletcher said...

Entertain Outdoors! We live in Los Angeles and are lucky to be able to have parties on our patio most of the year. I also love it because our house much too tiny to have more than a couple of people over for dinner.

the hickles said...

When I plan a party, I like to get the table scape to come to a theme. If I was throwing a cranberry party it'd be red themed. I am inheriting my mother-in-law's beautiful red dishes, so I'd use those, and maybe a deep red table cloth with light pink runner. And then stemware. I'd put cranberries in the water pitcher, allowing them to float about. I'd have relish trays with cranberry- and much like your meal I'd be sure something red or cranberry would be in each course. I love to serve courses, to make it feel formal and allow all to have fun!

Rebecca Graham said...

I like to do a theme party with decorations.

rhoneygtn at yahoo dot com

Carol said...

Hi Stephanie! I'm a Crock Pot Lady fan of many years back. Love your funny comments, like the kids squealing with delight for Velveeta, and "mommy crack", etc.

Sounds like you had a great time at your party.

I like to make a party festive with lights, music, and decorations - I think table decors and creative name cards are the "final touch", a personal welcome that touch that says you thought of each guest individually. I find flowers my preferred decor but will use homemade things or glassware if the budget can't take flowers. If I want to use flowers and don't have time, I sometimes buy the miniature blooming potted plants, and use them as name card holders, so guests can take them home.

junkregchr at gmail dot com

Diane said...

Good food and good friends, do you really need anything else?? :)

Megan said...

Those martinis look perfect! When I entertain, I like to keep it really casual, because I think people need the downtime...even kids. I usually don't plan activities for them, because they enjoy just playing.

Kitty Dulgar said...

I would love to win the gift card and I love cranberry! Cranberry has become an everyday thing for me--I even take cranberry tablets daily!

Dana N said...

I'm from Canada, so not eligible for the prize :( but I just wanted to comment that those recipes all sound fabulous! I'm definitely hoping to try them out soon. And I too need to just MAKE the time for a dinner party or get-together with friends. It's long overdue!

el-e-e said...

I love entertaining and rarely do it! My favorite way to add some sparkle to a party is by lighting candles all over the place. :) email addy is thrash428 at yah00 dot c0m

that Brisket sounds amAHzing!

StephanieSells said...

I always try some new recipes, it gets the conversation flowing. I will find some new food recipe and feature it and then make a kick ass drink too!

Jessica G said...

I pull out my grandmother's china, which she gave me and my husband for our wedding. That makes an event extra special.

tara said...

That cranberry martini looks good enough to drink!

Karlee said...

I am a sucker for napkin rings. Set the table nice for the party and add some fun festive napkin rings. Of course, it is usually the collection of people who really make a party festive!

FreeIndeed said...

music and decorations make it more festive
thepryfamily@gmail.com

FreeIndeed said...

https://twitter.com/#!/thepryfamily2/status/200278850519838720
thepryfamily@gmail.com

pxilated said...

We're not fancy at my house, but if you come to visit me, there will always be cake.

pxilated at gmail dot com

Tiffany Hartman said...

I always make sure everything matches the time of year. Spring/Summer parties have bright serving dishes, plates, plastic silverware, napkins, and tableclothes. I don't do it often enought, but I love to throw a good party!

Danyelle said...

I like to add music and balloons or candles to make things more festive.

Tracey Alvernaz said...

Hey a cranberry party contest! What a wonderful way to celebrate cranberries. I love the cranberry ideas and recipes you have posted.Cranberries are versatile and healthy for you, and fun to cook with. What a fun contest! You can bet my bridal shower, for my friend, will have the appetizer served! The contest prize will help host that shower! (love your blog!)

Gryph said...

This is great! I love the Simply (Juice) products...and I am excited to try the cranberry chicken!

Amy said...

My favorite way to make a party at my home more festive is selecting a theme. So, the decorations, food, drink, party favor and maybe dress code too, would all follow the same theme. It’s really festive and fun!

Amy [at] utry [dot] it

Amy said...

tweeted: https://twitter.com/#!/uTry_it/status/200335024556482560

Amy [at] utry [dot] it

MamaFeelgood said...

Parties with a theme are my favorite

Lynette said...

I love your cranberry party! You inspired me to go looking for the Simply Cranberry Cocktail at my local grocer. Can't wait to make that dessert fluff with it :) Thanks so much for the give-away!

Anonymous said...

We like to break out our vintage record player during parties--then dance or dine to crackly-sounding oldies. Lots of fun!
Thanks for the chance at the $100!

egging at ku dot edu

Anonymous said...

by adding party music! scg00387 at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2012/05/i-had-cranberry-party.html?showComment=1336614978729#c449386809570191102 scg00387 at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

oops! copied the wrong link last time - https://twitter.com/#!/DesMoinesDealin/status/200404853816705025 scg00387 at yahoo dot com

Carolyn in NC said...

I break out the "good china" and at the end of the evening we all wind up in the kitchen washing dishes together. Is it festive? Sure, all good parties end up in the kitchen anyway!

Chris and Annalisa said...

Hmmm...I like to make parties more festive by busting out the GOOD dinnerwear. Know what I mean? The goblets, pewter serving platters, cloth napkins, porcelain soup toureen (instead of going it buffet style at the stove), etc. I feel like it makes my parties feel a little more "adult," in a life where I'm surrounded daily by sippy cups!

Jennifer said...

Because we have a pool, we do a lot of simple entertaining during the summer. My favorite quick way to make a pool party more fun sits with drinkware - cute plastic cups (no glass near our pool!), funny koozies for cans of beer or soda, and fun bendy straws adorned with things like flowers or sombreros.

Stephanie Marr said...

I love cranberries, bring it on, and thanks for your inspiring post!

Becky said...

I love having people over because then we eat at the dining room table instead of the kitchen table!! Table cloths and nice dishes make thing festive in our house!

Bridget said...

Pick me, pick me! I'll have to give that Simply Cranberry a try!

ambient said...

My biggest "good party" secret is rearranging the seating prior to the party. Move your chairs and maybe some end tables to form smaller groupings. That encourages smaller conversions to both form and turn over, so your guests move around over the course of the night and talk to different people!

Dana said...

I like to use some simple cute decorations to make it festive!

Dana said...

I forgot to leave my email! - Dana
dcountess at hotmail dot com

Jamie said...

Looks delicious!!! Thanks for sharing and hosting too!

Kelly Sullivan said...

We just had a big Derby party this past weekend (in Kentucky, Derby is HUGE). Since it is the Run for the Roses I 'borrowed' my neighbors rose bushes and cut loads of them to decorate my home. They were beautiful!

Sarah S said...

I love having a movie night with my friends - then the house is dark and everyone doesn't notice how dirty the house is!

scwasil at gmail dot com

Gina @ MoneywiseMoms said...

I like having a theme--even for adults--just for fun. Little touches like themed plates, napkins and decorations make a party more fun.

Sarah said...

We have reached that point in our lives that we and all of our friends have young children (we have a two-month old) and so when we "party" everything has to be baby/ toddler friendly!

wigget said...

games and partyware

Tarrant said...

Yay for cranberry gelatin.

Elaine said...

Yay for generous companies!

stacief said...

A big bbq and lots of friends and family...and margaritas!

Our little family said...

My favorite way to make a party festive is with themed plates, cups, napkins, serving dishes, etc.

Jenny Sunshine said...

a special drink or cocktail that ties in with the meal...

Mindy said...

I'm slowly learning to relax a little more when having people over, which makes it so much more fun! I used to obsess over every detail to the point that I didn't enjoy myself at all.

maura said...

A signature cocktail gives a special feel to a great cocktail party! Check out my Simply Nashville Fizzle - delicious!

http://lovinlivininnashville.blogspot.com/2012/05/simply-nashville-fizzle.html

Follow my blog for some great recipes!

Melissa D said...

Love all the crazy cranberry-ness!

Every Christmas we host our large family and tons of guest. We serve beef tenderloin and trifle and typical holiday ooh-aahh stuff. But it's the little extras, like making spiced nuts and homemade eggnog, that put it all into super fun territory.

London Cooking Classes said...

A cranberry party is a great idea. And the dessert looks totally delicious, it really is no surprise why the container was licked clean!

hampton said...

the best way i have found to make a party more festive is to have a theme (however vague) in mind and to communicate this to the guests. it seems to get people to anticipate the night a little more

Unknown said...

I love cranberry juice more than any other juice! Thanks for all the great looking recipes :)

Anonymous said...

Um, vacuuming? But seriously, christmas lights and cute little wine glass identifiers go a long way.

kathleenpoling (AT) yahoo

chambanachik said...

I like to hang decorations, put on some music, and make way too much dessert! :)

chambanachik@gmail.com

Karina said...

https://twitter.com/#!/karinaroselee/status/202154372413657089

karinaroselee at gmail dot com

Karina said...

i like having a party theme

karinaroselee at gmail dot com

JC said...

Plenty of all sorts of desserts and music always help.
tcarolinep at gmail dot com

JC said...

https://twitter.com/#!/tcarolinep/status/202160837077643264

Kellybel1 said...

I like to have a party outdoors with music and drinks. When it's time to eat, I have already cut up a variety of meats and veggies for each guest. On a long table, I set up about 4-5 flat cookers and each guest cooks their own food over conversation and wine/drinks!! I also provide rice and condiments. Has been a hit on every occasion!!

kellybel1@hotmail.com

Laurie said...

We finally moved into a home last year with a large enough kitchen area to invite friends over for meals. While our budget is quite tight, and "festive" isn't on the top of the list while entertaining I do try to always make something fun and different while entertaining, and we always try to take the time to connect & build relationships with those we invite over, be they new friends or old. There is nothing more magic than sharing our home with others & being blessed by it. :)
laurie.l.perrone at gmail dot com

Megan said...

My favorite way to make a gathering more festive is to decorate, make plenty of good food and have some games or silly ice breaker activities.

Megan said...

To make gatherings more festive, I definitely decorate, make really great food and always have some games or a fun ice breaker.

sy said...

I put on upbeat music and put out lots of snacks. Thanks for the review and giveaway.
songyueyu at gmail

sy said...

tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/syytta/status/202302113685061632
songyueyu at gmail

Carroll said...

We have two "big" parties a year (4th of July, and Christmas) & I always try to take a few pictures of the various guests. Over the years I've made collages from those photos, which I hang during the parties and people always love to look for images of their younger selves. We have many families in which former "kids" are now coming with kids of their own, so it's a very fun retrospective. Thanks for the great berry-based ideas, Stephanie!

Tina said...

lots of games and foods
merleandtina@Yahoo.com

Tina said...

https://twitter.com/#!/HappyTina0115/status/202559750435651585
merleandtina@Yahoo.com

elizabethrae said...

Pretty dishes make everything more festive!

Lorna Reistad said...

Simply LOVE cranberry anything, so Simply Cranberry has to be the best! First thing: Retro Cranberry Jello dessert!

Judy B. said...

A fun theme, a little creativity, a caring hostess, and good friends. (Good food and drink don't hurt)

Judy B. said...

tweet
https://twitter.com/#!/BBirdie2/status/202854182535966722

Preppy Pink Crocodile said...

Ooooh I might need to make this chicken dish tomorrow for dinner! Sounds so yummy!

KK
pinkcrocodiledesigns @ hotmail (dot) com

Atwood-Family of FIVE said...

Thanks for the giveaway! I love to make a party more festive by focusing on details. Little thongs like matching tablecloth, placemats, and napkins. Or wine charms. Just those little things that make it special.
Attiesgirl05@gmail.com

Erika W. said...

To make things special for a gathering, I love making food in small bites. Little appetizer sized portions just make everything seem more festive, and a bit like the parties you see on old TV shows.

Unknown said...

I loved your comment about too busy saving money to have friends over for fun... I do that and am working my way out of it! :) PEOPLE make life great. I hope I win the giveaway!

Kelly Massman said...

I like to make things ahead so I can focus on the guests at the party!!! Thanks for a chance to win and have a great day!
kmassmanATgmailDOTcom

abitnerdy said...

I love throwing a themed party, everyone gets into mood, Arabian Night, Summer in the Hamptons, Breakfast at Tiffanys it doesnt matter, a theme makes everything so much more fun. :) of course good music, great friends, delicious drinks and food too ;) xx

abitnerdygirl at gmail dot com

abitnerdy said...

tweettweet https://twitter.com/#!/abitnerdy/status/203195151395463168

abitnerdygirl at mail dot com

Melissa said...

Love the apple juice, never tried the cranberry but sure bet is good, really good in one of those matinis cant wait to make some and throw a party!

Rachael said...

I like to make make decorations that coordinate with the party theme (it validates my need for a huge craft supply stash) and make food that is easy to eat while visiting and spending time with everyone.

Rachael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brn2lisn said...

To make a party more festive I try to use themed umbrella's, fresh fruit to put in our drinks. Whether its Cranberry juice, Iced Tea or Lemonade.


brn2lisn {AT} gmail [dot] com

Gravel Road Musings said...

We have a pretty small house and no dining table, so festive for an ordinary occasion is putting a tablecloth and maybe some candles on the island cupboard where the food will be served.

Stephanie C. said...

A festive party at our house always includes a playlist of party music!

Michelle @womenwwin said...

A little PINK makes my party pop! :) Thanks!

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