Easy Entertaining with a Cheese Platter

Thank you to Fromager d’ Affinois for sending me a variety of cheeses to try and photograph for this post. All ideas and opinions are my own.

Tips for Creating a Cheese Board - A Well Crafted Party

If you entertain often, then cheese platters are your friend.* Not only are they delicious, but they are filling and SO easy to put together! When pressed for time, or bring an appetizer to a potluck party, or even when I just have a lot going on, I reach for my cheese boards and hit the deli section of my local grocery store.

Tips for Creating a Cheese Board - A Well Crafted Party

Tips for Creating a Cheese Board - A Well Crafted Party

Tips for creating a successful cheese platter:

  1. Buy a few different cheeses, but cap it at five different cheeses. Choice is awesome, but being overwhelmed by choice is not so fun. Keep your platters simple by choosing three to five cheeses to feature. For this platter I used three different flavors of cheese from the same brand of cheese, Fromager d’AffinoisBy going with the same type of cheese, with different flavors, I am able to let my guests enjoy discovering the differences in one type of cheese. You can also go with selections from different types of cheese to give additional variety.
  2. Make sure the cheese is easy to serve. There is nothing more awkward then trying to get some cheese off of a cheese platter that is too difficult to cut or there isn’t a cheese knife around to help get the cheese from the platter to the cracker. To ease the cheese serving conundrum pre-slice hard cheeses, put out cheese knives that are sturdy enough to cut the cheeses available, and make sure you have something to spread soft cheeses onto crackers. This platter features there soft cheeses (which I LOVE for entertaining) that are really easy to cut through with a simple cheese knife and spread onto a cracker.
  3. Serve cheese at room temp. You certainly don’t want your cheeses sitting out for hours, but cheese straight from the fridge won’t have the depth of flavor or ease of serving as one that has gotten to room temperature.
  4. Label your cheeses. I don’t know if there is anything quite as alarming to the palette than to think you are about to enjoy a nice double creme brie to get a tangy goat cheese flavor in return. While I’d love both types of cheese, it sure does help to know what is coming my way! It becomes even more important when you have the option of tasty accompaniments or toppings.  Whether you simple write out cheese names on a piece of paper and lay it next to the cheese or get fancy and print out specific labels, your guests will appreciate you taking the time to label!
  5. Don’t forget the accompaniments! Crackers are great for serving up with a good cheese platter. They are easy to store in the pantry for use at a moments notice, they make it easy to serve the cheese from the plate to your belly, and generally, can go with almost any kind of cheese. If you want to have a little more fun with your cheese platter you might think about alternative food items that might serve as a good cheese-to-belly delivery tool. Some cracker-alternative options include sliced cured meats, vegetables, breads, and different types of fruit. Is there anything better than a slice of aged cheddar on a crisp, ripe apple slice?
  6. Toppings set your platter apart. You’ve got the cheese all to temp and labeled, and your accompaniments are at the ready… it is time to think about what might really set your platter apart and make your cheese choices sing! Toppings such as pepper jelly, fig jam, apricot spread or even honey all make for tasty additions to a cheese platter. Have some fun putting out toppings so guests can mix and match.

Tips for Creating a Cheese Board - A Well Crafted Party

Tips for Creating a Cheese Board - A Well Crafted Party

More ideas for your cheese platters:

About Fromager d’Affinois:

Fromager d’Affinois is the top-selling cheese for Fromagerie Guilloteau. It is a smooth double cream cheese expresses that has been delicately matured. In addition to the original Fromager d’Affinois, this cheese also comes in flavors of Garlic & Mixed Herbs, Olive, Truffle, and Pepper. I tried the original, mixed herbs bleu and pepper varieties— all of which were creamy and flavorful! The high fat-content of this cheese positions it halfway between a traditional Brie and a triple-cream cheese. I was able to find this cheese at my local Whole Foods Market.

*Cheese platters are your friend unless you do not eat dairy, or your guests do not eat dairy. In that case, you may want to make other entertaining friends.

Food in Celebration

Tabasco Shaved Ice Topped Oysters // A Well Crafted Party images via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

Photo via Mary BoydenTabasco Shaved Ice Oyster Topping 

Just recently I had the opportunity to visit a conference in Portland, Oregon all about food! I learned a lot from the FoodWorx sessions that I was able to catch…more-so, they got me thinking a lot! I’ve got copious notes and many great sources to connect with to bring some more food-centric posts to this blog. However, one of these talks has been resonating under the surface for a while now and I feel that I need to share my thoughts… One short talk that has stayed with me was from Ian Rubin of Whole Self Wellness titled “Rewriting Your Food Story.”

What the heck is a food story? Well, in very simplified terms, it is how life and circumstances has shaped your relationship with food. I’ve known for several years now that my food story (though not entirely unique) has made me look at food different then a lot of my friends. While someday I may get into my food story here on the blog, that isn’t what this post is about. Ian’s talk about rewriting a food story made me remember something a co-worker once lamented about…

“Why do people always want to get together for dinner or drinks? Why can’t people get together for something other than eating!?”

Food in celebration is a part of many different culture’s “food stories.” There are Sunday dinners at grandma’s house, big beautiful birthday cakes, holiday meals that people spend months prepping for… the list goes on and on. Food is a big part of celebration!

Food in Celebration - A Well Crafted Party

Photo from my 31st birthday shindig 

I actually LOVE this part of my food story. I love how food brings us together. A large portion of this celebration-centric blog is FOOD. I enjoy brining foods to work for people to share and enjoy. I enjoy planning party menus. I enjoy random dinner parties that I throw just because.

However, with a philosophy that everyday is worth celebrating, I have started to re-think this part of my food story a bit.

I’ve started to ask myself questions regarding the role of food in a celebration. Does all celebratory food need to be healthful and consider my guests nutritional intake? No! Not in my book, I’m definitely going with a decadent cake if it fits the occasion. Perhaps it can add to the wellness of the soul rather than the body when eaten as an occasional treat. Though, a little consideration of the nutrition of guests is never a bad thing.

Over the past couple of years I’ve been trying to be more thoughtful in my selection of foods for celebrations. While many of my parties are still planned with food as a central part of the celebration, I try to consider the food stories of those in attendance. When brining food to work I no longer grab delicious donuts or homemade cupcakes. Instead I opt to bring more healthful and substantial offerings. (I’ll still eat the donuts if YOU bring them to me though!)

Other changes I’ve made in food in celebration is that I really look for quality over quantity as much as possible now days. I will opt to have fewer celebrations, or sometimes fewer guests, in order to be able to purchase higher quality ingredients or meals.

What traditions do you have with food in celebration? What changes have you made as you’ve grown older in this area?

How does Food in Celebration fit into YOUR food story? Comment below.

 

 

More Oyster Toppings + Champagne Granita Recipe

Oysters with Tabasco and Lemon Wedges // A Well Crafted Party

Continuing with all the oyster goodness (sorry for my followers that are not a fan… I will give oysters a break soon!) I have one more quick way to make a tasty topping for your oyster platters. At my recent Black, White & Gold birthday celebration I served to different platter of oysters. I served a briny oyster with champagne granita and a sweeter oyster with tabasco and lemon. I always love a good oyster with tabasco and lemon. However, these champagne granita topped oysters were AMAZING. I could have eaten a dozen of them myself! 

Oysters with Tabasco and Lemon Wedges // A Well Crafted Party

Me and The Spicy Bee enjoying oysters

Oysters with Tabasco and Lemon Wedges // A Well Crafted Party Oysters with Tabasco and Lemon Wedges // A Well Crafted Party

Oyster tips from Whole Foods Market:

  • The smaller they are, the sweeter they are
  • Shucking is about finesse, not power
  • The Sweet Spot – There’s an open area in the back of the shell when the knife stops turning, twist the knife and pop the shell open
  • Protection – Wear a thick glove to protect your hand and use a rag to hold the oyster for leverage
  • History – Find out where the oyster is coming from. They should always have a tag. If they don’t have a tag, you don’t want that oyster!
  •  If you’re hosting an event or just craving oysters, Whole Foods Market can shuck them in-house for you!
  • Oysters are best 2-3 hours after being shucked.
  • Prime time for oysters is now through February; the colder the weather, the better the oyster!
  • Check out my post on shucking oysters here!
  • Check out my tabasco shaved ice topping for oysters here!
  • Check out even more oyster topping ideas on the Whole Foods Market Blog.
Oysters with Tabasco and Lemon Wedges // A Well Crafted Party

Briny-flavored oysters topped with champagne granita

How To Make Champagne Granita Topped Oysters

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of champagne or sparkling wine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Shucked Oysters – Use a briny oyster to pair nicely with the sweetness of the granita. Shuck the oysters yourself or you can do what I do and ask the nice people at your local Whole Foods Market to shuck them for you.

Directions:

  1. Pour 2 cups of champagne into a bowl with 1/2 cup sugar. 
  2. Stir until sugar is dissolved. 
  3. Pour solution into a pan or tupperware item, cover and put in freezer. 
  4. After 1 hour take a fork and break up the partially frozen mixture. You want to sort of drag the fork in lines along the mixture.
  5. Put mixture back in freezer. Repeat step 4 a few times until the mixture is a sort of snow cone consistency. 
  6. Top oysters with a spoonful (about a teaspoon) of champagne granita and serve immediately. 

Serving a less briny oyster? Pair it with little slices of lemon and tabasco for guests to use to taste or a top with a spicy tabasco shaved ice!

 Oysters with Tabasco and Lemon Wedges // A Well Crafted Party

This post was not sponsored by Whole Foods Market even though it sort of reads like it is… I learned a lot about oysters when I visited the store for an oyster tasting and then have visited several times since to purchase oysters and feed my oyster addiction. 

Oysters with Tabasco Shaved Ice

Tabasco Shaved Ice Topped Oysters // A Well Crafted Party images via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

There is just something so decadent and fancy about oysters. They are not an everyday treat and at a restaurant they can get quite expensive. Oysters are actually quite affordable as an at home appetizer and not at all difficult to make… especially if you let the wonderful people at the seafood counter take care of the shucking for you! The fun part (for me) of serving oysters is making toppings that complement the oysters. For this recipe I used a Miyagi oyster with a full meat flavor and mild brininess (to me they were almost sweet!). I like the spicier topping for oysters that are less salty and sweeter toppings for the oysters that have a strong brininess. You’ll have to scroll through some amazing photos taken by the amazing Mary Boyden before you get to the recipe. Hopefully you don’t get TOO hungry.

Tabasco Shaved Ice Topped Oysters // A Well Crafted Party images via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

Tabasco Shaved Ice Topped Oysters // A Well Crafted Party images via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty Tabasco Shaved Ice Topped Oysters // A Well Crafted Party images via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

Tabasco Shaved Ice Topped Oysters

Ingredients/Supplies:

  • Oysters – Not too briny. I used Miyagi, but the seafood department may be able to help you find an oyster that they carry that will pair nicely with tabasco. I got my oysters from my local Whole Foods Market.
  • Tabasco
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Ice
  • Food Processor

Directions:

Tops approximately 12 oysters

  1. Shuck Oysters (or have them shucked for you) and put on a bed of ice
  2. Take 1 cup of ice and put in food processor
  3. Shake in about 1 1/2 teaspoons of tabasco into the ice
  4. Squeeze 1/2 lemon juice into ice
  5. Put food processor on until ice is to a shaved consistency.
  6. Taste ice– if the ice isn’t spicy enough add more tabasco and mix by turning on the food processor
  7. Spoon about a teaspoon of the tabasco shaved ice onto each oyster and serve immediately.

Tabasco Shaved Ice Topped Oysters // A Well Crafted Party images via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty Tabasco Shaved Ice Topped Oysters // A Well Crafted Party images via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

Want more?

Resources:
Photography by Mary Boyden— Connect: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Vintage Rentals by Something Borrowed— Connect: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Cocktail Napkins from Hen House Linens— Connect: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Aqua Leather Wrap Bracelet via Flourish Leather— Connect: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Styled Shoot by Bloggers of Create-Enjoy, Ladies in Navy & A Well Crafted Party:
Connect with Suzannah of Create-Enjoy: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Connect with Kelsey of Ladies in Navy: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Connect with ME! Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest OR Click Share on the bottom of this post!

Saturday Spirits: Classic Manhattan

Classic Manhattan // A Well Crafted Party Photo via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

The new year is a time to look forward to all the things to come. But, the thing about the new year that I like most is the time to reflect a little bit on the year that has just past and the years leading up. A classic cocktail is a great way to give a nod to the past as you celebrate the future. This year at your New Year’s Eve party serve a classic martini or this classic manhattan cocktail to give your party a touch of old-style class.

These images were taken by the fabulous Portland-area wedding photographer Mary Boyden as a part of a styled shoot collaboration with Suzannah (Create-Enjoy) and Kelsey (Ladies in Navy). The vintage rental items were sourced through Something Borrowed in Portland, Oregon. I can’t wait to show the whole shoot beginning on Monday with free printables and New Years Eve party worthy recipes.

Classic Manhattan // A Well Crafted Party Photo via Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

Classic Manhattan Cocktail // A Well Crafted Party photos by Mary Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty

How to make a Classic Manhattan Cocktail

Links below may be affiliate links. A small portion of the sales made through the affiliate links go towards supporting this blog at no cost to readers. Thank you for supporting my blog.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Whiskey
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 dashes Bitters (I used Angostura)
  • Maraschino Cherries
  • Ice
  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Optional: Orange peel

Note about Whiskey: Some bartenders will swear by Rye whiskey for a manhattan. Personally, I like Bourbon Whiskey the most so I use bourbon whiskey in my manhattan. I used Burnside Bourbon from Eastside Distilling for this cocktail.

Note about Maraschino Cherries: I don’t like the bright red maraschino cherries you can find with the sundae toppings in most grocery stores. Typically those cherries are bleached and then filled with a syrup that has artificial dyes to make that bright red color. I tend to skip the cherry all together if that is the cherry offered. However, you can easily make your own Maraschino cherries or buy versions that are made without artificial dyes. I used Tillen Farms Organic Maraschino Cherries (which are a beautiful bright pink in color) and they were delicious!

Directions:

  1. Pour all ingredients over ice in shaker
  2. Shake well
  3. If using the optional orange peel, rub around the rim of your cocktail glass. The orange oils will deposit on the rim and give your drink an extra delicious kick.
  4. Strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with a cherry and enjoy!

Classic Manhattan Cocktail // A Well Crafted Party Photo By May Boyden View More: http://maryboyden.pass.us/newyearseveparty


Resources:
Photography by Mary Boyden— Connect: WebsiteFacebookInstagram
Vintage Rentals by Something Borrowed— Connect: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Cocktail Napkins from Hen House Linens— Connect: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Aqua Leather Wrap Bracelet via Flourish Leather— Connect: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Styled Shoot by Bloggers of Create-Enjoy, Ladies in Navy & A Well Crafted Party:
Connect with Suzannah of Create-Enjoy: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Connect with Kelsey of Ladies in Navy: Website, Facebook, Instagram
Connect with ME! Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest OR Click Share on the bottom of this post!

Holiday Drinks Round Up – Christmas & NYE Cocktails

Whiskey Apple Ginger Punch & Other Holiday Drink Recipes // A Well Crafted Party

This festive cocktail is sweet with a kick. It is easy to throw together and serve at a party. I didn’t own a punch bowl and picked up this great Libby bowl from a craft store for around $7. Pretty sure it is going to become a staple in my future parties!

Bourbon Apple Ginger Punch

Serves 12

Ingredients:

  • 1 Apple cored and sliced
  • 2 Bottles of Ginger Brew or approximately 6 cups of Ginger soda (I used Trader Joe’s Ginger Brew – you want to use a very gingery ginger brew. If you can only use gingerale get as gingery as you can otherwise it will sweeten the punch significantly.)
  • 2 Cups Bourbon (I used Eastside Distilling’s Burnside Bourbon)
  • 4 Cups Apple Juice ( Use a nice organic, 100% Apple Juice… you won’t be sorry)
  • 1 22 oz Bottle of Sweet Apple Cider ( I used Portland Cider Company’s Sorta Sweet)
  • 1/2 Cup Sweet Vermouth
  • 8 Dashes of Bitters

Directions:

  1. Pour all contents into a large punch bowl. Put into fridge to chill. You may add ice to chill, but it will dilute the drink some so use sparingly.
  2. Dish into glasses and enjoy!

Holiday Party Drinks // A Well Crafted Party

Photo credits from top left clockwise: AWCP // Motormouth Studios for AWCP // I’m Bored, Let’s Go // Cooking with BS // The Spicy Bee // Merlot Mommy// Urban Bliss Life // Cooking with BS // The Goodhearted Woman

Holiday Cocktail Roundup

These drinks would be fun for your Christmas parties or New Year’s Eve events! Thank you to all the bloggers who participated! If marked (NA) the drink is non-alcoholic and does not contain any alcohol.

Punches or by the Pitcher

Cocktails

Hot Drinks

Wines

Holiday Party Food Round Up- Christmas and NYE Appetizers

Holiday Party Appetizers Round-Up // A Well Crafted Party

Photo Sources from Left Image Clockwise: Chocolate and Marrow // Good Hearted Woman // How to be Awesome on $20 a Day // MacSuzie // This Momma Loves // Newly Wed Survival

Holiday Party Appetizers

Today I’m sharing a round-up of holiday party appetizers that will be perfect for your Christmas Eve cocktail hour or your New Year’s Eve bash! Thank you to all the bloggers that took a part of this round-up.

Non-Meat Finger Foods

Dips

Meaty Appetizers

Now, tell me… what is YOUR favorite thing to serve at a holiday party? Comment below!

How to Shuck Oysters – DIY Oyster Platter

12 Days of Christmas DIYs // A Well Crafted Party

This post is the eighth in my series of the 12 Days of Christmas DIYs for A Well Crafted Party. Check in each day for the next 12 Days for new DIY posts. There will be LOTS of free printables to boot! (Check out yesterday’s post: “Free Holiday Potluck Facebook Invites & Printable Recipe Cards“)


How To Shuck an Oyster // A Well Crafted Party

This DIY is brought to you by an awesome recent Oyster and Wine tasting at Whole Foods Market in Portland, Oregon. I learned SO much about oysters…. and, I’ll be sharing little bits between now and New Years because I think Oysters make a fabulous party appetizer. It is decadent, tasty and so out of the everyday that they will make any celebration instantly feel like a fancy party. I was always intimidated by oysters until earlier this year when I found out that they are not only EASY, but also not nearly as expensive as you might think! I recently stopped by to grab 6 oysters and they only cost me $7.80!

How To Shuck an Oyster // A Well Crafted Party

How to Shuck an Oyster

Watch this video of how to shuck an oyster from a super awesome Sean from Whole Foods Market and learn how you can DIY your very own Oyster appetizer platter!

How To Shuck an Oyster // A Well Crafted Party

DIY Oyster Platter

Directions:

  1. Buy your choice of oysters. (See my tips below.)
  2. Either have the store shuck them for you or follow the DIY oyster shucking video to shuck your oysters. I highly recommend buying them shucked! Sean from Whole Foods Market said that they will last approximately 18 hours (properly iced) so you can order some up and pick them up on a day of your party.
  3. To serve put on a platter with crushed ice (throw some ice in a food processor and you’re good to go!)
  4. Serve with toppings or simply with lemons and hot sauce.

How To Shuck an Oyster // A Well Crafted Party

Need some ideas for topping your oysters?

Check out this blog post from Whole Foods Market for fresh oyster toppings. Also, check back in over the next few weeks… I’ve got a couple of fun toppings to share!

This post is not a sponsored post. I was invited to a tasting at Whole Foods Market in Portland, Oregon. I had a fantastic time and wanted to share the fun! 

 

Saturday Spirits: Chocolate Peppermint Martini

12 Days of Christmas DIYs // A Well Crafted Party

This post is the sixth in my series of the 12 Days of Christmas DIYs for A Well Crafted Party. Check in each day for the next 12 Days for new DIY posts. There will be LOTS of free printables to boot! (Check out yesterday’s post: “DIY Branch Holiday Card Display“)


Chocolate Peppermint Martini // A Well Crafted Party

Chocolate Peppermint Cocktail

Anyone else a little obsessed with the chocolate-peppermint combo during the holiday season? No, just me? Well, I’ll take two of these then…

Last week I was wondering around the Clackamas Town Center (aka The Mall) and ran across the most amazing thing in the whole world. There is a East Side Distilling storefront IN THE MALL. Can I tell you how much better holiday shopping is after tasting some Burnside Bourbon? SO much better. One of my discoveries while there was a delicious Holiday Peppermint Bark Liqueur. Chocolate. Peppermint. Liqueur.

As soon as I bought it I thought of re-doing a nice chocolate martini to make this tasty rendition. But, first… my DIY for today!

DIY Peppermint Rimming Sugar // A Well Crafted Party

DIY Peppermint Cocktail Rimmer

I love a good rimmer. Bud um dum.

This candycane sugar rimmer is super easy to make. You can rim your martini glasses or hot cocoa mugs by simply dipping the glass into chocolate sauce and then dipping it into the sugar. If you don’t want the glass to have the chocolate on the rim (it does look a little messy) then you can dip it into simple syrup and then into the rimming sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Candy Canes

Directions (with a food processor):

  1. Put all into a food processor and process until similar sized grains.
  2. Put onto a plate for rimming!

Directions (without food processor):

  1. Put candy canes and sugar into a ziplock bag. Double bag it. Hit with a hammer or meat mallet until all of the candy canes are broken into small bits. Mix well.
  2. Put onto a plate for rimming!

Note: I used organic candy canes and they stuck together quite a lot… it still worked wonderfully, but need to be broken up with a fork if you store it at all. Store in an airtight container or baggy.

Chocolate Peppermint Martini // A Well Crafted Party

Chocolate Peppermint Martini

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz of Holiday Peppermint Bark Liqueur by Eastside Distilling
  • 1 3/4 oz of Vodka
  • 2 oz of Half & Half
  • Dark Chocolate Syrup
  • Shaker with ice
  • Peppermint Cocktail Rimmer

Directions:

  1. Take your martini glass and rim with chocolate syrup and peppermint cocktail rimmer.
  2. Swirl chocolate syrup around the inside of your glass.
  3. In a shaker pour the Peppermint Bark Liqueur, Vodka, and Half & Half over ice. Shake well.
  4. Strain into the martini glass.

You can garnish with a little candy cane and enjoy!

Chocolate Peppermint Martini // A Well Crafted Party

This post was not sponsored. I really did find this stuff in a MALL. And, I will be going back… soon!

Festive Holiday Drink Garnish

12 Days of Christmas DIYs // A Well Crafted Party

This post is the second in my series of the 12 Days of Christmas DIYs for A Well Crafted Party. Check in each day for the next 12 Days for new DIY posts. There will be LOTS of free printables to boot! (Check out yesterday’s post: “Natural Green & White Holiday Party + Free Printables“)


Festive Holiday Drink Garnish // A Well Crafted Party

A good garnish will take a simple boring beverage (take, water for instance) and make it something special. I like most of my garnishes to be simple to make, because who has time to spend on creating intricate and fussy drink garnishes? Not me!

Festive Holiday Drink Garnish with Cranberries

To make your water glass pop or to give a festive twist to a Vodka and Soda on the rocks, try adding cranberries to your ice-cube tray and making cranberry ice.

Cranberry Ice Instructions // A Well Crafted Party

There is actually one or two steps in this ultra-easy DIY because cranberries will float the the top of your ice cubes and look pretty silly in your drink unless you take the time to freeze in steps. Why not just throw cranberries in a pitcher? They’ll all float to the top! The ice cubes will float as well, but it will look more evenly distributed throughout the pitcher.

Cranberry Ice Cube DIY // A Well Crafted Party

Directions for making cranberry filled ice cubes:

  1. Using distilled water or previously boiled water (freezes more clearly than tap water) fill your ice cube tray about 1/4 of the way full.
  2. Drop in a handful of cranberries in each cube area.
  3. Freeze (you don’t need to freeze overnight, but you do want the ice cubes to be solid before adding more water or partial cubes will float up.)
  4. After freezing add more water (fill until the cubes are 3/4 full, leaving a little space for more water) and cranberries. Freeze again.
  5. Finally, fill with just water so that the cranberries are entirely covered.

This doesn’t need to be perfect. I had a few cubes where I didn’t layer quite right and the berries poked out of the bottom a bit. It still looked festive in the water pitcher!

Cranberry Drink Garnish DIY // A Well Crafted Party

Need an ice-cube tray?

(affiliate links)

When discussing this DIY project with someone else I found out that not everyone has ice cube trays! Some people have super cool machines that will MAKE ice for them! (AMAZING.) But, you will need ice cube trays to make this project work. I like the idea of trying out the large cube trays (like the ones in the above picture) or a spherical tray to make a festive ice ball!

Do you want to see more from this Holiday Styled Shoot?

Photos from this project was from a recent Holiday Styled Shoot collaboration between myself and Suzannah of Create/Enjoy and Macey from Motormouth Studio. Check out my main post with links to DIY projects & recipes: “Natural Green and White Holiday Party + Free Printables”

 

Saturday Spirits: Lollipop Sparkling Cocktails

Wow! It has been a couple weeks since I’ve last shared a Saturday Spirits. I didn’t quite mean to go on a hiatus… but, it happened. Anywho, I’m bringing you one awesome cocktail today, so the wait will have been worth it. A few weeks ago I created these Lollipop Sparkling Cocktails for my “Hey Girl-Ryan Gosling Themed Birthday Party.

Sparkling Lollipop Cocktail // A Well Crafted Party

First I made lollipops using Raft Botanical Cocktail and Soda Syrups for the flavoring. This was my first successful time making candy… and, boy it is fun, easy and TASTY. I discovered that patience really was the key to making candy right. Well, that and a candy thermometer.

Once your lollipops are done the hard part of this cocktail is completed. All that is left is creating a tasty rimming sugar and pouring your favorite sparkling wine! These make for a really festive cocktail. There are quite a few recipes and how to’s below. Don’t let them intimidate you. The whole process is much easier than it sounds when you look at a huge blog post.

Sparkling Lollipop Cocktails // A Well Crafted Party

How to Make Lollipops

To make lollipops you just need a few essential tools. I made my lollipops with molds because I wanted to have a very precise look to them. However, you could use this powdered sugar method as well! For flavoring I really wanted to avoid using artificial or concentrated flavoring. I opted to test out creating the pops out of my Raft cocktail syrups and was thrilled with the way they turned out. (Affiliate Links Below)

Tools: 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Corn Syrup
  • 1 3/4 Cup Water
  • 3 Tablespoons Raft Botanical Cocktail Syrup (I used Lemon Ginger for one set & Hibiscus Lavender for another)
  • Extra sugar and syrup to create rimming sugar

Directions: 

  1. Prep your candy molds by spraying with vegetable oil (non flavored!) and placing the lollipop sticks.
  2. In a saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup and water over medium to medium-high heat. Stir to keep it from overheating or sticking. Burnt sugar will quickly make happy candy-making time into throwing out a pan and dealing with a stench time.
  3. Heat the sugar, stirring, until the candy thermometer reads just about 305 degrees. You don’t need to keep the candy thermometer in there the entire time, but once it starts to boil a bit it is a good idea to get that in there. You don’t want it to get past the hard-candy stage. Once the thermometer reads 305 go ahead and add in the Raft syrup. Stir into the mixture and watch the thermometer closely.
  4. Once the thermometer reads between 310-320 degrees remove the mixture from the heat. using a spoon pour the mixture into the molds. Be very careful… liquid candy burns are not a pretty thing. You’ll want to do this part while the mixture is hot, I recommend buying several lollipop molds. I ended up making about 24 lollipops per batch.
  5. Once the candy has cooled the lollipops are ready to eat! We stored ours on wax paper in a sealed container for about 2 weeks and they still tasted awesome. Though, try to keep them separated as they will stick together. You can also just buy some candy wraps and wrap them up nicely!

Sparkling Lollipop Cocktail // A Well Crafted Party

How to Make Rimming Sugar

A good sparkling cocktail needs some sugar to it. The lollipop will give the cocktail sugar and flavor… but, it won’t be immediate. The rimming sugar helps drive the flavor until the lollipop can do its magic. It also looks pretty too!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Granulated sugar
  • 1- 2 teaspoons Raft Syrup
  • Lemon zest (use a microplane and it takes no time at all!)

Directions:

  1. Mix ingredients well… breaking up any clumps that might have formed from the liquid
  2. Lay out flat on a plate or baking sheet until mixture has totally dried. It can then be stored in an airtight container for about a week or so.

Sparkling Lollipop Cocktail // A Well Crafted Party

Lollipop Sparkling Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Use the lemon wedge to ring around the glass and dip onto a plate with rimming sugar.
  2. Drop a lollipop into the glass
  3. Pour in the sparkling wine!
  4. If you’d like a little more kick then add in 3/4 oz of Limoncello Liqueur

Plateau de Fruits de Mer

Fruits de Mer // A well Crafted Party

Fruits de Mer is a seafood platter of raw and/or cooked shellfish usually served on a bed of ice. A long time ago I saw a beautiful fruits de mer platter in one of my favorite events books and have wanted to throw a party with a fruits of the sea platter.

Right before my Mohs Surgery to remove my skin cancer I really needed a good excuse to be distracted for the evening. I invited friends over for a big meal and made the above platter as an appetizer… boy, let me tell you. We didn’t need the meal! I actually made enough seafood for TWO of these large platters. Then we followed it up with steaks and veggies for dinner and then something for dessert. I’ve never been so full in my life!

Making this platter was much less intimidating than I originally thought. I used precooked crab and lobster… it would be even better with fresh shell fish, but it wasn’t readily available in my area. The whole thing was still delicious, but someday I plan to make it with all fresh shellfish. I’d also like to pair it with ceviche someday! YUM. Below is how I made this dish… know that it is completely easy to customize this dish to your cooking comfort level and your tastes. If you go to a great fish purveyor you can even asked for your lobster to be steamed and your oysters shucked… then there is NO work for you and your guests are completely wow’d!

Fruits de Mer // A well Crafted Party

Plateau de Fruits de Mer:

Great appetizer for a dinner party or can even be served as hors d’oeuvres at a cocktail party. One large platter will serve 4 easily. I served this dish with a tarter sauce, cocktail sauce, chile lime sauce and butter.

To Build Platter (Just Like Above):

Cooking directions below this list!

  • Ice: Cover a large platter or bowl with ice.
  • Crab Legs: Add cooked and cooled crab legs to platter.  It is also helpful to go ahead and pre-crack the crab legs so it is easy for your guests to take out the meat.
  • Lobster claws: I was fortunate enough to find lobster claws already cut and pre-cracked for me! While I believe fresh lobster would have been even more amazing… the convenience of these little suckers was too good to pass up! I did go ahead and boil them quickly in a flavorful broth (see below) and then cooled quickly before placing on the platter.
  • Shrimp: I got the largest sized raw, shell on (deveined) shrimp. After cooking I peeled the shrimp and placed on the platter. Easy peasy!
  • Oysters: I spent all day looking up how to shuck oysters. I’d been SO excited about shucking oysters. However, the whole foods that these puppies came from cleaned and shucked them for me! I just got them same day and kept them on ice until serving! So, no directions below on how to shuck oysters… but, check out this oyster shucking resource if you’re in the mood to get your shuck on!
  • Cucumbers filled with spicy salmon: This was a creation of my own. They turned out pretty good… though, next time I’ll go with a sashimi grade salmon rather than cooking my salmon first.

 

Cooking Directions:

Crab, Lobster, and Shrimp:

  1. Get a large ice bath prepared and put to the side.
  2. In a large pot bring 2 gallons of water, 1 pint vegetable stock, 3 Bay Leaves, a Tablespoon of black peppercorns, and 1/2 bottle of dry white wine to boil.
  3. In batches cook the seafood. If cooking from live you want to do about 10 minutes for your lobster and crab. Move directly to ice bath once finished. For pre-steamed crab and lobster you’ll be infusing the shellfish with flavor and heating it back up to temp for about 8 minutes. Transfer to the ice bath. Finally, cook the shrimp. The shrimp will be dense and pink in about 3 minutes. Transfer shrimp to ice bath. Peel once cooled. Bring the liquid to a boil again between each batch.

Cucumbers filled with spicy salmon:

Ingredients:

  • two cucumbers, cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch portions
  • 10 oz of cooked salmon shredded (or, use sashimi grade salmon diced!)
  • 1 Tablespoon Siracha
  • 1 Tablespoon of Mayo (I used kewpie mayonaise)
  • Juice of one lime
  • Sprinkle of cilantro for garnish

Directions:

  1. Using a melon baller or spoon take out most of the center of the cucumber portion. Leave a little on the bottom to hold in the filling.
  2. Mix the salmon, siracha, mayo, and lime juice together in a bowl.
  3. Fill the cucumber portions with mixture.
  4. Sprinkle on the cilantro and enjoy!

 

What would you think if you went to a party and saw a Fruits De Mer? Would you ever try one at your own dinner table?

Friday Finds: Fondue for You! Suggested Fondue Supplies

*Product links in this post are affiliate links. A portion of the purchases from affiliate links help support this blog. Thank you.

Last week I shared a delicious recipe for fondue. I personally have three fondue sets and a TON of fun accessories to go with them. I love fondue for large events, dinner parties, or an intimate dinner for two. I thought I’d suggest a few of my favorite fondue items so you can get in on the fun as well.

Suggested Fondue Cookbooks

1.  2.

  1. The Fondue Bible: The 200 Best Recipes Last week I shared a recipe from this book. I’ve made at least 5 of the recipes so far and have really liked them all. (I did receive this book free for purpose of review, but my suggestion of it is based on my experience only.)
  2. Great Party Fondues Come on… fondue is perfect for a party. I love this little cookbook for party-friendly recipes!

Suggested Fondue Pots

1.  2.3.4.

  1. Nostalgia Electrics FPS200 Electric Fondue Pot While I love a good fire underneath a fondue post, I also like the idea of easy clean up and the extra safety benefit of this electric fondue pot. Added bonus… the color of this pot is a a pretty metallic rose!
  2. Trudeau Multi 12-Piece Stainless-Steel Fondue Set This one is one of the pots I own. I love it because it is great for meat fondues, cheese fondues, OR chocolate fondues.
  3. Trudeau Century 15-Piece Stainless-Steel 42-Ounce Fondue Set I love the little protector piece that comes with this one— it is great to have the added protection for broth and oil based fondues. The cute little cups coming with it is an added bonus.

Suggested Fondue Accessories

 

1. 2.

  1. Trudeau Square Fondue Plate, Set of 4 Seriously, how great are these plates!? They not only have a spot for your fondue concoction, but also little areas for dipping sauces!
  2. Norpro 6 Piece Porcelain Ramekin Set One of the things I love about fondue is all of the fun dipping sauces that can accompany a meal. A good set of ramekins is the way to keep those dipping sauces looking great on your table, and not wasting space on your plate.

 

Saturday Spirits: Spiked Ice Cream Recipes (No Ice Cream Maker Needed!)

Spiked Ice Cream Recipes (without an icecream maker!) // A Well Crafted Party

 

Happy Saturday Spirits! It is getting HOT HOT HOT outside which makes this a very fun recipe for a hot summer evening. These Spiked Ice Cream recipes are easy to make at home without the use of any fancy ice cream makers or tools. I used a food processor for mine… but, they can just as easily be made with a hand blender or by mixing with big spoon.

These are fairly light on the alcohol over all. But, they should definitely be served to those legal to drink only.

These recipes aren’t super precise since they are not from scratch recipes, but rather are using some premade items. When I say a carton it may be slightly different than your size of carton. I do write how big of a carton I used. But, please get creative with these items and taste test along the way! (That is most the fun anyways!)

Mango & Bitters Cocktail Sorbet

Supplies: (Some of the below links are affiliate links. Purchases from affiliate links help suppport this blog)

  • Approximately 1 carton of your favorite Mango Sorbet (I used Trader Joes Mango Sorbet which is 33.81 oz)
  • 10 Shakes of Bitters
  • 3 oz Vodka
  • Mint (for Garnish)
  • Food Processor (or hand mixer or big wooden spoon with large mixing bowl)
  • Ice cream containers (you can use the original container if you’d like, or pretty containers for parties! Portland locals can pick up ones like those photographed at Fancy That Shop in Orenco Station! )

Directions:

  1. Let your mango sorbet soften on the counter for a bit. You should be able to easily scoop out the sorbet.
  2. Scoop the sorbet into your food processor or into a large mixing bowl
  3. Add in the 10 shakes of bitters and 3 oz vodka
  4. Mix like crazy. Make sure everything is incorporated.
  5. Fill your ice cream container with the sorbet and then place back into freezer. It should firm up after an hour or two and be ready to fill ice cream bowls!

Raspberries & Cream Spiked Ice Cream

Supplies: (Some of the below links are affiliate links. Purchases from affiliate links help suppport this blog)

  • 1 carton of your favorite Raspberry Sorbet or Gelato (I used the Raspberry Sorbet from Trader Joes which is 1 pint)
  • 1/2 carton of your favorite Vanilla Ice Cream (I used Trader Joes  French Vanilla which is 1/2 a gallon)
  • 3 oz Raspberry Vodka
  • Food Processor (or hand mixer or big wooden spoon with large mixing bowl)
  • Ice cream containers (you can use the original container if you’d like, or pretty containers for parties! Portland locals can pick up ones like those photographed at Fancy That Shop in Orenco Station! )

Directions:

  1. Let your Raspberry Sorbet (or gelato) and Vanilla Ice Cream soften up on the counter for a bit.
  2. Scoop the sorbet into your food processor or into a large mixing bowl
  3. Add in the 3 oz of Rasberry Vodka
  4. Mix like crazy. Make sure everything is incorporated.
  5. Fill your ice cream container half way with  the sorbet mixture. Then spoon in vanilla ice cream and swirl around with your spoon. You can mix everything together if you’d prefer, or you can leave it a little unincorporated for a swirl-like dessert.

Raspberries & Limoncella Sorbet

Supplies: (Some of the below links are affiliate links. Purchases from affiliate links help suppport this blog)

  • 1 carton of your favorite Raspberry Sorbet or Gelato (I used the Raspberry Sorbet from Trader Joes which is 1 pint)
  • 1 carton of your favorite Lemon Sorbet or Gelato (I used Cioa Bella Lemon Zest Sorbet 14 oz)
  • 3 oz Limoncello
  • Food Processor (or hand mixer or big wooden spoon with large mixing bowl)
  • Ice cream containers (you can use the original container if you’d like, or pretty containers for parties! Portland locals can pick up ones like those photographed at Fancy That Shop in Orenco Station! )

Directions:

  1. Let your Raspberry Sorbet (or gelato) and Lemon Sorbet soften up on the counter for a bit.
  2. Scoop the Lemon Sorbet into your food processor or into a large mixing bowl
  3. Add in the 3 oz Limoncello
  4. Mix like crazy. Make sure everything is incorporated.
  5. Fill your ice cream container half way with  the Limoncello & Lemon sorbet mixture. Then spoon in Raspberry Sorbet and swirl around with your spoon. You can mix everything together if you’d prefer, or you can leave it a little unincorporated for a swirl-like dessert.

 

What do you think? Will you be spiking some of your ice cream desserts?

 

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