#BWorleyTips: How to Be a Great Host

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 12.17.24 PMHey Y’all,

We’ve all attended a party where the host cannot be found because they’re busy putting out fires the whole night! This isn’t fun for the guests or the host and it’s the reason most people hire event producers so that they can be hands off and actually enjoy being the host! If you’re planning an event and can’t afford to hire help, here’s my advice…

FCG-birthdayQ: What’s the best way to impress guests when entertaining at home? At a rented party venue?

A: When entertaining at home, impress your guests by being prepared before they arrive and allow yourself to also be a guest at your own party. Enjoy your friends and socialize rather than running around and working the entire party.  At a venue, it should work the same as at home, allow yourself to be a guest by making smart event design choices that will allow you to be hands-off so that you can enjoy your family and friends. 
-Brian

Gourmet Crostini Recipes, The Perfect Appetizer For Your Awards Show Viewing Party

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 5.58.46 PMHey Ya’ll,

In case you didn’t realize it, last Sunday’s Golden Globes marked the beginning of this year’s awards season!

Imagevia honestlyyum.com

Image via honestlyyum.com

If you’re planning to host a viewing party for any upcoming awards shows like the Grammys or the SAG Awards or the Oscars, I thought I’d point your towards some crostini recipes featuring colorful and delicious toppings that are sure to wow your guests without a lot of work for you!

My first set of gourmet crostini recipes comes from Karen at Honestly Yum! To re-create these perfect party treats, all you’ll need is a fresh loaf of bread, sliced into 1/3 inch thick slices, toasted, slathered with lots of ricotta cheese (once they’ve cooled!) and topped with whatever looks good to you from these photos! Click HERE to see a full list of Karen’s toppings row by row.

Up next, a delicious and beautiful recipe for roasted fig and goat cheese crostinis by Jenn from OMFG So Good! Jenn says, “These are seriously one of my favorite appetizers to make for parties. They’re the perfect combination of tangy, sweet and salty… and so easy!” Click HERE for Jenn’s recipe, instructions and plenty more drool-worthy photos.

marthastewart.com

Image via marthastewart.com

Add some green to your guests’ diet with my next recipe recommendation from the queen of entertaining at home, Martha Stewart. Click HERE for the full recipe which combines Kale with shaved Parmesan.

Next, add some meat to the plate with these yummy Prosciutto bites from My Recipes. Click HERE for the full recipe featuring garlic, Prosciutto and Parmesan.

Lastly, throw in some classic Bruschetta for good measure via Starting to Cook! Click HERE for all of the details on how to prepare this simple and healthy recipe.

As you can see from the photos and links, these easy-to-make appetizers are equal parts tantalizing and tasty. Which recipe features your favorite toppings? Let me know in the comment section below. Click HERE for a full list of this year’s awards shows via Variety.
-Brian

My Oscar Party Menu Based on the 2013 Best Picture Nominees!

oscar-nominationsHey Ya’ll,

Back by popular demand, is my ‘Easy Oscar Party Menu’ based on the year’s Best Picture Nominees! 

Oscars+2013+Nominations+2If you’ve seen all of the films that made the Academy’s Best Picture list, then you know how different they all are! Sure, a couple of them share a few similar qualities or locales, but for the most part, especially when it comes to food, this collection of films is like comparing apples to oranges.

Keyartmontage_620x465With that said, I think I’ve managed to make selections that reflect each film (with the exception of the pie representing Life of Pi —that has nothing to do with the film, it’s just a silly play on words!) and still create a cohesive spread of tasty treats for your Oscar party guests to enjoy.

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Most of my selections are self-explanatory, but for some of the more specific suggestions, I’ve included the recipes below.

hush_puppies640Cheddar Jalapeno Hushpuppies – Recipe via FoxsNews.com
This appetizer is inspired by the main character’s name: Hushpuppy.

1 Cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 1/2 Tablespoon tablespoons sugar
3/4 Teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 Teaspoon baking powder
1/4 Teaspoon baking soda
1/4 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 Cup buttermilk, well shaken
2 Tablespoon beaten egg
1 1/2 Tablespoon chopped seeded jalapeño chile
5 Ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Canola oil or vegetable oil for frying
1 lime

Creamy Ranch Avocado Dip
1/2 Cup mayonaise
1/2 Cup sour cream
1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
3 Tablespoon buttermilk
1/2 Small red onion
1/2 Teaspoon kosher salt
1 Avocado (peeled, seeded and diced)

Whisk first 7 ingredients in a bowl just to to blend. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and jalapeno in small bowl to blend. Stir buttermilk mixture and cheddar cheese into dry ingredients.

Add about 1 1/2 inches of oil to a pan or dutch oven. Attach deep-fry thermometer to pan; heat oil to 320°F over medium heat. Working in batches of 4 or 5, drop batter by tablespoonfuls into oil.

Cook until golden, turning occasionally, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer hush puppies to paper towels and squeeze just a bit of fresh lime juice over the top while they are still warm.

For the Avocado Ranch dip, place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Process until mixture is smooth and well blended. Serve alongside Hush Puppies.

crabbysnacksCrabby Snacks – Recipe via http://lindseysluscious.blogspot.com
This philly-centric pre-game appetizer is inspired by a line of dialogue that the mother repeats throughout the film: “I’m making crabby snacks and home-mades!”.

6 English muffins, split
1 (5 or 6 oz.) jar cheese spread, room temperature
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
a few shakes hot sauce, to taste
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (or 2) tablespoon(s) freshly chopped parsley
1 (6 or 7 oz.) can crabmeat, drained, flaked
Garnish with diced green onions and tomatoes, if desired

Heat oven to 350°. Arrange split muffins, cut side up, on a baking pan lined with foil. Toast for a few minutes in the oven while it’s preheating until the muffins start to turn golden around the edges.

In a medium bowl, mash the cheese spread with butter, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, onion powder, granulated garlic, pepper, and parsley. Stir in the crabmeat (and baby shrimp, if using). Spread evenly over the split, toasted muffins.

Return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Cut into quarters and serve warm, garnished with green onions and/or diced tomatoes, if desired. Makes 48 crabby bites. Pair with dip made with melted cheddar, mixed with mustard and dash of paprika.

63231_f520Utterly Deadly Pecan Pie – Recipe Via http://www.food.com

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups corn syrup (I use 1/2 dark and 1/2 light)
4 eggs
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups pecans, coarsely broken
1 unbaked deep dish pie shellIn saucepan boil sugar and corn syrup together for 2 to 3 minutes; set aside to cool slightly.In large bowl beat eggs lightly and very slowly pour the syrup mixture into the eggs, stirring constantly.  At this point I like to strain the mixture to make sure it’s smooth and lump free. Stir in butter, vanilla, and pecans and pour into crust. Bake in a 350°F oven for about 45 to 60 minutes or until set.

DSCF3277Mini Flour-less Dark Chocolate CakesRecipe Via TasteofHome.com

4 eggs, separated
8 ounces 53% cacao dark baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons butter, cubed
1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar, divided
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 container (2-1/2 ounces) prune baby food
1 teaspoon dark baking cocoa or baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350ºC and place muffin cases in a 12 cup muffin tin. Place egg whites in a small bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; cool slightly.

In a large bowl, beat egg yolks on high speed for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar and vanilla, beating until thick and lemon-colored. Beat in baby food and chocolate mixture. Beat egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in remaining sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on
high until stiff glossy peaks form; fold into batter.

Pour into prepared muffin tin. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
When cool, ice with a chocolate ganache or sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar – enjoy!

As far as party activities go, an Oscars party has built-in entertainment!

Screen Shot 2013-02-20 at 12.15.05 PM

Just be sure to download and print out some Official Oscar Ballots for your friends to make their predictions before the show begins. Then, prepare a special prize for whoever selected the most Oscar winners at the end of the night. If you’re on a budget, just make a nice doggy-bag filled with a selection of left-over goodies for the winner to take home and enjoy. Good Luck and enjoy the show!
-Brian

My Top 10 Tips for Hosting an Easy Holiday Party

Screen Shot 2012-12-03 at 12.25.55 PMHey Ya’ll,

It always seems like such a great idea to gather all your friends together for a big holiday party this time of year… but once you’ve actually sent out the invitations and you have to start planning and getting ready for your guests to arrive, the stress kicks in and many hosts start to second guess their joyous holiday gesture! So, here are my Top 10 ideas that will make throwing your holiday party a lot more enjoyable.

Screen Shot 2012-12-03 at 12.28.03 PM

1) Send an evite or digital invitation through www.paperlesspost.com or cocdot.com.  With all the running around that we do during the holidays, forget about dropping invitations in the mail and handwriting them (save that for your thank you notes!). Instead, with a few strokes of your keyboard, you will have a holiday inspired invitation ready for the masses to help you celebrate.

Screen Shot 2012-12-03 at 12.37.35 PM

2) Create a theme for your party. You could throw a ‘Desserts Only Party’ that starts later in the evening so your bash is the last stop on the party schedule and all you have is a decadent display of holiday desserts for your guests to enjoy after they’ve eaten their way to your house! Or maybe you decide to host a ‘Wine and Cheese Party’, where you provide the wine and your guests are asked to bring their favorite cheese and crackers (or vise versa!). Maybe it’s even as simple as the always funny ‘Ugly Christmas Sweater Party’, where everyone wears the worst holiday sweater they can find and then votes on who’s outfit is the ugliest! Whatever you do, decide on a theme early, this will help to bring all the rest of the elements into play with time to spare.

3) Shop around your house first, then the holiday section at stores! The best place to shop is your house for various items you can easily re-purpose and use as holiday decor with a few minor tweaks. (CLICK HERE FOR A POST ALL ABOUT DOING JUST THIS!) After you have taken inventory of what you currently have, make a list, check it twice, and hit a local discount store to finish off your party shopping list!

4) Get organized right from the get-go, gather everything you need to set-up your party in one place. Storing all of your party supplies in the spare bedroom, a closet or even on the dining room table, will help you ensure that you have everything ready for the day of the party so you don’t have to scramble at the last minute to find what you need.

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5) Use the food as decor and also a party favor! Be creative with the food you are serving and how you serve it because it can easily be used as decor and will allow for faster clean up at the end of the night, since everyone will have devoured all of the delicious treats you were serving. One year, I threw a holiday party for my friends and baked banana bread in holiday bread pans, wrapped them with cellophane and tied them with a bright colored bow! Then, I had them placed around the house, on the mantle, the coffee table, the buffet, and at the end of the night, each guest took one home and I killed two birds with one stone, decor and gifts all in one!

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6) Create ambiance with lighting and music! Again, shop around your house, pull out all the cables, some twinkle lights, dim the lights and utilize your iPod to create the perfect playlist. You can also use Pandora or Spotify on your computer or the music stations that stream through your cable television.  A little background music always helps to make for a festive holiday celebration.

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7) Make your menu manageable! As the host, when you start to create the perfect holiday menu, remember that you should also be able to enjoy the evening as well. Don’t create a menu that will keep you cooped up in the kitchen, cooking and constantly replenishing food for the buffet. Finger foods and one-bite appetizers are always best to serve. Try to create a menu that requires minimal maintenance and if you need help, hire someone to lend a hand so that you can feel like a guest as well.

Image via marthastewart.com

Image via marthastewart.com

8) What do you want to drink?  When I throw a party at my house, I let my guests be their own bartender. For a small gathering of your friends, set up a table that acts as the bar, stock it with plenty of wine, soft drinks, alcohol, mixers or whatever you want to serve.  If you really want to make it easy, choose to serve only wine and beer, or kick it up a notch by creating a festive holiday mixed drink with the recipe posted and ingredients labeled for use. Also, be sure to have soft drinks and water for those who are driving or just would rather not have alcohol. Hot cider and hot chocolate are also great to serve and will go a long way if you keep it in an insulated serving container.

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9) Make clean up a snap! After all of your guests have gone home, the host is left with a memory and a mess! So, serve food items on recyclable festive plates, use paper napkins and throw the glasses in the dishwasher so that your clean up time is minimal. I think it is perfectly acceptable to use paper or plastic plates for this type of occasion, however, it is always nice to provide real glassware for the drinks.  I went out and bought a couple dozen wine glasses and all purpose glasses that I keep stored in the box they came in, then, when I want to entertain, I pull them out and I am ready to party. Try IKEA or Target for budget-friendly glassware.

Image via stylemagazine.com

Image via stylemagazine.com

10) Be MERRY!  It is the holidays and you have worked hard all year long, so make sure that you get to have fun and enjoy yourself at your own party. It can be difficult to do, but if you plan head and are organized and not afraid to ask for help, there is no reason that you, as the host, should not be able to have a merry old time!
-Brian

My Easy Oscar Party Ideas in PEOPLE Magazine!

Hey Ya’ll,

Are you getting excited for The Oscars this weekend? I absolutely love awards season because it combines two of my favorite things: parties and films! In fact, I created a festive party spread inspired by this year’s ‘Best Picture’ nominees that’s currently being featured in PEOPLE magazine. Check it out…

Here’s a quick rundown of the menu items I selected to represent each movie:

War Horse – Carrots with White bean and Tarragon Dip! An ode to the nominee’s four-legged star!

Midnight in Paris – Vegetable Quiche. A chic and tasty nod to the City of Light.

Tree of Life – Pulled pork BBQ sliders, yum! Serve these mini-sandwiches in honor of the movie’s setting and my home state, Texas!

The Descendants – Serve pineapple chunks on toothpicks because nothing captures island lifestyle more than fresh fruit!

The Help – This was an easy pick: chocolate pie a.k.a. Minny’s specialty—minus the secret ingredient!

The Artist – Sugar cookies glazed with black and white frosting in homage to old silent films.

Moneyball – Cracker Jacks are a ballpark classic, throw some in a bowl and feel free to jazz it up by tossing in extra ingredients (Try: chocolate!).

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – Mini soft pretzels perfectly capture the vendor style foods that line the streets of NYC.

As far as party favors go, send everyone home with a delicious mini-croissants in honor of HUGO. You can also hand out ballots to your guests so that everyone can predict the winners, then, hand out mini-Oscar replicas (try local party store or buy them HERE online) to your party’s winners!

Good luck to all the nominees and to any of you hosting an Ocsar party this year! I hope my tips help you create an extraordinary experience!
-Brian

Give a Little Love: Valentine’s Day Inspired Drinks and Garnishes

Hey Ya’ll,

No matter what kind of Valentine’s Day bash you’re hosting, I recommend making the holiday a bit more memorable (or less, depending on how strong they are!) by creating a specialty cocktail for your party.
As far as ingredients go, anything that creates a pink or red color works great on Valentine’s Day. Recipes that use pink lemonade, cranberry juice, grenadine or pomegranate juice, are the perfect place to start. You can also go all out and make decadent chocolate martinis!

Another fun ingredient to play around with is Goldschlager, a cinnamon liqueur that actually has flecks of gold floating in it, adding a romantic sparkle to any drink! Here’s a sweet recipe that combines a few of these festive ingredients:

Ingredients:
1/2 oz. Goldschlager
1/2 oz. Malibu Rum
1 oz. Absolut Vodka
1 splash of Club Soda
1 splash of Grenadine

Instructions:
Combine ingredients over ice and shake very well. Strain and serve over heart shaped ice cubes.

Next, come up with a fun name for your concoction like the “Flaming Heart” or “Love Potion No.9” and add fun garnishes like a heart-shaped lollipops or candy hearts.

You can also buy heart-shaped rubber molds at most party stores to make make heart-shaped ice cubes. Make them extra festive by adding arrow-shaped toothpicks!

Tip: Set out dishes of maraschino cherries, raspberries, strawberries, pink swizzle sticks or even a Twizzlers, so that guests can add another shade of red to any drink!

Tip: Make your drink even more special by hiring a bartender or even a few cocktail servers to work your party. This way, guests don’t have to bother with making their own drinks and you don’t have to spend the evening explaining how to make them! If this isn’t in your budget, write the recipe down and make sure it’s clearly displayed by the bar.

Also, if this is the only drink that you’ll be offering at your party, I recommend splitting the ingredients into a few smaller carafes, so that people can use the same ingredients at the same time.

Do you have a drink recipe you love that’s perfect for V-Day? Leave the ingredients and instructions in comment section below!

Click HERE for a few more fabulous drink recipes and let the good times and Valentine’s Day inspired libations flow!
-Brian