Chinese Dinner Party

Chinese Dinner Party Decor

Two of my favorite things are Chinese food, and throwing parties with our friends. So this year we combined them and rang in the Chinese New Year with a Chinese dinner party. This can be done anytime of the year.

Make sure that when you invite your friends, you give them plenty of time to plan on your Chinese dinner party. We asked everyone on our list to bring their favorite Chinese dish to share. I also made gluten free orange chicken (recipe coming soon) and a new cocktail named the “Prancing Pony”. We found a little store in Fort Collins called “East meets West” that had all kinds of decorations, red envelopes & chopsticks. This made planning our event much easier.

We kept the table decorations simple with red, gold & black as our main colors. I picked up the red square plates and black napkins at our local dollar store. The gold tablecloth is just extra fabric I had on hand. The vase I’ve had for years and the gold branches I picked up at a craft store on clearance. I paid a dollar. (I knew I needed them at the time, I just didn’t know what for :)

Chinese Dinner Party Table Setting

My wonderful husband made me some beautiful Chinese paper lanterns to display at the party out of scrapbook paper I found at Micheals. He is really amazing with making things out of paper. It really is fascinating to me how he accomplishes this, since I would probably get frustrated and tear the paper up. Lol

Ken painstakingly makes all kinds of creations for me for our parties making sure every little crease is perfect to give it just the right form and shape. Thank you honey, for once again adding the finishing touch to the decorations.

Chinese Paper Lanterns

We displayed the Chinese paper lanterns alongside Ken’s Chinese swords in my Zen corner of the living room. We also hung up a Chinese dragon we found at the east meets west store. If my memory serves me correctly, it ran about six dollars for our elegant dragon.

Keep in mind you don’t have to spend a lot of money when throwing any type of themed party. The trick is to check your local dollar store first and then the clearance section of your craft stores. I always check my available supplies at the house first to see if there is something I can use before ever stepping foot out the door. If you decide you want to start entertaining more often, find yourself a space in your home, or a bin to store decorations, so you can reuse them.

Decorated Living Room

By having everyone bring their favorite dish, we had a ton of great food. Let’s just say no one went away hungry. Once the party started, I was busy making our signature cocktails for the night so I forgot to get images of the food table Ooooops!

If you would like to try our “Prancing Pony” cocktail, you can get the recipe here.

Prancing Pony Cocktail

One of the highlights of the evening was the gift of Chinese lanterns our friends Greg and Michelle brought for our enjoyment. This prompted everyone to head out into the cold and dark to light the lanterns, and watch them float off over the roof tops. It was truly a beautiful site to behold.

They went up so high in the sky that their was much speculation as to whether the police station would be getting calls about UFO sightings. A special thanks to Greg and Michelle, and all our friends who showed up. You made it a night to remember.

Lighting Chinese Lantern

At the end of the night we had everyone write a wish for the year and we tied them to the gold branches in the vase. We are keeping the envelopes for the whole year, and when we have a party next year the guests can open them to see if their wishes came true. We also gave them a parting gift of a red envelope with gold chocolate bars inside for luck and abundance in the coming year.

If you could have any theme party you wanted what would it be?

Lemon Garlic Artichokes

Lemon Garlic Artichoke

Living in the Rockies is so hard some days. I mean, really! One day it’s sixty degrees, and the next it’s thirty degrees. It just teases you with the thoughts of Springtime…or is that Summer in the Rockies? So when I came across a big batch of artichokes on sale at the market the other day, I just had to buy some and make a lemon garlic sauce for dinner that night.

Artichokes do take a little work to prepare. That is probably why I don’t make them too often. And that’s kind of silly, really, because I really love the taste of them. I promise, if you take the time to make this recipe, you won’t be disappointed.

This is what our dinner looked like that night. We had smoked beef brisket, lemon garlic artichokes and mashed potatoes and gravy. I think my husband was loving the meal, and I was just tickled that I had artichokes.

Lemon Garlic Artichoke Meal

The trick with artichokes is to prepare them properly before cooking.

1. Rinse the artichokes and cut off the stem at the base.
2. Cut one inch in from the top.
3. Remove a few of the outer leaves
4. Snip the ends of each tip with scissors
5. Rub the ends with lemon juice to prevent browning
6. If you would like you can cut them in quarters and use a spoon to remove the fuzzy center.

What do you get in the mood to eat when Spring fever starts to hit?

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Lemon Garlic Artichokes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A lemony garlic artichoke recipe
Author:
Recipe type: Sides
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 medium artichokes
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 1 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • Dipping Sauce
  • ½ melted butter
  • 1 juice from one lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon peel
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp thyme
Instructions
  1. Preparing Artichokes
  2. Rinse the artichokes and cut off the stem at the base.
  3. Cut one inch in from the top.
  4. Remove a few of the outer leaves
  5. Snip the ends of each tip with scissors
  6. Rub the ends with lemon juice to prevent browning
  7. If you would like you can cut them in quarters and using a spoon to remove the fuzzy center.
  8. Cooking Artichokes
  9. In large saucepot combine the artichokes, lemon slices, garlic and rosemary
  10. Cover with water and bring to boil
  11. Reduce heat and cover and simmer for 30 to 45 mins
  12. Drain arrange plate serve with dipping sauce
  13. Dipping Sauce
  14. Combine all ingredients for sauce in a bowl. Whisk together
  15. Serve while still hot

 

Healthy Gluten Free Snacking

Healthy Snacking

If you’re like me, healthy, gluten free snacking can be a challenge, especially at first. And if you have little ones who are also gluten free, things just got even more complicated. So I thought a post of healthy, gluten free snacking ideas might help your family as well. It also gives me a handy list to refer to whenever I get stuck in a rut.

I have to admit that while I love veggies, they are not something I typically think about when snacking. So I’m trying to change that. Even if I have to dress the veggie up to make it seem more appealing. So here is a list of snacking ideas. Hope you enjoy them. What is your favorite snack?

1. Fresh Veggies.
I try to buy certain ones organic to keep the pesticides down. The worst offenders: tomatoes, spinach, celery, cucumber, peppers, potatoes, kale, & summer squash.

Special treat: Celery with almond butter and raisins. This tastes great, and even little kids tend to like them.

2. Yogurt in many forms.
We love yogurt for breakfast and it is so important to help with good gut flora when you are gluten free. Kencaid also loves frozen yogurt as a snack during the day.

3. Kefir
We mix kefir with our yogurt in the morning. You can also add it to milk, yogurt etc. for a quick smoothie. I find it a bit tart to drink alone, but a lot of people do just that. It is full of probiotics and will help with healing.

4. Nuts
Check the bags to make sure they say gluten free. A lot of nuts are processed in factories that process wheat. Nuts of any kind are a great treat and help to keep hunger at bay. My favorites are almonds and pistachios. Nuts have huge health benefits so make sure to include them in your diet.

5. Fresh Fruit
You can’t beat a sliced apple or a cup of fresh berries for a sweet snack that satisfies. I make sure that certain fruits are bought organic because they tend to be pesticide magnets. Worst offenders: apples, strawberries, grapes, nectarines, peaches.

Special Treat: Slice your fruit and serve with 1/2 cup of melted chocolate chips, to dip the fruit in. We use “Enjoy Life” gluten free chocolate chips. These will give you a rich dark chocolate treat.

6. Dried Fruit
I love using dried fruit. Both in recipes, and for a snack.
Check the bags to make sure they say gluten free. A lot of dried fruits are processed in factories that process wheat

7. Fermented Veggies or Fruit
If you haven’t tried fermented veggies or fermented fruit, you’re missing out on a great thing for your body and your taste buds. Packed with probiotics, they are extremely healthy. You can find them at your local health food store, but I like to make my own. You will soon see recipes for these and more on “A Dish N Thyme”.

8. Hummus
Oh how we love hummus! And even my 5 year old likes to dip stuff in hummus. Although he prefers meat and cheese to veggies for dipping. But little does he know, he is still eating a veggie. Mawahahahaha!

Special Treat: Try a tray filled with different veggies, sliced meat and cheese with hummus.

9. Muffins, Crackers and Chips
While these can be healthy, you need to choose wisely. Forgo the the over processed ones and make your own.
Zucchini, sweet potato and even kale chips. We will be sharing recipes for all of these soon.

10. Eggs and Cheese
A hard boiled egg makes a good snack. As do cheese sticks or cubed cheese.
With cheese & eggs I like to buy organic, so I know we are not adding anything we don’t want to our diet.

11. Organic popcorn.

Special Treat: I put 1/4 cup of popcorn in a paper bag and pop in the microwave for 2 minutes 15 seconds. For a little something extra, I ad a little organic melted butter with sea salt and just a bit of organic sugar sprinkled on top for our own kettle popcorn. This is only an occasional treat for a special movie night.

12. Sometimes you need a fast, convenient snack. My “go to” on these are usually Kind Bars. They’re full of good ingredients and everyone loves them. And with the nuts and fruit, it keeps us going till we can have a meal. I always keep a couple in my purse for just such emergencies. I can’t tell you how many times Kind Bars made it possible for us to make it home without having to resort to fast food.

I hope this helps with some ideas for healthy gluten free snacking. Watch for upcoming healthy recipes where we will explore more yummy options.