Hazel’s Tropical Shower

I love using stuff I already have to set up a party. I really hate to have to buy plastic or paper decorations. I think of it as if I were just decorating my house with that theme instead of party decorations. You wouldn’t put a plastic table cloth on your table normally so why do it for a party? If you stick with mostly white serving pieces and table clothes you can mix in smaller things to give it the look you want.

I wanted tropical but not luau. So first, Pinterest. Then I looked around my house to find stuff that felt like those images. We used plants and flowers in Hazel’s great grandparent’s yard and we filled in with stuff from Amazon. I tried to buy biodegradable plates (made from palm leaves), cutlery (made from wood), cups (from corn) and paper straws. All on Amazon.

Outside we used my neighbor Rhonda’s idea and we spray painted the pineapple leaves, we gathered coconuts, halved small watermelons, and hibiscus from the yard on top of split leaf philodendron also from the yard to make center pieces for the outside tables.   

   

Inside we strung garland from Meri Meri (Amazon or the Meri Meri website) and a pennant banner that we added the letters – Hazel to. We hung tissue fans over the table, (be sure to get the tissue ones, the heavier cardboard fans fell down) and floated balloons in the pool (you need to weigh them down maybe add a little water in the balloon before you blow it up they blew out of the pool, that’s why we don’t have a photo) and tucked extra flowers and leaves around the house. I have pillow covers from the Bali trip that we used to cover existing throw pillows in the house. Little stuff that just added to the theme. But use big statements. One big hibiscus is better than a lot of little things. Your house already has a lot in it so you want to make a statement and notice it. Try to clear some of the usual away and just add pieces that make sense for the party.

      

For the table I like to have lots of layers. If the table isn’t a folding table leave some of it showing, it’s a layer. Then add a runner and some cloth napkins that go with the theme. Then add something overhead or really tall items in the center and work around that. Have 3 tall pieces varying in size and add things under the platters like other platters or trays or plates to give them different heights as well. You can use almost anything as long as the platter is stable on it. I have some old canisters from So.Ny Market Trading Co. that work perfectly. They look good and add height.

Mix and match colors and patterns and textures just keep within your theme. The big basket lantern is from Target. It’s a lantern but we used it as a vase.

   

For the bar we picked signature drinks and bottled drinks that looked good with the theme as well. Watermelon juice (Tropicana), cucumber vodka, and club soda and Cucumber water. The bottled drinks were from World Market and Publix. We set out prepared cups with straws and limes on a tray so people could easily serve themselves. I only had one pedestal for the drink dispensers that looked right with this theme so I borrowed the homeowners casserole dish and turned it upside down. Perfect.

For the food…

Curried Chicken Salad
Shredded rotisserie chicken with diced apricots, celery and green onion, chopped cashews and a dressing of sour cream, curry paste, lime juice and honey. Salt and pepper always.

Ham Salad
Store bought diced ham, drained crushed pineapple, diced red and green bell peppers with a dressing of sour cream, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lime juice and honey. Salt and pepper.

Shrimp Salad
Thawed frozen, deveined, shelled, cooked medium shrimp cut into 3 pieces and the tails removed, with diced cucumber patted dry, green onion and a dressing of sour cream, mashed avocado, onion and garlic powder, and lime juice.

All three served with Hawaiian rolls

Rice Salad
Cook white rice according to the package but replace the water with equal parts coconut milk and pineapple juice. Stir in curry paste, onion and garlic powder into the liquid before you add the rice. Cook according to the package then fluff and stir in shredded coconut, drained crushed or pineapple tidbits, chopped green onions, and chopped cashews. Serve at room temperature so if you make it the day before and refrigerate it, take it out long enough before you serve it to come to room temperature.

Brie with Dried Apricots and Golden Raisins
Slice the top off the brie then warm it in the oven for a few minutes to make it oozie. Put the dried fruit in a microwave safe bowl and cover with apple juice, heat for 30 seconds to a minute to rehydrate the fruit. Drain and top the brie with the fruit.

Fruit Bruschetta
For the tropical feel we diced strawberry, kiwi, mango, and pineapple but you can use any fruit that you like. Toss it with a dressing of lime juice and honey and serve with toasted bread. Pinterest showed it already assembled but we had too big a crowd. There wouldn’t have been room on the platter for 50 of them and they would have gotten soggy.

Spicy Pineapple wrapped in Bacon
Toss pineapple chunks in habanero hot sauce and brown sugar then wrap with 1/2 a slice of bacon and broil until crispy. Turn over and broil the other side. Serve warm or room temperature. We learned the hard way, don’t wrap the bacon the night before, the pineapple is too acidic and works like a tenderizer. The bacon was all mush by morning and they had to be rewrapped.

Sugar Donuts with Pineapple Toppers
We’re not crazy, we bought the donuts. Toppers are from Amazon.

The wooden cutlery and palm plates are in the background of this photo. BTW. And the cutlery is in a well washed planter, like I said I look around my house for stuff.

Coconut Pound Cake with Mango Jam, Strawberries and Macadamia Nuts

I used Dottie Grantham’s pound cake recipe which I love and switched the milk for coconut milk then added shredded coconut. Topped each slice with mango jam from Scullery Kitchen Provisions, homemade whipped cream, diced strawberries and nuts.

This makes 1 bundt cake or 2 loafs. About 20 slices. For the party I halved each slice.

1 lb butter (4 sticks) at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs (please get cage free eggs)
1 tablespoon vanilla
2/3 cup milk (which I exchanged for coconut milk)
4 cups flour
pinch of salt
1 cup shredded coconut (for the coconut version only)

Cream the butter and sugar until it looks like icing. Add the vanilla, pinch of salt and one egg at a time. Alternate adding flour and milk. Scrape the side and toss in about a cup or so of shredded coconut if you are doing the coconut version.

Pour into a greased and floured (I just use Pam for baking) pan and bake at 325 for 1 1/2 hours. According to Google a loaf pan should only take 1 hour and 10 minutes but mine took the 1 1/2 hours. Just keep checking it after 1 hour in 15 min. You want the middle to be firm and not liquidy feeling or giggly but you don’t want to over cook it either. The center should just slightly bounce back.

Lovely lovely party that was a team effort. Can’t wait for Will’s little sister to arrive.

 

Savory “Sweet”Rolls

Ina Garten on the Barefoot Contessa makes cinnamon rolls using puff pastry which is brilliant. Instead of having to wait for the dough to rise like regular cinnamon roll dough you just roll and go. I hate waiting for stuff. After making her sweet rolls I started wondering if you could make the same thing only savory – here you go…

I made these with sausage apple and cheddar but the sky is the limit. I love recipes where you don’t really have to measure anything and you can use whatever you have in your fridge or whatever your theme is or just whatever you feel like eating. I’ll put other ideas at the bottom.

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Sausage Apple Cheddar Savory Sweet Rolls

Ingredients

2 packages puff pastry; thawed but very cold

1 lb ground sausage

½ large sweet onion; diced

1 granny smith apple; cored and diced

1 tablespoon dried or fresh thyme

1 tablespoon sorghum or molasses

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 pats of cold butter

½ cup chopped pecans

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Non-stick baking spray

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Serves: 12 rolls
Directions

Heat the oven to 400° and spray a non-stick muffin tin with baking spray

Cut each pat of butter into ¼ and place each ¼ into a muffin cup; sprinkle with a few pecans

Sauté the onions and sausage in a little olive oil until the sausage is no longer pink

Add the apples and sauté until soft

Add the thyme, sorghum, and cinnamon and stir

Remove the mixture from the heat and let cool completely (if you don’t let it cool it will make the puff pastry all gross and gummy – so let it cool)

Unfold one sheet of puff pastry on a floured surface

Using a rolling pin roll out the pastry to 12” x 11”

Sprinkle the pastry with half the shredded cheese and half the cooled sausage mixture; leave about a 1” strip at the end of the pastry

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Roll up the pastry tightly ending with the edge that has nothing sprinkled on it; rest the roll on the seam

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Using a serrated knife cut the log in half then each half into 1/3; place each roll cut side down into a muffin cup

Repeat with the other puff pastry and other half of the cheese and sausage mixture

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Place the muffin tin in the preheated oven with a cookie sheet under it in case it spills over

Bake at 400° for 30-40 minutes or until each roll is golden brown.

Run a knife around the roll to release it and turn them out while still warm

Serve at room temperature

Some other ideas:

Italian – mozzarella, olives, salami, with Italian seasoning

French – mushrooms, gruyere, ham, and thyme

Mediterranean – feta, kalamata olives, sundried tomato. Serve it with a tomato and cucumber salad and taziki sauce

Mexican – cheddar, jalapeno, steak, served with a queso and pico de gallo

Southern – fried chicken, pickles, mayo

You get the idea – think of a sandwich or pizza that you like and make it work.
Just don’t use anything too wet – like put tomatoes on the side.
Make sure you chop everything pretty small so it rolls up well.
Add things like olives and sundried tomatoes that have a lot of flavor but keep track and don’t use salt if you have items with salt already in them. Don’t forget some cheeses are pretty salty