Food & Party Parties

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    Let's face it; what makes us crave pizza isn’t the toppings or the crust. It's that delicious interplay between warm, tangy sauce and creamy, melted cheese. That's what you get in this dip; plus, you can use an oven bag to eliminate cleanup hassles, which is great when you just absolutely have to have pizza NOW but don’t want to deal with the mess of making it yourself.

    You can serve this with the parmesan breadsticks recipe included below, but if you're avoiding carbs or entertaining people who avoid gluten, pepper strips or zucchini slices would make yummy dippers as well. This would be a great hot dip to bring to a party or office potluck as well, since you can bring everything already mixed in the bag, carried in the dish you'll use to serve. Just heat it up when you get there and you have a no-hassle appetizer.

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    Football season is upon us, which means that our family is again on the hunt for the perfect wing recipe. We've tried them fried, seasoned, sweet and sour. You name it; we gave it a try in our test kitchen (which means I'm cooking and the kids are eating).

    But this recipe for peanut sesame chicken wings gave us something new -- a Thai-inspired flavor with a bit of a kick. They were a hit! Thank goodness, because our team lost last weekend. At least we had the wings. Here's how you make them.

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    Can you believe we're only a week away from Labor Day? Bet you're looking for some cool new drinks to serve at (or bring to) that barbecue, right? Well have we the perfect twist on iced tea for you ... it's fancy-sounding and looks and tastes amazing -- but it's really ultra simple to make.

    It's billed as a non-alcoholic Watermelon Refresher Tea, created by Top Chef's Gail Simmons and inspired by farmer's markets. This would make the perfect punch for a backyard party for kids and adults, though we've included directions for spiking the drink for grown-ups if you're so inclined. Or you could indulge in a glass while lounging in a hammock during those beautiful end-of-summer afternoons. 

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    The 4th of July is all about freedom, and declaring your independence from cooking over a hot stove will actually make Uncle Sam smile! After all, it's a day off for (almost) everyone ... so take it! It is possible to enjoy a cocktail (or three) with your guests if you do some prep work and use your Crock-Pot.

    Here are seven delicious, make-ahead Crock-Pot recipes that your friends and family will savor on America's favorite holiday ... and, believe me, these easy dishes will be your savior come party time. You'll look like a put-together party hostess with the mostest. Now that's a July 4th celebration to look forward to!

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    If you had to throw a summer backyard party, what would be your top five menu items. Ack -- are you drawing a blank? Trying to remember that stuff you had that one time at whatshername's place? Trying to think of something you actually feel like eating when it's hot outside? (So maybe not that artichoke spinach dip you've been eating all winter ...) Well we've got you. Here's a collection of go-to summer party appetizers that are easy to whip up and serve. We've got treats for all kinds, adults and kids.

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    Summer is just a few short weeks away, folks, which means: summer parties are right around the corner! There's nothing quite like taking the festivities outdoors and providing your guests with delish food, drinks, and entertainment in a natural setting. And, in keeping with the season's easy, breezy, laidback attitude, you absolutely need to memorize a few good summer party hacks that will keep the good times rollin' and cut your party prep time down to nearly nada.

    From tips on how to create unique party refreshments to great decorating ideas, here are 8 hacks that will make your life easier and your party grander so that you, too, can actually enjoy the amazing bash you've thrown.

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    Far out, season 7 of Mad Men premieres this weekend. Lay it on me, man! Are you ready? If you're plannin' on jammin' with some friends while you watch, we've got your scene right here. Dig it: Nothing too complicated, just groovy munchies and tunes. Here are some recipes and suggestions to make your Mad Men viewing party outta sight! Do you want me to stop talking this way? No way, Jose! Okay, fine. Here's your party guide. 

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    Nine out of 10 times, I really hate when my child gets a favor from a birthday party she has attended. But at this point in the game, party favors are expected, and when she or her peers leave a soiree without something, they feel cheated. But why do they have to be so cheap and cheesy? Personally, I'm especially tired of those bags of junk that we have received multiple times with those tiny plastic tops, little bright-colored slinkies, and random stickers. Seriously, the kids spend like one minute playing with them and then they just end up as under their bed or in the trash.

    As a public service, we have put together a list of 5 party favors that won't annoy fellow moms and won't add to the clutter in our homes. You're welcome!

    Images ©iStock.com/SerrNovik; ©iStock.com/Mary981

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    Want to get blotto on on screwdrivers but don’t want to shell out for vodka? Here’s an elegant solution: Hand sanitizer. A Pennsylvania man was arrested for stealing hand sanitizer from a hospital -- 12 bottles which he intended to mix with orange juice for cocktails, as you do. Did I say elegant? I meant revolting. Here’s the saddest part. We’re not even talking about some sneaky, underage teenager. No, this is a 51--year-old grown-ass man, perfectly capable of walking into a liquor store and purchasing a bottle of whatever.

    I’m sure he knows about all the really cheap vodka out there. And yet, he went with the hand sanitizer. You almost have to admire such an undiscriminating palate. I wonder if he’s considered any of these alternatives?

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    With six fewer shopping days in the Christmas season this year there's no doubt plenty of us will be taking it down to the wire. I know I will certainly be one of them.

    The not-so-great news is that the pickings will be slim.

    Most of the retailers that have been keeping marathon hours since Thanksgiving will be dark on the 25th.

    Still, that doesn't mean we're out of options. 

    Here are a few spots to score some last minute cheer.

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