Category Archives: Food

Game Night


My group of girlfriends from grad school often get together for game night, where we drink wine, eat, and actually play a few games too. Inspired by my grad student nerdiness, my  husband and I recently hosted a game night for a different group of friends. Game nights are another budget way to entertain because you can get away with serving just snacks instead of a whole meal, and you can ask everyone to bring their favorite drink, along with their favorite game. Definitely easier on the wallet than all meeting at a bar or going out to eat.

The food: Smitten Kitchen’s White Bean Roasted Red Pepper Dip served with carrots, celery and pita chips (pictured above),  Cheese plate , and assorted treats from Traders Joes (yogurt covered raisins, nut mix and chocolate covered cranberries)

The drinks: We provided an assortment of beers and our guests brought wine and champagne

The games: We cleared some room in front of our TV for Wii, played Taboo and the dining room table, and had Backagmmon and Scrabble on side tables.

Happy Gaming!


Aunt Paula’s Gluten Free PB Cookies








My best friend is an extraordinary baker who also happens to have Celiac’s disease and therefore can’t enjoy any of her confections. So, to celebrate her recent completion of the CFA exam series, I decided to whip up these gluten free treats for her, recipe courtesy of my husband’s Aunt Paula. Not only did these cookies meet her dietary restrictions, but  they were also more budget friendly than sending a dozen Sprinkles cupcakes or a bouquet from Mark’s Garden, my go to’s for thank you’s and birthdays. I’ve also discovered (via my best friend of course) that bringing baked goods in a bakery box from The Container Store or Michael’s goes a long way in presentation. Happy Baking!

Aunt Paula’s Peanut Butter Cookies:
2 cups sugar
2 cups peanut butter
2 eggs
chocolate chips (optional)

Mix it all together, roll into balls and press down with fork on baking stone or cookie sheet. Bake at 350 until done (12 – 15 minutes depending on size and thickness of cookies)

Budget Dinner Party

There are three key elements to hosting a successful dinner party: Good food, good wine, and ambiance. It used to be that when we had friends over even for the most casual of dinner parties, I’d go all out and make a dinner with multiple dishes, multiple wines, an appetizer, and dessert. While I get lots of oohs and aahs, it was a lot of work and quite costly.

What I have discovered recently is that it’s just as easy to dazzle without spending a fortune and hours in the kitchen. The way to do it is an upscale pizza party, such as one I hosted last night.

The food: I slightly altered the Shaved Asparagus Pizza from Smitten Kitchen. I used a Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough to because I am lazy, ehem to make it a bit healthier and also used a bit of pizza sauce. We skipped appetizers, and I found that each pizza fed approx. 3 people for dinner. For dessert, we had chocolates we had recently been given as a gift. Another tip for keeping dinner party costs down, allow you guests to bring dessert if they ask if they can bring anything!


Total cost per pizza: $1.29 for pizza dough + $3 for asparagus + $3.99 for mozzarella cheese + $4.99 for parmesan cheese =$13.27

The wine: Good wine can often be a budget buster for us Beemer girls who have grown accustomed to drinking Dad’s Silver Oak. However, taking the time to go to a specialty wine store and asking for recommendations or looking at the specials can help discover hidden gems under $20. For instance, with our pizza, I served Maia Lina Chianti that I recently purchased at K & L Wine Merchants, my “go to”  for wine recommendations, both in-store and online.

Cost per bottle of wine: $7.99

The ambiance: Great ambiance can be created easily with a simple flower arrangement and tea lights if you have already invested in decent sets of wine glasses and dishes. Many twenty-somethings use hand-me-downs from their parents and mismatched wine glasses. But truly, a set of Riedel stemless wineglasses instantly makes a party more Beemer than one where your guests are drinking out of souvenir glasses from your sorority’s formal. Department stores often have them on sale, and they are definitely worth the splurge. As for dishware  I am a big fan of plain white dishes that can be dressed up with different color napkins, placemats, and glasses depending on the occasion. Again, they aren’t as expensive as you might think, and Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and even Crate & Barrell have sets on sale all the time.

Cost for ambiance: $8 for two bouquets at Trader Joe’s

Happy entertaining!

Cranberry White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

     Now that the school year has ended, I have a bit more time on my hands (i.e. the big decision of the day was to a. bake, b. watch Oprah, c. bake while watching Oprah). I went with option c and decided to use the Oats that have been sitting in my pantry waiting for an afternoon such as this.Since my plan for my newly found free time also includes getting in shape, I wanted a low-guilt cookie recipe that would still taste delicious and satisfy my sweet tooth. I found this recipe for Chewy Oatmeal Cookies and made just a couple adjustments…

– whole wheat flour

-splenda instead of granulated sugar

-I added white chocolate shavings purchased at Fassbender & Rausch during our stop over in Berlin on our way to what turned out to be a chocolate binge of a week in Leipzig

I usually find that baked goods with these healthy substitutions spoil a lot more quickly, but these are so tart/sweet/crunchy/chewy that I don’t think they will last long enough to be a problem.