9 People You Don't Want Around the Table Slideshow
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When planning a get-together, they're the characters you should think twice about before inviting
The Loudmouth Blabbermouth
Loose lips sink ships, and that's exactly what this person specializes in. They might be trustworthy with your pet or child, but forget about telling them anything top secret — it's bound to come out, whether they realize it before it leaves their mouth or not. Instead of managing the conversation so nothing juicy or otherwise unknown gets out (isn't that the fun part of dinner parties?), leave the big mouth off your list. After all, what happens around the dinner table stays at the dinner table, right?
The Person with the Big Ego
They perennially forget to bring a bottle of wine, even when you've said it's BYOB. They're the one who always arrives more than an hour late, only to get mad when they find out dinner was served without them. And they're always interrupting. They think the world revolves around them, and only them. When you're hosting a dinner to gather with friends both new and old, they're bound to set a dark cloud over the party, so save yourself the pain and leave them off your list.
You know the one — the person who works hard at being the best, whether it's at work, on the running trail, or even when battling you (yes, that is the proper term) at Words with Friends. Having a hard day? Don't ask them to be a sounding board or you'll just come away feeling more depressed after they drone on about how much work they have and saying "it was so busy I couldn't leave the office to have lunch — I had to order in and eat at my desk." Oh poor you — at least you ate lunch!
Your Silent Friend
Dinner parties aren't just about the food. They're also about connecting with your guests and having good conversations. So why would you torture yourself by inviting your nearly mute friend? It might be the nice thing to do, but as it's your party, you don't want have to take this person under your wing all night. Instead, invite those who can contribute to the conversation, and can also listen to what others have to say.
After spending all day cleaning and cooking, the last thing you want to see when you sit down for dinner with friends is for someone to decline your perfectly roasted chicken and fingerling potatoes. Nothing is wrong with it, nor do they have a dietary restriction. "It's just not as good as my mom/friend/favorite restaurant would make." Well, OK, of course not — you're not dining at their house!
Inviting the complainer to the table won't add anything constructive or positive to the gathering, so be forewarned. Furthermore, it's about the company, not the food, lest your guests forget.
The Person with an Entourage
You know the type — you invite them for dinner (not cocktails), and they respond with "Yes, and can I bring my sister and her boyfriend, too?" What, do they think you run a banquet hall or a restaurant? Should you make a bed for them to spend the night, too, should they drink too much?
You're seated elbow to elbow, deep in conversation, when all of a sudden as you're taking a swig of your red wine, the guy across from you makes a series of bizarre expressions and some funny sounds. Next thing you know, you can't keep the wine in because you're laughing too hard. He might be talented enough to be the next Jim Carrey, and the perfect person for happy hour or a party with plenty of young kids (they’d be the built-in entertainment) — but at a nice dinner party? Not so much.
The Friend with No Manners (or Hygiene)
No one wants to dine with someone who slurps their soup from the bowl, tucks their napkin in their shirt, or uses their fingers to eat (then dips their napkin in their water glass to wipe off their fingers). We've seen it happen, and it's not pretty. Sure, they might be your friend and a great hiking buddy, but when you have reason to suspect they shower (or change clothes) every couple of days (based on their hair and, well, aroma), it's best to spare the embarrassment for both you and your friends.
The Black Hole
They're the epitome of human tragedy — waking up on the wrong side of the bed and forgetting something at home is just the tip of the iceberg for this person. A breakup is like the end of the world to them (and better to console them at their place, with some Ben, Jerry, and Godiva, rather than have them over). Like Shrek, "Woe is me, nobody loves me," could be the soundtrack to their life. Unless you want your dinner party to be their pity party, it's best to leave them off the list.
Hello! Welcome to Rustic Joyful Food!
Around here, we want to prepare (and eat) INCREDIBLE dishes and spread the message that life is good — right now, no matter what. What does that mean? It means that even though life will challenge you, will be downright hard sometimes, even though you may not have the best of everything — fine ingredients, fancy appliances, a gorgeous kitchen — you still have a beautiful life and you have a purpose. Keep in mind that the most important things already surround you. Spend time among the people you love in your tiny living room with paper plates, plastic cups, and joy. A good life is as simple as working hard and eating a big bowl of chili with your babies. A good life is lifting others up when they need a hand. A good life, like a good meal, is worth sharing.
12 Things to Bring to a Potluck When You Can’t Cook (And You Don’t Really Want To)
Potlucks can be great for those of us who can’t cook or are too lazy to. They give us an opportunity to take a break from a constant montage of cup noodles and mooch off our friend’s amazing cooking skills. Unfortunately, when it comes to potlucks, you’re probably expected to bring some kind of contribution.
When your cooking skills only extend to making grilled cheese on a hot plate, you know nothing you try to make is going to compare to what other people are going to show up with. You figure that you’ll just bring the paper goods, but you cringe when you think about how you’re going to have to listen to Tiffany recant every detail of the six hour process that went into making her grandmother’s one of a kind pie.
You want to come up with something respectable that you can’t mess up and will keep Janine from Pilates from throwing you sideways looks. Here are twelve ideas, numbered from hardest to easiest, of appropriate potluck options that result in the most bang for your minimum effort.
Photo by Katherine Richter
Once you’ve cleared the hurdle of boiling pasta, something most functioning college students are capable of, you should be able to whip up a decent pasta salad in ten minutes or so by mixing plain pasta with cheese, veggies, and various leftovers.
2. Slutty Brownies
These brownies taste and look like you spent eternity making them. Make them in under and hour without the use of a single measuring cup.
3. Salted Caramel Brownies
Photo courtesy of lovegrowswild.com
Take a half an hour to whip up some boxed brownies and garnish them with a pre-made caramel sauce and some salt. The sweet and salty brownies make for a deliciously faux gourmet concoction that’ll leave people begging for your recipe.
#Spoon tip: Ghiradelli Triple Brownie Mix is the best pre-made brownie mix currently on the market. Tell people they’re homemade and no one will bat an eye.
4. Sweet Potato Wedges
Photo courtesy of flickr.com
Potatoes are so good on their own that they don’t require a lot of energy to prepare. These taste so good that you’ll be hard pressed not to eat them all before you get to the party.
5. Garlic Bread
The first thing to understand about garlic bread is that there can never be too much garlic bread. Remember that you can always just grab some of the Pillsbury garlic bread sticks and make them a half an hour before you leave for the potluck.
6. Seven-Layer Dip
A staple of both suburban PTA meetings and Super Bowl parties, seven layer dip is a crowd pleaser that can be made in minutes. Just layer re-fried beans, guacamole, sour cream, guacamole, salsa and shredded cheese in a pan and call it a night.
Photo courtesy of sparklespandex.com
People, especially Americans, will eat anything if you put it on a stick. Grab a couple of leftover ingredients from the fridge and use your creativity to make all sorts of avante-garde kabobs.
8. Caprese Salad
Photo courtesy of recipeshubs.com
Caprese sounds fancy but is literally just tomatoes and mozzarella. Stack some slices of tomato and mozzarella and sprinkle with basil and balsamic for a mega-easy potluck solution. Lazy has never looked so sophisticated.
Avocados have been all the rage of late, and most people are so in love with guacamole that they’re willing to dish out an extra two dollars for it at Chipotle. Just buy some premade guacamole from the grocery store, put it in a cutesy bowl from Homegoods, and claim ownership. To make it extra authentic, mix in some extra spices or a couple spoonfuls of your favorite salsa.
When you’ve exhausted all your resources, you can always just pick up a cheap bottle of wine. It doesn’t matter what you pick, most people can’t tell the difference. Bring the booze and you’ll be even more popular than the person who brought the garlic bread.
Photo courtesy of flickr.com
If you’ve already left the house and realize that you’ve “forgotten” to prepare something, you can just stop at a gas station along the way and grab a bag of ice. It may not impress, but its better than nothing and at this point it’s time to just embrace your laziness as an essential component of your personality.
2. Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Pork
You need a pulled pork dish on your table this Sunday, I don’t make the rules. The homemade sauce in this recipe is full of ingredients like maple syrup, orange juice (and garlic!), for a tangy-meets-sweet flavor that is just to die for.
Courtesy of Cathy’s Gluten Free.
18 Quick Sunday Night Dinner Recipes
Sunday evenings are more than a time of day and a day of the week. Sunday evenings are a feeling lots of feelings, usually. And when it comes to soothing our feelings, there's nothing quite as effective as a comforting dinner, like the Vegetarian Gumbo shown here. Once upon a time, Sunday dinners might have been cooked by mothers, grandmothers, or fathers who stayed home to cook while the rest of the family was out playing this is not so true any more. Having a comforting Sunday dinner doesn't mean having to cook all day, though. Many of us find our own way of getting the dinner on the table so that we can spend less time cooking and more time gathering and regrouping before the week begins, and that's true even if it means cutting a few corners. There are no processed foods in these nutritious meals though, unless a can of beans or a bottle of Chinese black bean-garlic sauce count. That's because fresh ingredients are just as quick to cook when you know what to do with them.
When it comes to wrapping up the weekend with a good meal while saving some energy and time for the week to come, a little bit of forgiveness is a good idea. In that spirit, keep some easy recipes in your back pocket. These are the dinners you'll want to make when you're having a busy weekend but there are needs to be met. Whether they're less time consuming versions of Italian-American classics, simplified versions of your favorite takeout meals, or they use one pot instead of two, these are sure to become regular Sunday night favorites.
Pasta and spinach can be cooked together, and fish and vegetables easily baked in a parchment packet, and, of course, sausage and beans practically cook themselves. Add these recipes to the Sunday night repertoire hanging onto what we've gained during a relaxing weekend, while preparing for the workweek ahead can be a hard balance to strike. If we give ourselves a meal that eases our minds while filling our bellies, we know that when Monday morning comes around, we'll be off to a good start.
11 Recipes That Prove Breakfast for Dinner Is the Best Kind of Evening Meal
Dinner is a sacred part of every day. It&rsquos a chance for families to circle up, reconnect, and enjoy a lovingly prepared meal as one. But breakfast foods have a special power to bring people together, too. Enthusiasts of crispy bacon, fried eggs, and a short stack of fluffy pancakes recognize the power these foods hold over a hungry crowd, perhaps more than any taco recipe or pasta bake ever could.
That&rsquos why the combination of the two&mdashbreakfast for dinner, or brinner as it&rsquos lovingly called&mdashis the ultimate meal. Families can enjoy their time under one roof, after busy days at work or school, while delighting in the ebullient atmosphere only a plate of crispy French toast with a drizzle of maple syrup or a silky omelet with gooey cheese can elicit. You don&rsquot have to make anything particularly special&mdashall breakfast foods are welcome at the breakfast-for-dinner table&mdashbut if you&rsquore seeking inspiration, we have it.
Here, find some of our favorite breakfast for dinner recipes, from nutty, savory waffles with a spicy syrup kick to tender steak and eggs with seasoned, seared tomatoes. There&rsquos something for everyone to love in this list of breakfast for dinner ideas.
When November rolls around, there's only one meal on everyone's minds: Thanksgiving dinner! While nailing the perfect roast turkey recipe is important, there are still 21 other weeknights to prepare meals for during the month. We're here to help you whip up family-friendly dishes worthy of a spot on the table&mdashahead, we're sharing an array of delicious dinner ideas perfect for busy November weeknights.
As always, we have meatless options for your Monday night dinner you'll find a variety of vegetarian and vegan options that highlight seasonal ingredients like butternut and acorn squash, vegetable stir-fries, and cozy (meat-free!) chili recipes. After all, who doesn't want something warm and comforting on a cool autumn evening? In addition to being able to feed a family of four and make a dinner that comes together in under one hour, we also make an effort to share recipes that are a little different than what you're probably used to making yet still totally delicious. Try this one-pan skillet dinner with cod, a hearty but mild-tasting white fish that even the pickiest of kiddos are sure to devour, with grains and vegetables.
Since your refrigerator will probably be packed with fresh vegetables, herbs, and a giant turkey during the week of Thanksgiving, keep dinner simple and light. Our recipes for that week are based on using convenient pantry staples such as pasta and whole grains. Plus, there's one very special recipe that uses turkey leftovers&mdashand no, it's not a sandwich!
How to Repel Snakes Naturally
Whether you are dealing with harmless rat snakes or black snakes or know you have some dangerous copperheads around your house, these various pest control options will help you keep snakes out of your home.
Whether in person or on a video, you have seen how a snake moves. That slithering motion is already tricky enough for the snake. If you make it more difficult for the snake to move, the snake won’t want to use the energy (remember, snakes are cold-blooded and saving energy is crucial for them!).
Sprinkle cat litter around the perimeter of your house or yard. The rough texture makes slithering challenging, and the cat litter will also stick to the snake, making it even more uncomfortable. If you’re thinking about re-doing your garden or yard, adding some gravel will yield a similar result and help repel snakes.
Salt and Garlic for Easy Natural Snake Repellent
Snakes have a very acute and unique sense of smell. Anything that is even remotely unpleasant smelling helps with your snake problem. One common snake repellent people try is a 50-50 mix of salt and crushed garlic.
The salt irritates the snake’s skin, and the garlic smell will upset the snake. Sprinkle the mixture around the edge of your property and house, and the snakes will slither away.
Garlic and Onion
If you want something a little bit stronger than just salt and garlic, add onion to the mix. Thanks to the sulfonic acid in onions, basically the “active ingredient” that makes you cry when cutting them, the component creates an all natural snake repellent.
Onion Spray as a Homemade Snake Repellent
- 4 cloves of garlic cut in half
- ½ onion rings separated
- 4 cups of water
- 1 tablespoon salt
Boil the water in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and onion to the water and let boil for about five minutes. Turn the heat off and let the water steep for a few hours or overnight.
Carefully pour the water into a spray bottle and addthe salt. Shake the spray bottle to mix the ingredients. Spray the mixture around the perimeter of your yard or in any cracks or holes you may be worried about hiding snakes.
Essential Oils for a Simple Homemade Snake Repellent
This essentials oil recipe works on all types of snakes, making it an excellent go-to homemade snake repellent.
Essential Oil Spray to Get Rid of Snakes
- 1 tablespoon cedar oil
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon oil
- 1 teaspoon clove oil
- 2 cups of water
Pour the ingredients into a spray bottle and shake. The natural oils work to create a strong odor that the snakes do not like, especially the cedar oil and cinnamon oil. The water will not dilute the oils, so be sure to shake the spray bottle before each use.
The pungent odor of this standard household cleaner repels snakes and acts as an effective snake deterrent. Take some white vinegar and spray it around the perimeter of your property. You can even water it down, which will cost you even less.
One of the smells that scare snakes the most is the smell of smoke because it just screams danger. Light a small fire, such as in a barbecue grill or pit, and let it smoke.
Let the fire burn for a few hours to help drive away the snakes. Preferably, keep the fire smoking for at least a day.
Snake Repellent Plants
One of the easiest ways to snake-proof your yard is to make it inhospitable in the first place. Several snake repellent plants help keep snakes out of your yard.
Common Snake Repellent Plants
Garlic is a strong scent that many snakes do not like, so plant a garlic barrier around your garden plot to help keep snakes out. Lemongrass gives off a citrus smell that is distasteful to snakes. It is also a relatively low maintenance plant.
Marigolds have a complex, deep, and arguably aggressive root structure that makes traveling through the garden very difficult for snakes and other pests. Animals like to take the path of least resistance, and marigolds make all paths through the garden harder to navigate.
The Moth Ball Myth
You may hear people say that mothballs and that the smell of mothballs keeps snakes away. The active ingredients in mothballs are pesticides, and relatively dangerous ones at that (..). Not only that, but mothballs are designed for moths, not snakes, so they are not a practical choice to repel snakes.
Clean Up and Preventive Measures
There are a few cleaning and preventive measures that serve as great control methods to keep snakes out of your home and yard.
If you have wood piles, keep them as small as possible if you cannot get rid of them altogether. The wood piles provide perfect hiding spaces for snakes, and before you know it, your yard will fill with baby snakes (which is especially dangerous if the snakes are venomous).
For a smaller yard, purchase some mesh hardware cloth and enclose the area you want to protect. Dig along your wall or fence and insert some of the hardware cloth underground as well. While this works for a large yard as well, it can be time consuming and expensive.
If you have a chicken coop, you have eggs. Snakes eat eggs as one of their primary food sources. To protect your chicken coop, remove bird seed from the area and keeping rodents and snakes out by installing a snake-proof fence around the perimeter.
If you have a severe problem with snakes, call animal control professionals. They will safely remove the snakes from your property or set a snake trap to aid in the snake removal. Then, you can start over with these snake repellent ideas.
The Fastest Buffet Known to Man
Chef Art Smith says let the pork marinate in a zip-top bag while the oven heats up then, roast the meat for 45 minutes.
Make it: Cider French Dip
Top Chef Season 3 competitor Dale Levitski serves this wintry take on the classic sandwich with an apple-carrot slaw and a spicy mayo. Let guests assemble their own sandwiches.
Make it: Christmas Crackle Ham
This simple dish from Cristina Ferrare includes a glaze made from apple cider, orange juice, brown sugar and cayenne. You can serve it warm or at room temperature.
Buy it: Stuffed chicken
Meal delivery service Impromptu Gourmet makes its version of the classic chicken Florentine with Fontina and spinach Omaha Steaks offers chicken breast stuffed with artichoke and Parmesan, wild rice, broccoli and cheese, and other combinations.
Many supermarkets and warehouse clubs sell precooked half hams which weigh about 9 pounds and will easily feed eight people. The best-tasting ham is bright pink in color and does not have any marbling. If you'd rather order ahead and have the meat delivered, the HoneyBaked Ham Company is known for its hams' tender meat and crunchy, sugary crust. The Holiday Ham Company also gets raves for its hams' moist texture and hickory-smoked flavor.
There may not be a better deal than Costco's 6-pound package of Kirkland Signature Meat Lasagna for $13 it will feed about 12 people. And Michael Angelo's brand (which placed high in this lasagna taste test) comes in an 80-ounce "party size" that serves at least 10.
Make it: Sautéed Shredded Vegetables
It's amazing how much more exciting a dish can seem when the ingredients are simply cut in an unexpected way (here, julienned). You can change up the herbs to match your main dish.
Make it: Spicy Parmesan Green Beans and Kale
This zippy, Parmesan-spiked combination of green beans, kale and cremini mushrooms is one of Giada De Laurentiis' go-to holiday sides.
Make it: Mashed Potatoes and Celery Root with Creamy Yogurt
An elegant twist on the winter workhorse, this dish can be made a day ahead of time and reheated.