Tasty recipes, easy entertaining ideas and coupons for your favorite snacks.
 

Vanessa's Party Menus
and Recipes Blog

Vanessa Druckman

Vanessa, also known as Chefdruck, is a foodie, writer and mom living in Chicago with her husband and four children. Whether you're planning a holiday dinner party or small impromptu get together with friends, Vanessa has easy menu ideas and helpful tips to minimize your time in the kitchen so you have more time to spend with your friends and family. Vanessa's personal blog can be found at chefdruck.com

tagged: ChristmasPartiesWinterEasy Entertaining

Progressive Party Ideas

Progressive Party Ideas

How to Throw a Progressive Holiday Party

Does the thought of hosting a holiday party sound fun but a little exhausting? This year, instead of hosting the same old party, organize a progressive party. Team up with two or three other neighbors and host your holiday party together. Choose a date, combine guests lists, and plan the party menu. You’ll save money, make new friends, and have more fun.

... Read Full Post

tagged: FallPartiesFootball Parties

Time Saving Tips and Recipe Ideas for Your Next Tailgate Party

Time Saving Tips and Recipe Ideas for Your Next Tailgate Party

Create a Checklist - and never leave home without it

Tailgating season is a whirlwind of fun and team spirit, but without the right organization, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Here are a few easy ways you can ease the stress of preparing for a tailgate and keep the focus on the fun stuff: food and friends!

... Read Full Post

tagged: PartiesEasy Entertaining

Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Cheese Party Platter

Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Cheese Party Platter

4 Pointers for a Perfect Cheese Platter

The vast varieties of cheese and accoutrements that grocery stores now offer can make putting together a simple cheese spread seem intimidating and overwhelming. However, the key to putting together a cheese platter is keeping it simple. Here are some tips and suggestions to put together the perfect cheese platter for your next get-together or cocktail party.

... Read Full Post

tagged: Easy Entertaining

Party Menu Planning: How Much Food to Serve at a Party

Party Menu Planning: How Much Food to Serve at a Party

Breaking Down the Math of Entertaining

Here are some simple rules of thumb to take the guesswork and stress out of planning your party menu.

... Read Full Post

tagged: PartiesEasy Entertaining

4 Easy Food and Wine Pairing Ideas

4 Easy Food and Wine Pairing Ideas

Food & Wine for Your Next Party

When my girlfriends come over for book club or a girls’ night out, they never say no to a nice glass of wine. Food and wine pairing can sound a little daunting, but every wine brings out a different flavor component in your food. Our four food and wine pairings will make these delicious and easy to assemble appetizers taste even better.

... Read Full Post

tagged: PartiesChristmas

Ideas for Quick and Easy Holiday Recipes

Ideas for Quick and Easy Holiday Recipes

Holiday Appetizers, Drink and Dessert Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less

My family is spread out across the world, from France to California. But once a year everyone travels to my house to celebrate the holidays together... for 10 days. That’s why I learned to depend on delicious holiday recipes that come together in 30 minutes or less. Here are some of my favorite quick and easy holiday party recipes:

... Read Full Post

tagged: FallEasy Entertaining

Fall Menu Recipe Ideas

Fall Menu Recipe Ideas

Cooking for the Season: Fall Harvest Cooking

I usually like to have something tasty ready for my kids and husband when they get home, and they each have their favorites. The kids like these Sugar Honey Baked Apples and I love the scrumptious and homey smell that fills the house when I take them out of the oven.  And, the smile on my husband's face when he comes home from work and smells these Cinnamon Raisin Stuffed Apples cooking in the oven warms me to the core.

... Read Full Post

Girl Scouts™*

Girl Scouts™*

The Girl Scouts™, An Experience of a Lifetime

I signed my daughter up for Girl Scouts™ on a whim. I grew up in France, and only discovered Girl Scout™ Cookies as an adult.  She was so excited, but I never imagined that her joining a Girl Scout™ troop would also affect me personally.

... Read Full Post

tagged: PartiesFootball Parties

Football Tailgate Party Recipes

Football Tailgate Party Recipes

Cheese Lovers' Football Party Recipe Ideas

Ever since I was a little girl growing up in France, going to the cheese shop with my mother, I have been in a love affair with cheese.  From grilled cheese to cheese fondue, I can't get enough of anything made with cheese.  Whenever I'm entertaining, I love to create pretty cheese platters, and for tailgating I like using Cheez-It crackers.  No matter the weather, these delicious crackers always shine and fulfill my cheese craving.

... Read Full Post

tagged: Back to SchoolCooking With Kids

Back to School with Banana Pudding

Back to School with Banana Pudding

Cooking with Kids: Banana Pudding

Saying goodbye to the carefree days of summer and going back to school can be a tough time for kids. During those first few weeks transitioning back to a routine, I try to surprise them with fun snacks to make homework less painful. This homemade banana pudding is one of my favorite snacks to prepare. It's the ideal comfort food.

... Read Full Post

tagged: Memorial Day4th of JulySummerEasy Entertaining

Appetizers & More

Appetizers & More

Summer Party Appetizers - In 15 Minutes Or Less

When I was a kid, I spent my summers shoeless and with little else than a bathing suit and t-shirt, playing at the beach until sunset. I try to make my children's summers be as carefree and unscheduled as I remember mine. We schedule very little once school is out, and live in the moment, drifting between the pool and the playground. More often than not, friends come over, and we end the day with spontaneous cookouts and parties, easy socializing for the whole family.

... Read Full Post

tagged: PartiesBaby Shower

Baby Shower Menu Ideas Ideas

Baby Shower Menu Ideas Ideas

Plan a Baby Shower

When I plan what to serve, I choose an assortment of dishes I can prepare ahead of time to minimize my stress on the day of the event, and I top the menu off with an adorable centerpiece. I want to create something to rival in cuteness all those tiny booties and frilly burp cloths.

... Read Full Post

tagged: Healthy Snacks

My Sweet Indulgence Without Some of The Guilt

My Sweet Indulgence Without Some of The Guilt

100 Calorie Right Bites

I’m a busy mom of three, constantly running around from soccer practice to ballet class and then racing home to get homework done and dinner on the table. Every day, around 3 p.m., I hit a wall and my sweet tooth really kicks in. I just have to indulge in a little chocolate and then get back to the evening routine.

... Read Full Post

tagged: ChristmasWinterHanukkah

Quick & Easy Holiday Appetizers

Quick & Easy Holiday Appetizers

Holiday Appetizer Recipes

When stores begin playing Christmas carols the day after Thanksgiving, I get as worked up as my children. I can’t help myself. I love the holiday season. I love to decorate our tree and fill our house with the smell of Douglas Fir. I love an excuse to gather with friends in festive clothes, drinking eggnog and singing Christmas carols. I even love the frenetic shopping, the angst of finding just the right present for each child. I love everything about the holiday season except the stress of cramming too many activities in such a short time.

... Read Full Post

tagged: FallThanksgiving

Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipes

Thanksgiving Leftovers Recipes

Appetizer Recipe Ideas

My favorite part of Thanksgiving weekend is on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Of course I love the big day with its golden roasted turkey, gleaming bowls of ruby red cranberries, and long tables filled with relatives you only see once a year, but I prefer the following day. I love Black Friday because of two reasons: the shopping and the leftovers.

... Read Full Post

tagged: Hanukkah

Hanukkah Recipe Ideas

Hanukkah Recipe Ideas

My Favorite Noodle Kugel Recipe

Cooking for Hanukkah can be a challenge because the holiday lasts eight nights. Competing against the excitement of Christmas would be tricky enough for one night, but maintaining the excitement for an entire week and a day is something of a miracle. It is a fitting challenge considering that Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, commemorates the miracle of an oil lamp burning in a sacred Jerusalem temple for 8 days with only enough oil for one night.

... Read Full Post

tagged: Family Time

Family Quality Time

Family Quality Time

Family Movie Night

Sunday night is family movie night in our house. This is a tradition that my husband and I established early on in our relationship, long before we became mommy and daddy to our three kids. To keep the weekend going as long as possible, we would go to a 10 P.M. movie every Sunday night, walking home slowly down the quiet New York City streets afterwards, discussing the best movie scenes, and then slipping straight into bed.

... Read Full Post

tagged: PartiesFootball Parties

Creamy Buffalo Cheese Dip

Creamy Buffalo Cheese Dip

Football Game Party Menu

When my husband invites friends and family over for the Big Game, I throw myself into the food preparation. I know nothing about football and want to make sure I have plenty to talk about with the ladies. I'd much rather spend my time with my girlfriends in the kitchen, swapping recipes than trying one more time to understand the difference between a first down and a touchdown. I do pop my head out for commercials though, those I understand!

... Read Full Post

tagged: Football Parties

Tailgate Party Appetizers

Tailgate Party Appetizers

3 Quick and Delicious Tailgate Recipes

Before I moved to Ohio, I had never been to a tailgate party. I pictured a handful of friends hanging out by portable grills next to their SUVs, enjoying a few hot dogs. I had no idea that tailgating could involve trailers with fancy kitchens, and long tables laden with elaborate buffets with dozens of dishes. I was blown away when I attended my first game last fall in Columbus, but quickly came up to speed, developing my own repertoire of tailgating dishes that I can whip up at a moment's notice.

... Read Full Post

tagged: Basketball Parties

Slam Dunk Chili Con Carne

Slam Dunk Chili Con Carne

Chili Con Carne is Always a Slam Dunk

Chili con Carne is one of my favorite dishes to serve to a crowd during basketball season. This party recipe is a snap to prepare, and on a cold winter evening, a big pot of chili is greeted by shouts of pleasure by guys and gals alike. Once their bellies are full of beans, tomatoes, and ground beef, friends can really settle in for some serious basketball watching and hanging out.

... Read Full Post

tagged: Winter

Winter Featured Recipe

Winter Featured Recipe

Roasted Vegetable Soup with Blue Cheese Spread

During those long winter months when the wind is howling and the snow is blowing, I have a secret weapon in my fridge at all times to keep my family going. It's nothing covert or high tech. It's actually rather old school. My secret weapon is a big vat of roasted vegetable soup. There's nothing like a warm bowl of soup with nutrients and vitamins on a cold winter day.

... Read Full Post

tagged: Basketball PartiesEasy Entertaining

Easy Anytime Dips, Spreads, and Toppings

Easy Anytime Dips, Spreads, and Toppings

Delicious and Easy Party Food

I am the queen of finding the fastest and easiest way to put out a delicious and appealing spread. I usually prepare one or two "fancy" recipes and then fill in quick, straightforward dishes that I know taste great but don't require much effort. Here are two favorite recipes of mine that are a nice example of my balance between delicious and easy.

... Read Full Post

tagged: WinterChristmas

New Holiday Traditions

New Holiday Traditions

Open the Door to Fun Holiday Dinners

My fondest holiday memories are gatherings at my grandparents’ house to impatiently wait all day for the roasting pig to finish cooking. The smells coming from my grandmother’s kitchen were heavenly: black beans, white rice, boiled yucca, and homemade flan! Yum!! But all those foods took so much time to cook, and even longer to prepare.

... Read Full Post

tagged: Family TimeBack to School

A Little Fuel for After School

A Little Fuel for After School

After School Snacks

My 7-year-old gets off the bus at 3:30 p.m. every day and skips towards me with a big smile, thrilled to be home after a long day navigating the hallways of her elementary school. But as soon as she walks in the door, her smile disappears and she begins to beg to watch TV and eat cookies.

... Read Full Post

tagged: Family Time

Family Time

Family Time

Have Some Fun with your Family

Our family spends its week running from one activity to the next. Because our weeks are so jam-packed, I like to make sure that we have one night a week for us to come together without time pressure or other stresses and just enjoy each other as a family. Over time we've learned that unless we're extremely committed to our family night, it can easily get skipped.

... Read Full Post

tagged: Easter

Easy Easter Appetizers

Easy Easter Appetizers

Appetizers and More

When coordinating a family feast with different schedules, it's important to have plenty of appetizers in case someone should run late. Conversation flows when there is an abundance of tasty treats to nibble. But as Easter Sunday is such a whirlwind of activities, I definitely try to keep my appetizers simple.

... Read Full Post