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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Irish Bunco and Other Ideas for a St. Patrick's Day Celebration

This past weekend, I hosted our monthly Bunco party (if you're not familiar with Bunco, you can read about it in this post) and since it was March I made it into an Green/Irish Bunco theme; including all of the food. It was a fun time and everyone arrived at 7pm and the last one to leave left around 1am. Needless to say I was a little tired the next day, but I did manage to win $25 that night and we had a TON of laughs so it was all worth it! 

And now for the food...

First, I always try to have some healthier options for my guests and I to snack on and usually make a crudite, but I was at a loss as to what type of dressing to use. Then I remembered Green Goddess Dressing was green, but there are so many different ways to make it so I just purchased one pre-made from my grocery store and...IT WAS HORRIBLE!!! So I had to do the next best thing and pulled a Sandra Lee using ingredients I had at home to make this Semi-Homemade Green Goddess Dressing. You can use any buttermilk dressing you prefer, but I just happened to have the regular Hidden Valley Ranch at home. A healthier alternative would be to make the Low Fat Ranch Dressing I made several weeks ago or if you're short on time (like I was) you can opt for a light version of the same dressing. This was so easy to make and tasted great with our fresh vegetable platter. 

Crudite with Semi-Homemade Green Goddess Dressing
2c. Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing
1 Scallion, chopped
1 c. Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley

1. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and pulse until creamy. 
2. Refrigerate until ready for use. Makes 2 cups 

Up next was this Pesto and Goat Cheese Crostini and makes a nice treat for a small get together like we had or an elegant passed hors d' oeuvre at a cocktail party. The only thing I'll note is that once the air hits the pesto, it will start to oxidize and turn a darker green and won't look as apetizing. So I recommend spreading the pesto on the toasted baguette right before you're ready to serve. I like to make my own pesto as it hardly takes any time at all, but in the winter months, when large quantities of basil might be harder to find, you can usually buy pre-made pesto at your local grocery store. 

Pesto and Goat Cheese Crostini
1 Baguette, sliced
3.5oz. Alouette Crumbled Goat Cheese
Prepared Pesto
Cooking Spray

1. Line the sliced bread on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 5 minutes per side or until they are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool completely. 
2. Spread the prepared pesto (about 1 tbsp) on each toast round; then add the crumbled goat cheese. Makes 16-22 depending on the size of the bread. 

2c. Fresh Basil
2 Garlic Cloves
1/2 c. Pine Nuts
2 tbsp. Pecorino Romano Cheese
1/4 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1. Add the basil, garlic, pine nuts, and cheese to your food processor or blender. Pulse until all ingredients have been mixed together. 
2. With the processor or blender running, gradually add the olive oil until it forms a thick paste. Makes approximately 1 cup. 

This next recipe for Hot Creamed Spinach Dip was a family favorite when I made this last March and I haven't made it since so it was time to bring it back. I made too much, as I doubled the batch, but it was delicious! Click on the name for the original post.

Next up, every "green" party has to have Guacamole.  My family and friends just LOVE it and it's no surprise no matter how much I make, it's usually the first thing to go. I served these with those new Hint of Lime tortilla chips from Tostitos and they even added to the zesty lime flavor of the guacamole!

5 Ripe Haas Avocados
2 Plum Tomatoes, chopped
1 JalapeƱo Pepper, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. Red Onion, finely chopped
1 Lime, zest and juice
1 tbsp. Fresh Cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp. Kosher Salt

1. Cut each avocado in half lengthwise, remove the pit, make cross-marks in the pulp with a knife; then scoop out the inside and place in a bowl. 
2. Using the back tines of a fork, smash the avocado until it's smooth, but still chunky. 
3. Add the tomatoes, pepper, onion, lime zest and juice, cilantro and salt. Mix well and refrigerate. Makes approximately 2 cups. Serve with Tortilla Chips.

So far so time for DESSERT!

For our healthy option, I made these fruit kabobs out of green fruit: honeydew melon, green grapes, kiwi and green apples. To keep the apples from turning brown I cored them, cut the apples into thick chunks; then placed them in a bowl with some cold water and the juice of one fresh lemon. I let them sit for about 5 minutes before placing them on the skewers. For the base, I cut the top of of the honeydew melon and stuck the sharp part of the skewers into the flesh. 

Photo Credit: Couponing and Cooking
I found this next recipe for Lucky Leprechaun Bark on Pinterest from Kaylee at Couponing and Cooking and knew I had to make them for my party! This photo is theirs; however, I made a few changes to her recipe as I like mint, but only in small doses and of course, I forgot to take a picture of mine and they're all gone..go figure! 

Change 1: Instead of layering the green chocolate on top of the chocolate, I dropped spoonfuls on top, then swirled it around with a butter knife to form a marbled look. 

Change 2: I didn't use Andes candy or the green sprinkles; only the mint M&M's. It was just enough mint for my taste. 

The last dessert I served were these special Irish Bunco Cookies that my sister in law Barbara made for us. I first saw something similar around Christmas time and showed them to her to see if she could make them. She couldn't wait to try them out, but since I wasn't hosting Bunco that month, I kept it on my back burner for when I was. She was able to use the same premise as the Christmas looking ones and make them a green-theme for my Irish party and they were FANTASTIC! If you live in the north Jersey area and are looking for specialty type desserts for your next party or get together, you can email her for pricing information. See, now you know why I don't make that many desserts at our family functions. With her as our pastry chef doing our "sweet" and me doing the "savory", we've got it all covered! 

I also made the Table Signs and Bunco Score Sheets a little more festive. You can download them to use at your next Bunco Get Together by clicking on the title in red!  

If you're looking for more of a traditional St. Patrick's Day Menu, here are a few recipes you might want to give a try from some previous posts. There's only so much you can do with corned beef! 

Happy St. Patrick's Day! 

*I was not compensated by any products listed in this post. I purchased them on my own and use them in my home on a regular basis. All opinions are my own. 


  1. I love your green-themed menu - so fun and festive. I just bought my very first jar of pesto and was looking for ways to use it that don't include a bowl of pasta; that crostini looks perfect. Thanks for the ideas!

    1. You're welcome Mamalisaeats. You can also use pesto to top a baked potato, add it to ground beef or turkey and make a meatloaf/meatballs, use it as a base for homemade pizza instead of tomato sauce, add it to a risotto or use it to baste a roasted chicken or turkey.

  2. Great ideas! love the leprechaun bark!

    1. It was so fun to make too Lisa, thanks for stopping by!

  3. Carrie,
    Military spouses do Bunco--I didn't know civilian spouses did too!
    I love your 'green' ideas, especially how fresh everything looks.
    If you ever have it handy, soaking apple slices in pineapple juice makes them keep fresh-looking and taste delicious for up to 3 days.

    1. Oh yes, it's pretty big where I live too. It's fun to get together with just the girls once a month. :) Thanks for the tip!


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