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So long ladies: Bring on the coed bridal shower!

More and more couples are opting for less traditional pre-wedding events. And, because men and women are getting married a bit later in life, frequently they each have an extended group of friends that might not have had a chance to get to know one another. So, rather than having a “women only’ wedding shower, why not bring the bride’s and groom’s friends together for a “coed” shower?
/ Source: TODAY

More and more couples are opting for less traditional pre-wedding events. And, because men and women are getting married a bit later in life, frequently they each have an extended group of friends that might not have had a chance to get to know one another. So, rather than having a “women only’ wedding shower, why not bring the bride’s and groom’s friends together for a “coed” shower? This represents a great opportunity for the couple to work on something together as well as engage their friends in the process. Many of the elements of this event focus on the concept of two things coming together — reinforcing the idea of a couple uniting.

There are four parts to the event:

1. The invite is printed (or handwritten) on a “napkin” inserted inside a two-ring interlocking napkin ring.

2. Guests are asked to bring a flat object of any kind (photo, old or new greeting card, fabric, old tickets, anything) as a contribution to an art project that the couple will create.

3. The food and drinks will include a variety of fun and simple appetizers and two unique cocktails. These ideas represent a twist on traditional party snacks and drinks.

4. The parting gift, created by the couple, will be two spice bottles (his and hers) filled with homemade mixtures — a sugar mixture in one and a spice mixture in the other. Accompanying the bottles will be a two-sided instruction card.

The invite

To set the tone for the event, mail the guests a napkin ring with a paper napkin rolled up and inserted inside. I’ve found a set of two interlocking rings for this purpose. The double rings would be symbolic of the upcoming nuptials and the napkin would be symbolic of the food and drink fest to which the guest is being invited. The napkin could be an actual inexpensive cloth napkin on which the invitation is hand written, or it could be an interesting paper that has a “rag” or cloth feel to it and is run through a printer. 

The craft project

A wonderful way to create a memento that includes something from all of the guests who attend is this art project. Each guest brings some flat art item. It could be a photo, an old greeting card, a new greeting card, a piece of fabric from some old item of clothing, wrapping paper from a previous gift, anything. It would be terrific if the item was a personal item that somehow connects to either the bride or groom, but not essential. The idea is that all these people are an important part of the lives of this couple and these items will come together much like the couple has come together to create something special. 

By instructing the guest to bring something flat that is at least 4” x 4”, the result is a set of elements that can be trimmed to a uniform size. After the party, the couple takes all the pieces and cuts them down to perfect 3-inch squares. They also make a square panel that has the date of the event on it. They then take the squares and create a rectangular grid with all the pieces and mount them to a piece of art board. If there aren’t enough pieces to form a perfect rectangle, the couple can fill in extra squares with simple colored squares of art paper or even personal items of their own. Once completed, the couple goes to a “self frame it” store and adds a matt, glass and frame. This can be a beautiful art piece and my take of a “contemporary quilt” — the fabric of our friendships.

The food and drinks

This is a cocktail party with appetizers. In addition to standard drinks (wine, beer, etc.), I’d offer up two fun cocktails. The first is a lemon sorbet martini made with shaker, iced vodka and a scoop of lemon sorbet. Ingredients are mixed together, shaken vigorously, poured into a martini glass and garnished with a lemon slice. It’s a very smooth and creamy drink.

The second cocktail is a “Do-it-yourself Bloody Mary.”  For this drink set up three bowls on the table: a bowl of iced vodka (sitting in a bed of crushed ice), a bowl of bite-sized tomatoes on long wooden skewers and a bowl of kosher salt mixed with a bit of celery salt. The simple process is to dip the tomato in the vodka, let it soak and then dab it in the salt and eat.

The appetizers are: (*See recipes below.*)

-Pepperoni Cheese Bread

-Lavash with Basil and Cream Cheese

-Chicken in Macadamia Nuts

-Cherry Tomato Tapenade

-Tandori Skewers

Parting gift: the spice bottles

Continuing the “couple” concept as well as the idea of the hosts working together, the parting gift is a two-bottle set of homemade spices. The bottles fit together and have corks on the top. The first bottle contains a sugar mixture and the second contains a savory spice mixture. (See recipes below.) Included with the “sugar and spice” bottles will be a two-sided card with instructions on how to use the flavorings and labels for the bottles. The sweet mixture is for coffee, tea, sprinkling on toast or mixing with French toast. The savory mixture is for a dry rub to marinate beef or a flavor enhancer for salads or soups. Each mixture is a simple combination of everyday “off-the-shelf” spices. But, people should be challenged to create their own mixtures and recipes to give their friends.

The recipes

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Chicken in Macadamia NutsWayne Johnson

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour and salt and place in a large bowl or plastic bag.  Put finely chopped macadamia nuts in a large bowl or plastic bag.

Roll ground chicken into round bite-sized balls. Dip chicken balls into melted butter. Roll in flour and dust off excess. Dip floured pieces in egg and roll in macadamia nuts to coat.

Place chicken balls on ungreased cooking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes and serve warm.

912319260575269352915360662flour0.3333333333333332cup1 1/3 cup flourcelery salt1teaspoon1 tsp celery saltmacadamia nuts12ounce12 oz macadamia nuts, finely chopped chicken breast1pound1 lb boneless chicken breast, ground butter0.5cup1/2 cup melted buttereggs44 eggs, beaten

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Cherry Tomato TapenadeWayne Johnson

Cut off tops of cherry tomatoes. Carefully seed tomatoes with small spoon or sharp paring knife and turn upside down to drain. Coarsely chop olives. Finely chop walnuts.

Combine olives, garlic, walnuts, garlic, green pepper, basil, parsley, and lemon juice in a food processor. Process until smooth. With processor still running, drizzle in olive oil. 

Fill each cheery tomato with about 1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil mixture using a small spoon or pastry bag. Serve.

912319260575269356048660492tomatoes2525 cherry tomatoescalamata olives0.75cup3/4 cup calamata olives, drainedwalnuts2ounce2 oz walnutsgarlic1clove1 clove garlicpepper2tablespoon2 Tbl green pepper, mincedbasil1tablespoon1 Tbl fresh basil, choppedparsley1tablespoon1 Tbl fresh parsley, choppedlemon juice1tablespoon1 Tbl lemon juiceolive oil0.3333333333333333cup1/3 cup olive oil

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Tandoori Chicken SkewersWayne Johnson

Cut chicken into one-inch pieces. Toss with lemon juice and set aside to marinate.

Soak 18 wooden skewers in cold water.

Combine garlic, ginger, cumin, chili powder, celery salt, cardamom, cloves, pepper, paprika, and yogurt. Stir well and mix with chicken. Let marinate for an additional 3-4 hours.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Skewer three chicken pieces on each skewer. Place on cookie sheet and cook for 10-15 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Thinly slice onions. Soak rings in cold water for 20 minutes. Drain and pat dry on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix with cilantro.

Spread onions on a serving tray. Layer skewers on top and garnish with lemon wedges.

912319260575269352915360662chicken breast 44 boneless skinless chicken breast halveslemon juice4teaspoon4 tsp lemon juice ginger1teaspoon1 tsp fresh ginger, mincedcumin1teaspoon1 tsp cuminchili powder0.5teaspoon1/2 tsp chili powdercelery salt0.5teaspoon1/2 tsp celery saltcardamom0.25teaspoon1/4 tsp cardamomground cloves0.25teaspoon1/4 tsp ground clovescayenne pepper0.5teaspoon1/2 tsp cayenne pepperpaprika1teaspoon1 tsp paprikaplain yogurt0.51/2 cu plain yogurtlemons 44 lemons cut into wedges for garnish and flavor accentonions1pound1lb onionssalt and pepper salt and pepper to tastecilantro2tablespoon2 Tbl cilantro, minced

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Sugar and Spice MixturesWayne Johnson 912319226935

granulated sugar1cup1 cup granulated sugarcinnamon0.25cup1/4 cup cinnamonnutmeg1teaspoon1 tsp nutmegpaprika0.75cup3/4 cup paprikablack pepper0.25cup1/4 cup black pepperred pepper flakes1teaspoon1 tsp red pepper flakescumin1tablespoon1 Tbl cuminoregano1tablespoon1 Tbl oreganosalt0.25cup1/4 cup saltsugar0.25cup1/4 cup sugargarlic powder2tablespoon2 Tbl garlic powder onion powder2tablespoon2 Tbl onion powdercayenne powder1tablespoon1 Tbl cayenne powder

Recipes provided by Wayne Johnson. Copyright 2004. All rights reserved.