sueños tropicales / tropical dreams

This past weekend I hosted a tropical moving away party for one of my best friends I.  After countless hours of browsing on Pinterest, I came up with a plethora of tropical party ideas, ranging from decor to finger foods to bar setups. I wanted the overall ambiance to embody a tropical glam feel. Below I have highlighted some of the DIYs & party treats that were a part of our upscale luau…any of these sassy, creative & chic ideas can be utilized for outdoor gatherings & parties all season long. Check out my photos below to gain some inspo for your next shindig:

IMG_1592a sassy tropical invitation was a must…check out paperlesspost.com for free online customized party cards IMG_1175IMG_1155I spray painted pineapples metallic gold & white to use as decor (alongside candles & tropical oversized greenery) to amp up the glam feelProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetIMG_1552 (2)and of course no tropical party is complete without a beautiful bird of paradise flower arrangement…IMG_1571 (1).JPGIMG_1570.JPG
I utilized bright pops of color in throw pillows & my porch decor to tie together with the theme…Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 presetIMG_1576 (1).JPGIMG_1550 (1).JPGIMG_1578 (2).JPG
BAR & DRINKS //

I served a tropical rendition of my favorite island sip, the Painkiller (coconut milk & passion fruit juice). I found the cutest rock candy sticks to use as sassy swizzle sticks alongside my tropical concoction! Fun coral cups & aqua napkins tied my bar cart all together (note: it was breezy outside so I used a brown coconut as a weight to hold my napkins down..eeek the cuteness is killing me!)  I also served a tub filled with coconut waters on ice for my guests to stay hydrated the tropical way. 

Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetIMG_1573.JPGIMG_1559.JPGlast but not least, the icing on the cake for my alcoholic “beverage”selection–the cutest damn jello shots EVER. I’m completely obsessed with these (thank you Pinterest). I simply halved a lime, & carved out the inner pulp so the perfect cup-shaped lime shell remained. I then mixed watermelon jell-O with passion fruit rum & poured the mixture into the hollowed out lime shells. I let the Jell-O set for 4 hours–& out came the cutest little baby watermelon shots!! I added a sprinkle of sesame seeds (you can’t taste them at all) on top to give the effect of watermelon seeds. IMG_1424I also surprised my guests with tropical goody bags-filled with a small can of pineapple juice, a baby shot of Malibu coconut rum & a baby shot of regular rum. The perfect party favor filled with island flavors. & don’t forget the Hawaiian paper umbrellas!! 

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SNACKS & NIBBLES //

I served a pineapple shaped cheese ball-such a hit. I used my normal cheese ball recipe and shaped it into a pineapple. I layered whole pecans around the top of the cheese ball to mimic a pineapple pattern. Lastly, I stuck the leaf part of a fresh pineapple onto the top of the cheese ball for the complete look. So cute & so easy!Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetI also had individual cups of tropical trail mix-macadamia nuts, peanuts, white chocolate chips, cashews & dried banana chips. I served fresh Thai basil rolls with peanut dipping sauce (one of my guilty pleasures. Also served cold so that makes it a perfect party app) Lastly, I served assorted fruit kebabs & chocolate covered banana bites! Processed with VSCO with f2 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with f2 preset

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taste of the tropics

I decided to take some of my favorite flavors and marry them into the goodness of a bowl…pina coladas, coconut shrimp, avocado, and ginger. The result was a beautiful bowl delight which I’m calling a Pina Colada Shrimp Bowl. I hand breaded and baked my own coconut shrimp for a healthy version of the deep-fried, crunchy island classic. I then built a bowl with my favorite salad ingredients, and I tied in a ginger-based dressing for an Asian kick. Coconut shrimp paired with citrus is a no-brainer, so I threw together a quick pineapple basil salsa. The final product was a tropical infusion of Island-Asian flavors. I also added some peanuts last minute to bring in some crunch, but next time I would opt for Macadamia Nuts instead. Though I didn’t follow a recipe, I’ll list the ingredients below, along with approximate amounts and steps.

FOR THE SHRIMP:

1 pound (20-25 count) large shrimp, butterflied
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
~10 crushed whole grain crackers (1 cup ground)…(this is the healthy version, use Panko bread crumbs if you aren’t into the healthy sh*T!)
Olive oil for spraying the baking sheet
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.   2. Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil, or spray a sheet with olive oil   3. Put the crackers in a sealed ziploc bag and crush them (with a rolling pin or meat-pounder or some other heavy object) until they resemble finely ground bread crumbs.    4. Set up your breading station: place the flour in a bowl; whisk the eggs and put them in a separate bowl; and mix the coconut and bread crumbs and put them in a bowl.   5. Sprinkle the deveined and butterflied shrimp with salt and pepper.   6. Working in batches, first dip the cleaned shrimp in the flour, and shake off excess; second dip the floured shrimp into the egg mix; lastly dip the shrimp into the coconut-crumb mixture, making sure to press the coconut onto the shrimp so it sticks in place. 7. Transfer breaded shrimp to the baking sheet; Bake for about 15 minutes,until coconut begins to lightly brown.

PINEAPPLE SALSA:

1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
Handful of basil, thinly sliced
1/2 small cucumber, sliced
Juice of 1/2 lime

Mix all ingredients in a bowl together. Add more lime juice if desired.  

DRESSING- to make a tangy vinaigrette, I combined:

~1/4 cup of my favorite ginger dressing
2 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon of honey
1-2 tsp of rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lime

This is an approximation, so if it tastes too much like vinegar or lime juice, then add more water and honey. If it tastes too much like ginger dressing, then add more of the other ingredients until you reach a good balance.

OTHER BOWL INGREDIENTS:

A handful of lettuce leaves, thinly sliced
Few thin slices of red onion
~4-5 jalapeno slices
~Handful of peanuts OR macadamia nuts
1/2 Avocado, sliced
Sesame seeds for garnish

Arrange all of the ingredients in a bowl, except for the nuts and sesame seeds. Drizzle the salad mix with the dressing until evenly coated. Next add the pineapple salsa, the coconut shrimp, the nuts and the sesame seeds and enjoy.

NOTE: this will make a large batch of coconut shrimp. I ate them as leftovers with a BBQ-jerk dipping sauce. They would also go well as a snack alongside a mango chutney.

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Ingredient Prep

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Coconut shrimp breading station [flour dust, egg wash, coconut]

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Final coconut crusted shrimp ready to bake

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Final Pina Colada Shrimp Bowl: Lettuce, cucumbers, red onion, jalapenos, & avocado slices drizzled with a lime-ginger-honey vinaigrette / pineapple-basil salsa / baked coconut shrimp / roasted peanuts & black sesame seed garnishProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 preset