Did you know that we Americans will consume more than eight million pounds of guacamole on Super Bowl Sunday? Wow---That is a lot guac!

Many of you use store-bought guacamole but there is no need--guacamole is one of the easiest recipes to master and tweak to your own taste. All guacamole recipes begin with ripe avocados and therefore requires some planning. Get my CREAMY PARTY GUACAMOLE RECIPE...

If you are making the guacamole that day, you will need to purchase ripe avocados which are that dark purple-black color, are somewhat firm but the skin yields to gentle pressure. Avoid over soft or blemished fruit.

Store not quite ripe avocados in a brown paper bag for 2-5 days before you use them to insure they are ripe. Refrigerate already ripe avocados- this will prolong their life by a day or two.

There are two hacks you can use to ripen avocado at home: 


Since avocados release a natural ethylene gas, storing them in a paper bag will promote the ripening process. Adding whole apples or kiwi to the bag will actually speed up the process. The more apples or kiwi you add to the bag, the faster the avocado will ripen. Check the avocado daily and move to the refrigerator if they begin to ripen too quickly.

The first two avocados are hard and bright green. To ripen, simply put them into a clean brown paper bag along with a whole apple or kiwi. Seal the bag and store for 24 hours in a warm, dry spot. You should find the avocados perfectly ripened when you open the bag. To cut the avocados, use a sharp knife and cut lengthwise to the pit on both sides. Twist the two halves away from each other and they will separate. Use your tap the pit with your knife and it will come out easily.


Here is another hack you can use to quickly soften a hard avocado. (Note: The flavor and the consistency of a softened avocado will not be the same as a ripe avocado.) To quickly soften a hard avocado, wrap it tightly in foil (trapping the ethylene gas) and place in a 200° Fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes. Check the avocado like you would a baked potato; prick the surface with a knife or fork to check it and return it to the oven if it hasn’t softened sufficiently. Depending on the size of the avocado, this may take up to 45 minutes. Allow it to cool completely before cutting.


FOOTBALL .... Even if you don't care about the game at all, getting family and friends together for game day is a great excuse to make all of your favorite guilty pleasure snacks! Here is my party planand a few tried and true recipes to make your own game day party easy!


The good news is, people always love it when someone else cooks for them. If you’re ambitious, make everything from scratch. Or you can buy it. Or you can do what I do—a little of both.

Start with a cheese board. I'd even go old school and crank out a cheese ball. (They're making a comeback, did you know?) People love them. Add cured meats, pate, radish, and cornichons. People love to chat and graze and a cheese board makes that so easy. Three to four cheeses is enough if you’re serving other food. Offer a big baguette or loaf of freshly baked bread; cheap and filling if you’re on a budget.

Chips and dip is the number one item people crave for the big game. Break out your best dip recipe or use one of mine. Charred Onion Dip with Baked Pita Chips or Chunky Blue Cheese Dip you can serve with crackers, chips, or veggies.

Wings. In fact, more than 1.23 billion wings will likely be eaten during Super Bowl weekend. Get them from your favorite restaurant or try my spicy, glazed baked Diablo Chicken Wings.  So easy, so good. The cool blue cheese dip is the perfect compliment.

Anything in the shape of a football. Have you seen Pinterest? Pinners have gone football crazy. Shape your food like a football and everyone will ooh and ah over it, no matter what it is.

Chili Cheese Empanadas are fast, even if you make the pastry from scratch. Brown onion and ground beef. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add chili seasonings, cheese, and allow to cool.. Stuff it all in a pastry crust. Bake according to crust instructions.

Serve withmarinara -make my quick marinara- or buy one at the store. You can also serve with a fresh tomato salsa.


If you are like me, you have totally forgotten decorations at least one time in your life. Luckily, I had remembered pretty napkins so I was able to come up with a quick backup plan. Simply pinch the napkin in the center and twist, securing with tape. Make at least six and secure them with floral wire. You can make a loop or a hook and hang them with a string, rope, or piece of twine.

Use brown craft paper to cover items like this can, creating a football theme. Use paper or tape for the white laces. If you use a tin can like I did, be sure to cover the cut edge with brown paper to keep guests from cutting themselves. I didn’t have craft paper so I used an old grocery bag. The project was essentially free.

A green chenille rug or bath mat (especially handy if you’re serving drinks on ice) can make a football field. All you need is some white electrician’s tape and some stick on numbers to turn it into a football field table runner. This project cost under $10.  

Ready? Get those friends on the phone and invite them over. We got this!

More of my favorite game day ideas:

Make a Taco Bar

Build a Bloody Mary Bar

Host a Souper Bowl Showdown 


One of my favorite ways to entertain is to set up a D-I-Y station or interactive bar and one of my favorites is a DIY Taco Bar. You can dress it down or make it more upscale- that all depends on your budget and your crowd. 

A taco bar is one of the easiest ways to serve your party guests! (Photo by Arden Photography)

A taco bar is one of the easiest ways to serve your party guests! (Photo by Arden Photography)


The centerpiece of my DIY taco bar is always my Slow Roasted Chipotle Pork recipe and/or, based on my budget, my Tequila Lime Tuna. They are both so good- inside a taco or on their own. Add a couple of salsas... I always have one mild, one spicy, and one spicy-sweet like my Pineapple Tomato Salsa for the perfect fresh toppings.

When building a taco bar, it is important to consider the flavor of everything you offer;  the flavors need to work well together. Your guests will love this easy to make, easy to serve menu and you can have fun at your own party!

My Slow-Roasted Chipotle Pork is always on my taco bar. Simply shred it using two forks and dress with a squeeze of lime, and a pinch of cilantro. Add a fresh salsa or slaw. (Photo by Arden Photography)

My Slow-Roasted Chipotle Pork is always on my taco bar. Simply shred it using two forks and dress with a squeeze of lime, and a pinch of cilantro. Add a fresh salsa or slaw. (Photo by Arden Photography)

If you have the budget for it, my Tequila Lime Tuna makes incredible tacos! (Photo by Arden Photography)

If you have the budget for it, my Tequila Lime Tuna makes incredible tacos! (Photo by Arden Photography)

Other options for your tacos are hamburger, chicken, shrimp, or steak. Provide two or three options so guests have a choice. Keep the meat warm in a warmer, slow cooker, or on the stove.

host a taco party taco bar set up
how to set up a taco bar for a party


Start with a big basket of chips. Use two kinds if you can find them; I used corn and blue corn. Add sliced limes, cilantro, salsas, a hot Queso dip, creamy guacamole, pico de gallo, sliced jalapenos, lettuce, and cheese for the condiments. I like to warm the tortillas in a damp kitchen towel in the microwave. Or put them into the oven; wrap in foil with a damp paper towel inside to steam them slightly. I prefer corn tortillas. If your store doesn't have them, inquire at your favorite Mexican restaurant. (I always pick up tortilla chips from my favorite Mexican restaurant. Serve them warm and hit them with a pinch of salt... soooo much better than store bought chips!)

For a big crowd, there is no shame in using paper plates and napkins for serving to make clean up easy.  I like the square, white Chinet plates you can find at the grocery store. They are made in the USA from recycled material and are biodegradable for home composting. I LOVE that. Caspari makes pretty plates and napkins in all sorts of patterns and themes. Find at higher end gift or specialty stores.. The folks at (they were on Shark Tank) make hip and environmentally friendly paper products that you can now find at Target. You can find a million different options of inexpensive paper products at the party store.

Pineapple tomato jalapeno salsa recipe Martie Duncan

Get my Pineapple Tomato Salsa recipe... And thank you to my great and oh-so-talented friend, Tena Payne of Earthborn Pottery for the beautiful bowl and serving pieces.


You can have a taco party without margaritas... but why would you?

Pre-mix drinks ahead and put them in a dispenser or pitcher so guests can help themselves. No bartending duties. Offer options for non-drinkers and designated drivers, too. I love pomegranate juice on ice topped with club soda for fizz. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Here are my two favorite margarita recipes: CLASSIC MARGARITA RECIPE and POMEGRANATE MARGARITA RECIPE.  

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