Always crucial to your events success is where your event will be held. Due to limited availability at premium venues, when choosing the setting for your ceremony and reception, consider the following choices;

Spacious banquet halls are often used for large weddings with traditional settings. Most banquet halls let you assemble a reception with your own caterer, florist, and a band or disc jockey (DJ).

Chico Ca. has rustic charm
Providing you have the room, home settings are intimate and cozy, letting you customize each piece of your wedding.

Redding, Ca weather always warm
Backyards can quickly become crowded and the kind neighbor cross so weigh your options as I've seen Law Enforcement shut down many a party or enforce such sound restrictions that all momentum was lost.

Sacramento, Ca. has many choices
Hotel ballrooms offer convenience to out-of-town guests. Most hotels will offer packages that can include everything from the catering to discounted rooms.

Garden weddings prove a romantic alternative to indoor receptions. Many forest preserves, arboretums, and parks offer wedding accommodations.

Many country clubs offer non-members elegant rooms combined with lawn settings.

I often suggest settling for off days such as Friday or Sunday when you find your dream location booked. Discounted rates are often available and can make this sacrifice worthwhile.

Call me for examples as I have lots of photos of various layouts from many venues.

Mike Flanagan
Cell (530) 941-2167

Halloween is days away. I always enjoy this time of the year as these parties are always a blast as people wearing masks are just so much more relaxed and ready to dance. I think it crucial to participate in theme parties so sometimes as an actor I often get left overs for my own costumes.

I think late October is about a lot more than just trick or treating, jack-o-lanterns and scare tactics. It's a season to be merry and fun. Not exactly Christmas, but good times always show up around Halloween. What better way to spruce up the season than to dig up some diabolically devilish Halloween tunes to motivate you in a monstrous manner. These should top your play-lists...

  1. Thriller by Michael Jackson – This was the most-requested Halloween song all the way from 1984
  2. Disco Inferno by Trammps – Halloween classic song from 1977
  3. Black Magic Woman by Santana – Halloween classic song from 1971
  4. Spooky by the Classics IV – Halloween pop favorite song from 1968
  5. Abracadabra by the Steve Miller Band – Halloween pop favorite song from 1982
  6. I Put a Spell on you by the Creedence Clearwater Revival – Halloween pop favorite song from 1968
  7. Martian Hop by the Ran-Dells – Halloween classic song from 1963
  8. The Devil Went Down To Georgia by the Charlie Daniels Band – Halloween classic song from 1979.
  9. Love Potion Number Nine by the Searchers – Halloween classic song from 1965
  10. Ghost Riders in the Sky by The Outlaws – Halloween classic song from 1981
  11. Somebody's Watching Me by Rockwell – Halloween pop favorite song from 1984
  12. Don't Fear the Reaper by the Blue Oyster Cult – Halloween classic song from 1976
  13. Witchy Woman by the legendary Eagles – Halloween classic song from 1972
  14. Psycho Killer by the Talking Heads – Halloween classic song from 1978
  15. Hell by the Squirrel Nut Zippers – Halloween classic song from 1997
  16. Frankenstein by the Edgar Winter Group – Halloween classic song from 1973
  17. Riders on the Storm by the Doors – Halloween classic song from 1971
  18. Ghost Riders in the Sky by the Ramrods – Halloween classic song from 1961
  19. Dead Man's Curve by Jan and Dean – Halloween classic song from 1964
  20. People Are Strange by the Doors (again!) – Halloween classic song from 1967
  21. Dead Man's Party by Oingo Boingo- Halloween classic song from 1986

The spooooookiest night of the year is almost here.
As a holiday, Halloween means many different things. 
For children, it means fun costumes and candy!! 
For parents, it means dealing with children on sugar highs. 
For younger partygoers, it means bobbing for apples and doing the Monster Mash.  For adult partygoers, it means crazy/sexy costumes, bobbing for apples, drinking Bloody Marys, and doing the Monster Mash!

Whether hosting a party or feeding your face one thing that Halloween normally doesn’t mean is gourmet cuisine.  Usually, the food eaten on Halloween night consists of a quick sandwich on the way to trick-or-treating and a lovely late dessert consisting of a lot of candy.  This need not be the case. With some fore thought you can be remembered for more than your costume or gracious portions of quality candy. Albeit the theme is one of scare and fright a special Hell Night menu filled with dishes laden with chilies, spice, and enough capsaicin to sear every taste bud off your tongue will have people respecting your culinary skills for days to come.

Sound like the kind of Halloween pain you want to subject your friends to?  Here is a selection of recipes inspired by October 31st for you to try at home.

[Quick note: when you make these dishes, be careful cutting the chilies.  If the spice molecules get on your hands, they can aggravate cuts and get into your eye, causing chemical burns.  Always wear gloves when cutting chilies or wash your hands very thoroughly with soap.  You can also use a food processor to chop them.]

Oh So Bloody Mary Bar
Nothing says Halloween like a nice bloody cocktail.  This is perhaps why a make-your-own-Bloody Mary bar is your best bet for your adult parties or parental get aways.  With just a few store bought items, you can do the same!

2 bottles of Bloody Mary mix (if you can find habanero or jalapeno flavor, so much the better)
Grated horseradish
5-6 Jalapenos, diced
1-2 habaneros, diced
Red pepper flake
Celery salt
Tabasco or other hot sauce

Just lay everything out with ice and cocktail glasses.  If you don’t have a Halloween glass that screams Bloody Mary, regular water glasses work fine.

That should be enough mix to make 16-20 cocktails.  You can double the recipe accordingly.

Cheese Fire Fries
One of hard things of staying within a theme is creative ways to spin a classic. Cheese fries are yummy for young and old but twisting them into instruments of spicy joy can be a pure joy. The key to making this dish go from kinda spicy to uberpainful, is your choice of hot sauce. 

Don’t settle for Tabasco sauce.  The supermarket is full of superhot/borderline-nuclear-waste sauces that will give this dish the kick it deserves.

2 packages French fries
Oil for frying
1 pound bacon
1 pound cheddar cheese
1/2 cup hot sauce
1/2 cup pickled jalapenos

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Fry the fries according to their package directions.  Notice I said fry.  This is a party, there’s no need to bake the fries. 

When you take the fries out the oil, salt them and let them drain on a cooling rack or on paper towels.

While the fries are taking an oil bath, crisp the bacon and break it into little pieces.  When the fries have started to cool, grate the cheddar cheese over them and top with bacon.

Bake in the oven until the cheese starts to melt, this usually takes about 10-15 minutes.  Take the fries out of the oven and add the hot sauce and pickled jalapenos.

This recipe easily makes enough for 8 people.

Pasta Diablo
This spin changes the name but not the game as Fra Diavolo was the name to a guerilla resistance leader and it’s also become synonymous with really hot pasta sauce.
Now you can create your own spicy pasta dish that devilishly delicious.

6 tablespoons olive oil (pepper infused oil if you can find it), divided
8 shrimp
6 cloves garlic, diced and divided
3 tablespoons red pepper flake, divided
1 green pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
1 Serrano chili, diced
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons cayenne
2 tablespoons each black pepper and salt
2 packages of prepared pasta
Basil for garnish
Parmesan cheese for garnish

In a skillet over high heat, add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and let the oil get warm.  Then add the shrimp, half the garlic, and a tablespoon of red pepper flake to the skillet.  Cook the shrimp 2-3 minutes on a side, moving them every so often to prevent burning.  Flip the shrimp and cook them another 2-3 minutes.  The shrimp are ready when they are pink and firm.  Remove them from the skillet and discard the garlic and red pepper flake.

Add the rest of the oil to the pan along with the green pepper.  Cook for 3 minutes and then add the onions, the rest of the garlic, the rest of the red pepper flake, and the Serrano chili.  Cook until the green peppers are soft, probably another 8-10 minutes.

Add the crushed tomato sauce, cayenne, black pepper and salt.  Simmer the sauce while you cook the pasta according to package directions.  When it is done, add the shrimp to the sauce so they get warm.

When the shrimp are warm, mix the sauce, shrimp, and pasta together.  Top with basil and cheese.  This recipe makes 8 servings.

Serving note: At a dinner party, you can serve this pasta as the main entrée.  At a party, put the pasta in small cups so guests can walk around and snack on this flaming treat.

Eve's Apples FROM HELL
Adam was the first fan of this favorite and while it is true that getting an apple during trick-or-treating has led to more than one trick, apples are a mainstay of the Halloween parties.  Hosts protect themselves from tricks because the apples they serve are candied, dipped in caramel, covered in candies, and otherwise have had all their nutritional value erased under a flood of sugar.  These apples are different.  They are both the trick and the treat.

2 sticks unsalted butter
4 apples, cored and sliced in 1/8 inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 Serrano chilies finely diced

Basically, this is like making the filling for an apple pie.  Bring the butter to room temperature and cut into tablespoon sized pieces.

In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add everything but the cornstarch and the apple juice.  Cook covered until the apples are fork tender.  Then mix the cornstarch and the apple juice and pour that over the apples.  Continue cooking until the sauce has thickened.  Serve as is or on top of vanilla wafers.

Red Hot Chocolate Chip Cookies
This is more of a suggestion on adapting a recipe than an actual recipe.  Take a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and replace chocolate chips with cinnamon chocolate chips  or perhaps Red Hots. Add 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper to the mix. 

The end result is a cookie with a spicy, cinnamony bite that no one is going to forget. 
These cookies are great fun to bring to the office and to give to co-workers without warning them of the spice. The looks on their faces…Priceless!