This post is inspired by the upcoming 109th Founders' Day of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, which is the oldest historically black sorority, founded by a group of visionary women on January 15, 1908 at Howard University. With sisterhood and all things magical in mind, I wanted to provide something aimed at bringing women together. Of course, food was involved. This is my eighth year as a proud member of AKA and it has been such a gratifying experience of sisterhood and service. Most of the mentors throughout my personal and professional life are Alpha women and, of course, I feel like it's the greatest sorority on Earth!
Most recently, the world was introduced to three of our brilliant sisters in the movie Hidden Figures, which is an absolute must see, by the way! These women are American heroes and I'm so thankful that their hand in making history is finally being shared. My sorors, specifically my line sisters and chapter members, have become some of my closest friends (and huge cheerleaders for Dash of Jazz). We're scattered all over the country and, at times, the globe but always make time to support each other and celebrate both the big and little things together. We typically gather in some fashion every January to celebrate the founding of our sorority and this year is no different. Since gathering for a good time is not unique to my organization or even to sororities period, I thought I'd share some recipes and inspiration for your next girls' night in. For this post, I partnered with my soror, Alana Frailey, who blogs about everything home decor over at Stash of Panache, to create the perfect girls' night in! Alana is also based in Houston and launched her blog in 2016. She opened up her expertly-styled home and set the perfect stage for a party and I dreamed up an easy and yummy mini menu. Below are all the recipes and links to tools I used as well as what I wore. See Alana's post for all the details on the decor and party accessories. In each post you'll also find suggestions on how to change out things like colors or ingredients to suit your personal theme.
This fun beverage was inspired by our sorority colors. I wanted to create something that's effervescent, bright, and not too sweet. This limeade hits all those points and is pretty in pink and gorgeous in green, to boot. 🙂 It's made sparkling by seltzer water and good for all ages. You can easily tone down or amplify each glass by adjusting the syrup to water ratio. Flavor-wise, just imagine a virgin mojito meets fresh berries and bubbles. This mocktail wet our whistles for the main dish coming up next.
Easy Pasta Bake
I briefly shared the recipe for this easy pasta bake in my meal prepping 101 post last Fall and am revisiting it for this event because it is not only foolproof but also a one pan dish so both preparation and cleanup are easy breezy. That also makes it portable so you can prep everything in the pan then take it over to your host's house for baking or reheating (like I did). There is major emphasis on easy in this dish. Simply layer the ingredients in the pan, bake, and serve. Oh yeah, it's also absolutely SCRUMPTIOUS! My homemade meat sauce, fresh basil, spinach, fresh mozz, and rigatoni pasta meld together for yummy, cheesy perfection. The spice from the sauce and sweetness from the basil really elevate this comfort meal.
An all-in-one pasta dish with a sweet and savory meat sauce, melted cheese, and fresh basil
- 1 pound Barilla rigatoni pasta cooked shy of al dente (about 6 minutes)
- 4 cups meat sauce using recipe linked below or of your choosing
- 3 leaves fresh basil
- 20 leaves fresh spinach
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Alternate layers of pasta, sauce, cheese, and spinach in a baking dish.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.
- Top with pieces of torn basil just before serving.
To finish things off on a sweet note, I whipped up these strawberry cake donuts, which were inspired by the pumpkin donuts I shared last October. These are lightly sweet with fresh strawberries and a hint of almond flavor. They're baked and very easy to make using my trusty donut pan plus no frosting or glaze is needed! These donuts are perfect for winding down or to send home with your guests that can't stay all night (what?!) as they're portable and not at all messy. It also doesn't hurt that these are a bit pink but feel free to play around with the recipe to fit in with your theme and tastes. You could swap out the strawberries for blueberries or shoot for red velvet flavors instead, if you are looking to incorporate colors from another organization. These would also be great with a little lemon zest!
I hope you find some inspiration for your next girls' night in, whether it is with sorority sisters or not. Let me know if you have any questions below and be sure to check out all the stylish home tips Alana shares on her blog. She has some serious decor inspo that I will definitely be referring to while decorating my new home. I'd love to know what, if any, organizations my readers represent so let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!