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  • Writer's pictureRhonda Morrison

Hosting tips for a home-style engagement party

Banana Foster Gooey Bars... Read on for this fabulous recipe!

Engagement parties are a wonderful way to have close friends, families, and the bridal party become better acquainted and perhaps meets each other for the first time. It is also a time to congratulate the couple on their adventure toward marriage. These parties can be hosted by the parents, the couple, or close friends. This can be a little more on the informal side as to not overshadow the upcoming showers and the wedding day itself. Hosting at home creates the opportunity for everyone to feel comfortable to visit and mingle.

“Because this is a getting-to-know-you event, keep the menu to bite size or conversational h’orderves. ”

When planning an engagement party, keep in mind that the overall theme should reflect the couple and their taste. Look at what they enjoy together. Are they outdoorsy? Are they into football or racing? Are they movie buffs? Do they enjoy rodeos or going dancing? Incorporating the bride and groom’s uniqueness with little informal touches truly celebrates who they are together.

Because this is a getting-to-know-you event, keep the menu to bite-size or conversational h’orderves. There will be plenty of opportunities in the upcoming months to have a sit-down dinner. Stationing the food in different areas of the party has the flow of guest connections and conversations vary throughout the party. Consider consulting the future in-laws on favorite dishes from the couple’s younger years.

Modify casseroles for an appetizer party by baking them in muffin tins lined with a croissant or puff pastry dough. Serve up homey favorites like Mac and Cheese in clear eight-ounce cups for a pretty presentation. Vegetable crudité can be served in disposable shot glasses by placing a spoon full of dip at the bottom of the glass and standing the vegetables in the dip.

Keep it portable for desserts, too. Cupcakes, cookies, cake pops, and dessert bars are easy self-serve endings to tasting station dining. For a New Orleans or Cajun twist, try whipping up my famous Bananas Foster Gooey Bars. Every time I serve these at a party, they disappear in minutes. I make some extra caramel sauce and mix it with melted almond bark to drizzle on top of each bar. No ice cream is needed making this bar perfect on a platter for guests to grab at their leisure. They are pretty enough for a celebration and delicious enough to have your guests talking about it for years to come.

Banana Foster Gooey Bars


Yellowcake mix

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 egg, beaten

Banana Foster filling

¼ cup butter

¼ cup brown sugar

4 ripe bananas peeled and sliced

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. banana extract or rum extract


8 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 eggs

¾ tsp. vanilla extract

14 oz. sweetened condensed milk

½ cup light brown sugar

1 tbsp. cinnamon sugar

Chocolate Caramel Drizzle

¼ cup butter

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. banana extract or rum extract

10 oz. almond bark

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 inch pan. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, melted butter, and 1 egg until smooth. Spread evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Melt butter and brown sugar in a skillet. Add bananas in a single layer and sauté, turning once, until tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and stir in banana or rum extract. Spread bananas foster evenly over the top of the crust. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Beat in sweetened condensed milk and remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar together until smooth. Spread over the top of the Bananas Foster filling. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 45-55 minutes until the center is set. Let cool 30 minutes before cutting to serve. Make the drizzle sauce by cooking the butter and brown sugar together in a skillet over medium heat until brown sugar granules disappear. Stir in cinnamon and extract. In a double boiler over high heat, melt the almond bark stirring often. Stir the brown sugar caramel into the melted almond bark. Drizzle the Chocolate Caramel Drizzle over individual servings with a fork or with a squeeze bottle. Do this quickly as the drizzle sauce will harden as it cools. Simply reheat in the double boiler as needed.

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