by Katie Workman in Entertaining, Holidays, December 10th, 2015
by Maria Russo in Entertaining, Holidays, Recipes, December 2nd, 2015
And just like that, the holidays are upon us. We see TV commercials with foyers full of people greeting and clinking wine glasses, we watch Diane Keaton movies directed by Nancy Meyers in which the kitchens look like the love children of Martha Stewart and Philip Johnson, and we start to agonize over the fact that we really, really promised ourselves that this year we would (finally) host a holiday gathering. But all those people! All that cooking! All that planning!
But we are going to entertain. And this is how’s it’s going to happen: an open house. It will not be a sit-down dinner for just a handful of friends or be a frenetic cocktail party. It will be a gentile stretch of time with people coming and going as they please. There’ll be a serve-yourself bar with an array of (mostly) room temperature food, and it’ll have a relaxed atmosphere in which people understand that the whole point was to connect for a little while, share a drink and enjoy something good to eat.
Everyone’s time is so stretched in the last months of the year. This kind of party allows people to stop by when it works for them and stay as long as they wish — and it allows you to host a lot of people in one day (i.e., knock off all those IOUs for the times you’ve been their guest) without cramming everyone into your house at once.
Check out our step-by-step guide to throwing an open house holiday party that’s as fun as it is stress-free — even for the host.
by Sara Levine in Entertaining, Family, November 24th, 2015
Whether your holiday plans include an elegant cocktail party, a traditional seated feast, a seasonal open house or some combination of these events, the key to easy, enjoyable entertaining at any party is a go-to menu of eats and drinks. This holiday season, stick with Food Network’s best bets for crowd-pleasing fare, from simple sausage balls and shrimp cocktail to hearty ham and sweet, buttery cookies.
Italian Sausage Balls
Reinvent the usual Southern appetizer with Italian flair by opting for sweet Italian sausage instead of the plain variety and pairing each baked sausage ball with classic Italian ingredients like creamy mozzarella and fragrant basil. Since these appetizers are served on toothpicks, guests will be able to easily snack with their hands.
by Sara Levine in Entertaining, Holidays, Recipes, November 14th, 2015
The day before Thanksgiving means travel, traffic — and, for many families, takeout. Cooking another meal the night before the impending feast isn’t high on many of our priority lists, which explains why the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest pizza nights of the year across the country.
This year, skip the national delivery chains and wow out-of-town guests with a pie from the best pizza joint in your neck of the woods. Some of them even deliver. Here are some of our personal favorites from coast to coast. Plus, check out Food Network Magazine’s 50 States, 50 Pizzas for worthy pies from every state. Read more
by Maria Russo in Entertaining, Holidays, November 9th, 2015
With everything else crowding the Thanksgiving table, the cranberry sauce usually doesn’t steal the show. We’re changing that up this year with this tipsy recipe that spikes the traditional jellied sauce with vodka. Watch Food Network Kitchen’s video below to see how it’s done, then follow their lead to make your cranberry sauce the most-popular side — or cocktail shooter — of Thanksgiving 2015. It may well become a new tradition. Just be sure to keep it away from the kids’ table, because it looks just like its nonalcoholic cousin!
by Foodlets in Entertaining, Family, September 11th, 2015
The food may just be the most-important thing on your Thanksgiving table (next to your family and friends around it, of course). But that doesn’t mean you can’t dress up the space to make it more seasonal and fit for the feast. Check out these easy, inexpensive ideas and good-to-know tricks to trim your table with a fall-focused spread, no matter if your plans include hosting kids or throwing an elegant celebration.
Repurpose Existing Goods
You know that wine bottle you have left over from the other night? That could be your Thanksgiving centerpiece. Save a few bottles and fill them with grains to create an easy yet impressive display.
by Sara Levine in Drinks, Entertaining, September 3rd, 2015
We have four young kids and the oldest turned 6 this year. That means we’ve hosted 14 birthday parties — so far. With many, many more to go, we stick to these guidelines for fun parties without frazzled parents.
1. Invite a small number of kids. No one has fun at a party that feels like a mob. It’s loud. It’s chaotic. See above, it’s no fun. Remember that old rule about inviting as many friends as you are old? It’s perfect. Five, six or eight kids plus a parent each makes for plenty of revelers.
2. Create a simple theme or activity. Host a tea party. Or have everyone come in costume. This year our 4-year-old had a tea party where everyone wore costumes. Put together a scavenger hunt with hidden clues, a karaoke sing-along or outdoor Olympics based on simple games (like relay races, a water balloon shot put and so on). Pretend it’s 1988 and channel your mother; she put a Barbie doll in the middle of your cake and called it a day.
And by all means, put the birthday child to work. That same 6-year-old LOVED creating signs for her party, directing people where to go and telling people what to put where.
by Lauren Miyashiro in Entertaining, March 18th, 2015
Labor Day weekend marks the last official hurrah for pool parties, cookouts, beach picnics and daily frozen treats. Before you start thinking about the return of crisp fall leaves and pumpkin spice everything, send the sunny season off in style with our eight genius ways to win summer. Watch the video below for inspiration. You’ll learn genius ways to spike snow cones and take ice-cream floats to the next level, three things you should be making with watermelon, how to make treats from melted ice cream and more. Read more
by Jackie Alpers in Entertaining, Holidays, March 16th, 2015
March Madness is officially upon us. With round two of the games starting tomorrow, brackets are being finalized. Watching the games at the bar can be, well, madness. Crowded and rowdy with passionate (and loud) sports fan, bars are fun but overwhelming — an experience better left to students with their school pride on the line. Instead of pushing your way up to the bar for an expensive pint, gather your buddies for a viewing party at your place. It guarantees you a comfy seat on the couch, and it’s a total game changer in terms of snacking — soggy nachos and flavorless wings are disqualified.
Here are seven better-than-bar-food snacks to make for the big tournament:
University of Kentucky is entering the tournament undefeated. Honor the team’s success with a Southern snack staple: pimento cheese. Whether or not you’re a fan of the Wildcats, this spicy cheese spread (fittingly nicknamed Southern caviar) is winning grub for everyone — bitter Arkansas Razorback fans included. Follow Sunny Anderson’s recipe (pictured above), then serve it with bread for a ridiculously easy snack.
by Maria Russo in Entertaining, Food Network Chef, March 11th, 2015
Pizza is the perfect food for entertaining — a crowd-pleaser with unlimited options for sauce, cheese and toppings. We started with one basic dough recipe and explored some creative combinations of ingredients that celebrate spring. If you’re willing to break with corned-beef-and-cabbage tradition, the naturally green pizzas are perfect for St. Patrick’s Day gatherings. Read more
When it comes to hosting a party at home, there are two groups of people: those who panic and those who prepare. If the mere thought of cooking for a crowd sends you into cold sweats, chances are you’re part of the first group, but it doesn’t have to be that way. All it takes to be prepared for your next big bash is having a plan for the meal, and for that, Rachael Ray likes the bar approach.
During a live demo with her husband at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival last month, Rachael dished on what she calls “a cheap and cheerful way to entertain.” She set up a bar of fixings for her chicken fajitas, like lettuce, radishes, cheese and crema, and explained that when re-creating the meal at home, each guest could be responsible for bringing just one portion of the spread. “Everybody can participate,” she said. That means that instead of all the pressures of the party — the shopping, the cooking, the plating (and the panic) — being put on you, the host, your friends can help out by contributing to the meal. And with everyone creating their own versions of their ultimate meal, like fajitas or tacos or pizza, you can be sure that each guest will get exactly what he or she wants.