by Marisa McClellan in Entertaining, April 26th, 2013
by Maria Russo in Entertaining, Recipes, April 11th, 2013
My birthday is less than a month away, so I’m in the process of conducting my annual cake audition. I got in the habit of making my own celebratory cake some years back as a way to try out intriguing recipes and to stretch my baking skills a little. In the weeks before my big day, I make a few new-to-me cakes, in the hopes of finding something fun and tasty to serve.
Three years ago, I made lavender-infused cupcakes to take to a party in a friend’s garden. Two years ago, I layered and frosted my way to a triple-decker chocolate cake. Last May, I mixed things up with a strawberry-rhubarb pie. It didn’t hold candles well, but it received raves from my friends.
Recently, I’ve had cheesecake on the brain, so I decided to tackle a few different versions in the hopes of finding a worthy candidate. I started with Bobby Deen’s recipe for Ricotta Cheesecake. I was attracted by the fact that it’s lighter than traditional cheesecake — and it’s easy to put together. It can be made in a single bowl and doesn’t require a water bath to keep it tender.
My tasters and I came to the conclusion that while it’s not indulgent enough for a birthday, it may be the perfect spur-of-the-moment cake for casual gatherings. That makes it just perfect for The Weekender!
Before you start baking, read these tips
by Lauren Miyashiro in Entertaining, Recipes, April 9th, 2013
Much is made of hard-boiled eggs immediately before and after Easter, but these two-toned beauties are a welcome party starter throughout the year. This weekend, whether you’re hosting an elegant spring dinner party or simply enjoying a casual night with friends, look to platters of deviled eggs to be the star appetizers of the evening. While they’ll curb pre-dinner munchies, deviled eggs aren’t so filling that they’ll weigh down appetites, plus they’re easily customizable with a myriad of ingredients, so you know you’ll find a style of egg that suits your tastes. Check out Food Network’s top-five deviled egg recipes below — all top-rated dishes that can be made quickly with ease — from Anne, Sunny, Melissa, Bobby Deen and Paula.
5. Truffled Deviled Eggs — Fresh truffles are extremely pricey, so Anne opts for truffle oil — an ingredient that’s a bit more modest — to add rich flavor to her top-rated eggs. But be sure to use only the amount listed, as truffle oil can easily overpower the dish.
4. Crunchy Deviled Eggs — After stuffing the egg whites with a tangy combination of lemon juice, mustard and pickled jalapenos, Sunny adorns each egg with canned fried onions for a crispy textured bite.
Get the top three recipes
by Marisa McClellan in Entertaining, April 5th, 2013
You don’t need to prepare a three-course meal to be a good host(ess). You don’t even need to plan far in advance. When gathering friends for a last-minute soiree, snacks are the way to go. So skip the forks and knives, and stick to simple appetizers you can eat with your hands. It’s more fun that way, anyway.
Trisha Yearwood’s Charleston Cheese Dip is a new go-to party snack. Topped with crispy bacon and buttery crackers, it’s an obvious crowd-pleaser. It’s also wallet friendly, so if you don’t already have the ingredients on hand, you won’t break the bank running to the store. Served warm and loaded with three types of cheese, this no-fuss recipe will please even the pickiest of palates.
The next time your place becomes the destination to watch the big game or the newest episode of your favorite show, don’t hide yourself in the kitchen. With Trisha’s decadent cheese dip, you’ll earn yourself the best spot on the couch.
A few things to consider before making this recipe
by Marisa McClellan in Entertaining, Holidays, March 29th, 2013
When you hear the phrase “lettuce wrap,” what do you think? If the first thought that springs to mind is a poor low-carb sandwich replacement, you’re not alone. I took an informal poll of my friends and that was the predominant attitude.
I think it’s time to liberate the lettuce wrap from its second-class status and bring it into the mainstream. To my taste buds, there’s something absolutely perfect and appealing about the savory crunch that’s possible with this much-maligned dish.
I like to start with some long-marinated chicken or beef (though crispy tofu works beautifully, too) that’s been grilled or broiled so it’s caramelized around the edges, but still tender. Once you have your starring protein, pick out toppings. Ribbons of carrot, shredded cabbage, slivers of green onion and leggy cilantro leaves are all great. And then there’s the lettuce. If you’re looking for crunch, iceberg is your best bet, though I prefer butter lettuce for its color and flexibility.
Once all of your players are in hand, build. Place a lettuce leaf on your plate and nestle a strip of protein down as the base. Stack on your toppings and then fold, much as you would a burrito. If you have a dipping sauce, a quick dip before the first bite does wonders for wrap unification.
Before you start cooking, read these tips
by Gaby Dalkin in Entertaining, Holidays, March 27th, 2013
I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but I can no longer bear to go out to brunch. I hate the long waits and the fact that once you do get a table, your meal proceeds at breakneck speed so the restaurant can turn your table. (I don’t dispute their right to do so. I just don’t enjoy rushing through a meal.)
And then there are the prices. As someone who does a lot of grocery shopping and cooking, I know just how much things cost, and the markups on things like pancakes, scrambled eggs and toast make me a little twitchy.
So these days, I stay home and have people over for brunch instead of meeting at a restaurant. It keeps my blood pressure in check and means that I get to flex some underutilized cooking skills.
In pursuit of brunch excellence, I’ve worked my way through crepes, homemade bagels and English muffins. While I’ve got my sights set on conquering the aebleskiver in the somewhat near future, at the moment I’m focused on making a great quiche. The thing that’s so great about quiche is that it can be made ahead and reheated. Served with a green salad and a slice of crispy bacon, it makes for a fairly fuss-free entertaining experience.
Before you start baking your quiche, read these tips:
by Marisa McClellan in Entertaining, Holidays, March 22nd, 2013
With Easter right around the corner, it’s never too soon to start planning — the sooner you create a plan, the more organized the day will be and you’ll wind up enjoying it more yourself.
I’m hosting Easter again this year — it’s become somewhat of a tradition. Or maybe it’s the fact that everyone knows I’m going to cook up a storm so they are all always open to coming to my house. Either way, I love it. I get to decide what’s on the menu and make things I think will please a crowd.
This year I’m going heavy on the appetizers. I want to host a fun outdoor party with plenty of cocktails and lots of delicious appetizers for my guests to choose from. That way they get to taste a lot of different things without getting totally stuffed from the ham. Not to fear, though, there will absolutely be ham, but I’m incorporating it in a little bit of a different way this time. By eliminating the centerpiece of the large-baked ham, it takes the pressure off of the long cook time and preparation. The recipes below incorporate classic flavors you’d see on an Easter table, but in a casual form — perfect for entertaining a large or small crowd.
Click here to get the menu
by Marisa McClellan in Entertaining, Recipes, March 8th, 2013
My cousin Amy starts planning for Passover in January. The save-the-date email comes first, with the time and location in bold (though they’re the same every year). A few weeks later, dinner assignments follow. Later there are email reminders and carpool arrangements.
It used to be that I willingly accepted whatever meal assignment was handed to me. In recent years, however, I’ve gotten more strategic. As soon as the first Seder planning email goes out, I reply with an offer of what I’d like to bring. This way, I can ensure there will be something on the table that my picky husband will eat, and I get to play to my strengths as a cook.
On Monday (and for the second year running), I’m bringing brisket and a flourless chocolate cake. I bring the brisket because I make a good one, and I do the cake, well, because nothing finishes a meal like a good chocolate cake.
Before you start baking, read these tips
by Gaby Dalkin in Drinks, Entertaining, February 24th, 2013
I am the designated birthday dessert baker for my circle of close friends and dear family members. Every year, I make a dozen or more cakes, pies, tarts and meringue concoctions for parties, picnics and small family dinners.
It starts in January with my dad’s birthday. Tradition dictates that he gets a thing called Pinch Pie (though it’s neither pinched, nor is it a pie). It’s a meringue shell filled with ice cream, strawberries, whipped cream and toasted almonds. It’s a sugar bomb, but it’s beloved in my family.
In February, both my sister and my husband celebrate. When she was younger, Raina was into ice cream cakes, but these days she prefers something dense and chocolatey. Scott, on the other hand, hasn’t shifted his preferences since childhood. He likes to celebrate with a Funfetti cake made from a boxed mix. Though it violates my from-scratch sensibilities, that’s what he gets.
As we head into March, I start thinking about baking for my friend Shay’s big day. She doesn’t have a standard cake, instead preferring to try something new. Last time I did a carrot cake, and this year I’ve been planning something layered and featuring chocolate.
Before you start baking, read these tips
by Maria Russo in Entertaining, Recipes, February 21st, 2013
With the Oscars just hours away, it’s time to get serious — serious about planning a little soiree with your movie-loving friends who also love to get dressed to the nines.
The Oscars are a fun event in my house. We’re big movie people, so I’m always excited to see who takes home the gold. I like to invite over a handful of friends for an Oscars viewing party, mix up a few fun cocktails that are classy, swanky and delicious, and add a few little nibbles too. I mean, let’s be honest here — it’s really all about the cocktails in this case. No one actually eats at those awards shows; it’s more about the drinks, socializing and looking fabulous.
So in honor of that, here’s my Oscar party cocktail menu that you can whip up in no time:
Bobby has a great recipe for a Kir Royale. This drink only has a few ingredients, but they’re fun and decadent, so when you mix them all together you’ve got a gorgeous bubbly concoction that’s going to be a crowd-pleaser! Bonus: you can ask your friends coming over to pick up a bottle of bubbly or two to use for these drinks.
Get the recipe: Kir Royale
Get more recipes
In celebration of Hollywood’s biggest night of big-screen honors, the stars of your favorite movies from the past year will come together at the 85th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday night to recognize the most outstanding performances in film — and the most fashionable styles, of course. While you may not be in Los Angeles this weekend to partake in the action on the red carpet, you can celebrate top nominees with the next best thing: an Oscars viewing party at your place, complete with fellow movie-buff friends and a spread of elegant yet comforting snacks and sips. We have a crowd-pleasing menu inspired by some of the most popular films, plus classic movie munchies and sweet concessions to help you pull off an award-worthy bash with ease. Check out Food Network’s favorite movie-themed recipes below, then tell us in the comments: How will you be celebrating the Oscars this weekend?
As the celebrities make their way from limousines to red-carpet interviews, raise a glass to the evening to come with Food Network Magazine‘s bright, refreshing Red-Carpet Cocktails made with crimson-colored pomegranate juice and toppers of gin and champagne. Let guests help themselves to a concession-stand favorite — crunchy, salty popcorn — to help recreate the moviegoing experience in your living room. Food Network Magazine‘s Theater-Style Buttered Popcorn (pictured above) is a must-try recipe, boasting clarified butter instead of simple melted butter so that each kernel is coated with flavor but isn’t soggy or greasy.
Keep reading for more recipes