All Posts In Entertaining

Old-Fashioned Cocoa Cake With Caramel Icing — The Weekender

by in Entertaining, Recipes, March 8th, 2013

Old-Fashioned Cocoa Cake With Caramel IcingI 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

Award-Worthy Oscar Party Cocktails

by in Drinks, Entertaining, February 24th, 2013

Oscar Party CocktailsWith 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

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Best-Dressed Eats and Drinks: Oscar-Worthy Recipes for an Academy Awards Party

by in Entertaining, Recipes, February 21st, 2013

Theater-Style Buttered PopcornIn 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.

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And Now, a Toast…

by in Entertaining, Food Network Magazine, February 16th, 2013

toasts

Have some fun at your next dinner party and serve a cheese course with toast shaped like goats, cows and sheep to match the milk each cheese was made from. Just butter slices of dense bread like rye, raisin walnut or pumpernickel, then cut out the animals (we found cutters at cookiecutter.com) and toast them in the oven. Spread the goat toast with Humboldt Fog, Bucheron or chevre, top the cows with Gruyere, Gouda or aged cheddar and top the sheep with manchego, Roquefort or pecorino toscano.

(Photograph by Kang Kim)

Roasted Leg o’ Lamb Sandwich — The Weekender

by in Entertaining, February 15th, 2013

Roasted Leg of Lamb Sandwich - The WeekenderWhen I was younger, I was a voracious reader. One of my favorite book series in those days was the one about Betsy and Tacy, two girls growing up in the Midwest at the turn of the last century.

One of the events that occurs regularly in these books is Betsy’s family’s tradition of sharing their Sunday lunch with friends and family. This meal happens in the late afternoon and stars a giant platter of sandwiches that are always prepared by Betsy’s father.

Some weeks his sandwiches would feature cold roast meat, while others they’d be simple constructions of fried egg or thinly sliced onion that’d been well-seasoned. Served with coffee and slices of cake to follow, this seemed, to my mind, to be the perfect way to spend a Sunday evening.

Last week, suddenly hit by a craving for a Betsy-Tacy-style sandwich party, I went in search of a little sandwich inspiration. What I found was Guy Fieri’s Roasted Leg o’ Lamb Sandwich. It’s a three-part recipe that has you marinate and roast off a piece of lamb, make a spicy from-scratch mayonnaise and then shred fennel, cabbage, onion and Brussels sprouts into a crunchy topping.

Before you start cooking, read these tips

Hot Corn Dip and Onion Dip From Scratch — The Weekender

by in Entertaining, Holidays, February 1st, 2013

Hot Corn Dip and Onion Dip From ScratchWhen it comes to sporting events, I’m really only in it for the food. As a kid, when I went to baseball games with my dad, my mind was on killing time until the seventh-inning stretch, when I’d be allowed to have ice cream. In high school, football games were all about the soft pretzels (and flirting, of course). And to my mind, Super Bowl Sunday is about snacks, dips and wacky commercials.

While there’s nothing wrong with classics like queso dip (made from only the very best processed cheeses) and blender salsas, I do get a kick out of making fancied-up versions of traditional dippy dishes. I’ve entertained a number in recent days and two that have bubbled to the top of my big game hit parade are Trisha Yearwood’s Hot Corn Dip and Alton Brown’s Onion Dip From Scratch.

The Hot Corn Dip is one of those addictive creations where you mix up a few ingredients, scrape the whole mess into an ovenproof bowl and bake it until bubbly (I’m drooling a little just thinking about it). It can be prepped ahead of time and baked off just before the game starts. Served with tortilla chips, it’s a good snacking time.

Before you start cooking, read these tips

Scrambled Eggs Chiliquiles With Roasted Tomatillo Sauce — The Weekender

by in Entertaining, Recipes, January 25th, 2013

Scrambled Eggs Chiliquiles With Roasted Tomatillo SauceWhen I was in my twenties, going out to brunch was one of my favorite weekend activities. I loved every part of the ritual, including waiting for a table, choosing between sweet or savory and dividing up the check with a happily full belly.

Though eating brunch on a Saturday or Sunday morning is still a beloved pastime, I’ve found that my preferred venue has changed. These days, I’m all about brunch at home. It’s cheaper, the temptations are fewer and it can be prepared and eaten while one is wearing pajamas.

Because I can far too easily default to the same three brunch dishes (scrambled eggs with turkey bacon, whole-grain pancakes or leftover stuffed omelets), I do try to seek out brunch recipes that are outside my norm. Some weeks (and much to my husband’s delight), I bake a coffeecake. Others I bake up a frittata in my trusty cast-iron skillet (though some claim that I am too heavy-handed with the kale).

Before you start cooking, read these tips

Pork Goulash With Apple and Onion — The Weekender

by in Entertaining, January 18th, 2013

Pork Goulash With Apple and OnionOne of my long-held theories about life is that most people fall into one of two entertaining camps. You are either dinner party people or potluck people. If you’re a dinner party person, the nights when you have friends over are well-orchestrated. You make the entire meal or if you delegate parts of it, you give specific recipe assignments. Wine and beer is planned, purchased in advance and appropriately chilled. Tables are set sometime in the afternoon and there’s always a carefully arranged cheeseboard.

Potluck people are less concerned with the details. They issue an invitation to gather without carefully balancing the numbers of couples and singles. They don’t make the whole meal but instead announce the main dish they’ll be providing and then ask guests to fill in the blanks as they see them. If asked to comment on whether a dish might go well with the planned menu, the answer is always a happy-go-lucky “Sure!”

I have long been a potluck person. I love eating with friends, but rarely can I be bothered with the worry of formal guest lists or long hours of prep time. I am married to someone, however, who is more comfortable when the details are firmly nailed down and so I found myself throwing a very uncharacteristic dinner party last Saturday night.

Before you start cooking, read these tips

A Last-Minute New Year’s Eve Simple Soirée

by in Entertaining, Holidays, December 30th, 2012

Sweet and Spicy Nuts for New Year's EveYou’ve decided to skip the big dinner and throw a New Year’s Eve party, but it’s just one day away. Don’t fret; there’s still time to throw an all-out bash that will also allow you to enjoy time with your guests.

So let’s throw a party! I’ve compiled a few of my favorite recipes that will complete your menu (with bubbly, of course). Keep the items small, but make sure they’re filling:

Hummus — it’s a must for any party at my house. You can make it the morning of your party and it only takes mere minutes to whip everything up in a food processor. Toast up your own pita chips, too, and this one is good to go.
Try this recipe: Red Pepper Hummus With Toasted Pita Triangles

Spiced nuts (pictured above) are great to have on hand for the holiday season and the same goes for New Year’s Eve. Make these the day before, reheat them for a quick minute in the oven, and serve them at your party. Feel free to get creative with this recipe, like I did, and add other nuts besides pecans.
Try this recipe: Food Network Magazine‘s Sweet-and-Spicy Pecans

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You Asked, Giada Answered: How Giada Throws the Perfect Party

by in Entertaining, Food Network Chef, Holidays, December 26th, 2012

YouTube Preview Image
We recently asked Food Network fans on Twitter to send their party-themed questions to an entertaining pro, Giada de Laurentiis. Just in time for New Year’s Eve, Giada shares tips to ensure you enjoy your own party, as much as your guests do. Click the play button above to watch Giada answer fan questions and get some of her party recipes below.

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