All Posts In Entertaining

Summer Tabletopping Made Easy

by in Entertaining, August 13th, 2012

retro picnic tabletop
Each night, you set your table with the expected: plates, glasses, utensils and maybe a few napkins if you’re feeling particularly ambitious. You need them; they bring food and drink to your lips in a socially acceptable, functional way. But this lineup is as zero-frills as it gets, and sometimes your table might require a little something extra. When entertaining the masses or just enjoying the ambiance of your own dinner table, going for a range of unique table toppers is undoubtedly a must.

But what should grace the top of your table? Entertainers of the world: Avert your gaze to Food Network Magazine‘s master list of stellar tabletop ideas, all fit for summer. Ranging from green, reusable party goods to custom napkins, this list ensures that your table goes from undeniably sparse to thoughtfully filled.

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The Perfect French Napkin Fold

by in Entertaining, August 7th, 2012

french napkin fold
Having beautifully folded napkins at your table is an easy way to make a big impression on your guests when hosting a party. They can make your table look really sophisticated and they don’t require spending a lot of time or money. The French napkin fold is one of the more classic ways to fold a napkin that is simple, as well as utilitarian — it creates the perfect pocket into which you can tuck your silverware. Check out this easy first step (pictured below), then click through our French Napkin photo gallery to find out how to finish off this traditional fold.

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Peeled to Perfection: DIY Centerpieces

by in Entertaining, August 2nd, 2012

pineapple flower vase
You’ve juiced the lemons for your lemonade and into the trash the peels go. If you’re a lover of all things DIY, you know a DIY tabletop opportunity was just missed. This summer, as you’re setting the table for your next summer-lovin’ soiree, keep in mind that the freshest tabletop ideas may be as close as your kitchen counter.

Instead of stacking the table high with pricey candlestick holders, high-maintenance flower arrangements, you name it, use something that’s already in your kitchen: vibrant, colorful fruit. With some ingenuity and bare-bones expertise, you can transform a rind, peel or even the fruit itself into a stellar centerpiece.

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Coconut Lime Cake — The Weekender

by in Entertaining, Recipes, July 27th, 2012

coconut lime cake
For the last 10 years of their life, my grandparents ate at the same restaurant nearly every night. It was located across the street from their apartment building and served as the de facto dining room for many of their neighbors as well. My grandmother liked it because the waitresses all knew her by name and would bring her a glass of iced tea the moment she sat down. My grandfather kept going back because it appealed to his frugal side.

When you ordered off the dinner menu, in addition to being served your entrée, you also got bread, a cup of soup, a salad, two sides, dessert and coffee. All told, it was enough food for two or even three meals and Grandpa Sid saw that as a great bargain.

Each night, they’d eat their soups and salads, poke at the entrée and sides a bit and then move on to the real showpiece of the meal: dessert. Little Pete’s always had at least a dozen pies, cakes, custards and pastries on offer, along with four flavors of ice cream. When I was young, I thought it was paradise.

Before you start sifting flour, read these tips

Plan Your Party, Serve the Right Amount of Food

by in Entertaining, July 27th, 2012

summer party table
One of the most stressful parts of planning a party is deciding how much food to buy and make. You don’t want the food to run out too quickly and have lingering hungry guests, but you also don’t want your fridge to be teeming with leftovers. We took popular summer parties — like a barbecue or a cocktail hour — and broke them down into every element to help you determine, from drinks to condiments, exactly how much of everything you need to buy for the perfect shindig.

Rules to Plan By
Each adult will consume 1 pound of food total; children, about 1/2 pound. The more options you have, the less you need of each; decrease the main course portion sizes by 1 to 2 ounces if served on a buffet.

Guests will always eat — and drink — more at night than during the day.

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Effortless and Elegant Summer Table Centerpieces

by in Entertaining, July 26th, 2012

beach themed table
Summer centerpieces are a great way to add simple elegance to your table. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or just sitting down with your family for a meal, the perfect centerpiece can do a lot to enhance the whole experience. Plus, finding table decorations doesn’t necessarily require breaking the bank. There are plenty of ways to create amazing centerpieces using items you can probably find around the house. Here are a few of Food Network’s favorite ideas for tasteful and effortless summer decor.

Beach-Themed Table
If you live near the beach, search for different-shaped shells (this is a great activity to do with the kids) and place them in a nautical-themed pot in the center of your table. If you are far from a beach and no one in your family is a shell collector, shells are inexpensive to buy at craft or design stores. For an added touch, try gluing individual shells on each of your napkin holders.

Get more summer table centerpieces

Forkless Finger Foods

by in Entertaining, July 23rd, 2012

asian chicken skewers
Now that we’re in the thick of summer, the July Fourth party is a mere Facebook album and the days just keep getting hotter and hotter. All the while, summertime barbecue season remains in full swing. Grills are still fired up each weekend, drinks are still being poured and guests are still flowing on in. In the spirit of keeping things fresh this summer, a fleet of appetizers is going completely silverware-free, leaving the fork, spoon and knife behind.

Why go without utensils, you ask? Is it our snack-time nostalgia? Our back-to-nature sensibilities? Our last, desperate push at preventing a sink full of dishes? Well, sure, but there’s more to it than that. Fork-free appetizers are both inventive and practical, bearing the power to impress guests from the get-go with their quirky looks and hand-held feel. In the same way that you and your pals opt for the pretty bottle of hand soap at the store (it’s just so sleek), it’s all about packaging when it comes to social summertime dining. When they reach for Crab Cocktail Americana, the only thing swaddling the crustacean will be a delicate “bowl” made of Bibb lettuce. When they move on in for their chicken fix, they’ll grab it by the stick with the char-grilled Asian Chicken Skewers.

Looking for more silverware-free apps? Shimmy on over to Food Network’s Summer Entertaining Guide for more party-ready appetizers and easy summer party recipes.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip for Summer’s Simple Soirées

by in Entertaining, Recipes, July 10th, 2012

roasted red pepper dip
The beginning of summer means a few things, but maybe the most important is that it’s the beginning of backyard barbecues and potluck parties.

I’m sure quite a few of you are hosting parties this summer and even more of you are planning to attend some fun soirees like graduation parties, birthday parties and classic Sunday suppers. I don’t know about you, but I love showing up to a party with something delicious in hand. And that something delicious has to also be something that can handle a trip in the car to a friend’s house in the summer heat.

One of my go-to potluck style dishes is this Roasted Red Pepper Dip from Ellie Krieger. The original recipe calls for almonds, but I like to give it a nice salty kick and replace the almonds with feta. It gives the dip a smooth and creamy consistency, which makes it perfect for some serious pita chip dipping. Not to mention it’s easy to bring to a friend’s house, and I can promise that your friends will become addicted to this dip as I am — they’ll be begging you for the recipe.

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Blueberry Frozen Yogurt — The Weekender

by in Entertaining, Recipes, July 6th, 2012

blueberry frozen yogurt
When I was 7 years old, my parents’ best friends opened a frozen yogurt business. Their store took plain yogurt and swirled in different fruits, bits of candy and sauces to make your ideal frozen treat. To a kid, having this kind of access to dessert was magical, and my sister and I would regularly beg to be taken to the shop on weekends and summer evenings (where they’d give us extra toppings and overflowing cups of yogurt).

Sadly, the flow of frozen yogurt soon ended when my family moved from Los Angeles to Portland, Ore. Not only did we leave our friends’ shop behind, the cooler climate of the Pacific Northwest wasn’t nearly as welcoming to frozen yogurt as Southern California; frozen yogurt suddenly became quite hard to come by.

Still, thanks to that early conditioning, I’ve had a lifelong affinity for frozen yogurt. I’ve enjoyed the recent resurgence of shops selling the stuff in six or eight flavors, but I always wonder exactly what they’re putting in there to make it taste just like white chocolate or strawberries and cream.

Recently, with these concerns about what I was eating, I decided to try my hand at making my own frozen yogurt. I dug around for a recipe that used simple ingredients and found this one for Blueberry Frozen Yogurt from the Neelys. It features Greek yogurt, blueberries, lemon juice and just enough sugar to cut the tartness. It’s so tasty, it takes me right back to the frozen yogurt of my childhood and is perfect for The Weekender.

Before you start blending your berries, read these tips

Squeezed in the Middle

by in Entertaining, How-to, July 5th, 2012

key lime ice cream sandwiches
Growing up as I did in a house filled with junk food, I had many options. Cookies lined the shelves, each vying for my attention, screaming “Pick me!”

Passing over crunchy chocolate chip, I would quickly made my way to the sandwich cookies. Nutter Butters were my all-time favorites. So much so that my homemade variety appears on the cover of my upcoming cookbook.

I waited all year for Girl Scout cookie season, particularly for the Do-Si-Dos. I’m not sure if it’s the cookies or the filling that I love more. If I had to choose, I would say it’s those soft, peanut-buttery middles.

Baking cookies from scratch allows you to think outside the cookie box for filling ideas. Of course, there is the classic cream filling (think the “stuff” of Oreos), which you can make at home by creaming three simple ingredients: butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. I love adding citrus zest, espresso powder, cocoa nibs or even peanut butter for a twist. Heck, you can even fold in Cap’n Crunch cereal. The beauty of a filled cookie is there are endless possibilities.

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