All Posts In Entertaining

Easy Appetizers for Spring Entertaining

by in Entertaining, Recipes, May 18th, 2012


Appetizers. Hors d’oeuvres. Starters. Nibbles. Snacks. Whatever you call pre-dinner eats, you can be sure that they will make a meal, offering your dinner guests early tastes and textures and a sneak peek of what’s to come in the later courses. As the spring season winds down, invite friends and family over to celebrate the warmer weather and serve a simple, quick-to-prepare spread of first-course munchies. Food Network’s no-fuss appetizers below are ideal for relaxed, casual entertaining, and include charred lemon-scented shrimp, velvety deviled eggs and bacon-wrapped veggies. Check out our recipe selections and tell us what you’re cooking up this weekend. 

Robert Irvine’s Antipasto Platter With Grilled Vegetables (pictured above) from Food Network Magazine is a go-to pre-dinner pick when you’re pressed for time or if guests stop by unexpectedly. This tray can be customized to any size party or taste preference, though some staple snacks include a mixture of hard and soft cheeses, buttery prosciutto, fresh vegetables, crusty bread and more.

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A Mother’s Day Simple Soirée

by in Entertaining, Holidays, May 11th, 2012

blueberry raspberry muffins
It goes without saying that Mother’s Day is always a fun day in our house. Instead of giving her gifts every year, I like to cook up a big delicious brunch so we can all lay around the house, eat great food and relax. It’s something we do quite well.

My mom is also quite the picky eater, so I have to tailor my menu to fit her palate. One thing that I can never go wrong with is any kind of baked goods. We have a sweet tooth in my family and these Blueberry Muffins that I’ve adapted from Alton Brown are always a hit.

I brightened them up with lemon zest and raspberries, and then whipped up the most addictive Chantilly Cream. Heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and a vanilla bean is a match made in heaven.

These blueberry-raspberry muffins topped with Chantilly Cream are the perfect way to show your mom some love this Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful mothers out there, and thanks to my mom for being so amazing.

Get the recipe for Blueberry-Raspberry Muffins

Individual Shepherd’s Pie — Simple Soirées

by in Entertaining, Holidays, March 15th, 2012

individual shepherd's pie
St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and this year I’m celebrating with a classic Shepherd’s Pie. It’s basically my go-to dish for this yearly celebration, along with a few Irish-inspired cocktails and beer.

My favorite Shepherd’s Pie recipe comes from Mr. Alton Brown.

It’s a foolproof recipe that will knock your socks off. I jazzed it up a bit by adding some Dubliner cheese into the potato topping to give it that extra Irish kick. What makes this even more special is that rather than making a big casserole dish of Shepherd’s Pie, I turn this into individual portions by make the pies in a muffin tin. How perfect is that for a fun St. Paddy’s-themed evening with your friends? Grab a mini Shepherd’s Pie and a Guinness and call it a night.

Get the recipe

Tri-Berry Oven Pancakes — The Weekender

by in Entertaining, Recipes, March 9th, 2012

tri-berry oven pancakes
When I was seven years old, my grandmother gave me a cookbook written for kids. It was something she’d picked up at a museum gift shop and knew I’d love. My mom was not so pleased when it arrived, as she was never a huge fan of cooking with kids. In her mind, meal prep was strictly about efficiency. Adding my sister or me to the mix instantly made things drastically less efficient. Still, once in a while, she’d give in to my pleas and help me make something from the book.

When I turned eight, something happened that opened up my ability to bond with this cookbook of mine. Both my parents started working on Saturday mornings and we had a babysitter watch us until they came home. This babysitter was the teen-age daughter of friends and she was all of 13 (it was the mid-’80s, that’s how it worked back then). She was happy to let me cook, as it kept me busy and she got to help eat whatever I made.

Before you preheat your oven, read these tips

Dos and Don’ts: Accommodating Dietary Needs at Dinner Parties

by in Entertaining, March 7th, 2012

dinner party
So, you’re hosting a dinner party and one (or more) of your guests has a food allergy. What do you do? How do you manage this? Some people do not accommodate special dietary needs at their dinner parties. And while I understand the frustration with the myriad of food needs out there, the question I would ask before I make that decision is: Do I want all my guests to feel welcome? If the answer to that question is yes, then here are a few dos and don’ts to help you navigate this social minefield:

Do:

• Share your menu plan (including a full ingredient list) with your food-allergic guests. If you are using prepared food, like sauces or spice mixtures, save all the ingredient lists for those as well. Ask them to bring up any concerns they might have.

More dos and don’ts

Cookie Exchanges — Simple Soirées

by in Entertaining, Holidays, December 13th, 2011

malted milk chocolate chip cookies
It’s holiday baking time and that means one thing: cookie exchanges. These simple soirées are hands down one of my favorite type of parties to host or attend during the holiday season. It’s a great way to get a ton of your friends together, share the holiday spirit and stock up on lots of different holiday cookies. If you’ve never hosted or been to a cookie exchange, the concept is pretty simple: Make your favorite kind of cookies, bring them to the party and give them away. In return you get a plethora of cookies from your friends that you get to turn around and take home to your family. So basically, you’re spreading a little of your holiday baking love and getting some serious love in return. I always serve some savory nibbles at these parties to make sure no one goes into a sugar coma. A cheese plate with some crackers or a dip duo with some pita chips tends to do the trick.

This year, I’m all about these Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies from Ree Drummond.

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How to Select a Potluck Dish — A Great Big Meal

by in Entertaining, How-to, September 22nd, 2011

lazy lasagna potluck dish
At least once a month, my mom calls strictly to talk potlucks (we talk every couple of days, but these potluck calls are different from our regular, rambling conversations). We discuss what she has in her refrigerator, the produce that’s currently coming out of the garden and if there’s any theme for the potluck that she and my dad are scheduled to attend.

Over the years, we’ve created massive couscous salads, wintertime braises that can be made for cheap and salads constructed from shaved zucchini and mint. Though I can’t offer my potluck consulting services to everyone out there, here’s what I have in mind when dreaming up dishes with my mom.

Five must-have tips »