Entertaining a group of kids can be tricky, to say the least. Between the menu, the decor and the activities, things can get out of hand (and expensive) in the blink of an eye. This party concept simplifies the process by limiting all decor to projects that can be made using inexpensive materials, and by basing the party around a cookie-decorating activity, so kids will be well-fed and entertained throughout.
Here’s a fun (and probably healthier) way to use mini doughnut molds. To get through these dog days of August, make pretty individual ice rings to cool down and brighten up glasses of punch at summer parties. Read more
Amid getting meats prepped for the grill and making sure cold cocktails are readily available, the last thing you want to worry about while entertaining in the summer is a big, fancy dessert. And to be honest, after all those cocktails, no one is going to fully appreciate that spun-sugar garnish you spent three hours on anyway. So keep things simple. And nothing is simpler than a sweet treat you can make ahead of time and pop in the freezer until it’s time to serve. These recipes utilize bold flavors that hold up well in the icebox, so you and your guests can indulge while keeping cool.
Frozen Key Lime Pie
Ah, what a classic. Summer is the peak of lime season, so this is a great way to showcase the freshest citrus of the year. A graham cracker crust is the perfect bed for the creamy lime filling, adding a bit of sweetness to balance all of the flavors. It takes just 25 minutes to prep and bake, then pop it in the freezer overnight. Plus, think about how much easier it is to divvy up and serve a pie that’s frozen rather than falling all over the place.
From afternoon pool parties to late nights spent gathered around the fire pit, summer’s all about alfresco entertaining. But between planning the menu, deciding how much food to purchase for your guests and setting the table — not to mention cooking the food — seasonal bashes can quickly become overwhelming for the host. Thanks to Food Network’s Grilling Central, however, and go-to entertaining resources like a party calculator, tabletop tips and crowd-pleasing recipes, you’ll be guaranteed to pull off effortless and enjoyable soirees all summer long.
The key to easy entertaining is preparedness, and whether you’re hosting a few relatives or the whole neighborhood, it’s best to have plans for the days ahead of the bash and for the gathering itself. Once you’ve picked out your recipes, it’s time to shop for them. How much food to buy depends on what you’ll be serving. Check out this easy-to-follow party calculator to learn what to expect in terms of how your guests will approach the food and drinks.
We’ve all been there: Friends dropped by unexpectedly (yay!). You’ve nothing to serve them (boo!). Or do you? Odds are, tucked away in your cupboard or fridge are a few familiar ingredients that can easily be turned into tasty snacks. You just need to know what to look for. Here are simple ways to transform kitchen standbys into beyond-the-basics appetizers.
Use your holiday cookie cutters to make fun tree-shaped crackers: Just punch out shapes from wonton wrappers (usually found in the refrigerated section of the produce aisle). Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, brush with pesto and season with salt; bake at 350 degrees F until golden around the edges, about 8 minutes. Let cool, then store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
(Photograph by Jeff Harris)
Alex Guarnaschelli puts her culinary chops on display daily at her New York City restaurants Butter and The Darby, but she also knows a thing or two about entertaining a crowd (especially during the holidays). When FN Dish caught up with her at the New York City Wine & Food Festival, she was throwing a jazz brunch in the newly renovated Butter, featuring dishes from her debut cookbook, Old-School Comfort Food. Though the event was small and intimate, her entertaining ideas work for any occasion — big or small:
Mix up the menu. You don’t have to serve an entire buffet of right-out-of-the-oven hot dishes. A mix of both hot and cold bites not only keeps the menu interesting, but it also gives you more time to mingle with guests. Try putting out an assorted meat plate with some dried fruits, toasted nuts or a mix of cheeses. It’s an elevated way to serve a wider variety of food without making more work for yourself. Alex recommends pancetta, culatello ham, mustela loin and capocollo Calabrese. Don’t forget to set out grilled bread or pita too.
On Thanksgiving, the holiday ultimately culminates when you finally set on the table a glistening golden-brown turkey featuring crispy skin and juicy, tender meat, and you surround the bird with a bounty of comforting sides and salads. But pulling off a memorable celebration takes patience, planning and a few must-have gadgets to complete the feast. Check out Food Network’s top-five roundups below to find helpful guides for hosting the holiday, the ultimate party-planning calculator and Ted Allen’s simple solutions for easy entertaining.
5. Table Centerpieces and Home Decor — Set the scene on the table with rustic centerpieces made from repurposed household products, like empty wine bottles, and such seasonal ingredients as nuts, fruits and gourds.
4. Table Setting Ideas — Buffet tables can be dressed up with a vibrant tablecloth and a mix of dishes, while sit-down dinner tables can be personalized with handwritten menus, warm-colored flowers and individual serving pieces.
The countdown is on until Fourth of July entertaining begins, but before the party guests arrive, choose easy-to-prepare dishes that will please the crowd. Make-ahead meals will save time and minimize day-of kitchen chaos. Call up friends, family and neighbors worry-free this year by adding these simple, crowd-wowing dishes to your menu. Inspired by summertime and filled with festive red, white and blue colors, these Fourth of July eats will be the stars of the day.
While the party guests are rolling in, serve Red and White Double Dippers with Blue Corn Chips to tide over their hunger. The Creamy Garlic Lime Dip balances the spice in the Red Pepper Salsa. Don’t forget a big pitcher of this Perfect Lemonade. Ready in just 15 minutes and garnished with fresh lemon slices, the lemonade is a crowd-friendly refresher. Make a separate pitcher for adults and spike it.