Naptime Entertaining: Recipes & Ideas for Family Entertaining
Over the weekend we celebrated my son’s second birthday. I can’t quite believe time has flown so quickly. I remember when he was born so clearly it honestly feels like yesterday. We’ve transitioned from burp clothes and midnight feedings, to diggers and trampoline play dates in just minutes. Though he still has pretty apathetic about having an actual birthday there is no way I’d let the day pass without a delicious cake to celebrate. I let my daughter choose a cake she would love and asked her to help me style it for her baby brother.
Here’s a great party idea I picked up over the holidays: the DIY Dark & Stormy bucket. Place a big bucket of ice on top of a table and fill it up with beers and ginger beers. Next to the bucket place a large bottle of dark rum and cups for mixing. If people just want a beer they can grab one and walk away. It is so nice not to have to wait for a bartender to give you a beer! Or, if they want a little something more they can mix themselves a few Dark & Stormy’s. Again, nobody needs the bartender to make them, they are so easy to make yourself. I am definitely planning to make a Dark & Stormy bucket for our next party. It would also be really fun and refreshing at a lawn party!
Today I am here to talk punch. Punch is always a welcome addition to any party. It is a nice break from regular bar drinks and a pretty punch bowl always adds to any festive atmosphere. At our party earlier this month I served huge batches of Fish House Punch from my grandmother’s punch bowl which was on loan from my parents. It is an old-school punch recipe from Philadelphia that my parents served at their own Christmas soirees. Let me tell you, there are some stories from those events that are still being told three decades later! As you might guess, a lot of those stories stared with this punch. It goes down smooth, lights up your cheeks, and creeps up on you. Don’t be surprised if you throw off your shoes and start dancing the night away after two glasses.
This month, more than any other, I find myself carrying desserts all around town. Whether it is homemade dessert sauces for friends, or a gorgeous pie for a mid-December luncheon, there is always a reason to serve up something sweet. One of the treats I’ve been revisiting this season is French Silk Pie. It is so easy to make – no baking! – and always tastes amazing. Some people get concerned about it since the eggs aren’t baked, but I have a special trick for dealing with that.
This is a short post today because I am still all blissed on my birthday week high. (As I’ve said before, I am not one to shy away from getting older!) Over the weekend I enjoyed my yearly tradition of baking my own birthday cake. My daughter served as my trusty sous chef while I baked up this delicious treat. It is rich chocolate cake frosted with chocolate peppermint glaze. In short, it is like an inside out peppermint patty, or like a soft thin mint cookie. Take your pick. In short, it is chocolate mint heaven. If you have a birthday coming up soon I highly recommend baking this up and serving everyone you love a thick slice!
Last weekend I invited friends over for a super fun house party to talk about Arla Dofino cheese and how it can be incorporated into healthy, everyday lunchbox food. I loved the opportunity to chat with my friends about this company I’m enjoying working with so much. I’ve developed a lot of great recipes with a variety of creamy, delicious Arla Dofino cheese, and this was the perfect chance to showcase how you can add Arla Dofino as an easy option to your lunchbox repertoire.
A bloody Mary needs no introduction. Any adult, and most kids, have seen it a hundred times before. While we love the classic cocktail we enjoy putting new twists on it now and then. It isn’t about reinventing the wheel, it is more about a little tweak here and there. Sometimes we are inspired by a fresh vegetable from the garden or an amazing slab of bacon we recently tasted, other times it is all about a craving for spice or a certain texture. When I have the time I love to freshly juice my tomatoes. But, since I don’t own a juicer — how I would love one of these! — I usually use tomato juice from the store. No doubt fresh juice takes a bloody to a whole new level. But, if you don’t have a juicer don’t sweat it. Last weekend my husband and I were inspired to make a little bloody Mary bar at home and these are what we came up with:
This weekend marks the end of summer entertaining for us. Next week, we’ll be back in full school mode and our simple get-togethers with friends will be less frequent than they have been for the past few months. To send summer out with a bang, I want to have a few friends over and serve some easy dishes that won’t take long to make. I am going to take the opportunity to showcase a lot of my favorite Arla Dofino cheeses since they are a great alternative to processed cheeses and are made with few ingredients, plus, I know everyone will love them! Here is what I’m planning to make:
I went a little peach crazy this summer. The harvest in the Northeast seemed particularly good this year. The peaches were exceptionally juicy and full of flavor. Perfect for jam, punch, and pie. I’ve never shared this pie recipe before even though my mother has been making it since before I was born. It is from her friend Sandy and there is a small secret ingredient that sets it apart from all the other peach pies I’ve ever tasted. The ingredient elevates the peach flavor without overshadowing it. Once you add it to your peach pie you’ll never make one without it again.
Last weekend some good friends visited us in Cooperstown. When they came in on Friday night we had a big feast to welcome them. It was all about easy, homey, summery food that we all could enjoy at the big table. My mom made one of the salads from my cookbook, lots of corn, and a salad. I contributed these Greek chicken skewers my friend Caroline had made for us last month. They marinade couldn’t be more simple and their bright, garlicky flavor is ideal for a summer meal.
Summer vegetables are always my inspiration when I start composing salads for friends and family. This time of year, they are so fresh and bursting with flavor that I am always sure to include as many as possible whenever I prepare a bowl. Lately, I’ve been trying to take my salads up a notch, making them even more flavorful and exciting. This summer, my trick has been to add a generous shower of creamy, natural Arla Dofino Havarti with Dill. The cheese has a delicious, mild dill flavor which adds a wonderful dimension to the salad.
During the summer I’m all about making the most of my edible gardens. My herbs have been thriving ever since they were moved from the sunny raised bed to the shadier porch. Now my daughter and I are collecting bunches of fragrant greenery to use in my cooking. Over the weekend I was inspired by my gorgeous lemon verbena plant. Every year I am tempted to plant it in the garden but have been advised against it since I’ve been told it will take over everything. Instead I just buy a new plant each year and keep it in a pot until the first frost hits. I make sure to use every single leaf in everything from tea to ice cream to baked goods. This shortbread was new to us this year and we loved i