Naptime Entertaining: Recipes & Ideas for Family Entertaining
I’ll be out of town for Memorial Day this year so I am sharing my very favorite for the season with you right now. Berry season is just beginning here in Connecticut and when it comes around I am all about the strawberry shortcake. It is so. darn. good. Of course, you all know how to make shortcake, of course, but here is my special twist: lemon pastry cream. You guys, it is so much better than basic whipped cream and tastes incredible.
It only seemed appropriate to introduce this delicious recipe from the Cinco de Mayo chapter of my latest book, The Family Calendar Cookbook: From Birthdays to Bake Sales Good Food to Get You Through the Year, with my friends at OXO. They make the best everyday cooking tools and I am huge fan of using them when I make this dish. Today I am giving away a bundle of them along with a signed cookbook!
Over the weekend we celebrated my husband’s birthday. In keep with tradition I made him a cake. My kids were slightly disappointed that this chocolate cake wasn’t as kid-friendly as last year. But, they still had plenty of Easter candy to enjoy so I really didn’t feel guilty. The original cake recipe is adapted from Molly’s famous rich and fudgy wedding cake recipe. I’ve tweaked it by adding a generous nip of kahlua and an extra topping of whipped cream. It takes very little time to prepare and is perfect for any celebration.
Spring and summer entertaining season is on the horizon and that means one thing: showers. As in, baby showers, bridal showers, and engagement showers. So many showers! I personally love showers of all kinds and have thrown quite a few myself. In doing so I’ve learned a few things along the way as well. First: have a standby menu. It is best to have a few standards you can riff on: chicken salad, quiche, punches, bon bons, and a solid dessert nibble. For a baby shower you might do a big cake too, but I find having a bite size dessert on hand is always an excellent idea. Which is where my Lemon Raspberry Jam bars come in.
I love these roast potatoes because they are perfect for entertaining. As in, you can make a nice big batch and serve them in a bowl to lots and lots of people and everyone loves them. Potato dishes are usually good for entertaining in general, but this one is totally foolproof. The come out perfect every time and the paprika and crispy skins make them so delish. They also don’t need any heavy adornments which I don’t find as appealing in the warmer months. There is no cream, cheese, or onions, just salt, pepper, oil, and paprika. In the oven, then done and done.
One thing that is a surefire hit with breakfast entertaining is coffee cake. There is no way to go wrong with it which is why it is important to have a couple good coffee cake recipes up your sleeve at all times. I made this last Friday when my parents came to town for Easter weekend. It is your basic sour cream coffee cake made in a tube pan. I added cappuccino chips and a little espresso to the crumb to make it extra decadent and ideal for my coffee-loving parents.
This decadent treat is my gift to you this Valentine’s Day week. I know, we’ve talked about a few sweet things lately but this baby is the ultimate. It is so easy. Really, truly easy. And it is unbelievably delicious. It features a thick spread of salted caramel which is definitely a trendy flavor right now. The caramel is cradled in a simple chocolate cookie crust and topped with a decadent, and easy, ganache.
This week I am gearing up for Valentine’s Day and I hope you’ll join me! I’ve long proclaimed that I am not a devotee of crazy chocolate covered Hallmark holidays. But a few sweets and a glass of champagne are always a good idea. That is where these decadent chocolate merlot cakes come in. They can easily be baked up during naptime, or even after dinner, and they contain everyone’s favorite ingredient: wine.
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.