Naptime Entertaining: Recipes & Ideas for Family Entertaining
Now that we’ve fully recovered from Halloween season — it really is a whole season, the events take up the whole month of October — I am buckling down for the holidays. This year I am feeling cozy and in the mood to nest. We’ve been having lots of people over lately and I’ve been focusing on comfort food and seasonal fruit desserts. A recent favorite is this super duper easy pear crumble. It is loaded up with fall spices and tons of delicious fruit. The top is crispy and crumbly and brimming with caramelized fruit juices.
Holiday baking is hands down my favorite fall tradition. I cherish the time I get to spend in the kitchen with my children. We are always so happy to spend afternoons cutting out cookies and decorating them with all sorts of fun sprinkles and frosting. Lately we’ve also gotten into making breakfast treats like muffins and scones to serve our friends and family when they come over.
When we were in Cooperstown over the Fourth of July my mother made this great Tomato Bacon & Farro salad. It was light and flavorful and perfect for serving room temperature with our coffee-rubbed steak. I want to share it with you today because it is a great one to have in your back pocket for summer entertaining. In fact, it would even be easy to take on the go with friends to a picnic or potluck. Pulling it together is very easy and I highly recommend giving it a try at least once this summer. You won’t be disappointed!
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.