Naptime Entertaining: Recipes & Ideas for Family Entertaining
We were strawberry picking up a storm last week so brace yourself for a few upcoming strawberry recipes. Unfortunately, we had to do most of the strawberry picking in the fields north of us. The strawberry patch I planted is very slowly ripening and has so far yielded about 10 berries total. I think next year it will be more abundant as the plants mature. In the mean time, we are happy to pick wherever and whenever and I was thrilled to have about 20 pounds to work with last weekend.
I was never really into flavored cheeses until I started working with Arla Dofino. There cheeses are the first ones I’ve ever tried with actual natural flavors like real peppers or dill incorporated into the cheese. There is nothing artificial about them! The cool thing about naturally flavored cheeses is that can give new life to tried-and-true dishes. For example, a regular grilled cheese can be transformed if you use Pesto Gouda instead of cheddar. Quesadillas take on a whole new life with Chipotle Gouda, and salads taste amazing with a sprinkle of shredded Dill Havarti. Last week my in-laws were visiting so I used the Jalapeno Havarti to make an easy summer entertaining dip.
With summer coming up it is time to transition to no-cook food. Or, at least food that requires minimal heat when it is simply too hot to crank up the burners for hours on end. On these occasions I rely on icebox desserts. Anything that doesn’t require baking is instantly more convenient to make. In this case I whip up a quick lemon curd and assemble the cake before slipping it into the fridge. It really is that easy!
This year my husband’s birthday coincided with Easter so we had a day of dual celebrations. Our morning started off with the usual Easter basket frenzy, then we moved on to birthday presents, brunch, and cake. It was actually a lot of fun to have both celebrations on one day. The kids were so wired with sugar they were in the spirit to do just about anything. Which was good, because, as you might be able to tell, my daughter was in charge of decorating Dad’s cake and she did a great job.
This is a quick post today since I am currently gearing up for a new television appearance (this morning!) in Connecticut. When I was in Cooperstown earlier this month my Dad and I revisited our favorite Lemon Pudding Cake. This time I made it with Meyer lemons and adored the result. The lemon flavor was light and a little more vanilla-y. I made the mistake of using a metal pan when I think a glass one would’ve been much better! The bottom was a tiny bit too solid, but the flavor was still great.
I am all about a great chocolate dessert for Valentine’s Day, but I rarely have time to make something too involved. Instead I keep it simple and make brownie tarts. They are just brownies flavored with a little hazelnut extract and baked in round tart pans. But they are so pretty and decadent, they’ve been upgraded just enough to be perfect for a romantic holiday meal.
I’ve made many a soufflé from scratch but sometimes it is good to know how to hack them, too. This foolproof method of making souffles out of a boxed brownie mix always works like a charm. The soufflés come out airy, moist and rich and you don’t have to spend a lot of time making the batter from scratch. I prefer to top mine with a little caramel sauce and ice cream, but you could use whipped cream too.
Since we’ll be in Cooperstown on Friday we are celebrating Valentine’s Day a little early this year. Per our Valentine’s Day celebration tradition, this year I made a decadent dessert. It all started with my daughter’s new found love of coconut and my eternal love of chocolate. When you put the two together you get this sinfully rich chocolate coconut pie.
Superstorm Hercules blasted through our neighborhood last week. The snowfall wasn’t that bad, but the frigid temperatures that followed were awful. High temperatures in the teens and lows in the negatives took me right back to my upstate New York roots. Brrrr. Cold-weather cooking was clearly called for so I whipped up one of our favorites: lasagna. We are all fans of lasagna and I am always looking for new ways to make it. This time I drew inspiration from Food52 and decided on a classic recipe complete with bechamel.
When it comes to the holiday meal I find that I usually keep our main course the same, either a ham or turkey, but I love to play with the side dishes. There are a few things I keep tried and true, like creamed onions for Dad, but there is a lot of room for experimentation. Lately I’ve been making a lot of bread puddings and will be incorporating it into our meal this year.
You may have noticed around the web that Samsung is running a contest called Women of Steele. It is a cool contest where you can nominate a woman in your life to win a premium dinner party cooked by a local chef and a whole suite of new Samsung Kitchen Appliances. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful start to the holiday season to see someone you love win such a well-deserved prize! I know we all have women like this in our lives, the women who really do it all and deserve every bit of recognition for being the superstars that they are. I can think of several people I’d nominate for this contest. In fact, since I can’t narrow it down to one today I’ll talk about three!
I have to admit, my favorite thing about Thanksgiving isn’t the turkey, it’s the side dishes. I love the potatoes, green beans, hot rolls, squash, and just about anything else that is surrounding the bird. During the fall I don’t find myself experimenting with turkey recipes, I focus on new side dish ideas. I am always looking for new favorites, ways to prepare a soup or vegetable I haven’t tried before. This year my latest favorite is this cheesy butternut squash casserole. It is salt, sweet, and hearty enough to be a side dish at one of the biggest meals of the year.