Naptime Entertaining: Recipes & Ideas for Family Entertaining

Chocolate Caramel Lava Cakes

Individual Chocolate Caramel Lava Cakes

While I like the general sentiment of Valentine’s Day we don’t get overly involved in crazy gift-giving. Instead, we like to stick to sweet simple gifts, homemade crafted items and home cooked meals. This year I plan on making these awesome individual chocolate caramel lava cakes for our Valentine’s Day dessert. (It is anyone’s guess whether we’ll be celebrating while both kids are asleep or with a wide-awake newborn sitting alongside the table in a swing!) Either way, these cakes are so much simpler than they look. They come together in a snap and always look impressive when “dressed up” for the table.

Dave's Gourmet Butternut Squash Sauce

Mom Meals with Dave’s Gourmet & Giveaway

Today I am writing with a hot tip for new parents, or anyone needing to rely on a little prepared food this winter. I am usually an advocate for making nearly everything from scratch but even I, someone who cooks for a living, know it isn’t always possible. While I like to make my own tomato sauce there is nothing wrong with picking up a jar or two of delicious sauce when I simply don’t have the time. When selecting my jarred sauces I always follow two important criteria: the sauce must be organic and can’t contain any funny sounding ingredients or preservatives. These are two of the reasons I love Dave’s Gourmet and was thrilled when they reached out to me about trying some of their delicious pasta sauces.

St. Amand Chocolate Cream Cake

St. Amand Chocolate Cream Cake for Vanberg & DeWulf!

I am so thrilled to be participating in the Second Annual Coast-to-Coast Toast with Vanberg & DeWulf. As I’ve mentioned before, during college I interned with Vanberg & DeWulf and learned all there is to know about imported Belgian beers as well as participated in the building of Brewery Ommegang. Over the years I’ve kept in close touch with Wendy and Don and love celebrating their business whenever I can. Of course, this year I have to abstain from a literal toast and drink (less than 2 weeks to go!) but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy good beer when it is incorporated into great food.

Simple Oatmeal Heath Bar Cookies via The Naptime Chef

Oatmeal Heath Bar Cookies

This winter my friends and I have been taking meals to my friend Melissa’s family while she undergoes chemotherapy. Her prognosis is excellent, but the treatments can leave her tired and lethargic. It is the least we can do to drop off a healthy meal now and then so she can concentrate on recuperating. Last week was my turn to bring her dinner and given my current state I ended up taking her a mash-up of homemade foods, like a big batch of these oatmeal heath bar cookies, and a few store-bought items. Together everything comprised enough food for a few healthy family meals with some comforting nibbles thrown in.

Homemade Bailey's Irish Cream

Homemade Bailey’s Irish Cream {Naptime Entertaining}

I had to squeeze in this one last post before signing off for Christmas. I’ll be back next week with a little check-in and some awesome news (not baby related!). I hope you all will be away from your computers (or, maybe, enjoying your new iPad’s?) and spending time with your families. That is what I plan to be doing anyway! While you are, hopefully, relaxing by the fire here is a great little treat for you – Homemade Bailey’s Irish Cream. Sip it on the rocks, stir it into your coffee, or just drink straight up. Have a happy and safe holiday season everyone!

Shrimp Cups via The Naptime Chef

Day 4: Easy Shrimp Mango & Avocado Cups & $50 Whole Foods Gift Card Giveaway! {Naptime Entertaining}

When it comes to entertaining this season a lot of you asked for some easy-peasy quick party recipes. I am, of course, very happy to oblige since you know I am all about delicious food made with minimal fuss. Today I’ve partnered with Whole Foods Market to share an excellent, and simple, seafood appetizer that is perfect for seasonal entertaining. Sure, this could be done with seafood from any market, but today I am specifically working with Whole Foods Market because of their commitment to sustainability.

Three perfect party crostini

Three Perfect Party Crostinis {Naptime Entertaining}

Tonight is Mom’s Night Out! Woot! Of course, this year this doesn’t carry the same meaning it usually does. But I’ll take whatever mid-week break I can get during the holiday season. Celebrating with friends is always up my alley, even if it means sipping my Elderflower Presse and being the designated driver. For my contribution to the little potluck we’ll be having at Maura’s house I am bringing a trio of party crostinis. I LOVE taking crostinis to parties because they are so easy to prepare ahead of time, they travel well, and everyone always appreciates a party nibble that can be eaten in two bites or less.

White Chocolate Bark via The Naptime Chef

Homemade Gifts: White Chocolate Bark with Fruit & Granola {Naptime Entertaining}

Since we are on the topic of homemade gifts I want to share another one of my favorite small batch homemade gift recipes: White Chocolate Bark with Fruit & Granola. This sweet, crunchy bark first came about when I was attempting Ina Garten’s recipe for White Chocolate Bark and realized I was out of walnuts. Instead, I tossed on some homemade Dried Cherry Granola followed by a handful of toasted sliced almonds and a new holiday recipe was born!

Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie with Maple Glazed Pecans via The Naptime Chef

Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie with Maple Glazed Pecans {Naptime Entertaining}

I’ve been posting some of my Thanksgiving favorites over the past week because we’ve been enjoying them all month long. That is really one of the hidden beauties of skipping the mega family feast every few years – you can just enjoy what you want when you want! To leave you with a truly wonderful dish, today I am sharing one of my favorite Thanksgiving desserts. Obviously, I love pumpkin pie but sometimes I need a break. I mean, how doesn’t love it when the pumpkin flavor comes from the ice cream (!) and there is a graham cracker crust involved.

Moist Carrot Cake via The Naptime Chef

Moist Carrot Cake for Dad’s Birthday & 14-Cup Magimix by Robot-Coupe Giveaway! {Naptime Entertaining}

Well, Sandy has come and gone and I am getting back into the swing of things with cooking and posting. As most of you on Facebook know, our property managed to stay safe during the hurricane despite our close proximity to the beach. But we lost power for nearly a week. While I wanted to stay put and help my less fortunate neighbors it simply didn’t make sense for me to stick around in frigid temps with a young child while pregnant. So, we fled to Cooperstown for a week of electricity and grandparent TLC and just returned to Connecticut earlier this week. While we were in Cooperstown we did our best to lift our spirits with some fun activities. We helped my daughter master her new Razor scooter, made several trips to the Fly Creek Cider Mill, and celebrated my Dad’s birthday with this awesome Moist Carrot Cake.

Pumpkin Cranberry Quick Bread via The Naptime Chef

Pumpkin Cranberry Quick Bread {Naptime Entertaining}

Last week my friend Valessa asked me if I had a recipe for Pumpkin Cranberry Bread. I quickly realized, to my horror, that I have this classic Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread on my website but haven’t posted any major pumpkin bread recipe since (!) I am a little amazed by this since I adore making a quick loaf of pumpkin bread here and there with my daughter and clearly have not thought to mention my recipe for this simply awesome snack in this space. Oops!

Chai Spiced Dutch Baby via The Naptime Chef

Chai-Spiced Dutch Baby Pancake {Naptime Entertaining}

Brunch is a great time of day to entertain when you have kids. Mid-morning most kids are, generally speaking, in a good mood, parents are pleased to get out of the house so early, and the food is always fun. Since my daughter is really into pancakes these days I recently decided to entertain friends with a big Chai-spiced Dutch baby pancake. It is infinitely easier to make than standing over the stovetop flipping the silver dollar kind. Plus, it can be sliced and served like a pie, keeping the brunch buffet neat and tidy.