Naptime Entertaining: Recipes & Ideas for Family Entertaining
Last weekend we decided to have a breakfast party. Since my daughter and I will be on the Vineyard for book events this week we wanted to have one last nice breakfast together before not seeing Dad for a whole seven days. Morning entertaining, even for just your family, can be kind of tricky. How early do you get up to cook (especially if you value sleeping in like me)? How fancy do you get? My answer was not to get up too early or get too fancy, instead focusing on a fresh, fun breakfast of lemon cream cheese pancakes with blueberry maple syrup.
When it comes to summer entertaining I am all about the fun cocktails. Last year I talked about my favorite ways to infused vodka with summer fresh fruit. Last week I picked up this hobby again when we brought home the world’s largest watermelon. (I don’t have actual proof that it was the world’s largest but it felt as heavy as my daughter.) After I cut up two bowls worth of fruit and stashed them in the fridge I plopped the remaining chunks in some mason jars and filled them with vodka and a touch of sugar.
Last week I took two little girls strawberry picking. Between the three of us we picked 23 pounds of fresh strawberries in under an hour. It was impressive, to say the least, and I was so proud of my little farmhands for be so discriminate in their picking. They actually followed my guidelines in the fields and only picking the brightest, reddest, strawberries they could find! Half of the loot went home with the playdate and the rest came home to our kitchen. With an exhausted child upstairs for a little quiet time I quickly set to work washing, hulling, and chopped the ruby red fruit. The first thing on my baking agenda? Pie!
When it comes to summer beach entertaining we are all about keeping it casual with a capital “c.” When the kids are involved the last thing anyone wants is to plate delicate dishes while children run wild in the sand. It is so much easier to set out buffets of delicious food and let everyone dive in as they are able! One of my favorite things to make for just these occasions is chicken salad. Every year I try to dream up a few new variations to keep it fresh and fun.
The classic yellow layer cake with chocolate frosting is a mainstay recipe in our house. It is my husband’s favorite cake of all time so it was no surprise to me when he requested it yet again for his birthday last month. Of course I was happy to make it, but I couldn’t help but wonder if it was time for a small change. I wanted a simpler single layer cake with a creamier texture. I also wanted to try it with a vanilla frosting instead of chocolate since my daughter is “really into vanilla” (her words, not mine) these days.
Every so often I get a cookbook in the mail that stops me in my tracks. My infatuation with it could be for many different reasons, in the case of The Book Club Cookbook it is because I love reading. As you know, I am never at a loss for reading recommendations. Need some new great novels, memoirs, or cookbooks to read? I could suggest thousands. The Book Club Cookbook, as the name insinuates, celebrates novels of all kind through food. The authors worked with popular novelists to decide which recipes would pair well with their work. The result is this clever book that is fun to cook from and would even to be a blast to use for adding food themes to book club meetings.
I have a great granola recipe in my book and I wanted to spruce it up a bit for an upcoming brunch gathering. With some dried cherries and awesome dark chocolate chunks on hand (my favorite ingredient for nearly everything!) I knew I had the perfect ingredients to lend a new twist to our favorite breakfast treat. Plus, I was fairly certain the addition of chocolate would make it very kid-friendly.
At Applemania last October Nicole served homemade fried chicken for a picnic dinner. It was the perfect dish to serve a crowd on a mid-fall evening. I don’t make fried food very often, but I was thinking about that meal the other day and it put me in the mood for a homemade crispy chicken bucket. We weren’t entertaining, though this recipe is excellent for serving a crowd, but I didn’t let that stop me from making it the centerpiece of our Sunday night feast. One of my favorite things about it is the chicken is baked at a high temperature giving it a crispy “just fried” texture without any actual deep frying. While deep frying is, of course, delicious, I don’t love how unhealthy it is, not to mention that smell that lingers in my kitchen for days afterward.
This week my friend Adelaide is stopping in to share three great recipes to make an easy, and delicious, cocktail spread at home. You may remember last year when Adelaide stopped in with an amazing recipe for quick fettucini alla vodka, a recipe I swear by to this day. You’ll also find her name in the acknowledgments of my book since she was my recipe tester extraordinaire! For more of Adelaide’s expertise check out her blog, The Moonlight Chef. Better yet, read it while you’re sipping your hot toddy.
I’ll share the menu I am naptime cooking for tonight at a later date. I am experimenting with a few new techniques and I don’t want to write about anything until I know they work (!) In the mean time, since you are reading this on actual Valentine’s Day I thought I would post a few last-minute tips for wooing your sweetie tonight. Most parents I know, like us, will be spending the night in and celebrating with something more formal over the weekend must like Brooke and James told us about last week. If you are scrambling to pull together a romantic meal tonight here are a few naptime cooking tips for you:
My friend Caroline is a native New Orleanian and, although she now lives in Connecticut, she always pulls out all the stops when it comes to celebrating Mardi Gras. At her party last weekend she served the most amazing spread of food including crawfish pies, salad with crab salad, gumbo, king cake (I got the baby!!!), and these bourbon slushies. I would’ve written about them earlier this week, but I just now recovered from my hangover. I am not a big bourbon drinker but holy cow were these good. And potent. And totally beyond any kind of cocktail party drink I’ve ever had.
When good friends come over we love to entertain with soup. With familiar faces at the table we have no problem slurping away while making conversation. In the winter we prefer hot, substantial soups. These can easily be served with a side of roasted vegetables and sandwich to make a complete meal. The other day I decided to make this soup in order to use up the excessive amount of cheese and beer we seemed to have in our fridge. I still can’t figure out why we had it all, it must have accumulated over the course of a couple of weeks.