Naptime Entertaining: Recipes & Ideas for Family Entertaining
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.
Today I am working with my friends at King Arthur Flour to do a fun fall baking giveaway and to talk quick breads. As you know, I am huge fan of quick breads. I love making them for school snack, serving them up on weekend mornings, and taking them to friends just because. What is not to love about a slice of warm bread with a cup of hot tea on a chilly fall day?!
There comes a time every fall when I feel I must, simply must, have a cheesy casserole for dinner. It kind of like the way I crave soup the second I see snow, and want fresh pesto the moment spring flowers bloom. This year I decided to take my craving to the meatless side and make a decadent mac and cheese ramped up with the addition of sweet caramelized onions and earthy mushrooms.
One of the ways I ease my way into cold weather cooking is with soup. It is nurturing and fortifying, without being super heavy like a winter lasagna. Over the weekend the temperature finally dropped a bit and I made this easy pot of soup for dinner. It was perfect for a cool fall night and fit the mood with all the delicious pumpkin flavor.
Last weekend I celebrated my birthday! This is my fourth time posting about my birthday on Naptime Chef. I know it puts me in the minority, but I actually enjoy celebrating my birthday. For real. I am not really all that concerned about my age, probably because I was always the youngest kid in my grade growing up. For me my birthday is the one day a year when I really let go and do whatever I want. This year I went to the gym (which I actually enjoy), had brunch with friends, spent the afternoon with my family, and my husband took me out to dinner. I also, of course, baked myself a cake.
One of my favorite parts about summer is casual family gatherings. I love the spontaneity of getting together with a family or two, having some casual eats and kicking back. Last week we did just that before we left for our annual summer trip to Cooperstown. My neighbors and I picked a back yard to meet in, loaded up the coolers with some drinks, and all contributed a few eats to the buffet. Since the gathering was mostly kids I decided to make an old summer favorite, a chocolate cookie icebox cake.
I look forward to the ice cream social in Cooperstown every year. It is put on by the Presbyterian church. After dinner everyone in town gathers on the church lawn to eat as much ice cream as possible for a mere two dollars per person. Since we couldn’t attend the social this year we decided recreate a fun social at home on the back porch. To change it up I ordered a few fun things from Wayfair and set-up a little ice cream sandwich bar for my family to enjoy.
Spending the year as a flavor correspondent for Sargento has proved to be a delicious endeavor. Not only are my monthly food truck visits filled with new and exciting foods, I now love perusing the mushroom section of the grocery store. There are so many varieties! So many possibilities! For this months mushroom experiment I picked up some Hen of the Woods mushrooms and smokey fontina. (As I was making this dish I realized how much I like pairing mushroom with cheese!) I’ve already made mushroom dishes for lunch and dinner so this time I wanted to see what I could make for breakfast.