I am a mom of three girls who still loves to snuggle and read to them each night. I have been married for almost 16 years and am primarily a mom, although I occasionally work per diem as an RN. Time spent away from the girls is usually visiting with family or exercising in some way or another with friends.
What are your best tricks for entertaining?
This question made me laugh. I wish I had the ability to snap my fingers and create an elaborate party with great energy and laughing people with bellies full of gourmet food! I am by no means an expert on this subject and really do not have any tricks for entertaining, although I do have a suggestion that I have learned from hosting many birthdays, showers, parties, etc.: being prepared and doing anything and everything you can prior to the event will lessen the stress right beforehand and actually allow you to enjoy the experience you are creating for everyone as well! Yes, you as the host might even get to sit down and eat your carefully prepared meal with your guests instead of being starving and too exhausted to eat by the end of the party. That is the most important thing that I have learned (and yes, it took me a while for what most people think is a no-brainer). This idea of preparing ahead of time really hit home after essentially missing my daughters’ first birthday party because I was making people coffee, running to fill up the ice chests, scouring the drawers for the cake knife and other tasks that could have been done earlier, when all I wanted to do was linger in the moment and enjoy the time with her.
chocolate mousse pie
How many stores do you shop at for a party of 20? When do you do the shopping?
Depending on the type of event, I probably will shop at six or seven stores. I’m sure if money was no object I could do it differently (or hire a party planner, haha!) but I am very fortunate to live near a variety of places and like to get specific things that certain stores carry (all the while trying to be somewhat economical)! Planning and preparing now puts me mentally at ease.
Yes, by now we have established I am THAT type of person, not the one I envy who can throw things together at the last minute and it is amazing every time! So you may think I’m crazy for actually starting to plan in my head, write down ideas, collect recipes and wrap my head around the event about a month in advance. Doing that allows me to gather non-perishable goods at a more casual pace. Costco is a must for a party of 20, but of course it doesn’t carry everything that I might need. I’d have to run to Trader Joes for their specialty cheeses, and then to World Market for seasonal napkins to match my theme, then oops, forgetting that mint for the water carafe and needing to run back down to the closest supermarket to grab that, which leads directly into the next question . . .
Electronic List or written list?
I usually begin with an electronic list for my shopping. I use a great free app called “Errands” which lets you enter different stores of your choice and then allows you to create a checklist for each store. It is user friendly and helps to organize my outings. As it gets closer to the event I prefer written lists for tasks I’d like to do at my house: i.e. Friday morning-bake cake and let cool, while cake is baking make salad dressing and slice lemons for ice tea…Friday afternoon frost cake, and get relish tray together, etc. Inevitably, I will write out a few lists—what needs to be done two days before, one day before, that morning, etc. I honestly enjoy the act of crossing items off my lists.
summer berry tart
What is your favorite recipe source?
My family and friends! Yes, even with Pinterest, Epicurious, and Food Network recipes readily available, my favorite source are my friends and family. An evening BBQ or casual lunch inspires future party ideas. Hearing my friend say that she made this great and easy (now a requirement) veggie dip that left people scraping the bottom of the bowl leaves me scrambling to take notes or a photo of the recipe. I love recreating already tried and true recipes recommended to me by others who have taken the time to make them first, and also to hear the little tweaks and additions they used to make it better.
lemon merengue pie
If you could attend a totally catered event what is your favorite thing? The décor? Food?
Hmmmmm. For me, it’s actually neither, or rather a combination of the two which set the scene and help to create the enthusiasm and vivacity of the event itself. Whether it’s a high tea complete with crumpets and clotted cream on china and polished silver or a baby shower brunch with onesies hanging from close lines and vases of flowers carefully placed, I always seem to take a moment to remove myself from the festivities and enjoy observing the other guests partaking in such an experience. Using the food and décor to design a setting that allows for a person to let go and enjoy the moment is definitely a talent. What a luxury to attend an event that is fully catered! To sit back and indulge in someone else’s creative abilities? Yes, please. That always puts a smile on my face. I cannot help but admire the décor and food that I was invited to be a part of. And of course, I’m always taking notes . . .
mason jar decor at baby shower
bouquet at flower arranging party
Can you share a few of your go-to recipes?
I make this one a lot and it’s always a crowd pleaser:
Chevre with Pistachios and Honey (from a friend)
11 to 12 oz. fresh chevre at room temperature
2 Tbsp. half and half
3 Tbsp. orange blossom honey
1/3 cup coarsely chopped salted roasted pistachios (I use ½ salted and ½ unsalted)
Preheat oven at 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk goat cheese and half and half until smooth. Spoon into gratin dish (shallow) or an oven proof lipped platter and spread level. Bake until cheese is hot in the center and beginning to firm up a the edges about 15 minutes.
Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with pistachios. Serve with any kind of crackers.
Also, this Caprese Tart comes together quickly and is always eaten up quickly!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 12 servings
Butter, for brushing pie tin
Cornmeal, for sprinkling
Pie dough (store bought, about 6 large pieces of dough)
1/2 cup parmesan
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
4 medium sized round vine ripened tomatoes, sliced
salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch slices
10 basil leaves, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375F.
Can use individual tart pans or pie tin.
1. Brush baking dish with butter and liberally sprinkle with cornmeal. Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness and press into baking dish. Press into place and trim excess dough.
2. Brush bottoms of dough shell with olive oil and sprinkle with the parm. Bake for 6 minutes until the bottom is cooked but not too brown.
Sprinkle the tomato slices with salt. Layer the tomato slices and mozzarella slices into the pan, overlapping the pieces in a circle, until all the ingredients are used. Season with salt and pepper. Bake tart for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
4. Right before serving, garnish top with torn basil. Serve warm or at room temp.
Well now we are drooling, Wynter! Please invite us to your next get together!