Friday, February 24, 2012

Easy Recipes for Entertaining

My boys turn two next month, so I am in major party planning mode.  I said I wasn't going to do a big party this year, but I love party planning so of course things have snowballed out of control!  It reminded me that I never posted the pictures/recipes from the bridal shower my sister and I hosted for our youngest sister.  It was this past July, on one of the hottest days of the summer (over 100 degrees), but fortunately the party was indoors.  We kept the food very light and simple, because of the heat, and also because we each have two young boys at home and not a lot of extra time for cooking.  We did almost everything ourselves and had a great time hosting the shower.

We did a few appetizers, like cheese and crackers and some dips to start with:

And then we had a light lunch:  croissant sandwiches, mini quiches, raspberry spinach salad, Greek orzo pasta salad, grilled vegetables (now those were a labor of love--  slaving over a grill in 100 degree weather! --we should have just roasted them in the oven!), Caprese skewers, and fruit skewers.

We used The Secret Chef recipe for the mini quiches and just baked them in muffin tins.  We did half using the crab quiche recipe, and half broccoli and cheese.  These are very easy and you can make them a day or two ahead and just heat them up for the party, or you can make the batter ahead and freeze it, and then just thaw and bake the day of the party.

I used this recipe for the Greek orzo salad.  I only made a few changes.  First, I used cherry tomatoes instead of chopping up regular tomatoes.  It saves time, and I was making it a day ahead and I feel the cherry tomatoes last better in salads (and they look prettier too)! Next, I substituted Kalamata olives for the canned black olives- so much better!  And finally, since the reviews said the recipe as written tasted a little bland, I used prepared Greek salad dressing instead of the marinade from the artichoke hearts.  You could also use a homemade Greek dressing, but I had to take a few shortcuts in order to be able to pull this off!

My sister made the raspberry spinach salad, and I don't have the exact recipe, but wasn't it pretty?

The reasoning behind doing the Caprese skewers and the fruit skewers is that they are easy for people to pick up and serve, and also that I have over FOUR THOUSAND skewers leftover from The Secret Chef to use up!  The Caprese skewers are so simple to make.  We bought marinated mozzarella balls from Costco (I LOVE Costco!) and just threaded them onto the skewers with a basil leaf and a grape (or cherry) tomato.  We filled the center of the plate with extra tomatoes, and drizzled a little of the leftover marinade over the top.  Done!

The fruit skewers are almost as easy.  You just have to use a melon baller to shape the different fruit into balls and thread onto the skewers.  We used honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon.

We also did a dessert table.  My sister made the cupcakes, and then we had several different people bringing different desserts, including the cake (which was on a separate table).  My inner control freak was stressing out over this, but it worked out. I was in charge of the decorations for the table.  I ordered the paper flower pompoms from etsy but you can make them yourself.  (You can google "Martha Stewart paper pompoms" and probably get a tutorial fairly easily).

We also had fun decorating the outdoor space, although it was so hot, no one really went outside.  We borrowed this beautiful handmade pennant banner from my sister's sister in law:

And we hung more of the paper pompoms from the umbrellas outside:

 Overall we had fun planning the shower and I hope our youngest sister had a good time.  Hopefully some of these recipes and ideas help you in planning your future parties!

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