It is already THURSDAY! Only one more day left in this work week. You gotta love a Monday off. I hope you all had a safe and fun Memorial Weekend. I was on Tybee Island for a bachelorette party with 8 of my closest, drop dead gorgeous, loud, rowdy, charming, dramatic, hysterical best friends. I swear I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in forever. I would love to entertain you with all of the dumb shit that went down but you know what they say. What happens on Tybee stays on Tybee, amiright?
I will entertain you, however, with the art of entertaining! I had my very first mini dinner party the other night. It isn’t technically my first of course, but it is the first time I’ve had one on my own, in my own house, etc.
I fell in love with entertaining through my parents. They always had the neighbors over or would have dinner parties growing up. I loved when my mom had all sorts of appetizers out, the nice candles lit, the lights dimmed, flowers cut, and drinks prepared. The smell of whatever was on the menu was always fantastic. I think a lot of things my mother did are forever engrained in me now. The two of us are always in charge of Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas morning and sometimes there’s even some bickering when the two of us get together in the kitchen. Although if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have learned what I know now so I guess I can put up with our occasional bickering :)
I started noticing my own knack for entertaining in college when we would have friends from other schools come stay in our tiny apartment (that I lived in with THREE other girls). Everyone would be in the living room talking about the night before and wondering where I was. Meanwhile, I was in the kitchen preparing mimosas and a full on breakfast buffet.
Anyway, here is my play by play of the other night.
Step one: invite the guests. My guest list was short and sweet. My dad and step mom, and my sweet next door neighbors, Tom and Cece. Easy Peasy.
Step two: make your house look & smell nice.
Cleaning your house for your guests is pretty obvious. Now I know that most of you ladies reading this take your bra off after work on the couch because it’s a been a long freakin day and you just can’t wait any longer. Then three days later you notice the bra is still there. I get it. But maybe put the bra back in your room before the guests get there mk? (Is this just me….?)
Beyond that though, go for ambiance. Light some nice candles and have some fresh cut flowers.
These bad boys actually came out of my backyard. I couldn't believe it.
Step three: plan the appetizers.
Cheese OBVIOUSLY. Gouda on da right, some kinda cheddar that I can't remember on da left.
Sriracha carrot hummus, assorted olives and crackers for dipping. I went pretty simple here. If you want to get really fancy with your apps, Pinterest has about a million cool and creative appetizer recipes.
Step four: plan the main menu.
My neighbor, Tom, is a vegetarian so I made a Creamy Shiitake Mushroom Pasta from AllRecipes check it out here. Few changes I made:
-I doubled the recipe (and glad I did, just enough for 5 people)
-I used vegetable broth instead of chicken broth
-I used half and half instead of heavy whipping cream
-In addition to shiitake mushrooms I also used a package of crimini mushrooms
-I used basil instead of parsley
For the salad: super simple. Arugula, sliced almonds, thinly sliced cucumber. And of course, my fave go-to lemon dijon dressing:
-Juice of half a lemon
-3 tblsp olive oil
-1 tblsp rice vinegar
-1 tsp dijon mustard
-dash salt and pepper
I sometimes will add garlic, but there was enough in the pasta already.
The absolute YUMMIEST brussel sprout recipe. I promise you, even those who say they hate brussels will love these. It will forever change the way you thought of them.
Cut them in half (keep the lose leafs they crisp up nicely), lay on a baking sheet and coat with some olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven on 450F for 30 minutes, stirring once in between. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar when finished. Seriously, thank me later.
The sign of a yummy meal is the empty plate club going on in the background.
Step five: plan the cocktails.
In addition to wine and beer, I like to put my bartender skills to work every once in a while.
-1 1/2 oz vodka (or gin if you like)
-one wedge lemon
-one handful diced cucumber
-dash agave nectar or simple syrup
-basil for garnish
-soda water or Prosecco
Muddle the cucumber and lemon with agave or simple syrup in your tin. Add the vodka and ice and shake!
Top with soda water or prosecco (or anything bubbly) and garnish with cucumber and basil. So refreshing :)
Step six: plan the playlist. I found this one on Spotify (my obsession). I'm a sucker for jazz standards and blues, so this was perfect. Plus, watching my neighbor Cece twist in my kitchen to songs she listened to when she was a kid was definitely priceless.
Find the playlist here.
If you're anything like me, then planning & entertaining is your performance and the kitchen & your home is your stage. Cheers!