Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Real Simple: Entertaining & Cooking

Party planning is fun, but it can also be very daunting. Trying to stick within a budget, plan the perfect menu and then to actually make it all, can almost drive a girl crazy (and believe me, my husband has seen it happen.) I have discovered some easy entertaining tips and quick easy recipes that are a cinch to make and will impress your guests too!

My husband and I organize small get-togethers with the youth of our church as well as a christian apologetics meetings. Any excuse to try out some new recipes and make a pretty table-scape, I am down. But first...

Organization is key to make hosting a breeze. There are six questions to answer to get started: What is the date? How many guests will be there? What is the location? What type of party will it be? What is your budget? Is there going to be music or entertainment?

For our particular parties, we don't have too much involved but it still requires some delish food to share. This last weekend we had a game night on Saturday and then a belated Mother's Day celebration with the family on Sunday. Both days I tried out these simple yet tasty recipes.

Inspired by Ina Garten's recipe, these beauties took only have the work but sure tasted like the real deal. The secret is in the frosting. Homemade is always the way to go- none of this store bought stuff!

And the cupcakes themselves were equally as easy to make. All I had in the house was a box of Betty Crocker yellow cake mix but to turn my yellow cake into chocolate cake, I added 1/4 cup cocoa powder to the dry mix before adding the rest of the ingredients. You never would have known it was yellow cake. Put a nice dollop of the frosting on the cupcakes and voila, dessert perfection!

For our Mother's day dinner, I made spanish rice to go on the side. In the latest issue of "Everyday Food", Martha offers a simple recipe that is sure to please. I substituted the white rice for long grain rice and cooked it a little bit longer but it was oh so good. Jeremy asked me to make it again for his lunch this week. It must have been good for him to ask for it twice in one week! I was faced with a dilemma, however. I usually buy the tiny 6 oz. cans of tomato paste, but my husband bought the ingredients this time and he opted for the larger, 15 oz. can. What to do with all the leftovers? I certainly won't be using all the rest within the next week.

I looked around my kitchen and found these foil cupcakes trays. After using them to bake my dessert in, I cleaned them out and filled them with remaining tomato paste and stuck it in the freezer. After they have frozen, you can remove the pieces individually and put them in a bag. The next time you need one tablespoon of tomato paste, you don't even need to measure it. Just take one of your tomato paste balls from the freezer and drop it into the saute pan!

Party planning shouldn't be so involved that you can't even enjoy the celebration. Take some time to plan ahead and prepare for the big day, pick out some simple recipes and enjoy the party!


  1. Yay for a fellow frosting snob. Peanut Buttercream is dangerously amazing! The tissue poms are from a Martha tutorial:
    I forgot to cut the ends this time, but sort of like it that way.

  2. Thank you for the Martha link- I can't wait to throw someone a party ;)