A busy schedule can keep you from getting together with friends. But life is too short not to share it. I’ve found a way to hit that hostess sweet spot with some tried-and-true sanity savers.
And autumn is a perfect season to celebrate friendship.
The snap of crisp air seems to sharpen appetites, even as it invites getting cozy indoors. Lingering over a delicious meal with friends satisfies body and soul.
I was reminded of that during my recent visit to farm country. I got to share an excellent meal prepared by renowned chef and Food Network star, Bob Blumer. That motivated me to invite friends over for my own fall party.
When I’m getting ready for company, I love going for a stroll through the farmer’s market, especially during fall. The autumn colors and bounty of fresh harvest are delightful and they always inspire menu choices and décor.
It’s also feels like “free” me time, a certain way to spark a little creativity for adding dash to a get-together.
Although my dinner party couldn’t happen on a farm, I went with the popular modern farmhouse feel. It’s simple, trendy and oh-so-comfortable.
A restrained palette of cream, black and copper looks sophisticated but not too formal.
What makes it work is the mix of patterns and texture that create a visual tension. Otherwise, it could feel too “traditional country” and that’s not me.
I’m especially pleased with how my centerpiece came together: Indian corn, corn husks and wheat heads from the farmer’s market in a “copper” pot.
If I didn’t tell you, I bet you couldn’t tell I spray painted that copper on my take-out bucket from a previous dinner.
Recycling at its finest!
Each place setting also had a single wheat head embellishment, making the table décor cohesive, inexpensive and quick, which is another sanity saver.
I used to make myself crazy, preparing a menu from scratch. It’s a sure way to hostess burn out. The smarter way to entertain is to make a few, quick dishes and partner them with take out or store bought items.
For my recent fall dinner party, I knew I wanted comfort food. “C” is for comfort… “c” is for chicken. Fried chicken would be perfect for my main entrée…but I knew I wouldn’t have time to fix it.
I also knew I could buy KFC. They hand bread their chicken for an authentic, homemade taste.
KFC is the same chicken I buy at the grocery—real Canadian farm-raised chicken—except all the work is done. Tasty and time-saving makes it an easy choice.
Brussel Sprouts with BaconPrint Pin
- 48 brussels sprouts cleaned and halved
- 4 teaspoon honey
- 4 slices cooked bacon
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Place brussels sprouts cut side down on baking sheet
- Bake for 35 minutes or until sides are golden brown
- Remove from oven and toss with honey and bacon
Baked Sweet PotatoesPrint Pin
- 3 sweet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
- sugar to top
- Peel and cube sweet potatoes
- Place in a pot of boiling water and cook until soft
- Remove from water and let sit until cool (put them in the fridge to speed up the process)
- Place sweet potatoes, cream and butter in mixer, whip until smooth
- Fill ramekins half way with sweet potatoes, cover each one with 1 tsp of sugar
- Place on baking sheet and broil in oven until sugar is melted. Watch carefully so they don't burn
- Remove from oven and let sit a few minutes so sugar starts to harden
The menu I decided on:
- KFC fried chicken
- Mashed potatoes
- Brussels sprouts with bacon and honey glaze
- Whipped sweet potatoes with a caramelized sugar topping
Crockpot Pumpkin Spice LattePrint Pin
- 10 teaspoons instant espresso powder
- 5 cups water
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 1/2 cups creamer or half and half
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- whipped cream optional
- Boil a kettle of water as you assemble your ingredients.
- Place the espresso powder in the crockpot and pour 5 cups boiling water over top.
- Stir in the pumpkin puree, creamer, and spices.
- Place on high heat for 45 minutes to combine, and then serve with caution (will be extremely hot).
- Garnish with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon as desired.
And for dessert:
- Crockpot pumpkin latte
- White chocolate biscuits
Not only are these dishes a delish way to celebrate the harvest season, none of the recipes are complicated and their colors add to an appealing presentation.
The best way to make a gathering happen? Invite friends to your table. Keep it simple and don’t do everything yourself. Sweet!