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Posts Tagged ‘entertain’

freeimages.co.uk food imagesWhen the garden is filled with luscious, ripe red tomatoes and oodles of crunchy cucumbers, I love to pick a few of each and put them together in a refreshing summer salad.

I made this salad for guests recently and it was received enthusiastically. Then when a friend invited us for lunch a few days ago, she made the salad for us. I’m sure it tasted even better when someone else made it!

There is nothing quite like a vine-ripened tomato that has soaked up the best of summer’s rays, drank in the morning dew and the rain from scattered showers, and sits waiting at the peak of perfection to be enjoyed and savored.

You can make this salad for one or for a group, just the proportions the same.

Fresh Summer Salad

3 cups  cucumber, peeled and sliced

3 cups tomato, cut into bite-sized pieces

1cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup Italian salad dressing

Mix together and serve immediately.

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable to enjoy from the garden? Please share your response here.

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When you are entertaining with a buffet, three simple keys can unlock the “Wow” factor and make it look like you’ve either hired a professional or are taking classes in culinary presentation.

Height

Color

Texture

Anytime you entertain buffet-style, think about these three elements and try to incorporate them. When you do, your buffet is going to pop and people are really going to think of you as the host with the most!

Even if you can barely boil water and serve take-out or out-of-the-box food, you can still present it in a way that is appealing.

Height should begin on one end of the table and cascade forward and out. The highest point on the table is where you want to put a centerpiece – be it flowers, fruit or some interesting object. Then stagger the height as you come across the table and toward the front with the lowest point being the front corner of the opposite side of the table. You can get height from a lot of different things like sturdy boxes, dictionaries, a cooking pot turned upside down. If you have a hot dish that needs to stay warm, put a few bricks in the oven to heat then when you are ready to serve place them on hot pads, top with a decorative cloth and place your hot dishes on top. When you have cold dishes that need to stay cold, fill inexpensive aluminum pans with ice, top with a cloth and nestle bowls inside.

There are also a variety of iron stands you can use to give height and texture to your table. These stands look sleek and serve their purpose well. In a pinch you can also turn bowls or goblets upside down and place a serving plate on top for some added elevation.

Color can come from your tablecloths, your food and your serving pieces. Use foods with a variety of color for the most visual appeal. You don’t want to serve foods that are all bland in color because your table will look bland as well. When setting your buffet, plan to use two tablecloths. One as a base cloth and the other as an accent that can cover your added items of height. I like to use black as my base cloth because it hides any spills and it really brings out the rest of the colors on the table. The second cloth can be a color that goes with your theme, matches your decor, or is something seasonal.

Choose serving pieces that offer some fun color and texture.

Texture can be found in everything from your table coverings and serving pieces to your food. A mixture of smooth, nobby, wavy, glossy, and flat will create a wealth of visual interest. Have fun with the combinations and see what works best for you.

The next time you set a buffet, try combining all three elements and see what a difference it makes to you table.

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tulip-tableOne of my favorite things about entertaining is the presentation portion – getting to make things look pretty. There is something so fun about deciding what serving pieces to use, what looks good where and then having the whole thing come together just before the doorbell rings.

When you are planning to entertain, think about serving the food buffet style. This method of serving does two wonderful things, it keeps the host from being so tied to the food and the kitchen and it creates a casual atmosphere where guests feel more at ease and are much more likely to mingle. I think it is fantastic when we entertain and the guests are all just hanging out and chatting. Bringing people together is the whole point of entertaining!

Another thing I love about buffet entertaining is that it allows the host to get the buffet set up in advance. You can even decide what serving pieces to use, where you are going to place them and what food goes in each dish. Once you get the buffet set exactly like you want it, write what food it will be serving on sticky notes and place  on each dish. That way, when you are plating up the food, it is easy to know where every thing goes. It also makes it possible for someone else to help you because all they have to do is read the notes on each serving piece and return the filled dish to its original place in the buffet.

Whether you are doing a single or double-sided buffet, make sure all food is within easy reaching distance. You don’t want someone dragging their sleeve or shirt-tail through a dish of red sauce.

Most importantly, have fun with it! You are the artist and the buffet is your canvas. Get creative and let your personal style shine through.

Next week I’ll share three tips for creating some “Wow!” factor with your buffet.

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So what are the odds that the night before you have company coming for dinner that both the oven and the barbecue would go out of commission?

I had just taken a cake out of the oven when the stove started beeping annoyingly and the broiler went on and wouldn’t turn off. Hubby finally got it to be quiet and stop broiling. Evidently the temp sensor went haywire and of course they have to be ordered and no one in the area keeps them in stock.

Knowing I had seven hungry people I would need to feed the next evening and no oven, I started pulling out ideas for meals that could be grilled on the barbecue.  It was then that Hubby chimed in that the barbecue was not an option.

Pacing the floor the morning of our impending disaster, er dinner, I finally remembered I own a crockpot. Taking it out of the box and removing the packing materials, I quickly got it ready to roll. The result of our make-do dinner was spectacularly tasty.  Here is the recipe!

Barbecue Pork

3-5 pounds of pork tenderloin

2 cans of chicken broth

1 cup barbecue sauce

Dash of Salt and Pepper

Put all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low for eight hours. You can then shred the meat and serve on rolls or slice it. We sliced it and served with a side of additional barbecue sauce for those who like things a little spicier.

Since I’m new to crock-pot cooking, if you have any great recipes you’d like to share, I’d love for you to post them here or send them on!

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