Free time is a precious commodity and when I have it I love to spend it hanging out with my friends and family. Hosting gatherings at my house is one of my favorite ways to relax and enjoy the company of my loved ones.
The secret to the relax and enjoy part? Accepting a little help – whether it’s using some store-bought items or letting a friend bring a dessert or wine. I get to spend less time in the kitchen and more time visiting with my guests and everyone gets to enjoy a great meal.
Here are some simple suggestions for which cooking tasks to take on yourself and which to outsource for relaxed hosting:
- Invest Your Time in One Star Dish. Choose a main dish, appetizer, or even a cocktail to be the star of your party. Have fun devoting your energy to this one “Wow!” recipe and keep the rest simple. Find your next signature dish using our recipes search.
- Make the Salad, Open the Dressing. Start with prewashed greens and add one crunchy veggie (sliced carrots, fennel, or celery), one fruit (pineapple, strawberries, or apple) and a sprinkling of your favorite nuts. Drizzle it with a favorite bottled dressing and toss it at the table.
- Buy a Side, Add a Twist. Buy one or more ready-made side dishes like roast potatoes, simple vegetables or a grain salad from the Prepared Foods department and then add an easy personal touch: Stir in a chopped fresh herb like dill or mint, sprinkle with a handful of dried cherries or raisins, or add some sliced nuts.
- Try Ready-to-Bake Bread. Nothing beats the flavor and aroma fresh bread, and baking up a loaf or two of frozen, pre-formed dough couldn’t be easier. Time it so the bread finishes baking an hour before guests arrive; this will give it time to cool properly but still leave your home infused with the warm scent of baking.
- Do a Cheese Course. It’s a crowd-pleaser, and making the plate up yourself takes just a few minutes. You can serve it as either a starter with simple crackers and breads or as a dessert course with fruit and nuts. Ask our expert cheesemongers for suggestions. They’re happy to let you have a taste before you buy and will cut just the amount you need. Keep in mind that as few as two cheeses are fine on a cheese plate.
- Delegate Dessert. Unless you’re a dedicated baker, definitely consider picking up a delicious fresh-baked dessert or, better yet, letting an enthusiastic guest bring one. If you like, add sweetened whipped cream and a few berries for garnish.
I hope these tips help you find some extra time for enjoying yourself and your company!
What are your tricks for entertaining with ease?
Visit our spring gatherings site for more expert tips on what to cook and how to cook it, being the host- or host-ess with the most-est and fun ideas for cooking with kids.
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