We’re Southern gals and for many of us, being a good hostess is in our blood.
Before kids, I was known to host elaborate dinner parties filled with multiple appetizers and several courses. I recently found an old planning email to myself where I listed out the ingredients for an upcoming party. The food list was enormous and I know I must’ve spent the entire day in the kitchen. Can you imagine that these days? Time now is much more limited and much less luxurious.
However, I’m not ready to completely write off entertaining while I tread water in this stage of life. With two young children in the house, I’ve come up with a few hacks just in case people stop by.
1. Frozen cookie dough – My freezer almost always has frozen cookie dough balls in it. It takes just a second to turn on the oven and pop in a tray of cookies. Individual portions allow control of how many are made. Lord knows, I don’t need an entire batch of warm cookies sitting around! Just make a batch of your favorite recipe, let it sit in the fridge for 24 hours, and then ball it out and freeze it for a future engagement.
2. Festive Kitchen’s Sundried Tomato Basil Pesto Torte – This is another freezer item I like to keep in the house. Festive Kitchen is Dallas’ one-stop shopping for anything from frozen appetizers and desserts to pre-made casseroles. I’m a sucker for their torte layered with sundried tomatoes, basil pesto, cream cheese, and pine nuts. It’s very impressive and all you have to do is lay it out to thaw three hours before people arrive and serve with crackers. Easy, peasy. 3404 Rosedale, Dallas or 515 W Campbell Rd, Suite 106, Richardson
3. Trader Joe’s Macarons – Macarons are my hands-down favorite dessert. Unfortunately, they are also hard to come by and quite pricey. Enter my BFF, Trader Joe’s. In the freezer section (do you sense a theme here?), are a dozen rainbow colors of the French pastry for under $5. They thaw in about 10 minutes and I like to serve one with a scoop of ice cream or sorbet for guests. The presentation is impressive and you didn’t spend valuable time or dollars. (While at Trader Joe’s, make sure to also check out their flowers. In true TJ way, the floral prices are low and your table will look so much brighter with the gesture.)
4. Cowboy Chicken Enchiladas – Recently, I had grand plans for an elaborate dinner menu with friends. The group count quickly went from 12 to 25 and I shed that menu for an easier option: Cowboy Chicken. Have you tried their sour cream chicken enchiladas? The sauce is to die for. Cowboy Chicken DELIVERS for a very small fee. Insider tip: skip the catering menu and check out the “family style” menu. It’s cheaper and multiple family meals can be served in one big tray. various DFW area locations
5. Bacon Wrapped Figs – My sister and I have a tradition of making bacon wrapped figs for Christmas. Recently, we’ve made more than necessary and I’ve frozen these bite-sized bits of goodness for a forthcoming quick and easy appetizer. To make ahead of time, cut a dried Mission fig in half. Put a dollop of goat cheese on it and wrap everything with a tiny slice of bacon. Secure with a toothpick. You can then freeze them or bake right away at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy.
Entertaining does not have to mean extravagance. At the end of the day, a good hostess is someone who is always willing to have friends and family in the home regardless of the state of said house or children (or mom!) at any given time. True friends do not care and prefer each other’s company over magazine-like living.
What tricks do you have up your sleeve? Leave some ideas in the comments!