I’m not really sure how it happened, but last year our house became a landing pad for several trick or treating families. Maybe it was the open door, the surprisingly cold weather and the open bottles of bourbon. I expect this year will be no different – but THIS year I will be prepared…with more than just, you know, bourbon. After everyone is trick or treated out, the kids can watch Hotel Transylvania and count their candy. The adults can grab a slice of lasagna, a bowl of soup or a wedge of pasta pie (EPIC). Nothing particularly Halloweeny or Spooky about those, but it’s all delicious. The lasagna is a family recipe – from Kansas (yes, Kansas) with a lot of meat. The bucatini pie will have no meat – so everyone should be happy. The soup just sounded good on a cold night. And last but not least, a lot of garlic bread. At least that will keep the vampires away. Have your friends bring their favorite drinks. But open your own bourbon. Somehow Halloween doesn’t seem complete without it.
Tips and Notes
Look how cool this pasta pie is…http://food52.com/blog/14299-why-pasta-pie-is-the-make-ahead-recipe-and-leftover-you-ve-been-seeking
And this farro soup). Page down, you will find it. Make ahead. Perfect on a cold night.
This internet is FULL of garlic bread recipes… this one looks pretty delicious.
Last but not least, my family lasagna recipe. I don’t claim to be a recipe writer – so email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions! Kansas Lasagna
So you went apple picking…and now you’re feeling overrun. What on earth are you going to do with 85 apples? It seemed so fun at the time. The web is filled with ideas for apple overflow (pies, sauce, butter). But maybe you want to create a meal, or, surprise surprise, a menu out of your apples! There is a restaurant near us called Applewood that hosts theme dinners where an ingredient is highlighted throughout the meal. That is what I am doing here. Bring on the apples!
We start with a cocktail. Forget apple martinis – we are going hard cider here with The Pork Chop from Miami’s Yarbird. Next, a big bowl of a crisp salad from Eye Swoon (click, it’s gorgeous – and do not skip the basil, it makes it). Because you called 10 friends to join you, you need a huge pork shoulder like the one from Pioneer Woman roasted with apples and onions, and smartly paired with wild rice (we need more wild rice in life). To finish, you’re taking everyone to Russia with a simple and gorgeous Apple Sharlotka from The Smitten Kitchen. Happy eating!
Tips and Notes
But first, a hard apple cider cocktail…The Pork Chop
and then, this lovely crisp SALAD…served alongside Pork Shoulder With Apples and Onions and wild rice.
To finish, this gorgeous Apple Sharlotka
Really? You still have apples? Ok. Pickle some (http://food52.com/recipes/16743-quick-pickled-apples) and serve cold the next day with leftover pork. Chop them and mix them with breakfast sausage (more pork!) and freeze. Infuse some vodka and make this cocktail: http://www.whatkatieate.com/recipes/apple-ginger-and-cranberry-vodka-cocktail/. Mix up apple pie filling, freeze it and use in pie, a galette or over pancakes.
Still more? Jeez. Drop them in brown paper bags, create a cute drawing and give them to your dinner party friends as parting gifts (look at you the creative host).
AND then there’s THIS great idea – use the apples for the table! Look at this gorgeous table design from the super talented Little Green Notebook!
The kids are back into the school swing and it’s time to have some folks over to gossip about the teachers. Host a Back to School Open House! Nothing hard here – but a few old favorites guaranteed to make everyone happy. Set out homemade onion dip with good/evil dippers (vegetables and chips – good chips). With a chili bar and hot dogs, the possibilities are endless. Chili dog topped with onions? Chili over rice with lots of cheese? Plain hot dog (maybe not). And everyone loves Tater Tots. Make the chili and dips ahead. Organize your toppings. Cook your hot dogs and keep them warm in the oven. And when did you last bake snickerdoodles, the king of cookies? The time is now!
Tips and Notes
Beer – where to start. Use THIS as a guide.
Onion dip. Why mess with a good thing, right? But we’re going homemade here. Pick one of THESE
My friend Sharon makes incredible, award winning chili. Look HERE
Tater Tots – don’t even CONSIDER trying to fancy these up. Get to your freezer aisle and buy the ones we know and love.
Snickerdoodle’s from the amazing Smitten Kitchen
Are we really here…the end of summer? I say not quite yet. Let’s revel in the moment and celebrate the old fashioned way – with a Labor Day BBQ. In our house this tends to come about last minute with six packs and Hebrew Nationals. Nothing wrong with that, but with a little advanced planning you can get your cookout to the next level. This menu highlights what’s great about summer – watermelon, corn, clams for a taste of the sea, and tomatoes. Chimichirri is something we wish we made more often so here’s a chance. And a trifle…it’s so messy and gooey and delicious. After eating dessert you’re begging for one last dip in the pool.
Tips and other notes:
Clams here is a method – instead of herbs just use garlic, unless of course you want herbs.
Chimichurri every time we make this we say “why don’t we make this more often!”
and last but not least THIS TRIFLE so gooey, so delicious
One of our favorite “life balance” hacks is the late afternoon weekend playdate. Kids play, you hang with other parents. Kids eat. Then we pile all of them into a bed with a movie while we eat in peace. Parenting strategies #FTW!
This menu can be made ahead (sensing a theme here?) and served at room temperature. Just boil the pasta and give that a toss right before you are ready to eat. It also takes advantage of the best of summer (zucchini! sweet tomatoes!) and involves food on STICKS! What could be better? Start with Sangria. Who doesn’t like sangria? Side benefit – cut up fruit can be used for a kid snack. For the tomato pasta, if you’ve not done this you are about to be excited. This is a no-cook sauce. I let it sit on my counter most of the day, covered with saran. I add the basil upon tossing with hot pasta. The recipe link below is a guide – I use less garlic than it calls for. You can gussy it up by adding torn mozzarella if you want. Nobody will complain. If the kids won’t eat salmon make a few with chicken or shrimp. My kids would love the sticky gooey pavlova. But if you have an outdoor fire to get going, it wouldn’t be the worst thing to consider s’mores.
Tips and other notes:
Sangria Flora, No Cook Tomato Sauce, Salmon Skewers and finally, PLEASE click on this gorgeous PAVLOVA!
Maybe a few people are coming over for lunch. Everything is made ahead. Start with everyone with a Lillet Spritzer. Cold poached salmon on a nicoise platter is perfect. Fresh bread and the best butter. Finish with refreshing lemon pudding. Take the afternoon off.