It’s Monday afternoon – are you already thinking about the company you have coming over on Sunday for the cookout? Or maybe the friends you have promised to host someday? I love to entertain so I am always thinking about the next get together!
My mom use to serve hot appetizers and hors d’oeuvres when they hosted parties. Maybe because I’ve lived in California for almost eight years and we do so much outdoor entertaining, but I love a fresh-looking spread as the opening act for our guests. I am obsessed with colorful plates and bowls filled of fresh fruit, veggies and different types of cheese, spreads and plenty of crackers.
We do a lot of entertaining in The In Between. Read about it here!
I start with olives and almonds on little plates. I then put out a bowl of cherry tomatoes and one of carrots. I rinse off some strawberries and put those in a bowl, along with some fresh cut green apples. I also put out some chips and salsa or green chiles. Both men and women will nosh to their heart’s content!
I make a lot of guacamole as well. Read my blog post for the best recipe and a few tips.
I also buy humus at the Farmer’s Market (last Sunday’s cilantro and avocado hummus was amazing!). I also have an assortment of spreads from Napa Style and the We Olive store in Los Gatos. A friend of mine gave me this canned jar of Cayenne Pepper mix and I love to put it out just like this! I have learned to can applesauce, tomatoes and strawberry jam — this Cayenne Pepper mix is my next canning project!
My new craving is a slice of Sierra Nevada Baby Bella/Creamy Jack organic cheese on a cracker with some avocado slathered on top of it. When I cut up the avocado, I put the pit on the plate along with some fresh slices of lemon and lime. I finish it with a sprinkle of Fleur de Sel salt from Napa Style. Forget about salami and cheese – this combination will be your new snack hankering.
I put it all out on our coffee table on a big tray with some crackers and chips. I bought 10 of these green salad plates four years ago at a garage sale with my mom for $18 (she told me I didn’t need that many plates!). Fresh food looks so pretty on them and I love them because of the curved lip around the plate!
We have plenty of cold water and Pellegrino on hand because people are thirsty when they walk in the door. After that, we pop the champagne and pour the cocktails. I ask people to come over STARVING because there will be plenty to eat and drink.
Lastly, I love fresh flowers in the house. But to switch it up, I cut some fresh herbs that grow in our little garden and make a bouquet (peppermint and oregano). Or put out a little bowl with freshly-planted succulents. Anything that makes the spread feel fresh, fun, and inviting!
OK, who is ready for the weekend already?
Why Travel, Cooking and DIY? A creative type, I have always loved painting and decorating as a hobby. Upcycling is a real passion. My mom was a Home Ec teacher when we were growing up. I learned a lot from her and because I love hosting get-togethers, I had to step up my game in the kitchen as well. And lastly, my love of travel comes from my Grandma Schmitt.
An Illinois native, I worked in the White House Communications Agency early in my career (President Reagan), prior to returning to Illinois State University to finish my undergraduate and Master's. After a couple of post-graduate internships (minor league baseball and Big Ten Conference), I then worked in college athletics full-time for more than 22 years -- first at the University of South Carolina for 15 years and then at Santa Clara University for the last seven years. We moved to Tampa, Florida in Dec., 2016 after spending 8.5 years in Northern California.