Guest Post! 5 Tips for Easy Entertaining

Hello, Runner’s Kitchen readers! My name is Sofia and I blog over at InsightfulAppetite.com, where I chronicle my adventures as an avid restaurant goer, yoga explorer, and sometimes amateur chef. I’ve been reading Megan’s blog for a couple of years now as I used to be a big runner myself, but when we met a year or so ago I was already struggling through a nagging stress fracture that has left me incapable of running at the level that I used to. Fortunately, Megan is a multi-faceted girl who is not only an awesome runner, but also an adventurous eater with a love of cocktails. And so, to represent for the Kitchen (and cocktails) part of Runner’s Kitchen, I’m going to share some tips on entertaining.

I love having guests over. Cooking food for others, sipping delicious wines with friends and mixing cocktails at home with a crowd bring me great joy. I’m not sure how I got this way as a twenty-five year old, but I figure I might as well work with what I’ve got. So I’ve been finessing my entertaining skills and have learned a few things.

1. Use high-quality ingredients – there is greater chance that whatever you make will taste good.


Pictured above are whole wheat crostini topped with roasted cauliflower, local whole milk ricotta, and local smoked mozzarella. Roasting veggies for about 15 minutes in the oven (at 375 degrees) with olive oil, salt, pepper and hot red pepper flakes make them even taster and perfect atop crusty bread. Lesson learned: pre-toast your baguette slices with olive oil; it’s worth the extra richness. Sure, this wasn’t the biggest hit with my guest of honor, but it certainly was tasty because I used real, whole foods. Nothing was low-fat or processed, which I think is an essential piece to any runner’s (or active non-runner’s) diet.

2. Maintain a well-stocked bar. Your thirsty guests will thank you.

Bottles of booze are infrequent purchases that will last you a long time, because let’s face it – as a twenty- (and thrity-) somethings we’re probably eating and drinking out more often than entertaining at home. As for mixers, I like to keep things simple and wholesome: naturally sweetened juices, and even some kombucha to spice things up. I also keep a lot of lemons and limes around to make fresh squeezed citrus juice, which is a key ingredient to many delicious drinks.

3. Have the right tools on-hand. It’ll make the cocktail creation process much
smoother.

You’re gonna need a shaker. And a simple juicer. And some nice glasses are fun, too.

4. Keep experimenting. You might make a drink (or snack) that turns out to be absolutely revolting. Don’t be discouraged; your friends will be happy to consume your creations, regardless of the bitter taste at the tail end of a drink you made that time you went angostura bitter-happy.

5. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Ever. We’re not mixologists or professional chefs. Remember: we’re into this entertaining stuff to spend time with our friends, eat delicious food and imbibe potent drinks. And for the a few good laughs.

Recipes

GINgerberry Fizz

3/4 cup berry-flavored kombucha
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup ginger juice
2 shots gin
1 shot grand marnier
3 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in shaker. Shake gently so as to not disturb the fizzy
kombucha quality. Pour into two glasses and garnish with lime slices.

Spicy roasted cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, chopped finely into small pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh Rosemary
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt, pepper and hot red pepper to taste

Two-Cheese Cauliflower Crostini

1 whole wheat baguette, sliced into 1/2-3/4 inch pieces
Olive oil, to taste
1/2 cup spicy roasted cauliflower
Fresh ricotta cheese
Smoked mozzarella
Truffle salt

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Drizzle olive oil on baguette slices and toast in oven for five minutes. Remove and sprinkle with cauliflower, ricotta cheese and smoked mozzarella. Put crostini back in oven for another 7 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with truffle salt, if desired.

What’s your favorite drink and appetizer to serve guests? Bonus points if it’s inexpensive (ish) and can be made in under 20 minutes!

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  • Nicole M Falcaro

    Is it also important to make an expressive face as you shake said drink? Is this for entertainment, quality, or both?

  • Maintaining a well stocked bar is the best tip!
    @5157776dd88aef1109b6b9d839e9681a:disqus 
    I like making chilcano de pisco’s for guests, gotta love pisco!

  • both, clearly. glad you get me. UWS cocktail party planning is in the works, by the way. get ready!

  • The expressive face is important for giving your face structure. If you shake with a slack face, you get all Basset houndy in the jowls. When you realize the picture is going on the internet, the Basset hound look is one you seek to avoid.

  • AR

    I am troubled that you appear to be wearing my “Sweet Valley High Fan Club” sunglasses from 5th grade as a headband. #hipster

  • AR

    For all the talk around the blogosphere I see, there is not enough talk about kombucha in alcoholic drinks. Now I might actually try it!

  • I’ve gotten more comments/compliments on those sunglasses than any other article of clothing/accessory I have EVER owned. They were $9.99 at Sports Authority. You are jealous and that is OK. Megan, how happy are you that we are using your comment section for this discussion?

  • Anonymous

    True story – I AM jealous of those sunglasses. I just asked the man-friend
    how much a pair of Ray Bans would set me back. #IwanttobeahipsterlikeSarah

  • What a perfect topic for you! I feel like you’re a natural hostess. And Sarah an excellent drink shaker. I honestly rely on wine for guests because I’m terrible at making fancy cocktails. And then for an app, cheese and crackers or bruschetta. I guess I’m boring. Or maybe lazy. Or a little bit of both 🙂

  • Will you make me some drinks? With that face? Mixed drinks always taste better when someone else makes them. Much like salads. And cake.

  • Anonymous

    I will never call you boring or lazy if you give me wine and bruschetta 🙂

  • Nice Post! I especially like Tip #1 – using quality ingredients. Sometimes I try to make dishes too “healthy” and should save those meals for when its just me and my husband – esp if it’s a special occasion.
    Another tip I try to remember is to create a menu where most of the food can be prepped beforehand – this way I can hang out (drink) with my guests, too. (I’m a big fan of mexican-inspired menus for this reason – lots can be done pre-party)
    Thanks + Happy Summer!

  • You, Sofia, are awesome 🙂

  • I love this post! 
    My favorite appetizer to serve guests are mini smoked mozzarella sandwiches with sundried tomatoes. I make sure I buy nice bread and I toast it and smear a bit of olive spread on it before adding smoked mozzarella and sundried tomatoes. These are always such a hit!

  • Guest

    Nice post… Love the expression… Here’s a party cocktail for ya ;o)

    MOJO Recipe
    Ingredients:1 qt Light rum1 qt Dark rum1 pt Cherry brandy6 cans beer5 cans 7-Up4 qt Pineapple juice2+ bags Ice
     
    Mixing instructions: Mix all ingredients in large container. Keep stirred. Failure to stir will cause pineapple juice to solidify and settle, turning brown in the process.
     
    Of course it must be noted that this fine drink can only be consumed in the sitting position, and you must warn guests not to stand up too quickly or the floor will find them very fast.

  • RV Goddess

    Super Easy. Can be made in advance. Fat Free. Delicious. Do I win a prize?Fat-Free Curry Dip
    One carton fat-free Greek-style plain yogurt (6 or 8 ounce)¼ cup Major Grey’s Chutney1 teaspoon curry powder (mild or hot – your choice)

    In a small bowl, mix the chutney and curry powder into the yogurt. Stir well to combine. Place in a serving dish and chill for 30 minutes, or up to one day. Garnish with a dusting of additional curry powder, if desired. Serve with cucumber slices, baby carrots, celery sticks, bread sticks or chips. Serves 6.

  • Anonymous

    yum! i love yogurt dips. i made one last summer with spinach, water
    chestnuts, and Knorr’s onion soup mix.

  • Just found your blog! love love love that you used kombucha! great cauliflower recipes too! Im adding you to my reader!

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