, ,

Because I love to entertain—have I mentioned that—I’m always looking for easy, make-ahead recipes that are delicious but won’t kill the cook, so to speak, especially since I’m usually trying to entertain with minimum time to clean, cook, buy flowers, and set the table.

A beautiful table setting using similar vases and decorative items, not expensive and so lovely.

I was recently invited to a ladies luncheon in honor of a friend’s birthday.  Our hostess had only recently moved into her new home and we requested a tour.  I love home tours and always come away inspired to do something or another to my own home.

Don't you love the antique fire brand behind the stove?

We were invited to be seated at the dining room table, which was beautifully set (picture above). The first course was soup and as you can see from the picture (below) was beautifully presented.  It tasted as good as it looked and we all asked our hostess for the recipe.  My friend smiled and explained that the soup was Butternut Squash soup in a box from Trader Joe’s (a market located primarily on the west coast).  She had garnished it with fresh chives and feta cheese and served it with warm baguette slices and butter.  I’m telling you this soup was delicious!

Soup from a box---as delicious as it was simple to prepare.

Next came a salad of grilled chicken, baby greens, fresh raspberries, Craisins (Ocean Spray dried cranberries), candied pecans (now available in most stores) and crumbled feta cheese, topped with a bottled Creamy Raspberry Vinaigrette.  Pretty doable:  Grill the chicken in advance, assemble the salad in advance and toss just prior to serving.  Yummy!

Dessert was French Macarons (not the coconut macaroons) and these too were purchased in the frozen section at Trader Joe’s.  These were served with fresh berries and coffee to drink.

My point is, {honest, I have one} you don’t have to slave over a hot stove to entertain.  Most of the food was pre-made and she presented it with such attention to detail we were all wowed and loved every bite!  When someone else does the cooking food just tastes better, don’t you think?

A luncheon doesn't have to be overwhelming.

Have fun, invite friends over and experiment with a few short cuts.  Do you have any entertaining shortcuts you’d like to share?