When trying to keep a dinner menu simple, I love to serve a substantial recipe rather than a few picky dishes. If you get your timing right, a few glasses of wine when your guests arrive will hold them over and naturally transition to dinner with just one big appetizer.
It might not feel like spring outside, but the season is in full swing in the market! It’s artichoke season, so get those kitchen shears ready, because you’re going to need to make artichokes straight away. Cleaning artichokes feels a little work intensive the first time you make them, but after once you’ll get it and you’ll be craving artichokes regularly!
A charcuterie board is an entertaining essential in my book, the essential “ingredients” of which I feel like we always need to have on hand. Whether someone pops by for a meeting, or a neighbor comes over for a glass of wine, or a friend shows up at the last minute, it’s one of those things that feels so effortlessly chic to be able to put together.
A well executed charcuterie board always has at least one cured meat, two cheeses, a cracker, a vegetable (pickled, cured or fresh) and a sweet element.
To make it easy for guests, slice the cheese and meats for them!
I’m also a big fan of having seasonal napkins (guest, dinner and cocktail) stashed in the house.
Here’s my strategy when I’m picking up goodies for a charcuterie board:
- Pick 2-3 cheeses, one a crowd favorite like cheddar, then two others that might be less popular. I like to pick a cheese that is wine or herb infused, something that is easy to tell the difference once on your plate or board.
- Pick at least 2 crackers, different shapes and flavors.
- Pick at least 1 meat for a small plate, 2-3 for a larger plate.
- Grab a bunch of grapes, they’re always a hit! Sliced apple pairs well with brie, figs are lovely with a soft goat cheese, strawberries are my favorite so I like to sneak them on a plate whenever I can.
- A vegetable of some sort – I count olives in this category, basically pick something that isn’t meat or cheese or crackers to liven up the board. Sweet & spicy cherry peppers work well, as do cornichons.
And as always, if you plan ahead and make a list it’s all much easier to put together! And once you know what you love, you can easily stock up on the essentials to pull together at the last minute!
What are your charcuterie board must haves?
I’ve always loved a light vinaigrette, especially one that’s a little creamy. And I’ve finally cracked the code – dijon mustard is the secret to this vinaigrette!
Everyone needs a good dressing recipe in their back pocket, and I swear I could put this on everything – from salad to fish to meat to veggies. I’ve made this twice this week already and it’s only Wednesday!
Creamy Vinaigrette Recipe
Yield: Appx 1/4 c. | Time: 5 minutes
1 large garlic clove, zested (or minced if you don’t own a zester)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
3 tbsp dijon mustard (the smooth kind, not grainy)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients and shake it like a polaroid picture!
You can adjust the ingredients to your liking. If you want a thinner consistency, add water 1/2 tsp at a time.
I can’t tell you how much I love fresh flowers. I day dream about running through fields of wild flowers bursting with colors so naturally I need flowers in the house at all times. All over the place.
These are actually not wild flowers, but all different types of filler flowers from Trader Joe’s. They really have the best price on flowers if your heart isn’t set on a specific bloom.
It’s so easy to put together a beautiful stunning flower arrangement from grocery store flowers. My first tip, don’t over think it!
A few years ago, my mother made lamb lollipops for Christmas, which surprisingly was the first time I had ever had lamb! It was so delicious – so buttery and just the right size.
I have to confess, I’m not a huge fan of ham, so when I started creating the Easter menu, I knew I was going to feature lamb. It really was the base for my menu and I built out each course from there. Doesn’t “lamb lollipops” sound so much fancier than “lamb chops?” It is, though, one in the same. We’re just going to roll with “lollipops” over here.
These lamb lollipops cook up quickly and are marinated for several hours in lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. They cook up so fast, too! With everything else prepared, you’ll be putting fresh lamb on the table before you can even say, “Amen!”
Warm, cheesy, tangy, flaky…downright dreamy. This asparagus tart recipe is perfect for your spring and Easter gatherings and is irresistible served warm and super tasty at room temperature.
I promise the only regret you’ll have with this recipe is wanting to eat it all! It’s so simple it’s almost a sin to even call this a recipe. You can change up any aspect of the recipe, change the cheeses, use a different veg – it’s all up to you!
The balsamic glaze I added at the end really helped to finish the dish, just add right before serving if you decide to serve this tart at room temperature!
Easy Asparagus Tart Recipe
Yield: 6-8 servings | Time: ~35 minutes
Pastry dough, thawed.
1/4 c grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 c whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 tbsp lemon zest (optional!)
salt, pepper to taste (salt might depend on the cheese you choose)
optional: balsamic glaze to finish
Preheat the oven to 400°
Roll thawed pastry dough onto parchment lined baking sheet
Score pastry dough in a rectangle to make the area that will be the “crust,” about 1/2 inch from the edges. Poke the base with a fork generously to prevent the puff pastry from, well, puffing up too much. Bake dough for 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, trim and blanch your asparagus. Drain well.
While pastry and asparagus are cooling, combine cheeses, lemon zest if using, salt and pepper. Mix well. Gently spread cheese mixture evenly on tart, leaving crust without cheese.
Top with blanched asparagus. Bake for 12 minutes or until crust is golden-brown and cheese is melty delicious.
Let cool for a few minutes and cut into slices. You’ll need a very sharp knife or a very sharp serated knife to cut the pastry without the crust falling apart.
Note: Frozen pastry dough typically comes with two sheets of dough. This recipe can easily be doubled to utilize both sheets of puff pastry. make sure to separate them from each other if you are going to thaw both sheets of pastry dough.
In planning our Easter menu, I’ve tried to keep our recipes light, simple and bright. Know what I mean by “bright”? Those dishes that just feel lively and springy and, well, bright, as soon as you take a bite. Enter, this simple spring lemon loaf recipe!
The key to the super lemon flavor in this dessert is lemon zest, and a lot of it. So you’ll need a zester – I have this one! I love how moist this lemon loaf is, and the trick is the full fat sour cream – it not only gives it zing but also keeps the slices moist, even after a few days.
Another reason I love this recipe? You don’t have to dirty up your stand mixer! Just one bowl and a whisk and you’re all set.
When I planned our Easter table, I wanted to find a few special ways to elevate the spring tablescape to be a little more elegant. Flowers can go a long way, I mean, check out those peonies and ranunculus!
I think of hosting gatherings as an event for our guests – how can we make every detail a little more special to really make a meal be an event for guests? It almost always comes down to taking one little extra step for a pretty detail.
Pretty ice cubes have always been #goals for me, but for some reason they always feel like so difficult to pull off. I’m here to tell you that’s not the case! Grab a bunch of edible flowers (here’s a list, super important to check first and not poison your guests) and toss some petals in an ice tray, topped with water. So simple, but so special!
My other favorite way to elevate a meal is a drink in a pretty bottle. I found these adorable bottles of elderflower sparkling water at World Market. It’s my new favorite place to find specialties to make my table feel elegant and I can’t wait to have an excuse to go back and find more goodies! Use a unique vessel to house the bottles, such as a large punch bowl filled half way with ice.
Happy first day of spring! I’m ready for all the cute bunnies, asparagus, artichoke hearts and LEMONS. Lemon everything. It’s like the pumpkin spice of March, April and May.
For Easter, I’m planning to make my lemon loaf, which I thought would be fun to dress up with a few slices of candied lemons. They’re so quick to make – just a few minutes of prep and into the oven for about 45 minutes.
I mean, hey, spring! Amirite?!
All you need is a mandolin to get your thin, even slices of lemon and about 3-4 tablespoons of sugar.
Quick & Easy Oven Candied Lemons
Yield: About 24 slices, depending on size of lemons and thickness of slices.
Time: ~50 minutes
2-3 lemons, sliced with a mandolin
3-4 tbsp of sugar
Preheat the oven to 250°.
Line pan with parchment paper.
Thinly slice lemons and arrange on pan.
Generously top each slice with sugar, which will absorb into the lemons.
Bake for about 45 minutes until the lemons are covered with a sugary glaze.
Let cool and enjoy – easy peasy lemon squeezy! xo