The other day I was hosting a small brunch. It felt like we finally got the mix of food right. It was easy, just enough and there was no stress.
What do we do? We buy quiche, croissants and cheese. We serve some fresh fruit, jams and yoghurt. And lastly… I cook bacon in the oven. It’s simple and lovely and perfect for right now when I don’t have the time or energy to devote to more complicated affairs.
It got me thinking about what other people do. What dishes are their tried and true winners?
To find out I asked some of this country’s top food bloggers. They shared with me their best and tastiest dishes for hosting a brunch or dinner. What they said surprised and inspired me.
Ayngelina and Dave, Bacon is Magic
Lasagna is such an easy meal to prepare in advance and you can warm it in the oven while waiting for guests. Rather than an everyday lasagna I often serve this butternut squash recipe which is comforting and decadent.
Mel McDonald, A Virtual Vegan
This Creamy Curry Chickpea Soup is great to serve for lunch or dinner when you have guests over as it only takes 30 minutes to make from start to finish and can be made ahead and warmed through gently just before serving. It is thick, creamy and delicious and is fantastic served with warm naan bread on the side. It is meat and dairy free so is a great option for when you have a guest who has a dairy intolerance or who is vegetarian/vegan.
Nadia Fazio, Mangia Bedda
This dish has been a staple in my family for years. In fact, it was my dad who first suggested it to me, however using spinach instead. Faced with an abundance of swiss chard in my garden I decided to swap the spinach for swiss chard, but either ingredient works well. I have served it as a side dish at summer barbecues, birthday dinners, Thanksgiving, and I’ve had requests to bring it to potlucks and family gatherings as well. Basically, it’s wonderful any time of year! I think it’s a great alternative to your typical mashed potatoes and the best thing about it is that you can make it ahead and just pop it into the oven before serving time.
Merry Kuchle, Merry About Town
Entertaining with an eight year old in the house usually means that those on the guest list also have children. When this is the case, we ask our son Evan help to plan the menu. His requests are most often barbecued ribs and homemade macaroni and cheese. He has deemed my macaroni and cheese the best ever and he can’t wait to share it with his friends (as long as they don’t eat too much so that he gets leftovers).
Dana Sandonato from Killing Thyme
If you’re hosting a dinner party in the darker months but have a hankering for some crisp and refreshing flavors, this Autumn Caprese Salad with Walnut Crusted Mozzarella and Pomegranate Balsamic is a divine choice. It’s quick and easy! Sure, it looks and sounds fancypants, but you don’t have to be a fancypants to put this together – you’ll just look the part!
Gloria Duggan, Homemade and Yummy
We love chili, and what better way to make it than the slow cooker!! Put everything in and forget about it till dinner. I always make a huge batch because it freezes so well, and who doesn’t like having extra food in the freezer for when things get busy. Perfect for game day, pot lucks, parties…how about the upcoming holiday’s with all the hectic schedules. It also makes a great topping to nachos!!
Slow Cooker Stout and Chicken Stew
Evelyne Budkewitsch, Cheap Ethnic Eatz
One year I hosted a pot-luck New year’s Eve party and I also decided last minute to go out of town a few days before. I needed a dish that could be prepared quickly after my return but a day before the party. Slow Cooker to the rescue! This Slow Cooker Stout and Chicken Stew can be prepared the night before and be popped into the crock-pot in the morning. By the time your guest arrive this truly comforting yet fancy stew will be ready to serve. It was a huge hit and I have made it several times since for gatherings.
And don’t forget about brunch!
Renee Mackey-Burson from SweetRevelations
This pancake literally has 5 common household ingredients and is prepared in seconds! This is a recipe that goes directly from oven to table and showcases any in season fruit you may have. Forget pancakes when you want to serve guests, throw a gorgeous Dutch Baby in the oven!
ps This series continues next week! Stay tuned for more great recipes.