Just before the weather turned we enjoyed a beautiful evening outside with friends.
Little know fact about me: I applied, got accepted and made it thru the open house of the Culinary Arts Institute of Chicago … then chickened out. As a newlywed I wasn’t sure if it was the right lifestyle for me, but I did know that I was passionate about food and entertaining and it has stuck with me over the years.
Entertaining and treating family & friends to home cooked (or store bought) meals is something we do often. It doesn’t always have to be fancy or a lot of work. (Sometimes it’s Domino’s on paper plates in your lap!) It’s more about being together.
There are lots of shortcuts to take and I’ve learned a beautiful table can go a long way!
A peak at the table just before we began our meal.
Here’s how it came together…
I used my go-to drop cloth as the table cover, added a couple of white pumpkins to my existing floral arrangement and flanked it with a set of lanterns (available thru my shop at Cotswold Marketplace) .
Easy and festive.
To set the table I used woven placemats and melamine plates (both from Target) and dressed it up a bit with Natural Stripe Napkins and Pompom Napkin Rings available through my shop at Cotswold Marketplace.
Add in wine and water glasses and we’re good to go.
I always keep a carafe of water at the table when entertaining. (This one is my favorite from Crate & Barrel.) Hydration is super important, after all … wink, wink.
Now, on to the food.
Start simple by adding a nice loaf of bread (mine is store bought). I gussied it up a bit by serving it on a wooden breadboard, draped in a natural stripe tea towel and fancy butter paired with a horn handle butter knife (all available thru my shop at Cotswold Marketplace).
And when I say fancy butter, here’s what I mean … regular unsalted butter, sprinkled with fresh thyme and flaky sea salt. Our favorite is Maldon Sea Salt Flakes.
So easy, but looks impressive.
Salads are so easy to throw together and look really beautiful when served on a flat white platter.
Of course there are times when a bowl is a necessity, but for a small gathering like ours this round glazed terra cotta platter was perfect. A nice pair of serves helps, too. These wood and gold servers (and the round platter) are both available through my shop at Cotswold Marketplace.
The thing I love most about salads is that they are more about composing than cooking. This salad was a super simple combination of arugula, sliced apples and blue cheese crumbles. Served with a lemon/thyme vinaigrette.
I’m a big fan of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. Her recipes are easy to make and always good.
I used her standard vinaigrette recipe and added thyme to better coordinate with the rest of the dishes.
Moving on to the side dish.
Truthfully, I had intended to make roasted carrots but when I discovered that I didn’t have quite enough carrots to feed four, I had to get creative. That’s how I came up with lemon orzo and wilted arugula topped with thyme roasted carrots and potatoes. A little unconventional, but it worked.
Plus, I served it in a beautiful scalloped, white footed bowl that has a real vintage flair. Add in the gold servers and it looks good enough to eat. Ha!
The bowl and servers are available from (you guessed it!) Cotswold Marketplace.
Served on another lovely white scalloped terra cotta platter (from Cotswold Marketplace, shocker!) - can you tell I favor white platters for food?!?! White serveware highlights the food and allows it to be the star of the show. As it should be.
When creating this meal, I wanted it to feel very Autumnal and cohesive. Repeating the flavors of apple, thyme and lemon helped me to make it happen.
In the end, a wonderful meal was had by all and it really wasn’t that much work. But it sure did look good!
Hope you enjoyed!
until next time…