Today I thought I would just chat about all things food …. and drink. In addition to suggesting a few of our favorite things to serve I thought I would start with a few of our food-and-drink-related rules of thumb.

Happy – Appy’s.
Snacking is seemingly when my kids get ‘their fill’ especially in social situations. So I make sure I include a few healthy appetizers. The staples are veggie sticks (carrots, celery, cuc’s, endive leaves) and some kind of chip & dip: pita chips & hummous, blue chips & guacamole, pretzels and sweet-cheese (mix roasted sweet peppers & cream cheese in the blender). The key is having a ‘dippy’ — my kids are dip-crazy!

Another direction I sometimes take is to do a bruschetta. The reason it works so well is that through slight modification it can appeal to both kids & adults. For example, in the kids version you might just omit the pesto. The other reason I like it is that is can be varied in so many ways and can be seasonally specific. It also just plain looks pretty!

Noshing Tray. What I generally do is put all the appetizers on a platter or “noshing tray” so that I can move the snacks from room to room or inside to outside as the party progresses. I also scatter around little bowls of (mildly) spiced almonds (up higher if little little ones are around). They keep beautifully in the freezer so I make a big batch and just toast them in the oven for a few minutes before guests arrive.

Pitchers, Pitchers, Pitchers. And glasses. Having a pitcher of water ready to go before the meal is served is a huge time-saver at our house. Otherwise, I am up and down up and down up and down. I always use one (or two) at parties. Allowing the kids to ‘help themselves’ really helps me. And for the adults, a pitcher of a signature cocktail is always festive, pretty & easy. A favorite is champagne, pomegranate juice and a splash of Grand Marnier. Perfect for Valentines Day.

I also suggest giving each child a unique or personalized glass. Anything that identifies the glass as their own alleviates extra dishes & waste. I have a set of vintage glasses with numbers on them (the kids love to pick their age) or you can personalize paper cups with cute name-tags.

Pot Luck. My friends are always more than happy to bring something and I am always more than happy to take them up on it. One thing I often suggest my guests bring is fresh fruit. The kids love to snack on it before, during and after the meal and fruit goes well with nearly everything. Dessert is another easy item to assimilate and seeing what friends bring often gives me sweet inspiration!

Skewer it. My kids will eat almost anything if it is on a skewer. We skewer fruit, veggies, meat, or a combo of veggies & meat. Skewer and serve with a dip and its almost fool proof! Skewering works well when grilling out but I also skewer food after it has been cooked, no matter how it has been prepared (ie. sauteed chicken & blanched broccoli). A variation on this theme is to give the kids toothpicks and a bowl of fruit or veggies and let them at it.

Tomorrow I will talk a bit about our ‘go-to’ menu items…