Spring Entertaining

Easter weekend swiftly passed and spring is officially arrived in my book!  Time for open toe shoes, bare legs, sandals, white and cute hats to finish up the most casual or dressy of an outfit!

It’s also a great time to entertain guests; both family and friends.  Between Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Memorial Day, graduations, and in our family birthdays galore, there are so many reasons to open up the door!

Looking ahead to a season of hospitality, I thought it would be fun to share a few tips to help you organize your next event with little stress.

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It’s really quite easy to pull together a dinner to welcome spring or celebrate those you love, despite the desire to be just like Martha Stewart!

**First, the menu, which isn’t as difficult as it seems! While you don’t have to go this route, traditional spring meals often include ham, lamb or chicken.  These can be prepared several ways (I love variety) and carved right up for serving.  Spring vegetables include asparagus, fresh leafy greens, artichokes, radishes, avocado, Vidalia onion and broccoli, which should be at their freshest and of course most flavorful time.  Shopping for food that is in season immediately takes a load off of your mind because you aren’t searching for elusive veggies or disappointed in the taste!

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**Speaking from experience, prepare foods your familiar with so that you aren’t upset and fretting over how a new dish has turned out.  Save the experiments for family supper one night.

 **If you are hosting family (and plan to prepare it all), think of and prepare recipes that they know and love … in our house it’s three cheese mac and cheese and roasted green beans on the menu.  Between shopping seasonal and preparing family favorites, your menu should come together fairly fast.

**Knock out most of your prep work and make desserts the day before, leaving just the main course for the day of a gathering.

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**Any dinner you host doesn’t have to be formal; a wonderfully prepared buffet or potluck dinner can be just as elegant.  I always loved the spreads at my aunt and uncle’s house over the years as she ordered everything, from Costco, Sam’s or Honey Baked Ham; laid out a beautiful sfeast and enjoyed the entire day with the family!  Aunt Jean knows how to entertain stress free; let me tell you!

{Sometime’s it is just worth it to let someone else do all the work.}

**Don’t be afraid to delegate; typically guests are more than happy to bring drinks, and appetizer, a side dish, or dessert.  Take a load off of yourself.

**If entertaining families, have games and toys for children to play with, or ask parents to bring their children’s favorites.  This will help entertain little ones and maybe keep them from being bored.

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Grocery store Blue Willow dishes collected in the 1990s are probably my favorite dishes to use!

**Decorating your table is a wonderful and memorable way to make your guests feel welcome. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to set a pretty table.

**Mother’s Day, a birthday dinner, or the Easter holiday is the perfect time to showcase your best dinnerware, glassware, flatware and linens if your desire.  I love to pull out my Noritake china purchase at an auction years ago by my mother-in-law, but I also adore  a basic white plate topped with a fun salad plate. With either choice of plate adding the crystal glassware that belong to Audley’s grandparents is such a special touch.

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Simple white rimmed plates from Pottery Barn match absolutely everything!  Here they are paired with bunny plates from Williams Sonoma.

**For outdoor gatherings and those gathering for the guys, an old fashioned cookout is perfect! With all the variety in paper and plastic products now, setting up a table or theme is as simple as ever.

**Maintain a beautifully simple color scheme.  Spring inspired plates, patterns and a touch of greenery make for an unforgettable table setting.

**Keep the table uncluttered by using a buffet to display and serve drinks, side dishes or desserts.  Decorate it to match the theme of the dining table.

**Bring your home to life with flowers and glowing candles; both of which create a welcoming mood.  Seasonal flowers in April and May include tulips, daffodils, and lilies which bring the beauty of spring inside. Some of these you may be able to cut from your own yard, or you can usually find these popular flowers at your local grocery, very inexpensively!  Candles are plentiful at the Dollar Store or clearance at Target.  I love to buy them when on clearance to put up for later use.

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Table decorated with tea-lights and succulent pots.

 **For an easy springtime table, bring the outside in with greenery such as grass, ivy, fern, or even succulents.  Fresh yellowbell branches from the yard are stunning on a buffet or mantle!

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**Decorating can be done in advance: set the table, arrange the centerpiece and add special touches a day or even two days before.

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The glassware I’ve used here belonged to Audley’s grandparents; the etched flowers fit the season nicely!

It doesn’t take a lot of stress and money to treat your family and friends to a celebrations they will long remember.  Just take on what you know you can handle, use what you have, and make plans to celebrate the spring!

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Cinnamon Valentine’s Day Bark

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Yesterday evening my girlfriend Tammie and I spent time in the kitchen making a few last minute treats to share for Valentine’s Day.

 {Treasure time with your girlfriends y’all, even if it is nothing more than baking!}

Not only were our treats super easy to make, but we really had a wonderful time catching up with each other as our schedules have been rather full lately.

We whipped up two recipes I have shared earlier on the blog: Cupid’s Crunch and Valentine’s themed Rice Krispies Treats, then proceeded to make Valentine’s Day Bark.

Valentines-Day-Gifts | Fiddle Dee Dee

One thing I love about recipes like this is they are super versatile and ingredients are always easy to find!  Tammie and I each made our bark a little differently as she isn’t a fan of cinnamon, and it worked out wonderfully!

Valentine Bark Pinterest Image

1 pkg pink colored candy melts (from Michaels or Hobby Lobby)

1 pkg white candy melts

Sprinkles

M&M’s

Red Hots

Melt the pink candy melts and spread evenly on a piece of parchment paper. Allow to set firm (about an hour). Melt the white candy melts and spread evenly over the top of the pink. Top with M&Ms, red hots and sprinkles. Allow to set an hour before breaking a part.

Cinnamon-Bark | Fiddle Dee Dee

Tammie used almonds to replace the red hots which added a little salty flavor to the sweetness of the bark.

Valentines-Bark | fiddle dee dee

Either way it just delicious!

You-and-Me-Valentine | Fiddle Dee Dee

With all of our sweet treats ready, our kiddos will enjoy a little extra something this Valentine’s Day totally made with love.

If you want to ship goodies these three recipes I shared over the last few days work perfectly because they don’t crumble as easy.

valentines-Gifts | Fiddle Dee Dee

I’m a firm  believer that it’s the little thing we do for those we love that make Valentine’s Day special, and not the greeting card company! Make today special and enjoy it with those around you!  A small act of kindness from love in your heart can go a long way to making someone’s dreary day brighter!

 

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Valentine’s Day Rice Krispies Treats

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and children across the country will be filling boxes with sweet cards, some carefully picked out for their best friend or that sweet little girl or boy they might be crushing on.

{Don’t you remember treasure the innocence of those days?}

It’s also a day the classroom becomes a party zone with sugary snacks galore.  If you are fortunate enough to be in a school system that allows homemade snacks, have I got a treat for you!

heart-shaped-treats | fiddle dee dee

 

{This is also a treat your husband, teenagers, & college kids will love, too!}

In fact, this little treat is so simple, I’m not even going to do a printable recipe because it’s a waste of printer paper.

Rice Krispies Treats for Valentines Day

All you need is one recipe of Rice Krispies treats, 2 colors of melty candy, Valentine’s Day sprinkles and a 2-inch heart shaped cookie cutter (preferably metal).

rice-krispy-treat | fiddle dee dee

**If you can’t find large pre-made Krispies Treats (they are a wonderful seasonal item at Cracker Barrel), use the three ingredient recipe on back of the Rice Krispy’s box (that’s the original and can’t be beat).  It takes 10 minutes to make; a couple of hours to set so they can be made a day or two ahead of time.  You want the treats to be about an inch thick, no more.  You can find the colored melty candy at Hobby Lobby or Michaels; or color your own using white melts  from your local grocery store.

heart-krispies | fiddle dee dee

Once you have your items together, cut out the Rice Krispies treats using the heart-shaped cutter; place on a cookie cooling rack.  This is the hardest part of making these treats, because they are rather sticky.

candy-dipped-krispies | fiddle dee dee

Melt your candy, and then decorate the Krispies Treats.  I tried two methods: first I dipped one side in the melted candy, and secondly I used bottles (candy bottles can be found at any craft store) and drizzled the candy over the top, or filled in a solid heart shape.  Honestly I liked the bottles better.  If you don’t have these, you can use a plastic bag and cut a little of the corner off.

No matter how you cover the treat in melted candy, add sprinkles and let sit until hardened.

sprinkles-treats | fiddle dee dee

That’s it.

So very simple and in fact, your children would love to help you makes these, I am sure.

Audley had fun helping me.

(wink-wink)

Valentines-Krispies-Treats | Fiddle Dee Dee

These treats are also really, really delicious!

Just ask the grown-ups at the Super Bowl party we attended where I served these; they ate as many as the kids!

Rice-Krispies-Valentines | Fiddle Dee Dee

Serve these up all pretty or put into individual treat bags and let everyone think you spent forever in the kitchen working on them!

Happy-Valentines-Krispies-Treat | Fiddle Dee Dee

What are some of your favorite Valentine’s Day treats?

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Cupid’s Crunch

For many, the highlight of those cold winter months is the excitement of Valentine’s Day in February.  While some see this as a greeting card holiday, I love the fun, creativity, excitement, and romance associated with this little holiday.  Valentine’s Day is always about the little things you can do to make those around you feel cherished and adored, and it doesn’t take a lot of money to make it happen.

Cupids-Crunch-Treat | Fiddle-Dee-Dee

For my Madeline it’s all about finding that sweet card to reach her special friend who happens to live in Cuba.  For Bradley it seems to be finding that perfect Georgia Bulldogs shirt for his girl.  For Audley, who already treats me with flowers and the like quite often, it’s about getting off from work early so we can enjoy a quite supper together.  And for me, Valentines day is treating my nieces and nephews with sweet notes containing a treat their parents can thank me for later (Sonic gift cards for ice cream, anyone?), surprise sweets for my own kiddos, and preparing a special meal for my love that we may turn into a carpet picnic or enjoy at an elegantly set table.

It’s all about the little things.

Speaking of sweet treats, my entire family is totally addicted to a particular snack mix that I make for a variety of holidays, but thought it would be fun to share in a Valentine’s theme.  That’s why I love making this mix as you can tailor it to fit whatever holiday you want from Christmas to Independence Day!

Cupids-Crunch | Fiddle-Dee-Dee

Cupid’s Crunch is also great in that you can make it fit your needs.  We have no allergies, so I love to make it a little sweet and salty using popcorn, pretzels, nuts, Kool-Aid mix (with the sugar already added) and candy.

Valentines-Snack | Fiddle Dee Dee

You can use candy melts from any craft store and save yourself time coloring the candy, but I love the taste of Ghirardelli’s brand of white melting wafers.

Valentines-Snack-Mix | Fiddle-Dee-Dee

In a VERY large bowl mix together one entire bag of melted white candy wafers with your popcorn and pretzels.  Once you have stirred it together, spread out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Sprinkle your Kool-Aid on top of the sticky mix.

Valentines-Snack | Fiddle-Dee-Dee

Next, add a few more pretzels, any candy, nuts or sprinkles you might want to combine.  This is where those colored candy melts come in handy if you desire; otherwise tint one bag of white candy two shades of pink.

Valentines-Treat | Fiddle-Dee-Dee

You can use a plastic bag with a corner cut off for this step, but I add the melted candy to squeeze bottle and drizzle all over the snack mix just to make sure everything is all stuck together.

Valentines-Cupid-Crunch | Fiddle-Dee-Dee

Let the mix stand about 20 minutes, then break it a part and put into seasonal baggies or a pretty bowl and share with your favorite Valentine!

Click here for the full printable recipe for Cupid’s Crunch .

Valentines-Cupid-Crunch-Snack | Fiddle-Dee-Dee

FYI, if you pay a surprise visit to college and take an entire recipe to your daughters dorm room, both she and her roommate will polish off EVERY SINGLE BITE  in one evening.

Cupids-Crunch-Snack | Fiddle-Dee-Dee

Check back, I have a couple of more Valentine’s treats to share between now and next Wednesday as well as a fun give-away!

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