Monday, October 27, 2008

Easy Entertaining

Good morning! Thank you so much your comments on my new Etsy shop and my treasures from the fair. I always enjoy seeing your show and tells each week, too.
Dinner table
We usually have a few friends over for a casual dinner Saturday evenings, but this week we had a bigger group: friends who recently got married, the groom's parents, our pastor, and another friend from church. Last week was busy with school, music lessons (we got a flat tire on the way there!) and getting our carpets cleaned, so I spaced my to-do list out over several days.

-Plan Menu:

Bagel crisps and spinach dip (from Costco)

Baked ziti
Garden salad
Rosemary bread (from Costco)

Apple crisp

Iced tea

Rocking chair
-Clean House:

-Grocery shop

Saturday morning
-Quick tidy
-Make baked ziti and apple crisp (you could also make these Friday evening.)


~Apple Crisp~

4 medium gala apples
4 medium Granny Smith apples
1/4 cup cinnamon sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

1. Peel, core and slice apples. Toss with cinnamon sugar and pour into 9 x 13 pan.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. Cut butter into mixture until crumbly.

3. Sprinkle mixture with over apple slices and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 to 50 minutes or until apples are tender. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

Baked ziti

Baked Ziti

1 (16 oz.) package penne pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg, beaten
4 cups marinara sauce (purchased or homemade)
15 ounces ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
8 ounces sliced mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat olive oil in large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add ground beef. As the meat cooks, add garlic powder and Italian seasoning, as well as salt and pepper. Cook until evenly brown, and drain off any fat.

3. Add marinara sauce to meat and simmer (low heat) for 15 minutes.

4. In a large bowl, mix ricotta, shredded mozzarella, and egg, adding more black pepper if desired. Add cooked pasta to mixture and stir gently.

5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Begin layering your ingredients in a lightly-greased 9x13” baking dish as follows: a thin layer of meat-sauce mixture in the bottom of pan, then a layer of cheese and noodle mixture, then another thin layer of meat sauce and another layer of cheese and noodle. Repeat as necessary, ending with meat sauce on top.

6. Top with mozzarella cheese slices and parmesan cheese.

7. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the ziti is heated through and the cheeses are melted.

-Wash, dry and put away all pots and pans.
-Unload dishwasher before guests arrive.
Napkin ring
-Set table



Spinach dip

Baked ziti


Apple crisp

Apple crisp
-Enjoy your dinner and company!

Do you have any easy entertaining tips to share, too? I hope you all have a wonderful start to your week!


Joolz said...

Hello Kelly

I just want to come over for dinner sometime!

Your autumn table looks gorgeous and the menu scrumptious! You have a beautiful home.

Cheers - Joolz, Australia

Anonymous said...

Everything looks beautiful and delicious! We are Costco shoppers too.

An easy entertaining tip is to have the kids pitch in to clean the house and the hubby to shop or help cook the meal. We also play Wii after dinner for recreation with our guests.

Ms. Tee said...

Everything looks so inviting. :)
We don't have a Costco here, but I'm going to see if Sam's carries some of these things!
Your dinner looks lovely!

Lena said...

I've so enjoyed seeing these lovely photos. I feel like I've been for a wonderful visit with you, Kelli. You set such a pretty table, and the photo of your rocking chair with the quilt is perfectly lovely.

Well, right now the only tip that I can think of off the top of my head, is the one I posted on my blog, about molding butter ahead of time, and tucking it into the freezer. It's a little touch, but one that people seem to appreciate.

Take care.

Susan said...

My best tip for entertaining is to just relax! Seriously. My husband and I traveled for several years for our ministry, and we can tell you without reservation that the meals we enjoyed most were in people's homes, not the restaurant meals. Those meals in homes ranged from pinto beans and baked eggplant, to taco salad and watermelon, to ham sandwiches and chips, to a full turkey dinner and everything in between. Our hosts and hostesses lived in houses that ranged from a little cabin on the backside of a mountain in Arkansas to a multi-million dollar house with a kitchen built around the cappucino machine - also in Arkansas! We felt welcome in all of them, and felt most at home in the cabin in the mountains! ;)

It doesn't matter what you fix or what kind of house you have, most people (especially nowadays) just love having your fellowship. We just wanted home-cooked, real food and a place to rest for an afternoon or evening.

Your home and meal look beautiful, Kelli!

Unknown said...

I would be honered to come to your home for dinner.... just wanted to share with you daughter and I made the caramel apple cards and posted it on my blog. I linked it back to you, giving credit to your sweet creation. Hugs, Mica

Anonymous said...

Mmmmm....that's my kind of dinner! Your table looks festive with those napkin rings and everything looks yummy!


Anonymous said...

Everything looks so awesome. I love your Etsy shop.

Kerri said...

Hi Kelli,
Looks like a delicious meal! I love your napkin rings. Everything is decorated so nicely. In my quest to make my home more homey I bought a tablecloth this weekend. My husband is still commenting on it :) My entertaining tip is actually something you mentioned, that makes my whole night easier. Unload the dishwasher before guest arrive.
Love Kerri

Kim @ Home Is Where The Heart Is said...

My mouth is watering over the delicious food you've prepared!

Anonymous said...

Oh Yum! I haven't had apple crisp in years. I loved the idea about the holly on my sign! Thanks!

Tina Leigh said...

Those pictures were so good Kelli...the ones of the ziti...well it made me want to lick my computer screen...dont take any more like that! I made spinach dip last thursday...Little Package's mama came over....I helped her with some school work...I thought it was a good time to eat spinach dip! It was great!

Anonymous said...

Your menu sounds delish!

Jen said...

It all looks fantastic. I do schedule my days like just cant get it all done in one day.

Nancy M. said...

The table looks inviting and cozy.
I will have to try the zita recipe.
I love lighting candles; putting any food into pretty simple dishes; and having nice conservation around the table. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

So when can I come over?

Terri said...

Everything looks beautiful. I have a tendency to wait until the last minute to try and get everything done and then I'm running around like a crazed yak. Your way was definitely calmer!

Anonymous said...

Love that menu, and the table is lovely. You get it all done because you are so organized...good for you :D
Have a wonderful week.

Arlene G said...

I have made that baked Ziti many times since I saw it on your website Kelli. It is always a winner. You are such a sweet hostess.

Trixi said...

Oh, wow, I want to come next time. It all looks great and thanks for the recipes.

Sharon said...

The table looks so inviting! I love the tablecloth! :)
The menu sounds yum!

Jen said...

What a beautiful post this was. I felt as if I were there. The pictures are just beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Susan P. said...

No fair, Kelli, you forgot to invite me;)lol I love how you showed spreading out the tasks by days instead of waiting till the day of the dinner. Great advice!

Becky said...

Your hydrangeas are beautiful. The blue ones are my favorite. Do you grow them? I broke down and bought one this year. Sure hope it comes back next spring. We'll see. Your table looks so pretty and the food looks incredible. I could almost smell your apple crisp while looking at the pictures. Have a GREAT week!

Heather said...

i definitely want to come for dinner sometime too! you always have such a nice arrangement on the table and yummy food to serve!

ROXY said...

What a beautiful table setting!! Looks so festive:_

Anonymous said...

Hi Kelli! Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures and recipes. Happy Monday. Debbi

Stacey said...

Sounds wonderful. Strangely enough I have ended up with several boxes of penne pasta in my pantry. I needed a new idea for them!!

American Homemaker said...

MMmmmm... we love baked ziti and apple crisp. Entertaining is so much fun :) I'm planning out Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners right now. I'm big on having everything done ahead of time so I can have time right before company shows up to make myself presentable and relax.

Alicia The Snowflake said...

Mmmm! That sounds yummy. your house is beautiful! I hope you have a great week!

Elena said...

What a beautiful meal! The food looked so yummy.

Alice said...

Wow! Can I come next Saturday? Just kidding :). Thanks for the recipes, I will end up using them both. Have a great week!

Lisa Marie said...

Yummy! I plan like this too, often making a list and checking it off as I get things done. Just seems to make is less stressful when we have Company for a meal. Where did you get those awesome napkin rings? They are adorable

DealFinder said...

Oh, my, those pictures of your food are truly mouth-watering.

Anonymous said...

I still don't get how you make it look so easy.I will be your guest anytime!

Lois Christensen said...

Like you, I do a lot of preparing before the day arrives. But, the one most important thing I do right before guests come is make sure my dishwasher is empty, so there's room to put stuff and make sure my kitchen garbage pail is empty. I can't tell you how many times I've been to people's homes for a visit and when we help with clean up the dishwasher is full with dirty stuff and the garbage is overflowing. It's such an simple thing to do, but works so well for me! Loved all your pictures...thanks for sharing!

Jodi said...

I like your table. I just love fall colors. Your recipes and photos look delicious! :)

Michelle said...

Hi Kelli,

Ohmigosh, everything looks so warm and inviting and the food, as always, is so yummy looking! I love those maple leaf napkin rings!

Michelle :)

Sandra said...

Looks wonderful as always Kelli, that food is making me hungry.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Kelli! You outdid yourself again. :-) Such wonderful, and lovely ideas for a dinner party. Makes me want to invite some people over now.
Love your beautiful tablecloth and place settings. You are truly an inspiration, dear one.


Christine said...

Don't you just love Costco!!! We use to drive to the one about 20 minutes away and now one was built 10 minutes down the street from us.

I want to make that dish, thanks for the recipe.

GlorV1 said...

Hi Kelli, you always have a way of making me hungry and I do mean hungreeeeee. Everything looks so delish. You know I have some green apples from outside and I am also going to make an apple crisp. I'll print out your recipe if you don't mind. Very nice everything. Thx for sharing. Take care.

Needled Mom said...

Everything looks so gorgeous! I love that quilt....simple scraps and an incredible look.

My only easy entertaining tip is to have as much done beforehand as possible so that you can sit and enjoy your guests.

Susie said...

Hi Kelli,
Looks like a perfect fall dinner :)
Your table looks very festive.
Spreading the details over several days does make it possible to really enjoy the time with your guests.
Thanks for sharing your yummy recipes. I'm going to Costco today and will see if they have that rosemary bread.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for sharing your recipes! Sometimes I am disappointed when people don't share their recipes after posting yummy-looking photos of their dishes... I'll be trying your recipes soon!

Lindsay-ann said...

Those were one lot of very lucky guests you entertained there Kelli. Everything looks very appetising and so beautifully presented.
Thanks for showing everything. Viewing it all I felt like I was really there.
Thanks so much.

Lora @ my blessed life said...

That looks so yummy, Kelli! Especially that pasta and bread. Mmmm
Your whole post was really lovely, too. It's fun having friends over, isn't it?

Carrie said...

What a delightful menu and setting!

Carole Burant said...

Hello dear Kelli:-)

How I wish I could be one of your dinner guests, you always serve such delicious food and your table setting is always wonderful!! It's always a good idea to plan the week ahead of time, especially when you have so much to do. Don't you just love Costco!!! xoxo

Tracy said...

My tip would be to LEAVE the dishes until after the guests are gone and ENJOY them while they are there! The dishes can wait!

Anonymous said...

so cosy and inviting, and I too feel as if I've been over to youru place...I'm still in love with your tablecloth... its lovely! also the quilt by the fire and the book there - that is a good idea.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I am so ready to come to your house for dinner. :)

Being Mrs Miles said...

Sigh - you and my friend Gina know how to cook. Oh MY!

I did not recall seeing MY invite in the mail?

LOL - thanks for sharing!


Sue said...

I love your blog, and this post in particular was very gorgeous to me.

The photos are lush!

I think it's great how you've laid out entertaining. It's great to work ahead, and you've really shown how to do that. Thanks for another great post.

Pink Slippers said...

Reading your list and looking at the pictures made me so relaxed as I have a VERY busy week coming up. Thanks for helping me remember I can do it and still see the beauty in it.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Kelli. I am curious about your apple crisp recipe. 1.5 cups flour for the topping? That sounds like a lot to me. I do not use any - just butter and oatmeal with some cinnamon and some sugar.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOVE your maple leaf napkin holders and tablecloth. May I ask where you found them?


Terri said...

Your house always looks so cozy and inviting, Kelli. What's the secret? Mine usually looks like a tornado hit it! (actually 5 smaller tornados of varying degrees of messiness! LOL)

Kelli said...

Anonymous, my usual apple crisp recipe calls for 1 cup, so this was a little more. The topping was very soft. Is your topping more crunchy with no flour?

moreofhim said...

Oh, my goodness. Your recipes and food looks delicious! As always, you inspire me to be a better homekeeper and hostess. I love all the ideas and pictures you share! Like I've said before, your blog is my absolute favorite!

God bless you ~ Julie

Anonymous said...

So yummy.

Last weekend we had hubby's family over, but he had just gotten back into town from a business trip, and neither of us wanted to cook.

We bought four large tubs of Costco's fresh Rotisserie Chicken Soup, and baked up a few loaves of garlic bread. I bought Costco's yummy salad in a bag--the Parisian, with goat cheese, dried cranberries, candied walnuts, etc. And for dessert--a 5 layer all American Chocolate cake from the Costco bakery. (The absolute BEST cake you could ever find pre-made!)

It was so nice to put on the fall tablecloth and put out a few pumpkins and spread some birdseed trails for tabletop decor.

I love fall entertaining.

Lulu said...

It all looks so delich Kelly..

Deb said...

Hi Kelli,
I've got a big batch of baked Ziti in the oven right now! I'm taking a pan over to my sisters tonight. It's a new "tradition"for me to bring dinner over one night a week and it helps her out too after a long day at work. The kids enjoy getting together and there are rarely leftovers! The weather here has turned quite brisk with winds about 40mph so it's chilly! The warm ziti with some bread will be mighty good! Thanks for the idea!

Simply Heart And Home said...


What a blessing you are to your friends and family. Your special evening is so inviting.

Julieann said...

Ohhh, Kelli--what a lovely Saturday dinner you had. Your preperations were so nice--what a wonderful Homemaker/Entertainer you are:)


Sharri said...

Everything looked gorgeous Kelli!
The food looked delicious! YUM!

The vase/or pitcher that you had the lovely hydrangeas in was so pretty! I loved it!

Julie said...

Good Lord Girl..those pictures (of the food you prepared) looked so amazing, I had to scroll past them quickly because I am starving and they looked so yummy! That vase with the Hydrangea blooms in it is stunning! Your home is so inviting.

We are having quite a few (understatement!) people to our home for Christmas Eve dinner this year. I am going to have to take furniture out of the den so I can extend the tables for more sit down dinner room. Yeah - it better be fun, cause it sure is not gonna be pretty! ha ha...

the said...

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Happy Halloween ,

Lady Katherine said...

Wow, do you cook, with you cooking skills, You have to have a wonderful mother, grandmother, or a chef. It all looks wonderful

Susie Homemaker said... give some very good tips...I am going to try to implement them for Thanksgivivng...your home looks so warm and inviting...I bet your guests has a wonderful time.

Best Wishes,

YayaOrchid said...

Goodness! Everything looks scrumptuous! Love your menu and your planning tips. You always share such great tips and wonderful pictures!

Farrah said...

Looking at this post I nearly started to drool!! YUM!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Kelli.

Yes my topping is crunchy without the added flour. We like it that way. I will have to try it with the flour to see what kind of texture that will give me.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this! Last night we brought dinner to a family from church who's wife had just had surgery and could not cook, and then we had another family from church over for dinner and I made this and it was a big hit with everyone! I also made apple crisp but used my own recipe out of habit :)