Tag Archives: fall

Pointers for Potlucks

Food often accompanies the festive winter holidays and what better way to make a gathering easier to manage than hosting a potluck? Here are a few of the tools I recommend for streamlining the scheduling and the menu planning.

Scheduling made easy:

My favorite solution to find the best date and time that works for an event is Doodle. Trying to coordinate schedules for multiple people can be a bit of a bear. Below is a screenshot of a fake poll that I set up to show a hypothetical potluck that is scheduled for April of 2016. As you can see from the user interface, folks can enter their name and availability. In this instance, Sat., April 9 at 12pm works best for everyone.

Menu planning made easy:

As for the dishes and accoutrements, this year I discovered the online tool Perfect Potluck. It is wonderful for coordinating ownership for various items. As the host you can list out what you think you’ll need; e.g.,: 3 appetizers, 4 mains, 2 desserts,  2 bottles of wine, 12-pack of soda, etc.  Then, participants can easily sign up. In the screen shot below for a summer picnic potluck, the names and phone numbers have been blocked for privacy.

 Our Favorite Potluck Dish

And speaking of the menu…perhaps you’d like to try one of our favorite recipes for your next gathering?

Meredith…My go-to potluck dish is Mac ‘N Cheese! My fiancé and I are suckers for cheesy goodness over pasta, but I don’t often make macaroni and cheese unless I’m making it for a crowd (goodness knows we’d devour the whole dish in one sitting!). I’ve tried several recipes over the years, but this Cheesy Macaroni and Cheese from Mommy? I’m Hungry! food blog is one of my favorites. Pasta, cheese, and butter…does it get any better? This dish is the homemade version of the classic bluebox from Kraft that started it all! Mac ‘n cheese is always a crowd-pleaser, and with this recipe you get it right every time!

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Kristi…Whenever a potluck calls, I immediately think salads. First, my husband is a strict Paleo so I unfortunately have to stay away from those delicious casserole dishes and decadently sweet treats (…MOST of the time). He’s a major green veggie eater, and so am I, so salads tend to meet both of our needs. What I love about bringing a salad is that you can completely ‘style’ your salad to a specific occasion or season—something with fresh citrus, avocado and romaine for the Summer, to a cranberry and roasted walnut over a bed of spinach for the Fall. I typically start with some of my favorite blogs, including Gimme Some Oven who has a beautiful gallery of salad recipes, but I do like to go off the grid and incorporate in seasonal veggies that I have on hand. Finally, salads are incredibly portable. I typically weave as many ingredients as I can and bring a small mason jar of dressing. Also, there are so many fantastic multi-functional containers that allow you to prep, transport and serve your dish.

Salad 1

Bri… Seasonal fruit salad. (You can tell I’m not the chef of the group!) For a potluck this fall, I’ll likely use persimmon and pomegranate. For taste, price and environmental benefits, I prefer to use organic produce from local farmers, so shopping at my town farmers’ market makes it quite easy to put together a sweet and healthy dish for potlucks.

fruit salad

Bon Appétit!

How to Pick the Perfect Pumpkin – Experts Weigh In

The air is still warm with what feels like a late summer breeze, but according to the calendar and our coffee cups – pumpkin-spiced everything! – the fall season is here. When you’re ready to pick out a pumpkin, whether for decorating or baking, we’ve got some great information from experts to share with you this week! Two California-based farms were kind of enough to provide their advice for today’s blog post.

“Picking the perfect pumpkin isn’t about looks as much as it is about freshness.  Pumpkins have a very long shelf life, so you have no idea how long a pumpkin has been in a big box store when you get it home to carve or decorate. For pie pumpkins and regular pumpkins, you can judge freshness by how firm the flesh is.  The more “give” the pumpkin has, the older it is. For a very fresh pumpkin, try to go to a local farmer or pumpkin patch, pick it from the field, and find whichever one is visually appealing to you!” – Justin Bloss of Vierra Farms / Dave’s Pumpkin Patch, West Sacramento, CA

“Select winter squash that are hard and heavy for their size – avoid cracked shells or those with decayed areas. Hard-shelled squash can be stored at room temperature for 2 months, and in a cool, dry place for 3-6 months. Squash that is already cut should be wrapped in plastic and will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Cooked and mashed squash can be frozen and stored for up to 6 months.” – Cindy Groverman of Petaluma Pumpkin Patch, Petaluma, CA

If you’re in Northern California, make sure to visit Dave’s Pumpkin Patch and Petaluma Pumpkin Patch to check out their beautiful fields and wonderful selection of very fresh pumpkins!

We’d love to see the squash that you choose for your homes this fall. Please upload your photos to social media and tag us on Facebook or Instagram. Happy pumpkin picking! pumpkins2

Tabletop Decorating: Fall Has Fallen

Growing up in Northern California, I experienced seasons. Sadly, Los Angeles does not have the same climate changes throughout the year. Although it is nearly 80 degrees outside as I write this entry, my calendar tells me that fall has fallen upon us. Nothing says fall to me like the changing colors of the falling leaves, pumpkin patches, pumpkin pie and spiced apple cider.

Fall tabletop decorating is all about balancing warm hues with seasonal notes. With Halloween as the staple of the fall season, I find it fun to incorporate celebratory statement pieces into my tabletop designs. Here are two fall-inspired tablescapes.

Fall Tablescape #1: Cozy Fall Cocktails & Hor d’ouevres
Cozy autumn nights, cocktails and hor d’oeuvres is the perfect setting for fall entertaining. For this holiday design, I have a new hor d’oeuvres platter as the centerpiece. I recently discovered Juliska while shopping in Neiman Marcus with my mother. As a housewarming gift, she bought me the Country Estate Hostess Tray in a color perfect for fall: pumpkin! While casually browsing Home Goods with fellow Triple Knots blogger and dear friend, Kristi, we came across these gold and white-striped appetizer plates. There were two sets left and Kristi and I each bought one!  I knew that they would be perfect for fall entertaining and beyond. Whimsical cocktail napkins, seasonal gourds and candles add an elegant, playful, and warm touch.

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My Juliska Country Estate Hostess Tray can be found at Neiman Marcus: Juliska Hostess Tray
Home Goods offers affordable decorative items for everyday use and special occasion: Home Goods

Fall Tablescape #2: All Hallows Eve
With Halloween right around the corner, I have to set up a Halloween-inspired table. Over the years,I have collected themed decorative items such as Jack-O-Lantern and spider candleholders, and pumpkin candle that will light the table. Much of my seasonal décor came from Pottery Barn a few years ago – I suggest checking out Pottery Barn and other home stores for seasonal and holiday items. I placed black, cotton napkins tied with gold ribbon, and a glitter gold accent to ‘pop’ against the clear, glass dinnerware. Colorful straws are always a festive and fun touch!

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Similar Halloween-themed décor can be found at Pottery Barn: Pottery Barn Halloween Decor
Whimsical Straws can be found at many local arts & crafts stores and online at Etsy

 My everyday table centerpiece was inspired by an idea from Pinterest that I created for my own. I filled a tall glass vase with branches and mini white pumpkins. The branches add height for interest and white pumpkins bring in cheerful fun. I enjoyed crafting this fall-inspired centerpiece and know it will be festive throughout the season.

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I hope my fall tablescapes inspire you to create designs of your own. I am always looking for new ideas and inspiration, so please share your ideas with me! I will be sure to upload pictures from this season, and by the time the last leaf has fallen, I will be ready to share ideas for Winter!