With perpetually busy schedules, it seems like impromptu girlfriend gatherings are better these days than trying to coordinate a date well in advance. A few weeks back I invited my neighbors over for Friday happy hour just a few hours in advance. I wanted to share some tips and tricks for how to pretty effortlessly pull off this sort of very casual gathering.
A few tips:
- Take your gathering out of the kitchen. I know the kitchen is a natural gathering place but consider setting up your little soiree somewhere else in the home or yard like a cozy nook in the family room, the rarely used formal living room (if you’re like us), or the patio or porch.
- I always have the dough on hand for my very favorite Cheddar Jalapeno Crackers and they are ALWAYS a hit! Just pop them in the fridge to thaw them the night before and you can pull this fabulous appetizer together in no time flat. I usually make 2 batches at one time since the recipe only uses about half of a block of the cheese and half of a jalapeno.
- For something this small and impromptu, I set out just one kind of wine and sparkling water. My fave white is Kim Crawford sauvignon blanc (inexpensive at Costco) and I buy the San Pell by the case also at Costco. Keep it simple!
- Little touches go a long way. Light a candle, turn on some music, and snip a few flowers from the yard if you have them. I also keep a basket of cocktail napkins and paper plates. For many of them I only have a few left in each pattern after whatever event they were originally purchased for. Pulling them out for a small gathering is a great way to run through the stash.
- Most of all, put the phone down and just enjoy your friends in real life!!
Jalapeno Cheddar Crackers
Source: Ina Garten
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¹⁄8 teaspoon baking powder
- 14 tablespoons (13/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, 1/2-inch-diced
- 5 ounces extra-sharp white cheddar, grated
- 1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeño pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (I used chipotle chili pepper as it was the only thing similar I saw at Publix.)
- 3 tablespoons ice water
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash
- Fleur de sel or sea salt
Place the flour, kosher salt, and baking powder in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse to mix. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cheddar, jalapeño, and chipotle chili powder and pulse again. With the food processor running, add the ice water all at once. Continue pulsing until the mixture begins to form a ball. Dump the dough onto a floured board and roll it into a 14-inch log. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Cut the dough in 3/8-inch-thick slices (should make 32-34 crackers). Place the crackers on the prepared sheet pan, brush with the egg wash, and sprinkle with the fleur de sel. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
I hope y’all got some good tips for hosting your next soiree. There’s not much I love more than connecting with friends and family!! As always let me know if there is a topic you’d like to see me discuss on video. I have a running list and will be doing some Christmas themed ones here soon.
DIXIE DELIGHTS DELIVERED