I met Beth 10 years ago when I moved to Philadelphia. She was the church choir director, a falto (fake alto), and has a kick butt Ave Maria (among other things) in her repertoire. She also was one of the people who would check in with me to make sure that I remembered to eat in college when life got extra busy. So needless to say, we love Beth. Beth is also one of the best cook’s I’ve ever met; she’s one of those people who can make something delicious with whatever is in her refrigerator. She’s Italian, her husband is Iranian and Guatemalan, and there was a station for each one of these types of food at her wedding. Not only that, but she cooks it all, and almost every meal at her house ends with a delicious cup of persian tea (which she once had candied saffron to supplement that was delicious). Therefore, when I started this series I knew Beth was going to have to be one of my great party hostesses.
You can find her on the internet at Recipes for Success. She blogs about healthy recipes, fitness, and wellness. You should absolutely check it out.
Tell us about your party-hosting style.
I like to be prepared above all thing. My goal whenever I am hosting a party is to prepare as much as I can in advance so that when my guests arrive, I am not stuck in the kitchen with my head in the oven watching my food cook. I want to be able to relax and enjoy the night too so I find some extra time preparing in advance goes a long way for me. I also try to plan to serve foods that can be prepared in advance!
Where did your love of party planning begin?
Growing up in a Italian family, every occasion is calls for a celebration and there are no celebrations without food. I am also an exceeding extroverted person so I am always looking for an outing or event to attend. For this reason, I love planning my own parties. I have slowed down a bit in terms of hosting lately but mostly because life with 2 kids gets crazy and the house is always scattered with toys.
What are your go-to appetizers?
Spinach-artichoke dip and Baked brie with caramelized onions and dried cranberries are always crowd favorites!
What are your go-to entrees?
I try to keep it simple. One time I made homemade pasta with short rib bolognese after a trip to Eataly in NYC where I fell in love with their short rib bolognese. I had to try to recreate it for myself and it was a hit! I also love to expose friends to new types of food so I make an Iranian dish called Gormeh Sabzi with Rice and Tadiq (the crispy bottom part of the rice). It is a dish that has taken me a long time to learn to make and make well (and that requires some secret family ingredients from my husband’s family in Iran) but that people are always intrigued by and it is also well liked (even my picky 6 year old loves it!).
What are your go-to desserts?
Lemon tart, Chocolate tart, my sinless chocolate chip cookies, Fruit crisp is another great one because it can be made with less sugar and still tastes amazing!
What are your go-to beverages?
I keep it simple with the beverages…wine, beer, sometimes if it’s the holidays I will throw in wassail in the crockpot or sangria when the weather is getting nice.
What do you usually bring to a potluck?
I like to sit back and see what everyone else is making. I find though that most people either opt for an appetizer or a dessert so a lot of times I end up bringing a main dish. I wouldn’t say I have a standard that I usually bring though. Sometimes it depends what I have on hand for ingredients because I don’t like to do extra grocery shopping if I can help it. I find a lot of times that I can make something great with what I have on hand in my pantry and refrigerator. My dad taught me this!
Do you decorate for the festivities?
Maybe some fresh flowers but generally, no. Unless it’s Christmas, then all bets are off and I definitely decorate!
Tell us about the best party you’ve ever hosted.
Hmmm. This is a tough one. I find that my enjoyment of my parties has changed over time. When I was in grad school, I loved parties with a few friends where we could have lots of time to just relax and talk. Now that I have kids, I like having parties with friends and their kids. We feed the kids first then put on a movie for them so we can sit down and eat and enjoy adult conversation. Actually, I take it back. Can my wedding count as a party I have hosted? Because that was an amazing night and I did put a TON of work into it but in the end, it went exactly as I wanted it to and everyone enjoyed it.
What’s your biggest hostess challenge?
Timing. I am really OCD about timing with myself and so I like to time everything perfectly but generally don’t account for most people being fashionably late so my food is usually done too early. I am working on it!
What’s your best tip for someone who wants to be a great party hostess?
Do everything in your power to give yourself a chance to enjoy the party too. Yes, hosting a party is a lot of work but if you do some prepping in advance and plan your day right, you don’t have to spend the entire day in the kitchen while everyone else is having fun in the living room.
Admittedly I wrote the blurb before reading her answers. So now you’ve heard about the wedding twice. It really was quite as good as she said it was. There was also a situation with a tipsy piano player that night who went back to try to play mass. That didn’t end so well. The true story of church choirs, man. That’s a post in itself somewhere.
Thanks so much for playing along, Beth! To check out past hostesses of the month visit the links below:
|Chrystina Noel||Chrystina’s Mom||Sweet Love & Ginger|
|Recipe for Success||
Brigette I Design
Parties for Pennies