Why Impromptu Gatherings Work & Baked Brie with Cranberry Relish Appetizer

We had an impromptu gathering the other night. Just a few friends, it wasn’t planned out, everyone brought a dish, I made a few, and we were ready to sit back and ENJOY.

I had a small round of brie cheese in the fridge, so I whipped up one of my favorite appetizers for this time of year. It’s so easy and a hit every time.

Oh, and I get asked this often, for those who are afraid to cook with brie cheese or have had a bad experience with it: Yes, you leave the rind on! The secret is to bake it long enough, so the rind softens up!

Back to impromptu, so many people aren’t comfortable with this style of entertaining, I realize more and more. I always think it has to do with our personalities, and an element of “control.” I actually think this is a hot topic, one that many of us revisit over and over in our minds. We know we should, but we just can’t … Image, image, image.

I think after we get over our initial fear of thinking everything has to look perfect (taste, visual, ambience, decor), we free ourselves up.

Impromtu brings an element of JOY to entertaining that I think more of us need to experience!

Here are my thoughts on why “impromptu” works:

1. Impromptu is “Prompted by the occasion rather than being planned in advance.”

2. It doesn’t allow us to “over-think” the situation.

3. It forces us to make quick decisions, and then stick with them.

4. It allows for creativity (use what you have, right then).

5. Imperfection is easier to deal with, because the event is an unexpected blessing more than a production.

6. It brings an element of surprise, as you delegate and surprise dishes show up.

7. It gives an overall feeling of GRATITUDE when the party is over, realizing it’s really not about YOU, but more about THEM. Not about the FOOD, more about FRIENDSHIP.

I want to share an email I received just this week from a reader. I hope it encourages you to “let go” and “invite in” this holiday season ahead!

Hi Sandy,
I just wanted to let you know that after reading your book awhile back and following your blog for awhile as well, I finally let go of all my perfectionist tendencies and had an “impromptu” dinner party. I usually take on the big holiday entertaining for my family, but I rarely have friends over because my house isn’t exactly as I would like it to be. Well I finally realized that while I was waiting for my house to be perfect I was missing out on a lot of opportunities to connect with friends and family. I was finally able to reciprocate with a dinner tonight with a friend who often entertains our family. It wasn’t perfect and it was a little stressful, but her gratitude made it all worthwhile. Thank-you for giving me the push I needed to be brave and enjoy the blessing of being a hostess! — RE Reader

And for now, the easy recipe.

I added FRESH cranberries and the pecans to the stone I baked the brie on.

Baked and served. It was sweet, the cranberries “popped” and added a tartness, and the nuts made it savory.

The best of all flavors in one easy appetizer.

I’d love to hear your tips, if you have any to share on “impromptu.”

What’s your comfort level with “impromptu” on a scale from 1-5, with 1 being you hate it, 5 being you love it?

   

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12 Responses to “Why Impromptu Gatherings Work & Baked Brie with Cranberry Relish Appetizer”

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    Heather @ Heather's Dish — October 25, 2012 @ 6:56 am

    i don’t think i’ve ever seen brie baked like this – it’s always en croute (still delicious), but this is so much easier and faster than trying to fold the puff pastry in a pretty way!

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    Kim — October 25, 2012 @ 7:54 am

    I read that comment on your post the other day and loved it. I’m a 1 on impromtu entertaining- it scares me! I am a planner, and like to have the food and my home “perfect”. Thanks to you and your fabulous blog I am trying to lighten up! This brie looks AMAZING!

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    3
    julie @ peanut butter fingers — October 25, 2012 @ 8:29 am

    oh my gosh. i picture this as a new holiday classic before thanksgiving or christmas dinner when everyone wants something to nibble on. it’s not only gorgeous, but it looks mouthwatering AND festive, too!

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    4
    Kirstin — October 25, 2012 @ 9:36 am

    Hmmmm… I would say a 3 1/2, mainly because I don’t often have things on hand in the kitchen to serve for impromptu get togethers, simply because of grocery budget issues, I buy what we need and what I have planned for. I suppose I could “plan” ahead for potential “impromptu” gatherings (C:

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    Julie — October 25, 2012 @ 10:09 am

    4… but I am going to work on this! :) I want to entertain more!

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    Debbie — October 25, 2012 @ 10:30 am

    I would say I’m about a 4. I cringe at the idea of impromptu but in reality, that’s mostly what we do.

    Tips:

    1) Always keep some nuts in the house. When all else fails, a bowl of nuts makes people happy. Cheese and fruit come in second. And if you don’t have much of them, put them all together on a plate like you did and it looks special.

    2) Whatever you do, DON’T keep apologizing for things (the food, the mess, etc.). People know they are dropping in unplanned. Just focus on welcoming them in a gracious manner. Don’t let them feel they are stressing you out. If it’s really about the company, then be good company! They will go home happy, I promise.

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    Curtis & Sherrie — October 25, 2012 @ 10:33 am

    We are a 4 on this scale. We often entertain impromptu, but to be honest it is usually after we have had a dinner party and the house is still in relative good standing. Not that our house is not always in good standing, but when we have dinner parties we go the extra mile, fresh flowers, etc. This past week end we invited 2 of our most cherished friends Cesar and Tami over for a small dinner party just the 4 of us. We hardly ever get to just sit and visit the 4 of us. So we got out our tried and true recipe of Mexican Lasgana, and used 2 new recipes for a salad and dessert. The evening was wonderful. Then on Sunday I told my wife we need to invite some people over I am going to try that new soup recipe from My Sweet Savannah blog. So a few calls were made and we had another dinner party, with soup, salad and dessert. It was fun and we totally enjoyed ourselves. Mind you there was one new recipe failure, I had cut out a bread recipe from our local news paper for fresh baguettes. It looked so good and sooooo easy….. um yeah, oh yeah I must tell you I have never baked bread in my life, my wife is the baker in our family. But I thought I can do this NOT, the bread did not rise, it was just a HUGE lump of dough laying in the bowl…… no worries I just made cheesy biscuits to serve and all was well. I tell you all this because even seasonsed entertainers, and my wife and I are seasoned entertainers, have failures in the kitchen. It is not the failure that defines us, it is what we do with it that counts. I told the story over dinner we all had a great laugh and all was well…. Make your entertaining easy, put on a pot of soup cut up some store bought french bread and enJOY, the fellowship, the laughs, the bonding that only happens around a dinner table!
    Blessings to you and yours
    Curtis & Sherrie

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    Leighann — October 25, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

    This recipe looks great! I love fall because everyone starts using cranberries.

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    Cassie | Bake Your Day — October 25, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

    This is incredibly amazing, Sandy! I have never thought about removing the top of the cheese wheel and then putting it back on to bake. Love it!

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