Reluctant Entertainer http://reluctantentertainer.com Lifestyle, Entertaining, Food, Recipes, Hospitality and Gardening Thu, 02 Oct 2014 10:00:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Asheville, North Carolina: Apple Pear Skillet Dessert with Pecan Coconut Topping http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/10/apple-pear-skillet-dessert-with-pecan-coconut-topping/ http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/10/apple-pear-skillet-dessert-with-pecan-coconut-topping/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 10:00:32 +0000 http://reluctantentertainer.com/?p=31278 This post is sponsored by Harry & David and features their Delux Signature Gift Basket, plus a fabulous Apple Pear Skillet Dessert with Pecan Coconut Topping! On a recent trip to Asheville, North Carolina, to attend the Food Blog Forum at the Biltmore Estate, I was a lucky girl to be one of more than 100 […]

The post Asheville, North Carolina: Apple Pear Skillet Dessert with Pecan Coconut Topping appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>

This post is sponsored by Harry & David and features their Delux Signature Gift Basket, plus a fabulous Apple Pear Skillet Dessert with Pecan Coconut Topping!

Apple Pear Skillet Dessert with Pecan Coconut Topping | ReluctantEntertainer.com

On a recent trip to Asheville, North Carolina, to attend the Food Blog Forum at the Biltmore Estate, I was a lucky girl to be one of more than 100 food bloggers, chefs and foodies who gathered to talk, learn, eat, mingle, and enjoy delicious foods and fine cuisine in this adorable city! The sponsors were some of the best, Harry & David being one, and our hosts were Jaden and Scott Hair (Steamy Kitchen), Todd Porter and Diane Cu (White on Rice), Lindsay Landis (Love & Olive Oil), and Julie Deily (The Little Kitchen).

Asheville, North Carolina

Food Blog Forum.

This event was one of the most organized and informative team-building food conferences I’ve attended, where we covered topics such as social media strategy, pitching and working with food publications, food photography, how to get your family involved {loved this}, brand relations, and how to monetize your blog. They also talked about real-life values and goals through social media, and how we can help one another through our missions, sharing, promoting, and connecting through our blogs. Julie has been the most helpful to me over the past year, in helping me grow my blog. It’s her gift– sharing with others, which is why she is part of this conference. I love the food blogging community! (I’m loving Harry & David’s new branding for their 80th Anniversary. Which, by the way, they gifted 2 bloggers with a year of Fruit of the Month Club! WOW!)

Asheville, NC @Foodtopia @FoodBlogForum @biltmoreestate #FBFAsh

I also enjoyed meeting Lisa and Jason, from 100 Days of Real Food. If you don’t have their new book – buy it! You’ll love to read about Lisa’s journey of 100 days of eating real food in her household with her family!

Asheville, NC @Foodtopia @FoodBlogForum @biltmoreestate #FBFAsh

Gina {Skinnytaste} was my rooomie, and of course we talked, like giddy girls, about blogging, family, friendships, but mostly her brand new book, The Skinnytaste Cookbook, that was hitting Amazon charts at #1 in all books, even before its release! So proud of my friend

Continue reading: Asheville, North Carolina: Apple Pear Skillet Dessert with Pecan Coconut Topping

The post Asheville, North Carolina: Apple Pear Skillet Dessert with Pecan Coconut Topping appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>
http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/10/apple-pear-skillet-dessert-with-pecan-coconut-topping/feed/ 3
Moondance and Chicken Mango Bacon Salad http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/10/chicken-mango-bacon-salad/ http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/10/chicken-mango-bacon-salad/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 10:00:58 +0000 http://reluctantentertainer.com/?p=31519 This fresh Chicken Mango Bacon Salad is scrumptious, especially with grilled chicken and a sweet orange dressing. Happy October, Friends! My husband and I met 24 years ago this month. I can still remember the lyrics to Moondance, as we were driving over to the Oregon coast to spend the day, and then back into […]

The post Moondance and Chicken Mango Bacon Salad appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>

This fresh Chicken Mango Bacon Salad is scrumptious, especially with grilled chicken and a sweet orange dressing.

Chicken Mango Bacon Salad

Happy October, Friends!

My husband and I met 24 years ago this month. I can still remember the lyrics to Moondance, as we were driving over to the Oregon coast to spend the day, and then back into the Rogue Valley.

The autumn leaves, the lyrics to this tune, the feeling of being with someone you really like {which turned into love}, the newness of getting to know someone for the very first time, sharing little bits about your own life….falling in love is like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle. You put the pieces together, but it takes time to create a beautiful mosaic piece of art, like your entire lifetime of getting to know one another. (Photo cred to Kristen.)

Moondance - Sandy & Paul 2012

The October skies … the leaves that are falling … the breeze that is blowing … the heart strings …

I’m a romantic at heart! Here’s Van singing it

Continue reading: Moondance and Chicken Mango Bacon Salad

The post Moondance and Chicken Mango Bacon Salad appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>
http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/10/chicken-mango-bacon-salad/feed/ 6
Chicken Curry on Brown Rice and Trip to Istanbul, Turkey http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/chicken-curry-brown-rice/ http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/chicken-curry-brown-rice/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 10:00:57 +0000 http://reluctantentertainer.com/?p=31515 This Chicken Curry on Brown Rice dish is an excellent weeknight meal that the entire family will love! Last week we were reminiscing about our beautiful trip to Tanzania, Africa over the summer, and then the restful days in Istanbul, Turkey, at the tail end of our trip, with our kids on our back patio, […]

The post Chicken Curry on Brown Rice and Trip to Istanbul, Turkey appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>

This Chicken Curry on Brown Rice dish is an excellent weeknight meal that the entire family will love!

Chicken Curry on Brown Rice | ReluctantEntertainer.com

Last week we were reminiscing about our beautiful trip to Tanzania, Africa over the summer, and then the restful days in Istanbul, Turkey, at the tail end of our trip, with our kids on our back patio, while enjoying Chicken Curry on Brown Rice. The talk of “curry” got us telling the kids all about the food, spices, cats (everywhere you looked), architecture, and beauty of  Istanbul.

Heading back to the States, we had a choice to go through Amsterdam or Turkey, so we chose the latter, staying at old town Istanbul (largest city in Turkey with a population of 14 million).

Istanbul, Turkey

I could write a very long post about our time there, but since this is basically a food blog, let me just say the food was outstanding.

Istanbul, Turkey

We stayed at the Avicenna Boutique Hotel centrally located in Istanbul, surrounded by breath-taking views of a lush park and pristine riverbank

Continue reading: Chicken Curry on Brown Rice and Trip to Istanbul, Turkey

The post Chicken Curry on Brown Rice and Trip to Istanbul, Turkey appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>
http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/chicken-curry-brown-rice/feed/ 6
Curried Chicken Salad {SkinnyTaste Cookbook + Le Creuset Giveaway} http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/curried-chicken-salad/ http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/curried-chicken-salad/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 07:01:39 +0000 http://reluctantentertainer.com/?p=31517 Today I’m sharing a Curried Chicken Salad recipe and giving away a copy of The SkinnyTaste Cookbook, by Gina Homolka, plus a 3.5 Le Creuset cast iron braiser. Last week I made Skinnytaste’s Curried Chicken Salad for lunch, and like Gina, I dreamed about it for days! Not only did I enjoy it, my husband and son […]

The post Curried Chicken Salad {SkinnyTaste Cookbook + Le Creuset Giveaway} appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>

Today I’m sharing a Curried Chicken Salad recipe and giving away a copy of The SkinnyTaste Cookbook, by Gina Homolka, plus a 3.5 Le Creuset cast iron braiser.

Curried Chicken Salad {SkinnyTaste + Le Creuset Giveaway} | ReluctantEntertainer.com

Last week I made Skinnytaste’s Curried Chicken Salad for lunch, and like Gina, I dreamed about it for days! Not only did I enjoy it, my husband and son did as well.

All of Gina’s recipes are so healthy, fresh, easy, nutritional, tasty, and seriously, I think her The Skinnytaste Cookbook may be my new best friend!

Curried Chicken Salad {SkinnyTaste + Le Creuset Giveaway}

Le Creuset.

I also love Le Creuset, and this 3 1/2 quart braiser is my new favorite piece in my kitchen! (Did you happen to pin my One-Pot Chicken Paprika Thigh recipe?)! Their pieces are gorgeous enameled cast iron, perfect to use with Gina’s fabulous recipes (in her new book), such as her Mongolian Beef and Broccoli or Chicken Marsala.

Le Creuset Braiser

The colors.

Le Creuset makes timeless gifts that any seasoned cook or beginner would love to own. I personally love the vibrant colors that are available in the Le Creuset line, with Carribean Blue in my kitchen

Continue reading: Curried Chicken Salad {SkinnyTaste Cookbook + Le Creuset Giveaway}

The post Curried Chicken Salad {SkinnyTaste Cookbook + Le Creuset Giveaway} appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>
http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/curried-chicken-salad/feed/ 564
Family Motto: Vegetarian Enchiladas http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/vegetarian-enchiladas/ http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/vegetarian-enchiladas/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 13:16:33 +0000 http://reluctantentertainer.com/?p=31492 Today I’m sharing a Vegetarian Enchiladas recipe with beans, lentils, onions, corn, and fresh tomatillas straight out of the garden. A friend recently asked me a little bit about our Oregon home. This is what I told her: I love our home because it’s a warm, functional space where people gather. Being a 1970’s home […]

The post Family Motto: Vegetarian Enchiladas appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>

Today I’m sharing a Vegetarian Enchiladas recipe with beans, lentils, onions, corn, and fresh tomatillas straight out of the garden.

Vegetarian Enchiladas | Reluctant Entertainer.com

A friend recently asked me a little bit about our Oregon home. This is what I told her:

I love our home because it’s a warm, functional space where people gather. Being a 1970’s home that we’ve fixed up over the years, perfect was never our goal, and it didn’t stop us from hosting dinner party after dinner party with a tiny kitchen, original bathrooms, funky intercoms and poor lighting throughout the house.

Love and food.

Early on, my husband and I decided that no matter what our surroundings, the benefit of owning a home was having it to share with others, a conduit of love and food.

Reluctant Entertainer Kitchen | ReluctantEntertainer.com

Center island.

We eventually tore down a couple of kitchen walls, and with help and a creative design by my Dad,  we built a giant center island. It has become the hub of the home, where guests hang out, and we can cook together as a family

Continue reading: Family Motto: Vegetarian Enchiladas

The post Family Motto: Vegetarian Enchiladas appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>
http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/vegetarian-enchiladas/feed/ 9
Table Experience: Caprese Bites with Cucumber http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/caprese-bites-with-cucumber/ http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/caprese-bites-with-cucumber/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 10:00:47 +0000 http://reluctantentertainer.com/?p=31472 Try this easy party food appetizer, Caprese Bites with Cucumber, next time you want to create a yummy “table” experience. Some of our best friends came for dinner last week and we had a great time around the table. After a long day of work, obligations, and stress, we came together to enjoy some wine […]

The post Table Experience: Caprese Bites with Cucumber appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>

Try this easy party food appetizer, Caprese Bites with Cucumber, next time you want to create a yummy “table” experience.

Caprese Bites with Cucumber

Some of our best friends came for dinner last week and we had a great time around the table. After a long day of work, obligations, and stress, we came together to enjoy some wine and appetizers on the back patio, with a yummy steak dinner. My husband made this delicious appetizer, Caprese Bites with Cucumber, using end-of-season garden cucumbers and tomatoes. A perfect way to start off our little dinner party! {Here is the link to our backyard lighting, if you’d like more information on the lights!}

Caprese Bites with Cucumber. “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”  ― John Wayne

The point of entertaining is to gather people around your table that you want to be there. That makes it fun and exciting for me as I plan a dinner party! It’s a beautiful thing to actually have people into our home who we want to invest time in, and hopefully in return they’re interested in our lives. (Secretly, it’s always nice to get a reciprocated invite, but we never base our friendships on that. That is not why we host.

Continue reading: Table Experience: Caprese Bites with Cucumber

The post Table Experience: Caprese Bites with Cucumber appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>
http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/caprese-bites-with-cucumber/feed/ 9
Love+Food: One-Pot Paprika Chicken Thighs http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/one-pot-paprika-chicken-thighs/ http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/one-pot-paprika-chicken-thighs/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 10:00:22 +0000 http://reluctantentertainer.com/?p=31448 Today’s One-Pot Paprika Chicken Thighs, with potatoes and carrots, is flavorful, healthy, and good enough for company! Try it on served in rice, quinoa, or farro. As much as we feel we’ve let our garden go to “pot” this summer, with all of our travels, we couldn’t be happier with the harvest that continues to […]

The post Love+Food: One-Pot Paprika Chicken Thighs appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>

Today’s One-Pot Paprika Chicken Thighs, with potatoes and carrots, is flavorful, healthy, and good enough for company! Try it on served in rice, quinoa, or farro.

One-Pot Paprika Chicken Thighs | ReluctantEntertainer.com

As much as we feel we’ve let our garden go to “pot” this summer, with all of our travels, we couldn’t be happier with the harvest that continues to give and give! We feel very blessed this year, and most recently pulled baby red and white potatoes from the garden. I’m glad we got them when they were “babies,” since they are more tender and flavorful than the larger potatoes.

Garden potatoes.

This recipe today I made up on a whim, using what I had in the garden and fridge. I love those kinds of recipes – where everything goes into one pot!

One-Pot Paprika Chicken Thighs - garden potatoes

From our kitchen to hers.

I took one bite and thought to myself, Yum, this is fantastic! So I called one of my friends, who I know works out of the house, and asked if she wanted to swing by to “pick up dinner” from our house!

She was elated, I was more than happy to practice a “random act of kindness,” and to think of how I could bless someone else

Continue reading: Love+Food: One-Pot Paprika Chicken Thighs

The post Love+Food: One-Pot Paprika Chicken Thighs appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>
http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/one-pot-paprika-chicken-thighs/feed/ 16
Bring in the Harvest with Grilled Spaghetti Squash http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/grilled-spaghetti-squash/ http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/grilled-spaghetti-squash/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://reluctantentertainer.com/?p=31415 This Grilled Spaghetti Squash is tender, healthy, sweet, and delicious served with paprika and fresh Parmesan cheese. Happy first day of fall, friends! You just can’t describe it any better than this … “Use what you have, use what the world gives you. Use the first day of fall: bright flame before winter’s deadness; harvest; orange, […]

The post Bring in the Harvest with Grilled Spaghetti Squash appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>

This Grilled Spaghetti Squash is tender, healthy, sweet, and delicious served with paprika and fresh Parmesan cheese.

Grilled Spaghetti Squash

Happy first day of fall, friends!

You just can’t describe it any better than this …

“Use what you have, use what the world gives you. Use the first day of fall: bright flame before winter’s deadness; harvest; orange, gold, amber; cool nights and the smell of fire. Our tree-lined streets are set ablaze, our kitchens filled with the smells of nostalgia: apples bubbling into sauce, roasting squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, cider, warmth itself. The leaves as they spark into wild color just before they die are the world’s oldest performance art, and everything we see is celebrating one last violently hued hurrah before the black and white silence of winter.”
― Shauna Niequist

I love this time of year, harvesting squash, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage. Our garden treats are brimming in the baskets right now, and this year we tried something new: Grilled Spaghetti Squash.

My husband is more of a gardener than I am, but he loves helping me and being creative in the kitchen, coming up with tasty recipes. This dish today is so easy, it’s basically a 1, 2, 3 … recipe.

1, 2, 3 …

1. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
2. Season and place on the grill and cook until tender.
3. Use a fork to cut the spaghetti squash flesh into strings, then scoop out with a spoon.

Grilled Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a very versatile yellow winter squash, which we love to replace pasta or rice with, when we’re trying to eat lower carbs. Last year I wrote about Baked Spaghetti Squash. I learned this food substitution about 10 years ago when I cooked my way through a Suzanne Sommers Get Skinny cookbook. My friend, Gina, at Skinnytaste, also cooks a lot with spaghetti squash and has a very simple recipe in her brand new book,  The Skinnytaste Cookbook

Continue reading: Bring in the Harvest with Grilled Spaghetti Squash

The post Bring in the Harvest with Grilled Spaghetti Squash appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>
http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/grilled-spaghetti-squash/feed/ 6
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies + Violin Story http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-cookies/ http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-cookies/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 10:00:57 +0000 http://reluctantentertainer.com/?p=31381 Enjoy these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, with a delicious yummy cream cheese drizzle on top, along with a sweet violin story. Enjoy! Our daughter is a high school senior this year. Plus, she’s my baby, so you know what that means. Empty nest is around the corner, and I feel a little sadness looming in […]

The post Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies + Violin Story appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>

Enjoy these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, with a delicious yummy cream cheese drizzle on top, along with a sweet violin story. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies + Violin Story | ReluctantEntertainer.com

Our daughter is a high school senior this year. Plus, she’s my baby, so you know what that means. Empty nest is around the corner, and I feel a little sadness looming in the background, mixed with moments of joy. Motherhood has been one of my highest callings in life, one I will never take for granted. Although I’m excited for the new chapter to come, I can’t help but think back to when Abby was almost 4, just coming out of toddler stage to a little girl, and we started her taking violin lessons using the Suzuki Method.

Today, at almost 18, she still plays her violin every day, and we love the sound that fills our home with music so beautiful that it makes you want to cry.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies + Violin Story

How she started violin.

When Abby started with a Kudos Box taped to a ruler (learning how to hold the violin before ever playing), and following every lesson with thanking and bowing to her teacher—Thank you, Virginia, for teaching me violin today— it felt like a long journey ahead

Continue reading: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies + Violin Story

The post Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies + Violin Story appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>
http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-cookies/feed/ 9
Art of Cooking and Tuna Casserole Recipe http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/tuna-casserole/ http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/tuna-casserole/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:00:29 +0000 http://reluctantentertainer.com/?p=31348 I’m sharing thoughts on the “art of cooking” and Tuna Casserole recipe, a twist on the classic using ricotta cheese, peas, green onion, and Parmesan cheese. When you hear your boys (or young men) say, “Mom! How can I make this recipe?” it makes a mama’s heart sing! This week is the last week of summer for our […]

The post Art of Cooking and Tuna Casserole Recipe appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>

I’m sharing thoughts on the “art of cooking” and Tuna Casserole recipe, a twist on the classic using ricotta cheese, peas, green onion, and Parmesan cheese.

Tuna Casserole | ReluctantEntertainer.com

When you hear your boys (or young men) say, “Mom! How can I make this recipe?” it makes a mama’s heart sing! This week is the last week of summer for our family to all be together, and being short on time, I whipped up a Tuna Casserole. I need to get back into the habit of using my crock pot (starting early in the morning), but on this day, I waited until the last minute. I wanted a recipe of substance, and I didn’t want to go to the store, so I looked through my fridge and pantry and remembered my own mama’s tuna casserole recipe. With heavy white sauce, white pasta, and cheddar cheese on top it’s comfort food indeed, tasty, but so unhealthy. This is where I love how my kids are educated with food (and I really wasn’t growing up, which was the norm for my generation). They love DeLallo’s whole wheat pasta, and we all agree there is nothing quite like the flavor. That’s all they talk about now! :)

Last minute cooking.

Cooking at the end of the day, sometimes I feel myself spiraling down. I want to put something healthy on the table, yet tasty, and I don’t want to waste time or money on ingredients. I’m not happy with myself when I wait until the last minute to prepare dinner for my family, but sometimes this {life} happens. I’m always giddy when my meal turns out.

Tuna Casserole | ReluctantEntertainer.comContinue reading: Art of Cooking and Tuna Casserole Recipe

The post Art of Cooking and Tuna Casserole Recipe appeared first on Reluctant Entertainer.

]]>
http://reluctantentertainer.com/2014/09/tuna-casserole/feed/ 10