Comments : 33

Hello everyone and here we are with chapter 4 of the Entertaining Diaries! So happy you are enjoying this series, as it’s a lot of fun for me to go back on how I like to entertain and even rediscovering some old menus/recipes I kind of forgot about. I am going to address many of your questions in this post as well as continue to share some tried and true tips/recipes.

Remember to ask your questions in the comments (which I will address next post). I got some questions via email but it is much easier to keep track if you can keep your questions to the comment section on this post.

Want to see all the previous posts? Click here

Today I am focusing on two aspects of entertaining, the first is super easy “go to in a pinch” appetizers. Then I am sharing a favorite luncheon menu with the recipes as well as addressing all of the questions I got.


Things to always keep on hand- here is a list of items that you can quickly pull together as appetizers when you are in a pinch.

  1. Nuts (I keep mine in airtight containers in freezer, they do not freeze and are ready to serve and retain their crispness)
  2. Brie (can be frozen)
  3. Prepared pasty dough (always have some kind of dough, it is so convenient for a multitude of things)!
  4. Shrimp (I always have a bag of frozen extra large shrimp just in case)
  5. Dried fruit (stores well long term in a bag)
  6. Brown sugar, honey, fresh lemon
  7. A bag of Potato chips (I personally like Cape Cod is there any other)!
  8. Store bought cocktail sauce ( I like Hoffman House and Gold’s,  available in most markets)

With the above here are some of the quick appetizers you can whip up in no time-

Shrimp cocktail. So easy. Defrost, put in boiling salted water (I add wedges of lemon to my boiling water) and voila you are done.I immediately refrigerate them and have been known to even put them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes if I am really in pinch. Keep ready made cocktail sauce in your arsenal and just add horseradish and lemon juice to zest it up! Everyone loves the elegance of shrimp cocktail.

An easy baked brie bite. If you have brie and phyllo dough, you are just about done. Just add nuts, some butter and cranberries or raisins if you have them. Wrap up the phyllo around the brie, add a quick covering of egg whites over the dough and bake for about 40 minutes. Heavenly good, serve with crackers or thinly cut bread.

Two ways for the brie- this one does not involve baking so is quick. Take small chunks of brie, add to thinly sliced toasted baguettes, add some chopped nuts on top then a drizzle of honey. Elegant and sooo good.

The baked brie bites- Roll out the pastry add a small “cube” of brie, add chopped nuts, a sprinkle of brown sugar, wrap up the dough around the cheese and bake for 20 minutes at 325 degrees or until golden brown. Serve with water crackers, ALWAYS a hit!

That’s right, I said chips. If you want to add just a few small appetizers, one way to really add a little wow factor is putting chips in a pretty silver mint julep, they are instantly elevated to a pretty little appetizer. Sprinkle  some dried chopped parsley on top for a little something extra.  And lets be real, who doesn’t love chips!

These are the brand new style of the mint juleps, they were. just added to the shop site last night. Mint juleps make the best condiment holders, use them all the time. Click here to see our incredible mint julep collection.

Moving on……

I hosted a luncheon a few months back and featured what is my favorite “go to”  luncheon menu. The kind that many people ask for the recipes, that kind of good:) Here are a few pictures then a few of the recipes!

Here is the menu-

The kale salad with pistachios and Parmesan

  • 2 bunches lacinato kale leaves removed from stems and chopped (chop then massage leaves for a good 5-10 minutes which takes away the coarse texture)

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup roasted pistachios chopped (or roasted pinenuts, depends on what I have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese
creamy parmesan dressing
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon freshly snipped chives
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  1. Place the kale leaves in a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and massage the oil into the leaves.
  2. Let the kale sit while you make the dressing. In a food processor, combine the cheese, yogurt, garlic, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Blend until pureed. With the processor still on, stream in the olive oil until a creamy dressing forms. [This will make more dressing than needed, but you can store it sealed in the fridge for about 3-4 days and stir well before using.]
  3. Drizzle a few tablespoons of the dressing over the kale and toss it well. I like to toss this for a food 1 to 2 minutes so the dressing is evenly dispersed. Cover with the chopped pistachios and shaved Parmesan. Serve!

The yummiest chicken salad (works great for tea sandwiches, in wraps or even stuffed in a large tomato)

Cannot even tell you how good this is, my all time favorite chicken salad and I have tried many. The dill is what does it! Great texture and flavors too.

  • 3 – 4 lbs of chicken parts (bone-in, skin-on thighs and breasts work well) (you’ll need about 3 to 4 cups of cooked chicken) I cut mine super small I use chicken boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons quality olive oil
  • 1 cup of seedless grapes, sliced in half (red and green varieties are great)
  • 1 cup almonds, thinly sliced (optional) This is a must add, gives great texture
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped thinly
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped ( I about doubled this as I love dill and it adds a lot to this)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (I USE 1/2 cup and 1/2 greek plain yogurt)
  • Juice of 1 lemon or more
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt (start with ½ teaspoon, then add more, to taste)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Rub oil all over the chicken pieces and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes (internal temp should reach 165 F). .
  4. Remove the chicken, let cool, then pull the meat from the bones and roughly chop.
  5. In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, grapes, almonds, celery, scallions, dill & parsley
  6. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, lemon, mustard, salt and pepper.
  7. Add the mayonnaise mixture to the chicken mixture, and gently stir until will mixed.
  8. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
  9. Serve on a bed of green leaves with sliced tomatoes and avocado. Or, serve on bread with green leaf lettuce. Add more toppings to your taste!

You can serve in a wrap and cut up into small bite size sandwiches  or even use them with pastry sheets, yum yum!

Heavenly good autumn bisque soup (great in the cooler/colder months)

1 very large head of cauliflower (or 1 and a half heads)

4 carrots, 4 Yukon gold potatoes,

4 good sized carrots

1/4/ cup chopped flat parsley,

1 large onion,

1 Tbsp chopped parsnip

, 2 Knorrs chicken bullion cubes

Sprinkle of curry

Worcestershire sauce ( a few dashes or to taste)

Heavy cream (calls for 1/2 cup, I use 1/4 cup which is totally fine)

Cut up all vegetables fairly small (about 1″) Fill a pot with about 5-6 cups of water, add bouillon cubes and all vegetables. Boil until very soft. Remove from heat and in batches puree with handheld mixer or in a blender until very smooth. Pour back in soup pot. Add sea salt, fresh pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and curry powder to taste.

Add about 1/4 cup of heavy cream. Original recipe calls for 3/4 cup of cream but I have lessened it by adding 2 more potatoes and the result is excellent. Add a pinch of finely chopped chives on top for garnish and enjoy!

I will always have a small basket of breads on the side which pairs well with the soup as well as chicken salad. Thankfully we have many excellent local bakeries, from which to choose.


OK on to some of your questions-

I am almost embarrassed to say I have cabinets like this, filled with dishes and crystal stemware. It’s an addiction for which there is no cure!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 skinless and boneless chicken breast fillets , halved horizontally to make four fillets ( I made mine very thin)
  • Salt , to season
  • 14 ounces | 400 grams sliced mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 large french shallot , finely chopped (normal shallot for U.S readers)
  • 1/2 cup (about 130ml) champagne (or sparkling white wine)
  • 2/3 cup milk (or heavy / thickened cream)
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch (corn flour) — only if using milk
  • Fresh chopped parsley , to garnish


    • Heat the olive oil in a skillet of pan over medium heat. Season each chicken filet with a pinch of salt. Sear chicken on both sides, for about 3-5 minutes each side (depending on thickness), until golden all over. Transfer chicken to a plate.
    • Fry the mushrooms in the butter and fry for a further 3-5 minutes, or until just beginning to soften. Transfer to the same plate as the chicken. Cover and keep warm.
    • Add the shallot into the pan and cook for 4 minutes, while occasionally stirring. Pour in the champagne; stir well, while scraping any food bits from the bottom of the pan for added flavour. Season with salt and pepper and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
    • Add milk (or cream) and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If using milk: mix the cornstarch with a tablespoon of water; pour into the centre of the pan and mix throughout the sauce until slightly thickened
  • Add the chicken and mushrooms into the sauce along with any cooking juices. Coat in the creamy sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and serve!


And there you have chapter four of Entertaining Diaries!  Hope you enjoyed, have some tried and true tips of your own? Please share, that’s part of the fun of these posts! I need your input, questions and direction to help with my next post, so am all ears, tell me what you want to. hear about most with respect to entertaining.

 Thanks for stopping in, wishing everyone a fabulous day. And remember, entertaining does not need to be intimidating, overwhelming or anxiety provoking. You can do it simple and causal but still elegantly! Making a  master list and literally writing everything down is still my number one “go to” tip, I write it all down, quiet literally! Until next time…….

Our “seconds” sale is in full swing, some items we sold out of but some still remain! Click here for sale

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Ruth on

Do you leave the white rind on the Brie or shave it off? Depending on time I have done both but unsure what is correct.

Peggy Wilkins on

Thank you for all the information! I still love to entertain and, like you, have an obsession with dish sets and crystal. I inherited beautiful Fostoria crystal stems and bowls and beautiful Moonspun Lenox pattern; china but it doesn’t end there, I added my own sets, so I love to have options! Everything you post is eye-candy, thank you!

Cynthia on

This is so great! Love this series thanks for sharing all your tips and recipes. I loved the quick appetizer ideas too, I will be doing my shopping today to keep those staples in my fridge!!
Thank you?

Anne on

LOVE the potato chip idea and serving them in mint juleps is brilliant !! The chicken dish looks yummy.

Franki on

YUM!!! franki

Anne Marie O’Connor on

Fantastic entertaining ideas! I like your ideas about having a few things on hand, in freezer etc in case you have unexpected guests drop by.
I also like to be organized a day ahead if it is a plan event. Example clean house, set table, flowers, groceries etc. This helps me to plan without a lot of anxiety or chaos on the day of. I also enjoy the evening and my guests as well.
Thanks for the recipes, ideas too.
PS Somehow, when the table is set beautifully, the food somehow tastes better. Antique dishes, China, wow, I love it!

Jennifer P on

Fantastic post Tina! Thank you so much for all of the wonderful tips and recipes! I definitely will be trying them and they all look delicious. My question is about a dinner party, how long should the appetizer/cocktail “hour” be before dinner? I think I generally let this go on too long. And after dinner, do you go right to dessert and coffee or do you take a little break before? Thanks again for your wonderful blog and shop! I really appreciate all that you share with us! Jen

Regina on

I love all the tips and recipes you shared. What would be a great bit easy brunch menu?

Jenny on

Dear Tina,
Thank you for all the wonderful ideas !!
With the champagne and mushroom chicken, what do you serve with that dish?
Potatoes, rice, vegetables?

Thank you, I hope to try this soon for my food fabulous friends

Jennifer on

I tend to stress myself out by attempting a more complicated dish than necessary….I am working on that. LOL
One of my long time go to apps is shrimp cocktail. I have a beautiful large boat shaped white dish that I fill with shaved ice and I pile the shrimp on top with lemon wedges and then I take a large silver goblet and fill it with St. Elmo’s cocktail sauce. It’s a winner every time. I have friends who only drink white or only drink red, so I tend to serve both no matter what the meal or time of year.
I love your entertainment posts and love that you include recipes!

Jane on

As we all know, the larger culture is quite casual now; the last few weddings we have gone to, the couple did not even register for china or crystal. Sometimes I hesitate to use my fine things; it feels a little too formal or even pretentious maybe? Does anybody else struggle with this?

Megan on

What a fabulous post!! So many of my questions answered and a multitude of great ideas. Thank you!!

Elizabeth on

So many great recipes! I cannot wait to try your chicken salad! I have one that is fabulous but am always looking to try new things.

Cynthia R on

Potato chips never looked so good! I think Ralph Lauren does that too in his restaurants which is so clever- you make it look so good but it couldn’t be easier.
The recipes look great and love that luncheon menu. When you do a luncheon do you use place cards?
What is your favorite dessert given that most people are more health/sugar conscious now? Would love to know thanks!

Victoria on

A few questions- when you prepare a salad do you plate it or serve it in one big bowl?
Do you use a tablecloth or just placemats?
And last do you have a few good china pattern recommendations for someone who is just starting to entertain? Thank you in advance.

Norina on

You are a gracious host. Thanks for sharing your entertaining ideas with us.

Jo Shafer on

Well, now! You’ve more than whetted my appetite on this snowy morning! I’m off to the kitchen . . . .

Trudi on


Can you tell me the name of the fabric used for the tablecloth in the picture of the autumn bisque soup? I am interested in it for some pillows. Thanks!

Marilyn on

Never heard of lentils in a salad. Do you cook them first?

Amber Cooley on

I just want to thank you so much for writing blogs, especially your Entertaining Diaries. It is so refreshing to follow someone who actually shares resources and recipes…so many times designers keep that information highly coveted and the blog is not helpful. Being in the marketing industry, I can appreciate the amount of time it takes you to come up with the topics, write about them, provide photos, format, etc. Please know that you are very much appreciated.

Janet on

Hi Tina — Love your potato chip suggestion! I will add that to my pantry, along with the crackers and nuts I always have. Have not added brie to the freezer, but will do that too. A few summers ago I started keeping sliced baguettes in the freezer. So easy to toast in a hot oven and top with just about anything. Although we always offer white wine, we always serve red. It’s just what everyone here drinks, although proseco is very popular, especially at a larger party. I love these posts and hope you keep them coming.

Ann Marie on

Such great ideas for entertaining; especially the Champagne Chicken. Thank you!

Anne Marie O’Connor on

When buying for a new bride, what China pattern would you recommend? Nothing like a beautiful set table.

Kelly Hinkley on

Just made your Champagne Chicken with Mushrooms for dinner tonight. It was heaven! Gave it a 10+. Will definitely be serving it to guests soon! ( I made it with cream…and I could just drink the sauce it was so delicious!)

Sheryl on

Thank you Tina for doing this I know it is a lot of work to put together! Can’t wait to try these recipes, they all sound delicious.

Joyce on

I love your posts….especially the entertaining series. I have a pet peeve also. It drives me nuts when I spend the time to set the table using fresh flowers and a guest, usually a male, removes the centerpiece(s) from the table. I always keep them low so people can see the person across from them, but inevitably they get moved. Any suggestions for how to keep your tablescape intact, besides super glueing the centerpiece down, would be much much appreciated.

Karen May on

I am so happy to discover enchanted home, I love it!

Arlene on

Hope to try all these recipes. Catching up with my mail. I have sooo many dishes and glasses too. That’s what happens after working for Williams Sonoma for 14 years

Judy Walters on

Can’t wait to try the Champagne Chicken – Due to food intolerances, I have to modify almost all recipes but this one sounds so good and requires just a few substitutions. What mushroom do you use? They look fresh, are they?
Also, the chips in the Mint Julep Cup is just too cool! I use an Italian Spices Mix that I get from a local spice store in almost everything so I can imagine how tasty that would make those yummy chips! Fresh spices do make a difference. THANK YOU so much for sharing!

Lucia Donahower on

Dear Tina,
Wonderful post! I love and thank you for your wonderful tips and recipes. I’m sorry I missed 1-3!! What dates did you post the previous Entertaining Ideas Posts?
Will be trying your recipes. I think you should do a book featuring your beautiful home , entertaining ideas and recipes! Please do it!
Many Thanks

Ramona Sandru on

Tina, I LOVE your blog and find inspiration reading your posts and the recipes your share with us. Thank you!

Dina on

Great, great pictures. Can you tell me how to purchase the silver candle lights on the table. Thank you.

[email protected] on

Tina, your recipe as printed for Champagne Chicken with Mushrooms – how many does it serve? The beautiful photo looks like it might serve 8.

Thank you

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