This post will kick of a new series here at 11 Magnolia Lane called “Easy Entertaining,” which will offer our menus, recipes and tips to easily pull together events in your home.
This spring I volunteered to host a Bible study. I am really excited to have such a wonderful group of ladies come into my home to discuss this wonderful book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Ann is an avid blogger, homeschooling mother of six children, and Christian woman who admits that her life is a mess but finds grace every day through God. I was in tears reading the first chapter, but don’t let that derail you! It is really a beautiful story which I am grateful to read and share with you.
Anytime I have people over I do three things. First, I bake something tasty, then I add some flowers around the house (usually something I can pull from outside as I hate to pay for flowers) and lastly, I tidy up!
I love to entertain with something homemade to make my guests feel welcome and comfortable. While it is not expected that I would do this every Wednesday for Bible study, I guess I just cannot help myself as cooking and baking make me happy. Here are a few easy steps to creating the perfect brunch for 10-15 women, whether it be a Bible study or just brunch with friends.
What to serve
Try to serve something most people love. Banana bread is always welcome, and I always have over-ripened bananas in the freezer so they are always available when I am ready to bake.
Most guests love muffins of any kind, so having a variety of breakfast breads is a bonus. Whenever I bake muffins I always freeze half the batch. It is a great way to be prepared for a party even if you don’t have time to bake something homemade. Muffins last awhile in the freezer and taste wonderful after they thaw. Since I had 6 blueberry muffins hanging out in my freezer ready to go, the only thing I had to bake for this gathering was the banana bread. Of course, there are plenty of store-bought options for baked goods but I prefer to make things myself as I know I am adding fresh ingredients, which makes it healthier.
Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas
- 1/2 bag semi sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. gentle mix in chocolate chips with a spoon and then pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
- Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
adapted from Cooking with Coconut Flour by Bruce Fife
- 3 eggs
- 3 T melted virgin coconut oil
- 3 T raw honey
- 1/8 t almond extract
- 1/4 t sea salt
- 1/4 C sifted coconut flour
- 1/4 t baking powder*
- 1/2 C fresh blueberries*
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Heat an empty pan until hot, and turn off the heat and melt the coconut oil.
- Blend all ingredients, except the blueberries, in a high speed blender until smooth. *I have a Blendtec and use the batter button.
- Fold the blueberries into the batter.
- Pour the batter into 6 lined muffin cups.
- Bake for 16 minutes.
- These are enjoyed best warm from the oven.
- I’ve made them again and they puff up more with 1/2 t of baking power and brown a little more. I like them better this way.
- Frozen blueberries tend to make the muffins a bit soggy, if this is your only option, try using sugar instead of honey.
In addition to the bread and muffins, I served iced water, hot tea, and coffee as they are really the perfect complement to any breakfast bread. I know the ladies enjoyed having something to nibble on while we dove into Chapter 1.
How to decorate
Spring is here and there is an abundance of flowering bushes and trees all around my property. I simply went outside and cut some spring branches and placed them around the house to bring outside beauty in.
I created two centerpieces simply by filling two large glass cylinder vases with some of the fresh cut blooms. The first vase I used as a centerpiece for the buffet table. It was simple, pretty and added that special touch that every party needs.
The glass vase didn’t work as well for my entry table so I needed a simple fix to cover up the glass. I simply wrapped two pieces of printed craft paper around the tall glass vase which added a bit of color and the extra flare my entry hall needed. It really changed the look of the vase and it seriously took two seconds to tape the craft paper to the base.
Lastly, I had a few sprigs left over that I simply laid around the house on trays and books, etc…
Don’t stress over a perfectly clean house. That is something I have had to let go of over the past six years as I have two small boys and they just make my house messy:). Stick to your normal cleaning routine and on the morning of your party, take 30-45 minutes to tidy up where your guests will be. Straighten up the pillows on the couch, fold the throw blankets, wipe down the counters, and check the bathrooms. Typically you will have to clean more after your party (especially if you’re serving food), so don’t stress over the larger cleaning tasks like dusting, scrubbing or vacuuming. Tidy up and have a fabulous and easy brunch!!
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