Fall is forever my favorite time of year. I love the cooler weather, the changing of the leaves, and all the fall activities. Not to mention, my birthday and wedding anniversary are both in October! So when my friend Natalie Franke asked me to make the food for her Spook-tacular Fall Party, I jumped right on it.
Natalie and I met when we were patients at the same fertility clinic and used the same doctor. We bonded over the unique challenges of undergoing IVF, and rooted for each other through our journeys. Natalie had her second child, Harlow, four months before I had Henry. It’s been wonderful being in the same season of life, and we hope Henry and Harlow will be great friends.
Natalie wanted to host a fall/Halloween party for her friends and their little ones, and I wanted to come up with a family-friendly seasonal menu, which included a cheese board, a mixed green salad, two different sandwiches made with homemade focaccia, a mimosa bar, and an activity for the kids that involved rice crispy treats.
First of all, I never pass up the chance to make a cheese board! My go-to place for ingredients is Trader Joe’s. They have great seasonal items and a large, yet affordable, cheese selection. For this board, I went with cheddar, Manchego, port salut, and a cranberry goat cheese log. I also added some Spanish cured meats, a few different types of crackers, olives, blueberries, cashews, a fig spread, and some dried orange slices for a garnish.
When it comes to making cheese boards, be sure to choose cheeses that you enjoy. A variety of different categories (such as cheeses, meats, fruits, etc.) is the key to impressing your guests. I recommend using at least three cheeses, two types of crackers, and two different kinds of meats. And most importantly, don’t forget to have fun with your presentation! I like to play around with the items to see what creates visual interest.
Next on the menu was a salad of mixed greens that included thinly sliced apples and red onions, honey goat cheese, dried cranberries, and toasted nuts. I served this with a balsamic vinaigrette.
I also prepared two different sandwiches on homemade focaccia. I love focaccia because it’s so flavorful and is a great bread to make if you’re a beginner. I’ve tested a bunch of focaccia recipes, but this No-Knead Tomato Focaccia from Martha Stewart is a winner. I mix up the herbs in the dough and top it with whatever I like! However, when making this recipe, I find that it needs 1/4 – 1/2 cup additional water and oil than is stated.
In making the focaccia for these sandwiches, I kept it simple and only used oregano and sea salt. The first sandwich I made was with pesto, tomato, and mozzarella, and the second sandwich was with avocado, prosciutto, and mozzarella.
For the drinks, I put together a mimosa bar with spiced apple cider and spiced pear punch. To make it a bit more festive, I added cinnamon sugar rims on the glasses.
Natalie and I also wanted to plan a little activity for the kids, so I made rice crispy treats for them to dip in chocolate. Half of the treats were white and the other half had orange food coloring — I loved the contrast! We melted white chocolate for the kids to dip their rice crispies in, and I bought some cute fall sprinkles for them to decorate with. It was a big hit, and I can’t wait for Henry to be big enough to participate!
All in all, it was a wonderful party. I was so honored to make the food and enjoyed a lovely day with friends!
Visit my Instagram account @hapahomecooking, and check out my reel of the event for some more photos!