By contributor Regan Jones
I have reached that point in life where wedding showers for young brides have matured into baby showers for new moms.
I have also reached that point in life, given that I have my own two little fellows scurrying around the kitchen, where spending the “morning of” uninterrupted doing the food prep for a party is no longer an option.
Enter my role as The Make Ahead Mom. My new self-imposed title applies to virtually every opportunity I have to turn on a burner or heat up an oven. Showers are certainly no different. The key to making ahead for any occasion, and especially something as special as a shower, is to embrace impressive dishes that are make ahead by nature. No matter how much I adore a good strawberry shortcake or better yet, a Strawberry Tallcake, it simply won’t hold up well in advance.
Cake pops, on the other hand, are a different story. I consider them an ideal option for a baby shower: cute and tasty...two essential requirements for a successful party, no? Plus, they hold up well for days in advance. Fellow dietitian, food blogger and friend, Gretchen of Kumquat Blog, just recently shared how to make these trendy new little dessert bites on her blog. She swears by their ease. I swear by their impressiveness.
But shower guests cannot live by cake pops alone. Crustless Asparagus-and-Rosemary Mini Quiche are my new go-to savory party bites. Foolproof, flavorful and ideally sized for the shower scene, they also offer a host of make ahead methods. You can either prepare the entire recipe in advance and freeze, or depending on your schedule, make ahead parts of the recipe, and then assemble and cook fresh the morning of the shower. Either way, they reheat beautifully in the oven and can be held warm until guests arrive.
I round out my menu with Mint Bellinis. The peach mixture is prepped in advance and drinks are simply assembled by one of the hostesses as guests arrive. For baby showers, where obviously the guest of honor won’t be drinking alcohol, I usually offer a version made with sparkling water, rather than champagne. I also like using Asti Spumante in the recipe, rather than Champagne, a good choice, especially for early-in-the-day showers. It is typically lower in alcohol content — as low as 5% by volume, depending on the brand. Lastly, I add a favorite fresh fruit salad to the table and a sweet specialty roll from the bakery and the work is done — all in advance.
Parties for me used to entail a lot of frenzied activity right up until the moment guests arrive. Nowadays, the prep work is more calculated and scheduled — simply based on the business that becomes life once you’ve been showered a couple of times yourself. Ultimately, no matter where you find yourself on the shower spectrum — new to the scene or around for the ages — a little prep work in advance means less stress on the day of the celebration and more time to enjoy with guests and the guest of honor. And isn’t that what a good celebration is all about?