Fall has this way of making me want to bundle up in plaid blankets, gather round the fire and eat my weight in s’mores topped off with some steaming apple cider. Clearly I’m not alone because this inspiration designed by Jennifer Carroll is my cool weather aspirations realized. It has all the trimmings for a memorable get together, roasted marshmallows included. And even if you don’t have a knock-out of a backyard spread or an outdoor fireplace for marshmallow roasting, you can still grab so many adorable details from these images captured by Jen Fariello Photography and stick them in your hostess hat for safe keeping. Head to the gallery for so much more.
From Jennifer Carroll… Ahh, the crisp, cool evenings of autumn. It has always been my most favorite time of year! The cool evenings of October allow us to gather around the fire, to relax, and chat happily under light blankets while toasting marshmallows – another favorite of mine! Who needs a “reason” to have a party when the weather turns? I know I don’t! So, here’s my impromptu “Gather ‘Round the Fire” party.
Planning the menu: If you stick to what’s in season, you’ll never go wrong. Oddly enough, I’ve been to so many dinner parties where the menu didn’t have anything seasonal in it. I think it’s such a missed opportunity to not only further delight your guests but also to simplify the planning process. If you’re not sure where to begin, a trip to the farmer’s market or local organic grocer is a great way to get ideas for what’s in season. First, I think about starters. I like to offer a little bite to my friends when they first arrive. This delicious stall tactic has helped me on several occasions when some friends were running late, enabling me to delay the start of dinner without starving any of us. Second, I think about the first course. For this dinner since we are going to be outside, I don’t want to fiddle with trying to keep a soup warm and a salad is so easy. A few greens, a lovely fall pear, pomegranate seeds, some pepitas, blue cheese, a dash of oil and vinegar, and that’s it. Tasty and simple. Perfect. Third, the entrée. A pork roast cooked in apple cider vinegar is one of my favorite fall comfort foods and with my pressure cooker, it’s so easy to prepare fork-tender meat in under an hour. Add in a simple green veggie and some roasted potatoes, and our tasty meal is almost complete. Oh, I almost forgot – while I’m at the market, I grab a golden loaf of whole grain bread, too. Now, I save the best for last. I love planning desserts. In this case, I simply must include toasted marshmallows. I mean, who sits in front of a fire and doesn’t think of toasting a marshmallow? But to please my husband and any other folks who aren’t as enamored with toasted marshmallows, I’ve decided to add some delicious brownies and blondies. Now all my chocoholic friends will be happy.
Setting the stage: For this party, fire is a must. Don’t have an outdoor fireplace? No problem — today there are a wide array of affordable fire pits available at local home improvement stores. If you don’t have space for a fire pit, fear not! There are still options. If you have access to the outdoors via a deck or patio, consider a charcoal grill for toasting marshmallows. They are very economical, come in a variety of sizes from standing to tabletop, and you can still curl up in front of it. If being outside isn’t an option, I’m thrilled to tell you there are now indoor s’mores makers! This little tabletop gem is perfect for parties. The small hibachi style grills are also great conversation starters. Don’t forget to add extra fire light with candles, lanterns or torches. It will add to the overall sparkle and glow of the party! Want to put a fire pit grill on your deck? I recommend getting a fire mat to place underneath . This will protect your deck from any sparks that might go astray. Remember! Buy fire logs, charcoal or extra sterno (depending on what type of “fire” you are having) at the store if you don’t have some already. You don’t want to run out. Part of the allure of the fire is the cuddling-beside-it part! And what is cuddling without a blanket? I love collecting blankets & throws — from a fun faux fur to a simple giant jersey throw, they’re all cozy. Add in a few tossing pillows for good comfort measure and you’ll be relaxing in no time!