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Spring showers

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Peach Champagne

HAVE A GLASS Peach Champagne Punch is festive and can be prepared ahead of time.

Cooking Buzz is produced in partnership with the Junior League of Houston, a women’s charitable and education organization founded in 1925. 

While we have Houston’s unpredictable rain to contend with in April, spring also means it’s time for bridal and baby showers. As wedding season begins, you can count on attending or hosting a shower or two this month. Although there are many wonderful venues for hosting a shower in Houston, I always appreciate hostesses who open up their homes for friends and family to celebrate together in a more intimate setting. Sometimes I find hosting a party in my home intimidating, but with enough advance preparation and the right make-ahead recipes, I can relax and focus on the guest of honor and her guests.

To prepare, I try to set the tables and all decorations at least a couple of days before the big event. Then, I can add fresh flowers on the morning of the shower, and the scene is set. When menu planning, I focus on those dishes that can be prepped in advance. My goal is always to free up my time on the morning of the shower to focus on the last-minute touches and addressing those sneaky problems that might pop up.

First things first, a signature drink to greet the guests. I like to have a bubbly drink ready to welcome everyone as soon as they arrive, and the Peach Champagne Punch from Peace Meals is perfect. Not only does the peach ice ring make for a beautiful punch bowl, but it can be prepared almost entirely ahead of time, with the soda and champagne added in at the last minute. For a baby shower, you can either substitute extra soda or sparkling apple cider in place of the champagne or keep the champagne separate to top off the glasses of any guests that would like a little bubbly.

For the main course, the Elegant Egg Strata from Peace Meals is delicious and hearty. I pair it with the Crème Brûlée French Toast also featured in Peace Meals. Both casserole dishes can be prepared in advance and baked the morning of the shower. As an extra time-saving bonus, they both bake at the same temperature (although depending on your oven you may need to increase the cooking time if you’re cooking both at the same time). This combination of casseroles is great for a shower because the egg dish is creamy, cheesy and rich, while the French toast casserole is perfect for guests with a sweet tooth.

I always include a muffin or breakfast scone too, and the Scotch Oatmeal Muffins from the Houston Junior League Cookbook are a classic that are just sweet enough without being cupcakes in disguise. Finally, for an extra fresh treat, I prepare the Fresh Tomato Salad with Herbed Dressing from Peace Meals with the beautiful tomatoes the markets are just starting to carry this time of year. While the tomatoes for this dish must be sliced on the day of the event in order to preserve their freshness, the dressing can be made in advance for an easier morning.

And, if I’m feeling ambitious earlier in the week, I’ll make a batch of Shortbread Cookies with Perfect Icing for a to-go favor since I can personalize these cookies to suit the shower theme – a ring cookie cutter for a bridal shower and a baby bottle cookie cutter for a baby shower.

With all of these make-ahead recipes, it’s possible to host a beautiful brunch shower.

To buy a Houston Junior League cookbook, see jlh.org or call 713-871-6608.

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