If I could only read one food blog for the rest of my life, I might just make it Half Baked Harvest. Whenever I need a jolt of visual and culinary inspiration, I turn to the mouthwatering recipes that Tieghan Gerard cooks up and photographs in her rural barn in the Colorado mountains. So it was a “pinch-me” moment when Tieghan and I struck up a long-distance friendship around the launch of her cookbook, and turns out that she’s as warm and relatable as she comes across on her blog: after a handful of emails, she’d already extended an invite for our team to come to Colorado for a holiday visit! Since we haven’t made it a reality yet, stepping inside her barn for today’s Entertaining With feature is the next best thing. Keep reading for her cozy Christmas dinner, thoughts on writing her first cookbook, and the Sunday Meatball recipe you’re going to want to whip up this weekend.
photos by Tieghan Gerard
What inspired your beautiful new cookbook?
The inspiration for the book came from my family and the recipes they love, the seasons and the ingredients they offer, and, of course, my readers. Actually, my readers were the main inspiration for writing the book. I wanted to create a cookbook that would be one used over and over again. I wanted the pages to be filled with pasta sauce stains and chocolate smudges, and for the book to automatically open to a most-loved recipe because it’s been made over and over again.
What are your top 3 favorite recipes in the book?
Nonnie’s Dutch Baby, 5-Ingredient Honey Butter Beer Bread, and One-Pan Friday Night Pasta. I think the beer bread is the reader favorite though!
What’s your must-have entertaining tool?
Can I have three? A good cheese board, a good cocktail, and a relaxed non-stressed attitude. I feel like with these three things, you can’t have a bad party.
Your signature dish for parties?
This really depends on the season, but almost always you’ll find a cheese board, beer bread, and I am known for making a giant salad filled with seasonal produce.
How did you learn to cook?
Rachel Ray, Ina Garten, and Google!
What’s the one entertaining rule you never break?
Never run out of food (leftovers are always good), and the simpler, the better.
What’s your go-to source for recipes?
My family! My brothers travel all over the world and they are constantly sending me photos or recipes to recreate. I also find inspiration through the changing seasons. My favorite thing to do is create recipes based off what I can find at the farmers market or in the grocery store produce aisle.
Get the recipe for Tieghan’s Creamy Polenta with Kale & Mushrooms here!
Do you reference any family traditions where you entertain?
This isn’t so much a tradition, but more of a practice my Nonnie taught me that I never stray from. I always set the table and do any prep work I can the night before a party. Doing so checks one item off my list and saves time the day of.
Favorite tabletop item you own?
This is hard, but I would say my vintage French cheese boards — oh, and my pottery from Australia.
What’s your #1 secret to a great dinner party?
A make-ahead menu so you’re not stressed while entertaining, and a good bottle of wine or tequila (if you’re in my family).
The perfect dinner party playlist includes:
This time of year, anything classic Christmas! I’m a sucker for holiday music.
Get the recipe for Tieghan’s Sunday Meatballs here!
What’s your signature cocktail?
Bourbon Smash with whatever fruit is in season, or a Ginger Pomegranate Paloma. Can you tell I have issues making decisions?
The taste you’re always craving?
Sweet and spicy, or salty and savory…see, I’m very indecisive!
Go-to centerpiece solution?
Flowers, flowers, flowers, and in season produce and herbs.
Current favorite color palette for parties?
Loving the winter whites and natural tones with a pop of color throughout to keep things fun.
What items are always in your refrigerator?
Veggies. So many veggies. Cheese, avocados, quinoa, eggs, and goat milk.
Favorite after-dinner activity?
Sitting around talking by the fire. At some point, someone usually pulls out their phone and we’ll play a game.
What’s the one restaurant meal you’ll never forget?
The Whole Rotisserie Duck Ssam (and everything else we ordered) at Momofuku Ssam Bar in NYC.
Get the recipe for Tieghan’s Molten Chocolate Cakes with Whipped Vanilla Mascarpone right here!
Dream dinner guests?
Ina Garten, Jessica Alba, and Sarah Michelle Gellar.
“It’s not a party without __________.”
My family or friends, preferably both. And a cheese board, obviously!
Your entertaining style in 5 words or less:
Simple, classic, casual, cozy, festive.