A make-ahead fall menu served next to my horses
Happily ever after starts now. It has long been my dream to host dinner parties with my horses and my Friesian mare Wendy was 110% into it. Her cute little head was peering out of her window almost the entire evening! It was so fun for my guests to be able to pet and play with my horses in between courses. (Don’t worry, there was a sink and plenty of soap steps away!)
This is the first time I’ve ever hosted a dinner party off of my own property. Because of that, I made a picnic-style, make-ahead menu full of fall flavors, including pumpkin seeds, butternut squash, and apples. The horses even had their own three course meal! Here’s how I did it.
The ambiance was very different from my typical dinners because we were inside the barn right in front of my horses’ stalls at beautiful Black Star Sport Horses! What more could a horse lover like me ask for? I situated the table between Wendy and Prince’s stalls but far enough away so that they couldn’t reach the guests. (They’re a little mischievous!)
Photography by The Darling Photographer
It was a quiet night at the farm. There were no other people in the barn except for us. Wendy was particularly interested in the dinner party, keeping her head out of the stall window the majority of the evening. Prince didn’t get interested until dessert.
I borrowed my mom’s beautiful fall leaf tablecloth. Aren’t the colors lovely? I opted for one large, low centerpiece that I knew would be easy to transport thanks to its square base. On either side of the centerpiece I had assorted pumpkins. ‘Tis the season!
I’m so proud of this arrangement. Isn’t it gorgeous? I mixed young green hydrangeas with burgundy and orange mums, orange roses, dianthus, and deep purple calla lilies. I cut the latter to be a bit taller than the rest of the arrangement so that they’d pop out dramatically.
The Place Setting
I chose my Emma plates from Pottery Barn for this dinner paired with my earthy green napkins that I used at my Moana dinner party. I used my everyday silverware and brand new (as in, the day of the party!) acrylic water glasses and stemless wine glasses. Hours before the party, I decided I didn’t want to haul 12 breakable glasses along with 18 plates, so I ran to Target and got some non-breakable options.
I served one wine all night. Not like me, I know! But this was paired on purpose. Since i didn’t have my kitchen nearby, I wasn’t able to rinse out the wine glasses in between courses. After much consideration, I settled on Noble Vines Pinot Noir, which I thought would go well both with the bacon in the first course and the butternut squash in the second. My guests commented on how well the wine went with dinner, so there you have it! Sometimes when you’re dining outside, you need to make adjustments like that.
I wanted a fall menu that I could entirely prepare ahead of time. I really wanted to make a pasta salad because that’s just the easiest, most filling thing to serve at a picnic dinner but I feared that wouldn’t be autumn enough. So I came up with a chilled butternut squash pasta dish that got rave reviews from my guests! The horses also enjoyed three courses.
Menu for the Horses:
Stud Muffin Cookies
The Best Spinach Salad
This is just the best! Spinach, pumpkin seeds, dates, mushrooms, cherrywood smoked bacon, and gruyere are tossed in a classic red wine vinaigrette for a delicious and filling first course. I served this with buttered pretzel rolls. I actually meant to whip up a mustard butter as a nod to Oktoberfest but alas, I forgot. Feel free to try it! Get the salad recipe here.
Butternut Squash Pasta Salad with Crispy Sage
This packs fall flavor without the heat – literally! This will be a go-to dish for anyone wanting to taste autumn without seasonally appropriate weather. The crispy sage just makes it! Get the recipe here.
Caramel Apple Cake
I look forward to baking this cake months in advance. It’s so rich in flavor. It’s my favorite apple dessert of all time. Even my friend who doesn’t like dessert LOVED this cake. Get the recipe here.
I hope you enjoyed this evening at the farm!
Read more about the Fall Dinner at the Farm. Watch the video highlights:
Until next time,