This post was sponsored by California Pizza Kitchen, but all ideas, opinions, and pictures are completely our own.
One of my very favorite mom moments was when my ten-year-old was a toddler and we were living in Provo, Utah. Our little neighborhood playgroup went on a tour of California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) and he got to make his own little pizza. I don’t know why that memory sticks out to me among all the other little happy memories we had when he was my only little buddy and we didn’t have the sibling circus, but it does. We don’t have a CPK where we live now, but I frequently buy their oven-ready pizzas in some nostalgic attempt to revisit a simpler time (and because they’re delicious and because having a couple of frozen pizzas in my freezer is my dinnertime Hail Mary.)
There have been times when we’ve posted about convenience foods in the past and people are genuinely shocked that we use them. Because we’re foodies, I think the assumption is that we always do (or always should) make everything from scratch. (My husband can tell you this is not true, based on the bowl of cereal that he ate last night because I refused to cook one.more.thing. Also, it was in a paper bowl, because if there was a single dish in the sink, I would have cried.)
The truth is that Sara and I are busy moms and whether it’s everyday life or whether we’re entertaining, there are inevitably going to be shortcuts along the way. And since we love food, if those shortcuts are delicious, that’s the icing on the proverbial cake (or the cheese on the pizza, in this case.) In fact, when it comes to entertaining, I like to focus my homemade efforts in one area and then fill in the blanks with things that require very little effort on my part.
One of my favorite ways to entertain is to throw a mocktail party. Sara and I don’t drink for religious reasons, but there are a million reasons someone might choose mocktails over traditional cocktails. I still love fun drinks and, when I’m at parties or work functions (for myself or with my husband), I appreciate it when bartenders and hosts know how to make virgin cocktails This would be super fun for a baby shower, sweet sixteen, or just a girl’s night in.
I’ve put together a little book of 8 mocktail recipes that cover a wide variety of tastes, from virgin Appletinis (Scrubs, anyone?) to margaritas to Bloody Marys (true story: during my last pregnancy, I went through a virgin Bloody Mary phase where I had a pitcher of them in my refrigerator at all times because, well, pregnancy.)
For this little mocktail party, I rounded up the supplies to make all these drinks, but really, you could just have a handful available (or play around and make up your own!) On the beverage front, we had lemon-lime soda, ginger ale, club soda, lemonade, limeade, orange juice, apple juice, and grenadine syrup.
I kept things simple with plastic cups and cute paper straws, but if you want to get all fancy with your glassware, more power to you.
Same goes for plates, napkins, and forks…when it comes to parties, washing dishes and linens goes against my entire belief system.
I also had all the extras available–margarita salt for the rims of the glasses,
sliced and wedged oranges, limes, and lemons, fresh mint leaves, celery sticks, and apple slices.
You could either play bartender (or have someone else do it), or you could have a cheat sheet available so people could make their own drinks.
In terms of food, I also set out a green salad and a bowl of chips, but the main focus was the pizza. For this party, I set out California Pizza Kitchen’s new Hand-Tossed California Style White pizza and their Gluten-Free Crispy Thin Crust Margherita pizza.
White pizzas have always been one of my favorites, so I especially like CPK’s Hand-Tossed California Style White pizza –No matter how I do pizza, whether I’m ordering it or making it myself, this is my all-time favorite combination: creamy garlic sauce, Ricotta, Parmesan, Asiago, Mozzarella, and Romano cheeses, spinach, tomatoes, and garlic. I really love the new Hand-Tossed Style Crust –it’s thicker and chewier than their other oven-ready pizzas, a really good balance of flavor and texture
The Gluten-Free Crispy Thin Crust tastes just like the original, and it’s a really great alternative to those who can’t (or don’t want to) eat gluten. The light and crispy crust is perfect for the delicate flavors of fresh basil, garlic, and juicy tomatoes in Margherita pizza (another meatless combo, and another one of my favorites!) This is a great pizza to use as an appetizer; just cut it into small, two-bite pieces and set them out for your guests!
For entertaining, I like cutting the pieces very small (you can also cut them into squares, rectangles, or strips), about half the regular serving size, so people don’t have to commit to one flavor and they can have a little taste of everything.
Throw in a virgin margarita…
a salad, and a couple mini slices of pizza…
and you’ve got a party!
To find the oven-ready CPK pizzas near you, head over to www.cpkfrozen.com and then click the little box in the top right-hand corner that says, “Find a Grocery Store,” and if you want the mocktail recipes, check them out here! Happy Friday!