My best-friend-since-7th-grade is about a million months pregnant and I offered to host a baby shower for her this month. Being the urban, single woman who is a bit clueless about things such as baby showers, my first proposal was to have the shower at a Mexican restaurant in Jen’s hometown of Sacramento. This idea was met with dead silence. So, I changed plans and enlisted the home of another great Sacramento friend and have set about planning a traditional baby shower, complete with lunch buffet and possible games.

Of course, I still had a couple of tricks up my sleeve. Jen is about the “greenest” person I know, still taking public transportation in 106 degree Sacramento heat while being 8 months pregnant, and recycling everything possible, so I decided to play off of the green them a bit in the shower invitation:

Please join us for an organic, super crunchy, low toxic,
free range, tree hugging baby shower!
… Previously loved items welcome and appreciated.
Wrap in a reusable item or skip the wrapping altogether.

This week, I have set about menu planning. The shower will take place at the end of the month, right around the height of heat in Sacramento. It has a special twist as Jen is gluten-free. My goals for the menu were to have interesting, non-traditional shower foods that can be prepared in advance with a minimum of attention needed near serving time. A tapas-themed meal came to mind, and things began to fall into place.


  • A selection of homemade syrups. This is the summer of syrups in my apartment, and I am in the process of testing out a few that I think will work for the shower. In the photograph above, you can see that I have made a mango lime syrup, blueberry ollalieberry syrup, rose geranium syrup, and strawberry lemon verbena syrup. I plan on adding a ginger syrup to the mix as well.
  • Seltzer Water
  • Sparkling Wine
  • Lemons for adjusting flavor
  • Coffee


  • Marinated Olives
  • *Spicy Fried Almonds
  • Pimientos de Padron, pan-fried and salted
  • Cheese plate with Jamon Serrano, Spanish Chorizo, Spanish Cheeses, Quince Paste and Bread


  • *Tortilla Espanola. I have made this in the past, and think that it will be a crowd-pleaser. It has an added bonus that it is supposed to be served room temperature, so it will be easy to prepare in advance.
  • Zucchini Carpaccio Salad. While I have found a couple of recipes for this, I am trying to replicate the delicious appetizer that I order at my neighborhood Italian restaurant, Jackson Fillmore. They serve it with slivered almonds and Pecorino Romano cheese. The zuchinni seems to be cut into very small matchsticks, which is something that I need to test out this week.
  • Mushroom Salad in Radicchio Cups. I asked readers on my personal blog for a good mushroom salad recipe, and I am going to take suggestions from them for the salad and then put it in radicchio cups, as suggested in the above Epicurious recipe.
  • Gazpacho. Never made it, don’t have a specific recipe. Do you have a recipe you love?
  • Mini-Meatballs in Saffron Sauce. This recipe seemed to go with the tapas theme, so I am going to test it out this week to make sure it’s up to snuff. This is the only entree that I plan on serving hot.
  • Romesco Sauce for bread dipping, meatballs or tortilla. I don’t believe that romesco sauce is typically served with tortilla, but I look for any excuse to include this nutty, spicy sauce with a meal.


  • Gluten-Free Strawberry Shortcake. I’m not a baker, but this recipe from Elise’s Simply Recipes seems like it will be possible to pull off for a crowd. I may need to pre-test.

* Recipe from Bittman’s Best Recipes in the World

This is the plan — at least for today. I offered to make dinner for a few friends this week with their agreement to be recipe testers for the above entrees. I am hoping to get some feedback and refine the menu before the shower in a couple of weeks.

Party Planning: Baby Shower Menu in Progress 10 July,2007Jennifer Maiser

  • Catherine Nash

    We just found an amazing white gazpacho recipe that I could seriously eat until I die…but it’s made with bread. I’m not sure if you could get around that or not, or just some sort of gluten-free bread. Anyway, it’s over at Food Musings, just search for “white gazpacho.”

  • Tea

    You rock!

    Lobstersquad just did a three part treatise on the do and don’ts of gazpacho if you want to go with a red version.

  • Amy Sherman

    Are you going to sub the bread in the meatball recipe? Elise has a gluten fee meatball recipe that looks very good

  • Jennifer Maiser

    Thanks y’all. Amy, I think I can pretty easily sub out rice for bread. That’s how we usually make meatballs (albeit Mexican meatballs) in my family, so I’ll try it here and see what happens.


Jennifer Maiser

“My passion for food began young.”

I am the editor of the influential website which encourages readers to support local farmers and producers.

I began my personal website, Life Begins at 30, in 2003.

I have been published in Edible San Francisco and Fine Cooking, write regularly for Bay Area Bites, Serious Eats, and have been quoted in many nationwide publications. Photography is a passion, and I have had photos printed in National Geographic Traveler and Travel + Leisure.

I contributed to a Williams-Sonoma cookbook: Cooking from the Farmers’ Market, which was released in February 2010.

I live in San Francisco, California and can often be found at local farmers markets seeking out the best of what’s in season and chatting with farmers.

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