We spoke with the Food Network host about her best tips for hosting a spirited soiree, plus her two go-to drink recipes.
Ree Drummond
Credit: Getty Images

The Pioneer Woman is not only a popular Food Network host (watch for her new budget-minded competition show coming soon!), a seemingly stellar mom and wife, a bestselling cookbook author and a successful business owner, but by the looks of the unforgettable ranch wedding she helped host for daughter Alex and her now-husband Mauricio, Ree Drummond sure knows how to host a party.

So in celebration of the launch of her brand-new dinnerware collection in partnership with Corelle, and just in time for peak alfresco entertaining season, we were able to sit down with Drummond to snag all of her summer hosting secrets.

"In the summer, I love getting together with friends and family! That means quick and easy dishes are a must," says the 16-minute-meal queen. "Salads are a simple yet delicious starter—from a gorgeous caprese platters to a classic, hearty potato salad."

For the main course, she prefers prep-ahead casseroles (to assemble in advance, refrigerate until guests arrive, then pop in the oven at appetizer o'clock for a perfectly timed entree). As far as the starring cast, she swears by a handful of healthy, flavor-boosting staples come summer: "Lots of crisp greens like kale and romaine, fresh mozzarella for salads, grilled chicken breasts that are seasoned and ready to go in the fridge, blueberries and blackberries for yogurt and summer desserts ... and plenty of summer squash and tomatoes."

Regardless of exactly what she's serving, she's excited to show it off on her new designs. (ICYMI, this is not Drummond's first rodeo with custom table decor!)

"This collaboration with Corelle features a fun variety of dinner plate, dinnerware and salad plate sets all decorated with my signature, timeless floral designs." she tells us.

As much as Drummond adores cooking and decorating the table, she's more than OK with allowing others to chip in: "It's always fun to have your guests bring their own favorite dish to the party. Who doesn't love a good potluck? Most importantly, be sure to live in the moment to enjoy the time with your people," she adds. Especially if they can cover one course in particular. "Homemade bread," Drummond admits. "I'm very inconsistent. I'll make a killer loaf, then 10 mediocre ones. I was not born with the bread gift."

To wash it all down, Drummond relies on one of two drinks for pretty much every summer gathering: the very aptly named Ranch Water, which she says is "my go-to drink when I'm looking for a lower-calorie option," or a party-sized batch of sangria. "To be honest, nothing beats a big pitcher of sangria in the summer. All of the fun fruit and delicious white wine; it's my favorite combo," she adds.

We couldn't end our time with Drummond without taking a moment to give her a hat tip for her balanced, flexible approach to a healthy lifestyle. Yes, that lifestyle that includes chocolate cake and totchos, but also helped her lose 55 pounds and keep them off.

"I'm feeling very grateful that I was able to find the right motivation at the right time, and I've been encouraged that a year and a half later, I've been able to maintain it in a very sustainable way," Drummond says. "I've gone through a few periods where I've hit the exercise really hard, then other times when I've been more relaxed about it. The same is true with food; some weeks I'm more disciplined, some weeks more relaxed. The important thing is that my ultimate goal is feeling good. [Preach, Ree!] I've found that small changes and adjustments are so much easier than big ones ... so if I see myself getting a little too lax, I can course-correct and be back on track within a week or so. I try to keep my thoughts and my self-talk very positive, and not get frustrated with myself if I slack off on the exercise here or there. I just say, 'C'mon Ree, let's go have some fun on the rowing machine!' And I turn on Real Housewives and go for it."