Entertaining Ideas
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dinner party help

My husband and I just moved into a rental home, and we'd love to have a dinner party with a few friends! We've always been in a cramped apartment, so i've never been able to be the hostess amongst are friends! I know i want it to be casual, wine, music, chatting...but what should i serve? 

Re: dinner party help

  • Rustic casual: big pot of spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, salad, wines, canoli or tiramisu for dessert. 

    A little fancier: Roast beef, baked potatoes, roasted veggies, a good bread, a yum chocolate dessert

    If you want to keep it casual, keep it simple.  You don't need forty dishes;  just good food and wine.

  • I would do a little more than spaghetti or roast beef. 

    Maybe one of these:

    Ricotta Gnocchi

    Pizza Bianca

    Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

    Grilled Scallop Risotto

    Lemon Herb-Butter Roasted Chicken

    None of them are particularly over-the-top, but they're still impressive, and, most importantly, they taste good. 

  • I don't have a whole menu for you, but this salad is so flippin amazing!  I bet it would be even better with bleu cheese crumbles! 

    http://allrecipes.com/recipe/winter-fruit-salad-with-lemon-poppyseed-dressing-2/Detail.aspx 

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  • I would do something that finishes in the oven for at least 45 minutes, so you can put it in before your guests arive, and don't have to be in the kitchen the whole time they're chatting and eating apps. The easiest, to me, is a baked pasta dish, or eggplant parm, or chicken parm with salad and bread.  That way, you get to enjoy the time with your friends.  For desert, bake whatever you're good at :)
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  • image RachieTK:
    I would do something that finishes in the oven for at least 45 minutes, so you can put it in before your guests arive, and don't have to be in the kitchen the whole time they're chatting and eating apps. The easiest, to me, is a baked pasta dish, or eggplant parm, or chicken parm with salad and bread.  That way, you get to enjoy the time with your friends.  For desert, bake whatever you're good at :)

    Yup, this.  Keep it simple and keep it something familiar.  You will be all nerves anyway since its you first party, I would not try out a new recipe this time.

  • I like the idea of fancy pizzas, like one of the PP suggested.  Maybe a variety of flatbreads that you could make with Pillsbury dough or ready-made crusts, and maybe even buy a few frozen ones to add to the mix.

    Toppings: meats, goat cheese, veggies, lots of herbs. 

    You could serve 1 or 2 hearty salad options, bruschetta, olives, garlic toast.

    And lots of bear and wine. :)

    Good luck! 

  • image kimnelson09:

    I would do a little more than spaghetti or roast beef. 

    Maybe one of these:

    Ricotta Gnocchi

    Pizza Bianca

    Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

    Grilled Scallop Risotto

    Lemon Herb-Butter Roasted Chicken

    None of them are particularly over-the-top, but they're still impressive, and, most importantly, they taste good. 

     

    That menu sounds incredibly delish, and although the names might sound intimidating, the dishes are highly approachable. I bookmarked your food blog. Cheers.

  • image tasha859:
    image kimnelson09:

    I would do a little more than spaghetti or roast beef. 

    Maybe one of these:

    Ricotta Gnocchi

    Pizza Bianca

    Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

    Grilled Scallop Risotto

    Lemon Herb-Butter Roasted Chicken

    None of them are particularly over-the-top, but they're still impressive, and, most importantly, they taste good. 

     

    That menu sounds incredibly delish, and although the names might sound intimidating, the dishes are highly approachable. I bookmarked your food blog. Cheers.

    Well thank you!

  • Especially when just starting out (and even after!) I like Ina Garten's advice of make something (1-2), assemble something and buy something.  You don't have to dazzle with homemade everything.  Your guests won't have a better time if you make the pie or buy it, for example. So think in terms of making an entree and a side, assemble an app, and buying a dessert.  (By "assemble", I mean putting a spread on store bought crostinis, making a cheese platter, etc.)   It takes time to learn what you can do on your own, so I wouldn't suggest trying to do it all on your own at first.  Unless everything is 100% prepared ahead of time, you'll likely be scrambling around to get dressed, tidying up, and trying to cook all at the same time.  The key to entertaining is to enjoy yourself as the host.  If you are stressed, your guests will feel it.  Do whatever level of cooking you are comfortable with and don't bite off more than you can handle.  I'd much rather eat a delivered pizza with a relaxed host than a homemade meal with a stressed host. 

     

  • image julie5220:

    Especially when just starting out (and even after!) I like Ina Garten's advice of make something (1-2), assemble something and buy something.  You don't have to dazzle with homemade everything.  Your guests won't have a better time if you make the pie or buy it, for example. So think in terms of making an entree and a side, assemble an app, and buying a dessert.  (By "assemble", I mean putting a spread on store bought crostinis, making a cheese platter, etc.)   It takes time to learn what you can do on your own, so I wouldn't suggest trying to do it all on your own at first.  Unless everything is 100% prepared ahead of time, you'll likely be scrambling around to get dressed, tidying up, and trying to cook all at the same time.  The key to entertaining is to enjoy yourself as the host.  If you are stressed, your guests will feel it.  Do whatever level of cooking you are comfortable with and don't bite off more than you can handle.  I'd much rather eat a delivered pizza with a relaxed host than a homemade meal with a stressed host. 

     

    This is great advice and something I learned the hard way.

  • Last week, Ina had a regular 25 year old blogger on her show for a fancy but totally do-able menu.  I googled and found it.  I'm not a beginner to dinner parties, but I am definitely serving this at my next one!  It's easy and impressive.

    http://www.biggirlssmallkitchen.com/2009/12/big-girls-test-kitchen-perfect-holiday.html

  • Do you have a dinner table big enough for everyone? If you're just looking for a casual night with conversation and drinks, I would like to suggest some fun appetizers.

    On Christmas Eve this year our guests mingled and ate appetizers. By the time the food was ready everybody was stuffed so the appetizers would have been good enough.

    Relish trays with pickles, different kinds of olives look beautiful displayed and they're yummy (don't forget the olive pit bowls), meat and cheese trays, veggies and dips. You could even go to a cheese store and pair some cheese with your wines. Maybe even make testing stations for your guests to try a couple different wines with cheese to make it a bit fancier and a fun experience. If the cheese store doesn't know how to pair it, the wine place will tell you what cheeses go with the wines.

    A couple of recipes to choose from.

    http://www.cooks.com/rec/doc/0,1715,134181-254196,00.html

    http://www.bhg.com/recipes/ethnic-food/italian/pizza-appetizer-recipes/

    http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Buffalo-Chicken-Dip/Detail.aspx

    http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1627,133187-243197,00.html

    My husband and I go on wine tours, each winery pairs food with the wine. Here are some of their recipes that we've sampled from the past few years. Delicious!!! Some of them are intimidating to recreate, but some are REALLY easy and fun to have small servings of.

    http://iowawinetrail.com/files/spring.pdf (the heartburn recipe is always a HUGE hit)

    http://iowawinetrail.com/files/recipes1209.pdf http://iowawinetrail.com/files/website_recipes_nov08.pdf

    I have a serving dish sickness, so I have a ton of different sized serving dishes, different heights, different shapes, but all mostly plain white which brings out the color of the foods I'm serving. It makes really simple appetizers dishes look fancy. If you don't want to spend money on serving dishes, party stores will usually have white acrylic or plastic ones that do the same trick. Sometimes that's more fun too, because you can get themed dishes for annual parties. Put down a nice tablecloth and voila.

    I'll even find shoe boxes or different shaped boxes to put under the table cloth to make different heights for things and display the food nicely.

    For Christmas I scattered shiny ornament balls around the appetizer table with wrapped candy to give it some flare. I also had some inexpensive hurricane's from Michael's sitting on the table with shorter white pillar candles and colored sand in the inside for ambience. (use shorter pillars so the flame is down inside the hurricane out of reach)

    Like I said....even simple appetizers can look fancy if displayed right.

    I hope this helps. Sorry for such a long message, but I LOVE doing this sort of thing.

     

  • Thanks for all the advice/help! I LOVE the idea of serving the different kinds of pizza and salad! It's simple, fun, and still yummy!!! I found some amazing recipes online and i'm very excited!

    I'll be serving:

    1. Mediterranean Pizza (sun dried tomatoes, chopped artichoke hearts, spinach, feta cheese crumbles, olives, mixture of grated asiago, mozzarella, and provolone.) 

    2. Grilled Pizza (shredded chicken, barbecue sauce, bacon bits, onion, green pepper, green chilies, mushroom, and cheddar cheese)

    3. Veggie Pizza (parsley, dill, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, and parmesan cheese)

    4. Meat Pizza ( ground beef, italian sausae, pepperoni, green pepper, olives, mozzarella cheese, and onion)

    5. Fruit Pizza (cream cheese, strawberries, bananas, kiwi, pineapple, grapes)

    6. Chocolate pizza ( chocolate glaze sprinkled with sugar)

     Served with wonderful wine and beer!

     

    Thanks again! 

  • image brittmelree:

    Thanks for all the advice/help! I LOVE the idea of serving the different kinds of pizza and salad! It's simple, fun, and still yummy!!! I found some amazing recipes online and i'm very excited!

    I'll be serving:

    1. Mediterranean Pizza (sun dried tomatoes, chopped artichoke hearts, spinach, feta cheese crumbles, olives, mixture of grated asiago, mozzarella, and provolone.) 

    2. Grilled Pizza (shredded chicken, barbecue sauce, bacon bits, onion, green pepper, green chilies, mushroom, and cheddar cheese)

    3. Veggie Pizza (parsley, dill, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, and parmesan cheese)

    4. Meat Pizza ( ground beef, italian sausae, pepperoni, green pepper, olives, mozzarella cheese, and onion)

    5. Fruit Pizza (cream cheese, strawberries, bananas, kiwi, pineapple, grapes)

    6. Chocolate pizza ( chocolate glaze sprinkled with sugar)

     Served with wonderful wine and beer!

     

    Thanks again! 

    Great recipes!  Might have to borrow these for a future party.  :)

  • image brittmelree:

    Thanks for all the advice/help! I LOVE the idea of serving the different kinds of pizza and salad! It's simple, fun, and still yummy!!! I found some amazing recipes online and i'm very excited!

    I'll be serving:

    1. Mediterranean Pizza (sun dried tomatoes, chopped artichoke hearts, spinach, feta cheese crumbles, olives, mixture of grated asiago, mozzarella, and provolone.) 

    2. Grilled Pizza (shredded chicken, barbecue sauce, bacon bits, onion, green pepper, green chilies, mushroom, and cheddar cheese)

    3. Veggie Pizza (parsley, dill, tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, and parmesan cheese)

    4. Meat Pizza ( ground beef, italian sausae, pepperoni, green pepper, olives, mozzarella cheese, and onion)

    5. Fruit Pizza (cream cheese, strawberries, bananas, kiwi, pineapple, grapes)

    6. Chocolate pizza ( chocolate glaze sprinkled with sugar)

     Served with wonderful wine and beer!

     

    Thanks again! 

    This sounds awesome!  My husband and I are pizza fanatics!  We've started making our own dough from scratch and we make our own little mini pizza's and it's so fun & tasty!  You've just inspired me to throw a little pizza & wine dinner party at our house!  GL with yours...sounds like a lot of fun!

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