Now...on with the show.
Do you throw dinner parties?
I rarely do. And when I do, they are definitely not luxurious.
Even casually having friends over for dinner stresses me out! I want the house to be clean. I want to look beautiful - perfect makeup, lovely clothes, and no cake batter in my hair. I want my food to be delicious and ready when the guests arrive (but not ready too early...it can't be cold!). Oh, and I want every dish in my house to be clean.
Is that too much to ask? Apparently. My house is always going to have something out of place, I will always have batter in my hair, and my dishes won't all be done. It's the nature of the beast.
But I have learned that I can throw a delicious and fun dinner party with minimal stress on my part. It's all about planning a menu that is simple and quick while impressive at the same time. Here's mine...
Appetizer: Caramelized Onion and Spinach Olive Oil Quick Bread
Entree: Braised Pork Chops with Vegetable Couscous and Oven Roasted Asparagus
Dessert: Triple Chocolate Cake
It all sounds fancy, but it's so easy to put together! I'll be sharing all of these recipes with you in the next few days, but for now take a look at how this all comes together...
- Night before: Make the cake. It takes about 5 minutes to mix together and 60 minutes to bake. Let it cool overnight.
- 1 1/2 hours before guests arrive: Begin making quick bread. It takes about 20 minutes to put together.
- 1 hour before guests arrive: Put quick bread in oven (takes about 30-40 minutes to bake) and make glaze for cake. Glaze takes about 5 minutes to make and 5 minutes to spread on cake.
- 45 minutes before guests arrive: Chop vegetables for couscous and prepare asparagus to go into the oven.
- 35 minutes before guests arrive: Begin couscous and pork chops.
- 20 minutes before guests arrive: Take quick bread out of the oven. Turn the oven to broil to prepare for asparagus.
- 10 minutes before guests arrive: Place asparagus in the oven.
- Guests arriving! Serve them drinks and quick bread while you take the asparagus out of the oven and put it on a serving plate. Pork chops and couscous should be done (I wait until guests arrive to place on a platter...that way they don't get cold!).
- Enjoy your meal.
Other tips for hosting a dinner party:
- Do any cleaning the night before and make sure you start the morning off with a clean kitchen.
- Ask your guests in advance if they have any dietary restrictions or if there are any foods they don't like...it will save you both awkward moments later on (and those of us with dietary restrictions really appreciate it!).
- Unless you are the adventurous type, avoid serving your guests a meal full of recipes that you've never tried (boy, have I had to learn that lesson the hard way). It's okay to try a new appetizer or dessert, but I would make sure that the majority of the meal (especially the entree) is something that you have cooked successfully before.
- Plan a menu by taking into account your cooking space and time. You only have so many burners on the stove and shelves in the oven. Plan accordingly.
- Try to include some make-ahead items. Examples would be desserts, breads, or salads. Having these made in advance can take the pressure off on the day of your party.
- No matter what, enjoy your guests. It's so easy for the hostess to be so distracted and stressed out that she neglects to enjoy the friendship of her company. Take a deep breath, forget the burned rolls and the dishes piled up in the sink, and show your guests that they are what matters most.
I've given you my advice for throwing a successful dinner party. What are your tips and favorite menu items?
This recipe is linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday , Tasty Tuesday, and Tuesdays at the Table