Archive for the ‘Party Food’ Category

Tips for Dinner Party Menus

March 14th 2011

dinner party

When planning a dinner party, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed about what you should serve. However, don’t let this part of the process hinder your entertaining efforts. Keep these points in mind as you sit down to develop the menu for your next dinner party.

1) Consider the theme or the atmosphere you want to set. The menu sets the stage for the entire evening, based on the type of dishes you serve. You could aim for a traditional, home cooked meal that features classic comfort foods. You may choose to get adventurous and thrill your guests with edgy, contemporary cuisine. However, if your guests are known for having picky palates, it may not be a good idea to try to turn them into culinary connoisseurs over the course of a couple of hours.

2) Be aware of the season as it relates to the menu. If the weather is hot and muggy, heavy entrees and hot soups will not go over well. On the flip side, a cold gazpacho probably won’t be as appetizing in the middle of winter. In addition, some seasons, such as fall and winter lend themselves to savory herbs and spices such as cinnamon and sage, while summer is a time to enjoy the abundance of seasonal fruits and vegetables.

3) Choose foods that match the mood of your party. As you plan, decide if the party should be a sit down event with multiple courses or an informal gathering with lots of finger foods. Another option that is always popular is the potluck dinner party, where the host provides one of two main entrees, and the guests are required to bring a side dish or dessert and a beverage.
Not only is this type of gathering a bit more economical for the host, but it also gives each guest a chance to share in the joy of being a host by cooking part of the meal.

4) Plan for children, if necessary. If there will be children in attendance, consider serving a separate, simplified menu that contains kid-friendly dishes.

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White Party

March 4th 2011

Some people think it’s a great idea to throw an all white theme party. A white party is just that; it’s a party where everyone comes dressed in white, and the fun of the party is that all the decorations and even the food is close to white as possible. If you are hosting a white party there some things you might want to keep in mind.

First, what is the venue for your white party? This will determine what type of clothes that people will wear. When a person thinks of a white party they might think of something elegant. However if you’re having this white party in a backyard or at a beach, then a white tee shirt, white tank top, or white jeans and sandals are going to be appropriate and in keeping with having a good time at this party. What kind of foods can be served at a white party? Some people might think that they’d have to stretch their imagination, but the point is to get as to as close as white as possible.

20090240032940 5429 lg White Party

So having said that, one can choose to use bread, or bread wrapping such as tortillas or sandwich wraps, and filling centers close to white as possible such as chicken or pork. Lots of savory dishes in particular can be themed around a white party. There are quite a few desserts that could be made around a white party as well. If one uses their imaginations they could come up with a lot of ideas.

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How To Keep Fruit From Turning Brown

February 11th 2011

fruit salad How To Keep Fruit From Turning Brown

Many people would love to eat fresh fruit, but the most common issue with fresh fruit, is that it goes bad very quickly. People may have great intentions when it comes to buying fresh fruit to eat, but they find that they get busy and before they know it, the fruit has turned brown. It gets lost at the back of the refrigerator, or it gets forgotten about in the fruit drawer, or the bananas get soupy and brown on the counter. When this happens, the fruit isn’t good to eat, or at the very least, it’s unappetizing. So what can a person do to prevent their fruit from turning brown, and from wasting money on fresh fruit? They can do a variety of things. When it comes to fruits such as apples, they can be sliced, and coated with a citrus juice such a lemons. The lemon juice can’t be tasted on top of apples, because apples are acidic as well. The lemon juice will just make them taste a bit more tart and sharp, but it will keep the fruit from turning brown. The same can be done for bananas that have been peeled. If they haven’t been peeled, then the best thing to keep them from turning brown, is to slow down the ripening process. Keep them away from heat, and too much light. This will work to preserve their state longer. The last thing to keep fruit from turning brown, is to remember to eat it. Don’t store them in a place where you will forget about them. If you won’t be able to eat them right away, consider chopping them up, and storing them in the freezer.

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Dinner Party Ideas For Beginners – Learning How To Entertain

November 14th 2010

dinner party Dinner Party Ideas For Beginners – Learning How To Entertain

If you are not involved in dinner parties yet, you should give it a try. Many people seem to dread it because they don’t know what to serve or feel uncomfortable entertaining others. To get over your fear, start with close relatives and friends. You probably already have them over anyway but just don’t call it a dinner party.

Pretend they are coming for a dinner party and that they are casual acquaintances or co-workers so you can get used to going through the process with people you are comfortable with. Here are some easy dinner party ideas:

• Keep it simple. Now is not the time to try an elaborate new recipe. Choose foods you know how to cook well so you feel confident and will be less likely to make mistakes.

• Go for classy. Choose your best dinnerware, WMF flatware, and table decorations. Impress your guests when you have a dinner party. Never serve with mismatched dinnerware or flatware. Leave your everyday dishes in the cupboard and bring out the good stuff when you are entertaining guests.

• Go for a theme. To pull your party together, go for a theme of some sort. Rather than serve a hodgepodge of foods and drinks, put some order into your menu and you will exude a more experienced and professional air. For example, you may want to serve spaghetti for the main course, so follow up with an Italian dessert and wine. Create a centerpiece for your table that matches the meal you are serving.

• Learn how to small talk. Avoid those awkward pauses at the dinner table by keeping the conversation moving along. Remember, most people love to talk about themselves, so when the conversation starts to lag, ask your guests questions without coming across as nosey.

Learning to throw dinner parties really isn’t hard to do and you will have so much fun over the years bonding with your old friends and making new ones. It won’t be long until you start looking forward to hosting your next party.

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How to Plan a Dinner Party

October 15th 2010

table setting How to Plan a Dinner Party

Dinner parties are, at first glance, a way for friends to enjoy a meal together while getting to know each other better. They are also one of the simplest ways to entertain a group of people in your home. You can put together an easy dinner party in just a few steps.

First, you’ll want to determine the number of guests you’d like to have attend. Once you’ve decided on a guest list, get the word out about your party by calling, emailing, or asking them in person. You can also opt to send formal invitations through the mail or hand them out face to face. Once you have your guest list confirmed, you’ll need to plan the menu. At this point of the planning, it’s a good idea to find out if any of your guests have special dietary needs or food allergies and plan accordingly. Once you have your menu determined, create a shopping list for any ingredients you’ll need for the event so you won’t forget anything.

Now is also a good time to begin experimenting with the de’cor of the dining area where the party will take place. Because the meal will be the central theme, you don’t have to spend a fortune on fancy de’cor items. However, you may find that a homemade centerpiece, fresh cut flowers, or a bold table setting may help set the mood for the party.

Finally, when the day of the event arrives, remember to relax and have fun. Your guests will probably not be offended if dinner is a few minutes late or if your cre`me brulee doesn’t brown perfectly. Don’t take things too seriously, and if you make a mistake or overcook something, don’t let it ruin your day. Sometimes, mistakes and mishaps can create some of the most memorable and entertaining moments of a party.

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Host + Miss Manners = Rockin’ Cocktail Party

September 16th 2010

Aside from formal dinners for whatever occasion, cocktail parties are gatherings where good manners from both host and guests are highly appreciated. Keep in mind that cocktail parties allow all the guests to mingle with just about everybody possible within the usual 2-hour period set for such parties. As the host, you have to set the tone for the party starting with the invitations and ending when the last guest has departed the party.

You need not worry about being Miss Prim and Proper Manners during your own cocktail party. Everybody is expected to enjoy themselves over the cocktail drinks made from alcoholic beverages while getting to know the new persons in the circle, being reacquainted with old friends and maybe even sealing a business deal. However, we cannot overemphasize the need for basic good manners in a cocktail party, or whatever party it may be, for that matter.

RSVP Invitations

Let’s start with the invitations. In most cases, cocktail parties demand formal invitations be sent to the expected guests with enclosed RSVP. You can send it through the mail although many hosts are now using e-mails to do so with the understanding that the structure of the invitation is on the semi-formal side. You may also enclose self-addressed envelopes but you may also give the option of calling to confirm attendance.

party1 Host + Miss Manners = Rockin Cocktail Party

Such invitations are important so that you can determine the quantity and quality of drinks to be served during the party. Thus, if you have more guests, then you have to order more food and drinks. Or if you have more women than men, then a wider selection of for-women drinks may be appropriate but we must emphasize that it is an excellent idea to have a balanced ration between the genders.

On the invitations, you should also specify the dress code. At the very least, your guests will not feel improperly dressed. For a cocktail party, semi-formal dress is required while a cocktail buffet means a smart casual look and a cocktail reception means formal attire.

As the host, your primary duty is to ensure that everybody is enjoying himself/herself in the company of the other guests. You have to introduce the guests to each other especially when many of them have yet to be formally acquainted. In this way, your guests will feel more welcome and, hence, be more open to mingling with the others.

It is also important to make a connection between the guests being introduced to each other. For example, you may introduce Alex to Mary by saying that both of them went to the same school albeit at different years or that their families were once neighbors.

Now, you may also have to steer the conversation between new acquaintances. You should stick to the safe topics so as not to offend anybody’s sense and sensibility. Your topics may include current events, economy, professions, and even how you meet each one. Just make sure to stay away from topics like diets, health, money, religion, sex and race. Your guests should be able to take up the cue.

And of course, you should not drink yourself to oblivion. You are the host and it will not do to be the one making a scene in your own party. Ultimately, thanks to good manners, your cocktail party is rockin’ it.

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Good Thoughts on Tea Parties (No, Not the Boston One)

September 9th 2010

tea Good Thoughts on Tea Parties (No, Not the Boston One)

Tea has come to mean many things to many people. It represents rebellion as is the case with the historical Boston Tea Party in the West. It symbolizes harmony with nature, serenity with one’s self and good health in the tradition of the East with its tea ceremony. It brings back together family and friends in an elegant affair filled with sweet treats and pots of good tea.

Good Aspirations

Indeed, when we think of tea, we only have good thoughts of the hot liquid awakening our palates, warming our throats and soothing our souls in more ways than one. And so, we aspire to give tea parties in the tradition of the British but we may not know how to do so for many reasons. We live in a hurried and harried world where tea parties just seem too much trouble and yet appear to be so much fun, too.

Fortunately, elegant tea parties can be thrown for family and friends with proper planning just as in the case of other types of parties for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. You will not even spend too much money on the food, invitations, decorations and other aspects of the tea party for various reasons.

First, the main foods like pots of tea, scones, biscuits, cookies and cake can be bought for affordable prices from bakeries and delis. Even if you make these sweet treats in your own kitchen, you will not be spending plenty of money, unlike in a full banquet of formal parties.

Second, the venue can be left as is. If you are holding it in the garden, you can just make it more beautiful by placing a few flowers on the table – no evening lights and no fussy decorations. After all, tea parties are held from mid to late afternoon in whatever venue is available in your house.

You might say that a tea party is a lazy but elegant way to entertain family and friends as well as co-workers and bosses. Your taste in parties will even impress them so much so that the tea party will be the talk of the office for days and in a complimentary way, to boot.

Good Planning

But of course, before your tea party can be a success, you have to plan it and plan it well. This is true for all your parties, be it the informal barbecue on the Fourth of July or the formal dinner on your wedding anniversary. Here then is a step-by-step guide on planning a tea party.

• Select the date for the tea party, which should be on the relatively free day of the invited people, say, on a Sunday afternoon. Send out the invitation at least 2 weeks before the event to allow your expected guests to clear their schedules.

• Prepare your menu. It may be as simple as two choices of cake or as many as a buffet of sweet treats. Your tea may be in two or more varieties like green, black and oolong.

• Prepare the tea equipment from the cups and saucers to the teapot. Go for the most elegant set you can afford since you can use it again and again.

• Prepare the table.

Now, all you have to do is to wait for your guests, serve the tea and enjoy their company!

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Food Safety First, Food Taste a Close Second

September 7th 2010

list

If you are almost always the host in parties for family and friends, you should have knowledge of the food safety guidelines for many reasons. For one thing, your guests’ welfare is in your hands while in your home, which include safety from the health complications of food poisoning. For another thing, food safety guidelines are also a big factor in making food taste delicious and look attractive, two things that you want guests to compliment you on.

We can say that food safety comes first and food taste will come after it has been achieved. There are for main principles to follow when cooking for yourself and for others during parties – clean, separate, chill and cook. You need not worry as these principles can be applied in simple but effective ways in the home without the necessity of going to culinary school.

Clean

You have to clean all the equipment from the spoons and forks to the pots and pans used during the cooking and serving process. You may have to sterilize these cooking utensils and equipment but your conscientiousness will pay off most handsomely. Naturally, your kitchen must be clean as well – no cockroaches, no rats and no other disease-carrying pests.

You must also wash your hands before, during and after cooking. To paraphrase the old adage, too many unwashed hands spoiled the broth simply because the bacteria, germs and other unhealthy microorganisms are transferred from one dish to the next primarily through your hands.

Separate

You must separate the equipment like the cutting boards, knives and even sponges for poultry, meat and seafood on one hand and fruits, vegetables and herbs on the other hand. Keep in mind that raw meat contains bacteria that can contaminate fresh produce, the latter of which is often raw or cooked in a lesser time that the former.

You may think that it is a hassle to keep separate equipment for the two food categories. Again, we prefer a few minor inconveniences for the greater good of your guests.

Chill

You have to chill the prepared foods, leftovers and other perishables within two hours after preparation or purchase. If possible, we suggest marinating foods before placing in the refrigerator as the natural preservatives in the marinate help in keeping the food fresh and safe for consumption.

We cannot overemphasize the need to load the refrigerator according to its capacity and to load the foods in the refrigerator according to the ideal temperature. For example, poultry requires placement in the freezer while fresh produce are in the refrigerator.

Cook

You should follow the instructions on the cookbook about the oven temperature or the number of minutes for cooking. You must know by now that meat and fresh produce have different cooking temperatures and times for good reasons.

And of course, make sure that you serve food according to the way it is recommended by the recipe. Serve food like soups hot with the use of chafing dishes, warning trays and crock pots and keep food like ice cream cold by storing in the freezer before serving. After all, the delicious taste of food also depends on the way it is served.

In the end, you want to ensure food safety balanced with food flavor. If you can balance these two aspects of food preparation, you are a great host.

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Three Ways to Host a Summer Party For Less

August 19th 2010

party cake

Of all the seasons of the year, it is summer that presents the most possibilities for throwing great parties. You have the warm sun on your back, the brilliant colors to dazzle your eyes and the sounds of nature coming alive in a vibrant way. Add in the lazy days, cool breezes and great company and you have every reason to celebrate the season with a party.

The trick is in knowing how to host a summer party for less cost, less effort and less time. Well, this should be easy enough with the following three ways.

Sun, Sand and Sea
Summer is equated with the sun, sand and sea. Thus, it is logical that the beach is the best way to hold a party in summer without the hassle of thinking about elaborate decorations, complex cuisines and formal ambience. Just bring finger foods, barbecues and cool drinks to the nearest beach – coupled with your bikinis and sunscreens, of course – and off you and your guests on a lazy day of sunbathing, swimming and just lazing around.

But of course, if the beach is far away or it is too polluted with oil slicks, then the pool is the best alternative. Your decorations can include inflatable floats on the pool, colored lanterns on the trees and a few palm plants. Your menu can be as simple as the one on the beach, with many of your guests probably going potluck. Think mango and tomato salsa with nachos and chips, hotdog and marshmallows on a stick, iced tea and lemonade and even a homemade cake, all of which require less expenditure.

Fly Me to the Moon
An imaginative way to host a summer party for less is to take advantage of the clear black sky during the season. The full moon with its diamond stars are the perfect backdrop to a night out with family and friends while enjoying the food brought in picnic baskets.

Again, you can ask everybody to bring potluck food for sharing with everybody although you can always prepare the majority of the menu. Your food choices can include sandwiches, fried chicken and apple pie with lemonade on the side. All of these food items are comfort food in many ways – just the right thing to enjoy under the starry skies.

You need not even worry about the venue. Go to the local park and hold your summer party there for free.

Garden of Eden
If you want to host a summer party for less, your garden is probably the best place to do so. You already have the decorations in the form of the plants and flowers. You already have the natural ambience. You already have the venue for free.

Now, all you need to do is to take out the tables, cover them with your favorite tablecloths and set it with your summery cutlery. Your menu can be anything that your kitchen can cook up – just dress up your everyday recipes with special touches and you can become the new chef on the block. Your favors can be seed packets of your favorite summer blooms.

You can host a summer party for less money, less effort and less time. Use your imagination, use your available resources and use your family and friends’ generosity by asking for assistance even if it means going potluck.

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Get together and have a meal

July 29th 2010

meal Get together and have a meal

Preparing a meal get-together can be great fun with adequate, advanced planning, and a great menu. The tendency for persons to stress when planning one of these events is quite common- not realizing that there is no need to worry. Studies have shown that people, who get invited to parties, assign more importance to the positive emotions experienced when they receive a party invitation. The next important thing to them proves to be the opportunity at having fun, de-stressing, and networking.

Meal get-togethers can be best described as “a no-frill, low-budget gathering of friends, family and acquaintances”. Some examples of occasions for which meal get-togethers are suitable are: birthdays, celebrating new baby, an office promotion, or a house warming. Even when the circumstances are as remote as “when the moon is in the 7th house- and Jupiter aligns with Mars”* party-people will always find excuses to host get-togethers, or much larger parties. However as the date rolls around, many are guilty of rushing around at the last minute, because they fail to plan adequately ahead of time.

There are many ways that preparing a meal get-together can be made interesting. Why not invite your best friends or some of your closest friends over to help you organize the menu, the décor and the entertainment. Getting them involved will empower them to actually take over some of the planning duties, freeing you from some of the responsibilities.

Treat yourself to at least 1 month of TV meals. Doing this would enable you to catch some great meal ideas on The Food Network. Even the day-time talk shows on cable may sometimes include a special meal guide feature on certain days.

As you get it, spend it! Why safe your pennies for a rainy day, when you need them now? Any money that you get now should be the excuse you use to go window shopping and pick up some useful stuff. Invite your friends (aka planning committee) over at least once a week to discuss how all pet projects are progressing. This is also a great opportunity for you to hone your skills as a master party-planner or seasoned party host.

With all pet projects successfully underway, this leaves you unfettered and able to focus on the very critical menu. The dishes that are to be served should be planned at least 1-month ahead of time, giving you the time needed to ensure that the quantity of ingredients necessary would be adequate to prepare enough servings for the party guests. If ordering food from a restaurant, the same rules apply. Also, it is advisable to order enough boxes of meat dishes and sides that seemed to have been popular from the last get-together. If in doubt, it is always best to err on the side of caution, and having over budget the party menu, to ensure that all guests are adequately fed.

The week of the event is not the time to be doing all the cooking. If cooking is to be done, it would be far easier to cook and store the dishes 2-weeks in advance. Finally, a few day before the meal get-together, call all invitees to confirm that they are coming.

• Reference taken from song: “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In”, performed by: The 5th dimension (1969).

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