Going To Dinner As A Guest Tonight

February 25th 2011

wine Going To Dinner As A Guest Tonight

If you have been invited as a dinner guest, there are certain protocols that need to be followed depending on the situation. You will either be invited as a dinner guest at a restaurant outing, or you will be invited as a dinner guest in someone’s home. If you have been invited as a dinner guest at a restaurant, you should get the exact time and location to meet your dinner host. In this instance, you won’t have to bring anything, but you should certainly RSVP as soon as possible, so that your host can reserve with the restaurant. You’ll want to ask about the attire, so that you don’t embarrass yourself, or the host showing up too casual, or too formal. Ask them about the food selections so that if there are foods that you don’t eat, you won’t make anyone feel discomfort when you arrive. If you are invited to the host home, RSVP so that they know how much food to prepare. Find out the attire of the dinner; some people do host formal dinners in their homes. It’s a good idea to bring a bottle of wine, flowers, or some other gift to thank the host. Ask if they would like you to bring a dish, or a desert if the event is casual enough for that. Be prepared to help out in the kitchen if needed, and you should offer if the event is casual, and it isn’t being catered.

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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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Chase Away Winter with a Coffee Tasting Party

February 21st 2010

coffee grains 8314 10 Chase Away Winter with a Coffee Tasting PartyWith winter still hanging on these days and my time to garden still weeks away, my thoughts turn to more ways to entertain my friends indoors. Instead of a traditional dinner party, I decided to try a weekend Coffee Tasting Party. If you’ve ever wondered what those different roasts or all those different flavors available at the coffee shop taste like, here’s your chance to taste them.

I love everything about coffee, and these mugs from CasaModa are no exception. With such adorable retro coffee images, they are perfect for a coffee tasting party. Set your party up like a potluck and have a few friends bring over other necessary supplies. Have each guest bring a coffee to try and an extra coffeepot. Try to get whole beans if a grinder or a coffeepot with a built in grinder is available. The flavor of whole bean coffee is fresher and stronger than already ground and vacuum-packed varieties. Coffee is at its best within the first twenty minutes of brewing, so you won’t want to have too many pots brewed at once. Between each cup of coffee, have unsalted crackers available to clear everyone’s palate. Have a coffee station with creamer and sugar and spoons for guests who don’t like black coffee.

coffee Chase Away Winter with a Coffee Tasting Party

I also like to provide some sweet treats with coffee as well. It also gives me a great reason to bring out my CasaModa retro coffeehouse plates which match the mugs. Biscotti, scones, chocolate covered rolled wafers or shortbread cookies are favorites with my friends, especially those who like to dip their treats into their coffee.

After a weekend brunch or weekend dinner out would be the best time to hold your party if you are concerned about caffeine consumption. A nighttime party might keep everyone awake late into the night, so it may not be a good idea to do on a night where everyone has to be at work early in the morning the next day.

A Coffee Tasting can be a welcome addition to any event that might last a long time. We have friends who come over to play games that sometimes can last for hours. The losers of each round has to brew and fix the next coffee to taste for the winners. If you are having a movie or TV show marathon party, a coffee tasting would be a great way to take a break in between shows. Have fun with ways to present your coffee tasting and your friends will no doubt have fun as well.

Posted by Myriam under Drinks & Winter Entertaining | 1 Comment »

It’s a Great Year to Start a Dinner Club

January 13th 2010

fork Its a Great Year to Start a Dinner Club If you’re like me, you’re trying to recover from all the holiday spending. I went out to dinner so much that I was excited to finally eat at home again. And, of course, my waist was glad too!

It’s time to re-group and make monthly plans with friends to get back on the social track you enjoy. I love the holidays, but I end up doing to many things because I have to or I should. This year I want to bring in people that I enjoy spending time with and do less of the obligatory visits.

Last year six of us began a monthly dinner club that didn’t quite make it through the holidays. I think the last time we met was October. Now it’s 2010 and time to rev that puppy back up.

What’s a dinner club? It’s a less expensive way to get fancy night out. Only it’s in your or your friend’s house. It’s a great place to try out new recipes, drinks, or to show off your sengware dishes.

We limited our group to three couples. You can always have other dinner parties to accommodate your other friends, but this is a group planning effort. Pick your club members carefully. Do they love food and cooking? Show up when expected? If they hate cooking or are picky eaters it could cause too much drama in this kind of setting. You will also need to get input from any other members of the group before you add the next person. It’s important for the group to jell together for the long run.

Mine started up at my 2009 New Year’s Eve dinner party. Six of us complained that we didn’t see each other enough and were praising each other’s cooking. We decided to meet one Saturday night a month. The host would rotate through each couple so everyone got to be a guest as well.

We each bring a dish or two from a pre-determined menu. In our group the host determines the theme, and guests decide what they would like to bring. We do this at the end of the current dinner club for the next month. Usually we have a main dish, some sides, salad, dessert, and a special drink of the night.

In my next post I’ll talk more about creating your dinner club and give you some sample menus. So make sure to check back later in the week!

Posted by Myriam under Dinner Club & Hostessing & Party Food | 1 Comment »

A Get Fit Game Party

January 10th 2010

huls A Get Fit Game PartyWe’re getting closer to the middle of January. How are your resolutions coming? I bet you’ve gone full steam ahead the past 10 days. To make sure you keep your healthy goals, plan a few parties that support your efforts.

Last year we got a Wii, and of course, the Wii fit. It caught on and most of our friends followed. When it was new, we broke it out after every dinner party, but lately it hasn’t been used much. Knowing that we were going to make a point to exercise more, we bought the new biggest loser game for Wii. My friends and I all have some weight lose goals this year and we have agreed to support one another. In this game you set goals for 4, 8, or 12 weeks, so if you want to do this with your friends you’ll need to make at least a weekly date to play and weigh in.

If you don’t have a Wii, maybe you are you friends have an Xbox or other type of gaming system. On these you can still play Dance Dance Revolution to get your exercise in. This dancing game uses a special pad that you step on to register your score as you go along. Most allow at least 4 players at a time. I can promise you all your friends will be laughing within the first 10 minutes. You might not even notice the workout you’re getting, and it’s a fun time for everyone.

The games that come with the Wii fit are also fun to play in a group, even though you have to play one at a time. Trust me, there is nothing funnier than seeing your friend hulu hoop on the balance board with no hoop. There are some fit games that don’t work in a crowd, but I like the ski jump, bubble navigating, and hulu hoop for a party workout.

I like to do this after a healthy home cooked dinner. Try making a lentil soup with a nutrient rich green like spinach or kale and serve with some homemade whole wheat rolls. Another easy option is pasta and a salad. Try some of the new whole grain pasta that has lentils and flax seeds to really get you ready for some after dinner exercising. No matter what you decide, it will look beautiful on your Noritake dinnerware.

Make sure to check out new Wii games that will get you and your friends moving. In addition to the sports games, take a look at Raving Rabbids. It has a variety of games and its own version of Dance Dance Revolution that’s not to be missed. It’s one of the silliest and most fun games I’ve ever played.

Posted by Myriam under Hostessing & Party Food & Winter Entertaining | No Comments »

Have a Healthy Dinner Party

January 6th 2010

veggies Have a Healthy Dinner PartyEveryone needs a break from rich artery clogging fare after the holidays.  So have your friends over for a healthy dinner. Keep it simple and you’ll find yourself having a dinner party every week. It doesn’t have to be stressful at all.

The house may not be as decorated as it was last month, but you don’t need to go all out. A beautiful house plant that you can enjoy the rest of the dark, winter season is well worth the investment. I go to Trader Joe’s to get fresh flowers. They are inexpensive and I separate the flowers in the bouquet into smaller arrangements I put throughout the house. Try putting Asiatic lilies in a small bathroom, they scent the room while they beauty it up.

You don’t need to have the house spotless. It can be an excuse to clean a few things that you tend to put off. For me having a weekly dinner keeps my table cleared of the daily pile of papers it can collect and the rug vacuumed. It works perfect for me, since I procrastinate on my daily chores.

You don’t need to make a meal out of a food magazine. If your friends have a favorite dish of yours you can always make a healthy version of it. I make a version of biscuits and gravy that my friends always ask for. I make whole wheat biscuits and gravy with no fat, vegetarian sausage and fat free milk. You get all of the comfort but don’t regret the indulgence later.

One of my favorite mid-week dinners is slow cooker full of veggie chili or of split pea soup. Be sure to put in dry beans the night before since they take so long to cook, add veggies and seasonings in the morning before you go to work.

Try having veggie burgers and baked sweet potato fires instead of the normal beef and greasy fries. Making a healthy meal is easier than you may think.

Posted by Myriam under Decorations & Hostessing & Party Food & Winter Entertaining | No Comments »

Throw a Leftover Party

November 27th 2009

dinnerwareturkey Throw a Leftover PartyChances are no matter where you were yesterday for Thanksgiving, you have leftovers. Even if you didn’t host dinner, you probably had a bag of leftovers packed up and sent with you. Relatives and friends alike love to think they’re helping us out. Especially when they are overwhelmed with leftovers themselves.

You could heat and eat the same old meal. Or you can think of each dish as a single ingredient and create some new dishes in a mini Iron Chef competition with yourself. By creating new dishes you’ll stretch your food budget, and surprise yourself with your creativity.

Have a pizza shell in the fridge or some dough in the freezer? Try making pizza with some of your leftovers. Try bbq turkey with shredded turkey, pre-made bbq sauce, chopped onions and bell pepper. Add some drained, canned pineapple if you’re feeling adventurous. You could also toss some turkey in pesto sauce spread over a crust, top it off with crumbled goat cheese and some leftover cranberry sauce. Make a vegetarian pizza with sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce on a crust covered in a garlic butter sauce.

Pasta is another great option. You could make a left over casserole with whole wheat ziti, turkey, leftover veggies, Use leftover gravy or a mushroom sauce to bind everything together. Toast leftover dressing and crumble over the top.

Turkey lasagna with a sweet potato cream sauce and spinach is another favorite. Or try egg noodles combined with turkey and green bean casserole – add a little milk to loosen it up if needed.

Have some leftover creamed corn? Try mixing it with diced pepperoncini peppers, and some turkey or grilled shrimp. Toss the mixture with angel hair pasta. Creamed corn is also the perfect base for a corn chowder. Just add milk, diced red peppers, cubed potatoes, more frozen corn if needed, and some fresh thyme. It’s my favorite cold weather soup.

If you made the turkey at your house this year, you can use the carcass to make turkey broth. It freezes great. You can put it in quart containers, or freeze in ice cube trays and store in Ziploc bags. It’s great to be able to take out a few cubes of stock at a time. Much better than opening a carton of stock for a few tablespoons worth.

Don’t forget the power of omelets. Any of the mixtures above would work great. Turkey and goat cheese is one of my favorites, but you can use any cheese you have on hand. Omelets are perfect for using up the tiniest leftovers.

Take these ideas and invite some of your friends over for a Thanksgiving leftover party. It just may be the least expensive party you’ve thrown all year!

Posted by Myriam under Fall Entertaining & Holiday Entertaining & Hostessing & Occasions & Recipes | No Comments »

Plan Your Way to an Easier Thanksgiving

November 13th 2009

dinnerware pumpkin with autumn corn Plan Your Way to an Easier Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is coming up fast, so you need to start thinking about it now. No matter how busy you are now, it will only seem worse the closer to turkey day that you begin. Making a plan isn’t doing all the work at one time. You will be making a chore list to make your life easier.

The first order of business is to order a turkey if you want a fresh one. You can try local farmers to see if they still have any organic ones. They may cost more, but the taste is worth it. If you’re not interested in a fresh turkey, go ahead and buy a frozen one. Don’t wait too long, or you may find yourself without a turkey on the big day!

Make a menu plan for the big day. If you are having guests bring something, make sure that they tell you what they want to bring now. This way you can fill in any holes yourself. A typical menu would look something like this:

  • wine – I suggest a mix of red, white and rose to give everyone something they’ll like.
  • soda, sparking water, juice
  • slow cooker pear delicata squash soup or other winter squash soup
  • field green salad with chopped apple and dried cranberries
  • turkey
  • cranberry sauce
  • stuffing
  • mashed potatoes
  • green bean (regular or in casserole form)
  • sweet potato (baked or in casserole form)
  • creamed corn
  • dinner rolls
  • pumpkin pie, pecan pie, or another of your favorite desserts

Make a shopping list so you don’t find yourself running out to the store at the last minute. Include baking supplies, seasonal vegetables, stuffing mix, and add some Indian corn and mini pumpkins to decorate your table with. Order the list by each store you need to go to make it easier.

Make a list of anything you may need to rent or borrow from friends. I always borrow a few extra chairs and a card table myself. Think about silverware, serving platters, and dinnerware too, are you sure you have enough? Now is a perfect time to bring out you best Noritake plates, and your best silver.

The day before give the bathroom a thorough cleaning and vacuum and mop all the floors. Go ahead and make your pie(s) and soup if it will reheat well. You can even begin to set your table if you don’t have cats that are likely to nap on your clean pressed linens. Take your frozen turkey out of the freezer and put in the fridge for the night. Chill the white and rose wines.

You can setup to have a separate kids table, like the one we all knew growing up. If you do it separate or together cover the tables with matching tablecloths to add some extra ambiance to your dinner. Make a center piece by scattering the Indian corn and mini pumpkins on various places on your table. Go ahead and put wine glasses and coffee cups on the table, so you have less running around to do during your dinner party.

The morning of Thanksgiving cook the Turkey, stuffing, and other dishes that need to be made the day you eat them. Set the table early if you didn’t set it the night before. Open the red wine to breathe. Go ahead and open the chilled wines as well and put them in an ice chest to keep it cool.

Most importantly take a half hour before your guest arrive and enjoy the feeling of having everything ready before the last minute!

Posted by Myriam under Decorations & Holiday Entertaining & Hostessing & Seasonal Entertaining & Thanksgiving | No Comments »

Throw a No Work Dinner Party

November 7th 2009

dinnerware sushi Throw a No Work Dinner PartyWith the holidays right around the corner, time with friends is at a premium. In addition to the typical holiday celebrations, you have to decorate the house, take care of work social obligations, not to mention shopping for the perfect gift for each of your loved ones.

There’s not much time for a proper dinner party so throw a lazy dinner party! No need for excuses about needing to clean your house since you won’t be having people over. You are still the hostess if you organize a dinner out with your friends.

Last year I arranged a dinner for 14 of my friends. Since they included picky eaters, holiday budgeters, and over workers it would not have happened if one of us didn’t take the initiative to go ahead and plan it.

The first thing to consider is how much everyone afford. Any price is fine if you’re treating. If not, always use the person on the tightest budget as your price gauge. You want everyone to be happy about dinner out, not worrying about giving something up to be there. The most important thing is to get everyone together. It doesn’t need to be at the fanciest restaurant in town.

The next thing on the list is making sure everyone can find something to eat at the place you pick. You need to think about the people who won’t eat fish, the ones who won’t eat veggies, and the vegetarians. It’s not hard to find a place that gives everyone has a few choices. Make a special effort for anyone who has food allergies. More places are offering dairy free and gluten free dishes on their menus. Call in advance with your reservation and most places will even make a special vegan dish without a fuss. The key is doing this in advance, if you wait until you are at the table it’s too late.

Choose a date, or range of dates to choose from, then send a mass email out to friends. Another great way to organize any event is through evite.com. Through evite.com you can even let your guests suggest dates and times. You can ask for suggestions for places as well. But be prepared for a range from no answers to too many choices to get a group consensus on.

To keep within a budget see if there are any early bird special at your favorite places. This works especially well if you want to go to a fancier restaurant. At my fav place we get a 3 course meal for 30.00, normally that’s what an entree goes for. You can also look at restaurant.com. You purchases a discount coupon through their website. They send out many codes for even more off  at the end of the month, so that’s the best time to score a great coupon. You can only use one per party, even if you sit at different tables.

Everyone will appreciate getting a dinner discount off the top. And you’ll have a great dinner party with no washing up!

Posted by Myriam under Fall Entertaining & Holiday Entertaining & Hostessing & Winter Entertaining | No Comments »

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