How to throw a simple but memorable dinner party


*Any ideas? We have company coming (it will be about 10 of us total) and I want to make something simple, yet memorable for dinner. I love Giada’s cooking show on food network, and am thinking of whipping up baked ziti, but with a twist…and one of my inlaws is bringing one of her beautiful, famous salads. I am thinking of making a pasta-less dish, like eggplant rolatini, and also have a meatfilled ziti dish as another choice. Is this too heavy, or should I make something lighter?

I also want to hand out recipe cards, with a menu, to make the night fun.

Tired of grilling out all of the time, although I thought of grilling some zucchini and other veggies (indoor grill) and providing some dipping sauces?

I just want to make sure my dishes aren’t too zany, and that everyone will like them (but want to do something a little unique…like a unique twist on a traditional italian dish)

Your ideas are appreciated. :)*


How about some artichokes (you can steam them or grill them) or some bruschetta or caprese salad? Melon wrapped with prosciutto? Portobello mushrooms would be great with the grilled veggies. Some bread with roasted garlic would be great too.

What are you doing for dessert? Since your main dishes are a little on the heavy side, maybe something with lemon…


Oh, and one often under-appreciated vegetable that can be seriously good are brussels sprouts. If you blanch them then roast them with a little olive oil and some herbs and other seasonings, they are amazing. I used to think I hated them, but then found out it is all in the way that they are cooked.


I think a theme is good. Italian, YUM.

*]Antipasto-- cold meats, olives, cheeses; use green leaf lettuce and/or parsley to garnish the plates
*]Fried ravioli w/marinara (yummy chicken and mushroom ravioli from Sam’s)

Main course:
*]Chicken milanesa (pound thin, dredge in flour, egg, and italian breadcrumbs, pan saute in olive oil… it’s perfect every time) Do ahead and keep warm in the oven; squeeze fresh lemon over it before serving sprinkled with snipped parsley and garnished with lemon wedges (you said memorable)
*]Stuffed shells (ricotta, mozarella, and parsley… yum) to make it “memorable” serve the shells in their own individual *au gratins *on the plate
*]grilled or steamed vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant, asparagus

*]Tiramisu, garnish the plates with chocolate sauce, or
*]Panna Cotta (Giada has great panna cotta recipes)


I don’t have any suggestions off the top of my head, but now I’m starving!!:wave:


Asparagus with hollandaise sauce, garnished with a bit of lemon zest, always seems to be a big hit. Plus, it’s much simpler to make than most seem to realize.

If you’re going to be grilling (and since you mentioned eggplant & dipping sauces) you could make an easy and tasty baba ghanouj. Just make a few slices on the sides of the eggplant, stick a clove of garlic in each slice, brush on a little olive oil then set the eggplant directly on the coals, turning once every 5-10 minutes for 20-30 minutes total. Afterward, scrape off the skin, put in a blender or food processor with a little tahini, a bit more olive oil and possibly a little lemon, salt & pepper to taste, then blend to the desired consistency. Extremely healthy and awfully tasty. For a little extra flavor, brush the pita bread with olive oil, sprinkle with thyme & sesame seeds, then toss on the grill for a couple minutes on each side.


Go downtown and hire three bums to serve the food while naked.

Oh, wait. You want GOOD memorable? :smiley:

Have you considered a Greek theme? You still get pasta-like stuff but with a wild varieties of tastes and textures.


*I love the melon and prsciutto idea! Thank you dulcissima! I have had that growing up a lot, but fail to think of it when planning get togethers…great idea for a light appetizer!

What might be a good recipe with lemon, you think?*


*I don’t know how to cook greek, though. :o I love to eat it, however!! *


You know what I like, 1ke! ha I know what you’re talking about too…the panna cotta recipes for dessert that Giada makes…I might have to run through a few of her shows that I’ve taped to see what might be there. I love the twist to making separated manicottis…that is a great idea! I think I can do this, too. I’m not exactly Giada in the kitchen, but I try. :o


I love middle eastern food personally…this sounds like a delish recipe, even if I’m not having company. Thanks, Gordon. :wave:


I have individual au gratins similar to these:

I think they make it look so nice when you serve manicotti or other stuffed shells in their own au gratins with sauce, cheese, etc, all right in the dish keeping it from going everywhere or breaking apart when serving.

Anyway, I’m a big food nerd. I actually bought the book Working the Plate which shows you how to do all sorts of cool presentations for your food. I recommend it if you want to totally turn into a crazy dinner party lady!


My bf’s mother makes Shaker Lemon Pie and it is now my most favorite pie ever. I have never asked her for the recipe, but this seems to be the standard one. I think that the trick is to cut the lemons super thin, so having a mandolin or V cutter is a good idea. She uses premade pie crust and it turns out just fine.

2 lemons, thinly sliced
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie

Slice the lemons and combine in a large bowl with the 2 cups sugar. Let stand for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
Add the beaten eggs and mix well. Pour into an unbaked 9 inch piecrust and cover with a top crust.
Brush the top with milk and sprinkle granulated sugar on top.
Bake at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the pie comes out clean.


Add theme and a movie to the evening? Roman Holiday maybe? You cannot go wrong with Audrey Hepburn.

Some good music and some limoncello or be really brave and have a grappa shot.


I love those little bruschetta toasts that Giada does. Yummy. And they look pretty easy.

I hope that the dinner party is memorable in a good way, and not because your potty backs up, or the refrigerator explodes, or a criminal is loose and every house in your neighborhood is on police lockdown. Those are the kinds of things that happen at our house during get-togethers.

Actually, we’ve had some very nice dinner parties, and it’s usually because of a nice mix of congenial people who have things in common to talk about for hours. A few weeks ago, we had a party for my husband’s skating friends. Thirteen people were present. We served takeout pizza and salad, and other people brought desserts, and we talked about figure skating for several hours. Lots of fun.


What about roasted garlic with a baguette of bread…
This is one of my FAVORITE recipes… really easy to make and is SOOO GOOD!


Okay you guys do realize this is just about the cruelest thread to be reading at 4:30, with a half hour of work left and my stomach growling.

Whatevergirl - you are Italian, right? If you want to leave your guests with an impression who you are, maybe try something with an Italian flair, even if it is just the dessert portion. Alot of the dishes suggested here have been Italian, so theres a lot to work with.
Sometimes the way to make people really feel like they are “part of the family” when they are a guest is to serve them homemade bread. If you are good at making bread, a nice thick, crusty Italian bread made from scratch (as opppossed to a store bought loaf) might make the guests really feel as if they are “in your kitchen.”



One of my favorite thigns to make is a BIG pot of my “Savory Beef BBQ”. There are 15 ingredients in this recipe, and it is SO good. You make it the day before in the oven, then it cools down and then you shred it. Then before the party it can go in a crock pot to heat, and it makes the house smell awesome, but all the messy work (along with more intoxicating smells) happened the day before.

Doing every possible thing you can the day before helps so much, so you can have a clean house and be a relaxed hostess looking forward to the guests instead exhausted, hoping they will all be late.

I made this for years with venison as my (now ex) husband was a prolific deer hunter, and I was constantly asked for the recipe. I made it recently for the first time with what the recipe calls for - chuck steak. Which means you serve a crowd-pleasing delicious meat main dish (particularly the guys like it) that everyone wants seconds of, and its cheap. Its a great crowd pleaser.

Serve it on with rolls, with side salads - something fresh and green and easy and colorful - or corn or other vegetable dish you make ahead. I used to make fresh green pea pezacata ahead of time but that recipe book is in an unpacked box and I can’t find it online.

Besides something green, you can also serve salt potatoes. They are easy and everyone loves them. I cook nice small baby reds, sliced once the long way, in salt water, drain and dump in a pretty dish, top with butter.

That said, there are 15 ingredients to the BBQ recipe so I’ll type it out only if you think you’ll use it!


Make bread. From scratch? Hmmm…can I do that? lol *

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