Thursday, June 24, 2010

How to Host a Dinner Party

How to Host a Worry-Free Dinner Party

courtesy of All Home Cooking. All Year Long., Buitoni Riserva Pastas & Sauces, & FoodBuzz

  1. Prepare. Invite guests. Plan a menu based on the number of guests, your chosen theme, and your time constraints. Be sure to choose an appropriate number of hot and cold appetizers, beverages, main courses and salads, and desserts. A theme makes this easier, as it gives you a place to start and keeps you on track throughout decorating, choosing menu items, and choosing music.
  2. Be everywhere all at once. Be the cook, the server, the cleaning crew, and the enchanting, charming hostess. Stay clean, stay fresh, and stay on the ball. Remember, you're doing it all alone, but you must make it look easy!
  3. Serve delicious foods right on time to a fawning crowd of appreciative diners.Keep smiling like it's effortless.
Before you throw your frying pan at my head, read on. Dinner parties can be home-prepared AND easy. Really! Thanks to Buitoni, I was able to single-handedly pull off a dinner for ten people without being frazzled, frustrated, and feeling left out of the fun. Here's how I did it:

I picked my theme. I knew my dinner would focus on Buitoni Riserva Pastas & Sauces, so I went for a charming, homey Italian dinner. I decorated in red and white and had Italian music playing softly in the background. I served on white plates.

I planned my menu. I chose a variety of foods I could either prepare ahead or that went together effortlessly minutes before serving. Here was my menu:
  • A platter filled with marinated cherry peppers, kalamata olives, hot peppers, and bruschetta -- I bought the peppers and olives. The bruschetta I made from scratch. It took 15 minutes thanks to some prior planning and preparations.
  • Toasted Buitoni Riserva Wild Mushroom Agnolotti: These took 15 minutes to fry.
  • Pasta & Salad for the main course: I chose Buitoni Riserva Chicken 7 Four Cheese Ravioli with Alfredo Sauce, alongside the Spicy Beef & Sausage Ravioli with Marinara Sauce. I chose the Quattro Formaggi Agnolotti, with both sauces, for the vegetarians in my party. Keeping with the red & white theme, I served a stacked tomato-mozzarella salad drizzled with olive oil. The pairing was beautiful and delicious. Using prepared pastas and sauces makes a dinner party come together with simplicity and ease. Using prepared items doesn't have to mean sacrificing flavor, value, or quality. Buitoni pastas are high-quality, high-flavor, good value items. The ingredients lists contain all items I recognize and am comfortable serving. The pastas are stuffed to the gills with delicious fillings, allowing you to taste everything in them, unlike other ravioli products that have only a tiny bit of filling. The flavor combinations are unexpected, both simple and complex at the same time. A dance for your taste buds.
  • For dessert, an assortment of classic yummies: cheesecake, tiramisu, cannoli, and strawberries with strawberry-pecan cream. Again, prior planning and preparations minimized kitchen time when I would rather be mingling with guests.
I served my guests. Since Buitoni did part of the work, and most of the rest was done ahead of time, I was free to have fun with my friends and family. Easy as a pizza pie. ;)

Thank you, Buitoni and FoodBuzz, for this unique opportunity. It was amazing.

Toasted Buitoni Wild Mushroom Agnolotti. Simple to make. Just dip them in egg, then Italian breadcrumbs. Fry in hot oil 3 minutes. Drain. Serve with Marinara Sauce. This was a favorite among guests. The agnolotti is absolutely stuffed with pieces of mushroom. The aroma is excellent and the flavor is mouth-watering. Perfect!

Appetizer platter with cherry peppers, hot peppers, olives, and bruschetta

These cute tomato dishes from Pier One made the perfect server for my Pesto Bruschetta. To make this appetizer, simply slice a baguette into 3/4" slices and toast under the broiler until crispy. Top with pesto (either homemade or prepared)m sliced, seeded tomato, and fresh mozzarella. Place back under the broiler for a minute or two to melt the cheese.

Want a salad that looks great, tastes great, and goes well with red & white pasta? Try this simple tomato stack. Simply slice a ruby red tomato. Alternate tomato, fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. Drizzle with olive oil and serve! It's eye-catching, fresh, and delicious, but simple enough so as to complement, not overpower, the main dish. Bonus points: It uses the same cheese as the appetizer, cutting your entertaining costs a little bit.

The main course. For our vegetarian guests, Quattro Formaggi Agnolotti in place of the Chicken & Four Cheese and Spicy Beef & Sausage Ravioli. Both groups were served this way, with red & white next to one another. It made a stunning presentation and was gobbled up quicker than I could snap pictures!

The pasta & salad together. A stunning presentation of red, white, and green, don't you think? The flavors worked wonders together. Simple red & white place mats and white cloth napkins kept the mood casual and inviting.
Strawberries & Cream. The cream is simply cream cheese, sugar, strawberries, and pecans blended together.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

A crust of rich chocolate on the tiramisu

Tiramisu. Yum!

*note: I was compensated for my efforts and provided with free Buitoni Riserva pastas and sauces. However, that in no way impacted my opinions, nor was I, at any time, told what to write. My opinions are genuine and completely my own.


Andrea said...

Awesome!! Sounds like a delicious and effortless (mostly LOL) dinner party :) Nicely done!

April said...

What an awesome party. You did great!

Jenn said...

I'll come to your parties anytime!! Everything looks so delicious!

StephenC said...

This is an imaginative dinner you threw. I would take issue with using commercial sauces though. It's extremely easy to make a basic sauce (even several days ahead). In my opinion there is no bottled sauce that holds a candle to homemade.

Jen said...

Can you please, please, PLEASE give me the recipe for that tiramisu?!?!

Haniela said...

I'm drooling over those tomatoes.
delicious looking food. I can't wait for our tomatoes this year.

a soldiers wife said...

This sounds like it was a great dinner party! It inspired me to go and purchase some Buitoni products. I normally try and make my pasta fresh, but sometimes I just don't have the time, and this looks like a great compromise. Everything looks so delicious!

I'm hoping for a 2 thumbs up from my picky teens this week, and have this for inspiration for a dinner when my husband is home on R&R in about a month :)

Simply Life said...

oh wow, your meal looks amazing! Wasn't that fun to be able to do?!?! I want your desserts!!! :)

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