After moving into this house we realized what a gift this amount of space was and have tried to open our home at least once a week to friends, some weeks we do better at it than others but this summer I knew that I had to work out a fool-proof menu to make entertaining a breeze and low-stress (I’ll never say it’s no-stress. :)). So I’ve put together a menu and a table centerpiece that I’ve gotten some pretty great mileage out of thus far this season. I like to call this my Hour Dinner Party because it really doesn’t take longer than that to prep.
Let’s start with the centerpiece:
You can do just simple white hydrangeas to have it be coastal feel but I wanted to make it a smidge more special so I added some driftwood garland and some shiny votive holders (I use these year round).
Here’s how to prep in a stress-free way (do this about three – four hours before guests arrive so the potatoes and eggs have time to cool):
1. Start hard boiling your eggs and put some water on the stove for your potatoes.
2. Wash and cut your potatoes then put in the boiling water.
3. While the potatoes cook (just to the point where you can stick a fork in it easily) start marinading your chicken breasts. I just use a simple BBQ sauce, Trader Joe’s has a great organic one. Pop it into the fridge.
4. Cut up your three stalks of celery and 1 small red onion for the potato salad and defrost your peas (eyeball how many you want).
Assemble your app:
Put a grape tomato, a mozzarella ball (or a square cut piece of mozzarella) and a tiny leaf or piece of of leaf of basil on a toothpick. Place all the assembled toothpicks on a tray and drizzle balsamic vinegar over it. If you want a little extra pop your caprese salad right on a Triscut.
Shortly before your guests arrive:
For the potato salad: toss your potatoes with a light coating of mayo, the hard boiled eggs, Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute and the veggies you cut up.
For the salad: slice up strawberries and place over baby spinach. Top with goat cheese.
This is a casual dinner party so once your guests arrive take your app out of the fridge, open the wine and let them sit at your island (or somewhere in your kitchen) and munch and sip while you put the finishing touches on dinner. Pretty much as soon as our guests arrive we will start the grill and AJ will put the chicken breasts on. They generally take 15 -20 minutes and during that time I cook the corn (it’ll take 5 – 6 minutes in boiling water, but make sure you give yourself plenty of time for the huge pot of water to boil).
Once I get the corn in the water I know we have about five minutes before dinner. I will then slice an avocado for the salad (and not before so it doesn’t get brown) and top the salad with roasted and salted sunflower seeds.
I’ve either made chocolate chip cookies the day before for us to make ice-cream sandwiches with or I’ve just bought a cake or pie to make my life easier. A strawberry rhubarb pie like this one is perfect! It’s so nice when it’s completely low to no maintenance!
I set everything up buffet style so we have more room at the table and we head out to eat on the patio. As I type this I realize it sounds like a lot of steps but I promise it’s really easy. Really.
What are your go-to tips for a dinner party or what are your must-have menu items? I’d love to hear!