Food from the Hart

Posts Tagged ‘budget-friendly entertaining’

Chef’s Night Off

In Tips on March 29, 2011 at 8:27 am

Up at 6am, to the office by 8am, home for 7pm, gym by 8pm…. we all know the drag of the daily grind.  With busy schedules like this unless you love standing over the stove it’s tough to find the motivation to cook for a party.  Don’t let that stop you from entertaining!  Hosting a party is ultimately about conversation and company not cooking.  So don’t be afraid to “call in” some help. Here are some suggestions to take the culinary crunch out of hosting an evening at home.  All you’ll need is a glass of wine, fun friends and good tunes.  Happy Partying!

Busy Folk’s Pot Luck

I think we all know what a pot luck dinner entails:  everyone brings a dish of their choice.  For stress-free option ask guests to bring their favorite take-out or prepared food.  You might end up with a little of everything from chinese to pizza, but that’s part of the fun!

Peruse the Grocery Store 

Check out the prepared food counter at your local grocery store or specialty market.  You’ll able to find everything from chicken to fish to pasta plus a colorful array of sides. If you’re feeling iffy about what you see behind the glass, give the freezer section a look.  No, I don’t mean buy guests their own TV dinner.  Look for things like lasagna or pizza – anything you can heat up in the oven. One note, make sure you reheat anything you buy to temperature and serve on plates or trays.  Presentation is everything!

There’s Always Take-Out

For urbanites there’s no shortage of delivery and take-out.  Take your pick!  Hosting a Mexican or Thai themed party can be as easy as ringing your local restaurant.  This isn’t cheating, but don’t forget the basics of entertaining, plate food and set the scene with a beautiful table, candles and music.  Don’t forget the cocktails!

Elevate the Evening

You can always hire a caterer.  Caterers’ services aren’t limited to just weddings and big events.  If you have the budget and want to put together a more upscale evening, there are several personal chefs and small catering companies that can accommodate small parties.


Tricks of the Trade: Master the Art of Recycling Everyday Items

In Features on March 27, 2011 at 9:48 am

There’s not a host out there who wouldn’t love to have a pantry fully stocked with every entertaining item under the sun.  With so many beautiful and fun vases, candle holders, plates and trays available you could set a different kind of table each day.  However, the reality is most of us don’t have the space or budget to fulfill that pipe dream.  But, you can still create wonderful and whimsical tablescapes using items you already have in your cupboards. Here are just a few tricks I love to use, but try to think outside the champagne flute and I’m sure the recycling ideas will start flowing.  Leave a comment if you have any ideas to share.  Happy Partying!

Wine, Champagne & Martini Glasses 

  • Use a large wine glass and add a floating candle or single flower bloom
  • Flip wine, champagne and martini glasses over, place flowers, nuts, or fruit underneath and a votive candle on top
  • Instead of a small bowl serving nuts or olives in one of these long-stemmed glasses
  • Spice up your appetizer plating and serve a summery ceviche in a martini glass
  • Desserts (berry trifles, mousse). A layered mousse or trifle looks delicate and sophisticated served in a tall champagne flute

Votive Candle Holders

  • Clean out small candle holders and serve salt and pepper at the table
  • Use votive holders on your bar to serve garnishes like lemons, limes, olives, and cherries
  • At the end of dinner serve individual ice cream scoops to your guests – maybe even vary the flavors so everyone gets on tastes (assuming the groups is close)
  • Use holders to serve individual hors d’oeuvres like bacon wrapped scallops or mini caesar salads on parmesan crisps

Egg Cups

  • Use egg cups to hold a single flower blooms  and place one at each table setting or down the center of the table
  • Pedestals for tarts, quiches, mini cakes
  • Palate cleanser of melon balls or sorbet between courses
  • Ice cream sampler – serve on a tiered serving tray and let guests take their favorite flavor
  • Votive candle holders

Glass Plates

  • Affix fabric, decorative paper, or wallpaper to the underside of the plate with Mod Podge or tape for a less permanent approach. Each plate then has its own look and you can change to match the theme of your table.  These also make great chargers to serve other plates on top of.

Dish towels

  • For a casual or down home dinner use clean white dish towels instead of linen napkins.  They look great on a table and also give your guests the cue it’s ok to get their hands dirty!

Want More?:

If you are lacking any of these basic cupboard items, check out my earlier post Kitchen Therapy: Spring Cleaning for the low down on budget friendly ways to build your dishware arsenal.

Also stay tuned from more easy ways to recycle everyday items!

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