Dinner Party Success

We had friends over for dinner this past weekend and my menu was really a success. I thought I’d record here what worked and where I went a little sideways so I have a reference for the future. Dinner party sounds a little fancy for what was actually a rather casual dinner with friends, but…what’s the word for that?


My friend has some food allergies, so I needed to think of recipes that would work within that framework. Additionally, I wanted dishes I could prepare ahead of time to some degree. The chicken chili is the recipe I used the other week; this time I served it with lime wedges, jalapeno slices, chopped onions, cilantro leaves and queso fresco on the table. Cilantro is such a personal taste thing plus this was an attractive but edible centerpiece for the table. I used broth I had in the freezer plus more of the shredded chicken I prepared a couple of weeks ago. I bought poblano peppers and some jalapenos and they improved the flavor of the dish quite a bit (versus the mix of bell peppers and canned chili peppers I used previously). The fresh add-ins really brightened up a dish that is monochrome and fairly dull in appearance. I didn’t get a picture last night as I was actually trying to interact with our friends ;), but here is an assembled bowl I made for my lunch the next day.


I used a mix for the corn muffins, but added cheddar and green onions. The Jiffy mix thankfully doesn’t have any soy, so that was a good thing. I also cut up oranges and arranged grapes on a platter, although I totally forgot to put the fruit plate out! For dessert I had planned on making up a lemon pound cake mix that I had in the pantry, but realized that it had a small amount of soy protein in it so had to table that idea. I made a fruit crisp instead. I made a pitcher of beergaritas which taste really good, even if you are not a fan of beer. Our friends brought the chips and salsa. I did end up running to the grocery store for a few things last minute, but overall this was easy and successful. The allergy thing tripped me up a little and while I could probably have come up with some appropriate things using only what we had on hand, once I got the main dish figured out I had a vision for how I wanted the whole thing to work. Now that I have a bottle of tequila on hand, I think I’ll make a point of picking up a couple of cans of limeade so that I can easily make beergaritas for another gathering. I also love regular margaritas (of course!), but these have the super simple appeal going on, plus are not quite so kicky.

Things I’ll do differently next time:

  • Choose a dessert I can make or assemble ahead of time
  • More ice
  • Make up the limeade separately and then mix up small pitchers of the beergaritas — I miscalculated the size of the pitcher and had to do some quick thinking. I also didn’t have space for ice. Next time I will mix half batches directly in the pitcher.
  • If I ask people to bring something, prepare for a way to serve it.
  • Try to choose a menu that doesn’t require special purchases. Or, make sure all selected dishes work with guest allergies and preferences BEFORE going to the grocery store. Which should keep me from having to run out later and make impulse purchases.
  • If I prep something, remember to set it out!




8 thoughts on “Dinner Party Success

  1. Great menu. Yes, it was a dinner party. You must have had a great time because you didn’t even miss the fruit plate. *laugh* I can’t tell you how many times that has happened to me.

    Great idea to record what you ate and how to change it for next time. You can look back and see what you served to these guests (and food likes or sensitivities) , so you don’t repeat the same menu next time you invite them.

    1. Thanks! I really do love to cook and I think that I really enjoy entertaining, but am a bit shy about that. So I’m challenging myself to be more intentional about that and I hope that these blog posts help me when I either have the same guests or am looking for a past success. 🙂

  2. You are a good hostess. I’m so glad nobody I know has food allergies. It’s hard enough trying to figure out what to cook, I would go crazy trying to figure what ingredients I can or cannot use too! See why I don’t have visitors? There is soy in everything nowadays, isn’t there?

    Back when I was in college in France, I would have dinner parties for my British and American friends quite a bit. We weren’t allowed to cook in our dorm rooms but I’d make croque-monsieurs in the waffle iron or a big pot of spaghetti on the hot plate that I had snuck in. I’d also make them crêpes. Back then it was a lot of fun!

    I’m glad your party was a success! I don’t like beer but I like margaritas and wine coolers (especially the margarita flavored Bartley & James although it’s been a couple of years at least since I last had any). I never heard of Beergaritas until tonight.

    1. Soy IS in everything. I’m lucky that neither Michael nor I have any allergies. Another friend’s son is terribly allergic to, oh, everything. His biggest triggers are soy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts. With random allergies to various fruits and vegetables as well. They’ve definitely gotten better as he’s grown, but wow!

      Impromptu croque-monsier or crepe parties sound like fun!

      The beergaritas are quite good, although if you are not a fan of beer, maybe not so much. 🙂

  3. Sounds like a dinner party to me! Your chili looks delicious. I have food allergies myself and I am sure your friend appreciated all the effort you put into making things that were safe for him or her to eat. My daughter in law does a good job of this and I always appreciate the fact that she does.

    1. Thanks Shara! I think what really gets me when I am paying extra attention to allergens is how widespread things like soy, wheat and dairy are in foods that you wouldn’t expect. What a challenge that must be if you have to manage it daily.

  4. Definitely a dinner party! I, too, often forget to serve at least one item! These days, I tend to post the menu on the fridge and one of my friends or family members will check to make sure I have served everything!

    1. Oh, I like that idea! Plus it’s fund to make up a menu. Jacques Pepin, a chef whom I really admire, actually creates beautiful watercolor menus when he hosts a special dinner party. It becomes part of the decor. I don’t think I’ll get that invested, but I like the idea of having that information out there!

Comments are closed.