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!