Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Menu Fit for Entertaining

Do you watch HGTV? Have you noticed how often people on their shows say how much they "love to entertain"?

"We are shopping for a house and we need one to entertain in."

"This room is perfect for entertaining."

"We like the open concept because it's great for entertaining."

Who are all these people that love to entertain so much? I guess they are the same people that go on a TV show to shop for a house.

The Table
My hubby and I don't particularly like to entertain. That's not to say that we don't like hanging out with our friends and family. We would just rather do it somewhere else than our house. First there's the making our house look presentable - getting rid of the piles of mail, magazines and newspapers that litter the tables and countertops. Then there's the cost, buying lots of food and booze that takes our budget over the top (but I couldn't think of a better way to splurge than on our loved ones). Then I always worry about my cooking. I have this fear of giving my guests food poisoning. I know it's irrational. I've never made my husband or myself sick with my cooking, so why would I make my guests sick? I guess we all have our issues.

The one thing I do like about entertaining is creating the menu. I love deciding which dishes will go together and picking out seasonal foods to serve. I threw a small dinner party this past weekend for my hubby's birthday and as a part of the Allrecipes Allstars program. So the first dish on the menu was Barber Foods Stuffed Chicken. The best part of this was that it was free! One of the perks of being an Allstar. I also got to hand out coupons for free chicken for my guests. If you are familiar with my blog, you probably know that I like to cook naturally and with whole foods. So, while the chicken was delicious, I knew I wanted to offer some other delicious, but natural dishes.

Maple-Bourbon Glazed Salmon
Since starting my Clipped Recipes Project, I have been picking out more recipes from magazines. There are some great recipes out there! One such recipe is Maple-Bourbon Glazed Salmon from Better Homes and Gardens magazine. What a fabulous recipe! And perfect for the fall season. Just make sure the sauce doesn't boil over. Fortunately, my little niece Sophie was the only one who really noticed when the smoke started billowing from the stovetop. Seriously, I saw sparks! Luckily, all my guests were getting along so well and talking so much they didn't even notice that I almost set fire to the kitchen.

Butternut Squash Salad
Next on the menu were the salad and rolls to start the dinner off. I had just read a recipe in my Real Simple magazine earlier that week for Butternut Squash Salad. It sounded perfect. I love roasted butternut squash and salads with blue cheese and vinaigrette. I decided to replace the hazelnuts with sugared pecans. I took a chance making a new recipe for guests, but I was pretty confident it was an excellent recipe and that I could pull it off. It turns out I was right. I highly receommend this recipe!

One of my most favorite dinner roll recipes is Sweet Dinner Rolls from It's an amazing recipe - beautiful dough, gorgeous rolls. Most of the work is done by your bread machine. They are also great for sandwiches the next day.

Sweet Dinner Rolls

The last two recipes are from Ina Garten, my favorite celebrity chef. I love her Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. In it she has a recipe for Parmesan Smashed Potatoes. It's perfect for entertaining because you can make it ahead of time and then heat it up topped with more parmesan cheese in a casserole dish. It baked at the same temperature as everything else, so I just popped it in the oven. The last dish was Ina's Roasted Asparagus. I was a little disappointed with this recipe because the asparagus came out limp. I know it's not asparagus season, so that may have been the reason. Either that or I overcooked it. It still tasted good though, just not as firm as asparagus should be.

Finally, it was easy to decide what to make for dessert. Turtle Dove Cake! It's what I make for my hubby's birthday every year. And of course, I wrote in my last blog about what I served to drink: The Apple Crisp.

I think the dinner party was a success. Will we do it again soon? Probably not. We had a great time and enjoyed the company, but I'm exhausted!

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