Get Ready to Party Series Day 2 -Food and Drink

I recently hosted a group of  friends in my home for a fall luncheon. I thought it might be fun and helpful to write a series on how I planned and pulled off this party.
My hope is that by sharing it may be a blessing to someone else and it might encourage others to step out and invite someone in!

Day 2 - The Food 

You can see the series by clicking this photo

When throwing a party there's lots of details that have to be attended to. Decorating, cleaning the house and what food to serve are just a few. I believe that people can overlook a home not decorated like the cover of a magazine and they can even forgive a little dust floating around but look out if the food isn't up to par!

My theory is that hungry people make bad party guests! So take a little time and think about what food you'll be serving at your party.

When I sat down to plan the menu for my fall luncheon I knew I wanted food that would:

reflect the fall season using apples, pumpkin, cranberries, nuts and Indian corn
be prepared a day in advance.
not be overly complicated to prepare.
require a minimum of attention the day of the party.
be easy to serve from a buffet.
be tasty of course!

The menu I came up with: 

Chicken salad with pecans, apples and cranberries served with croissants
Corn salad with black beans and orange bell pepper (my attempt to make it look like Indian corn:-)
Veggie tray with carrots, yellow, red and orange peppers and snap peas (a bountiful harvest)
Cranberry Jell-o rounds

Warm Apple Cake with Vanilla Butter Sauce
Pumpkin Trifle 

Sweet and Unsweetened Tea
Water - always include a pitcher of ice water or water bottles for your guests
Hot tea - Apple spice and Earl Grey

Tip:When planning food don't try to make everything from scratch. The local deli and bakery can be a life saver when preparing food for a party. For this party I spent most of my time preparing the desserts. The chicken salad and croissants came from Sam's Club, the corn salad was made with canned corn and beans, I used pre-cut and washed baby carrots and snap peas, and I enlisted my sis-in-law to make the cranberry rounds. 

I added apples and additional pecans to this ready made chicken salad.

Timeline for Food Preparations

By the weekend before the party I had the menu down pat
Tuesday - once I'd confirmed the number of guests I made the grocery list
Thursday -I did all the grocery shopping including fresh veggies, ice and jugs of tea
Friday night- I did all the cooking including cutting the veggies
Saturday - the day of the party - deal with the last minute stuff- put together the veggie tray, assembled the pumpkin trifle, heated the croissants, pour the tea into pitchers, set up the coffee and tea area and set out the food.

The kitchen is my happy place:-)
Don't rely on your memory - write everything down! 
List all the dishes you want to prepare. Make copies of the recipes and mark ingredients off as you use them. Make notes on cooking times, serving pieces and reheating instruction. Mark items off as you go.  For the day of the party list all the little details such as: prepare the coffee pot and fill the tea kettle, fill the creamer, put out the ice, heat the rolls, etc. Keep the list handy so you can refer to it and mark things off as you go. Even after years of experience I still make a list-it's not as detailed as when I was first starting out but I find it's still helpful to remember the little things that make a party go smoother.

When preparing the food for a party I always do two things.

Clean out the fridge before I start so I have room for the extra food and big bowls.

Before I started preparing the food.

After the food was prepared.

The second thing is to clean up as I go. After every dish is prepared I wash the bowls and utensils. I try to never have dirty dishes in the sink.  It just makes me feel better and I know if I need something it may be in the dish drainer but at least it will be clean.

By cleaning up as I go I can go to bed relaxed knowing this is what I'll wake up to.

The only thing I leave out is whatever I need to finish the prep in the morning.

A little encouragement:
When I first starting opening my home and inviting people in I was consumed with making everything perfect. I made all the food from scratch and wouldn't dream of buying anything pre-made. I've learned over the years that the food is important but what's more important is just the act of inviting people in. Hospitality is rare these days because many people tend to lead isolated lives.  We need to share not just the food but more importantly the fellowship and the love.

"A meal of bread and water in contented peace
    is better than a banquet spiced with quarrels."
Proverbs 17:1 (The Message)

I hope you'll join me tomorrow when I'll show you my simple way of keeping my house reasonably clean and straight and ready for company. 

I'll be sharing all the recipes for this luncheon but for now I'll leave you with my recipe for corn salad.

Indian Corn Salad

2 - 15 ounce cans corn, drained
1 - 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 orange bell pepper chopped
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup mayonnaise (I use Dukes)
8 - 10 ounces Chili Cheese Fritos lightly crushed
(I couldn't find the large bag so I used 2 -four ounce bags)

Mix all ingredients except the Fritos, cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours. Add the crushed Fritos before serving.


See day 3 here. Clean Enough, Good Enough

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