Easy Entertaining

<p>The threads on cheese fondue and a whole chicken have made me think about this. Along with being an empty nester.</p>

<p>Back in the olden days -- say, five years ago -- we would rarely entertain, because I had very high standards for myself. The fact is, however, that I love having people over. I finally loosened up and lowered my standards -- I bought some washable tableclothes instead of the real linen ones, got some recipes that don't require hours and hours of prep, started to relax about all the dog hair throughout the house. So now we have people over maybe every five or six weeks.</p>

<p>I'd love to have a bunch of people over almost every week, though -- I think it would be lots of fun. (And maybe we'd even get invited back occasionally!!)</p>

<p>What are some simple, simple ways to entertain that don't demand anything fancy or time-consuming? (Or expensive, either.)</p>

<p>These are always fun</p>

<p>Progressive</a> Dinners</p>

<p>Well I like BQ in the spring and summer. If it rains my DH will BQ and we serve indoors. Throwing anything on the grill is easy! The only preparing is marinating. </p>

<p>I have been to homes where salads (ie: pasta salads, tuna salad, deli meats, ready made Costco items like their cheese trays and dips are used).</p>

<p>I remember going to a big Christmas Eve party and all that was served were shrimp (expensive) and alcohol.</p>

<p>We've had a couple of game nights where I served two different kinds of soup, rolls and crudite (easier to eat with your fingers than salad). You can make the soups days ahead and reheat that night. </p>

<p>The event that people really love but is a bit of work is my grilled pizza night. I buy prepared dough from a local pizzeria (or supermarket if in a rush) and put out a variety of toppings. Each guest gets an individual sized round of dough. Brush one side w/ a little olive oil and grill until that side is crispy (5 minutes). Oil raw side, flip over onto a plate, let guest put desired toppings on cooked side. Put back on grill, raw side down, and cook until cheese melts and bottom is crisp (5 minutes). Cheese melts better when grill cover is down. Very interactive and fun.</p>

Sometimes just a wine and cheese party/hor derves later in the eve say 8 pm.</p>

<p>Winetasting party where everyone brings wine from a region have them bring tasting notes and have food from the region. appetizers and maybe deserts.</p>

<p>Or play the game Apples to Apples party for couples with cocktail and finger foods.
Desert party/</p>

<p>Movie and make your own topping Pizzas.</p>

<p>LOL, I hope everyone understood that I meant BBQ!</p>

<p>chintzy, I love your pizza idea and I am going to do this with my family.</p>

<p>DH is a wino, so most events have good wine. Not always expensive as half the fun is to do country theme wine parties introducing friends to good, reasonably priced wine from Australis, Chile, etc.</p>

<p>This past weekend we did a wine and pizza party. Everyone made their own pizza, I just put out Trader Joe's dough and good toppings.</p>

<p>Describe your get-together as a "casual supper", instead of dinner (it immediately nixes any pre-conceived notions of linens and sterling).</p>

<p>Consider tasty (easy) one-pot dishes- such as New York Times Cookbook's Indian Curry. You can make it a day ahead, (it is tastier that way), add a salad, rolls, bakery-bought dessert.</p>

<p>Also nice is Green Chile Chicken Stew with white beans, tortillas, salad.</p>

<p>You can have an informal get together that covers the time of day people would consider dinnertime by having an appetizer and dessert potluck buffet. Like a pot luck dinner with no main dishes, so less need for silverware and plates and worrying about main dishes and salads and side dishes. Just tell everyone to bring a finger food appetizer or a dessert. For anything pot luck with grown ups, there is always way too much food. Eliminating the main course makes life easier. Have some plastic forks and paper plates and napkins in case someone brings pie. :)</p>

<p>We recently had a large group over (50+) and at my college-age daughter's suggestion did a baked potato bar. This went over very big with adults and college-age kids alike. It was so easy. After the potatoes were baked (2+ hours for more than 50 tates), they stayed warm in the oven after I turned it off. We had the standard toppings (cheese, butter, sour cream, etc.) and then did a pot of chili to use as a topping, chopped grilled chicken breast, bacon, diced ham, mushrooms, etc. It was a lot of fun and easy clean-up too. Hurray for you - letting your standards down a little and having more frequent, fun get togethers. That's what life is all about :)</p>

<p>Chips, salsa, & guacamole for mostly college kids and beer for the adults turned out great at a recent get together.</p>

<p>I had 6 people over for dinner tonight--close friends, so it was fairly casual, i.e., I used everyday china, we sat in the eating area off the kitchen, not the dining room, and the Celtics game on was on the kitchen tv (without sound--so the two basketball fanatics could go and check on the score). I made a dish with black bass--potatoes, onions, tomatoes, garlic, and parsley cooked in veggie broth/white wine to which I added a pinch of saffron and piment (French hot chili powder). When potatoes are cooked, put fish filets on top, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Serve with aioli, a crusty bread--add a green salad, white wine (Barefoot pino grigio from CA), and you're set. Had dates and oranges for desert and coffee/tea. That's pretty typical of what I'll do for a last minute dinner--a hearty main dish, a salad, wine, and bread.</p>

<p>Bromfield, where do you live and can we be friends? Boston I'm guessing...I'm in NY but I'd travel for that meal!</p>

<p>LOL--Thanks, Hmom5. I am in Central Massachusetts--about 4 hours from NYC.</p>

<p>I've got 1 at MIT, one at Amherst and one at Dartmouth......I'll PM you when I'm in the area. Promise to reciprocate when you visit NY!</p>

<p>ohhh...I love to cook and entertain!! For casual dinners I have done soup and salad, just salads, chili cook offs, paninnis, tacos/fajitas, tons of various pasta dishes, enchiladas, etc, One of the most popular nights was "comfort foods." I made meatloaf, mac 'n cheese and salad. I have done breakfast for dinner (very fun) In the summer I love to grill. Shrimp on bamboo skewers marinated in different flavors, various veggies in zip lock baggie with a little olive oil and grilling spices sprinkled in and then placed on foil on a grill. Do you need appetizer recipes??? I have lots! Let me know!</p>

<p>I invited a family over for Xmas Eve and thought we'd just have drinks, hors d's and sandwiches from Panera, (wanted to avoid the whole shebang with sit down din, china, etc.) but she said she really likes a nice dinner on Xmas Eve. At first I was a bit annoyed/insulted but then I realised that she wanted to bring the main dish and salad so that worked out. Not exactly "easy entertaining" what with getting the table leaf down from the attic, good china, stemware, etc. but it was Xmas Eve and I have to admit, we had a blast.</p>

ohhh...I love to cook and entertain


<p>I feel the same. But, I always feel I have to go overboard with everything, super clean house, gourmet food, and lots of it , multiple deserts, coffe, tea, lattes, cappucinos etc,etc.
My mother made me crazy. Always way too much food. That was my learning and expectation. My family would talk about you like a dog if you didn't have enought food, multiple entrees. So sometimes I feel a little gunshy to entertaining cause what i might want to do, I think isn't enough.</p>

<p>I too need to benefit from this thread.....</p>

<p>I have great friends who not only love to cook and are good at it, but they are really easy and gracious hostesses....as a result, I almost never "host" because I cannot match anything they do.....instead I always bring good things, lobster puffs or special cakes.... but I still feel like a mooch....</p>

<p>I have found I am more comfortable hosting "event" type things.... baby or bridal shower or work related celebrations....I do a lot of family holiday things too....</p>

<p>I have found that a Caesar Salad is a good foundation with chicken, salmon and steak sides to let people choose what they want.....I did that for a shower with 2 different soups, a Brazilian chowder and Onion Soup...... </p>

<p>I have been to a casual supper with 3 soups and great breads and wonderful dipping veggies for the soups, peppers, celery, tomatoes and snowpeas......</p>

<p>I love the idea of the Baked Potato Bar....and I am going to steal that idea for Martin Luther King weekend. </p>

<p>If anyone has suggestions for how to be less afraid of hosting, I am all ears.....</p>

<p>NorthMinnesota, give us your appetizer recipes! I like the idea of appetizers only for an "event."</p>

<p>The baked potato idea is brilliant. Baked pots and chile, plus all the other toppings -- sounds easy as can be.</p>

<p>I like the idea of calling it a "casual supper." </p>

<p>I just want to have a houseful of people. [Can you tell I miss the boys?]</p>

<p>MilkandSugar and MaineParent, that's why I had to lower my standards. While I wanted to entertain, I'd make myself crazy for days beforehand. What helped me considerably was buying the washable tableclothes from BedBath&Beyond, so I could wash them right after the company left and have them ready for the next weekend. </p>

<p>My next question: How do you decide who "mixes" with whom? We have groups of friends from several different venues, and I'd like to mix things up, but I don't know if that will work.</p>