Posts Tagged ‘dinner party’

5 Tips for Outdoor Dining

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

This month our book club read Gone Girl, which we discussed over a beautiful alfresco dinner. The book is sort of a “beach read” which was appropriate since I finished it during my last beach trip of the summer.

The weather is cooling, which made dining outside so enjoyable. Erin made coconut shrimp with pineapple salsa, which we had with cilantro rice and a ginger tomato salad. For desert, we had warm brownies with ice cream and fresh strawberries. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was very romantic. Throwing an outdoor dinner party can be very easy with a little planning.

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Tips for Outdoor Dinner Parties

  1. Scout for the perfect space. We are fortunate to have a balcony large enough to comfortably fit our dining table, but I love the idea of throwing a dinner party in a unique outdoor location.
  2. Setting the mood. Simple holiday lights went a long way in setting the mood for our dimly-lit, twinkling scene. We took mosquito precautions with this (worked great). We also lit some candles and streamed background music via a Kings of Convenience Pandora station.
  3. Planning the menu. The hardest thing about dining outside is timing—i.e., serving a warm meal on location. We didn’t have too much trouble with this since our table was so close to our kitchen. For a more distant location, I would try something portable like a steak salad with fresh berries and cheese for desert.
  4. The table. Last year I purchased a tablecloth from Target and picked up a few sets of cloth napkins from Marshalls. They were pretty inexpensive and I’ve used them over and over. I worked as a caterer in college so I love any excuse to break out my napkin-folding skills (though it is pretty easy). A nice table setting is an easy way to make a simple dinner feel special.
  5. Guests! At our house, we look for any excuse to entertain, but book club nights are some of my favorites. It is so rejuvenating to laugh, cook, and catch up with the girls. And sometimes we even manage to discuss the book!

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Butter Chicken

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

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Last night Erin and I had a girl-date with our friend, Lisa. We decided to be adventurous and cook butter chicken from scratch. It turned out fantastic! Erin was excited to break out her extensive stash of Indian spices, and I was pumped to use my new ginger grater for the first time. We followed a recipe from this book (also found here), which was surprisingly fast and easy (although Erin and Lisa would probably point out that my contribution consisted largely of reading people magazine and keeping up the conversation…). The food turned out delicious and the girl-date was a great success. We can’t wait to have Lisa over again!

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{ginger grater}

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{prepping the chicken}


Dinner Party

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

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This weekend Sujeet and I hosted a few of our friends for a lovely dinner. This was our first attempt at a formal meal complete with multi-courses. I am now completely converted to the multi-course dining experience! My least favorite part of having friends over for dinner is the fact that we are usually finished eating within twenty minutes or so. By serving the food in courses (soup, salad, main, and dessert), we were able to spend more than an hour chatting over food and wine. To prepare for the evening I did a lot of research about formal parties. (In case you’re wondering, yes, most of the websites devoted to the issue appear to have been written by older southern women who tend to assume that you have “help.”) The best tip I picked up was the seating arraignment. Did you know that at formal dinners with more than one table it is proper to seat husbands and wives separately? Well I do now. We only had one table, but I separated all of the couples and arraigned the guests in boy-girl fashion with Sujeet and I at the ends.

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I made cute (but super simple) name cards for each of our guests. It was fun to spend time with our attached friends sans their significant other right next to them (plus I totally dug the fact that I could wink at my boyfriend from across a crowed table). For dinner, we started with spicy lentil soup, then green salad with homemade croutons and honey mustard vinaigrette. For the main course we had seasoned cod cooked in parchment paper with fresh chimichurri and sides of summer squash pasta and sautéed asparagus. For dessert, we served vanilla ice cream with fresh berries. (We intended to also serve warm chocolate chip cookies, but I think that was my job …  and I think we did fine without them.)

Frankly, I can’t wait until the next dinner party, but when I relayed that message to Sujeet I saw sincere panic flash though his eyes. (I mean, to be fair, he really did do all the heavy lifting on this one.) Looks like the next time around I am going to have to sub in my other favorite cook, Erin. Now all I need is a theme …

{more photos after the jump}


More to come…

Monday, September 26th, 2011


This weekend’s dinner party was a total success! I have lots of great pictures to post … as soon as I locate the whereabouts of my dslr cord. In the meantime, I have to say that I couldn’t have pulled off the party without my charming man. He planned a fantastic menu and did all of the cooking. Plus, on the trip back from the grocery store he carried all three bags! (I think he was a little horrified at the physical comedy I was displaying as I tried to lug my single grocery bag down the street. Seriously, it was like a Katherine Heigl movie.) I can’t wait to share the rest of the pics, so stay tuned!