Every year I see more and more people get wrapped up in gifts; what do you want and what do you want? Don’t get me wrong I love to shop and give and receive gifts, but spending time with friends and family is one of those things that’s priceless. Life is too short and those memories you make spending time with loved ones will last infinitely longer than the gifts you recieve. The best gifts come from within.
We had the pleasure of hosting two amazing friends this week for what we called “Friends-MAS.” We ate and had fun cocktails and played games and most importantly enjoyed each other’s company.
When throwing a dinner party some struggle with what exactly they are going to make. How do you pick the perfect meal? How many courses are you going to have? Are you going to do cocktail hour food and drinks?
Dinner Party Planning- What to have
Thoughts I have/think about when I start planning:
- Ask your dinner party guests if they have any food allergies ahead of time. (There are so many people with food allergies; it’s crazy.)
- Ask your guests if there are food they really don’t like. (Why make something for them that they aren’t going to eat/enjoy while eating?)
- What type of people are the friends you are having over for dinner? Are they the kind that like a hearty meal? Do they go out to eat every night? Are they in to a more modern style food? Does they only eat healthy food? (There are so many questions to think about)
- What does the weather say the temperature is going to be? (This is always a big factor for me, as I am not going to make a soup if it’s going to be warm out. Just like I am not going to just serve cold food if it’s freezing out.)
For this Friends-MAS dinner party menu:
- Cocktail Hour Food: Cheese Board
- Cocktail Hour Drinks: Old Fashioned
- Dinner Main: Seared Pork Chops on a bed of caramelized: onions, mushrooms and apples with rosemary
- Dinner Side: Fingerling potatoes with a garlic olive oil drizzle and parsley topped with parmesan cheese
- Dessert: Gingerbread bites with a cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla cream cheese frosting
I personally like to enjoy our dinner parties. I love to cook but I love to socialize. I always say if I could have majored in talking in college I would have had a 4.0+++++. In order to ensure I had time to socialize while we had friends I made the gingerbread bites the night before our dinner party and placed them in the refrigerator. They still were so moist and fabulous the next day so no worries if that crossed your mind.
I like to put a variety of cheese on cheese boards. I am a cheese lover at heart (Wisconsin Native), it’s part of my everyday meals, I have numerous blocks of cheese in the fridge always, so this was a walk in the park. For our cheese board I used all Trader Joes cheeses. Types I used are as follows:
– Caramelized Onion Sharp Cheddar
– English Sharp Cheddar
– Pepper Jack
– Dill Havarti
I dressed up the platter with some crackers and wasabi and bbq almonds. The wasabi ones are so heavenly, let me tell you.
Growing up in Wisconsin the Old Fashioned was a staple drink. My parents used to make them with southern comfort, which ends up being more of a sweet drink but I also like them what I like to call the gentleman way. The way that puts hair on your chest; bourbon, sugar cube, bitters, splash of orange and cherry on ice.
We made them both ways for the dinner party. Either way they are fabulous and a good cup of socialization. The old fashions paired well with the cheeseboard and I felt like we were having a midwest Christmas kind of night.
Prior to our guests arriving I cut up the onions, mushrooms and apples. This way they were all ready to just throw in a pan and caramelize. There is nothing you need to do to prep the pork chops, unless they need trimming. As you will note in the recipe searing the pork chops with rosemary and garlic tends to really give them a nice flavor without have to marinate or season them with anything else.
To really infuse the potatoes with flavor I cut slices in the potatoes. I once saw a tip for cutting potatoes with slices and not chopping all the way through, I am not sure if it was on Pintrest or another place. Anyways the easiest way to slice those potatoes ¾ of the way is to place a wooden spoon on either side and then cut down until you hit the spoon. This way you don’t slice through the potatoes and have to cut a million of them.
I prepped the potatoes prior to our guests arrival and place them in a large glass pan and set them on the counter all ready to place in the oven. This again let me socialize with our friends.
Post Friends-MAS Thoughts:
- Don’t like the thought of making dinner for people stress you out.
- Have fun with it. Make something you normally wouldn’t.
- Prep as much as you can ahead of time.
- Crank of that Christmas music and have a grand old time. (I did this and my fiance looked at me like I was nuts.)
Happy Friends-MAS from our home to yours!