How To Host The Worlds Quickest and Easiest Dinner Parties
Have you ever been to a dinner party, where the host has spent the whole night in the kitchen? What would you rather, have her/him in the kitchen all night, creating a Master Chef type meal, or have something ultra tasty, and enjoy a night of great food, wine and relaxed conversation?
I often hear the words, or "I would have you over for dinner, but I can't cook". Cooking is a learned skill, and like everything, the idea is to keep it simple, and be prepared to make mistakes. Don't worry, I have made many, and reminded often from the family.
My inspiration and confidence for cooking came from the one and only Nigella Lawson, who I went weak at the knees upon meeting last year. Her energy and vibe is incredible. Nigella always said, keep it simple and the goddess must not spend the whole night in the kitchen.
Cooking for guests is often adding a touch of style, like dressing. By using colourful plates, placing some yummy herbs on top, or a touch of Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise, or a balsamic glaze can alter the whole look and taste. If having a lot of guests, make up huge bowls of yummy salads, (see our summer recipes), and add again, herbs, toasted pine nuts or a balsamic glaze to jazz up. Roast up big platters of vegetables, using heaps of colour, then add chopped herbs on top and you can feed many.
So like your wardrobe, you have your core ingredients, then add a touch of your "wows" to make it tasty and look dinner party worthy.
One night I had guests over for my son's birthday. I made a beautiful chicken dish and a "just in case" pasta dish, Nana Rowland's Macaroni, (which I have included below), which everyone absolutely loved, more than the chicken dish. Serve that up with a salad and everyone is happy.
Like anything in life, I try to keep it simple. A dinner party to me is simply to have people over for a fun night.
Here are some "transformations" I have made up in the past few weeks for you to enjoy daily, or with friends over autumn and winter.
Note: I mainly use chicken thighs with skin removed, over chicken breast, as they don't tend to dry out like the breast does.
1. Marinated Chicken
Such an easy recipe, one I change often to create different dishes.
It is so simple, I am almost embarrassed! Purchase marinated chicken, to your liking. Ensure there are minimum preservatives, or marinate your own chicken in my simple recipe of adding 2 chopped green chillies, juice of 2 limes, coriander and parsley. You can also add the zest of a lime also. Marinate for at least 2 hours.
Fry or BBQ the chicken, serve with a salad, and decorate with Japanese Mayonnaise.
Place chicken on top of chopped potatoes, or sweet potatoes, and roast until cooked. Again, serve with a salad. The potatoes have the flavours of the chicken, and are deliscious.
2. Simple Tomato Soup
Everyone loves this soup, and makes a great starter or lunch.
Cut up tomatoes, 1 or 2 onions, and garlic. Roast for at least an hour with coconut or olive oil. You can also add some rosemary at this stage.
Place ingredients into a blender, add some vegetable or chicken stock and herbs, such as basil, parsley and oregano. Season to taste.
You can also add spinach to this dish, (Of course, what don't I add spinach too!). Place some parmesan cheese on top and you are ready to serve with some beautiful, pull apart bread.
3. Chicken, Mushroom and Wine
The staple for this recipe is:
Chicken thighs (I use about 8)
Bag of chopped mushrooms (if really rushed) or chop yourself.
Chicken Stock Sachel
In a large pan, fry the chicken thighs on high heat until brown. Add the mushrooms and continue to fry and stir until cooked to your liking. Add splash or 2 of wine, (and fill your glass at same time), and stock. Cook for another couple of minutes.
Toss chives on top and serve with a salad.
Last night after 2 hours of parent teacher interviews, I didn't feel like salad. So I added my trusty spinach to the dish, with some left over cooking cream. I didn't have chives, so I chopped up some basil, parsley and rosemary. Topped with a really good parmesan. Winner!
You can serve this dish with rice.
4. Fancy scrambled eggs, with chorizo, chilli and goats cheese.
This was my "I have nothing organised, and I am not going to the shops" dinner. This can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. My inspiration for this recipe came from St Rose, my favourite café in Essendon.
Fry up a hot, chopped chorizo sausage. Add chopped vegetables, such as mushrooms, red pepper and chilli. Then add as many eggs as you wish, but make sure you give them a good whisk before you put in pan. Keep stirring. Before eggs fully cooked, add goats cheese and of course, if you want, spinach.
Place on a colourful plate, toss with herbs, such as chives, basil, dill or micro herbs.
5. A slow cooked meal
Great to put on in the morning, makes your home smell divine when you arrive home.
Place all ingredients, except for the spinach, in a slow cooker. Chop onion, garlic and chorizo. Rinse out red kidney beans before placing in. I don't fry up anything before, just toss it all in.
Add the spinach and serve. Now below I have the final product, served as a soup. Remove chorizo for a vegetarian option.
We would love to hear from you how you would jazz this recipe up. Serve with? Herbs? etc.
6. Thai Beef and Mushroom Curry or Vegetarian Thai Mushroom Curry
I made this the other night when my husband Simon had "man flu"! It was a quick trip to the butcher and the green grocer. I had the curry sauce in the cupboard already, and this is one I recommend. Really healthy and delicious. We are not big meat eaters and next time, we would have without the beef, as we enjoyed the meaty mushrooms. You could also make this into a chicken dish.
7. The Ultimate Time Poor, Cheats Dinner Party Thai Chicken, or Thai Anything
If you are completely stumped for time, call upon Uber Eats, order Thai food, simmer in a pan, add spinach for looks and you have the best dinner party recipe!
Make some rice, or order coconut rice, and add coriander to make dinner party worthy.
Also order some naan bread. All organised.
Remember, the night is about enjoyment and great conversation.
8. Nanna Rowland's Macaroni and Cheese
Cook macaroni. Toss into a large lasagne dish.
Fry up some chopped bacon and onion. Add to macaroni.
Add 2 tins of tomato and a tin of Heinz big red tomato soup.
Stir in some grated cheese. Top with grated cheese. Place in 180 degree oven for 15 minutes. Serve, but get in quick, as everyone loves this easy dish.
We are not huge on deserts, but if you want an easy one, purchase a slab of good quality brownie. Slice and place in a bowl with strawberries. Sprinkle with icing sugar and you will have a desert everyone loves.
We would love for you to share some of your recipes, your ideas for these recipes, and please feel free to pass onto your friends and family.
Carolyn Rowland is a qualified NLP Master Therapist, Advanced Practitioner of Matrix Therapies, Time Line Therapist, Practitioner of Hypnotherapy, has a Diploma for Business and Life Coaching and A Professional Image Stylist. Carolyn is happily married to her husband Simon, and raised four beautiful children, who are now young adults and a teenager.
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Please leave comments below or email Carolyn@cazinc.com.au.