Thursday, July 13, 2017

Dinner Parties: Creating A Stress Free Menu

When it comes to planning your next dinner party, you need to create as little stress for yourself as possible. There is so much to remember, from preparing the dinner table to arranging the seating plan. Of course, it is the food that needs to take priority, as you don’t want your guests leaving your home with an empty or unsatisfied stomach.

To help you, here are some tops tips for planning your dinner party, with some examples of food that may go down a treat with your guests.
Don’t cook something new

While you want to impress your guests, don’t suddenly get all creative in the kitchen and produce something that you have never attempted before. Always cook something you are familiar with, and not that attractive looking recipe that you found on Google earlier in the day.

Prepare a balanced menu

From the starter to the dessert, it is important you don’t overload your guests with heavy dishes. Instead, consider your options. Focus on something light for the starter and dessert with a heavier dish in the middle. A pasta dish is always easy to make for the main meal, such as the one right here at, and you could try the potted shellfish option for the starter. Follow the instructions below.

We advise you to buy the shellfish from a trusted seller such as visit as you want to ensure the freshness and not poison your guests. The following is based on 2-3 people so increase the ingredients accordingly.

You will need:

100g butter; grated zest of lime; pinch of dried chili flakes; 100g cooked shrimps, 100g, white crab meat; 1 tsp fresh mint, sea salt, and toasted ciabatta bread to serve with the dish.

Melt the butter and leave for ten minutes. In the meantime, mix the shrimps, crabmeat, mint, chilli and any other seasoning of your choice and divide the mixture between the required dishes. Pour the melted butter over the food and chill it in the refrigerator for around an hour until set, then serve it to your guests with the toasted ciabatta.

Check dietary requirements

You are guaranteed to have at least one person in your group with an allergy or who is vegetarian. Visit for a handy list of possible allergies you need to look out for. Check with your guests days before they are due to arrive to help you plan ahead for any special requirements.

For the vegetarians in your group, consider the aubergine chili for their main meal. The following will serve four people, so adjust accordingly.

You will need:

1 aubergine; 1 diced red onion; 2 finely diced carrots; 70g green lentils; 30g red lentils; 400g kidney beans; 400g chopped tomatoes; 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, dried oregano, ground cumin, and paprika; 1 quarter teaspoon of chilli powder; 1 teaspoon of coriander and cinnamon; 800ml vegetable stock, 1 tablespoon olive oil and half a lime.

Serve it with brown rice, tortilla chips with mashed avocado, sour cream, and grated cheese.

Heat the oil in a large pan and then add the onions and carrots. Fry over a low-medium heat for around 15 minutes until the carrots have gone soft. Then add the other ingredients, stirring regularly, then pour in the stock. As it boils, cover with a lid and cook for around 2 hours, being sure to stir every 20 minutes to prevent burning. Towards the end of cooking, take the lid off the pan and stir over a medium heat to get a thick sauce, stirring in the lime juice. Finally, serve to your guests with the rice or whatever accompaniment they prefer.

Plan your time in the kitchen

When cooking a lot of dishes, you will need to conserve space on the hob and in the oven. Where possible, prepare as much food as you can the day before your dinner party, and then warm them up on the day. Otherwise, you are going to have to navigate your starters, side dishes, main meal and dessert within a limited time window.

Knowing you have already had meals prepared is going to cut back on your stress, relieving last minute panic when a vital piece of the menu isn’t ready. While your guests should be accommodating of you needing time in the kitchen, you don’t want to let them go hungry for very long.

Table snacks

To avoid your guests voting with their feet if the food is taking longer to cook than you anticipated, you want to have an assortment of snacks that shouldn’t spoil the food later on.

For example, bowls of crisps, nuts, bread sticks, and carrot sticks may keep your guests going for a while until the food is ready.

Quick and easy desserts

So, we have already given you an idea for the starter and the main meal, but what about dessert? To save you time, a variety of ice creams may please your guest, but they may appreciate a little more effort. An easy option is to make crepes and provide a variety of toppings for your guests to enjoy.

To serve eight people, you will need:

4 lightly beaten eggs; 320ml of milk; 125g plain flour; 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 2 tablespoons caster sugar and a half teaspoon of salt.

Whisk everything together until the mixture is smooth, and place the frying over a medium heat ready for the batter. Ensure the pan is greased with butter and then ladle around 3 tablespoons of batter into the pan, tilting to ensure the an even spread. Cook for a couple of minutes, and serve immediately.

Allow your guests to choose from a variety of toppings, such as mixed nuts, banana, lemon, and sugar.


Once the meal is over, and your guests have filled their tummies, it’s time for you to relax with your guests. There are some game ideas at to keep your guests entertained in the evening.

Don’t worry if not everything goes to plan, but enjoy the evening as much as you can.

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