Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Adventures in entertaining

Everyone has the need (or want) to entertain once in a while. Holidays, birthdays, housewarmings, congratulations, etc. They're all excuses for celebrations complete with food, drink and good company. While I have been known to go a little out of control with my food and drink preparation, I have learned some useful tricks and techniques over the years that have made entertaining enjoyable and easier than ever. First, I try to have one or two signature dishes. Then the rest of the spread can be easy cheese/fruit/meat platters, veggie or fruit trays, ready-made frozen apps or even chips and dip. Have one drink you can offer guests (and make sure there's a non-alcoholic option) but more often than not people will bring their own libations so don't sweat it. Focus your energy on taking pride in your work, setting a nice grouping of finger foods and then forget about it. When guests stat arriving you need to relax and enjoy their company. The middle of your party is no time to be worrying over un-made dishes, stuff in the oven or if a pot is boiling over on the stove!

I threw a bash this past weekend and here are some things I threw together for the occasion. Complete with my recipe for my go-to party dish: guacamole!

There are a million different ways to make guacamole and I've been known to just throw together some avocados, tomato and lime juice and call it a day. But if I'm really serious, here's how I do it:

3 avocados
1 tomato
1/2 lime (juiced)
1 clove garlic (minced)
1/4 onion (minced)
1/4 cup cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper (minced)
pinch salt & pepper

Combine everything in a medium/large bowl and mash avocados with a fork until the mixture is still slightly chunky but well combined. Then transfer the mixture into your serving dish. To save the guacamole for the party, put plastic wrap over the mixture and press it into the top of the guacamole so it touches all the surface. This will prevent the mixture from browning. Refrigerate until it's time to party. Serve with chips or veggies. Yumm-0!

Cheese and crackers is easy peasy but pleases lots of people. This was simple brie and pepper goat's cheese. Below: a spread on a table makes it easy for people to mingle and dash back and forth for treats. Besides what I talked about here, I also made bacon-wrapped asparagus (yes, it is an excellent idea!) and did a couple veggie platters and candy bowls in strategic places around the apartment.

One of my signature dishes and an essential sweet treat in a sea of salty, savory appetizers. Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes get easier to make every time and are are a great conversations starter! Happy entertaining!

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