A Delicious and Easy Dinner Party Menu

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on January 5, 2012

I love hosting people for dinner.

It’s so much fun to create a menu, prepare the meal, and it’s really rewarding when people like what you’ve made for them.

The first time we hosted people for dinner, I got so nervous about whether they would like the food, whether everything would go ok, that I went kind of overboard. I bought way too much stuff and we had leftovers for days!

Luckily, after a few rounds of practice, I’m much better at it now. Hosting has gone from a kind-of-stressful experience, to a pretty enjoyable one.

Would you believe that the 4 course meal above only took two hours to make? That includes prep and cooking time. And it’s all amazingly good for you too.

The secret is putting simple ingredients together that have really powerful flavors: a little bit of goat cheese, spices, or great cookies from a bakery can go a long way.

Here’s my four course dinner menu that can serve up to 8 people, and is achievable in about 2-2.5 hours!

Course #1: Goat Cheese and Honey Crostini

The Ingredients: Raincoast crisp crackers (fig & olive), high quality Goat Cheese, Honey

I love Raincoast Crisps – but they are super expensive (like $7 for a box), so if you’re on a budget, Trader Joe’s has a pretty good knockoff for half the price.

The Directions

Step 1: Lay out the crackers on a tray (it’s all about presentation!)

Step 2: Top with 1-2 tsp goat cheese per cracker, and 1 tsp honey.

It’s best to make these about 15 minutes before your guests arrive so that the crackers stay crispy. I love the creaminess of the goat cheese combined with the slight tang from the figs & olives in the crackers. It’s the perfect appetizer.

Course #2: Pomegranate and Arugula Salad with Parmesan Shavings

The Ingredients: Fresh arugula, pomegranate seeds (for a time saver you can buy just the seeds), Fresh parmesan cheese shavings, walnuts. For the dressing – high quality olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

The Directions: Toss all the ingredients together, add the dressing about 2 minutes before serving.

I love the combination of ingredients in this salad: the peppery-ness of the arugula combined with the sweetness of the pomegranate seeds creates a great flavor profile, and the walnuts give it just the right amount of texture.

Course #3: Vegetarian Lasagna

Now this is the part of the menu that takes the full two hours to make. But the great thing is, while the lasagna is baking you can assemble the rest of your menu items, so you’re using your time to the fullest extent.

Here is the recipe for this delicious and healthy veggie lasagna

Course #4: Gingersnap cookies with Butter Toffee Ice Cream

You really can’t go wrong with this simple but scrumptious dessert. If you have more time, you can bake the cookies from scratch. I didn’t – so I bought some great gingersnap cookies from a bakery.

There are two ingredients: Gingersnap cookies, and butter toffee ice cream.

I like to get a sweeter ice cream for this dessert, since the cookies have a bit of a kick to them with the ginger. So the sweet toffee ice cream balances that out well.

There are also two steps:

Step 1: Lay the cookies out on a tray

Step 2: Top each cookie with 1 Tbsp of ice cream

Depending on how big your gingersnap cookies are, this dessert can be as low as 70-100 calories per cookie/ice-cream combination. Not bad for the end of a meal, and it literally takes 5 minutes to assemble.

Hopefully this helps make party planning a little bit more approchable, and I hope you enjoy this menu as much as we did!

 

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue Kauffman January 5, 2012 at 4:51 pm

I always get really nervous hosting a party. I have trouble getting everything to come out and be ready at the same time. This looks like it might solve the “all ready at the same time” problem for me AND I won’t feel bad serving my guests unhealthy food. Thanks!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 6, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I had trouble with that too! I was always super nervous in the beginning – because it’s a lot of pressure sometimes! But yes – this menu definitely solves the “all ready at the same time” problem. The key is to have a main dish that you can let cook / bake / simmer for some time, so you can get the other less-intensive appetizers ready to go. Hope you enjoy the dishes in this menu and have a great dinner party!

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The Healthy Hostess January 5, 2012 at 4:55 pm

I was just thinking about what I could take to a neighborhood block party for app. and the goat cheese honey crusts with a little fig or something would be perfect!
thanks

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm

No problem!! I love block parties – so much fun!

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Beth Michelle January 6, 2012 at 2:13 am

Throwing dinner parties are so much fun! I always go overboard too but there is nothing wrong with yummy leftovers! I need to find some fig and olive crackers, those look amazing!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Haha that is true – leftovers can sometimes be a lifesaver – especially when you’re too tired to cook!

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Rashmi September 16, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Where do you buy these crackers from… I checked amazon and lot of people complained that they recd stale and broken crackers via mail

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater September 18, 2012 at 8:31 am

Hi Rashmi! You can get these crackers at any major grocery store, I got mine at Whole Foods. I’d recommend buying them at the store vs. getting them online (for the very reason you mentioned – they can get damaged in shipping). Hope that helps!

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Barb March 23, 2013 at 9:58 am

Hi Anjali! Love your food blog!! those raincoast cracker look so good! Where do you buy them? Also do you know what the name of the Trader version is? Thanks

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 25, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Hi Barb! Aw thank you so much! So you can get the Raincoast Crackers at any Whole Foods or health food store – they should be pretty easy to find. The Trader Joe’s crackers are “Raisin Rosemary Crisps” – you can see a picture of them here – hope that helps! 🙂

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