Party Planning

You know, there was a time when I made things easy on myself. When I entertained I went shopping the morning of the party, picked up some baby carrots and a few bags of chips, a couple of six packs and called it a day. One of my friends once showed me how to turn a potato chip bag into it’s own bowl so I didn’t even need to dirty any dishes. Clean the bathroom, put on my best black t-shirt and it’s party-time.

Not so now that I am cooking all the time. Oh, and don’t think there wasn’t pressure as a food blogger either. About a week before the party I had a mild panic attack at the thought of how I was going to feed and water the clamoring hords. Of course this stress was entirely self imposed and was really quite silly. First, the “clamoring hords” was no more than fifteen people. Second, we weren’t even actually serving dinner, just snacks. Third, our friends are super cool and no one would have been upset by a bag of chips and some french onion dip. After all (and here is the key) entertaining is about everyone having a good time together. Everything else is just window dressing.

In any case, I wanted to make the party special. It was our first real party in St. Louis and also the purpose of the party was to celebrate the birthday of one of our wonderful new St. Louis friends. Heightened expectations caused me to stress out. Dr. Fiance told me to knock it off with the histrionics and make a game plan. I got out some paper and did just that.

First, I planned the menu. Here is what we ended up with:

  • Hummus
  • Baba Ganoush
  • Fresh Bread (x 4 loaves)
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Cheese Plate
  • Corn Chips
  • Potato Chips
  • Wonton Wrapper Mini Quiches
  • Chili (with chili powder made from scratch)
  • 2.5 pound Pennsylvania ham that my parents gave me for Christmas.
  • Mississippi Mud Cake
  • Cape Fear Punch

Since I was making everything from scratch I had to plan out my cooking schedule so that I could get everything done on time while keeping in mind the various things that needed to be baked, and how far in advance I would be able to make stuff. For example, since I wanted to make the hummus on Friday, I had to soak the beans Thursday night. And since I wanted to bake the bread on Saturday, I had to make up a big batch of dough on Friday. The ham took an 1 hour and 40 minutes to bake, so I had to have everything else out of the oven by 5:30pm on Saturday.

Honestly all of these logistics were easy to figure out and now that I am done with the party I realized that I spent far too much energy worrying about all of the various details. The party was a great success, everyone seemed to enjoy the food, and a good time was had by all. Our friends brought even more delicious food so we had more than enough good stuff to eat. I enjoyed the Cape Fear Punch a bit too much (along with a variety of other lovely drinks that our guests brought along and made) and had to spend Sunday recuperating on the couch watching football.

It was originally my plan to spend all of this week going over each recipe that I made for the party, but my schedule between work and my personal projects may preclude that. Another thing is that generally here at Shoot To Cook I try to include a few pictures of food preparation and then a finished money shot of each dish. In all of the running around cleaning and making food for the party I didn’t do as good a job as usual staying on top of the photography, particularly the finished plated food (which I was scrambling to finish up even as the guest were arriving). So instead of going through each dish, here is a gallery of a few images from the process. Most of the food I made for the party was delicious, so I will likely be making these dishes again in the future when I have more time to spend tweaking the recipes and making quality food images of each.

Bottom line? This was a good experience for me, entertaining as an adult with grown up food and actual cooking and all. Dr. Fiance and I love to entertain and we have a nice space to entertain in, so I’m sure there will be many more parties in the future. Thanks to all of our friends who make it such an exciting, fun, and special experience!


  • Ericka
    January 10, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Jon, I cannot overstate how awesome the party was. The food was amazing. The fabulous bread, the quiches, the chili (super yummy), the sausages, cheeses, hummus and the baba ghanoush were all delicious. Oh and the deviled eggs! I thought about tackling and taking Jen out as she grabbed the last one, but I just decided to let it go. We had a blast—great food and even better company and people.

    I totally thought those quiches were filo dough, which I find a major pain to work with. I will have to keep an eye out for that recipe—wonton wrappers, that is absolutely genius.

    As for football, at least the Packers won. A dark weekend in the NFL if you ask me.

    • ShootToCook
      January 10, 2011 at 10:49 am

      Excellent! I’m glad you had a good time, I sure did! Those quiches were super easy, and yes, the wonton wrappers worked like a charm. I’ll make them again soon and will do a proper post on them with a recipe. Oh, and if you are able to share, I’d love the recipe for the Aperol cocktail you made for me – it was delicious!

      And yes, football was a mixed bag this weekend although I can safely say that I am pleased as punch that Michael Vick ended the season on an interception. Not sure if I would have been able to stomach the Eagles in the Superbowl…

      • Ericka
        January 10, 2011 at 6:12 pm

        The cocktail is super easy; I think it will be a really great drink for summer get togethers.

        1 part Aperol
        1 part Prosecco (I should note the original recipe called for Cava, a spanish sparkler that is a bit drier)
        1 part club soda

        Pour over ice and give it a stir.


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