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Sep 11, 2012 03:49 PM

Hosting a Dinner Party on a Budget

I am hosting a Beginning of Fall Dinner Party the end of the month and want to make is somewhat fancy but also don't want to spend a huge amount of money. We have decided to do the apps and entree and have the guests bring a side or dessert, but I still want to get the WOW affect from the guests. Can you help me with some awesome recipes/menus that won't kill my wallet. Some ideas I have are:

Baked Brie
Zuchinni Carpaccio
Antipasti platter

Gnocchi w/Mushroom Ragu
Roast Chicken w/Root Veggies

I am a little bored by the entrees and this the apps are over budget, HELP!

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  1. I would do some simple apps like an assortment of olives and spiced pecans. Then supplement that with punch cups of roasted squash bisque topped with toasted pumpkin seeds. Your entrees sound fine, but I would choose this recipe for roasted chicken by Jacques Pepin: After the initial browning, I've finished cooking the chickens in the oven on large rimmed cookie sheets.

    1. How many people and what's the budget?

      3 Replies
      1. re: Bkeats

        8-10 people and i want to keep it at $10-$15

        1. re: Rachael5000

          Do you mean per-person then? As in 8 people and 80-$100 dollars total?

          What about doing something like a Moroccan theme; serve eggplant caviar with smoked paprika and preserved lemon, hummus, flatbread, and some marinated olives to start.

          Make a chicken tagine with preserved lemon and prunes, along with spiced roasted root vegetables and couscous. This would be very fall, but a little more exotic and interesting.

          If you like I can provide some recipes. I have taught Moroccan cooking.

          You could have someone bring Baklava, honey cookies, or an orange flavored panna cotta for dessert.

          1. re: gingershelley

            I would love some Moroccan Recipes that would be great. Do you have an idea for a vegetarian second entree?

            I would love to stay under or around $100, is that feasible? I haven't had a dinner party on a budget before so I never really payed attention to how much they have cost in the past.

      2. I would skip the Brie--save a few bucks there--as well as the bruschetta. Then make your own dough for a variety of focaccia to serve with the antipasti platter which could include the zucchini, roasted pepper, caramelized onions and whatever veggies are cheap. What do you find boring about the entrees?

        5 Replies
        1. re: escondido123

          I am very adventurous eater and cook, so adding ethnic flair is always my preference I just don't know how to do that and keep iit fall-esq

          1. re: Rachael5000

            If you want to do ethnic on a budget, consider an Indian chicken dish with basmati rice. Not only wonderful flavor, but also great fall colors and amazing aroma. There are of course, many vegetarian Indian dishes too if that's what you need as a second entree.

            1. re: escondido123

              Indian is another great idea, recipe ideas?

              1. re: Rachael5000

                I reread your initial post and I'm not sure how Indian dishes would work when other people are bringing an assortment of sides--unless those folks too will be considering them in relation to the main course. Sometimes mixing cuisines can turn a dinner party into a potluck--not a bad thing but not an cohesive a meal. (I do not have any specific Indian recipes, except for a beef stew, but there are thousands online.)

                1. re: Rachael5000

                  I've made this one before - Chicken Tika Masala

                  You can dress it up any way you like it and almost any veggie/side would work with it. Let us know how it goes.

          2. Rachel Ray's Lazy Greek Chicken is super simple and very impressive. Perhaps some roasted delicata squash as a side.

            This sun dried tomato tapenade is always a hit. I serve with sea salt pita chips or something similar.

            Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade
            • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
            • 3T finely chopped red pepper (I use one small pepper or ½ lg pepper
            )• 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I only use 2 cloves)
            • 6 oz feta crumbled
            • 2T dried basil
            • 1/2t pepper
            • 2t balsamic vinegar
            Remove the tomatoes from oil (reserve 1/3 cup oil) and chop finely. Stir together tomatoes, 1/3 cup reserved oil, red pepper, and garlic. Add crumbled feta over top and add remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
            Serve with cucumber slices or bake on 1-inch baguette drizzled with olive oil at 350 degrees for 6 minutes.

            1. Keeping it seasonal, how about baked pears stuffed with gorgonzola and walnuts?
              Roasted stuffed onions?

              For entree, how about boeuf bourguignon or a braised roast with root vegetables. Or Coq au Vin? All use inexepensive cuts of meat but create a delicious and impressive meal. If you want to go a little more ethnic, Bigos aka hunter's stew..Poland's national dish. A rustic dish combining smoked and fresh meats along with kielbasa, and, if you have venison or any game meat, with cabbage and sauerkraut.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Vidute

                unfortunately red meat is out because of guest dietary restrictions but coq au vin could work, slow cooker!

                1. re: Rachael5000

                  I was going to suggest Coq au Vin for sure. Impressive, hearty, and easy to make in advance (tastes much better cooked in advance in my opinion). Ask dessert guest(s) to do Tarte Tatin to keep it French.