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Hosting a Dinner Party on a Budget

Rachael5000 Sep 11, 2012 03:49 PM

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:

Apps:
Baked Brie
Zuchinni Carpaccio
Bruschetta
Antipasti platter

Entree:
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!

  1. l
    laliz Sep 12, 2012 01:50 PM

    Instead of chicken, I'd roast a couple of turkey breasts ~~ keeping with your fall theme, and everyone loves turkey in September/October.

    include a squash/or pumpkin soup as an app

    1. JungMann Sep 12, 2012 11:13 AM

      For fall menus, I like to lean towards the Eastern Mediterranean since many of the spices used are evocative of fall desserts in the US. An example menu I might create would be

      Apps:
      Baked brie (really one of my favorites when made with apples, brown sugar and walnuts)
      Crusty breads with ground hazelnuts and herbs
      Pickled summer vegetables

      Entree:
      Sumac and spice-rubbed roast chicken with flat bread
      Rice stuffed squash with spicy tomato sauce

      1 Reply
      1. re: JungMann
        skinnybacon Sep 12, 2012 12:39 PM

        Something hearty and cheap might be a simple spicy Thai chicken curry served over noodles or rice. The link is to something I actually made for a big dinner party. Should keep the budget low if you use chicken thigh and seasonal veggies (eggplant is pretty cheap right now!)

        http://skinnybacon.tumblr.com/post/30...

      2. m
        mike0989 Sep 12, 2012 10:09 AM

        John Ash in his cookbook From the Earth to the Table has a recipe for red wine brasied rabbit with orecchiette. I've done it several times using chicken instead. It's quite good (as are most of his ercipies) and wallet friendly.

        1. mcel215 Sep 12, 2012 09:36 AM

          I make a platter with soprasata, cheese, grapes, and crackers for apps. Maybe a bowl of cashews too.

          Also, I love Chicken Marbella for an entree. It can feed a ton of people and be done ahead of time, while not breaking your budget. And serving it over cous cous is easy and pretty fool proof as well. Enjoy, whatever you decide.

          www.saffron215.blogspot.com

          1. v
            Vidute Sep 11, 2012 06:26 PM

            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
              Rachael5000 Sep 12, 2012 09:26 AM

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

              1. re: Rachael5000
                Tehama Sep 12, 2012 01:41 PM

                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. http://www.bonjourlafrance.com/french...

            2. Scoutmaster Sep 11, 2012 04:49 PM

              Rachel Ray's Lazy Greek Chicken is super simple and very impressive. http://greek.food.com/recipe/lazy-gre... 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. e
                escondido123 Sep 11, 2012 04:24 PM

                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
                  Rachael5000 Sep 11, 2012 05:21 PM

                  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
                    e
                    escondido123 Sep 11, 2012 05:39 PM

                    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
                      Rachael5000 Sep 12, 2012 09:26 AM

                      Indian is another great idea, recipe ideas?

                      1. re: Rachael5000
                        e
                        escondido123 Sep 12, 2012 09:52 AM

                        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
                          boyzoma Sep 12, 2012 01:16 PM

                          I've made this one before - Chicken Tika Masala http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/gu...

                          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. b
                    Bkeats Sep 11, 2012 04:09 PM

                    How many people and what's the budget?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Bkeats
                      Rachael5000 Sep 11, 2012 05:19 PM

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

                      1. re: Rachael5000
                        gingershelley Sep 11, 2012 06:11 PM

                        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
                          Rachael5000 Sep 12, 2012 09:25 AM

                          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. c
                      critter101 Sep 11, 2012 04:04 PM

                      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:
                      http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/qu... After the initial browning, I've finished cooking the chickens in the oven on large rimmed cookie sheets.

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