This past weekend, I hosted my first ever dinner party! I was super excited, but also very nervous, since I’ve only ever hosted potluck style parties. But with a dinner party, you need to worry about timing everything just right, so that all guests can be seated and served each course at the same time.
On the menu was a pumpkin and butternut squash seed pesto, assorted cheeses, salted caramel cream cheese swirl spice cake, and an autumn sangria as the signature cocktail of the evening.
I will admit, in addition to simply being nervous hosting my first ever dinner party, the fact that we literally just got back from a whirlwind trip to Vegas made me even more of a nervous Nelly.
I did all of the necessary grocery shopping late on Friday night, since I knew that’s when the stores would be least crowded, and I didn’t have a minute to spare.
Alarm set for bright and early, I popped out of bed Saturday morning ready to hit the kitchen. My first order of business was to make the yummy pesto, which I will provide the recipe for in a later post.
Spoiler alert: it’s delish!!!!!
After storing my freshly made pesto in the fridge, I got to baking. And here, folks, is where the only real snafu of the day happened. I tried my hand at a bundt cake for the first time, using a brand new pan I had just bought. Even though I greased it down before baking, the cake stuck miserably to the pan when I tried to flip it out upside down.
I was honestly pretty distraught, but Dear Husband reminded me it would still taste great and that our guests wouldn’t care. As much as I try, I just can’t be Martha Stewart and have everything go perfectly in the kitchen. (And I’m sure even MS doesn’t have everything always go perfectly in the kitchen – plus she’s got a whole crew of helpers!).
The cake didn’t look so great, because I still had to serve it directly out of the bundt pan, but it tasted amazing. It was semi-homemade, and I’ll provide the recipe in a later post. For now, rest assured that the salted caramel cream cheese swirl inside the spice cake, topped with an apple cider glaze, was amazing!!!
At this point in the day, I took a little break for a run. Taking in the crisp fall colors and brisk cold that has recently hit felt amazing. After my run, my mother in law popped by to say hello and drop off an old coffee table she is giving me. After that, it was back to work prepping for the party.
I chose to make an autumn sangria as the night’s signature cocktail. It was a mixture of red wine, soft apple cider, cranberry-cherry juice, whole cinnamon sticks, whole cranberries, apple chunks, and a dash of Fireball.
I bought this cute little drink container the other day, and to spruce it up I painted some black chalkboard paint on it at the last minute to label it for the evening with a chalk marker.
To go along thematically with the drink holder, I painted strips of chalk on an old set of stemware and put all our guests’ initials on them. For decoration, I put a few fresh cranberries and a cinnamon stick in everyone’s glass.
Finally, I set the table with plenty of candles, distressed mason jars, mismatched Pioneer Woman napkins, and homemade burlap silverware holders.
A few minutes before guests were due to arrive, I sliced up an assortment of cheeses and popped some baguette slices drizzled with olive oil in the oven to toast.
The doorbell rang, our guests arrived, and much to my delight, everyone loved the food and enjoyed themselves! I wanted to be a polite hostess, so I put away my DSLR once guests arrived, which unfortunately means I didn’t get any close up shots of the final plated dishes.
Here’s the only outtake from the evening, with guests cropped out since this blog is obviously public.
What do you enjoy about diner parties? What’s your favorite dinner party menu you’ve had?
Until next time,