Cooking for a party

bday collage food

Hi everyone. Hope you’re all having a great week. This past weekend I had the pleasure and stress of hosting people for my birthday. This was my first time ever cooking and catering everything by myself. Usually these things in my family are more potluck style or the experienced moms just elegantly throw everything together and make it look effortless. But me? Until this weekend I was a hosting virgin.

This got me thinking about a lot of things. Best food to make, presentation, what to make ahead of time, what to make day of, table settings etc…. So after planning, preparing and cooking I would say that the party was a success. I made a ton of food, and there were less leftovers than I thought there would be, which I took as a sign that people liked the food.

Along the way of planning I learned a few things that I’d like to share with you if you plan on hosting a party at some point. These tips will hopefully make your life easier and less stressful. So here goes:

1. Stuffed veggies are always a hit. Stuffed peppers, stuffed mushrooms, stuffed tomatoes, stuffed potatoes whatever. They look great, they taste great, and they are relatively easy to make. Stuffed veggies have 2 key components: they are great because of presentation and taste. And for some reason people are always more impressed when you take the time to stuff something rather than just make 2 separate dishes.
2. Marinate all meat and fish the night before. This is so important for great flavor and also a great time saver on the day of the party.
3. You can pre-make roasted potatoes and sautéed mushrooms the day before and they will taste just as great the next day when reheated.
4. Desserts with toppings look great and cover up potential mess-up. For example: my low glycemic cheesecakes always crack on top, which doesn’t look nice. So I just put fruit or nuts on top. It enhances the flavor, looks prettier and hides imperfections.
5. I didn’t do this particular thing this time, but if you’re serving drinks put a lemon, orange or pineapple on the side. It makes the drink look fancier than cheap champagne or franzia.
6. Choose a bright tablecloth that has a festive appearance. I am a big fan of red – color of power and celebration. It brings a totally different sense to the table.
7. Garnishing red meat with cranberries adds flavor and presentation to it.
8. If you’re really OCD you can coordinate your plate colors with dishes to make them look more appetizing. I’ve seen a few articles on this before. For example green foods look best on yellow plates. Beige foods like chicken and pasta look best on black or brown plates. Red foods like tomatoes, sauces and beef are best on white plates. Yellow/orange foods like eggs and mango look best with blue plates. And for desserts its best to pick plate colors that match the garnish. These concepts also apply if you are trying to eat less or lose weight. Apparently blue plates are the best plates to have If you want to lose weight since they clash with almost any food so you’ll eat less. And white/beige plates are the worst for pasta/rice or any neutral dish because it blends with the plate and you end up taking more. Yes someone actually studied this stuff. Yes I actually read it. And if you want to, you can read it too (the articles are referenced at the bottom).
9. Put flowers on the table. Also gives things a sense of celebration.

Some of these may seem like common sense and others may seem like crazy OCD tendencies. But that’s the point, use the tips you like and ignore the ones you don’t. The bottom line is that if the food tastes good people will eat it anyway 🙂

References:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/28/best-and-worst-plate-colors_n_985521.html
http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/outreach/color_plate.html
http://channels.isp.netscape.com/homerealestate/package.jsp?name=fte/blueplates/blueplates
http://www.forbes.com/sites/nadiaarumugam/2012/01/26/how-size-and-color-of-plates-and-tablecloths-trick-us-into-eating-too-much/
http://news.menshealth.com/the-best-plate-color-for-your-diet/2011/11/22/

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