Planning a Dinner Party With Kids, Tiny Kitchen

Back before children, my husband and I loved to entertain. We'd spend time working on a menu and be super meticulous about the food. We had fun shopping together and he had fun making the drinks. We anticipated it and then loved to talk about it later. The last party we had before kids, I was six months pregnant. It was madness. I couldn't drink. I stood up doing so much preparations and didn't even enjoy myself. It was three years before we ever attempted a no kid party again.

This weekend will be our fourth dinner party in this house. Most of the time it is a mix of my husband's work colleagues, which is fun because they love to talk all the no-no topics of politics and religion. That's what happens when you invite people from The Hill. But as of late, dinner parties have become less fun in the preparation phase due to a few things:

1. The size/layout of our house
2. The size/layout of our kitchen
3. The kids
4. Did I mention my kitchen?

The past three parties, I have made my standard fare. The problem is anything which needs an oven heats means our entire main level of the house is painfully hot. Our kitchen only comfortably fits one maybe two people.

What I needed for this party is a complete menu that could be prepared ahead of time and in the final hours before the party, I could just plate things without using an oven and without being in the kitchen. It's no fun to be at the party if you're in the kitchen and no one can fit in there with you. Yes, it's seriously that small!

I was at a loss for a menu of tastefully done hearty appetizers to feed my 15 or guests. We're hopeful that the weather will hold out so that will help push everyone outside onto the deck.

I am super grateful to my fellow DC Metro Mom blogger Andrea of Andrea's Recipes who managed to arrange an entire menu for me free of oven! She is truly the small home dweller's dinner-party dream. I'm sure you're all curious of the menu, right? Well, I won't give you her entire list, but this is what I've chosen to serve in case anyone really cares.

So here is the menu for the small-house-no-oven-make-ahead-kids-in-the-way-spring-dinner-soire.

Fruit + Cheese
Fruit skewers (mix 2 or 3 types--strawberries, melon, grapes, apples, Swiss cheese, ham pieces, cocktail shrimp; cut the fruit 1 day before, prepare skewers the morning of and cover tightly in plastic so they don't dry out)

Chevre coated in minced parsley and finely chopped pistachios (chop the parsley and nuts and roll the log in it)

Wheel of brie, top removed for those who don't like the skin (I might wrap phyllo around it, but that would involve the oven.)

Dips and Toppings (all served with bread, crackers, pita, etc.)
Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade (I'm cheating and using the Trader Joe's one)

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Hummus (Cheating and using Whole Food's Garlic Hummus--the BEST store-bought hummus by far.)

Pesto & Sun-Dried Tomato Torta

Chicken Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese minus the chicken for my vegetarian guests

Thai Grilled Chicken with Cilantro Dipping Sauce (Cook the chicken and make the dipping sauce the day before and chill, then rewarm slightly and cut into chunks before serving. Garnish with fresh cilantro at the last minute.)

Sushi (get at Wegman's made fresh and arrange on platter)

Beef and Gorgonzola Toasts with Herb-Garlic Cream

Florentines Turns out Trader Joe's also has almond meal already so looks like I won't have to process the almonds! Bonus.

Oreo truffle balls Of course no Oreos since they have partially hydrogenated oils...I had to get the ones from Trader Joe's.

So there's the menu. I can't wait. Now for the kids. I finally decided to use my babysitting co-op to get a few hours of prep on Friday, and then I got smart this time and arranged for the babysitter on Saturday night to come early this time. We may be well on our way to learning to entertain with kids. We'll just have to see how it all plays out. Now I'm on to preparations in my teeny tiny kitchen. That's a whole other issue!


Andrea said...

I'm so glad you liked the menu suggestions. I like easy prep for parties, too! It's more fun that way. I hope your party goes well!


helena said...

Best of luck with your party!

Entertaining with kids is so difficult . . . for us it is almost the 'holy grail.' So far, my husband and I haven't managed it successfully. We can't put enough attention into the adult conversation or supervising the kids, and we wind up doing neither fully!

Oh, well. The day will come. Hope your day comes quite soon . . .

Kate said...

This stuff all looks SO good. I love planning menus! And FWIW, you'll be happy to know that Oreos have been trans fat (partially hydrogenated oil) free since 2003 when they were sued by a conglomoration of anti-trans fat advocates.