Monday, August 15, 2011

Chinese Dinner Party

To celebrate my new home (where I can comfortably entertain) and my birthday (I keep getting older!), I had my siblings and two of my cousins over for a small dinner party that was big on the food. When my mom hosts parties, she's easily entertaining for 20+ people. I'm just starting to get in the swing of hostessing, but kept getting stuck on my mom's style of feeding LOTS of family and sending people home with leftovers. So when I had 5 guests, I still had a huge appetizer spread, a side, two main dishes, and a dessert for a Sunday evening party.

Appetizer Menu
Pork meatballs (with water chestnuts inside!)
Vegetable rolls in rice paper (which my siblings both said felt like a jellyfish even though neither of them have ever touched one, but they liked the rolls nonetheless)
Carrot sticks
Fruit - watermelon, raspberries, strawberries
Small bowl of sugar
Chunky peanut butter
Chips and salsa (bought)
Chex mix

White rice
Asparagus with freshly toasted sesame seeds
Ham fried rice (my siblings and I LOVE fried rice - I switched it up with adding ham rather than chicken this time)
Steak and bell peppers stir-fry (San-J sauces are the best!)

Vegan gf chocolate cupcakes

I will admit that I went a little overboard on the appetizers, but everything worked out perfectly and there was enough food leftovers for two lunches for me and plenty of appetizers to make sure I was snacking throughout the week! When I was planning the menu, I chose a lot of things I could prep in advance. The fried rice and stir-fry were both "cook in five minutes" items, so I chopped and refrigerated my veggies in advance. I wrote down lists of what veggies went in what pan so I could start cooking without trying to remember what went where. Right before we were ready to eat, I heated up one wok and started adding food and then put my sister in charge of stirring it while I began the next. We plated everything on my fancy dishes and in some of the bowls she bought me for Christmas and we were set! I was a little disappointed that I still somehow remain the only one in the family who can use chopsticks despite our love for Chinese food. Being a courteous hostess, I set forks on the table so no one felt bad. But one of these days, I'm going to have to get chopsticks into my family's hands!
It was great to have my family in my new place. I think this was even the first time I properly cooked a meal from start to finish for my siblings. Normally when I'm home at my mom's, I'll contribute to one or two dishes, max. But here the whole meal was my responsibility. I enjoyed creating the menu and wondering what people will like, as well as show off some of my culinary chops (no, really, toasting sesame seeds just is turning a pan on, letting it warm up, and stirring around the seeds until they are toasted.) It was fun, it was rewarding, and I can't wait to do it again!

Sparkling Juice
For a bit of class without the booze, try serving juice in a whole new way!

Three limes
Two lemons
Juice - your favorite flavor will work
Sprite or 7-Up

Wash and thinly slice the limes and lemons. Place in freezer for several hours.

Right before serving, pour the juice with a "splash" of Sprite (about 1/2 - 1 cup for 6 servings) in a fancy pitcher. Add the frozen lime and lemon slices and ice. Stir. Serve in wine goblets. Whoever said wine goblets were reserved just for wine?

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