Monday, January 02, 2006

Last Minute Liz

Friday, I decided that I really didn't want to just stay home on New Year's Eve, so I called a few people and threw a little New Year's Eve party. 6 adults + 5 children + 3 bottles of champagne + 2 temper tantrums = 1 damn good party.

While I was at the grocery store on Saturday, I ran into a friend of mine and invited her and her husband and their daughter to dinner tonight.

I love last minute parties. I think I need to write a book called Last Minute Entertaining with menu ideas and things you can throw together for a reasonably low cost and minimal effort but maximum punch.

Tonight's menu:
Steamed dumplings with 2 sauces (a soy-sesame sauce and a sweet chili sauce)
Pad Thai
Lemon Tart

If you have any kind of Asian market near you, you can buy a huge bag of frozen dumplings for under 5 bucks. They make a great appetizer and are worth keeping on hand for appetizer emergencies. Same with the edamame. The sauces are also commercially prepared as well and can be used as marinades or sauces for stir-fry.

Pad Thai
Super easy. I've posted the recipe before. The most labor intensive part of the whole effort is peeling and deveining the shrimp. And, since I make my husband do that part, it's really a snap!

Lemon Tart

OK, that requires a bit of effort. However, my grocery squeezes juices in store, thus giving me access to fresh lemon juice for only about 50 cents more than it would cost for me to buy lemons and juice them myself. So, again, the hard part is done for me. I do believe that if you are going to put forth some effort into a meal, the biggest payoff is dessert. Nothing impresses people more or tastes better than home cooked desserts.

Add a couple of bottles of wine and, for around $60, you have a really nice meal for 6 people. (Yes, that's including the wine.) You can throw a dinner party for less, but I find that I'd rather spend an extra $10 or $15 and have to not work as hard than slave all day and be exhausted by the time the guests show up. Nothing poops a party faster than a host who just wants everyone to go home so she can go to sleep!

I did have a huge Christmas Open House one year where a hardcore group of guests pretty much set up camp in my living room. The stated hours of the party were 5pm to 9pm. At 10pm, I cleaned up all the food and drinks and they didn't get the hint. I made coffee. I turned off the music and most of the lights. Finally, around 11pm, I put on my pajamas and went into the living room and loudly announced, "Thank you for coming and thank you for going!" They got the message at that point.