Zip and Ease – Simple Dinner Party Recipes!

You all know me by now, that part of my entertaining mission is delegation!

Delegation makes a night of entertaining more affordable and takes a lot of stress off of the hostess!

Delegation means different hands preparing the meal, allowing for the addition of the guest’s cooking flare to shine through.

Adding a little touch of something “different,” but yet “simple,” can add ZIP and EASE to your dinner party. So my family prepared a delicious meal for our out-of-town guests last week.

It started like this:

Driveway lined with cars.

The reason why we gathered.

Simple appetizers on the side patio.

1 pkg. Jiffy pizza crust mix
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 pkg. (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. dill weed
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. onion powder
Assorted vegetables (sliced mushrooms, diced tomatoes, green peppers, olives, onions or celery). Prepare crust as directed on package. Bake about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool. Blend cream cheese into sour cream and mayonnaise. Add seasonings. Spread evenly over crust. Arrange vegetables on top and sprinkle with cheese. Cover and refrigerate about 1 hour. Cut into desired serving pieces.

Chicken thighs and breasts sizzled on the BBQ.

My marinade secret? Costco’s Teriyaki sauce – add your own brown sugar, dry mustard, ginger and soy sauce. Fast and easy, and you’ll make the bottle last a lot longer!

Creamy Potatoes Gratin (made the night before) re-heated in the oven.

(Recipe, here! Fresh celery from our garden.)

Baguette bread sliced, heated, and served with a zippy, garlicky butter.

Roast a whole head of garlic cloves: tear away as much of the outer layer as your can, cut off the top, drizzle with olive oil, bake at 500 for 25min in a pan with a little water in the bottom. Smash the garlic and mix it with 1 1/2 cubes salted butter. Add green onion and that’s it! The more garlic, the tastier!

Strawberry salad was tossed.

Spring mix greens, cooked crumbled bacon, fresh strawberries (sliced), toasted almonds, roasted ramen noodles, and sesame seeds.
Dressing: (wait until last minute to toss)
½ c oil
¼ c sugar
2 T. white wine vinegar
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp salt

Platter of fruit kabobs with easy, creamy, dipping sauce.

½ c. sugar
2 T. flour
1 c. unsweetened pineapple juice
1 T. butter
1 egg
1 c. heavy whipping cream, whipped
In small saucepan, combine sugar and flour. Gradually whisk in pineapple juice. Add butter. Cook and stir until butter is melted and mixture comes to a boil – for 1-2 min. or until thickened. Remove from heat.
Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, stirring several times. Fold in whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve with fruit.

The food was ready, we all grabbed hands and sang our family Friesen Prayer of thanks, and then we gathered around the buffet table filling our plates.

Dessert – cake, ice cream, and fresh strawberries from our garden.

2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
2 cubes butter
1 c. water
1/4 c. cocoa
1/2 c. sour cream
2 eggs
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. vanilla and mix together.
Pour in cookie sheet with sides (jelly roll pan). Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
1/4 c. cocoa (more or less to taste)1/2 c. milk (start with slightly less)1 cube butter
Cook these three ingredients together until bubbly.
Add: 4 c.powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla
Nuts may be added.
Pour frosting on hot cake when it comes from oven. Frosting may run over sides.

Our hot summer night’s party had come to an end.

Pool light turned off.

Party lights and music turned off.

We said our good-byes.

This post seems to be centered on the food that was served at our dinner party, but we all know that ultimately this night was not about the food. It was not about whether or not the meat was overdone or undercooked, or whether my table was set just right.

Our night was about hanging out, laughing, and letting our hair down – about being real with each other, catching up on old times, and reconnecting.

Of course it always helps to have some great cooks contribute to the meal! And in our family, that seems to happen every time.

(Very top photo: Great family cooks in my family! Thank you Di, Lin, Addie & Lisa for contributing!)

14 comments on “Zip and Ease – Simple Dinner Party Recipes!”

  1. I LOVE your post! My grandma used to make Texas Sheet Cake…she was a traditional west Texas gal. I’ve never attempted it myself, but I think I might try your recipe as my first. :)
    Here’s a menu (with recipes) from one of my recent dinner parties–New Mexican Themed. Thanks for the recipes!

  2. Looks like fun! But, my oh my, your Texas Sheet Cake doesn’t have cinnamon in it! That’s a key ingredient! YIKES! You should try it next time (I know your friend made it). Next time somebody makes it. You just thought it was phenomenal. Add 1 tsp and see what you think. YUMMY. I love your philosophy, that God wants us to love people, not worry about what they’ll think. Karen B.

  3. Love it Sandy! Thanks for the recipes!!!

  4. What?! A Friesen gathering and I MISSED it??!! Nuts. Looks like a great one, too. The menu is awesome and I’m definitely copying these recipes!

  5. You are so my hero!!! I love your blog, the photos, the recipes and the heart behind it all. Thanks for sharing.

    Duckabush Blog

  6. I love your blog because I’m the ultimate reluctant entertainer. Wasn’t always like this. Friends and parents move away or die and children are now scattered across the country. Holidays now are just the 2 of us. I was interested in comparing your Texas Sheet Cake recipe with the one I’ve had to years. Have you ever included some grated zucchini in yours? I’ve been thinking of doing that because we are drowing in both yellow and green zucchini and, frankly I’m getting a little sick of it. I think my neighbors are too; what other reason do they have for not answering their door when I come calling? Don’t they know I’ll just leave the bag on their doorstep? LOL!

  7. I will be over next week ;)
    thanks for giving all of us such inspiration and awesome direction for making gathering in our homes and sharing wonderful memories a joy again!
    Loved the fruit kabobs and yummy looking dip

  8. One thing I could really improve on in my entertaining is my ability to delegate. I tend to feel guilty asking my guests to bring something. You have me convinced that I shouldn’t… now I just need to get at it! :-)

    Thanks for all of the recipes as well!

  9. Good morning…again I am inspired and excited to again have a home to entertain in.

    I love that Texas sheet cake it is so good. All the food looked yummy.

    My mom always made a fruit dip that was out of this world…actually I think that was what it was called…I’ll have to dig it out.

  10. I love doing fruit kabobs but seem to forget about them. Thanks so much for the reminder. All your recipes look fantastic…I would love to know hat you are serving for the 4th.

  11. my invitation must’ve gotten lost in the mail. :)
    you sure know how to throw a proper party–i love everything from the dilly of a pizza to the awesome sheet cake. nicely done!

  12. I love love love all your ideas. I’m making the creamy potatoes today. Thanks for the recipe.
    Happy 4th.

  13. YUM! What a great inspiration for a holiday weekend! And I luv the pic of the pool stairs!

  14. Hi sandy, when I found you recently via Tracey’s blog I really felt it had meant to be…I used to be a very good entertainer and then we moved to a new country and had to suffer horrid rented houses, my perfectionism just could not allow me to entertain without the house at its best, I really did see this as a reflection on me. Well we bought a house in the new country, it has been a huge reno and it is still far from perfect so we still haven’t entertained. This has been a particular problem as we have needed to make friends and connect and having people and reciprocating their hospitality facilitates this….anyhooo, the whole point of this message is because I’ve been reading your blog, I bit the bullet and we have friends coming on Sat night, I’ve picked simple food and have been slowly getting the house cleaned and tidied but without stressing. I just had to let you know what you’ve done without knowing it!!!! haha!!!! I’m actually quite excited and can’t wait to dress the table, I have some gorgeous linens. You’ve shown me how important hospitality is not perfectionism. Thank you.


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