{How to} Cook for a Dinner Party

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 Menu for dinner party


As promised I am back with more details on the menu I served for my recent Dinner Party.

Here is the menu~


Brown Sugar Dijon Brie

Cheese & Cracker Plate


Shrimp Scampi (from Barefoot Contessa)

Feta Salad (brought by my friend Tracey)

Focaccia Bread

Asparagus Vegetable Dish (brought by my co-blogger Terry)


Profiteroles with Ice Cream

(not chocolate mousse as the chalkboard said–oops!)

As I mentioned in my “recap” of the Dinner Party Post, I did most of the prep ahead of time.

I set and had the table ready the day before, so Saturday morning I woke up and made the focaccia bread and the profiteroles. Both are extremely easy to do. The focaccia does take several hours of rising so I started with that. (Focaccia recipe will follow soon)

Then I took a break, spent time with my daughter and cleaned out my closet (my list of things to do to move is SO long I had to squeeze in something productive that day!). In the mid-afternoon I prepped everything for the Scampi. You can find the Recipe HERE (from Food Network) or in this cookbook:

One of my many “Go To Cookbooks” for Entertaining

{Just a side note, if you are nervous about entertaining, Ina Garten’s recipes are almost always a great way to go. I own almost all her books, and use them all the time.}

Anyway for this recipe, I doubled it as I didn’t want to run out of food and I had 8 guests. I modified it slightly, using 3 lbs of shrimp– next time I would buy peeled, the least fun part of the prep was peeling all that shrimp! The doubled recipe called for a shocking 18 cloves of garlic. (Wow)

Thank goodness for a mini-food chopper for all that garlic!

Thank goodness for a mini-food chopper for all that garlic!


And I chopped A lOT of parsley-2/3 a cup

And I chopped A lOT of parsley-2/3 a cup

Here are all the prepped ingredients so that when I was ready to cook, I just had to throw it all together.


Once the pasta water boiled, I quickly made the scampi part (it took about 10 minutes), then everything was ready at once. I had everything else ready and on the table so I could serve the pasta hot. We quickly heated up the vegetable side dish in the microwave, and the salad and bread were on the table so there wasn’t a lot of last minute scrambling around. Dinner was served!

I served a Brie appetizer that is one of my favorite-super easy-recipes to make. I just realized I didn’t take a picture of it so you will have to trust me that its delicious and crazy/easy! Its a Pampered Chef Recipe from “Season’s Best Fall 2007”.

Brown Sugar Dijon Brie

You need:

1 round or triangle of Brie

Cut it open and layer on:

A thin layer of Dijon Mustard

Sprinkle on Brown Sugar (to taste, but not TOO much)

And sliced almonds

Put the top back on, and repeat the same layers–covering up the brie completely. Cook in an oven safe dish (or on stoneware) for about 10 minutes till the sugar melts and the brie is soft. Serve w/ toasted baguette slices.

This is quick and elegant, and nobody would ever guess that it only has 3 (rather interesting, huh?) ingredients.

For dessert I served profiteroles, which is about the only dessert I make as I am totally not a “baker”. I almost bought dessert to make my life easier but these are so quick and easy–and good with ice cream–that I whipped them up in about 5 minutes.

Profiteroles for dessert

Yum! Profiteroles…



(recipe from Southern Living June 2010)

3/4 c all purpose flour

1 1/2 t sugar

1/3 c butter

3 large eggs, beaten

parchment paper (i didn’t use)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir together flour and sugar in a bowl.

Bring butter and 3/4 c water to a boil in a 3 qt. saucepan over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and stir in flour mixture all at once. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and leaves the sides of the pan, forming a ball. Gradually add in eggs, beating until mixture is smooth and glossy.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto parchment lined baking sheet (I lightly greased mine instead with shortening just in case). Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Remove to wire rack. Cool about 20 min on baking sheet. (Recipe also says to pierce each with a fork on one side to allow steam to escape–I have never bothered to do that!)

I split these open and serve these with small scoops of assorted gourmet ice creams in the center (we offered coffee, dulce de leche and vanilla ice creams) and then I cover them with a jarred (warmed) hot fudge sauce. They have yet to disappoint!

So, if you have questions or I left anything out about this menu please leave them in the comments. I also promise I will follow-up with the foccacia bread recipe and will get the wonderful recipe posted here with the Asparagus and Green bean side dish Terry brought that was delicious.

BUT…who are we kidding here…I know that the recipe everyone wants is my husband’s Raspberry Martini recipe…

raspberry martini recipe

Raspberry Martini

So, STAY TUNED…I promise to post it NEXT!

(You can see more about the party planning and recap of the evening HERE)

Thanks for stopping by!



  1. I always struggle with getting things the right temperature at the right time. Everything is always too hot or too cold at my “dinner parties”. Can you tell me how to magically get my act together like you? 🙂 Pretty please?!
    Visiting from Serenity Now.

    • Thanks for visiting…trust me, I did panic about getting the food on the table “hot” but since this recipe was such a quick prep and everything was ready to go (and I had some help from my guests), it worked out. I have definitely had other recipes hit the table stone cold b/c I didn’t have my act together! This time doing everything in advance was the key. Have a great day and please stop by Magnolia Lane again 🙂

  2. Your menu sounds delicious!! I love Ina Garten too, but I have only attempted one of her recipes and it was awsome!! You have inspired me to try more! Love your blog!!

  3. Sounds like a delicious, elegant and easy dinner party menu. Can I come, too :)? Hope you had a great time! Visiting from Serenity Now.

  4. Your menu sounds out of this world delicious! The dessert looks SO good, too! I am definitely going to bookmark that recipe for future use! {Yum!} Thanks for sharing! It sounds like your dinner party went off without a hitch, and turned out wonderfully! 🙂

    I hope you are having a good Monday so far! 🙂


  5. Sounds heavenly! I’d love to have been a guest :).

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