We’ve found that the art of entertaining takes some practice. Despite our best intentions, we many times find ourselves racing the clock until the last second, hoping that our dinner guests will decide to be fashionably (or even better, unfashionably!) late, as we rush to get everything together and on the table.
Over the years, we’ve developed a new philosophy that helps to avoid the race to the finish altogether. Since one of the things we love most about cooking is the process itself, why not make that the point of the event? Instead of cooking for our guests, why not cook with them? There’s something beautiful about not just enjoying food with people you love, but creating it together.
Putting together a cooking date or a cooking party is as easy as selecting a few recipes, and a handful of people you love to be around. Here are a few more tips to set you up for success.
-Before you start, make sure your guests love cooking as much as you do!
-Pick out some recipes that everyone can enjoy (see below for some ideas), and that aren’t too difficult to put together.
-If you’re the host, pick up the ingredients ahead of time and make sure you have the necessary cooking tools. If desired, delegate some ingredients for guests to bring.
-Plan an ample amount of time for the event — and start early. If you’re planning dinner together, start a few hours before you plan to eat, and make sure to have plenty of snacks/finger food around in case anyone gets hungry during cooking.
-You don’t need a huge space to host, but if you’re lucky enough to have one, an island is a great workspace for multiple people that’s conducive to conversation and meal-sharing. If you don’t have an island, plan a few different prep stations for guests to use.
-Make your kitchen homey. Since we spend a lot of time in our kitchen, we’ve tried to make it one of the most comfortable rooms in the house. Some green plants, pieces of art, and a stack of your favorite colorful mixing bowls can go a long way towards making the kitchen seem like the heart of your home.
-Music is a must while cooking! Find a good mix of tunes to jam to while you create together.
Recipes for Inspiration
Below are a few of our favorite recipes for a cooking party that have gone over well. Pizza and pasta are always a hit; paella is a traditional Spanish rice dish that is a little more unique, but just as delicious and fun to make. Tacos are another crowd pleaser. If you’re feeling adventurous, try making your own tortillas.
Homemade Pasta or Gnocchi
Lately, we’ve been enjoying Sunday afternoon cooking. We invite a few friends over to test out some recipes, then relax and enjoy a dinner we had fun cooking together. If we’re lucky, we end up with some leftovers for the week. It’s the perfect occasion to enjoy the process of entertaining — and our guests — from prep to clean up, and everything in between.
This post is part of BlogHer’s Kitchen Entertaining editorial series, made possible by KitchenAid.
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.