Kitchen Entertaining: Making Cooking the Main Event

 

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.

Logistics

-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.

Your Kitchen

-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.

Pizza
Homemade Pizza Dough
Pizza Margherita
Greek Pizza
Mexican Pizza

Homemade Pasta or Gnocchi

Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta
Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Ricotta Dumplings with Kale Pesto

Paella

Grilled Seafood Paella
Simple Vegetable Paella

Tacos

Homemade Corn Tortillas
Lentil Tacos
Black Bean Tacos with Radish Salsa and Feta
Roasted Squash and Portabello Tacos

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.

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

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

Cookbook Author and photographer

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.

10 Comments

  • Reply
    Lindsey | The Next Course
    August 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    I, too, have been learning to love “low key” entertaining! Especially in the summer time, it’s nice to have friends over for a pot-luck style, let’s-grill-some-food evening. Thanks for the tips and recipe suggestions. The new kitchen is gorgeous!

  • Reply
    Chelsea @ BigBitesLittleBudget
    August 21, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    I love cooking with friends. There is something about good food that brings people together and entertaining by cooking together makes it so easy!

  • Reply
    Tiffany
    August 21, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Your kitchen is freaking beautiful! I love the white with the bold colors popping out everywhere. Nice job, guys!

  • Reply
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com
    August 22, 2013 at 1:04 am

    Keeping it simple and make ahead prep definitely makes entertaining fuss-free and enjoyable. Love the idea of using kitchen island.

  • Reply
    Simone
    August 22, 2013 at 2:17 am

    I love such cooking parties! We do it on a regular basis with friends and it is always great fun!

  • Reply
    ray
    August 22, 2013 at 2:34 am

    Is dinner ready yet? I’m hungry. Love you guys!

  • Reply
    Cookie and Kate
    August 24, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    Your kitchen is so cute! I’m really envious of your island. My kitchen is teeny tiny; someday I’ll have more space for entertaining!

  • Reply
    Samantha
    August 26, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    This is such a great post! I am definitely a victim of rushing around trying to get everything done before my guests arrive. Getting everyone involved seems like such a great way to alleviate that stress and get everyone into cooking.

  • Reply
    Courtney Jones
    September 4, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    I used to have friends over all the time to enjoy putting together a meal and eating it all together. I’ve not done it in a while. I think it’s time to bring that back into my life. I need good food and good friends around :)

    • Reply
      Sonja
      September 19, 2013 at 9:52 am

      Yes! The great things of life :)

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