All good meals start with prosecco. Don’t believe me? Try it.

Luxury Dinner Parties conjure up an array of memories – I think of my Aunt Frances whose parties always included champagne and caviar. I think of Dinner Club, my parents group of 4 couples who have dinner together once a month and have been doing so for almost 30 years. I’d say they know a thing or two about dinner parties. I think of my friend Mercedes who always has the perfect place settings and exceptional desserts.

But I haven’t hosted many dinner parties on my own. I generally fall back on cocktail party type get togethers. I’m not sure why – maybe because our table only seats 4, our dishes are terrible and honestly, I don’t particularly like having to leave the party to finish a meal in the kitchen!

Challenge #3 was about to change that. Hosting a Luxury Dinner Party for at least 4 was the challenge and I have to say that planning, preparing and enjoying the company of family over dinner was just that – enjoyable. You can expect to see more dinner parties from me!

Planning Ahead:

  • Theme: pick a theme and carry it out throughout all courses, drinks and decor
  • Timing: dinner parties require time management and planning ahead. Sure I would have loved to make the gnocchi from scratch but yoga, work and a drive to Wisconsin did not allow that time – my meal needed to come together quickly. I also know that not everyone has full days to spend on dinner parties. I had about an hour to prep for my meal, and sometimes you may only have an hour (or worse!) but you can make it work!
  • Place Settings: I prefer white plates and cloth napkins with simple decor. Fresh flowers are always a nice touch.

The Menu:

  • Courses: I rarely make a dessert but this occasion called for one. Decide how many courses you will serve.
  • Food: I started with the gnocchi to go along with my Italian theme and since that would be somewhat rich, I wanted the other courses to remain light. Feeling stuffed may mean the food was fantastic but it certainly isn’t an enjoyable way to end the evening. Let’s also not forget that I’m a Nutritionist and a strong believer in portion control. :)
  • Drinks: I always like to start with prosecco, whether the meal is an Italian one or not. I also served Italian Red & White wines as well as beer.

Antipasti: Antipasto Platter: Olives, Artichokes, Roasted Red Peppers, Prosciutto & Pecorino Romano

Insalata: Garden Lettuce & Parsley Salad with Lemon Viniagrette

Gnocchi: Potato Gnocchi with Olive Oil & Parmesan

Dolci: Cannoli Cream with Fresh Berries

Most importantly however is that the host should never be stuck in the kitchen the whole night. You should choose dishes that can easily be made ahead of time, or can be thrown together rather quickly at the end. It’s imperative that the majority of the prep is complete by the time your guests arrive. Oh, and have fun! That’s what it’s all about anyway – sure lucious food makes for a great party, but it all comes down to the company you share it with!

Buon Appetito!

Thanks for your support in getting me to the next round! Voting starts tomorrow for Challenge #3!

37 Comments (Reply )

  1. sophia
    Oct 03, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

    Very sound advice. I was laboring in the kitchen for two days so I can get everything done in time. I think it’s also important to choose things that are good to prep ahead. Antipasto platter is a good idea!


  2. lynn @ the actor's diet
    Oct 03, 2010 @ 10:52 pm

    great menu – i love that it’s mostly vegetarian too so i could recreate it at home! good luck with PFB and congrats on making it to #3!!!


  3. Dana
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 7:28 am

    Wow… your Italian dinner party looks great!! I love the tips you shared. Congrats and Good luck in round 3!!!


  4. erica
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 8:28 am

    This dinner menu looks awesome Emily!


  5. RhodeyGirl
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 8:37 am

    What a classic, perfect meal. Just voted for you!


  6. kate
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 9:16 am

    looks good! and i love what you said about the hostess not being stuck in the kitchen. that happens so often!

    you’ll have to let me know what you think of the bacon choc chip pancake mix. we sell that too but i have yet to try it!


  7. Amy (Sing For Your Supper)
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 9:32 am

    Great post!! I really enjoyed your tips and your gorgeous food! You’ve got my vote!!


  8. Natty
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 11:14 am

    This post reminds me of some advice I once heard– “don’t show the work”. Your party looks effortless!


    • Emily
      Oct 04, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

      Love that advice!


  9. Whitney @ Amuse Bouche
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 12:05 pm

    OH heck yes to the prosecco sister, it is my FAVY! Shall we have a bottle together to celebrate your amazing dinner party? :) voting right now!


  10. jen cheung
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 3:20 pm

    VOTEDDDDDDD! Good luck! Wish you all the best!

    jen @


  11. Lori Lynn
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

    Sounds like a simply lovely meal, and I bet everything tasted great. Good luck! Love the gnocchi pic.


  12. becky
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 9:05 pm

    i was lucky enough to eat this fantastic meal. thank you Em! it was as delicious as it sounded and looked:)


    • Emily
      Oct 04, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

      Thanks Becky :) It was so nice to see you all!


  13. mary beth hughes
    Oct 05, 2010 @ 12:50 pm

    emily this looks great! headed over to vote now. :)


  14. Peggy
    Oct 05, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

    Definitely great party planning tips! Your menu sounds quite delicious! Good job and good luck!


  15. Jacob's Kitchen
    Oct 05, 2010 @ 5:44 pm

    Great post. The menu sound/looks amazing. Italian food lends itself so well to the simple, rustic, chic presentation. Which is why I love it so much. I voted for you! =)

    Good luck! Fingers crossed that we both make it through to the next round. =)


  16. Lisa~Korean American Mommy
    Oct 05, 2010 @ 6:55 pm

    Thanks for the vote! Best wishes to you.


  17. Peter
    Oct 05, 2010 @ 7:23 pm

    I don’t think there’s a better combo than prosecco and prosciutto. What a start :)

    You got our vote!

    (Our entry is here: )


  18. Liz
    Oct 05, 2010 @ 8:01 pm

    That pile of prosciutto is making my mouth water! Voted! Good luck!


  19. Katrina
    Oct 05, 2010 @ 9:27 pm

    I love your planing tips. I also looked through your FAQ’s and I’m adding you to my reader. I look forward to reading more! You’ve definitely got my vote.


  20. Jessica
    Oct 05, 2010 @ 10:35 pm

    Love your menu! Hope we both make it to the next round! :-) You have my vote!


  21. @lickmyspoon
    Oct 05, 2010 @ 10:56 pm

    Everything in this menu seems so simple, but at the same time very luxurious. Prosecco is fantastic! I had way too much of it at new year’s a couple years back. Good luck this week, you’ve got a vote of ours.

    Lick My Spoon


  22. Courtney (Pancakes & Postcards)
    Oct 06, 2010 @ 7:14 am

    great tips! your party looks awesome, good luck!!!


  23. Jun Belen
    Oct 06, 2010 @ 11:56 am

    Great minds think alike! I made a simple Italian dinner just like yours. Simple and elegant. That makes it luxurious. Well done!


  24. Crystal's Cozy Kitchen
    Oct 06, 2010 @ 10:27 pm

    Dinner looked excellent! I always think I should have them more often after I host one… then life gets busy and my intentions get pushed aside.
    Good luck!


  25. stephchows
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 7:55 am

    Great job too! Good luck!! And I hope your mom loves the pumpkin pizzelle recipe :) I already want to make another batch!!


  26. Holly
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 10:17 am

    you are such a classy lady. i love your appreciation for classic, simple and delicious food. and that photo of the cannoli cream with fresh berries – could you do a post on that?!?


  27. Amanda (The Culinary Passport)
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 5:15 pm

    Looks wonderful! You have my vote :)


  28. Mariko
    Oct 07, 2010 @ 11:09 pm

    Ha! If I rarely made dessert, maybe I would be healthy like you. :)
    I like how yours is so simple and fresh.
    I will definitely try to start more meals with prosecco.

    Your sandwich in the other post looks so delicious. Tapenade. I love it.


  29. hmm...?
    Oct 12, 2010 @ 9:31 pm



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