I love to cook and entertain so cooking a seven course dinner party was not hard to do. Today I am sharing my best dinner party recipes from the dinner.
I love planning menus for dinner parties. This seven course menu is special because every single menu item is something I have cooked before, many times! These really are my best dinner party recipes.
Planning this Dinner with Friends was so much fun. Everyone who came to the dinner was very special to me and I wanted the menu to reflect how much I cared about them. When planning the menu, I wanted each course to reflect thoughtfulness and effort and to create a special memory of the evening.
Because we were planning seven courses, I decided to make each course smaller in size. The portions were large “bites” versus full servings. I didn’t want anyone to leave uncomfortably full but I wanted them all ot have a chance to experience some amazing flavors.
I asked in advance if anyone had any food allergies or food aversions so I was sure not to include any of those. I think it’s an important component to entertaining to consider your guests allergies and dislikes. Nothing is worse than serving something that someone can’t eat or doesn’t eat. It creates an elephant in the room that is so easily avoided.
We had very few requests for dietary limitations, and we began planning the menu. I knew I wanted to do seven courses and knew I wanted to serve the Chilean sea bass. It is truly one of my most favorite recipes. Sea bass is expensive, so in our house, it is only for special occasions, and this was a very special occasion.
I also knew that I wanted to serve mud pie. It is my most favorite dessert. I haven’t had it in years. I stopped eating dessert about seven years ago and for the most part, I don’t miss it. But I miss mud pie, so I wanted to share it with this special group and let them enjoy it.
The Seven-Course Menu
Nibbles – Boursin Cheese w/ Fig Jam, Grilled French Baguette Rounds, and Sweet and Spicy Nuts
Tomato Bisque with Grilled Cheese Sticks
Crab Cakes with Lemon Dill Sauce
Salad with Pears, Shaved Toscano Cheese and Sugared Pecans with Champagne Vinaigrette
Sea Bass with Soy Glaze and Ginger Butter Sauce and Grilled Chicken with Pistachio Avocado Sauce with Brown Rice and Roasted Vegetables
Course #1 – Nibbles – Boursin Cheese w/ Fig Jam, Grilled French Baguette Rounds, and Sweet and Spicy Nuts
We started the menu off with what we called the Nibbles course. This course is just a nibble to start the dinner. Boursin cheese is a soft Gournay cheese, softer than cream cheese with garlic and herbs. We top this with fig jam spread which is sweet and a bit chewy. These together are the perfect combination of sweet and salty. This yummy sweet and saltiness is served with grilled french baguette rounds and makes the perfect start to an evening.
Also as part of the nibbles course, we served sweet and spicy nuts. Warning! These are really addictive. They are just the right amount of sweet and salty with just a little spicy too! They are amazing!
- 3 Packages Boursin Cheese
- 8.5 oz Fig Jam Spread
- French baguette, sliced into ¼” slices
- 1 (approx.) Cup Olive Oil
- 4 tablespoon Butter
- 16 oz unsalted mixed nuts
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoon water
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Boursin cheese comes in a round foil container. Remove foil cut the cheese round in half. With your hands, reshape the cheese into a round.
- Place cheese onto serving platters. Spoon fig jam over top in generous spoonfuls.
- To toast the baguettes, In a medium saucepan, pour ¼ cup of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter into saucepan. Warm over low to medium heat.
- Once the olive oil and butter is bubbly, place as many baguette rounds in pan and cook until golden, about two minutes. Remove and cool.
- Repeat for additional baguettes, adding additional oil and butter as needed. Can be made 1 day in advance. Prior to serving warm in oven until slightly warmed, if too hot, they will melt the cheese.
- Serve baguettes with Boursin and Fig Jam on serving platter.
- Put brown sugar, butter, water, salt and cayenne into a medium sized saucepan and melt until syrupy. Add mixed nuts and stir until coated.
- Turn out onto parchment paper on the baking sheet and spread into a single layer.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until nuts are browned. Remove from oven and let cool.
- They will be sticky, kind of like brittle. Once completely cooled (if you try to do it before completely cooled, you just have a sticky mess). Break apart and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Boursin Cheese with Fig Jam
Grilled French Baguette Rounds
Here is a close up of how we set the appetizer on the wood pieces. I knew this presentation would be fun!
Course #2 – Tomato Bisque with Grilled Cheese Sticks
The next course was a soup course. One of my favorite comfort foods is grilled cheese and tomato soup. We served a Fire Roasted Tomato Bisque which is light on cream, just enough to soften the texture, but not too much so that it is not a heavy cream soup. This soup is blended in the blender or food processor so it has a velvety texture. This is one of the best dinner party recipes.
Now, I have to say, we elevated grilled cheese to a new level. We used Texas Toast bread, because, well, we were in Texas and it just happens to make the, best, grilled, cheese, ever! We also used three different cheeses, including mozzarella so that the cheese gets really oozey and gooey. The outside of the sandwich is crispy and golden and then is baked so that the cheese gets super melty.
We cut each sandwich in half and served it across the cup that we served the soup in. It made for a beautiful presentation and made it easy to dunk the grilled cheese right into the soup!
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 Cups finely chopped yellow onions
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 3 Cups Chicken Stock/Broth
- 1 28oz can and 1 14.5 oz can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
- ½ cup half and half
- 4 leaves fresh basil, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 loaf of Texas Toast
- 1 brick gruyere cheese, sliced thinly
- 1 brick sharp white cheddar cheese, sliced thinly
- 1 brick mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly
- 4 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 tablespoon butter
Fire Roasted Tomato Bisque
- Place olive oil and butter in saucepan over low to medium heat. When oil and butter are combined and bubbly add onions and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent and beginning to brown. Remove from heat.
- In stock pot on low to medium heat, add chicken stock/broth, both cans of tomatoes (do not drain). Stir to combine. Add onions, garlic and oil.
- Add half and half and basil to pot, stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Once combined and cooked through, remove from heat.
- Transfer soup to blender. Pulse until smooth.
- Return to pot. Soup can be made ahead and refrigerated. When ready to serve, warm slowly before serving.
Grilled Cheese Sticks
- Cut away crusts from bread. To assemble each sandwich, use two pieces of bread. Layer slices of gruyere on top of the bread. On top of the gruyere, layer the sharp white cheddar cheese slices. On top of the cheddar cheese, layer the mozzarella slices.
- In a saucepan, over medium heat, add 1 TBL of olive oil and 1 TBL of butter. Once the olive oil and butter is combined and bubbly.
- Carefully transfer the bread layered with cheese into the pan, bread side down. Place the second piece of bread on top of cheese.
- When the bread is golden brown, carefully flip the sandwich to brown the second piece of bread.
- Once both sides of the bread are browned, transfer the sandwich to a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper.
- Place in oven heated to 300 degrees. Bake sandwich for 10-12 minutes until cheeses are melted.
- Cut sandwiches in half and serve with soup.
Course #3 – Crab Cakes with Lemon Dill Sauce
One of the most popular items at our Annual Christmas Party is my crab cakes with Lemon Dill Sauce. I knew I wanted to include these in our menu. If you are new to following me, my husband and I have thrown an Annual Christmas Party for 35 years and this recipe is the most anticipated. Now you know why my crab cakes are always one of the best dinner party recipes.
Many of our friends stand near the door to the kitchen to catch the Crab Cakes coming out hot! The lemon dill sauce is one that you can serve with any fish. Our Dinner with Friends guests loved these just as much as my Christmas Party guests do. It made me so happy to share a part of my California life with my Texas friends.
- Crab Cakes
- 3 TBL butter
- 1 scallion, chopped fine
- 1 glove garlic, minced
- 2 TBL red bell pepper, chopped fine
- Ground red pepper (cayenne) to taste
- 3 TBL heavy cream
- 1 TBL dijon mustard
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp minced fresh basil
- 1 tsp minced fresh parsley
- 1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
- 1 pound fresh lump crabmeat
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 2 TBL vegetable oil
- Lemon Dill Sauce
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 TBL fresh dill chopped
- 1 TBL minced fresh parsley
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 TBL grated lemon peel
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Lightly chop the crab meat in the food processor and set aside.
- Melt one TBL of the butter in a large skillet and saute the scallion, garlic and red bell pepper until wilted, about 2 minutes.
- Add the ground red pepper, cream and mustard.
- Cool slightly. Add the egg, basil, parsley, 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs, and the crabmeat.
- Mix lightly. Mold into 25 one-inch wide patties.
- Combine the remaining 1/2 cup of bread crumbs and the parmesan cheese in a shallow dish.
- Roll the patties in the crumb and cheese mixture.
- Chill for at least one hour. (The crab cakes can be made one day prior and refrigerated, covered, up to this point.)
- Combine the oil and the remaining 2 TBL of butter over moderate heat in a large skillet.
- Saute the crab cakes 3 minutes on each side.
Lemon Dill Sauce
- Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.
- Chill until the mixture thickens.
The Lemon Dill Sauce in this recipe is also really great with salmon (baked or smoked).
Course #4 – BLT tomatoes
Because we were serving small bites for course, a perfect recipe is another one from our Christmas party, BLT tomatoes. They are kind of a pain to make. The cherry tomatoes are small and you need to hollow them out, then stuff them with the lettuce, bacon, mayo mixture. However, they are worth the effort. These are yummy little “popable” bites and were the perfect size for our fourth course.
- 36 Cherry Tomatoes
- 6 Pieces Thick Sliced Bacon,
- ¼ Head Iceberg Lettuce
- ¼ Cup Mayonnaise
- Slice top of cherry tomato off close to the top. With very small spoon, carefully scoop out the inside of the tomatoes. Throw away the tops and insides of the cherry tomatoes.
- Cook the bacon slices until very crispy. Blot any extra grease from bacon. Chop bacon very finely and set aside.
- Chop lettuce very finely.
- Mix bacon, lettuce and mayonnaise together. With a small spoon, fill the cherry tomatoes with the bacon lettuce and mayonnaise mixture. These can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
*If you love BLTs, this can also be made into a salad. Chop tomatoes instead of hollowing them out and mix together. Voila, BLT salad!
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Course #5 – Salad with Pears, Shaved Toscano Cheese and Sugared Pecans with Champagne Vinaigrette
Of course we wanted to include a salad course and this is one of my favorites. I love a vinaigrette that is both garlicky and mustardy and this is my go to recipe. I have it made up in the refrigerator on a regular basis.
This salad includes sliced pears which add a great texture to the salad. Toscana cheese from Trader Joes is one of my favorite cheeses to add to a salad. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, then look for Sartori’s BellaVitano cheese. The cheese has the texture of cheddar and the taste of aged parmesan and is soaked in wine. This cheese adds just the right amount of salt to a salad without adding salt. I also add sugared pecans, which, well, they are sugared pecans, so yum!
- 1 Bag Mixed Spring Greens
- 2 Pears, sliced thinly
- 1 brick Toscana cheese shaved thinly (or aged parmesan cheese)
- 8 oz unsalted pecan halves
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoon Champagne Vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- ½ teaspoon Minced Garlic
- ½ Cup Olive Oil
- Season with salt and pepper
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add pecans and sugar.
- Stir until sugar is melted and pecans are coated. Stir constantly being careful not to allow the sugar to burn and scorch the pecans.
- Turn out the sugared pecans onto parchment paper to cool.
Champagne Vinaigrette (makes 3/4 cup of dressing)
- Whisk together all ingredients until combined.
- Salad assembly, place a handful of greens on each plate. Place approximately 6-8 pear slices on each plate, sprinkle with cheese, pecans and dress salad to your liking.
Course #6 – Sea Bass with Soy Glaze and Ginger Butter Sauce and Grilled Chicken with Pistachio Avocado Sauce with Brown Rice and Roasted Vegetables
We planned for the entree course to be a bit larger than the small bites in courses 1-5. Nibbles and small bites are great to lead up to the entree, but we wanted to provide a little bit more than a bite when it came to the entree. So, we put two dishes on the plate and served it together with rice and roasted vegetables. The first dish was the Sea Bass with Soy Glaze and Ginger Butter Sauce. This dinner was so special to me and this such a special dish. In fact, it is one of my favorite “go to best dinner party recipes”. The second dish was Grilled Chicken with Pistachio Avocado Sauce. This is actually a recipe that my son Matt introduced me to! The sauce on this chicken is so incredibly yummy. It is vibrant and velvety and has jalapeno in it, so it has a little bit of a kick to it also.
To round out the plate, we served brown rice and oven roasted peppers, onions and asparagus.
- 6 tablespoon Soy Sauce
- 3 tablespoon Honey
- 3 teaspoon Rice Wine Vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoon Cornstarch
- 1 cup dry white wine
- ⅓ cup chopped shallots
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh ginger
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 4 6-to-7 ounce sea bass fillets
- 4 tablespoon chilled butter, cut into small pieces
- Mix together soy sauce, honey and rice wine vinegar in a small saucepan over low heat.
- In a small bowl, mix water and cornstarch until smooth. Add water/cornstarch mixture to saucepan.
- Stir mixture over medium to high heat until the glaze is thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and cool mixture to room temperature. Glaze can be prepared 1 day ahead. If making ahead, cover and refrigerate.
Ginger Butter Sauce
- Combine wine, shallots and ginger in small saucepan over high heat.
- Boil until liquid is reduced ¼ cup, about 5 minutes. Add cream and boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Sauce can be prepared 1 day ahead. If making ahead, cover and refrigerate.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Cover baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange fish on baking sheet.
- If glaze has been refrigerated, bring to room temperature.
- Brush glaze onto fish and bake until opaque in center, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven.
- While fish is baking, bring ginger butter sauce to simmer. Remove from heat and add butter to sauce pain whisking until melted.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon over baked fish and serve.
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 3/4 cup soy sauce
- 3/4 cup honey
- 3/4 cup water
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 TBL cilantro
- fresh lime, squeezed
- PISTACHIO AVOCADO SAUCE
- 1 avocado
- 1 cup packed parsley and cilantro leaves (combined)
- 1 jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed
- 2 cloves garlic
- juice of one lime (or two – get lots of limey goodness in there!)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup pistachios (you can sub other nuts)
- Cut the chicken into chunks. Place in a large ziplock plastic bag or bowl.
- Pour the soy sauce, honey, water, and garlic into a bowl. Whisk until incorporated. Set aside about 3/4 cup of the sauce for brushing the chicken later.
- Pour the remaining sauce into the bag or bowl with the chicken. Seal or cover the mixture and refrigerate as long as you can – 4 hours is a good minimum but you can go as long as overnight.
- When you’re ready to grill, preheat the grill on medium-high for 5-10 minutes and oil the grates. Meanwhile, drain off the marinade and place the chicken pieces on skewers. Place the chicken on the hot grill, cover, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Brush with reserved sauce and flip. Repeat this process until you see that the chicken is browned to your liking and fully
- Serve with cilantro, lime, Magic Green Sauce, or any other dipping sauces you like. We also like this with a salad and some naan or rice.
- To make the five-minute green sauce, pulse all remaining ingredients – except pistachios – in a food processor until incorporated.
- Add pistachios and pulse until mostly smooth (depends on what consistency you want).
- Serve as a dip, spread, or sauce — or add additional water or oil to thin the sauce for use as a dressing or a marinade.
Course # 7 – Mud Pie
For a very sweet end to our evening, we served mud pie and berries for me and others who didn’t want a sweet dessert. Mud pie is layered with decadence and every bite is so good.
This recipe is so easy. You can make this as a full pie, or in individual serving cups.
- 1 package Oreo Thins (frosting removed)
- 3 Tablespoons melted butter
- ½ Quart Coffee Ice Cream
- 1 Jar Hot Fudge Sauce
- 1 Cup Chopped Peanuts
- Crush Oreo chocolate cookies in blender or food processor until ground to fine crumbs.
- Add 3 tablespoons of melted butter and combine until coated.
- Press cookie crumb mixture into serving dishes.
- Top the cookie crumb mixture with 1 scoop of coffee ice cream.
- Top ice cream with 3 tablespoons of hot fudge sauce.
- Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of chopped peanuts.
Place in freezer for a few hours or until ready to serve.
Bringing all of these special friends and two of my sons together for this evening was something that I have wanted to do for a very long time. It was a bit delayed in happening, but once it came together, it was magical.
I am so happy to have been able to bring everyone together for this first Dinner with Friends and to have created memories that I know we all keep forever.
Be sure to check in tomorrow. Because you are not going to believe what is going to happen next.
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