throwing a simple + do-able dinner party (recipes)

Earlier this week I shared with you my dinner party I called An Evening to Nourish. Well, today, I'd love to give you the recipes from that evening.

I love throwing parties. Kid parties, dinner parties, play dates, it doesn't matter.'s the food part that always puts me over the edge.

I didn't want to be that flustered hostess!

I didn't want to be in the kitchen with final details and timing meats and vegetables to come out together and stressing about well, stressing out about the whole thing.

proverbs 27.17

So I spent a good while on Pinterest (do you follow me on Pinterest? click here if you want to!) brainstorming a menu that was simple and yet beautifully hearty enough to serve for dinner.

Everything I made was simple + had the ability to be (almost entirely) made ahead!

In the future, I'll likely begin to do it more Potluck style. But for this particular evening, I simply asked the ladies to bring either a bottle of wine or an appetizer/tapas type dish.


Now remember, I asked all my guests to bring either something to drink or an appetizer so this isn't the only one for the evening. I'd recommend maybe perhaps 3 different items for a party of 10ish people.

(need more ideas? click here.)


As you'll see, I had plenty of kid-help for our dinner.

Don't kick them out of the kitchen...teach them! Make it fun!

caprese skewers 1

What I decided to make has been a big favorite since traveling to Italy and realizing tomatoes aren't disgusting:

Caprese Skewers with balsamic reduction.

Don't be scared off by the idea of making reduction. I thought I would screw it up, but it was fantastic.

caprese skewers


Cherry tomatoes, halved

Fresh mozzarella balls

Fresh basil

Toothpics (and washi tape to make flags, if desired)


Using tooth pics, skewer mozzarella, tomato, and basil (fold leaf in half and poke stick through). Make sure you're arranging them in a way they can stand on their own after being put together.

pink double stripe

Balsamic Reduction:

1/2 cup balsamic venegar

2 tbsp brown sugar, packed

Add balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a slight boil and reduce by half, for around 6-8 minutes; set aside and let cool. It will thicken after cooling.


salad 1

Because I wanted something I could make ahead, I tossed together several bowls of my own variation of nicoise salad.

rosemary roasted potatoes 1

I love using these rainbow potatoes (which I simply find at our neighborhood grocery store) and slice them thinly and place them into a pan in a single layer.

rosemary roasted potatoes

Now don't hate me, but I don't measure. I just pour olive oil into a ramekin or small bowl and crush a clove of garlic into the it, along with some fresh rosemary, and a bit of salt and pepper.

And then I (or the kids) simply brush it on both sides of each slice of tomato.

rosemary roasted potatoes 2

Then, sliding the pan into the oven at 400 degrees, I roast them for 2o minutes, checking them all the while to make sure they're not getting too dark.

At the 20 minute mark, I flip each slice so the other side can bake, again still keeping an eye on them every few minutes.

Super simple. Promise.




Pre-packaged kale + brussels sprouts salad (I don't use all the other fixings in the bag, just the greens)

Pitted kalamata olives

Sliced heirloom tomatoes

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes (recipe above)

Pine nuts



Just dump a bunch of it in. Whatever ratio looks good to you...that's right, just toss it in!


You'll notice this is a vegetarian option since I wasn't sure how all of my guests ate. Some rotisserie or roasted chicken would also be fantastic in here, as well!



Now don't freak out, I didn't make all these myself. I just wanted to try my hand at one. And goodness, why don't I mix my own more often?! It was so crazy easy.

The others however, are simply re-packaged. Because truly, how much prettier does this look than a bunch of boring 'ol grocery store salad dressings?!

salad dressing 2

NOTE: Those dressings which I did not make were purchased in the chilled salad section at our neighborhood grocery store, as well as Trader Joe's. That Cilantro Garlic dressing? Trader Joe's. And you seriously need it. I use it on everything (not just salad).

salad dressing 1



1 cup tightly packed basil leaves (roughly chopped)

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

1 tsp salt


Put it all into a jar and shake together. I know...whew! Super hard.


I double or tripled this recipe. So pay attention to how much you're making and how much you need for your party!

salad dressing


I envisioned using my grandma's tea cups for some sort of chocolate something, so when looking around, I knew chocolate mousse would be the perfect make-ahead dessert!


All you use is water + chocolate...and it takes FIVE minutes!

chocolate mousse 3



9.35 oz  bittersweet chocolate (preferable 70% cocoa), chopped

1 cup water

4 tbsp sugar, optional

chocolate mousse



Place a large mixing bowl on top of another slightly smaller one, filled with ice and cold water (the bottom of the large bowl should touch the ice). Set aside


Put chocolate and water (also sugar and/or liquor if you're using) in a medium-sized pan and melt the chocolate over medium heat, stirring occasionally.


Pour the melted chocolate into the mixing bowl bowl sitting on top of ice and water, and start whisking with a wire whisk (or an electrical hand-held mixer) until thick. Watch the texture as you whip and make sure not to over-whip as it will make the mousse grainy. If it does become grainy (which is possible at your first try), transfer it back into the pan, reheat until half of it is melted, pour it back to the mixing bowl and whisk again briefly.


Divide into four serving cups and either chill for later or serve immediately

NOTES: I recommend using a wire whisk when whipping together + since this recipe serves 4, I tripled it!

(recipe originally found here)

chocolate mousse 1


Though we enjoyed wine through dinner, I usually make a fun cocktail when friends come over.

I'm calling it Champagne Lemonade.



1 bottle champagne or prosecco

1 can frozen pink lemonade concentrate (thawed)

1 cup vanilla vodka (chilled)

fresh lemon + raspberries for garnish (optional)

NOTE: this time I used raspberry lemonade and it was too sweet! don't make the mistake I did!


pink double stripe

Remember, this is supposed to be fun! Forget about the gourmet something you want to serve if it makes you a stressed out mess before the event!

This is about gathering with is NOT about the food!

Though they might leave remembering how wonderful things tasted upon their palate, it's not what they'll remember weeks from now.

What will your guests remember?

The experience, the togetherness, the conversation.

take joy-signature-new-pink