Collaborative cooking versus have-everything-good-to-go-when-your-guests-arrive

I’m a fan of collaborative cooking – partly because I love alliterations and partly because it takes the pressure off. What I mean by this is that my preferred way to host is to invite a friend over and figure out how to make something new together. What’s an even bigger challenge for me (and if I’m being honest, what I almost never even try) is the have-everything-good-to-go-when-your-guests-arrive style of hosting.

A few weeks ago, we had some friends over. These pals had hosted us about a year ago, and so I was already feeling bad about the delay in returning the favour – I couldn’t risk a delay in serving food now that they would finally be in my home. I planned early and thoroughly:

The menu

As learned last week, I picked a straight-forward menu that could mostly be prepared before hand from Cookie and Kate recipes Roasted Butternut Squash Tacos and Herb Red Potato Salad. My friend volunteered to bring a green salad, so I was off the hook for that. I had never made either of these recipes before, but picked them because except for the roasted butternut squash in the tacos, each element could be served room temperature, maximizing my prep time and minimizing my mealtime work.

(A quick side note about this potato salad – it is amazing. I ended up making it again two days later to bring to a pot luck BBQ. A summer staple for sure. )

While these main seemed manageable, I still needed a backup plan in the form of appetizers. Should dinner take longer than planned, I could at least keep my pals satiated. I picked out some appetizers the only way I know how – googling “easy appetizers”. I settled on Garlic-Herb Pinwheels and Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta.

How it turned out

IMG_20160611_174847.jpg

Butternut squash taco leftovers. I’ll be the first to admit that if I plan to keep up this food blog I’m going to need to improve my food photography.

If you’re judging based on the have-everything-good-to-go-when-your-guests-arrive style of hosting, this evening was a major success. I was just plating the final bruschetta as I noticed my friends walking down my lane-way. The potato salad and black bean coleslaw for the tacos was prepped and the butternut squash was in the oven. Hell, I’d even started clean-up.

What I didn’t think about, until it was in front of my face, was how every single menu item was carb-based. Sure there were vegetables, but do butternut squash tacos really need a side of potato salad? And should that meal be prefaced with puff pastry and thick bread? My obsession with making sure everything was ready on time drove me to create an easy and straightforward meal while ignoring how it’d all come together.

Lessons learned

  • Plan ahead and pick things that don’t need to be serving piping hot.
  • Never listen to Martha Stewart when she recommends you tear bread for bruschetta – it will not look nice.
  • Be mindful of how the overall meal will come together to ensure balance.
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