With the holiday season inching closer, it feels like this year has gone by in a flash. Stephen and I have done some serious adulting in 2017 and we can’t wait to celebrate both the past year and the year to come with our family and friends. Every year, we spend a few nights at each of our parents houses and every night is a feast. From hot pot to turkey to endless plates of homemade cookies, our holiday season has always centred around food.
Stephen and I also love to host dinner for friends visiting from out of town. Our first time hosting was a bit chaotic with every dish dirtied, heaping plates of leftovers and both of us almost too tired to enjoy the company. Over the years, we’ve learned a lot and while we’re still far from being perfect hosts, I like to think we’ve gotten better at organizing our chaos.
Win your very own Stainless Steel Roaster
To help make your holiday hosting a little easier, we’ve teamed up with All-Clad Canada to share our hosting tips and a delicious Prime Rib Roast recipe. Starting December 1st, All-Clad is running #12DaysAllClad giveaways, including the beautiful roaster in this post!
For more details, check out any of All-Clad’s social media (Instagram @AllClad_Canada, Facebook @AllCladCanada or Twitter @AllCladCanada) pages and my latest Instagram post.
Here are also some tips from our kitchen about how we plan for a dinner party (more like casual get togethers that include being fed)that make the evening as stress free as possible.
What to serve
Figuring out a menu is my first step in organizing any kind of get together. I start with deciding on my entree and then work backwards to sides, appetizers and snacks. I try not to repeat the same kind of protein with each course. So if my main is turkey, I’ll serve oysters and a charcuterie plate for appetizers. If my main is seafood, I’d lean towards a leafy salad and toasted crostini with different butters. Since Stephen and I aren’t the strongest bakers (aside from pie), I’ll often leave dessert to my guests if they’re looking for something to bring. If your dessert game is strong, guests could bring a side or appetizer.
This recipe for Prime Rib Roast is a classic that Stephen and I love to make for company. The steps are straightforward, the portion size easily scalable, and the final result always impresses. During December, there’s usually at least one grocer that has Prime Rib Roast for sale, making it a great entree for a holiday dinner.
Tip: Don’t forget to ask about dietary restrictions and allergies! Since I’ve been expecting, I now appreciate a selection of non-alcoholic beverages even more.
How to plan a portion size
Once you have a menu of courses, the next thing to figure out is portion size. Stephen and I have learned first hand that 150 oysters is too many for 4 people, especially when there’s two more courses to follow. The best case is knowing how your guests’ appetites measure up relative to your own. I always go bigger on the main protein, which is the star of the meal and easy to pack away. One pound per person is a good amount. For a prime rib, one bone is usually good for 2 people. The one we made here was 3 bones and would’ve comfortably fed 6-8 people.
For sides, at a minimum I like to have a lighter side (brussel sprouts, french beans, kale salad), and a heavier side (yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes). My goal is for all the sides to be finished with minimal leftovers. If I plan for two appetizers, I’ll stick to just two sides, but add one more if we have just one appetizer.
Tip: When it comes to charcuterie and cheese platters, don’t plate everything at once! I like to hold about 50% back and refill as the platter empties. This also lets you control how much your guests are filling up on snacks before the main meal. I plate the rest after dinner to munch on while we’re chatting or playing games.
The importance of multi-tasking
Multi-tasking is a must. When the roast is cooking? Make your sides. When Stephen’s at the stove? I’m setting the table or setting up snacks. Splitting up tasks splits the stress as well. Stephen is our executive chef but I make a pretty good sous chef and hostess.
Tip: If you’re going to be up early to get something in the oven, plan an afternoon nap into your schedule.
What to do with leftovers
First, I try to send my guests home with as much leftovers as they’ll take. This means stocking takeout or tupperware containers that I won’t miss. Next, I pack what I can for work lunches the upcoming week or dinners. Turkey or roasts are great because the protein can be repurposed (turkey soup, sandwiches, salad topping) easily and without becoming boring. Lastly, we freeze the rest, because there’s no way I can eat the same thing more than 3 times a week.