Today's Entertaining: Choosing the Menu

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Throwing summer parties is fun, but a really good get together takes planning and forethought. After deciding to have a party, you will want to begin planning the menu. That should be simple enough, right? Maybe, but there are a few things to consider. You will, of course, base some of your menu on personal preference, but be sure to factor in the season, occasion, and time and budget limitations. Lastly, your overall menu should be pleasing to the eyes as well as the tastebuds. You will want to choose recipes that are simple and that you have made with confidence in the past.

Choosing recipes
Begin your menu planning with the main course. Use that selection to determine your first course and dessert. Especially for summer, give yourself a little break by using a cold first course that can be prepared in advance.

Keep it balanced
Vary courses in terms of flavors, colors, and textures. Avoid courses that are very similar. The goal is to provide a special experience your guests won't soon forget. It is also important to vary your dishes based on the content of the recipe. Heavy main courses should be offset by lighter first courses and desserts.

Avoiding Pitfalls

  • Have a 'plan B' in mind in the event that you can't find a necessary ingredient.
  • Make sure that you have inquired about any special dietary needs of your guests.
  • Limit your dinner to three courses unless you have extra help.