Behind The Butter

my first dinner party

Last night I had some friends from church over for a Indian feast dinner party. I don’t know why, but I woke up yesterday absolutely craving hot, spicy, delicious Indian food and decided to take measures into my own hands.

There were six of us total (well, seven if you count baby Reese!) and I spent the day preparing this and this. Unfortunately, I was sort of a bum food blogger and I didn’t take any photos. I’m a newbie entertainer and haven’t mastered the ability to multitask yet.

Any seasoned entertainers have any tips? I could use them, especially when I’m sweating through my blouse and wobbling on four inch heels while I rush the rice to the table.

Anyway, the evening went pretty flawlessly and afterward we all hung out and played telephone pictionary since that’s what mature adults in their mid-twenties do on Friday nights around here.

Here was my menu:

Channa Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

Mattar Paneer (didn’t make this—got it from Whole Foods)

White Rice


to drink:


Pinot Noir

Since my dish collection consists of Target hand-me-downs and Rudy’s barbecue cups, I finally invested in some classy, practical dishes from World Market.

These are the “terra” plates and they’re only, like, $4.99 each. Steal! Here’s the link.

I also got a cute tablecloth and a Moroccan-style lantern centerpiece from World Market for my patio table. I’m not sure when I became an adult and started caring about lantern centerpieces, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

I highly recommend picking a theme (like Indian food) for your first dinner party. It cuts down on the stress of figuring out what to serve with what and gives guests a chance to try food they might not normally have at home.

On that note, I’m off to bake a million vegan cookies for a yoga event today!

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  • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing
    May 14, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Ah, good friends, good food, good times 🙂 We played telephone pictionary with my extended family at Thanksgiving, and my sick grandma, who was just watching us play, kept saying, “I could just die today! I’m so happy to see everyone laughing so much!” I cherish that sweet memory because she did pass away a couple months later. Such a great moment to see everyone loving each other and having a great time 🙂

  • Molly @ RDexposed
    May 14, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Dinner parties are great! We keep ours limited usually to just one other couple to keep things from getting too hectic. And yeah, I suppose when you start having dinner parties (rather than a keg party) you realize you’re an actual adult!

  • Kelli H (Made in Sonoma)
    May 14, 2011 at 9:02 am

    I love World Market! I got the cutest set of bowls that are all different colors and stack wonderfully for $14. Sounds like a great Friday night.

  • Ann
    May 14, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Yum! That looks delicious. I might make just that for an impromptu get together tonight!

  • The Teenage Taste
    May 14, 2011 at 9:15 am

    I’ve never hosted a dinner party before, but I want to! I love the Indian Food theme. Naan is my favorite! 😀

  • Liv @ The Salty n' Sweet
    May 14, 2011 at 9:31 am

    I can’t wait until I throw my first dinner party! But even at my birthday parties where I baked or cooked a lil’ somthin’, I got stressed pretty easily. I’m sure it gets easier with time and wisdom 🙂

    Your plates are so simple and classy, and I’m sure everyone loved your food!

  • Kiran @
    May 14, 2011 at 9:37 am

    I can relate to you on entertaining and photography. I usually hand over the camera responsibility to hubby on that day. Im usually too busy to even remember taking photos for the blog. Not being discouraging or whatsoever, if it’s a DSLR, just switch it back to Auto before giving the camera to someone else 😉

  • VeggieGirl
    May 14, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I want to come to your dinner party!

  • Laura @FoodSnobSTL
    May 14, 2011 at 9:41 am

    YUM! I’m sure everything was great. My only advice is that it gets easier the more you do it.

  • Brenna [fabuleuxdestin]
    May 14, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Ugh I know hosting is so stressful, it helps to have something that can sit simmering or just be warmed up. But on the other hand when I hosted my first French friends for dinner I did that with risotto and it was definitely not as good as when it is just finished. Le sigh.

  • Shannon Blogs
    May 14, 2011 at 9:57 am

    So darn cute. I made your channa masala a few months ago and it was flawless.

  • katie
    May 14, 2011 at 9:59 am

    my first dinner party last year left me sweating, and too busy to even eat with the guests! I wanted to make sure everyone else had what they needed, so it makes sitting down difficult. Thats such a fun idea for a themed party, and your right deciding what to make took me an entire day in itself.

  • Krystina (Organically Me)
    May 14, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I would absolutely LOVE that Indian feast!

  • Jessica @ Stylish Stealthy & Healthy
    May 14, 2011 at 10:31 am

    I am always a total spaz when I host dinner parties too, I think it’s just part of the gig. It looks like it was pretty amazing though, and the thing is, people mostly don’t notice how stressed out you are, especially when you provide lots and lots of wine 🙂

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey
    May 14, 2011 at 10:44 am

    That all looks delicious! I’ve thrown a few dinner parties – and you’re right.. the whole theme makes it so much easier to plan!

  • Elena @ GagaForGrapefruit
    May 14, 2011 at 11:03 am

    how fun! i’m too nervous to try and cook indian food, so i’m totally impressed!

  • Brooke @ Bittersweetb
    May 14, 2011 at 11:37 am

    I love dinner parties and I especially love Indian food! This sounds like so much fun. I like the idea of setting a theme.

  • Moni'sMeals
    May 14, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Wow! perfect menu! But are you serious, your first dinner party…no not you! I would assume you do that all the time. 🙂

  • Katrina
    May 14, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Darn. I wish I was invited for dinner!

  • Mellie
    May 14, 2011 at 11:50 am

    I’ve never had Indian food! My mom doesn’t like it but I think it looks amazing.

  • Becca@ Start Over From Scratch
    May 14, 2011 at 11:51 am

    I find it hard to believe this was your first dinner party! Sounds like it was a success! Congrats! One time I cooked for 16 ladies and their husbands from the kappa alumni association. I loved it and now in culinary school we have family dinners! Nothing better than enjoying good food with good friends!

  • jennifer
    May 14, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    play-by-plays are the best! the smoothest major meals i’ve prepared (including full thanksgiving feast), are when i took the time days ahead to chart out a detailed “9am–set oven to 350 & make cake mix; 9:15am rinse beans; 9:30am put cake in oven; 10:45am open pineapple for beans…..” taking all the dishes and merging the lists makes the day a brainless activity of just following the list. and when others come and ask, “how can i help”, they can look at the list, see what time it is and take the puff pastry out of the fridge so it will be ready when you make the handpies in an hour.

  • kaila @ healthy helper!
    May 14, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Darn! I am mad I missed such a bangin’ bash! I am inviting myself to your next dinner party….especially if you are serving as tasty of food as you did this time! I love me some gooood indian food!

  • Gina @ Runningtothekitchen
    May 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    I made your Chicken Tikka Masala after you first posted it. Delicious! Sounds like a great dinner party!

  • Michelle @ The Cooking Life
    May 14, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Hi Jenna! LOVE Indian food – we usually eat chickpea curry 2-3 times a month! I’m not a seasoned dinner party-giver, but I threw a lunch party recently. What helped me was prepping the night before. I made ragu bolognese the day before my lunch party and I chose very simple sides & appetizers to go with the meal. Making everything else the day of the party was not bad at all. Here’s a little write-up about it –

  • Kristin Murdock
    May 14, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    I would by no means consider myself a “master” at hostessing, but I have thrown LOTS of parties and dinner parties, so here are my tips. 🙂
    1. You will most likely be sweating no matter what. I think it’s the combo of rushing around and then the pure excitement/adrenaline rush of being in charge of something you know is greater than yourself!
    2. Pre-make anything you can if you want to sit down and eat dinner with your guests. OR just prepare your guests that you will be up and down and up and down, and typically when there is wine {and a husband or boyfriend who can entertain while you cut up chickens and plate them} guests don’t mind.
    3. Spend all day cooking and setting up for the party, then hop in the shower at the last minute. It really helps me feel so much more “put together” and clean when I have gotten ready just minutes before my guests arrive.
    4. Revel in the afterglow. The best dinner parties are where everyone is stuffed to the brim at the end of the night and just sits around the table with dirty dishes everywhere, laughing and finishing off the wine.

    What fun, Jenna!!

  • Dianna @ The Kitchen Prep
    May 14, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Congrats on surviving your first dinner party! 🙂 I’ve hosted a lot of brunches lately. The first few were rough! I felt so frazzled & barely had time to enjoy the food and company. I learned very quickly that make-ahead dishes make life sooo much easier when you’re having to entertain a big group. I think this may be why I’ve unconsciously started with hosting brunches… there are lots of make-ahead recipes for brunches! I’ve gone as far as pre-measuring dry goods the night before and putting them in labeled zip top bags so that all I have to do is add the wet ingredients & bake! That way everything is still homemade but feels like a short cut. Checklists help, too. 🙂 The most important thing to remember is that everyone you’re inviting is glad to be there in your company and aren’t restaurant critics {well, most aren’t anyway!}, so relax as much as possible & enjoy the night with them!

  • Baking 'n' Books
    May 14, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Good for you! Do you have much space to allow dinner parties?

    I’ve always wondered about setting a theme with the food though…what if people didn’t like hot, spicy foods??!! Do you ask beforehand? Take the risk?…


  • Emma (Namaste Everyday)
    May 14, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    that looks like so much fun! I have been dying for some indian food, but I’m at the stage in my pre-twenties where I can’t even afford takeout! Thanks for the recipes 🙂

  • amy walters, aDESIGNdock
    May 14, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I love indian food. And these recipes look amazing. I’m totally craving this now 😉

  • Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga)
    May 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    i wish i was at your yoga + vegan cookie event

    or your dinner party! it sounds fabulous!

    and super cute dishes, jenna! 🙂

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin
    May 14, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Congrats on your first dinner party. It sounds like it was a hit! I’ve never thrown one before – the most I can handle is one dinner guest. 😛 I think any more guests would totally stress me out!

  • Miranda @ Working Mom Works Out
    May 14, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Congrats on your first dinner party!

    And great tip on picking a theme.

  • Jaya
    May 14, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Indian goes super well with Riesling and Gewurtz, too!

  • Lauren
    May 14, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Sounds like it was awesome, great menu! I’m not an incredibly seasoned entertainer but what I can say I’ve learned so far is that it’s really important to do AS MUCH prep work in advance as you can. That way when your guests are there you’re not running around like a chicken with your head cut off and instead you can actually spend time with them.

  • Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete
    May 14, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    I love the whole friends and dinner party thing. Some of the best times spent with friends has been during/after a home cooked meal at home with wine!

  • The Food Hound
    May 14, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    So glad you had a good first entertaining experience!! I love it!! I love to entertain and make everything from scratch, but in order to keep my head above water I typically do things that can be made mostly ahead of time (desserts are great for this), so I get to photograph everything before the guests arrive. But when I do stuff that has to go from stove or oven to table, I just take photos while everyone watches. They know I’m a Food Hound, and they are getting to share in the goodness so they’re not complaining 🙂 Love your menu!!

  • Korina
    May 14, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    You are a fantastic host Jenna! I seriously have no idea how you pulled all of that off in those wedges 😉 Your Indian is …to die for. And your company, even more so 😀 Next time though hopefully you will get to pull it all off in those Ann Taylor peep-toes…..

  • Khushboo
    May 14, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    I love throwing dinner parties! The stress is so worth it! One question: no

  • Melissa Strickland
    May 15, 2011 at 1:06 am

    best blog EVER for entertaining……I love love love Sandy and I can’t wait to purchase her book!

  • Lauren at Keep It Sweet
    May 15, 2011 at 4:05 am

    Dinner parties are so fun! My biggest tips are to plan ahead, make lists and do as much in advance as possible!

  • Sami M
    May 15, 2011 at 7:23 am

    Here’s a book I think you would like:

  • Tori (Fresh Fruition)
    May 15, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Looks so yummy! Yay for the dinner party going well!

    These are such good tips. Sticking with a theme definitely takes out some of the guess work!

  • Corrie Anne
    May 15, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Congratulations on the dinner party! Looks delicious.

    Love your new plates! I’m sure you will find many great ways to use them!! 🙂

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss
    May 15, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I’d love to throw a dinner party soon. Actually, I kept telling Michael “I can’t wait to host parties when I grow up!!” haha. I could now…but college parties aren’t really sophisticated, you know?

    It all looks really delicious!! I’m sure your friends realllly enjoyed the food. Glad you had a great time!

  • kristina@beancakes
    May 15, 2011 at 11:17 am

    i love indian food! and world market is the best isn’t it?!

  • Suboxone Doctors
    May 15, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    I never tried Indian food before, but it looks pretty good

  • Lisa
    May 15, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    how wonderful! I often photograph the food before anyone arrives!

  • natalie (the sweets life)
    May 15, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    i love telephone pictionary, and themed dinner parties. if we lived in the same zip code, i would force you to be my friend 🙂

  • Merrie@ Strawberrylaces
    May 15, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I LOVE your blog, girl! I just found it and I’m so excited to try out your Tikka Masala recipe. I’ve just recently gotten hooked on curry and its getting expensive buying it pre-made. Can’t wait to give it a whirl. Beautiful pictures, btw. Keep up the good work 🙂

  • kate
    May 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I love the idea of having a themed dinner party. It definitely makes things a bit easier as far as the whole what do I cook, how do I decorate, and so on!

  • Happy When Not Hungry
    May 16, 2011 at 4:12 am

    Sounds like you had an amazing dinner party! I am definitely craving Indian food now 🙂

  • Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum
    May 16, 2011 at 4:57 am

    I hosted a cute little bridal shower yesterday for my sister and took… zero pictures. I think that it’s ok to pay attention to your guests instead of your camera for once. 🙂 (At least that’s what I tell myself). And thankfully I have a few tidbits leftover from the party that I can snap a few shots of later today. It’s a conundrum, trying to entertain and get blog material! 🙂

  • Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food
    May 16, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I’ve made your channa masala and I love it! One of my favorite dishes of all time!

    Sounds like a perfectly fantastic dinner party! 🙂

  • Tara
    May 16, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Ha! I was just in Barnes & Nobles and was seriously contemplating taking the Telephone Pictionary game home. But then I decided that the idea could be easily replicated with a $0.10 pad of paper, a free pencil, and some creative players. Did you do it on your own, or use the actual game? Either way – I’m sure it was fun. (And for a real dork-fest, you should get Settlers of Catan. That game is addictive!)

  • Andrea @ The Skinny Chronicles
    May 16, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I LOVE homemade Indian food. Brilliant idea for a dinner party.

  • Ally at AGIHK
    May 16, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Oh my gosh, I love everything on that menu! What a dinner party! I am also a big fan of World Market for table stuff!

  • FitnessLabRat
    May 16, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Congrats on the first dinner party, the food look amazing! I cant wait to have my first dinner party. We have been living in our house for a year and never had a dinner party and now we have to move to Virginia 🙁 Hope to see more dinner party posts soon.

  • Rebecca @ How the Cookies Crumble
    May 16, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Oh I love Indian! I bet your dinner party was amazing!

  • Kim
    May 16, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    That sounds like a great dinner party!

    My boyfriend and I host a monthly dinner party at my apartment. We’ve been counting down the latest Harry Potter movie since January. We watch one HP film a month and set the theme: pasta party, potato party, panini party, pizza party… It’s so much fun! We provide the basics (i.e. pasta) and a salad and ask our guests to bring the toppings. It takes a lot of the pressure off 😉

    Then we all chow down and watch a Harry Potter movie!

    P.S. I love World Market. It sounds like you got some good scores!

  • Charise
    May 17, 2011 at 5:51 am

    Whenever we throw parties (dinner or otherwise), I always pick at least a loose theme for the food – it makes menu planning so much easier. Sounds like this one went great – I love cooking Indian food!

  • Elizabeth
    May 17, 2011 at 6:35 am

    I love those dishes! I’ve been looking for plain, classy dishes that won’t look like they’re fighting with the food that’s on top of them. Congrats on your first dinner party! I haven’t ventured into Indian food in my kitchen yet, but I’ll have to give these recipes a try. They look delicious!

    (Also, thanks for the note about where those wedges came from… now I have my own pair in fuschia haha!) 🙂

  • Mary @ stylefyles
    May 20, 2011 at 11:51 am

    WOW. That food looks DELISH.

    And yep, World Market is practically the best, isn’t it?