A few months ago I was photographing food in our courtyard and I thought, “this would make a great restaurant.”  We have a beautiful courtyard and have hosted amazing parties, but I thought it would be fun to make it into a restaurant atmosphere.  Blogging has encouraged me to share my love for baking and cooking with friends and what better way to share my blog than with a party.  The challenge would be to only serve food that I’ve posted to my blog so that 1. I get the chance to practice before game night 2. My guests preview the menu through photos 3. I introduce and expose my blog to a wider audience.

My friends were very supportive and gave me great tips for planning.  I reviewed my blog entries and realized that I needed more items that I and others would want to eat at a restaurant.  I started looking at restaurants differently and I wondered how they crafted their menu.  The last two months, nearly all my blog entries were with this dinner in mind.  It took so much planning and thanks to amazing friends we had a beautiful night.

We had two seating’s to give each party plenty of time to relax and enjoy the atmosphere.  We are blessed not only with space, but also with great patio furniture, so all I had to do was borrow a table.  We kept the decorations simple: lights, candles, flowers, and of course a fire pit.

An important item to this party was that all the dishes and most of the napkins were real dinnerware.  I wanted my guests to feel at home and so I begged, borrowed and stole to make it happen.  No…I was very blessed to find, be given and lent dishware.  One item that we were short on was wine glasses, but just the week before we celebrated my roommate’s boyfriend’s birthday in Santa Barbara and were blessed with many free wine glasses.

I am blessed with amazing friends and after a weekend in Santa Barbara I felt like I had known these new friends for much longer.

My friend who helped me cook also gave me tips for hosting.  These were my favorites (in my own words).

  1. Find out what people are good at and ask them to help in that way.  If they find a way to invest, they will also receive something in return.
  2. Prepare, prepare, prepare.  Make a list and have extra food.  Shop for the groceries three days before, bake desserts the day before, and be ready early the day of.  I didn’t do any of these perfectly, but everything still turned out great.
  3. Keep your cool and be present with your guests.  I went to each group when serving desserts and asked if they were enjoying themselves.  Everyone was having a great time and I had a great time as well.

I have such talented friends and I loved the personal touches that they added.

A few items on the menu were:

Baked Almond Crusted Manchego Cheese with Dry Sherry Garlic Oil

Blue Cheese Burger with Caramelized Onions, Maple infused Bacon, and a Balsamic glaze

Tofu Tacos 

and Pumpkin Cheesecake

The night was topped off with:

Great servers.

Making new friends.

And enjoying a great atmosphere.