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All it took for us to throw a dinner party was the inspiration from our Fall Floral arrangement. This may seem odd, but we are always looking for an excuse to throw a party. And what better excuse than to have a perfect centerpiece waiting in the wings?

For our summer parties, we always keep the food light and simple: from the garden and loaded with fresh flavors. For our Harvest Gathering, we wanted the taste buds to sing with the more complex flavors of mouthwatering wine sauces and roasted veggies. Our first step was to see what we had on hand. And yes, we know it may be odd to keep these items on hand, but we love parties and are always prepared (and you should be too!). We found a wonderful Sirloin Tip Roast in the freezer and knew exactly how wonderful this meal would turn out.

The Menu

  • Wine-Marinated Pot Roast paired with Organic Carrots and Parsnips
  • Buttered Homemade Noodles
  • Almond Mandarin Orange Salad
  • Oatmeal Bread and Baguettes
  • Pumpkin Pie Cake with Fresh Whipped Cream

Wine-Marinated Pot Roast

With this meal, we wanted to exude the flavors and smells of the season; a sort of quasi-refurbished comfort food idea. We loved using a roast because it is a dish that, once in the oven, does not take a lot of a cook’s time. This allows the cook the time needed to prepare just-in-time dishes. We searched for a wonderful fall roast recipe and were excited to find Midwest Living’s Wine Marinated Pot Roast. With an assortment of flavors, including garlic, Dijon mustard, herbs, this simple dish is the perfect centerpiece to our menu for the evening.

To give the dish a few pops of color, we used organic carrots and parsnips grown from our garden.

After a three-hour cook-time, the roast turned out tender and juicy. Trust us – you will want to use this recipe over and over!

Buttered Homemade Noodles

We decided to forgo the traditional potato sides for homemade noodles. Do not worry – we did not have time to make noodles, so we purchased local, homemade ones from a nearby bakery. The noodles taste wonderful and are much easier to procure on short notice! To cook the noodles, we used beef broth instead of just water. For best cooking results, follow the directions that come with the noodles you purchase.

After the noodles were cooked, we browned butter to drizzle over the top for an extra special touch. To brown butter, melt a good quality butter in a saucepan (such as Kerrygold or a locally-made organic variety). Using medium heat, slightly brown the butter, making sure to avoid over-browning. This usually takes approximately 3-5 minutes. Pour over the noodles and serve.

Almond Mandarin Orange Salad

The salad was simple and light (the magic words for any cook!). Use a mix of greens to completely fill a bowl. For garnish, use Mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, and candied almond slices. Drizzle with dressing (recipe below) right before serving to avoid wilting the greens.

  • Combine ½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup white cooking vinegar, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon black pepper, a dash of salt, and 3 dashes of Tabasco sauce in a dressing bottle and shake.

You can make this dressing a day or two ahead to have ready for serving. The dressing should last up to three weeks in the refrigerator.

Oatmeal Bread

We did make the Oatmeal bread. It is an easy and quick bread recipe to have on file. There is nothing like warm homemade bread for your guests. It will surely bring memories of meals at their grandmother’s house! We always like to have two bread options so we bought a French baguette as an accompanying option.

Click here for Oatmeal Bread recipe. Print out, place in a transparent sleeve, and keep on hand as a delicious bread option for any dinner party.

Pumpkin Pie Cake with Fresh Whipped Cream

This pumpkin pie dessert is always raved over! The flavors and presentation come off as time-intensive, but could not be easier to prepare. The bottom layer is identical to pumpkin pie and the top layer creates a savory, buttery crust that is, in one word, amazing! Top each piece of pie with a healthy dollop of fresh whipped cream.

This pie is the perfect ending to a wonderful fall meal. While not quite like the pumpkin pie we will all be enjoying in a few weeks, the same flavors, with the addition of fresh whipped cream, will remind guests of the upcoming Thanksgiving feast.

Expert Tip: Have a seasonal coffee percolating while the main course is being served so that coffee may be offered while plating the dessert.

Click here for Pumpkin Pie Dessert with Fresh Whipped Cream recipes.

The Finishing Touches

This meal may appear as if it took hours to prepare, but that is the best kept secret (and do not worry – your guests never have to know)! If you plan ahead, you will be able to gracefully entertain your guests when they arrive while having everything waiting in the oven, ready to serve! Plan to have the roast done a few minutes before everyone arrives so you are able to slice the meat and put in the back of the oven to keep warm. If you want to eat right away, have items plated and ready for the table when guests arrive.

As a host, you do not want to be stuck in the kitchen and have your chair empty at the table. Plan ahead so you can enjoy the engaging conversation and meal with your guests. Leave the dishes to wait until after everyone has left and simply enjoy the evening. Entertaining is not just for those you invite, but is meant to enrich your own life as well.

Our next post will show you the perfect table preparations to make for a gorgeous presentation!

Happy Planning!