Thursday, February 26, 2009

Entertaining on a Budget

After hearing and reading on a daily basis how many people are unemployed, how many businesses are closing their doors, and how many houses are in foreclosure, now is the time to gather with family and friends for the sake of support and encouragement. That is why we enjoyed this article from on entertaining on a budget.

Fabulous Dinner Parties on a Budget
Article By :Jeanne Benedict
Use these simple decor tips to transform your fete from frugal to fabulous.
Embrace traditions around the world by hosting a dinner party that celebrates the flavors of another country. Best of all, these international menus for 6 guests were designed with your wallet in mind to give your party high style on a low budget--each party menu only costs $50!

I've included an Estimated Cost Breakdown so you can tally it all up and save even more by using items that you may already have on hand.

When guests ask what they can bring to your dinner party, suggest a bottle of wine or spirits from the country whose food you are featuring, since wine and cocktails are not included in the budget breakdown.

Italian cuisine offers such a variety of flavors, from the white cream sauces found in northern Italy to the hearty red tomato sauces enjoyed in the southern part of the country.

Italian Menu
Delight dinner guests with an Italian menu that clocks in at around $50!
Olive Polenta Squares (recipe below)
Easy Fettuccine Alfredo (recipe below)
Green Salad with Diced Tomatoes and Oil and Vinegar Dressing
Espresso Trifle Martini (recipe recipe below)

Estimated Cost Breakdown:
Olive Polenta Squares
$2 - 1 (3.8 oz) can sliced olives
$3 - 1 (1 lb.) box cornmeal
$2 - 1 (2 oz.) container chicken bouillon squares (about 15 count)
$5 - small (8 fl. oz.) generic brand bottle olive oil

Fettuccine Alfredo
$2 - 1 dozen eggs
$4 - 1 pint heavy whipping cream
$5 - 5 oz. wedge Parmesan cheese
$4 - 2 (1 lb.) boxes fettuccine; dry pasta

$2 - 1 head romaine lettuce
$2 - 3 Roma tomatoes
$0 - olive oil (included above)
$3 - small (8 fl. oz.) bottle red wine vinegar

Espresso Trifle Martini
$5 - 1 store-bought pound cake cut into cubes (frozen desserts)
$4 - 6 cups prepared vanilla pudding
$2 - 1 shot espresso (purchased from a coffee store like Starbucks)
$2 - 1 (lb.) box granulated sugar
$47 - Estimated Total

Olive Polenta Squares:
2 (3.5 gm) chicken bouillon cubes
2 cups water
3/4 Cup yellow cornmeal
1 (3.8 oz) can sliced olives
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Bring water and bouillon cubes to boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Slowly sprinkle cornmeal into water while quickly whisking mixture. Continue whisking for 3 minutes smoothing out any lumps as mixture thickens. Replace whisk with wooden spoon and cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens, about 1 minute. Spoon should stand in mixture and polenta will come away from sides of pan. Remove from heat and stir in olives.
Spread mixture on to a lightly oil baking sheet making ½-inch thick rectangle of polenta. Cool until polenta is set, about 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve as an appetizer.
Makes 6 serving

Fettuccine Alfredo
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 5 oz.)
2 large eggs
1/2 Cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 lbs. fettuccine ( about 1 1/2 boxes dry pasta)

Add 1 teaspoon salt into a pot of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add fettuccine and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the Parmesan, eggs and cream into a large serving bowl and whisk until combined.

Pour pasta into a colander to drain. Immediately add to serving bowl and toss with Parmesan sauce mixture until coated. Serve hot.
Makes about 6 servings.

Espresso Trifle Martini
1 shot espresso (purchased from a coffee store like Starbucks)
3/4 Cup water
1 Cup sugar
1 store-bought pound cake, cut into cubes
6 individual portion cups of prepared vanilla pudding (Jello brand)
Add espresso, water and sugar into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool.
Alternate layers of pound cake cubes and pudding into 6 individual Martini glasses. Pour cooled espresso syrup over the top of each one and serve.Makes about 6 servings.

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