Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Entertaining On a Budget

How to Make Cheap, Fast Dinners Look Expensive

By Kristie Leong MD

Cheap, fast dinners don't have to look and taste that way. Here's how to turn them into feasts for the eyes and the taste buds.
If you don’t have the time to cook a restaurant quality meal in the evening, you’re not alone. Many busy Americans struggle to get dinner on the table and frequently resort to bringing home fast food or take-out options. Even if you only have time to prepare a fast, cheap dinner, you can still make it special by adding a few special touches that’ll make your family think you spent a great deal of time in the kitchen. Here’s how to make quick, cheap dinners that look expensive.

Bring out the Nice Dinnerware
Instead of serving a fast, cheap dinner on ugly ceramic plates, or even worse paper plates, bring out your nicest dinnerware. Food always tastes better when it’s served from attractive bowls and plates. Some people make the mistake of storing away their best dinnerware and china for a future “special occasion”. An occasion that’s special enough never seems to arise and that beautiful china ends up being unused. Isn’t every dinner you share with your family special?

Add a Garnish
Even cheap, fast dinners take on new flavor when a garnish is added to the plate. Use sprigs of fresh herbs to add a touch of color or add fresh fruit slices to your presentation. Invest in a zester so you can quickly create lemon and orange zest to add color, texture and flavor to simple dinner. Use an ice cream scoop to create luscious melon balls. If you want a more elaborate presentation, create simple flowers out of raw vegetables. There are a variety of books that will show you how to do this. This is a great technique to use when you’re entertaining on a budget. No one will ever suspect you paid so little for the food when the presentation is so detailed.

Serve it by Candlelight
Nothing adds more ambience to cheap, fast dinners than serving them by candlelight. Before serving dinner, dim the lights and bring out your prettiest candles. Not only will dinner be more pleasant, you’ll be saving on electricity too.

Add Some Background Music
Soft, new age music playing in the background adds a special atmosphere to even the most inexpensive meal. The harmonious sounds of music have the added benefit of relaxing the body and helping to improve digestion. When you serve dinner to the melodious tones of Kenny G or John Tesh, your family will think they’re eating in a five star restaurant.

Drizzle on the Sauces
When you apply sauce to an entrĂ©e or side dish, don’t just pour it on. Put it into a squeeze bottle and drizzle it over the food by moving the bottle back and forth to create a pattern. Many fine restaurants use this technique to give food an elegant, artistic flair. This is a simple way to serve your next meal “chef style”.

Even though you may not have the time or money to prepare an expensive dinner at home with a little imagination quick, cheap dinners can still be memorable. Why not give these ideas a try?

This article came from: http://www.gomestic.com/Entertaining/How-to-Make-Cheap-Fast-Dinners-Look-Expensive.558969

Stay tuned for more entertaining on a budget ideas. Also, Table Ambiance has incredible table elements on sale now that will add a bit of ambiance to your table.

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