Healthy and Sane

Dinner party for 6 (finally!)

February 14th, 2011 · 16 Comments · Cooking Light, dessert, entertaining, favorite recipes, Italian, Russian, side dishes

Having a day off (I’m off this whole week!) apparently does not mean that you will have plenty of time for things like blogging. Sorry for the delay of today’s post. I wanted to make sure to share last night’s meal with you though. I always say “better late than never!”… maybe ‘cause I’m always late. lol

SO, if you’ve seen my post on Russian Bites, or my facebook/twitter you may have known that I had my parents and parents in law over for dinner last night. It’s been long overdue and I’m really excited that we finally had a change to do it. It was really fun! So fun, in fact, that I totally forgot to take pictures of all the food (namely the appetizers) so I’ll you’ll have to use your imagination if you’d like to pretend you were at the Healthy and Sane household last night.

This was the smoothest and least stressful dinner party I’ve ever had. Here is why!

  • I took shortcuts! Pre-dinner nibbles included green olives marinated with lemons and garlic (purchased from the Whole Foods deli department), aged gouda (just cut up), mozzarella/grape tomato skewers (super simple – Adam assembled them!) and hummus with baby carrots and crackers (hummus was the only thing I made from scratch for the apps).
  • I made dessert the night before (I had to given the recipe, but I just LOVED not worrying about that course at all the day of the dinner).
  • Despite my overambitious self, I stuck to “just” one main course (which I’ve made before <- I knew what to expect!!). I did make a side of greens, although I accepted help (my mom washed the escarole and helped me with dessert the night prior; Adam made the mozzarella/tomato skewers). Thanks guys!
  • I invited guests a few hours prior to dinner being served. This gave everyone time to chat, drink and munch… and gave me more time to prep (I always stress about having everything ready when people arrive! No need this time!!).

With all the wine our guests brought in and additional desserts (see below), we certainly had no shortage of food and drinks. So here we go, last night’s (pictured) eats!


My father in law LOVES Italian and happens to be the pickiest eater of the bunch (although I think my mom sometimes tries to give him a run for his money 😆 ) so choosing an Italian main entrée was the easy choice. I decided that spinach, artichoke and feta stuffed shells was a fun and impressive enough dish for a family dinner. It fed a crowd too! I made 1.5 times the recipe and it made two large pans (we hardly finished one of them so there were plenty of leftovers… not complaining here Winking smile ).


This was carby, cheesy and comforting. A simple side dish of escarole and pine nuts (doubled) nicely broke out the richness of the main course.


There was also garlic bread which apparently broils within seconds (ok, more like 2 minutes… but still) – hey, fire and smoke with the price of admission 😆


My mom saved the day (scrapes them off and I reapplied the garlic/EVOO paste – crisis averted!).


See, all good!


I think I can safely say everyone really enjoyed the main course!! Open-mouthed smile

I left plenty of room for DESSERT!

My mom brought granny smith apples wrapped in puff pastry dough (like a lazy apple pie) – yum!


Jane, my mother in law, made chocolate covered strawberries. Just in time for Valentine’s day! Smile


And I, with the help of my mom, made my very first gorka cake!!!! Check out Russian Bites for the recipe. You’ve been asking me for it for years, so now it’s your turn to make it. SOOOOOO good.



Happy bellies = happy guests… and a happy hostess. Open-mouthed smile

Do you have any dinner party tricks? I’m really happy with how smoothly everything went last night. And now, if you excuse me, I have gorka leftovers to devour (ok, that’s a joke… I already had some after breakfast Winking smile )

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16 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - Shannon

    i use all of those tips!! glad everything was such a success :)

  • #2 - Lizzy

    Looks like fun and I always burn my bread..always!!! Gotta check out that cake on russian bites!

  • #3 - Megan

    I love dinner parties! Like you, I get a little over ambitious sometimes, so it’s great to be able to focus on one awesome maine course. I need to go check out that cake!

  • #4 - Fallon

    The shells look delicious! Like the feta twist.

  • #5 - Adam's dad

    Thanks again, Elina, for an absolutely lovely dinner. Jane and I are looking forward to returning the favor this weekend in Maine, and for the record, the Gorka cake was exquisite! I strongly urge your readers to give this dessert a try.

  • #6 - Lauren at KeepItSweet

    Looks like so much fun! Those stuffed shells sound fantastic. Have a great week off!!!

  • #7 - Lauren

    Great dinner party! Everything looks delicious :). Heading over to Russian Bites for the gorka recipe!

  • #8 - MelissaNibbles

    Congratulations on a successful dinner party! It sounds delicious, especially the stuffed shells.

  • #9 - Michelle

    What a lovely dinner! We still haven’t done that with our sets of parents!

  • #10 - CaSaundra

    Yummy! I would’ve loved to be a guest at your dinner party–looks fabulous!

  • #11 - Kim @ Imperfectly Perfect

    Great advice on hosting a smoothly executed dinner party. I’ve never cooked for more than just one person and myself and messing up with timing is one of my worst fears. I will definitely keep these tips in mind!

    Everything looked delicious and I’m glad that you were able to enjoy yourself!

  • #12 - One Healthy Apple

    This looks like a great dinner. I get so frazzled when I cook for both sets of (Russian) parents and have to make tons of dishes to feel like it’s a ‘good dinner’.

    Dessert looks amazing 😉

    • #13 - Elina

      Haha, I know what you’re saying about cooking a million things. My dad used to say that I’m not a real Russian because I only cook 3 courses (i.e. 3 dishes, maybe 4 with a side). I told him I wasn’t in the business of stuffing people senseless… they can do that on their own time 😉

  • #14 - Kerstin

    Great tips and meal! I’m trying to make less items too when we have people over, and always have to remind myself that it’s not worth stressing over :)

  • #15 - alicia

    Looks like a hugely successful dinner party – congrats!!
    When I am having guests or cooking for a special occasion I make as much as I can in advance. I usually make a 2-3 day plan! Doing things a little bit at a time keeps from making me feel overwhelmed!

  • #16 - If You Can Read, You Can Cook » Blog Archive » Link Round-up: 22/19/2011 » If You Can Read, You Can Cook

    […] Dinner Party for 6 (Finally!) – Healthy & Sane. Your first dinner party can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! […]