Dinners out are amazing, delicious, but, if you partake on the regular, the costs can really add up. Don’t you love gathering some of your favourite people and having a cosy dinner in instead? The wonderful David Lester from I Heart Money (and author of two great money books, FYI) and I teamed up once again to host a healthy dinner party on a dime. This time, for the holidays.
Here’s what we served:
- Apps: David’s famous “Daisy Martini” with festive cranberries for garnish, chips and salsa, assorted cheese and crackers
- Main: turkey tacos with slaw, stuffing and cranberry sauce, arugula salad with acorn squash, pomegranate and feta
- Dessert: chocolate gingerbread cake
Here’s how we did it:
- First, in the spirit of the holidays and the long day of saving money, shopping and cooking ahead, we caffeinated. See us with our festive Starbucks cups?
- Then we took back empties to make a little money to put towards the day’s purchases. Unless you’re in the habit of throwing massive parties, the $ that comes from empties won’t be substantial, but it will give you a slight edge. And jokes.
- Buy local, happy meat. When it comes to buying meat, I insist on buying happy, local meat. In my opinion, Sanagans Meat Locker in Kensington is the best place to do this for a crowd, as their prices are equal to what you’d pay in a grocery store. It’s a no-brainer. We also ate lunch there.
- I relax my stance on organic produce when hosting dinner parties. So we bought conventionally farmed produce for the party. (At No Frills; David earned points!)
- Try to make from scratch. I insisted on making a cake and cranberry sauce – two very easy and inexpensive things to make, with big payoff because people love them. (Note to David: please ensure that you have more than two pots before our next dinner party.)
- I also want to make a note here on knowing your audience. I generally relax my stance on everything when hosting a dinner party. Know what your guests want and what will be appreciated versus what won’t. I personally find that when the party is going to be on the boozy side, it doesn’t make sense to make a raw vegan cake. Do you think people will remember your raw pumpkin cheesecake at the end of a dinner when they are several glasses of wine deep? Probably not. Save it for a healthy brunch or for your nutrition nerd-out friends.
- Oh, also, don’t forget a wee bit of cheese. We did and had to run out to buy.
And there you have it! Nothing was deep fried and topped with mayonnaise or foie gras or truffle this or that! Just a wine-boozy bash with lots of good, old fashioned, wholesome food. And David’s 12′ tree!
Arugula Salad with Acorn Squash, Pomegranate and Feta
1 container baby kale
1 container arugula
1 acorn squash, washed, cut in half and then again into ½” slices
A few sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
½ cup pomegranate seeds
1 lemon, juiced
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
Drizzle maple syrup
Spread squash onto a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme sprigs and bake in the oven preheated to 350 until soft, around 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, spread the greens out onto a big platter or tip them into a large party bowl.
When you’re ready to eat, dress the salad by drizzling the dressing ingredients overtop. Taste and adjust. Top with roasted squash pieces, feta, pumpkin and pomegranate seeds. Get fancy and spread out a few more sprigs of thyme and serve!
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Wishing you happy holiday parties. xo Andrea
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