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A home-cooked (almost) dinner party menu

Do you love the idea of hosting a dinner party but don’t love the idea of spending hours in your kitchen? Don’t worry; it’s easy to pull together a guest-worthy dinner when you take a few shortcuts.

tomato bruschetta

Cooking a complete meal from scratch can be wonderfully satisfying for both you and your guests, but then again, so can this shortcut menu, which has delicious, homemade flavour and can be whipped together in a fraction of the time!

Any-night chicken dinner

Serving size 6–8

Tomato bruschetta appetizer


  • 3 cups deli counter tomato bruschetta
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan
  • A bag of garlic crostini


  1. Drain the excess liquid from the bruschetta.
  2. Mix in the oil, vinegar and basil.
  3. Season with the salt.
  4. Pour the mixture into a shallow serving dish, and top the shaved Parmesan. Serve with the crostini.

Garlic-rosemary smashed potatoes


  • Olive oil
  • The cloves from 2 heads of garlic, peeled (peeled garlic is often available at the grocer’s deli counter)
  • Approximately 3 pounds of frozen, precooked baby or small potatoes with their skins on, such as mini grilled potatoes from M&M meat shops
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


  • Heat the potatoes according to the package directions.
  • While the potatoes are heating, add the garlic to a large frying pan. Add a good splash of olive oil, and cook until the cloves are lightly brown and tender, approximately 15 minutes. Be sure to stir often. Remove the garlic and all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan.
  • Add the butter to the remaining olive oil in the pan. Pour in the heated potatoes.
  • Quickly fry the potatoes in the butter-oil mixture over medium high heat until they are browned, adding the rosemary and cooked garlic for the last minute of cooking.
  • Remove from heat, and lightly smash the garlic and potatoes with the back of a spoon.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.

Saucepan gravy

For a yummy yet quick gravy, replace the pan drippings and homemade turkey stock with 4 cups of store-bought chicken stock in this recipe. Follow the basic instructions, but prepare it in a saucepan on the stove instead of a roasting pan. Serve with garlic smashed potatoes and roasted chicken.

Roasted chickenroasted rosemary chicken


  • 2 or 3 cooked rotisserie chickens (depending on the bird size and number of guests)
  • Fresh rosemary


  1. Remove the chickens from the packaging, and take off the binding string.
  2. Lay one chicken breast side up on a cutting board.
  3. Carve off each leg by slicing through the meat where the leg meets the chicken breast. Pull the leg down, and cut it off at the joint, then cut off the drumstick from the thigh.
  4. Find the centre bone that runs down the top of the bird, and cut off the breast by slicing all the way through the meat on each side of this bone. Cut off the wings, and lay the breasts flat to carve into slices.
  5. Repeat with the remaining chickens.
  6. Add all the pieces to a platter, and garnish with sprigs of fresh rosemary.

Steamed mixed vegetables and salad

Washed and cut fresh vegetables are readily available in the supermarket produce section. Choose a bag or two of brightly coloured mixed vegetables to steam on the stove or in the microwave until they are cooked but still crunchy. Stir in a pat of butter, season with salt and pepper, then serve.

For another complement to your dinner, toss a bag of prepared baby romaine leaves with pre-washed sliced mushrooms, shredded carrots and diced red pepper in a light dressing such as this white wine vinaigrette.

More on entertaining

Bite-sized party food
Easy pub food at home
Wine and food pairings

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