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Ceviche with tortilla chips

Main Course

Blue cheese and grilled red onion hamburgers

Oven roasted rosemary potato chips

Buttered mushrooms


Apple Tart

Shopping List

Fruits and Vegetables
  • 3-4 ripe apples
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bag of limes or 8
  • 1 small white onion
  • 2 or 3 serranos or 1 large jalapeño
  • Green olives, preferably manzanillos (1/4 cup)
  • 1 large ripe tomato
  • Cilantro
  • 3-4 red onions
  • 6 medium to large Yukon gold potatoes
  • Uncut fresh herbs, such as rosemary or sage
  • 4 boxes of little brown mushrooms or 1 pound of small cremini mushrooms
  • Garlic
Fish and Meat
  • 1 pound sashimi-grade skinless ocean fish fillet (halibut, snapper and bass)
  • 1.5 pounds of chuck roast
Milk, Eggs & Cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz. blue cheese or Roquefort
  • Unsalted butter
  • 6 good quality hamburger rolls
  • 1 frozen round pie crust
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Unsalted butter
  • Peach jam
  • Corn tortillas or tortilla chips
  • Mayonnaise
  • Worchestire or red wine vinegar
  • Tabasco


One Month PriorTwo to Four Weeks PriorOne to Two Weeks PriorOne Day PriorParty Day
Date in advance from partyStepNotes
1 monthDetermine date and timeDetermine the date of your party and consider the time of arrival. For example, if you plan to have an outdoor party, you need to think about sun angles, heat and also cold. Plan a time for your party that doesn’t put your guests in rush hour forever to get to your location.
1 monthInvite GuestsThink about the conversation; who will like each other; ensure you have a great mix of people with different interests. Invite your guests early; everyone has busy lives and at least 2 weeks in advance will ensure your preferred guests are available. Have back-ups in your mind in case some guests are not free.
1 monthInvite Guests and share informationBe sure to let your guests know pertinent information, such as dress and who else is attending. If you are having a casual al fresco dinner, your guests should know that a summer dress will be appropriate. Conversely, if you are doing a formal dinner, your guests may need to obtain an item for their wardrobe.
Date in advance from partyStepNotes
2 weeksRentals or new purchasesIf you need to rent any glasses, tables or purchase any new kitchen items for your party, do this now.
2 weeksYour attirePlan this now! If you want to buy a new dress or shoes, get this shopping trip out of the way.
2 weeksWine storeObtain your wine, cocktails or other spirits and non alcoholic drinks, such as tonics or mineral water. Chill white wine/champagne/beer now. Red wine can be slightly chilled the day of the party. Do you need ice? Make it or get it now if you have room in your freezer.
Date in advance from partyStepNotes
1-2 weeksPrep table settingPlan what linens you intend to use. Wash them if needed and iron. Set aside.
1-2 weeksCrafts for table settingAre you creating any crafts for your table setting, such as cutting a cork to insert a placecard? This can be done now.
1.5 weeksShare menuIf your guests are also foodies, feel free to share the menu with them! This will get them excited about your party but be sure not to change the menu afterward.
1 weekGrocery store/Farmers market – trip 1Obtain all ingredients that you can purchase now. Leave as little as possible until the last moment, but a big shopping trip a week before will help you get a lot out of the way.
1 weekCreate timelineAssuming your dinner starts at 6:30pm, use this schedule (add 15 minutes to start for late arrivals):
6:30-7:30 Appetizers – Ceviche
7:30-8:30 Gourmet hamburgers
8:30-9:30 Apple tart
Adjust this schedule to fit to your start time.
During weekConversation planningHave some conversations ready to start, such as asking about current events in your community or around the world. Stay away from hot button topics like religion or politics unless you know the people well and you know what will happen when the topics are raised.
Date in advance from partyStepNotes
Day priorCooking prepMake blue cheese mayonnaise. If caramelizing onions instead of grilling, you can do this now.
Day priorSet tableSet placemats, napkins, plates, cutlery, glasses and even empty water pitchers on table. This will also help you get excited for your party when you see your beautiful table! Did you create a seating chart? If you did, create placecards and set them now.
Day priorLast minute shoppingThis should only be for last minute fresh ingredients, such as the fish and hamburger rolls (these can be frozen though, if you buy in advance). If you are buying flowers, purchase these now, also.
Day priorFlower arrangementsThese can be arranged on your table and in your house now.
Day priorMusicSet up your playlist for the party. Make an inspiring and high energy one for yourself for prep, too!
Party Day!StepNotes
MorningDessertMake your apple tart the morning of the party.
11:30-2:30Mise en PlaceDo ALL of your chopping and organize your ingredients according to courses. You can grind the meat and portion; make the ceviche; make tortilla chips, and prep herbs.
2:30-3:30Set serving plattersSet up your serving platter for the ceviche and line up all plates you will be using in the area that you plan to serve and arrange the look the way you like. Have cocktail or wine glasses ready.
3:30-5:00Get yourself readyHopefully, you have given yourself enough time to go for a run; take a long shower; or do whatever makes you feel special.
5:00Cooking prepCook tortilla chips, if making homemade.
5:30-6:00Cooking last minuteMake mushrooms. Cut potatoes and baste with oil and herbs.
6:00Prepare cocktails/open wine for appetizersThis should be set up in the same area as your serving platters with napkins and utensils needed. Open wine bottles now and have cocktails ready.
6:15Plate appetizersArrange tortilla chips around ceviche. Place potatoes in oven and set timer so you keep checking on them.
6:25MusicTurn on playlist
6:25Time yourselfUse a kitchen timer or some other mechanism to keep yourself on schedule during the courses. Set your timer according to the timetable below.
7:00-7:30Table and main course prepQuietly excuse yourself while your guests enjoy the ceviche. Remove potatoes from oven.
Pour wine serving with hamburgers course into glasses.
Bring water pitcher to table and pour into glasses.
If using any candles, light them now.
Heat skillet and make hamburgers. Plate per directions with potatoes and mushrooms.
7:30-8:30Main courseEnjoy!
8:15-8:30Dessert prepAgain, quietly excuse yourself while collecting the main course plates. Either plate a slice of apple tart on individual small plates or bring a cake platter with the whole tart to the table and again, clean plates for your guests. If serving a port or an after dinner drink, bring this to the table now also.
8:30-9:30Dessert courseEnjoy!