What is a frittata? It’s just a baked omelet that you can prepare ahead and bake when the guests arrive. I like to add asparagus, goat cheese, and sun dried tomatoes to mine. You could also make a pot of Paula Deen’s grits.

Always make things you’re comfortable with and can be made ahead. Your guests don’t want you running around cooking because it’s stressful. They want you to visit with them, then you hop up and – poof – it’s all ready. You’ll look like a Martha Stewart rock star.

For a dinner party, nothing is easier than tossing shrimp, pulled and chopped purchased rotisserie chicken or tofu in a pan with cooked linguine or fettuccine, plus purchased pesto and your favorite veggies. Buy some spreads, olives and a desert.

A slow cooker is also your best friend. Slow cook a southern pot roast with red wine and vegetables and ladle on rice. Who wouldn’t like that? As time goes by you’ll get more elaborate with your dinner party.

How your food is presented also matters, but you don’t have to go overboard in decorating for a dinner party. I always think fresh flowers are a nice touch and I love a bunch of single color hydrangeas in a shallow vase. If you don’t want to deal with that just get some flowers from the store, clip the stems and put them in multiple grouped water glasses. It’s the thought that counts. Plain white plates are fine and Ikea is a great place to get budget kitchenware.

Date night

Here’s the secret to getting that man or woman to love or marry you. Have about two to three dishes in your repertoire that you can cook really well. Never cook a new recipe for the first time on the date. Test drive on your friends first.

With Todd, I roasted a Publix whole chicken with herbs and veggies and made some scratch buttermilk mashed potatoes so when he arrived he smelled the roasted meat.  Then I bought a pecan pie and served it with Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream.

The whole meal was about $15 plus the $8 roasting pan from Target — not the best but not the worst. Vegetarians could make a meatless meatloaf with mushrooms, eggplant and mushroom gravy.  Then, I lit candles and played some Billie Holiday. Honey hush, the gleam in that man’s eye. He was mine.

When you combine something good to eat, candle light, and your favorite music, they will fall in love. You don’t even have to make anything. Just get some good store bought or take out at the hundreds of places in this city. There are so many in Atlanta that I can’t mention them all. Go to Yelp and type keyword neighborhood groceries.

For many frittata and pasta recipes and other quick dinner party ideas, bookmark the Food Network website at www.foodtv.com.


Top photo: Even take-out food and simple pasta dishes with store-bought sauces create a welcoming atmosphere when presented nicely at home. This shrimp, asparagus and pesto fettuccine recipe from the Food Network saves time by using jarred pesto. (Photo courtesy FoodNetwork.com)

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