Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Party Eats on the Cheap!

"If you feed them, they will come..."

Typically, food is one of the most important feature of a party.  Most guests will overlook the decorations if they know they are going to have a tummy full of something yummy.  Today's post is the final element of our daughter's 1st Birthday party that was held last weekend.

We decided to serve 'buffet-style' because of the number of guests and the fact that we would be eating outside.  I want to apologize in advance for not having pictures.  As anyone who has hosted a dinner party knows, once the food is ready to be served it's hard to stop and snap pictures!

Our menu included:

Grilled Beef Tenderloin w/ Creamy Horseradish Garlic Sauce
Summer Potato Salad
Garden Salad (with a Olive Garden-style Dressing)
Rolls with Whipped Butter

My husband grilled the tenderloin (simply seasoned with garlic powder, salt, and pepper).  He grilled them whole and then sliced them for each guest depending on their preferred temperature.  Most of the steak was cooked medium rare/medium with the ends being more medium well.  It was perfectly seasoned and super tender.  Way to go, hubs!

TIP:  We purchased two whole tenderloins from Costco and trimmed them ourselves which saved about $10 a pound.  

I love horseradish.  Love it.  I've been on the hunt for a yummy horseradish sauce and I do believe I've finally found it.  The tenderloin was delicious on it's own and didn't really need a 'sauce' but in my opinion the horseradish just added to its yumminess.  

It's an easy recipe that I found online.  You can find the recipe here.  The only thing that I changed was I put the garlic in my little food processor to avoid big chunks.  This recipe doubles well and if you somehow end up with leftovers it's fantastic on sandwiches.

I wanted something different than the usual (but still delicious) mustard potato salad.  I also found the Summer Potato Salad recipe online and you can find it here.  I did make a few adjustments to the recipe and have listed them for you.
  • The recipe doesn't specify but we chose new red potatoes because they are my husband's favorite and I could get a 10lb bag at Costco for around $5.00
  • I only used a quarter cup of oil instead of the cup recommended
  • I omitted the eggs
  • I used fresh dill instead of parsley
The dressing was much lighter and had a nice lemon flavor.  This also doubles well and with AllRecipes easy serving converter I was able to change the servings from 8 to 30 and the recipe automatically adjusted.  I made this in the morning so that the flavors developed by dinnertime.  

I love garden salad, especially in the summer.  We made a giant pan of lettuces (iceberg mix and romaine) then added red onion, garden tomatoes, black olives, pepperoncini peppers, croutons, and grated parmesan cheese.  The dressing was meant to be a Olive Garden copycat--and to be honest, as far as I can remember, I think it was pretty 'right on'.  I'll definitely make this dressing again.  The recipe can be found here.  I made mine in the morning and then poured it in a mason jar with a canning lid and ring.  This made it easy to shake up and then pour on the salad right before serving.  

We purchased the rolls, 32 for under $5.00, at Costco and served them with whipped butter.  Have you ever wondered how to make whipped butter?  You know, the good butter that you get at weddings, banquets, or in the bread basket at some restaurants?  Well, let me tell's super easy to make!  I thawed a few sticks of real (unsalted) butter to room temperature.  Then I put them in my KitchenAid mixer and turned it on.  I poured in milk a little at a time and let it whip for awhile.  Just add the milk slowly so that the butter can absorb it.  I also added some course salt for flavor while the mixer was running.  Your butter will expand giving you much more than you started with.  I let my mixer run for awhile and then put the whipped butter in an air tight container on the counter until the party.

Dinner turned out pretty well and we received lots of compliments on the dishes.  Our major splurge was the tenderloin, but we made up for it with the extremely inexpensive sides.  

What would a birthday party be without cake and ice cream?  Elia's Olivia cake was made by the talented Carey Iennaccaro of Sprinkled With Sugar.  Check her out on Facebook for pictures of her ahh-mazing cakes!

Tip:  If you need to serve a crowd of both adults and children buy two cakes.  One fun one for the kids to enjoy and then serve the adults sheet cake.  Most adults would rather avoid the brightly colored frosting anyway.  We served a plain white sheet cake from Costco (they are the best!) and asked them not to do any writing or design.  It's a win/win, the kids have fun with their  'fancy' cake and the adults get to enjoy a yummy cake too!  

Bonus Tip:  Costco (and Sams) cakes are huge and serve a big crowd and are only about $18.00.    AND, if you for some reason have leftovers they stay moist and delicious for days.  Believe me, I've had dessert every day since the party and may or may not be eating a piece of cake as I type this.  

Okay, raise your hand if you have ever been delegated the task of scooping ice cream for a crowd.  The ice cream is hard, the line is forming and you are using muscles that you forgot existed.  Yes?  Well, consider that the LAST time you ever have to do THAT again.

Thanks to Real Simple's GENIUS idea I pre-scooped the ice cream and when it was cake time it was easy-peasy to pull the scoops from the freezer, pull off the liners and put alongside the cake.  I'll pause for the applause.  I just wish this was MY idea!

TIP:  I didn't use muffin pans as I wouldn't have had enough.  I just put the scoops in the liners and lined them up on a large cookie sheet.  I filled two cookie sheets and stacked them with a layer of parchment paper in between.  Worked like a charm!

So, all in all, I believe the party food was a success.  But, I can't stop there.  What kind of momma would I be if I didn't post the obligatory 'messy cake-baby' pictures?  So, here you go!

Thank you to everyone who came and helped make Elia's 1st birthday such a special event!  



  1. Any leftovers you want to send my way? Looks great! Loved the cake too! :)

    1. I'll make you a deal. You come visit and we'll recreate the menu! Miss you!

  2. YUMMY!
    THat looks like a great party!
    Thanks for linking up!
    Stacey of Embracing Change

  3. So cute!! I love the theme and that's the cutest little cake ever and I love the ice cream idea!


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