When you’re planning a dinner party, along with the excitement, there is usually a bit of anxiety, hoping that it will go off without a hitch. One of the biggest pet peeves, according to one survey, is waiting too long to serve the food or drinks, but there was no mention about the dishes served themselves.

Delicious food on the table, along with good company, are two of the most important aspects of any dinner party, the only question is what to prepare. It’s easy to put out some snacks and hand your guests a drink soon after they walk through the door, but you’ll want to think a little bit more about that main dish. These are three favorites that are practically guaranteed to please all. 

Garlic and Lemon Roast Chicken


  • 1 5-pound roasting chicken
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 large bunch thyme
  • 4 lemons
  • 3 heads garlic, cut in half
  • 2 T grass-fed butter, melted
  • 1/2 pound sliced bacon
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

This classic roasted chicken recipe with a twist adds bacon to the top combined with garlic and lemon in the roasting pan for lots of flavor.


Place the chicken with giblets removed into a large roasting pan and then sprinkle a generous amount of salt and pepper inside. Stuff the thyme, a half of one lemon, and two garlic halves inside, saving a bit of thyme to use as a garnish later. Brush the outside of the chicken with butter and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Using a kitchen string, tie the legs together and tuck the wing tips under the body. Cut two of the lemons into quarters and spread it, along with the remaining garlic, around the chicken. Place the bacon slices over the chicken.

Roast the chicken in a 425-degree F oven for one hour. After removing, take the bacon slices off and set aside, then roast for another 30 minutes. The juices should run clear when cutting between a thigh and leg. Place it onto a platter and cover with foil while preparing the gravy. Remove all but two tablespoons of fat from the pan and add the chicken stock and wine. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about five minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half. Slice the chicken and place it onto a platter garnished with the roasted garlic, bacon, reserved thyme, and one sliced lemon. Serve it with the gravy. 

Bolognese Meat Sauce

You might be surprised at just one many outstanding pepper jelly recipes there are, but if you want to serve the fabulous flavors of Italy to your guests without a lot of effort, this Bolognese meat sauce is a standout, with the “secret” ingredient a traditional pepper jam. 


  • 10 ounces lean ground beef
  • 7 T grass-fed butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup prosciutto, chopped 
  • 1 strip of lemon peel
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 T tomato puree
  • 1 + 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup concentrated broth or stock
  • 1 T Traditional Pepper Jam
  • 2 T heavy cream


Using a heavy saucepan, add the butter and melt on medium heat. Add the carrot and onion; saute. Add the ground beef, browning well. Add tomato puree, prosciutto, concentrated broth or stock, and traditional pepper jam. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let it simmer for an hour. Once the sauce has reduced by about half, add the nutmeg and lemon peel, then slowly stir in the cream. Serve over your favorite type of pasta.

Cheesy Smoked Ravioli

Want something that tastes gourmet but calls for just five ingredients? This ravioli is the perfect option.


  • 1 16-ounce package of frozen cheese ravioli
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup smoked Gouda cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp white pepper


Fill a large pot with water and lightly salt. Bring it to a boil over high heat, and then stir in the frozen ravioli. Return to a boil and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, so it doesn’t stick for 6 to 8 minutes or until the ravioli floats to the top; drain. While the ravioli is cooking, add the half-and-half to a saucepan and simmer over medium heat. Whisk in the cheese until it’s melted, and then season with the white pepper and parsley. Pour the sauce over the ravioli when you’re ready to serve.

How to Pick a Meal for a Dinner Party

These are a few great ideas for any dinner party, but deciding what to do can still be a challenge. Here are a few tips to help you plan the perfect menu for your next dinner party. 

Choose Some You Know You Can Make 

Many people like to experiment with cooking. While it can be great to try new things and gain new skills, a dinner party isn’t the right time. It’s much better to make a simple meal you know you can make than make something complicated and have it not turn out the way you want. Before you settle on a meal for your dinner party, practice making it ahead of time.

Find Things You Can Make Ahead

On the day of the dinner party, you could have a lot to do before your guests come, even if it’s only a small gathering. You don’t want to be in a rush getting everything done or have to spend the whole night getting things together in the kitchen. Instead of making everything right before you serve it, find things that can be made in advance and just heat it up later.

Find What’s in Season

For a perfect dinner party menu, make things that are seasonally appropriate. Certain foods are the best during certain times of year, so keep in mind when your party is. For example, your guests probably won’t want something super heavy in the middle of the summer. You can also find in-season foods, like vegetables, that will add the perfect touch and can even be less expensive when you buy them at the right time.