Nina’s Tips: Hosting & Cooking for a Crowd

Whether you love to be in your kitchen or could think of 10 things better to do, EVERYONE has a place in their busy lives for simple, fast, and easy-to-execute meals. Here are my tips and techniques for creating all things delicious and FAST!

We’re hosting a party! I want to serve a great meal, but between work and kids I can’t spend all day cooking. How many dishes should I be serving at a party to make sure the food is substantial?

Three solid, simple, and filling dishes should be your goal. Three is a good number to offer variety while not making you want to tear your hair out and regret ever inviting anyone over. One meat and two veg dishes, or three veg dishes where one is considered a “main dish” is perfect. It’s always easier to make fewer things in large quantities than lots of dishes in smaller quantities.

I get stuck when I think about party salads. All I can come up with is mozzarella caprese and a green salad, but I know that won’t fill people up. Help!

Think about the food pyramid – your offerings should include a starch, a protein and a green thing. Don’t get stuck – spend some time exploring food blogs or flipping through old cookbooks, or search the thousands of recipes on our website! I love making grain salads because they are easy and filling. You can also incorporate vegetables into them, like a quinoa and bean salad with diced veggies—it’s like a fresh take on pasta salad. I also love vegetable salads that contain cooked or marinated vegetables because they are more interesting than your everyday green salad. These salads are also beautiful to look at and will make your guests excited to dig in.

Recipe: Mexican Corn Salad with Queso Fresco

From Food & Wine Magazine, Elizabeth Falkner.


5 ears of corn, shucked
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp hot sauce
Pinch cinnamon
1 1/2 lbs arugula
3 ripe avocados, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
3 oz queso fresco, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat your oven to 500°F. Drizzle the corn with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the corn on a tray and into the oven for about 25 minutes or until the kernels are brown. Cut the corn from the cobs and set aside.

Reduce your oven temp to 400°F. Place the pumpkin seeds on a small tray or baking dish and bake. Stir the seeds every so often. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Transfer to a plate to cool.

Place 1/2 cup of the corn into a blender or food processor. Add the lime juice, sherry vinegar, hot sauce, sugar and cinnamon. Puree to until smooth. Add the remaining olive oil and blend. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining corn, arugula, avocados, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Add the vinaigrette and toss well. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the pumpkin seed and crumbled cheese. Serve immediately.