The question: Can you throw a dressy occasion party gluten free, without your guests noticing or missing out on the gluten aspects of a 'normal' party?
The answer: Yes. With the help of a few fabulous friends (Jen, Robin, Peg, Jenn and Lindley, you ladies truly rock!!), a wonderful caterer ( Curt's Caterers), and a ton of work.
The event, a holiday party for my husband's work. The tradition had started years before my husband started in this current job. A couple volunteers to host, and throws the party, and then someone else jumps in the next year. It is a wonderful tradition, since they do shift work, rarely get together, and this is the only yearly event.
I had the party on Jan 11th,and worked my tail off to get it done. ( I will give my menu at the end of this post, so scroll down if you want to peek! ;) I learned something very important while doing all this. I have been gluten free for just over a year, and I realized that I am back. I started feeling so sick about 5 years ago, I had completely atypical symptoms, but I think most of us had the bone numbing fatigue, the achy joints, among so many other afflictions.
Being a Mom always came first for me.; I did what needed to be done for my children and home. I was always worried about running out of energy; to not have enough for even the basics of childcare. I did not go outside and play with my children, I hated going to the park, to the pool, and all those other happy childhood things.
I was exhausted after this party I threw. But I walked away with a whole new attitude. I have the energy now. I can do all those things I couldn't before. I don't have to worry anymore about if I can, I know I can. Since the party, I have gone snowshoeing and downhill skiing ( I had not done either in over 10 years. ), and you know what? I am fine. I moved furniture around with a friend. Easy. I wasn't too exhausted to make supper, or to do homework with my daughter. I could do it all.
What an amazing, life altering realization.
I just have to get my mind used to this. To remember I don't need to sit, rest , and store up energy for the rest of the day. I can get up and do.
The above photo is a centerpiece that one of my friends loved. She thought I should send it in to Real Simple, I thought I would throw it here, so I would remember it, because it was gorgeous and so sparkly at night.
Pretty plate, glass stone from a craft store, cheap silver or other colored ornaments (tops down), and these awesome little dinner candles from Target. Put it all together and light. The glass beads sparkle and glow from the candles. My 4 year old son and I put this together and had a great time.
And the food was wonderful. It was amazing to be at a party that I did not have to worry about cross-contamination; even if it was my own.
I mentioned a caterer. I never hired one before, and definitely not one that would have to make the food gluten free. There were 34 people coming, and I knew I could not make enough food myself, so I hired them to make a few of the heavier appetizers to take some of the load off . I talked to them about their menu, and asked which items were naturally gluten free, and which would be an easy switch. (Beef teriyaki, just substitute tamari, easy!). If I was to do this party again, and not want to hire someone to make the 4 or so items I needed to round out my menu. I would make them ahead, not cooked, and freeze them. Make my stuffed mushrooms, freeze, then bake that day. That sort of thing.
There were 2 of us there that react to gluten; and neither of us did after this party. Caterer gets an A+++! As well as my friends!
Ahh, my friends. They have to be the most understanding, wonderful ones around. They have asked, altered and completely understood my dietary needs. When Lindley makes a cheese plate for a party when I am going to be there, she always serves gluten free crackers. When Peg had a dinner party, she made the dinner gluten free, so I could eat freely. When Robin made this incredible white lasagna, she got some of my noodles and made me my own dish so I could have some. Jenn cooks gluten free for her family and has fed me when I am at the end of my rope.
So when they offered to bring something, I said yes. And they all made their food gluten free. Safe. I ate all of it, sighed and enjoyed, knowing my friends fed and feed me more than just the food they prepare.
Limited Time Only. Link to Barefoot Contessa's Ceasar Salad recipe below. No croutons, absolutely delicious. And, Gluten Free BABY!
Dessert table ~
Mini Cheese Cakes ~ Made ahead and frozen
Amaretti cookies ~ Made two days prior, stored in airtight container
Macaroons ~ Jen brought, I will get her recipe!
Edible Fruit Arrangement ~ Get a SMALL one. Or make fruit salad.
5 Minute Fudge ~ from Gluten Free Mommy.
Cold Appetizers ~
Cheese plate ~ friend brought
Marinated Shrimp ~ friend brought, Barefoot Contessa recipe
Caesar Salad ~ made with roasted tomatoes, and fried pancetta instead of croutons, friend brought, Barefoot Contessa recipe
Smoked salmon ~ bought at Sam's Club, Lassco brand, gluten free, served with assortment of gluten free crackers, and fresh gluten free bread (Check out this bread..Walk on Water), sliced, toasted in the oven with olive oil and sea salt sprinkled on top
Chips, Guacamole, & Salsa ~ self explanatory ; )
Vegetable Plate ~ friend brought
Hot appetizers ~ all done by the caterer, they made them (except for hot artichoke dip), I cooked them before and during the party
Beef Teriyaki Skewers
Mushrooms stuffed with spinach, garlic, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese
Grilled Eggplant Skewers
Hot Artichoke Dip ~ made by me, recipe coming soon
Yeah, when I look at all this written down, it doesn't seem like much, but it did completely consume at least week to pull off. Don't forget, I had regular life to live with two children, and my husband worked the entire week prior to the event. I think I could have done more ahead if the holidays weren't just a week or two before.
It was a lovely party, well worth the effort and energy, and better yet, the experience taught how I am truly back.
OH, one last centerpiece tip. In one of the photos you can see a beautiful orchid. If you bought that at a florist shop, you would be out about $40.00. I buy them at Lowe's or Home depot for $14.00, and get a cool thing to put them in, cover with a bit of moss. The orchids last about a month. Make sure you but ones with the blossoms on; don't buy a broken one. They are nearly impossible to make bloom again.
Links in this post:
- great gluten free /dairy free bread ~ Walk on Water, I love the no wheat-faux wheat
- Mini Cheese Cakes ~ I made two kinds, I will post directions for the blueberry lime when I get a chance, SO good, these are easy and can be made ahead, and frozen
- Amaretti cookies ~ easy, and can make ahead
- 5 Minute Fudge ~ From Gluten Free Mommy, easy and can make ahead
- Barefoot Contessa's Caesar Salad ~ made with pancetta instead of croutons
- Edible Fruit Arrangement ~ get a much smaller one than you think
- And the great caterer, who was willing to really work at making sure I did not get glutened, Curt's Caterers
And party on. ; )