Make It Sparkle
For a special anniversary dinner, your menu also needs special touches. There's no need to wear yourself out creating a gourmet menu, but do add a few ingredients and cooking techniques you wouldn't ordinarily use. Whether you serve a special seafood appetizer, gourmet cheese, butterflied meat or poultry or a creamy spread for freshly baked bread, keep the food and the mood festive and memorable.
Salad is a fast and simple option for any anniversary dinner. Mix chilled shrimp with Romaine lettuce, croutons, shredded Parmesan and Caesar dressing for a tangy start to the evening. If it's a summer party, go with spinach leaves or rocket lettuce topped with cherry tomatoes, sliced fruits and chopped nuts. Or cut refrigerated pizza dough into small squares. Spread them with tomato sauce and top with shredded cheese, or non-dairy cheese for lactose-intolerant guests. Bake and serve the baby pizzas for a mouth-watering preamble to the meal. The pizzas may also suffice as a meal for any young guests in attendance.
If you're not a natural cook, go with a main course that's easy to prepare and to eat. Butterfly large chicken breasts, stuff them with tomato and basil, and bake. Insert shredded mozzarella just before they're finished and let it melt. If the anniversary couple is more meat-and-potatoes, serve grilled steakburgers, or tofu burgers for vegetarian guests. Grill the burgers and serve with vegetables, sliced gourmet cheese and fresh-baked French bread. Go with seafood if you can find it fresh. Steamed crab legs infused with lemon butter and garlic or fresh grilled grouper both intimate elegance and good taste.
Your side options should complement the main dish, not draw attention away from it. Keep your side items simple and easy to eat. Fresh-baked bread is always a superb option, especially if served with a creamy remoulade or seafood spread. If you choose a seafood main course, go with a lobster bisque or clam chowder as a supporting side. Set up a baked potato bar filled with various toppings, including the basics -- butter, sour cream, chives and cheese. Sauteed seasonal vegetables are always a reliable option, especially if you're pressed for time. Don't forget to season them to match your main course.
The meal may be over, but you have one more opportunity to wow your guests. Freeze seasonal berries and serve them with chocolate sauce. Or set up an ice cream sundae bar. Offer three flavors of ice cream and plenty of toppings, such as sprinkles, cookie bits and small chocolate candies. Order individual cupcakes, one for each guest. Buy your own icing and personalize them at home with each guest's name or initials.