"Easy" may not be the first word that comes to mind when contemplating an elegant dinner party menu, but it is possible to create convenient and delicious appetizers, main courses and desserts. Classic appetizers that require little preparation and uncomplicated entrees and desserts that look and taste gourmet will trick guests into thinking you spent more time in the kitchen than you actually did.
Make easy appetizers without resorting to buying premade versions. Choose options that you can create ahead or time or that require little preparation. For example, thaw large, frozen shrimp and offer them with tangy cocktail sauce as a classic appetizer. Jazz up traditional deviled eggs by mixing fresh herbs, such as parsley and tarragon, into the creamy filling. Broiled bacon-wrapped water chestnuts provide the perfect blend of smoky, crispy and crunchy.
Accompany the dinner's main course with a simple salad based on impeccably fresh produce. During summer months, use vegetables from your garden for the best taste. Start with packaged, washed greens for convenience. Vegetables -- such as chopped tomatoes, green pepper rings and shredded carrots -- add color and flavor to the salad. Add sliced strawberries or grapes and top with your favorite dressing.
Delicious and elegant main courses don't have to be complicated to make. Chopped walnut-crusted chicken breasts take minutes to prepare in a skillet and are tasty served alongside garlic mashed potatoes and fresh, steamed green beans tossed with lemon butter. For a main course that looks as good as it tastes, stuff a tender flank steak with a spinach and feta cheese filling, roll it up and bake. Slice it into pinwheels prior to serving. Roasted asparagus with garlic and golden raisin and pinenut-studded rice pilaf complement the steak.
A decadent dessert leaves guests with a sweet and lasting impression. Combine dessert and coffee by making a rich sundae using coffee-flavored ice cream, chocolate-covered espresso beans and whipped cream. Poached whole pears topped with a rich caramel sauce are a delicious way to end an elegant meal. To create easy strawberry shortcake, layer fresh, sliced strawberries and whipped cream between two round yellow cakes made from a convenient mix.