October 12, 2023 | ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT | By Emmaline Hawley and Katie Rowley
If you were to ask any of our mutual friends about us, they would probably, initially, bring up how amazing, cool and smart we both are. But, if you pressed them harder, they would hopefully mention our extraordinary dinner parties.
Who are we exactly? Emmaline Hawley (she/her) and Katie Rowley (she/her). We’re both seniors and for the past two years we’ve lived together. As roommates we’ve thrown many incredible dinner parties. Whether in an effort to make our mark on Colorado College, or to encourage the rest of campus to experience the joy we have felt through entertaining, we decided to start a new column in The Catalyst. So, sit back and spend the next couple months reading and learning about our feasts.
A few notes before we jump into our most recent dinner: Hawley is vegetarian, so all our menus will be completely vegetarian or have meat-free options. We’ll also be hyperlinking all the recipes we referred to while whipping up our spreads so you can access them! We’re trying our hardest to keep the meals cost-friendly, mostly for the sake of our own bank accounts, but also to make sure our dinner parties are inclusive for everyone.
After finally getting some autumnal weather this past weekend, we welcomed fall into our house on Saturday with a pumpkin-painting-prosecco themed dinner party.
The theme title should be self-explanatory, but if it isn’t, we filled our house with pumpkins, invited our friends over to help us paint them, and incentivized their attendance with a prosecco-based cocktail. We bought mini pumpkins from King Soopers and pulled out the various paint supplies we’ve amassed over the last couple of years.
After a bit of cleaning, we started creating the perfect fall vibes and cooking up our carefully curated pumpkin-infused menu.
- Decorations → Because this party was seasonal, we decided to buy some apple cinnamon-scented candles to last us until Christmas and paired these with some reusable LED lights that can also be used in our Jack-O-Lanterns later in the autumn season. We added an orange table runner, thrifted candlestick holders, and of course, our wonky paper-mâché tigers to pull it all together. We stuck to anything but overhead lighting, and tried to soak in the natural light while we could.
- Music → We wanted our playlist to be cozy, upbeat, and not too distracting so we could focus on our conversation. Think: “Laramee” by Ritchie Mitch & The Coal Miners, “More” by The Greeting Committee, and “Dead Girl Walking” by Jensen McRae.
- Dress Code → We choose to not have one but asking your friends to dress in casual, fall color palette clothes would make the evening extra cute.
To embrace the casual nature of this dinner party, we created a menu that could serve anywhere from three to 30 guests, accommodating guests that showed up late or brought friends along. Group-oriented appetizers, pitcher-style drinks, and a big batch of cookies ensured everyone would be fed – or that we would have lots of amazing leftovers.
Of course, a pumpkin-themed dinner had to include pumpkin foods, but in an effort to not overload our guests with the fall flavor, we only used pumpkin flavors in our appetizer and dessert. For our entree, pumpkin shapes reigned supreme and can easily be customized from dish to dish. So, now that your mouth is watering, we’ll walk you through what we served, and what you could substitute if you were feeling so inclined!
- Apple Cider Mimosas → We chose to serve apple cider in a pitcher with prosecco on the side so that our sober friends could still enjoy a festive autumnal drink. However, if you’re under 21, or just want to provide more options, sparkling apple cider or Waterloo’s cranberry seltzer could make for a fun swap.
- Whipped Pumpkin Feta with Bread → Oh my this spread was heavenly. Whip together some pumpkin puree, feta, yogurt, and spices until it reaches a vibrant orange color, spread on a baguette or aromatic cracker, and top with honey. The bright and tangy flavor balanced perfectly with the sweetness of the honey, and the dip was enjoyed all night long. If you’re looking for a vegan option, try Heartful Table’s Roasted Pumpkin and Garlic Dip.
- Pumpkin-Shaped Pizzas → Grab some pre-made pizza dough and your toppings of choice and let your inner artist out. We learned that we are not in fact sculptors, but we did have fun in the process, ha-ha. (One of our roommates did think our pumpkins were one-armed gingerbread men.) We ended up making five mini pumpkins with various toppings, and a large classic Margherita pumpkin. If you’re looking for a fancier option, check World Market or Trader Joe’s for pumpkin-shaped pasta, and pair it with your favorite sauce.
- Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter and Maple → We were wary when this recipe told us to use ¼ cup rounds of cookie dough, but it all made sense when we took our first bite because these enormous cookies flew off the cooling rack. We’d recommend doubling the recipe if you plan to have more guests because it only makes about 12. If you’re pumpkin-ed out or trying to stay under budget (unlike us and our poor financial judgment), opt for decorating cupcakes with your guests or the classic Pillsbury “spooky cookies.”
We decided to throw this party at the very last minute, and our guest list was pretty small. This worked out well because we had limited table space for pumpkin painting, and all our food stayed fresh even when friends showed up late. In the future though, we will try to send out our invitations at least a week in advance so we can include as many people as we can.
This party was also a rare occurrence of our food actually being ready in time. We would recommend starting your decorating at least two hours before guests arrive and start preheating your oven/prepping your dishes half an hour in. Besides these suggestions, we recommend you not take the structuring of this party too seriously and be open to wherever the night takes you (which might be to Craig’s).