Whether off to a friend's house or hosting a dinner party, this collection from Byrn (The Cake Mix Doctor, Dinner Doctor, etc.) gives plenty of reliable, tasty and (fairly) easy-to-prepare standards. Grouped by course, Byrn's recipes are packed with information. Easy-to-follow instructions are garnished with tips for packing and transportation; sidebars like her "10 Grab and Gos" can prove a godsend ("Buy a good deli paté and drizzle a little good brandy over it before serving"); and no-cook recipes like Twelve Layer Taco Dip and Layered Crabmeat Stack (cream cheese, cocktail sauce, seafood, cheddar and scallions) can be assembled in minutes. Can't-miss mains like Chicken Enchiladas; Spinach, Prosciutto and Mushroom Midnight Strata; and Oven-Barbecued Beef Brisket are sure to please (though the brisket, among others, does require some planning). Updates on classic party fare such as a Warm Potato Salad with Rosemary and Camembert, grilled Turkey Burgers with Pesto Mayonnaise and baked beans kicked up with chili powder and hot pepper sauce are hardly revolutionary, but guests should notice the extra effort. Rounded out with tips on everything from dressing up ham to table decorations, Byrn has thought of pretty much everything, leaving guests and hosts with quite a bit less to worry about.
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