Tina Cornett, William Dickey / styling Buffy Hargett, Cari South
Looking for an easy but impressive way to entertain? Grab a decorative planter box from the garden shop or flea market, and set up a salad bar. Few things are simpler to make than salads, and if you're really short on time, you can always purchase a great-tasting assortment from a cafe or delicatessen.
We filled our planter box with colorful bowls of Chicken Salad, fresh-cut fruit, and a favorite pasta salad made with refrigerated tortellini. (Prepare cheese tortellini according to package directions; toss with Ranch dressing, a handful of sliced green onions, and thawed frozen peas.) Store-bought crunchy breadsticks and a quick mixture of toppings (toasted sliced almonds and crumbled ramen noodles) add the finishing touches.
Cash In on Flavor
For Grilling Smarter, we passed by the premium meat counter and headed straight for the big bargains. London broil (right), an extra-thick cut of boneless top-round steak, is frequently on sale and is an economical way to serve a crowd.
At around $3.98 a pound, chuck-eye steaks (right)--not chuck steaks--are one of the trendy new cuts of beef. Cut from the chuck section traditionally sold as pot roast, these tender and flavorful steaks are an ideal choice for grilling. Top blade or flat-iron steaks also come from the chuck section and are equally inexpensive.
For maximum tenderness, these budget cuts of beef need to marinate before grilling. Be careful not to overcook them; they're best when pulled off the grill between 145° and 155°, before they reach a medium degree of doneness.