Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dinner party menu

Since we've had Charlie, we tend to like to stay in versus going out on the weekends. We decided it would be fun to have some friends over for dinner on Saturday night. I had it all planned out: clean house on Friday night after Charlie goes to bed, morning Walmart visit while the boys are still asleep, gym in the morning, grocery shopping on way home, haircut in the afternoon, cook while Charlie is napping, guests arrive at 6:30, dinner at 7:15pm. Sound plan, right? Well, one minor detail I forgot to think about: what to cook and when? You can't shop for groceries if you don't even know what you are going to make! I perused my new Southern Living magazine while getting haircut - nothing. I asked the Hubbie - but I didn't want homemade pizzas, too expensive. I asked the friends - enchiladas but we just had those this week. Nothing seemed to be hitting the mark. I was starting to panic because it was 2:30pm and I still had no idea what to make and still had to grocery shop. So I finally just pulled from memory some of my favorite recipes that are easy to put together ahead of time that I could remember the ingredients since I was on the way to the grocery store with no pre-determined list. Warning, they do take some cook time but I did this mid-afternoon and by the time they arrived, everything was completely finished and ready. 

The Final Menu 
Artichoke dip with bagel chips
Beef Burgundy
Mashed Potatoes
Spinach Salad
Chocolate Fudge Pie

Artichoke Dip
(from my friend, Meredith)

12 oz Artichoke hearts (not in oil)
8 oz soft cream cheese
1 cup light mayo
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
3 spring onions, chopped (or several dashes of onion powder if you forget the onions like I did)

Blend everything together by hand. Put in baking dish and sprinkle a little mozzarella cheese on top. Bake uncovered 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve hot with bagel chips, pita chips or crackers.

Beef Burgundy

1.5-2lbs stew beef (cubed)
1 package Lipton onion soup mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup (low sodium version)
1 can of mushrooms or 2 handfuls of fresh mushrooms
1 cup of Burgundy or red wine (I use a bottle of the single serving red wine 4 packs) 

Mix together by hand. Pour in cast iron pan and cover. Bake 4 hours at 300 degrees (or if you are out of time like I was, 3 hrs at 350 degrees). Serve over mashed potatoes.

Mashed Potatoes

5-7 potatoes (any will do), peeled
2-3 Tbs butter
salt & pepper to taste
4 oz sour cream
skim milk

Boil potatoes until soft. Drain then put in mixer. Add 2-3 Tbs butter, salt & pepper and sour cream. Add skim milk to make the consistency you like for mashed potatoes. 

(once they are done, you can set them aside and heat them in the microwave when it's time to eat)

Spinach Salad

In this salad, put whatever veggies you like. Here's what I had on hand:

baby spinach
mozzarella cheese

I like Girards champagne dressing on spinach salad but any vinaigrette will do.

Fudge Pie

1 stick butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
whip cream

Mix together in electric mixer everything but the whip cream. Put in pie shell (I use the Pillsbury roll out kind but you can also use the Ritz pie shells in the tins). Bake 30 min at 350 degrees. Best served cooled with whip cream on top. Can also be made night before and refrigerated. 

So there it is - a menu for a lovely dinner party that easily serves 4-6 people. What is your "go to" menu? I'd love to hear what other people make when they are in a pinch! 

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