I was recently delighted to have my mother and two of her dearest friends over for dinner. I love to entertain, but I don’t claim to be a fabulous cook. Our summertime get-togethers usually feature my husband at the grill. Unfortunately, a stormy forecast meant we would be dining inside, and I would need to come up with an alternative menu for my three special guests, husband, and son.
My mom and her friends are kind and gracious ladies who would truly appreciate any meal I served; however, the fact that they are all legendary hostesses had not escaped me. As a young girl, I watched them throw an annual Christmas Tea for 200 and, for a summer wedding, sculpt pastry into swans filled with crab rangoon. I kid you not.
I decided it would be best to K.I.S.S. it. (Keep It Simple Sister) We would all enjoy something light and elegant that did little to test my culinary skills and leave me a frazzled hostess. I’m sure many of you are more comfortable in the kitchen than I, but in case you need a little encouragement to host your own dinner party, I’m sharing my ideas with you. Just add music (Sinatra for this classy group), a few candles, a pretty centerpiece, some delightful conversation, and you’ve got yourself a party. This simple menu turned out almost as lovely as my guests!
Appetizer~ Pretzel Rods with Mustards for dipping (This is our signature appetizer, borrowed from a hotel we stayed at in Washington DC.)
Aperitif~ Prickly Pear & Blood Orange San Pellegrino and Vodka with Fresh Mint
Dinner~ Chicken Breasts with Asparagus and Cheese (recipe to follow)
Fruit Salad (recipe to follow)
Rolls with Butter
Dessert~ Salted Caramel Gelato with Pirouette Cookies (I remembered these are a favorite of one of my guests!)
Chicken Breasts With Asparagus and Cheese: A nice thing about this entree is that you can prepare it, put it in the refrigerator, and pop it in the oven when your guests arrive.
- Trim boneless, skinless chicken breasts to equal size (This is important to ensure even cooking.)
- Slice each breast horizontally, but not completely through.
- Stuff with about 2 tablespoons of Italian blend cheese.
- Lay two trimmed pieces of asparagus across cheese.
- Use a toothpick to secure chicken.
- Top with a tablespoon of shredded parmesan cheese.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Chicken should reach 165 degrees.
Fruit Salad: This side dish has a secret ingredient that adds a light, sweet glaze.
- In a large bowl, empty a can of chunk pineapple with juice.
- Add a can of mandarin oranges without juice.
- Add washed grapes, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cut strawberries.
- Gently stir in a package of vanilla instant pudding!
- Chill for at least 30 minutes.
- If desired, add sliced bananas before serving.
“This is what life is about. Let’s have a party. Let’s have it tonight!” ~ Lilly Pulitzer
Think on These Things~ Alicia