Welcome to my newest bloggy feature, guys! This was mostly Preston’s idea, and I LOVED it.
Really, it’s pretty simple. Super fun for me. Extra fun for my friends. Hopefully useful for those of you who love hosting guests.
Once a month I’ll be hosting some kind of little get-together, complete with an awesome menu. I’ll share the recipes I used (probably not going to be debuting new recipes to the blog on this feature), give you the timing and setup for guests, and share some photos! So we’ll all have a nice little stockpile of menus for gatherings with the timing all planned for us 😉 I’ll get feedback from friends as far as favorite menu items and all that.
Today we’re starting simple with how to host a double date. Just four people, a simple menu, and a few bottles of wine.
Lessons learned from the first “feast”: take more photos of the gathering 😉 I only took a couple and it was dark and they were blurry. Whoops.
At least the food photos turned out well enough 😉
Just a double date at home! I had a friend and her hubby over for dinner.
** Pesto baked salmon and chicken
** Broccoli slaw – I left out the cranberries, subbed plain greek yogurt for the buttermilk and mayo and then just added a couple tablespoons of mayo to give it that creamy richness. Plus I steamed the broccoli for just 3 minutes in the microwave first. I just like broccoli so much better at least a little cooked.
** Sweet + sour butternut squash – SO funny. This is the awesome squash recipe I based yesterday’s recipe on. It’s from this cookbook and I love it. It’s usually made with acorn squash but to save myself the time and hassle of dealing with a whole squash, I bought pre-cut butternut squash fries at TJ’s.
** TJ’s frozen Birds Nests
the day before:
1. Make pesto (if you’re making it from scratch. I don’t measure anymore, but my rough recipe is: 1 large bunch of basil, 1/3 cup (or 1 decent handful) pine nuts, 2 cloves garlic, big pinch salt, couple grinds black pepper, about 1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (as much as needed to make the right consistency.)
2. Chop/shred broccoli for slaw.
1. If you’re starting from frozen chicken/salmon, get them out to thaw.
40 Minutes Before Dinner:
1. Mix up slaw and refrigerate.
2. Mix sauce for squash and set aside.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
30 Minutes Before Dinner:
1. Filet chicken breasts (so they cook at the same rate as the salmon.)
2. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray and lay salmon and chicken on top.
3. Spread pesto on top of salmon and chicken.
4. Sprinkle panko bread crumbs on top of salmon and chicken and drizzle with the tiniest bit of olive oil.
5. Spread squash on another baking sheet and lightly spray with cooking spray. Pop in the oven.
20 Minutes Before Dinner:
1. Spread frozen birds nests on baking sheet.
2. Pop everything else in the oven. You’re aiming to get them in the oven about 20 minutes before you serve dinner, since that’s about how long they’ll take to bake.
3. Start cleaning up your mess 😉
15 Minutes Before Dinner:
1. Flip butternut squash fries over.
10 Minutes Before Dinner:
1. Flip birds nests.
2. Set the table.
Now you’re mostly done! Your slaw is ready in the fridge. Everything in the oven should be done all at the same time. Take it out, scoop the squash into a bowl right away and pour the sauce on top while it’s hot. Plate up your birds nests with their sauce in a little bowl on the side. Put the salmon and chicken right on your guests’ plates and you’re all done.
Drink some wine and relax.
To be completely honest, my friends arrived at the very moment I should have taken the salmon and chicken out of the oven, were lost in my parking lot, and I ran out to help them park and find my place. Without taking the food out of the oven… It was still good, but a touch overcooked 😉 BUT: I tell you that so you learn from my mistakes AND so you know that this is definitely the kind of meal that is still good even if it’s not perfect. That’s the best kind of meal for company.
The menu itself was fantastic. Fun combo – everything went well together but featured a nice range of flavors. I love serving two veggies since people can be so picky about them. Plus don’t we always drink extra when we have company? So I like to keep the meal healthy to make up for the booze 😉