In the year and a half that Justin and I have lived in our house, we have only gotten to know two of our neighbors. I think this is partly due to the garages being in the back of the houses instead of the front. The only time we really see our neighbors is when they are getting their mail or mowing their yard. The couple across the street are fun and enjoy good food and drink so we invited them over for dinner.
A year ago, the thought of throwing a dinner party for others would have intimated me, but after entertaining on and off for a year, I am finally starting to feel comfortable cooking for others. I think part of the reason I feel more comfortable is now I have a repertoire of recipes that I know are good and that I feel comfortable making. Before I had a repertoire, I often tried new recipes on my guests (my guests serving as guinea pigs), and I would just pray that the recipes turned out and turned out on time. Just ask Justin’s family about the disaster of Christmas 2017 when Justin and I hosted and nearly starved everybody out. I had doubled the rice recipe and consequently it took FOREVER to cook. And when the rice was finally done, it wasn’t even good. Ugh! We ended up serving lunch two hours late. They must have thought we were putting them on a mandatory holiday fast.
But Saturday’s dinner went smoothly. Everything I made I had made on a previous occasion so it was a stress-free dinner prep. We served prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, steak, chicken, mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli, store-bought rolls with homemade basil butter, and sangria.
For the prosciutto-wrapped asparagus recipe, click here.
Prep time: 20 minutes cutting; 2 hours chilling
We had quite a time coming up with this sangria recipe. We combined red wine, fruit, and sparkling water. It wasn’t sweet enough so then we added orange soda and Diet Ginger Ale. But it still lacked something. Then Justin added brandy, and that did the trick. It was so smooth after that with just the right amount of sweetness. We included the specific types of fruit we used in the recipe, but feel free to use whatever type of fruit you want!
1/2 honey crisp, chopped
1/2 granny smith, chopped
1 peach, chopped
1 Bartlett pear, chopped
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 lime, sliced
handful of raspberries
5 strawberries, sliced
1 (750 ounce) bottle of dry red wine
1 bottle (16.9 ounces) sparking water
8 ounces of orange soda
12 ounces of Diet Ginger Ale
2-3 shots of brandy
Mix it all together and chill before serving.
steak and chicken
Prep time: 10 minutes
Serving size: Serves 4-6
When we serve steak to our guests, we usually also serve chicken as there are so many people who are not red meat fans. There’s not a lot to this recipe, but I included it anyway. High-quality cuts of meat do not need much seasoning to be tasty. We only added salt and pepper and let the grill give the meat that smoky flavor.
4 tenderloin steaks
2 chicken breasts
Salt and pepper the meat about 5 minutes before placing on grill. Heat grill to 500-600 degrees to get the seared effect. Place meat on grill with space between each piece. Cook the steak for about 3-5 minutes per side (depends on how well done you want the steak). Cook the chicken for about 5-7 minutes per side. After the initial searing, flip once and only open the lid for short checks on the meat. Cut into the middle of meat to see if it is to desired level of doneness.
oven-roasted broccoli with parmesan cheese
Prep time: Less than 30 minutes
Serving size: 5 cups
This is one of my go-to broccoli recipes. It’s quick, easy, and tasty.
1 pound (about 6 1/2 cups) broccoli florets, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons grated reduced-fat Parmesan
1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Trim the broccoli, leaving about 1/2 inch of the stem attached to the florets. Toss the broccoli in a large bowl with the Parmesan, parsley, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt to taste. Toss in the red pepper flakes. Drizzle with olive oil and toss again until all of the florets are coated.
Transfer to a medium nonstick baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, and then toss the broccoli again and bake for another 5-7 minutes, or until the florets are lightly browned and tender. Serve immediately.
(Adapted from The Most Decadent Diet Ever! 2008)
Serving size: 4 cups
Every cook needs a good mashed potato recipe in her repertoire and this is mine. I prefer gold potatoes over the Russet variety, and I prefer to leave the skin on because I like the texture of it.
6 medium gold potatoes
1/2-3/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
salt to taste
ground pepper to taste
Wash the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Put them in a pot and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, and boil until tender with a fork (can be 30-45 minutes). Drain well and return to a low heat. Add 1/2 cup milk and the butter. Mash with a potato masher or a fork until the lumps are smoothed out. Add remaining milk and salt and pepper.
(Adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, 1990)
I cannot stay out of this butter! I love basil anything and this butter is exceptionally good! You can also use salted butter so you don’t have to add any salt. I make this in small batches because basil butter only lasts 2-3 days. After that, the basil starts looking wilted. But I serve this butter as often as I can!
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
6-8 basil leaves, chopped
salt to taste
Microwave the butter until butter is softened, not melted (about 20 seconds). Mix butter and basil leaves. Salt to taste. Refrigerate 2 hours before serving.