Thursday, September 8, 2011

my first dinner party!

I now feel like a real adult, I've officially hosted my first dinner party! We had two other couples come over.... Adriel & Katie, and Patrick & Anne. Ross was such a HUGE help - he left the office before I did and picked up the last few items at the store including flowers, lemons, gin & tonic. (All very crucial to the success of the evening!)

As I left the office I gave my mom a ring to check-in and remind her how excited I was (not that she needed a reminder, I was gabbing about the dinner party all weekend in NJ). It's just after 5PM and she asked what I was making (apple, fennel, and celery slaw; cacio & pepe; and engagement chicken), asked me where I was (Virginia), what time my guests were arriving (6:30), and how the heck I would get it all done in time?! This is why preparation is KEY! Get as much as possible done the night prior, ladies.

So as I walk in my door at 5:35 I see that Ross had cleaned and set the table (such a sweetheart!). I quickly jumped into jeans and a Trina Turk blouse (which I got at the Nordstrom anniversary sale and just love) and got chopping! Actually - the first thing I did was check how much time my chicken needed to cook... almost 2 hours! Yikes, better get that puppy in the oven. By 6 I had my "engagement chicken" in the oven, giblets removed, washed and patted dry, coated with lemon juice and s&p, then stuffed with two stabbed lemons (for the juice to leak out), fresh herbs, and four cloves of garlic. Cook it breast side down for 15 minutes, and then flip and cook for another 90 (or so). This is all at 350. And look how tasty and juicy the bird came out!! It was soooo fantastic. When plating... don't forget to pour the pan's drippings on top.

As the chicken was getting cozy in the oven I got to work on the "celery, fennel, and apple slaw" just as Katie and Adriel arrived! Ross was quick to make us some gin and tonics and pour the beers. Pandora was playing on our TV, and the night was off to a good start!!

The celery, fennel, and apple slaw was so delicious! It was really refreshing and quite tangy. I am not a fan of licorice flavors, though I do like fennel and it really spread throughout the dish. It was so tasty, here's a link to the recipe... I highly suggest trying this before the cold weather comes in because I see this as a warm weather dish.

Patrick and Anne arrived while I was still making my slaw and brought with them spinach & artichoke dip, homemade, by Patrick!! It was really delicious with just enough lemon to notice and later complement the chicken! We had a whole grain rosemary round loaf cut up to dip in it, along with some whole wheat crackers. Additionally, we served up some homemade popcorn! Ross and I don't like microwaved popcorn, so we always make it on the stove. (It's really simple... 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/3 cup of kernels, top with salt & pepper!)

People were munching and drinking, the chicken was roasting, and all was good!!

Lastly was the cacio e pepe. I stumbled upon this recipe while browsing my epicurious app. Immediately I knew it would have to be part of our night's menu. I have not had cacio e pepe since I was in Italy!! It's really easy to make, as there are only five ingredients!! Spaghetti, butter, pepper, parmesan cheese, and pecorino romano cheese. Here's a link to the recipe, though note it's only for six ounces of pasta. I multiplied everything by 2 2/3 to make a whole pound for all six of us.

Everybody enjoyed sitting down to such a delicious meal with great company. I'll cheers to that!!

And then came clean-up... those boys did such a good job ;-)

*All of these recipes are courtesy of

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