Wednesday, June 11, 2014

D-Day Dinner

There hasn't been much to report this week.  Another glorious trip to Philadelphia for work in a few hours.  So I figured I'd share a few photos from our dinner party Friday night.

It was a combination of a D-Day 70th Anniversary theme and a Blueberry Festival theme

I was very concerned about how it would all come together.  The total menu was a signature cocktail, 3 appetizers (plus baguette slices I toasted and pita chips we bought already-made), a salad, a risotto, a marinated protein (chicken for 3, tofu for 3), and a guacamole-type sauce to put over the protein, and for dessert, a three-layered cake, along with yogurt covered frozen blueberries.

As of Friday morning, all I'd done was set the table, grate the cheese for one appetizer, stick the blueberry vodka in the freezer, and make and put the yogurt-covered berries in the freezer.  As of 9:00 a.m. on Friday, my husband hadn't even left to begin the shopping for the party (which he was doing with our weekly shopping, so I knew it would take a few hours). 

Ugh.  I was worried about disaster. 

Anyway, one thing done was the tablecloth.  That was my husband's job.  I texted him this photo to show what I envisioned:

But I mentioned it had to integrate blueberries as well.  This was the finished product:

An upside-down shot to show the blueberry integration by each person's name. 

And the set table (appetizer plates were on the bar, and we individually plated salads, so those are missing too): 

My husband got home from the grocery store just after noon, and I began cooking in earnest.  I had spent some time during a boring morning conference call envisioning a plan of attack, so within 10 minutes of groceries hitting the kitchen counter, I had sweet potatoes roasting in the oven, the marinade ingredients going into the food processor, the dried mushrooms soaking, and I was starting on the cake from scratch. 

A total of 9 recipes (not counting the yogurt-covered blueberries).  By 2:00, with guests set to arrive at 6:45, I was pretty sure that I was in over my head, even with husband acting as sous-chef. 

Cake baked, I used this awesome cake slicer thing to make the layers myself!:

Beginning to frost after it had finally cooled:

Frosted cake (untoasted baguette slices in the background there): 

And then, I left the actual blueberry cake decoration to my husband.  I gave no direction other than to say it should relate to D-Day or blueberries, and this is what I got:

Unfortunately, it appears that I took no other photos of the meal, but it came together perhaps better than any other dinner party we've hosted! 
I had to have one guest (my bestie, so I didn't mind asking and she seemed happy to help) take the second round of appetizers out of the oven and put them on a platter, and she also made the salads, and she assisted hubby with cocktail preparation, but overall, it went really well.  
My husband was in charge of grilling the protein and for a while, I was worried that would be a mess.  He said the marinade didn't seem to have worked well, and he was worried about the cooking time (cue about 15 jokes about "enormous [chicken] breasts") and his lack of experience grilling tofu to know when it was done.  But they both turned out perfectly!  Everyone enjoyed the meal a lot.  After dinner, while we were getting espresso and limoncello ready to go with dessert, I loaded the dinner dishes and ran the dishwasher again (I emptied it right before everyone arrived, so most all my prep stuff was clean and put away).  That was totally awesome.  By the time everyone left around 11:30 (late night considering we were doing a race the next morning!), we just unloaded again and loaded up the dessert stuff and the glasses, and the clean-up was basically done.  That's my kind of dinner party! 
As far as leftovers, there was no risotto, no salad, some appetizers (including a ton of the sweet potato dip), one piece of chicken (we made 4) and one piece of tofu (we made 4 again, in case a single person wanted seconds or someone wanted to have some of each), and tons of the blueberry guacamole (this recipe also made a large quantity).  And of course about half the cake, which unfortunately I've been enjoying pretty much every day since the party!  I finished off the guacamole with some beans on tacos I made for dinner last night, so now all we're left with is the sweet potato dip! 
So I'd rate my stress level for this dinner party as off the charts high (11/10), but execution at 8/10.  Very nice!  Usually stress is more like 8 and execution is more like 7! 


  1. Sounds like an awesome dinner! I used to frequently host dinner parties, but haven't in a while because of the stress level. I am usually a total nutcase because I try to do too much between cooking and cleaning and making everything perfect. Still, the result is usually always worth the work.

    1. I usually make a NY resolution each year to host at least 6 (and I usually resolve to include at least 2 people or couples who have never come over before). It's definitely stressful, but in the end, they end up being among my favorite nights of the year.

  2. Love the theme mashup for the party, the end result looks great. I could go for a slice of that cake.

    1. I wish I could give you a piece of the cake -- because that would mean I didn't eat all the leftovers. It was really awesome. The whole time I was worried dinner wouldn't come together, I kept thinking, well, we have pita chips, salsa in the fridge, and an awesome dessert -- if nothing else, that will work!

  3. Wow, I love this! Doesn't it always feel like OMG you'll never make it, once you're a couple hours in... and then it magically (hopefully) comes together in the end?

    1. Totally! I have this weird fantasy about appetizers in the oven, the dishwasher empty, the cocktails made, the entree ready to go, music on, a drink in my hand when the doorbell rings. That hasn't happened yet, but it's the dream. This was probably the closest I've come -- as in the least amount of work I've had to do or ask guests to do after they've arrived.

  4. There is a lot of stress and effort to create an easy and stress-free dinner party! haha

    That looks awesome - my older son is totally a history nut and loved the pics, I think it is a load of fun to have fun themed times like this! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Amazing! What a cool idea to do a history themed party. I'm so impressed with your organization. It sounds like such a fun night. How did you make the yogurt covered blueberries? My son loves the yogurt covered raisins, but the boxes at the store all have terrible ingredients. He would like the blueberries too.

    1. Blueberry on toothpick, dipped in non-fat Greek yogurt, slid off toothpick onto waxed paper, put into freezer. They were ... ehhh. Not very sweet and I wasn't overly impressed with them, but if you have yogurt and blueberries, try a few. They're certainly easy enough.