About 2 weeks back I posted about our engagement dinner party plans. At that point I had hammered out the menu and at the end promised recipes and photos of the shenanigans. I’m a lady of my word, let’s start with the main course. Now, I love most everything that is pork — it’s salty, it’s delicious and when cooked properly it’s tender, moist and pairs well with many different sides. Unfortunately, not all people share my love for this tasty meat. Due to this we had two entrees:
Whiskey Brown Sugar Glazed Ham
A simple Google or Bing search will prompt many options for this simple glaze, but after a few years of testing/tasting I find that the following ingredients make for a nice combination:
- Brown Sugar
Don’t ask me what quantity I used for each because frankly, I have no idea. I’m not a chef or a recipe developer. I just add as I go and taste. It’s been working out pretty swell for me thus far. In any case, I rubbed the above concoction onto the ham and baked that thing to perfection.
My second main course option was:
Herb Crusted Chicken
Grant* and I cook chicken a lot. I mean a lot a lot. Mostly because it’s cheap and versatile. My favorite way to prepare is to use 3 simple spices — 2 parts kosher salt, 1 part ground black pepper and 1 part paprika (seriously, you can’t go wrong with this), but this time around I did a bit of searching to come up with a new variety to try out on our guests. I came across this recipe. Now, unless it’s baking, I have a real hard time following a recipe. So for savory dishes I typically peruse the ingredients list and take a glance at the instructions and then do what ever the hell it is that I want.
In this instance I decided to go with most of the ingredients. Though, I substituted breadcrumbs with low-salt potato chips (crushed, obvs) — I think I used about 2 1/2 cups of chips to thoroughly coat the breasts. I added minced garlic to the butter sauce because I love garlic so much! It’s delicious and I don’t care if it makes my breath offensive. Outside of those two things, I stayed pretty on-course with this recipe.
Now onto the accompaniments. For a normal at home run of the mill dinner I like to have two sides. Typically a veggie and a grain or starch. Our party yesterday was for a total of ten people, and I thought to myself perhaps three sides would suffice as opposed to making an obscene amount of two. Ever since this recipe for Lemon Scented Brown Rice Risotto with Squash Artichokes and Arugula popped up on my Facebook feed this past January I have been dying for a reason to make it. It turns out that I suck at making rissotto. After giving it a taste I was very unhappy with it and decided that if I wouldn’t eat it, I wouldn’t serve it to my friends. Sad Face.
My next side was a classic – Potatoes Au Gratin. Who doesn’t like that? Answer – no one, everyone likes slices of potatoes cooked in a buttery cheese sauce. If you don’t like things like that, there is something seriously wrong with you. Even vegans like this with substituted vegany cheese (though, I just cannot get behind that). The night before the party I sliced up somewhere around 5lbs of potatoes (with the skin — the best-est and most nutritious part — never-mind the fact that I soon slathered them with heart clogging butters and cheeses). It’s a pretty self explanatory recipe:
- Potatoes (sliced pretty thin)
- Kosher salt
- Cheese (I used cheddar)
- Garlic (minced) or some Onion powder
Coat potatoes in melted butter and garlic (or onion powder) then arrange a layer of potatoes in a deep baking dish (I prefer Pyrex). Sprinkle a healthy layer of cheese. Continue this process until there are no more potatoes. Top with breadcrumbs if you like and bake in the oven at 425 degrees until cooked (now, I say that because our oven is a piece of crap and I never know what temperature the oven really is. One time I was able to cook a 14lbs turkey in 3 hours, but it takes an hour and a half to cook 2 chicken quarters. There is no rhyme or reason but we make due by checking periodically). It became apparent that even though they cooked for over an hour in the oven they didn’t cook fully. Funny thing, many of our guests thought they were fine which I found incredibly odd.
Up next — Brussel Sprouts. Now I feel like these get a bad rap. These mini cabbages are a gift from the garden and are recently one of my favorite vegetables. A former friend of mine introduced me to these lovely round veggies about 2 years ago with the recipe that I used for the party. It totally turned me onto brussel sprouts:
- Fresh Brussel sprouts
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Red pepper flakes
I soaked the sprouts overnight in salted water and sautéed them with the other above ingredients. I was pleased with how these came out and even Grant* (who was pretty skeptical) enjoyed them.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get around to taking many shots of the food. Though many (approximately 300+) were taken of the festivities in general. Here are a few highlights:
The Initial Spread
Alana & Mark (they were a huge help pre-dinner. Also, they’re kinda adorable)
Me posing for the camera
Fact – Things are always funnier in the kitchen (Grant*, Chris & I)
Group shot, sans Mark
This is Grant’s* favorite shot of the night, because apparently I make this “I know everything” face a lot.
Playing “Am I…”
Group shot, sans Charlie* & Alana. No one can remember what was going on here
So yea, the party was a smashing success. I wasn’t super happy about how the dinner panned out but many laughs were had, beverages were flowing and two rounds of “Am I…” resulted in a hilarious list of people (Bart Simpson, Bruce Campbell, A-Rod, Ben Franklin, Anthony Bourdain, Batman, etc.). The last guest left at 245am so I think we can chock this up as a win.