Jon's Birthday... and our first Dinner Party!

Jon’s birthday was on Sunday… so, to celebrate we had a cotton pickin’ feast! dinner party in his honor. :) Here is a look at the menu:


Thankfully with Italian food, you can make some of the main dishes the night before and let the seasonings marinate in the refrigerator. This helped out tremendously since I was making three different dishes and several different sides…

For the appetizers:

We had two appetizers to start… while the main dishes were finishing up.

Strawberries and Cream:

Regular juicy ripe Strawberries with yummy cream… believe it or not, this cream is better than Cool Whip. Yeah. I know. I didn’t think it was possible either. I originally found the recipe off of Sugar Pie Farmhouse. (I couldn’t find her post on it… but Aunt Ruthie deserves the credit for it. Her blog is darn well near the cutest thing I’ve ever set eyes on… and if you are one of the few remaining gals (or gents!) in Blogland that hasn’t seen her blog… I suggest you do yourself a favor and pay her a visit!) This is just super easy to make:

8 ounces of cream cheese.
1 jar of marshmallow cream.
Mix well. (I mix mine with a hand mixer and it comes out just spectacular!)

Parmesan Cheese and Parsley Puffed Pastry Twists with Marinara Sauce:

O.M.G. These are cotton pickin’ amazing. You have to try these:

It is a recipe from Pepperidge Farms (you know, the company that makes to-die for apple turnovers!)

Ingredients:
1/2 package Pepperidge Farmยฎ Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet)
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed

THAW pastry sheet at room temperature 30 min. Preheat oven to 400ยฐF. Mix egg and water. Mix cheese, parsley and oregano.

UNFOLD pastry on lightly floured surface. Roll into 14″x10″ rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise. Brush both halves with egg mixture. Top 1 rectangle with cheese mixture. Place remaining rectangle over cheese-topped rectangle, egg-side down. Roll gently with rolling pin to seal.

CUT crosswise into 28 (1/2″) strips. Twist strips and place 2″ apart on greased baking sheet, pressing down ends. Brush with egg mixture.

BAKE 10 min. or until golden. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 28 appetizers.

TIP: To make ahead, twist strips. Place on baking sheet and brush with egg mixture. Freeze. When frozen, store in plastic bag for up to 1 month. To bake, preheat oven to 400ยฐF. Place frozen strips on greased baking sheet. Bake 15 min. or until golden.

I made these the morning of the dinner party and just froze them until I was ready to bake. Such a great little appetizer… the crust is so flaky and delicious…and all you have to do is pop them in the oven 10 minutes before guests arrive and you have a warm appetizer all ready to go!

I also made the Marinara Dipping Sauce:

1 10 ounce can of tomato sauce.
1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning.
2 teaspoons of Oregano
1 teaspoon of Garlic Powder.
Simmer for 20 minutes and serve.

Betcha didn’t know that you can use your patriotic settings all year long when you are a military wife. Yeah… it’s one of the perks. When I caught wind of that, I found me a Navy boy to marry. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Oh! Here he is now! Being such a helpful husband and cutting up my green onions for me. :)

These guys aren’t really helping…yet. They like to think the are a part of the “clean up” crew. They patiently wait (and hope) for whatever it is that they smell… to fall straight to the floor. That is when they are happy to be of service. ๐Ÿ˜‰

A quick pic before the guests arrive.
Yeah. I wore a cream colored dress while making Italian food. I live on the edge.
Thankfully I have a delightful apron to save me from any mishaps.
Ruffle aprons: will be putting some of these dandies up on my Etsy site when I get back from my trip to California. Just FYI…and a little shameless self-promotion. Hey. It’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to. :)

PS. I hope you love my bra strap hanging out as much as I do. Gosh, can I ever take a good picture?
PPS. In case you weren’t aware… my bra strap was strategically revealed to cause a diversion from my sausage arms. Yeah. I saw the picture. Sausage arms noted. Will begin extensive push-ups tomorrow. After I eat a piece of left over carrot cake.

The beginnings of the Italian buffet table.

Drinks:

Sweet Tea, Unsweet Iced Tea, Homemade Lemonade (recipe can be found here) and a selection of water and soft drinks.
I love to use pitchers at parties… but it is never any fun for guests to have to guess what the mystery drink inside the pitcher might be. I remedied this by cutting out little cards identifying the drinks and attaching them with ribbon to the pitcher. Problem solved. :)

For the main dishes we had:

Lasagna! Fettuccini Alfredo!! and Made-from-Scratch Macaroni and Cheese!!!
Click on the dishes for links to the recipes!

For the sides we had:

Fresh Garden Salad with homemade ranch dressing or homemade Italian dressing.
(In case you have never made ranch dressing at home with the little hidden valley packet… you are SO missing out. All you add is mayo, milk and the packet ingredients. It literally tastes like restaurant ranch. I finally figured out what I’ve been missing out on all of my life!)

and…

Watergate “Green” Salad. Find the recipe here! I LOVE Watergate salad… it is so nice to have a chilled salad in contrast to all of your warm food!

We also had a side of Cheesy Garlic Bread. Yet another recipe from The Pioneer Woman. If you need a recipe… her blog is the place to go… and she just started her new Tasty Kitchen website… which I am very excited about! I’m getting off track, aren’t I? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Back to the dinner party. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Guests arrived and the feast began!!

Some of our guests… minus me and one other person.

After dinner… it was time for cake!
I have always used this no-fail carrot cake recipe from my Grandma… I could literally eat the whole cake in one sitting. (That might be a slight exaggeration… but I would give it my best shot.)

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Mix together.
Add:

1 1/2 cups oil
4 eggs (one at a time)
2 cups of shredded carrots
1 can of crushed pineapple (drained)
1 cup of raisins (floured to prevent from sinking to bottom)

Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Icing:

1 8 ounce cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter
1 package of powdered sugar
3 ounces of coconut
Blend.
Ice cake when completely cooled.

Now mind you, this cake would have actually been decorated had my husband not accidentally thrown away half of my decorating tools. I didn’t even have a bag or a tip to use… which I discovered as the cake was baking on the day of the dinner party. Lovely. I jimmied up some wax paper into a carrot shaped icing bag. Yeah. That was the best I could do given the circumstances. And let the above writing serve as exhibit A. Nevertheless, it tasted delicious and that is what is important.

Afraid that the smoke alarm might sound… ๐Ÿ˜‰

My husband and his classic “totally embarrassed-please-stop-singing-to-me” face. haha Love it.

And an action shot. Or a crappy point and shoot camera. You be the judge.

What a champ! I hope he gets his wish. And I hope his wish involves a new red Kitchen Aid mixer… I mean… ummm… a round of golf at St. Andrews! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Unfortunately, I didn’t even think to take a picture of the food table in all of it’s delicious, cheesy glory…

but here is a shot of the aftermath!

We moved on to Trivial Pursuit… which, I might add, Team Farley won! (That would be us.)… but we were given some tough competition… which we really enjoyed!

The guests left after games…with the ultimate compliment of taking food home for leftovers the next day. :)

And here we are (the real clean up crew)…haha. I would have to say all of the food turned out to be tasty and Jon seemed to enjoy his birthday dinner… so all in all, it was a success! :)

One more thing!! I have a poll going on in the right sidebar… please participate! It is completely anonymous….so answer honestly. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m thinking of making some changes around Huckleberry Prairie and your opinion will help me decide which direction to go!! :)

Have a great Monday… don’t forget to watch the Bachelorette tonight! haha I should have another commentary on my Melissaisms if there is anything worthwhile on it tonight! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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