A Summer Night Dinner Party

So one of my best friends just recently got married in September.  As her maid of honor, I really wanted to make this whole experience for her memorable and special.  From the bridal shower to the bachelorette to the night before the wedding, I wanted her to feel special and know that all of her close friends were super excited and happy for her.  So the Friday before we left for her bachelorette to Key West, I decided to have all the girls over that were going on the trip, for a dinner party.

I really didn’t decorate much, I wanted everything to be simple and fresh.  I used blue table linens, rattan woven placemats and white ceramic dinnerware.  While at Michaels, I found these cute little potted succulents that I thought would be perfect as a favor.  I had small chalkboard signs that I was able to stick into each potted plant with each guest’s name on it and placed them at each table setting.

A few years ago I had gone up to the Finger Lakes in New York State for one of my friend’s 30th birthday and we had had wine slushies.  I bought a few mixes at the time and thought they’d be perfect for the party.  I just told everyone to bring their favorite wine to mix with any of the flavors.  They really are delicious and so refreshing, especially on a warm summer day!

The appetizers I had displayed on the island.  They were simple and easy to make.  We all munched on caprese bites, prosciutto wrapped asparagus and a charcuterie board.  I wanted the appetizers to be light and only a few since I was making a dinner as well.

The charcuterie board I put together was pretty simple – triscuits, cheese, black olives and gerkin pickles.  I used an acai wood cutting board to display everything.  This appetizer always goes fast, there was nothing left by the time we were ready for dinner!

The caprese bites are super easy to make.  Simply skewer a small ball of fresh mozzarella, a basil leaf and a cherry tomato onto a toothpick and drizzle with a balsamic reduction! Super easy!  These always go fast too, just pop them in your mouth!

The prosciutto wrapped asparagus were easy as well, just allow for some cooking time.  I always buy pre-sliced prosciutto to make it easy.  Take a slice of prosciutto and 1-2 asparagus spears depending on the length of the prosciutto, wrap the prosciutto around the asparagus, arrange on a baking sheet and place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven.  Bake for 20 minutes or until crispy and done.  These are delicious! You get the salty crispiness from the prosciutto and the earthiness from the asparagus.  These would be great for any holiday party as well.

When everyone arrived, I had the dining room table already set with everyone’s place setting.  My friend Iwona brought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers and I placed them as the centerpiece of the table.  It all came together so well!

I recently started watching the morning and afternoon cooking shows on Food Network and I have to say, I love the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.  She makes everything seem so effortless and I have been told by several people that her recipes always turn out right.  So one afternoon, I was watching her show and she made this grilled nectarine arugula salad that just looked so good.  It wasn’t even the salad itself, it was the salad dressing.  She made her own salad dressing using a few easy ingredients that we all would have in our pantries.  I decided that I had to make this salad for my dinner party.

The salad came out great!  The only thing I changed was that I used peaches instead of nectarines because they were on sale at Shop Rite.  And I would have to say, I wouldn’t use them again.  I’ve never really been a big fan of fruit in my salads, but this salad just struck a cord with me and I just needed to make it.  The salad dressing was so smooth and had just the right amount of sweetness from the honey.  This salad dressing could be used on any salad your heart desired.  It’s light and fresh as well, perfect for summer!

To go along with the salad, I made lemon herbed chicken and rustic herbed brown rice in the crockpot.  The chicken was supposed to be grilled, but I had ran out of propane for my grill, so I baked the chicken in the oven.  The chicken was moist and melted in your mouth.   The perfect amount of seasoning and it didn’t have too much of a lemony zing to it either.  Next time, I’m going to grill the chicken and baste it with the marinade while it cooks, I’m sure it will taste even better!

The rustic herbed brown rice I made in the crock pot.  This saved a lot of time for me.  I love making dishes in my crock pot.  You just throw all the ingredients together in one pot  and leave it for hours. So easy and time saving.  The seasonings were on point with this recipe.  Very flavorful and the mushrooms gave that extra earthy taste to it as well.  Mushrooms can really add a lot of flavor to recipes.

I didn’t make a dessert this time.  I find that my friends aren’t really big on eating dessert and I didn’t want to waste time baking something if it wasn’t going to be eaten.  So once we had finished dinner, we played a game of Speak Out.  It’s absolutely hilarious!  We were laughing our heads off!  It was the perfect ending to a perfect night with good friends!

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