Healthy and Sane

Dinner with the family – entertaining part II

December 7th, 2009 · 19 Comments · Cooking Light, dessert, Ellie Krieger, entertaining, favorite recipes, fish, salad, salmon

After making a successful dinner for my dad last weekend, I decided to make a 3+ course dinner for my aunt (she’s here from Russia for 2 weeks) and my parents. I really love having people over for dinner, but I also get a little nervous about making sure that everyone’s happy. Adam was a big help in prepping the space. The Christmas tree was ready for our guests…

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Our house smells like Christmas!!

Fresh flowers in the vase…

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And the dining room table set…

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Everybody – have some wine! [This was a fantastic Chianti my dad brought.]

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FIRST COURSE

We started with a nice salad: mixed greens, arugula, roasted apples, pomegranate seeds and hazelnuts

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I thought all the salad ingredients complemented each other really well – the sweet and savory balance was spot on (she pats herself on the back…). 😀

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I followed this recipe for the dressing (cut the oil by 1/2).

I also decided to make little appetizers with the Pepperidge Farm puff pastry (I received a free coupon for it from Foodbuzz).

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These guys were inspired by a pasta I used to love at an old local restaurant in New York.  They’re topped with vodka sauce, roasted asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and a graded parmesan. Delicious!!

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My plate:

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SECOND COURSE

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The star of the show: sweet-spicy glazed salmon. This is one of my favorite salmon recipes – I follow this recipe from Cooking Light, substituting 1/2 honey mustard and 1/2 country dijon mustard for Chinese-style hot mustard.

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Haricot verts, steamed then sauteed in a tiny bit of EVOO with garlic.

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Couscous pilaf (recipe based on p. 12 of The Best of Cooking Light, Great Plates) – ww couscous, dried cherries, almond slivers, lemon zest and S&P.

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My plate (I ate 1/2 of it… getting stuffed!)

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The salmon was a hit! This glaze is fabulous!! 😀

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The cherries in the couscous were my favorite. I <3 cherries 😀

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Let’s not forget the veggies. Simple preparation doesn’t mean simple taste.

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DESSERT

The almond, cherry chocolate clusters made their appearance on the dinner table. This recipe is already becoming a staple in my entertaining repertoire because it takes just minutes to make and everybody loves these clusters!

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All 12 were gobbled up! :mrgreen:

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My aunt also brought a dessert – a local specialty called “chuck chuck.” Her mother-in-law made this particular batch with nearly every ingredient home-grown. This is little homemade pastry noodles, fried then covered in a honey glaze. The eggs are from the chickens they have and the honey is from their own honey-combs. Pretty awesome. We picked on this sticky mess all night. Mmm…..

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Teas galore :)

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My first portion (I had a whole lot more of the chuck chuck)

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Family pic for evidence 😉 Happy bellies…

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I’m really in the holiday spirit now!! Thank you, parents, for my early Chanukkah cash. I’m off to shop! Oh, I have to go to work first? Ok, ok… 😀

See you guys later! :mrgreen:

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19 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - sister inna

    chanukkah cash? cant wait tee hee heeeee

  • #2 - Lauren

    You are quite the entertaining hostess! The spread looks absolutely delicious. I love dried fruit mixed into grains… the cherry/couscous combo must be great.

    I must make the cherry almond chocolate clusters. They look perfectly bite-sized.

    I enjoy learning about other culture’s cuisines, and the chuck chuck looks very interesting! I love the fact that the ingredients are local and homegrown.

    Happy early Chanukah!!

  • #3 - Good Taste. Healthy Me

    Awesome job entertaining! Looks like you put together a fantastic meal!

  • #4 - Caroline

    I am so impressed with your skills! It looks like a fabulous evening. Your tree is really cute too!

  • #5 - Jesse

    Wow that looks like an amazing meal! I just booked marked all of those recipes. I love salmon and that glaze looks delish!

    How’s your running going these days?!

  • #6 - Valerie (College Girl Eats)

    Elina, I’m always impressed with the great dinner parties you give! Great idea adding the slivered almonds and dried fruit to the couscous. It’s definitely a bit boring otherwise!

  • #7 - Elina

    Thank you all for the complements! I’m blushing a little 😳

    Innz – oh yeah! 😉

    Lauren – you should definitely try the clusters. They really are the perfect bite sized dessert 😀

    Jesse – I’m not sure about the running. I did about 8 miles on Saturday but it was a struggle. I hardly run anymore (honestly, don’t really care for it at the moment) so it hasn’t come easy. I keep going back and forth about running more so that I get back into it, or abandoning it for a while to enjoy other things. Oh, and that salmon recipe is a winner! Make it asap!! 😆

  • #8 - tra

    chuck chuck reminds me a dessert in taiwan called sa chi ma: you fry up noodles, boil up a syrup of maltose, honey and sugar, add the noodles and stir to coat. you then put it into a cake tin/brownie pan, press it like one big ass rice crispie, dust with coconut and maybe some sugar, and cut into pieces and EAT! =D

  • #9 - Kate G.

    you are so great at entertaining!! hehe chuck chuck made me laugh, sounds tasty though!

  • #10 - Shannon

    what a great spread! and fun treat :)

    you did 8 on saturday? glad i didn’t go, i don’t think i could’ve made it that long! i’d probably be up for a shorter run this saturday…

  • #11 - Jenna

    that dinner looks very yummy!
    those clusters look great and i have never heard of those chuck chucks, quite interesting!
    jenna

  • #12 - Nicole (dishin')

    You went all out! Very nice job!!

  • #13 - Elina

    Tra – that sounds really similar, except for coconut on top – yum!!

    Shannon – I did do 8 on Saturday, but not without whining 😉 Let’s see how this weekend goes. I think a shorter run could be what I need. 😀

  • #14 - caitlin

    i love your dishes! so pretty. :) hope all is well with you!

  • #15 - Diana @ frontyardfoodie

    I am in love with pomegranate! Any chance I get I eat it but am to jealous of its flavor to put it in any thing. I just eat it straight up. That salad looks amazing!

  • #16 - Chrysta

    wow! awesome dinner you made. I loved reading about the chuck chuck. Ive never heard of this but it sounds sssoo tasty! And that salmon dinner looks wonderful. Great job!

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  • #18 - Lara (Thinspired)

    What a lovely meal! You are such a nice hostess/entertainer. I have never hosted anything on this scale before. Love the family pic, too. Hehe…they all look sort of like, “This is going to go on the blog, isn’t it?!” 😉

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