Dinner with the family – entertaining part II

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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