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…


Our house smells like Christmas!!

Fresh flowers in the vase…



And the dining room table set…


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



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


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…). 😀


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).


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!!


My plate:





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.


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


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.


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


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


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


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



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!


All 12 were gobbled up! :mrgreen:


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…..


Teas galore :)


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



Family pic for evidence 😉 Happy bellies…


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!

  • #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!

  • #17 - Getting fit with Wii Fit

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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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