Dinner Party part 2

Do having dinner parties scare you?  They didn't use to me.  I used to have so many short cuts for having people over.  I knew where to buy really good bread that tasted home made.  I knew how to make really good desserts that involved gluten.  If I was having a lot of people over and didn't have a lot of time to cook, I could go to Sam's Club and buy so much pre-made, decent quality food.  

I can't do that now.  Now when I have friends over, it all has to be home made.  That means planning and time.  It also means simple.  I poured over my cookbooks for days.  I wanted to make everything I saw, but when it came down it, I knew I had to choose some simple things.  I decided that most of my time would go into my salad and soup.  Everything else needed to be easy.  This is the menu I choose……

For starters:

Goat Cheese with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Rosemary

Soup and Salad:

Fresh Beet Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Caramelized Onion and Roasted Shallot Cream Soup

Main Course:

Roasted Asparagus

Rosemary and Garlic Filet of Beef

The prep for this meal was really easy.  I made the bread the day before.  I could have easily prepared everything for the salad the day before but I didn't have the ingredients yet.  Same thing with the soup.  Actually, it was better the next day as leftovers!  When you are planning a party, think of foods that you can prep the day before to take some of the work load off of you the day of the party.  

Goat Cheese with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Rosemary (print recipe)

(From Southern Living Annual Recipes)


6 dried tomato halves
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 French gf baguette, thinly sliced
olive oil
1 (11 oz log shaped) package goat cheese 

1. Cover tomato with boiling water; let stand 5 minutes.  Drain and chop.  Combine with garlic, oil, and rosemary; cover and chill up to 4 hours.

2.  Brush baguette rounds with additional olive oil.  Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes or until lightly toasted.

3.  Just before serving, place goat cheese on a serving plate, and top with tomato mixture.  Serve with baguette rounds, and garnish if desired.  

Yields 8 servings

Cooks notes:  I grilled my baguettes!  Love this recipe!  


Fresh Beet Salad with Orange Vinaigrette (print recipe)

(From Pampered Chef Spin on Salads)



8 medium fresh beets, scrubbed and peeled
1 can (12 oz) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed, divided
1 cup water
1 tsp. orange zest

Dressing and Salad

1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp snipped fresh basil leaves
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp coarsely ground pepper
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 large oranges, cut into segments
2 sweet onion slices, separated into rings
1 cup lightly packed frisee or endive
4 tbsp crumbled feta cheese

1. For beets, trim greens and root ends and peel. Cut into 1 inch wedges.  Place beets, 1 1/4 cup of the orange juice concentrate (reserve remaining for dressing), water and orange zest in saucepan and bring to boil.  Cover and reduce heat and simmer 35 to 40 minutes or until beets are tender.  Drain beets, cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use in salad.  

2.  For dressing, combine remaining 1/4 cup orange juice concentrate, vinegar, basil, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Slowly add oil, whisking until well blended.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  

3. For salad, for each serving, arrange onion rings on serving plate; top with beets, orange segments, frisee and cheese.  Drizzle with dressing.  Sprinkle with black pepper.  

Yields 4 servings

Cooks notes:  I could not find frisee at the grocery so I used a bed of mixed baby greens and layered the other ingredients on top of that.  


Caramelized Onion and Roasted Shallot Cream Soup (print recipe)

(From The Bon Appetit Cookbook)


8 servings

16 large shallots, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 cup unsalted butter
3 1/2 pounds onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar

3/4 cup cream Sherry, divided
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried sage
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 cup beef broth
3 cups whipping cream

3 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Toss shallots with oil in bowl.  Arrange shallots on large rimmed baking sheet, spacing evenly.  Bake until golden brown, turning occasionally, about 30 minutes. 

They will look like this.  Yum.  


2. Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat.  Add onions and sugar; cook until onions are deep golden brown, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, about 50 minutes.  

3.  Add whole shallots, 1/2 cup Sherry, and dried herbs to onions.  Cook until almost all liquid evaporate, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Add both broths and simmer 25 minutes.  Add cream and simmer until soup thickens, about 10 minutes.  

4.  Add fresh thyme and parsley along with the remaining 1/4 cup of Sherry.  Salt and pepper to taste.  

Cooks notes:  For me, this soup was a tad to sweet and very rich.  When I make it again, I will not add the sugar to the onions and might not use as much Sherry if any (I'm not sure I like Sherry!).  Also, I think it would be just as good with half and half or for those dairy free to use hemp milk in place of the cream.  


I have no real recipe for the asparagus and filet or pictures!  I just took fresh asparagus, tossed it in some olive oil, salt and pepper, laid it in a roasting pan (one layer) and roasted it at about 400 degrees for about 15- 20 min.  You want the asparagus to still be a nice bright green.  Don't let them get soggy.  Not good!  

For the filets, I marinated them in olive oil, fresh chopped rosemary, crushed garlic and black pepper in a zip lock bag.  I didn't measure any of that.  Just guess!  I grilled the filets on my indoor grill while the asparagus was roasting in the oven.  

We ate the meal in courses.  I love doing it that way.  We snacked on goat cheese while I put the salad together.  The onions for the soup was finishing while we ate the salad.  We talked and laughed.  Then we had soup.  Talked and laughed, drank some wine, then I cooked the main course.  It's just so relaxing to have a meal this way!  How many meals do you make, where you work for hours, or days (Thanksgiving, Christmas), you put all the food out at once, and in 30 minutes it's all over!  I like taking time better.  

And the wine…..like I said in my last post, Steve and I are not knowledgeable about wine.  We just know we like wine!  Maybe you too are a little nervous about picking out the right wine for a meal.  Do what we did.  Ask around your town and find a liquor store where there is someone who does know what's good.  Ask for their recommendations.  Tell them what you are serving.  I did just that.  I knew I needed a white wine for the salad and soup and a red wine for the main course.  The man at our local store recommended a Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio 2007.  I'm not a big fan of white wine, but this was really good.  He did not steer us wrong.  Now I am a big fan of red wine.  He told us about one he had tasted the week before and he thought it was so good that he would put it up against any expensive bottle of wine.  It was Ghost Pines Merlot 2005.  I love, loved it.  I would serve this again to company.  

I almost forgot dessert!  This dessert is an easy one to make on the spot.  My mom used to make it when we were kids on Christmas eve after coming home from my Grandmother's house.  It's a throwback to the 1970's

9;s Jubilee
(print recipe)

2 15 oz cans of Bing cherries

1 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup brandy

Heat the cherries in a skillet.  Add the sugar and cinnamon.  Mix the water and cornstarch in a small cup, then add to the cherry mixture.  Cook until thick and bubbly.  Add the brandy but do not mix in.  Light it with a match and watch it flame!  Then mix well.  Kids love this!  

Check back in a couple days.  I will have a recipe for some gfcf cookies and a story about Mia, the cookies, and the doggie er.  Yes, she's ok now.  



Filed under Beef, Desserts, Entertaining, Salads, Soup

3 responses to “Dinner Party part 2

  1. Can I come to your house for dinner?
    Check out my latest blog post for a great gluten book give away http://simplygluten-free.blogspot.com/2009/02/gluten-book-give-away.html

  2. Gluten Free Steve

    I want to come to your house! That soup sounds good with a piece of that crusty bagette! I need to get a French bread loaf pan….I just keep putting it off.

  3. Steve, you would be welcome at my house any time! I put off getting a french bread pan for soooo long. Kati got me one for Christmas and ever since I’ve been trying to figure out why I waited so long!
    Carol, You can come for dinner too!

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