Sunday, October 25, 2009

Progressive Dinner

Last night was the annual Progressive Dinner for a group I belong to. There were 100+ people attending. Everyone showed up at one Appetizer House for drinks and apps and then names were randomly drawn at 7pm for Dinner House assignments. Houses hosted between 8-14 people. I hosted an Entree House for 12 people. I spent all day prepping and cleaning. Thank goodness for Sherry who did the bulk of the cleaning while I got rid of my piles and got the food ready. Our house looked great! !

Aside from holidays, I've never made dinner for 12 people, much less people I don't know. It was different. Fun though. And I did end up knowing about half the people. The food turned out really well so I thought I'd share my menu. I wish I had taken pictures of everything but it was a little chaotic.

Roasted Pear and Roasted Beet Salad with Blue Cheese and red wine vinaigrette

What a pretty and interesting salad this was! I absolutely love roasted beets for their flavor and color. I roasted the beets earlier in the day. Pear slices were tossed in butter and sugar and roasted for about 20 minutes right before assembling the salad so they were still warm. I thought the pears were kind of a pain to roast but everyone seemed to really like the salad.

No Peek Chicken
Grease a big casserole dish

Mix together:
1 box Uncle Ben's Wild Rice w/seasoning packet
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cold water

Put mixture in casserole dish and top with bone-in, skin on chicken pieces
(I used all chicken breasts , 6 per casserole dish , which was tight because the breasts were enormous)

Sprinkle top of chicken with a packet of Lipton Onion soup mix and then seal tightly with foil and bake at 350 for 2.5 hours. No peeking!!

Although not part of the recipe I decided to soak the chicken in a brine for about 3 hours before assembling the casserole. I don't know how much of a difference it made since I hadn't made this dish before but the chicken was very flavorful and moist. The rice was really good too. Kind of like a wild rice risotto.

For the Brine:
Dissolve 1.5 cups sugar and 1.5 cups salt in a gallon of cold water. I used a big stock pot. Stir in 2 medium heads garlic, outer papery skins removed, cloves separated, unpeeled and crushed. Crumble in 6 bay leaves. Immerse chicken and refrigerate until fully seasoned. It smelled so good before even cooking it!!

While everyone was eating their salads I roasted asparagus, tossed in olive oil, salt & pepper, in a 400 degree oven. About 10 minutes. I finished it with fresh lemon juice before serving.

I also served warmed fresh garlic bread and fresh potato rosemary bread. And lots of wine, of course. So good!!

Easy peasy lemon squeezy as Sam would say!

My girlfriend, Kim, who was in charge of organizing the whole event and her husband were at my house because she and I were "co-hosting". Our boys all play hockey together. Another girlfriend was stag so Kim made sure she ended up at my house too since she was in charge of "randomly" choosing the names. My dining table only seats 8 so we three girls ate in the kitchen which was actually really nice because I didn't feel like I had to "entertain" anyone.

Everyone was kicked out at 9:30 so they could head to the Dessert portion of the night. It was held at this awesome barn that is perfect for parties. Cool things on the walls, couches, huge flat screen TV with the Penguins game on, a band, a little side room where people were smoking cigars. Dessert and more wine. I went for about an hour. I was pooped. Good times.


Connie said...

Bon appetito! sounds delightful. I'm going to try that chicken some night. You always go that extra mile, like with the brine. Was the barn at someone's house or is it something you rented? Wish I lived in your neighborhood:)

Juleah said...

Sounds fun! Your such a good hostess. Can't wait for you to come down here and host our Thanksgiving meal....yummy!