Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Dinner With The Better Halves

Unlike my typical dinner parties with couples, this one was all women.  I'm sure our men were thinking we spent the entire night talking about them, but honestly we didn't except once when I told the story about why Stone will not eat sweet potato anything.  The reason is, when he was in the third grade, while standing in the lunch line after eating sweet potatoes, he threw up on his shoes.  Since that day, he has NEVER eaten anything that resembles a sweet potato.  So I was very happy when Leann said she was bringing a sweet potato casserole to accompany our dinner.  I love sweet potato casserole, all buttery, sweet and topped with pecans.

We began our dinner with a fabulous salad Tina had assembled.  It's amazing the difference in a spring salad with all the fresh produce verses the ones made in the winter, since the spring one is so much better. I had to remind myself that we had the rest of the meal ahead of us and the salad was not our entire meal, although I could have made it mine.  Give me a good salad, some bread and I'm all set.

Nancy-Kirstin-Tina-Bethany-Judy-Leann-Me (Brenda)

Tina and Kirsten 
These ladies are part of an organization called KAMA, Knoxville Academy of Medical Alliance.  The Alliance meets September through May and participates in many community, special interest and philanthropic activities.  

Kirsten also made a Caramel Cake for our party.  YUM!!!  I tried making a Caramel Cake once and unlike hers, the results weren't so good.  The icing turned out more like candy and not in a good way. She will have to give me lessons.

Caramel Cake
Caramel Cake

1 box yellow cake mix 
1 stick of butter, softened
4 eggs
1 C milk
1 tsp vanilla

For a 9x13 pan, bake at 350, for 30 minutes, but check at 25 minutes.
For 2, 8” cake pans, bake for 25 min or less and check it.

Caramel Frosting

1/2 C butter or margarine
1 C firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 C whipping cream, heavy cream or whole milk
2 1/2 C sifted powdered sugar
1 t vanilla extract

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan.  Add brown sugar; cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves.  Do not boil. Remove from heat.  Stir in whipping cream.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla; beat at medium speed of an electric mixer until smooth. 
Use immediately. It tends to stiffen quickly.

Also a member of KAMA, Judy prepared some roasted vegetables to go along with our dinner.  One bite of buttery, sugary sweet potato then a bite of roasted vegetables made it all balance out.  It was perfect.

brought the first bottle of wine for the evening, which I struggled to open, until Courtney politely said, "it has a screw cap."   Stone is usually our wine opener for our events, so I sometimes forget when I am in charge that some have a screw cap.

As we sat out on the porch enjoying the hummus that Nancy brought, Courtney told some funny stories of their horses and dogs.  The funniest was when their neighbor told her that their dog had been climbing their chain link fence and taking off during the day.  Apparently he had been doing this for some time unbeknownst to Courtney and her husband.  Hmmm, their dog sounds like a teenager, but must make sure he's home before mom and dad.

an amazing mother of eight brought some lovely wine to share with the ladies. I thought four was a handful.  I don't think I could have done it.

The Sweet Potato Queen.

The Plant Guru  

When our spouses have their next Member Member Meeting, the Better Halves should gather at my house and maybe we can talk Nancy into giving a program on plants, hint, hint.   How cool would that be. I love working in my lawn, but sometimes I make the wrong decision on what or where to plant.  
Nancy showed us pictures of some Fairy Gardens she assembled.  They were so cute that I want to make one NOW!

For this ladies gathering I prepared the main dish.  Honey Mustard Chicken and Rosemary Basic No-Knead Bread to soak up all that heavenly sauce.  Both recipes are easy and tasty.

Dinner With The Better Halves
  Honey Mustard Chicken
1/3 cup Dijon Originale (I use Maille's)
1/3 cup honey
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 pounds skin on, bone in chicken thighs
salt and pepper
2 sprigs rosemary
1. Preheat the oven to 350'.
2. Salt and pepper chicken.  In a skillet pour a few tablespoon olive oil.  Heat skillet.  Place chicken, skin side down.  Cook about 3-4 minutes each side.  
3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey, and olive oil.
4.  Place seared chicken, skin side up in a casserole dish.  Spoon the honey mustard sauce over the chicken.  Place the rosemary sprigs in between the pieces of chicken.
If your having an event, place the baked Honey Mustard Chicken with all the honey mustard sauce in a crockpot and set to warm.  Make sure you put pieces of the rosemary in it also.  Then its ready when you are, and still warm.

Dinner With The Better Halves

5.  Bake for 45 minutes, or until the thighs read 175' on a meat thermometer, or the juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a knife.  Remove the casserole pan from the oven, use a spoon to spoon off any excess chicken fat that has rendered during the cooking.

Dinner With The Better Halves

 A great evening was had as we all gathered around the table for a night of feasting and good conversation.  

I had to have a bath, so you bet I was at this party!