Wednesday, January 2, 2013

1st Holiday Dinner Party

Last night I hosted my first ever seated dinner party, in the new home and in life! Fiancé I hosted his family for a gourmet meal and cocktails at our house and I think it went off rather perfectly!
I notoriously stress the heck out when I'm on a time crunch but luckily I prepped everything beforehand and even wrote out a timing chart for myself!  OCD much?!  Unfortunately I got so caught up in the cooking and entertaining I forgot to take pics of the final products, but lets just say mine made these pro photos look like they belonged at the kiddy table (right...!)

Every recipe I used was a new one, except the cashews and potatoes and I will reuse every one! The tenderloin will take some adapting for a better crust though, as there wasn't any crunch factor. Lots of firsts: 1st lobster, 1st Brussels sprouts, 1st beef tenderloin and 1st cheesecake!

My future mamma-in-law got me this adorable apron for the occasion!  So thoughtful!
The Menu
Rosemary and Cayenne Tossed Cashews
Dips & Spreads (tapenade, spin dip, hummus, etc.)

A Little Sumthin Sumthin
Avocado and Tomato Lobster-tinis
Toasted Baguette with Killer Italian Olive Oil (snuck home from Verona visiting my bestie last year)

The Big Kahuna
Mustard and Horseradish Crusted Beef Tenderloin
Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts and Dried Cranberries
Roasted Rosemary Potatoes and Cippolini Onions

Sweet Treat
Individual Caramel Cheesecakes with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

The Recipes

Rosemary and Cayenne Cashews
These are so fabulous and addicting like crazy! You have to serve them warm though, because as the butter cools it gets a little sticky. These smell just amazing while cooking!  Don't cut out the cayenne, it really makes them pop!

Avocado and Tomato Lobster-Tinis
I adapted this recipe and added cherry tomatoes for some Christmas color! This is a very acidic vinaigrette but quite delicious - I baked the lobster tails, cut the horseradish in half and added more honey but otherwise stayed true to B. Flay.  Next time I'll slow it down on the Worcestershire too I think!

Cut as close to the edges as possible for max yummability
Run your knife around the edges of the meat to separate, as well as get the marinade in the little nookies
Drizzle with the good stuff
Make some fun animals - a whale, a goose andddd a lobster tail, whammy!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic and Cranberries
I've never made Brussels sprouts before this because I don't care for the bitter almost pungent flavor, but after this recipe I am a changed chicky! I didn't even know they were "Brussels" sprouts, as in the location, and have always referred to them in the singular!  Learned something (or 57 things) new!  I used premade balsamic glaze to save time and just tossed the roasted sprouts w the Craisins and glaze until it looked pretty!
Check out that Stalk o' Sprouts!  

Roasted Potatoes and Cippolinis
This is a ridiculously easy, foolproof recipe that I've made a dozen times. I ran out of dried rosemary so I subbed an Italian blend of dried herbs (not fresh!). If you can't find Cippolinis you can chunk up a large onion into similar sized pieces and throw it in instead! I used a fingerling blend that included purple potatoes, who doesn't love that??

Dijon and Horseradish Crusted Tenderloin
This monster was a super easy prep with pretty good results. I marinated for 24 hours which could be why it didn't get a true crust.  It was good, but not super duper great flavor.   Also I cooked it at the same time as the potatoes, so I had to add about 10 min to the cook time for medium-rare. SUCH a tender cut of meat, which I love!  Even after my future sister-in-law nuked hers to a dark gray puck, it was still pretty tender apparently!  

Lather on the goodness!
Salted Caramel Cheesecakes
Oh. My. Goodness. These were amazing. Like make every day and hide them in your pocket amazing. I made 12 for 7 people in case of breakage during playing, which I'm glad I did - not because a single one broke, but because I have 5, FIVE! to devour today!  I made these 6 hours in advance and you definitely need to refrigerate up till the moment you're ready to plate.   I cheated here too and used a squeeze bottle of Ghirardeli caramel to drizzle on top to save time. The salt is a MUST on top.  AND they're from Cooking Light and relatively low cal (254 calories each!)

Golden little crusties

Such a fabulous meal with fabulous family!

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