Thursday, October 28, 2010

how many dinner parties is too many dinner parties?

You can never have enough. There are few things better than everyone gathering around the table for a home cooked meal. I harp in almost every post about the importance of family and when I think of my family it is memories in the kitchen. While at school, we make memories in so many ways, whether it's going out on the weekend or fooling around to procrastinate during the week or just hanging out, enjoying each others company. Lately it seems we've been making memories around the dinner table, a lot. Like I said earlier people have caught wind of the greatness of dinner parties and we have been booked solid.

Normally dinner parties go as follows, we cook dinner, the guests bring a side or dessert and the drinks. This time it was kind of backwards, and I can't say I minded. If I've learned anything from having an older brother in college, through visits, is that cleanliness often falls to the wayside. I mean, it's perfectly fine if that's how you choose to live, but that just does not fly with me. Needless to say the boys did not want to have us over, rather they'd come here, cook dinner and bring drinks. K great, because if there house was anything like my brothers, I would be afraid to sit down, let alone eat dinner. So, we set the date for a Wednesday night at 8, we made the salad and dessert and all we knew was we were having burritos and gin and tonics. Now when the boys were in communication confirming dinner, the text we received went something like this..we got the chicken, pasta, rice and country sweet and drinks. Needless to say, we were rather nervous as to what we were about to eat. So around 8:30 the boys arrive, after they got half way here and forgot the burrito shells..and what we had hoped would be dinner cooked and ready to go was more like grocery bags of ingredients. We we're starving, so we quickly put them to work, and it was process to say the least. A very funny process to watch none the less. After about a half hour- forty five minutes on pans clanking, some hovering and a few "opps" dinner was ready to be served. We set up a nice little assembly line and learned the proper way to make a burrito. Now, this was no ordinary burrito. First you lay some rice down, then some pasta, then the chicken and then smother it with country sweet. Now, the boys raved about country sweet and how they put it on everything, I have never heard of this and was a bit apprehensive, but did as I was told. Now, if you can imagine, the three of us health conscious freaks eating all of this white pasta, white rice, white burrito shells, we were a bit out of our element. Finally we all went through the line and the burritos were complete, onto the nerve wracking part, the first bite. I was hoping for the best, expecting the worst, but this unique combination was actually quite good. So many different textures between the rice, chicken and the pasta and then the country sweet for a kick of both spice and sweetness, it was not too shabby. And, it turns out country sweet is made in Rochester, who'd of ever known! Now, a little back tracking. Our job: dessert and salad. Salad= nice and simple. Dessert, we had to go all out, when don't we? Mariah did some researching and found a recipe for oatmeal brownie bars, and oh my, they sounded so good! Needless to say we were all over that recipe. Since Mariah and Emily are the bakers, they went to work. I came home to the house smelling wonderfully, fresh baked brownies, yum. Of course we had to try them before we served them, must make sure they aren't poison as my mother always says! This is when things went from good to bad.

 This was the final product..
 and this is what happened when you tried to cut into it..nothing. it was that hard.

 and this is where they ended up, the garbage.

 Good thing we thought to taste test. Bad thing it was oh say 7:15 at this point. I made a quick trip to Goldstein, bought some brownie mix and we whipped them up, added some sprinkles and called it a day. Things can't always be perfect, plus it added a little thrill. In the end, everything worked out and the brownies were a success. And plans for next weeks dinner were in the works.  (in case you wanted to see how they were supposed to turn out)

Onto dinner party two of the week. So the first one was Wednesday then we quickly geared up for Friday with the Watson boys. But this time, I wasn't a solo chef, Jared and I hit the kitchen to make everyone chili.

Now, how did this all come about? You kind of have to known Jared and the way his mind works, well, not that we exactly know how is mind works or what in the heck goes on it for that matter but we have come to learn, expect the unexpected with that boy. Earlier in the week I get a bbm from Jared asking if I know how to make spicy, thick chili, I cannot remember exactly how it was phrased but the way it came out, I was so perplexed. So after going back and forth for a little, him being nervous (surprise, surprise) at the complexity of the recipes he found online, we decided we would make my moms chili recipe because we knew it was fool proof, and Mariah doesn't do spice. So we made our list and off we went to Wegmans, oh  Wegmans how I love you. I usually go to the one that's ten minutes away but it's not that great, this time Jared took us to one that almost resembled our Wegmans at home. If I let Mariah and Jared navigate us through there we would probably still be there, I zipped up and down the aisles got all the ingredients and we headed home. The next day Jared came over and we got to cooking. He deemed himself as sous chef and asked what he could do, and I knew exactly what he could do, chop the onions. Now, this was probably not very nice of me, but I can barely get through two chops before the tears start flowing. He gracious accepted this task until about half way through when he was tearing up. Have no fear, I enlighten him on the wonderful tip cousin and I patented.

 He claims he was looking around, checking out what our freezer had to offer, jokes. He just needed to stop the tears!

 Once the tears were dry, from us both, we continued on. Jared was such a good help in the kitchen, it was great! While Jared and I cooked away everyone else enjoyed some chicken wing dip that I had made up earlier which was a huge hit, always a classic. While the chili cooked up, Mariah prepared cornbread (she's getting good! She's the new cornbread-maker) Finally the chili was ready, we assembly lined through the kitchen and kind of had a low key, eat-where-you-want slash where you can find somewhere to sit kind of meal. I must say, Jared and I did a pretty good job. After some digestion and relaxation it was on to dessert. We were slacking a little and only made some chocolate chip cookies but little did we know, the boys came baring gifts! They brought two tubs of ice cream so it was time to get crafty. Some of us had ice cream with cookies on the bottom, or the ambitious ones made homemade ice cream sandwiches. Emily loaded them up with chocolate chips and they were baked perfectly.

chocolate chip cookies are just so comforting, and the simplicity of them, it's just a reminder that the simple things you have to take pleasure in sometimes.

We had a few days break from dinner parties until it was the next Wednesday, time for Willy and Jonny dinner. Again, they were in charge of making dinner. I'm definitely a fan, all I do is show up, and it's not like I even have to leave the house! Mariah baked up some pumpkin pie, and let's just say Mariah is learning when it comes to the kitchen, and she's doing a very good job. She took the pie under her control, bought the ingredients and made it all by herself! She didn't know the pie crust were in the refrigerated section, so she bought a graham cracker crust, a little variation didn't hurt anyone! So the boys came over, this time dinner, cooked and ready to go in hand. Willy cooked up homemade mac and cheese, now usually I'm not a huge mac and cheese fan but this was delicious. So creamy and tasty.  Then it was on to dessert, now I'm not much of a pumpkin pie fan, but I had to try some of Mariah's and it was delish! Bravo job, the graham cracker crust was a nice twist. Now, Jonny has never had pumpkin pie before (much to our disbelief..we're surprised he's ever been to Thanksgiving) he, too was delighted at how good the pie was!

So much entertaining and it doesn't stop there. Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of hosting my parents and the Gropps for lunch before the Bona- 'Cuse hockey game. Since transferring to 'Cuse, my life has gotten a million times better, and one of the major benefits of living so close is the number of times I get to see my parents. Up until now I've gotten to see my parents almost every two weeks, whether they came here for the day or I went home for the day or night for one reason or another. I love getting to see my parents, which is obviously a given, but I love it. A lot. I especially love when they come to visit, and bring us lots of fun treats. This visit was like the others, but this time, my mother and I probably made four trips between the car and house bringing everything in. You name it, she brought it. Some stuff were essentials, my winter coat, gloves, some clothes I needed, and then came the fun stuff. No trip home or visit from my parents is complete without at least one loaf of pumpkin bread (that, much to our dismay, will be gone in less than a week) and sauce or soup. Not only did she save me a trip to Wegmans by bringing all the ingredients necessary for the meal we we're going to prepare but she even went to the market before she got here and brought me all my favorites. In the summer, Saturday mornings we wake up early and go to the market and load up on tons of vegetables for the week, fresh vegetables from the market are my favorite. They just taste that much better than those from the store and knowing its grown locally is comforting. It is probably because growing up my father and I have always planted a garden together, it has always been our thing. So in comes my mother with a tote filled with all my favorite things from the market, lettuce, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, you name it, she brought it. After all the excitement of goodies we had to get cooking because everyone else was going to arrive in an hour. My mother knows me so well, she went straight to cutting the onions (are we seeing a pattern here..?) I loved getting to be in the kitchen with my mother, it's just like we were at home, doing one of our favorite activities, well two of our favorite activities, cooking and hosting. My mother loves to have people over, especially in the summer, there is always an open invitation to our house, that is clearly where I got my love for hosting dinner parties from. We cooked up some of my favorites, chicken wing dip, guac and Mrs. Gerling's Manhattan Clam Chowder. I made butterscotch, pumpkin brownies earlier for dessert. Of course, I didn't take pictures of any of it, but it was all so good. After lunch we headed to the game, Bonas lost, but I guess I was indifferent because who to root for, Bonas or Cuse?! Overall, it was a great day, spending time with some of my favorite people.

The night before this, Friday, we went and saw one of our friends preform and planned to come back and carve our pumpkins and have a nice relaxing-go-to-bed-early kind of night. Ha. Like that would ever happen on a Friday, who were we kidding. Oh! How could I forget, we had dinner at Funk-n-Waffles before we saw Steve perform. I'm turning this into  my dad's blog real quick- Funk has so many waffle choices it's crazy. Who would ever think to put chicken or pulled pork on a waffle, and that it would taste good! Not only do they have savory waffles but also sweet ones- you name it, they probably have it on the menu, or will craft it for you. Last time we went, I opted for a sweet one, this time around Emily and I decided, since it was dinner, we'd go savory. We both tried the pulled pork waffle, and I must say, I was nervous, I didn't know what to expect. It was definitely something different, but it was good. My sweet tooth might out way the thought process of 3 square meals. Anyways, back to pumpkin carving. After a quick stop at Insomnia to get some cookies for the road, we were ready to carve. I decided to be gutsy and make Otto. Well, I bit of more than I could chew, clearly. We, being crafty and resourceful thought it would a fabulous idea to make pumpkin puree out of the pumpkin guts. So after we were all carved we sorted the seeds from the guts, such a tedious task, I did not realize due to the fact my mother is a saint and always did it for us! Once we got the seeds in the oven we moved onto the pumpkin. Now, pumpkin is our favorite ingredient, and by saying this, it is probably an understatement. There is almost always a baked good containing pumpkin made in the house and at least one jar of pumpkin at all times. After some careful deliberating we decided to throw it in the blender and blend it up- worked like a charm. Meanwhile as we're constructing the pumpkin, the boys are in the neighborhood and stop by, and this is when all chaos breaks out. If I stand in the middle of the kitchen and stretch out I can basically touch both sides- now that you have a visual, picture three girls and two boys in the kitchen. All. At. Once. This when the crafting of homemade pumpkin cupcakes began. If dysfunctional could be defined in a moment of time, this was it. So many laughs and such good cupcakes. Who would of ever thought being resourceful could be so great! Although the cupcakes didn't make it into the oven until well after 1:30 and we had company until 2:30, the fun we had instead of the sleep we could of gotten was well worth it.

(I have to put the pictures in a different post because it won't let me add anymore)


  1. So I fell asleep on the couch(what else is new?) and woke up at 1:30 to see your text that there was a new blog so of course I had to read it before going to bed. I laughed and smiled throughout the whole thing. Great memory making my love.

  2. I hope you don't mind, but your mom shared your post so I too can enjoy reading about your fabulous parties,food adventures and times spent with your family and friends. I so enjoy the pics; except I told your mom....everything looks SO good, I want the smell to come through my monitor and be able to grab it all!!! Keep them coming!

  3. COUSIN!!! i love that you have passed on the onion eyes trick. I'm also saddened that you have abandoned your corn bread making job...though I guess it's okay since you technically should be making it with me :)