Saturday, November 9, 2013

First Dinner Party...Post Baby

In my pre-baby days, Jason and I loved to host friends over for dinner, football games and any occasion where we could have a party and entertain. We were lots of fun, really. And we still have fun but it just looks a tad different. Like dinner out at 5:30pm with baby toys to keep CC busy and we finish our wild time by picking up the puff cereal that ends up all over the restaurant floor. And sure we can have friends over but now we pretty much shut things down by 7pm or 8 at the latest because Collins's bathtime/bedtime routine awaits us. But she is worth it all so no complaints. So when I can actually plan ahead, the old me creeps in and is ready to host...pre baby style. I am talking planning a yummy menu, table settings....the works. Recently and for the first time since our baby girl arrived, I pulled it off a real dinner party.

And before I take any more credit, I never can pull off any kind of entertaining without my husband. He is always cooking and cleaning with me. This time, one of us had baby duty while the other prepped. And we were still putting the finishing touches on the table as guests arrived but oh well. We are rolling with the punches around here..
  So I got the entertaining bug and we invited a friends over that we rarely get to hang out with but that we love. When you have babies, you tend to hang out with baby mommas and daddies. But that doesn't mean we don't love getting to spend time with our friends without the babies because we SO do. And it is so easy to have a late night because if we are the only ones with a baby, then we just put our little munchkin to sleep and then we can party on. Not a shabby deal.
Right before the little bug said her good night and the adults could play:)

I wanted to host a dinner party with quite a few couples but Jason made me trim the guest list down to only 3 couples because we only have 8 china place settings. Yes, we pulled out the wedding china. We started with Onion Souffle which is a recipe handed to me from a dear old friend, Lacey,  that I lived with in college. It has been a favorite of mine for years since she first made it. I have never met one person who does not go nuts over this appetizer dish. We had Sausage and Sun Dried Tomato Bread Pudding after our salad course along with Carrot Souffle. The Carrot Souffle recipe was given to me my Aunt Gay at my wedding shower that she graciously hosted for me before Jason and I got married. This recipe is amazing and almost tastes like dessert. For actual dessert we had Chocolate Crunch Cheesecake and the secret crunch was rice crisped chocolate and pretzels. It was a hit. We had an amazing time getting to spend a fun evening with our friends while our little cherub slept without ever making a peep..even when we broke out the Wobble and had ourselves a little dance party;) I have to say the menu was delicious and I had so much fun planning it. It's the small things in life...
Onion Souffle
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cups parmesan
3 8oz. packages cream cheese
1 package frozen onions
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Mix first 4 ingredients in bowl. place in a 9x9 inch baking dish and sprinkle red pepper flakes on top to taste. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until gold and bubbly. Serve warm with wheat thins or fritos. 
Sausage and Sun Dried Tomato Bread Pudding
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
1 bag seasoning blend (bell pepper, onion and celery)
1 lb. loaf Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cups shredded swiss cheese
2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup chopped oil packed sun dried tomatoes
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
8 large eggs
3 cups whole milk
1 cup ricotta cheese

In large skillet, combine sausage and seasoning blend and cook over medium heat. Stir occasionally until sausage is cooked and crumbly. Drain.

Grease a 13X9 inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Spread half of bread cubes evenly in bottom of prepared baking dish. Top evenly with half of sausage mixture. 

In a medium bowl, combine swiss, mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and salt. Spread half of cheese mixture evenly over sausage. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Pour half of egg mixture evenly over cheeses. Dollip evenly with ricotta cheese. Repeat layers, beginning with bread and ending with egg mixture. Let stand for 30 minutes, pressing bread down lightly with the back of a wooden spoon. 

Preheat oven to 375.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until center is set and top is golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. 
Carrot Souffle
1 lb. carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract 
3 tbsp flour
3 eggs beaten
1 stick butter, softened
powdered sugar

Cook carrots until tender. Combine hot carrots, sugar, baking powder and vanilla. Beat until smooth . Add flour and mix well. Add egg mixture, add butter and mix well. Spray a 9x9 baking dish with non stick cooing spray. 

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until top is a light golden brown. Do not overbake. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm. 
Chocolate Crunch Cheesecake
1/2 cup butter
1 (1 oz) semisweet chocolate baking square
1 1/2 cups crushed pretzel
1/2 cup  finely chopped pecans
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 (3oz) package cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
5 large eggs
8 (1-oz) semisweet chocolate baking squares, melted and cooled
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed
3 (1.55 oz) milk chocolate with crisped rice bars, finely chopped

Combine butter and 1 oz chocolate in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until melted. Remove from heat, and stir in crushed pretzels, pecans, and 3 tablespoons sugar. Press mixture firmly in bottom and 2 inches up sides of a 9 inch springform pan. Bake at 350  for 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. 
Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes Gradually add 2/3 cup sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add melted chocolate and whipping cream, beat at low speed until blended. Pour batter into prepared crust. Bake  at 375 for 35 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Cover and chill 8 hours. Combine whipped topping and chopped candy bars, stirring gently. Spread over cheesecake. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Remove sides of pan. Garnish with crisped rice chocolate bars, if desired. 

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