Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Italian Dinner Party & Girl's Night

Forgive me for a short walk down memory lane. Sometimes my friends read this, and well, this top part is for them. I promise there is more food in here... it's just at the bottom!

I've had a lot of friends in my life. In and out they come and sometimes go. One of the things I've learned over time is that a good group is hard to come by. I can proudly say that I've got that, and we've been going strong since we were 14 years old. There are six of us, and I'm not going to tell you what we called ourselves in high school (it is embarrassing) but we still get together, and that is what tonight is about.

So, Naomi, Kristen, Amie, Lizzy and Rachel, forgive the photo montage of some of our not-so-cute moments, and let me gloat in the fact that we've continued to grow up with each other into the girls (women?) we are today.Through break ups, late nights, rough mornings and ups and downs, we're still going strong; here's to us!

Senior Beach Week, Myrtle Beach
Probably celebrating someone getting their learner's permit...
 My 17th 80's Themed Birthday Party...
A Summer Reunion Before Junior Year in College
Naomi's Birthday 2007
Our First Theme Party... Britney Spears? Such Little Babies
New Years Eve... Still not 21 Yet
Senior Prom, Before Good Digital Cameras Existed, Apparently
All graduated from college and taking on the world. Scary, no?
And here we are tonight. Still goin strong (missing Kristen!)
Anyways, what you've all been waiting for... and without further ado, the food! The theme was Italian. The vibe was relaxed. The night was fantastic.

Naomi asked me to help her put everything which I was both excited and flattered. I guess I've become the foodie? Actually, all of my friends love food. Amie is my baking buddy, Lizzy is the vegetarian, Rachel is a huge fan of The Pioneer Woman, Naomi has always had an interest in different cuisines (I think she was the first to try Sushi) and Kristen, well, I'm sure she's a foodie too!
I put out an SOS and got a great idea for chicken parm with a garden salad from Lauren's Little Kitchen but unfortunately I forgot about Lizzy, who gave up chicken in high school, so that was nixed. We thought about doing something summery on the grill, but well, we don't know how to work Naomi's yet, so that was a no-no too. We contemplated Mexican, but lo and behold, Italian won. So, here's the layout:

Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Salad
Caesar Salad
Alfredo with Roasted Asparagus
Blueberry Pound Cake

And wine. C'mon, it's girls night!
I didn't include a step by step process because you'd probably hate me. This post is already super long. But, I did include the recipes and the final products so you can see how lovely it all turned out. Also, I should tell you that I made the cake in the morning and let it sit during the day. I made the Caesar dressing a few hours before the get-together (it needs chilling time). The tomato, basil and mozz salad is basically just assembly, so that can be right before the meal. The only thing left is the alfredo, which was the last to be prepared, and was served immediately. Here are the recipes, suited to feed 8 girls... including Naomi's little sister & friend. (All adapted from Cooking Light)

TBM Salad
What ya need:
6 tomatoes, each cut into 6 slices
3/4 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, also in slices
Pinch of salt
Pinch of Pepper
1 tbsp EVOO
3/4 cup fresh basil

What ya do:Arrange about 4 slices of tomato and 2 of mozzarella slices on 8 salad plates. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil. Top evenly with basil

Caesar Salad
What ya need:1 garlic clove, halved
1/2 cup low fat mayo
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire
1/2 tsp anchovy paste
18 cups torn romaine lettuce
1/3 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

What ya do:
1. Drop the garlic into a food processor, and process until minced. Add the next ingredients (through anchovy paste) and process until well-blended. Cover and chill at least one hour.
2. Place lettuce in a large bowl. Add dressing  and toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese and top with croutons.

Alfredo with Roasted Asparagus

What ya need:2 cups low fat milk
1/3 cup cream cheese (regular OR low fat.. not fat free)
2 tbsp AP flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
Cooking Spray
8 oz wheat spaghetti, uncooked
8 oz white spaghetti, uncooked
2 tbsp EVOO-- OR... if you have truffle oil!!
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

What ya do:
1. Combine first four ingredients in a blender; process until smooth.
2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add milk mixture to pan; cook 3 minutes or until mixture simmers, stirring constantly. Cook 2 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in cheese. Cover.
3. Place asparagus on jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° 10 minutes or until browned, stirring once.
4. Cook both pastas according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well.
Place pastas and asparagus in a large bowl. Add cheese mixture, tossing well. Add evoo/truffle oil and pepper; toss gently. Serve immediately.

Blueberry Pound Cake
 What ya need:
2  cups  granulated sugar
1/2  cup  butter
1/2  (8-ounce) block cream cheese (low-fat or regular) softened
3  large eggs
1  large egg white
3  cups  all-purpose flour, divided
2  cups  fresh or frozen blueberries
1  teaspoon  baking powder
1/2  teaspoon  baking soda
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1  (8-ounce) carton lemon low-fat yogurt
2  teaspoons  vanilla extract
Cooking spray
1  cup  powdered sugar
2 tbsp + 2  tsp lemon juice

What ya do:
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs and egg white, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.
3. Combine 2 tablespoons flour and blueberries in a small bowl, and toss well. Combine remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in blueberry mixture and vanilla; pour cake batter into a 10-inch tube pan coated with cooking spray.
5. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
6. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes; remove from pan. Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl; drizzle over warm cake. Cut with a serrated knife. Serve with whipped cream.

Whipped Cream

What ya need:1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 - 1/4 tsp lemon extract (optional)

What ya do: 
1.In a chilled small mixing bowl and with chilled beaters, beat cream until it begins to thicken. 2. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla and lemon; beat until soft peaks form. Store in the refrigerator.

And that's that, folks. There is nothing, nothing like a night with the girls. Though we're all a little more grown up, some with boyfriends, serious jobs or big plans, hopefully we will remember where we came from, and who got us where we are.


Magic of Spice said...

Everything looks so great, and what a cute post...Love the long time friends tribute:) That salad is killer!

Monet said...

What a wonderful dinner and group of friends! You are all stunning. That fettuccine with alfredo and asparagus looked especially scrumptious.

Kristen said...

You are truly blessed to have such a group of friends! How fun that you can continue to get together. The food looks scrumptious!

Le said...

Wow! What a great menu! I particularly like the alfredo with roasted asparagus, it looks sooo good!

It's great to see you guys are still great mates even after all this time. I treasure my friends from high school, although we don't see much of each other these days, we still have a great time when we do :)

Rick said...

The Britney party is genius.

Sprigs of Rosemary said...

What a wonderful post! Shring good food (and a libation or two)with good friends is what it's all about! Ciao!

RachelE said...

Thank you for putting together such an awesome meal for us! The food was DELICIOUS--but the cake was DIVINE! Absolutely the best blueberry cake I've ever had. In fact, I had the leftovers for breakfast :) So glad we all got together!

Ellen said...

Every gal should have a gaggle of girls... our group is going strong for 17 years! Keep it up... it's rare these days :) The food looks amazing as well... gotta love girls night!

Cannellette said...

Great group of friends and lovely food :) You are one lucky girl!

Cannellette said...

sorry! Mistyped my URL *blushes*

Lauren said...

Hey! Well, I'm so glad you were able to pull something gorgeous and great-tasting together for your party. Cooking without meat for a crowd is always a fun challenge... I'm trying to perfect a healthier baked eggplant parm... so good.

Enjoy the leftovers, if there are any!

- Lauren, Lauren's Little Kitchen

Just Food Snobs said...

I will be trying the blueberry pound cake recipe, looks so good!

Drick said...

almost didn't read this, being a girl's nite, but hey, the dinner party got my attention and then I saw the pics - what a great group of friends.....so good to have them all those years and a wonderful menu as well, great just great

The Cilantropist said...

Good girlfriends are worth the world, and you are lucky enough to have many! <3 And on top of lovely friends, it looks like you hosted an awesome dinner party! Mmmm, mouthwatering.

Mother Rimmy said...

Lucky you to have such great friends. The asparagus pasta dish sounds fantastic. I'm a big fan of asparagus. Can't wait to give this a try!