Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Neighborhood Progressive Dinner

We had our neighborhood progressive dinner this week, where appetizers, salads, main course and desserts are all at different houses. Sixteen adults and 3 children on our block participated. My house was the "salad house."
Here is my "bad kitty" helping me set the table.
Appetizers, lots of them! These dinners are nights when everyone eats too much. The hot artichoke dip was hard to stop eating!

I did three salads: Caesar, chicken salad and a chopped salad. I put out cards listing the ingredients so people wouldn't be surprised by anything they might not like. For example, I put dried apricots in the chicken salad, and that can scare some people. The main dish event I featured on Boise Daily Photo - it was ham and stuffed baked potatoes.

This is a quickly-disappearing dessert tray of cream puffs and "Spinuzzis" - which are similar to a dessert cannelloni. They were fabulous.

That's a cheesecake birthday cake, one of our neighbors was celebrating a birthday on dinner night. There was also pecan pie, pumpkin pie, sugar cookies and that bottle had an interesting concoction in it called bushwhacker. It was a mix of all kinds of liquors, and notice there were really small cups by the bottle, that was a good thing. The giant carafe was filled with spice cranberry juice, and there was also hot chocolate, along with creme de menthe for those who wanted a little extra in the chocolate.

I highly recommend this type of event in your neighborhood. Involve 6-8 houses to keep the number controllable. We've also done this in the summer with a "front yard barbecue" version.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Olive Garden Review

We had gift cards for free dining at Olive Garden. It's a place we haven't been to in years, because when I think of Olive Garden, I think of pasta. And pasta at home is so delicious, we haven't ordered it at restaurants. We started our meal with soup. I had the creamy chicken gnocchi soup with spinach. It was O-K. Tasted kind of like a canned soup.

I ordered the Venetian apricot chicken. The chicken was grilled and covered with an apricot citrus sauce. It was good. A light sauce that was tangy, but not too much. I asked for fresh grated Romano on my dish, I like Romano or parm on just about everything. We had a nice wine, probably a table wine, a red zinfandel from Rancho Zabaco.

My husband ordered the grilled chicken and gnocchi. I took a taste, it was a good dish.
And this is what my daughter chose for dessert, after ordering her usual "mac-n-cheese" for dinner. This is lemon cream cake. It tasted just like cheese cake. It was good, although we didn't get much more than a little taste because my daughter REALLY liked it. She wants to go back and just order this. We had a nice meal and will return. I wasn't crazy about where we were seated, which was bordering aisles on two sides, but the meal was relaxing when it had been a hectic day.