Dinner Parties Galore…

This past April I decided to donate a “Dinner Party for 10” package to be auctioned off at a fundraising auction for the grade school I attended.  Prior to the auction I was very worried that it wouldn’t be well received and that I’d be lucky if it even went for $250.  In case it was well received I did give them a second one so that if one went for $300 the other would go to the next highest bidder and the school would make about $600.

As the bidding started I was so nervous… every time the bid went up, so did my heart rate.  All I could really hear when the auctioneer yelled “Sold!” was the blood rushing through my ears.  Apparently, the first one went for $600 and the second one went to the next highest bidder for $575.  My dad came and found me in the crowd when it was all said and done and said, “Well Ame, I guess you better not screw that up.”  Thanks, Dad.

DINNER PARTY #1 was purchased by the parents of two of my students and we did it at the end of July.  I used a couple recipes that are posted here on my blog – Mushroom Risotto and Raspberry Vanilla Creme Brulee – and also served some new recipes including my absolute FAVORITE summer salad:


  • Mixed spring greens
  • 1/2 pt. raspberries
  • Blue cheese, crumbled
  • Pistachios, shelled
  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  • Raspberry vinaigrette (I’ve made my own, but really like Wishbone’s Light Raspberry Walnut best)

A great alternative is to swap goat cheese crumbles for the blue cheese and almonds for the pistachios.

DINNER PARTY #2 was last night and for some reason I was so much more relaxed the second time around.  It may have had something to do with not having worked a 12 hour shift at the Evanston Farmer’s Market before the dinner party, but I think it was more that my parents’ closest friends bought this one.  It was like cooking for family, and I do that every week.

I used a similar menu to the one for Dinner Party #1, but made it more fall-esque.  The creme brulee went pumpkin, we tried Tyler Florence’s Fall Salad, and I swapped out the bacon wrapped asparagus for Stuffed Pumpkins – a creation of my own making.  I think the Stuffed Pumpkins were the hit of the evening!  They turned out really cute and tasted even better.  Here’s the recipe:


  • 10 mini pumpkins, washed, topped, gutted and rinsed
  • 1 lb. sage pork sausage
  • 1 box wild rice, prepared according to box
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp. celery salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lay pumpkins and their tops on a cookie sheet and brush with olive oil.  Bake for 30 minutes or until fork tender.

Brown sausage and set aside.  In same pan, saute apples and onions until onions are translucent and apples are tender.  Add brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and celery salt to apples and onions and return sausage to pan.  Add 1/2 to 3/4 of the prepared rice and mix together.  Stuff pumpkins and place pumpkin tops back on.

I did all this ahead of time so that when I got to the dinner party all I had to do was throw the pumpkins in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes until they heated through.  The skin of the pumpkin doesn’t allow moisture to get out, so they didn’t dry out at all.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture, but will be making them again so, hopefully, I’ll remember next time!

Here are a few more pics from the evening:

Tyler Florence's Fall Salad

A few appetizers...

The group minus Mrs. Stouwie and me

Auntie Mary playing with the napkin rings...



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