With a little organization, having a dinner party even on a weekday can be fun! Like for Valentine’s Day…it’s on a Thursday this year. Some weeknight dinner party tips…We planned the menu and grocery shopped a few days ahead and…
Set the table a day or two before.
This is from a party that we had last Wednesday night.
Howard made mixed drinks for whoever wanted them. We also had a little
Wine station in the foyer.
Easy Appetizers — Crostini
We toasted baguette slices and covered them with roasted tomatoes and garlic (and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese) and olive salad from the deli section of our grocery (Molly Stone’s if you are local).
Howard made his Chesapeake Bay crab cakes with remoulade sauce as the first course. Similar recipe to this.
Serve Yourself Main Course
Each guest got up to get their own plate of food (saves time plating). Howard found this Vietnamese Shaking Beef recipe in the February issue of Food and Wine. Bold choice since he hadn’t made it before. It was delicious! He doubled the recipe and served it with Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce.
Cookie Bars for Dessert — Easy to Serve
I made these Carmelitas in the morning to be sure they had plenty of time to cool (you could also make them the night before). We just passed the tray around after I cleared the dinner dishes. Once you make them one time, you will see how easy they are to make…and the house smells great.
- 3/4 cup butter, melted
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole old fashioned oats not instant or quick
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 package Werther's Caramels, unwrapped about 36 candies
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 pinch Kosher salt optional
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line an 8" x 8" pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, add the butter and heat on high power to melt, about 60 seconds.
Add the brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
Add the flour, oats, baking soda, and stir.
Put about half of the mixture evenly in the prepared pan and lightly pat it down to make a flat layer.
Bake for 10 minutes.
While it bakes, make the caramel sauce. I've used Kraft caramels before but they are hard to unwrap and I think Werther's tastes better.
In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, combine the caramels and cream. Heat on high power in 60-second intervals to melt caramels, stirring after each burst. It takes about 4 to 5 minutes total to melt.
Heat until the mixture can be stirred smooth. I've also done this on the stovetop stirring constantly over low heat until smooth. Which works but the microwave is easier.
Remove the pan from the oven and evenly sprinkle with the chocolate. Pour the caramel sauce evenly over the chocolates.
Crumble the reserved oatmeal-brown sugar mixture over the top.
Bake for about 16 to 20 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned and center is bubbling slightly.
Allow bars to cool completely in the pan before slicing and serving, giving the melted caramel time to firm up. After about three hours on the counter, I covered the bars with foil and put them in the refrigerator for one hour so that they were completely cool. Lift the bars out of the pan, remove foil and use a large knife to cut into squares. Sprinkle the bars very lightly with the Kosher or sea salt if desired.
Recommended Books to Read
Check out your fellow readers’ book recommendations. There are some common elements! There are Amazon links for your convenience.
- “I am completely enjoying The Library Book by Susan Orlean. I have actually slowed my reading pace because I am not yet ready for it to end.”
- “The Nightingale (WWII France) is one of the best books I have read in a long time. (this is Mary Ann…I loved this book, too). Keeping with WWII, next read was Beneath a Scarlet Sky (Milan, Italy) which was great as well as it is a true story. Took a break with Nine Perfect Strangers (Australia) by the same author of Big Little Lies, slow start but worth the wait until take-off. Collage of Life’s Brown Paper Book Club is a great place for sharing as is Goodreads. Now off to bed to read my current book, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, another true story.”
- “M.F.K. Fischer is a favorite of mine as well. I just finished The Library Book and enjoyed it. If you are a follower of Collage of Life you could join our online Brown Paper Book Club Group, it is on facebook and everyone shares their latest reads, or their favorites past and present. There are always great suggestions.”
- “I just finished The Tattooist, enjoyed. Is a hard read but think we said we both read this genre.”
- “Beneath a Scarlet Sky” by Mark Sullivan, which is free on Amazon Prime Reading right now.
Maude by Donna Foley Mabry. The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani. There are a lot of recommendations at Modern Mrs. Darcy site.”
- “I just finished Madeleine Kammen’s When French Women Cook: A Gastronomic Memoir that I enjoyed. “A Gentleman in Moscow“ was one of last year’s favorites.”
- I really love M.F.K. Fisher. She was a food writer who lived in France and California, and she writes about places and food with passion and poetry.”
- “I have just finished reading “The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell“ on my Kindle,
best book I have read for some time.”
Thanks to everyone who gave me their picks last week! I’ve got a good list now.
I got this vase on sale 🙂 Have a wonderful day!
PS. I DO feel really lucky to have a good man who is also a good cook! I’m keeping him!