Dinner Parties – with Baby!

My reason for food blogging hiatus

A few days after my last post I had a baby.  And that kind of slowed down the whole dinner party, going out to eat lifestyle that is fodder for my blog. Instead of grass-fed, farm-raised beef and farmer’s market, fresh veggies, my husband and I were eating lots of macaroni and cheese and chicken casseroles. Anything that we did not have to cook. But then slowly but surely we have emerged from our baby-induced, bad-eating funk! Last weekend Chris and I had our friends Jennifer and Mike over for a Southern-inspired dinner party.

Bacon-Wrapped Dates and a Lovely Rose

Bacon-Wrapped Dates and a Lovely Rose

We started off the evening by grilling dates stuffed with thyme and feta cheese and wrapped in bacon. It’s this great recipe out of Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. The feta was a twist we added. And I think it actually made the dish. Also, the recipe called for baking and we went with grilling. Which I think was also awesome. This is a simple stunner that everyone will rave about. We also paired it with a yummy Sunstone Rose, that we purchased on our trip to LA a few years ago. It was great together, but honestly we made them a couple of weeks ago and drank it with a juicy red and that was superb as well.

Grilled Carrot Salad with Almond Brown Butter Viniaigrette

Grilled Carrot Salad with Almond Brown Butter Vinaigrette

The second course was a salad recipe I got from a recent edition of Food and Wine magazine. I loved the recipe and it turns out the chef behind this masterpiece is local Austin restaurant owner Bryce Gilmore. Gilmore is the force behind Barley Swine. This dish is not only easy-to-understand, it is beautiful. Admittedly it is a salad with a dressing that includes butter, so it’s not the healthiest option. But I got the carrots fresh from the farmer’s market, does that count for anything?

You might be asking yourself right now, so how is this a Southern-inspired dinner and where is this baby you have? Well to answer the first question, the meal has grits in it. That’s how it’s Southern. As for the baby, there is a pivotal point in the night when my husband takes Owen upstairs and puts him to bed. And, unfortunately for our guests, it’s about the same time as when he would man the grill. Kind of a problem in the summertime, when all of our food is grilled. So usually we get some help. It really does take a village – to raise children and have a dinner party. At this particular dinner party, Owen went down without a fight and we were able to eat with adults only. But there have been a couple of dinner parties with our little Monkey sitting on one of our laps. He’s social like his parents.

Cornish Game Hen and Creamy Grits
Cornish Game Hen and Creamy Grits
For the main course we chose to do Cornish Game Hens with creamy grits and a creamy shiitake mushroom sauce and a side of grilled asparagus. I wanted to bathe myself in the creamy shiitake mushroom sauce. Chris made it and he added some herbs to the recipe, it was divine.The sauce combined farmer’s market shiitake mushrooms with regular white mushrooms, heavy cream, sherry and our backyard herbs. I am not much of a fan of grits, but for some reason they seemed perfect for this dish and it was a great side dish for the game hens. In all fairness they were cooked with heavy cream and cheese. 
Fig Recipe Gone Bad

Fig Recipe Gone Bad

So I found this, what I thought, was a great fig recipe. Mind you, I have never eaten or cooked with figs. So I am not sure what I was thinking. It sounded fantastic – figs with pistachio brittle and topped with a honey, orange zest mascarpone. Well the pistachio brittle that I made was excellent. That was so cool. I had never made brittle before and it was easy and tasty. The mascarpone was sinfully delicious. Unfortunately, the figs were just so bland. I do not want to give up on figs, I think I just need a fig guru. So if anyone out there thinks they can help me understand and love the fig, please let me know.

All in all, it’s getting easier to throw the dinner parties. The hard part is finding the time to blog about it! But I will try and persevere and continue writing about our food and travel (well maybe just food for now) adventures.


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