Monday, July 25, 2011

A Birthday Dinner Party

I'm a big fan of going out to dinner to celebrate a birthday.  However, sometimes it's even nicer to celebrate a birthday with a "fancy" dinner at home.  That's what we did this weekend.  It was my mother-in-law's birthday and we decided to host an intimate dinner at our home with the immediate family on my husband's side.
First things first...this kind of occasion calls for using the good china.  
I still love my china...which is awesome considering we bought it almost twenty years ago.  The "pearls" you see on the chargers and on the plates are actually raised.  The only negative to my china is that it has to be hand-washed because of those beautiful "pearls".  A bit more labor intensive, but worth it.

 My husband is an incredible cook and he was in charge of this meal.  For an appetizer he grilled up shrimp.  For the main course he made Summer Grilled Pork.  We originally saw this recipe on the Nate Berkus show and tried it and it was a huge hit.  We knew it would be perfect for this dinner party.  
Here is the recipe:
Summer Grilled Pork
Four 1- inch- thick boneless pork chops
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
10 thick- cut applewood smoked or regular bacon slices (about 12 ounces)
3 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
1?4 cup thin strips roasted red bell pepper
1?4 cup chopped drained artichoke hearts (jarred, in water)
2 tablespoons sliced pickled jalapeños
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1?4 cup honey
1?4 cup Dijon mustard
1?2 cup beer (IPA- style preferred)
1. Pound out each pork chop between two pieces of plastic wrap until ¼ inch thick. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
2. Preheat a grill to medium.
3. On a large sheet of heavy- duty aluminum foil, lay out the bacon strips vertically, overlapping them by ¼ inch. Arrange the pork chops in one layer over the bacon. Spread a thin 2- inch- wide layer of cream cheese horizontally across the portion of the pork closest to you. On top of the cream cheese, evenly distribute the bread crumbs, roasted pepper, artichokes, and jalapeños. Starting with the edge closest to you, carefully roll the pork into a cylinder, lifting the foil to keep it outside the roll. Drizzle the vinegar over the bacon and close the foil tightly to keep the cylindrical shape.
4. In a small skillet over medium heat, combine the honey, mustard, and beer. Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, until reduced by one- third and thickened. Set aside half of the sauce for serving and the other half for basting.
5. Place the foil-covered cylinder on the grill and cook for 7 to 8 minutes on each of the four sides. Remove the foil and crisp the bacon on the grill, turning four times and basting with the honey- mustard sauce at each turn. Remove from grill after basting for 5 to 6 minutes, or when an instant- read thermometer in the middle of the meat registers 140°F. 6. Let rest for 5 minutes, then cut into ¾- inch slices. Serve with the remaining honey- mustard sauce.
For the salad, we made our infamous summer you sense a theme?  This is the most popular salads we make.  It starts with butter lettuce  - then add cut up apples, dried cranberries, candied pecans, blue cheese crumbles and toss it all in a blue cheese dressing.  It is absolutely delicious.  There are never any leftovers with this salad.
On the side my husband made yellow rice with bell peppers and sauteed spinach.  We had one vegetarian at the party so my husband also made a tofu stir-fry.  
What birthday party would be complete without a home-made birthday cake.  I was in charge of that along with my daughter who frosted the cake.
A fun time was had by all and I think in many ways it was more special to celebrate with an at-home dinner party.  Plus, in my biased opinion, my husband's cooking rivals that of even the finest restaurants. 
Hope you try one of these recipes at your next dinner party.  


Unknown said...

A big Happy Birthday to your mother-in-law, all the food looks good I would rather do this than go out....


Debbiedoos said...

I agree a fancy dinner at home is great too. Happy birthday to your MIL...great looking table and meal Judy!

laxsupermom said...

That sounds wonderful! You set such a beautiful table, and the food looks delicious! What a nice way to treat your MIL to a special birthday. Thanks for sharing.

Rashon Carraway said...

I really do like your china pattern. 20 years ago and just as current as it is today.


Susan Anderson said...

She is a lucky lady!


Traci said...

Your china is so pretty. This makes me want to get mine out & actually use it! The food looks delish too.

Coley said...

This looks gorgeous and soo good! Love the cake :)

At The Picket Fence said...

Your china is just gorgeous Judy and it looks like you made it such a special evening for your MIL! :-)

Unknown said...

When I met my husband back in 1988, he was fabulous in the kitchen. Now, he couldn't tell you were a colander is!!!! lol I have a close friend whose husband does all the cooking and he is awesome at it. You are very fortunate to have a hubby who loves to do this stuff. Enjoy!

Entertaining Women said...

I agree...entertaining at home is the best. Your china is absolutely elegant. I hope that you'll identify it at some point...worth washing by hand. Thank you for sharing your amazing feast and design. Cherry Kay

Lisa @ Shine Your Light said...

Judy, this meals looks fantastic. What a special birthday dinner for your mom-in-law!

Dee ⚜️⚜️⚜️⚜️⚜️ said...

Beautiful dishes and great looking food!


Los Angeles SEO said...

Love that center piece on the table. Is that a candle?

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