I LOVE a good dinner party. Seriously. I honestly can’t imagine what I enjoy more on a weekend night than having friends in our home, eating food we’ve prepared, drinking good wine, and having a great time. Pre-Paleo, this was a pretty regular occurrence: whether it was hors d’oeuvres for 30 for my husband’s birthday or an intimate multi-course meal, I reveled in cooking for others. (We’ll just ignore the fact that my typical menus included bread-and-cheese trays, fried risotto balls, Italian pasta with cream sauce, and loads of gluten-rich baked goods. No one needs to know… it’s our little secret.)
In fact, one of my original reasons for resisting the change to a Paleo lifestyle was that I wasn’t sure I could still create delicious, gourmet food that was both Paleo and appetizing to our guests. I couldn’t have been more off-base! The Paleo lifestyle has such an incredible range of possibilities for creating incredible food, and I’m beyond excited to keep experimenting.
This weekend, we made a last-minute decision to have several of our friends over for dinner to celebrate the homecoming of one of the couples from a six-month stay in Munich, Germany. The plan for Saturday was to hit the Downtown Farmers Market and Central Market in the morning, go check out the final installment of Harry Potter in the early afternoon (yep, I cried!), and then serve dinner for 7 adults and 2 young kiddos by around 7:30/8:00pm.
EEK!! As an uber-planner and bit of a control freak, this was going to be a bit of a challenge – normally when feeding this many folks, I prep quite a bit of the meal ahead of time. That wasn’t happening this time around, so I pulled together a quick prep/cook schedule when we got home from the movie to keep me on track… and it actually went pretty much according to plan!
Let’s talk menu… I really wanted to experiment with some new things, so all six dishes were ones I’d never tried. Not something I would usually do for a dinner party (especially one on a tight schedule!), but heck, sometimes you’ve got to live a little. The menu starts off with some snack-y foods that folks could munch on while I prepped and cooked dinner. For the main meal, I tried to balance some light, summery flavors with the heartier flavor of the pork. All these recipes are gluten-free and dairy free with the exception of the salad… we add some shaved Parmesan, but this could certainly be excluded if desired.
All the recipes will be posted this week… here’s the final menu!
- Spicy Oven-Roasted Pecans with Cinnamon
- Roasted Prosciutto-Wrapped Figs
- Watermelon and Arugula Salad
- Pan-Seared and Roasted Bone-In Pork Chops
- Roasted Butternut Squash with Thyme
- Steamed Broccolini with Lemon
- Decadent Flourless Chocolate Cake with Banana-Cinnamon Sauce
We enjoyed the meal with an assortment of German beers in honor of our friends’ return from Munich. Yep, DEFINITELY not Paleo, but a really special part of the evening just the same. I am really shooting to eat Paleo 90% of the time, with about 10% of wiggle-room built in for special occasions where it just makes sense to have a German beer, a lush dessert, or even (gasp!) a piece of pizza. Generally speaking, I feel cruddy after indulging, but you know what, sometimes it’s just plain worth it. For me, it’s all about learning to make good decisions the vast majority of the time and recognizing that life is short, and sometimes you need to eat dessert.
The original plan was to also do a Paleo-friendly flourless chocolate cake with a banana sauce, but alas, I just ran out of time… I’m going to make it this week and let you know how it goes…
All in all, we had a great time with our friends, and I feel like I can confidently say that no one felt deprived by the Paleo menu! Success! Keep an eye out this week for all the recipes, and let me know if you have any questions/comments!