September Dinner Party

I had every intention of writing much more consistently this month, but a huge work conference took up all my time for the past two weeks, so I haven't had much left over for furniture, crafts or blogging. My husband Keith is transitioning over the next few months from the director he has edited with for the past seven years (see some details on that here and here), and been making an extra effort to reconnect with film contacts of his to help with this transition. Tonight we had a lovely couple over for dinner, the wife was a huge help to Keith in his early years in films, and so I decided to share some of the delicious recipes we followed and encourage you to also try a few of these dishes. 

We went to our local farmer's market this morning and bought some veggies for a salad, sweet potatoes to mash, and horseradish cheddar cheese that we served with a freshly baked baguette. At our local grocer, we also bought all the ingredients to make garlic-rosemary cornish game hens and a key lime pie. Everything turned out delicious and it was the perfect meal for the current weather we're experiencing - bordering on occasional fall-like cooler days (cornish game hens) but still most days are high 90s (key lime pie).

Appetizer - Horseradish Cheddar Cheese, Baguette, Whole-Wheat Crackers and Raspberry Spread

Entree - Garlic-Rosemary Cornish Game Hens (from Taste of Home
1 Cornish game hen (20 to 24 ounces), split lengthwise
1/2 medium lemon, cut into wedges
2 fresh rosemary sprigs (we used ones from our garden!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
10 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine or additional chicken broth

Preheat oven to 450°. Place hens, breast side up, over lemon and rosemary in an ungreased 11x7-in. baking dish. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add garlic to pan. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°. Pour broth and wine over hen and bake 10-15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in thigh reads 180°, basting twice with pan juices. Remove hen to serving plates and keep warm.

Transfer pan juices to a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5-7 minutes or until pan juices reach desired consistency. Strain juices and serve with hen. Yield: 2 servings.

Side Dish - Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Spinach-Strawberry Pear Walnut Salad
2 sweet potatoes
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp butter or butter substitute

Puncture sweet potatoes with butter knife and place on plate in microwave. Microwave on high for 10 - 15 minutes until potato is soft and pulls away from skin easily. Use oven mitt to hold warm potato and slowly peel skin away from meat. Mash with fork or knife then add brown sugar and butter to taste. Serves 4. 

1 bag of pre-washed spinach 
1 cup of strawberries
2 pears
1 cup of walnuts or walnut pieces
1 - 2 tbsp Annie's low-fat raspberry vinaigrette dressing

Wash and strain spinach leaves. Chop strawberries and pears, add to spinach. Break walnuts in halves and quarters, sprinkle over top of salad. Add dressing to taste. Toss to mix. Serves 4 - 6.

Dessert - Key Lime Pie (from Cook Eat Love)
Graham Cracker Crust:
3/4 pound graham crackers
4 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 sticks melted butter
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Filling:
4 egg yolks
1 can (14 ounces) condensed milk
2/3 cup fresh Key lime juice
1 lime , grated zest

Topping:
1 cup heavy or whipping cream , chilled
2 Tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

To make graham cracker crust: Preheat the oven to 325°. Break up the graham crackers, place in a food processor and process to crumbs. Add the melted butter, sugar and salt and pulse until combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan, forming an even layer on the bottom, sides and edge. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the crust to cool.

To make filling: While the crust is resting, in an electric mixer with the wire whisk attachment, whip the egg yolks and lime zest at high speed until fluffy, or 5 to 6 minutes. Gradually add the condensed milk and continue to whip until thick, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Lower the mixer speed and slowly add the lime juice until incorporated. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake for 15 minutes, or until the filling has just set. Cool on a wire rack, and then refrigerate for 20 minutes.

To make topping: Whip the cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until nearly stiff. Evenly spread the whipped cream on top of the pie, and place in the freezer for 20 minutes prior to serving.

Everything was pretty simple to make and turned out delicious! I have been looking forward to throwing dinner parties since I was young and every time, no matter how much I stress in advance, I'm always glad we have guests over regularly so Keith and I can enjoy time in the kitchen together. Now I'm looking forward to two more days off work to recover from the past few weeks spent preparing and carrying out a huge conference. Happy cooking!