I can throw a gala.

I'm afraid to throw a party or even a small dinner party....

or have another couple over for dinner.

I know.

Don't get me wrong.  I really want to have people over for dinner.  cross my heart.  It's just that I get stage fright.  It's that wonky perfection side of me that won't allow me to relax.  I put unbelievable pressure on myself to make any event one people will never forget.

Like this is the only gathering they will ever attend.

My goodness dude, I know people have lives.  This night in the big scheme of things is basically inconsequential.  Cook something simple and serve a decent bottle of wine and maybe you know, don't bring up religion or politics...

that's the key to a good dinner party. right?

Instead, if you come over to my house for dinner, I'm likely to cook something new, not kitchen tested (like hey you know what I've been wanting to try and would be so memorable?  Escargot.).  Or I might have a tad too much wine while making the meal, which I've learned the hard way dulls my savory buds, and serve you a piece of meat that is akin to a salt lick.

The one party I'm very proud of is the rager I threw for the hub's 50th birthday party. Yeah, you heard that right.  Unless rager is the same as a rave, which I think means there were hallucinogenics... and there weren't so I'm not actually sure what I threw.  I threw a cool party with old people.  What's that called?

I hired a band and a caterer and strung up lights.  Oh my.

I'm not sure how much skill that actually required.  That's really just coordinating everyone else to do the big stuff.  A strategy I like to call "spreading the blame" or "how could I have known?  They came so highly recommended".

I even made people requested that people bring their own booze in lieu of gifts, (stay classy darling) so that I could mark one more thing off my list.  Drinks. Check.  Hmmm, who could I get to bring streamers and ballons?

Side note: Ina Garten says always hand people a drink right when they walk through the door.  At the risk of sounding like we might all need some outside intervention, it does help to distract from  anything that might be going wrong in the kitchen.

Or you could hand them a fancy dressed up dude the hubs carrying a tray of assorted Hors d'oeuvre and Crudités while entertaining everyone with stories of days gone by.

I'm not gonna lie, it helps to have a nice guy roaming around your party engaging people in sketch comedy.

The hubs everybody. He'll be here all night.

In addition to getting people laughing, he moseyed around the party unscrewing light bulbs and lighting candles to create ambiance.  Nope, he wasn't asked to do it, that's just how he rolls.  (I probably cannot accurately stress to you how much I love that he does that sort of thing, it's so right up my alley).  He has done this at several of our dinner parties, I consider him a bonafide expert.  So whatever he says goes.

He says lighting is everything.  I don't disagree.  Good lighting and a cocktail.

Here's another party booster...

See if you can get someone in a dress and heels to lose their footing and fall backwards into the pool (true story), preferably early... around the start of the party.  Say about 7:15 p.m.?

Then they can adorn a towel while you dry their clothes.  It really does help get the party going.  I highly recommend it.

All in all that party was legendary.  We danced and ate and had the most awesome time.  So awesome that the cops shut us down at 10:30 p.m.  Shut down old people. Honestly, have you heard of such a thing?  I'm not bragging but people still talk about that party today and it was years ago.

Apparently I can throw a gala.

Last time I had family over for dinner (they can't judge me) and although I stressed a bit about the menu, I took the surefire way out and went to the butcher for a beef tenderloin, which let's face it is somewhat hard to screw up.  Unless it ends up a bit too raw rare... which...

oh well.  They just kept asking for the cuts at the end or anywhere near the end.  I also picked a variety of roasted vegetables which were the exact ones my brother in law doesn't eat.  Something was bound to happen.  It's starting to be my signature wheelhouse.

We had a fantastic time despite, and it reminded me that this really isn't so hard after all.

If you do come for dinner, just know that I'm hyperventilating happy that you're here.

Have a drink, make yourself at home.  I'm going to go check on the duck a l'orange.

 just sayin'.


1 loaf of dense bread~I used a Rosemary Tuscan Bread
olive oil
garlic salt
herbs de Provence
sea salt
2 boxes of assorted tomatoes~my favorite for this salad are red grape and yellow pear tomatoes
1/2 cucumber, quartered lengthwise and chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil, cut into chiffonades
3 TBS fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 red onion, sliced paper thin
2 cloves garlic, pressed
white balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut dense bread into big croutons, about 1 1/2 inch square. Put on a rimmed baking sheet, single layer and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic salt and herbs de Provence and toss. Bake for 20-30 minutes until dry, hard and slightly golden. Remove from oven and cool. Cut tomatoes in half and add to a large bowl.

Cut fresh basil and parsley and add to bowl. Cut cukes and onion and add to bowl. Add garlic. Toss. Salt and pepper and toss. Drizzle with 1/4 cup good olive oil and a splash of white balsamic vinegar and toss. Add croutons and toss.
  Serve immediately.
Other traditional add in are:
mozzarella cheese
bread and not croutons~ but this tends to get soggy and I don't like soggy texture.
fresh tuna
I keep my Panzanella pretty basic. I love the the fresh taste of tomatoes, basil with a good olive oil! And the crunch and flavor of homemade croutons puts this dish over the top!


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