How to throw a dinner party in only 1 ½ hours

It’s 5:23 pm and I’m just pulling into my girlfriend’s driveway to pick up my daughter after a play date. She and her husband just returned from Banff and Lake Louise (in Canada) and I’m dying to hear about their trip. I live vicariously through all my friends who get to travel around the world. So, I invite them over to our house for dinner at 7:00. But, I promised my kids I’d go swimming.

Nothing is prepared nor purchased specially for this impromptu dinner party that I am about to embark upon. The ONLY thing in my favor is that I had previously defrosted a lot of chicken yesterday.

We drive home and quickly I get my bathing suit on, clean the pool (apparently some big frog gave babies in the pool and we have, what appears to be, millions of tadpoles swimming in our pool --- yech!) The kids all freak out and I remind them all that when they just went swimming in a lake at camp … there were lots of creatures worse than this that they swam with.

Anyway, back to my dinner party … I decide if I can throw the chicken in the oven WHILE I’m swimming, I’ll figure out what else to make while swimming laps.

Baked Chicken:
1 large package boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 large breasts)
1 family size package of skinless drumsticks (about 8)

Spray large rectangular glass Pyrex dish with cooking spray and place all chicken inside

1 large can diced petite cut tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
1 package Lipton Onion soup mix (dry)
Pour mixture entirely over chicken, seal tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for about 1 hour.

Jump in pool and swim 12 laps, dunk 3 kids, scoop out some more tadpoles and threaten the kids that if they don’t behave, they will have frog legs for dinner.

Back to dinner … I open my relatively bare refrigerator to find that the only vegetable left in my house was 1 head of cauliflower, some lettuce and baby carrots. The only fruit was 2 cartons of fresh blueberries. Simultaneously, I start to prepare:
1. An easy rice pilaf
2. Garlic and Rosemary Cauliflower
3. Salad
4. Blueberry parfait

Rice Pilaf:
2 large onions – chopped
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups raw white rice
1 can beef bouillon

Begin sautéing onions till translucent.

As onions are cooking …wash and chop lettuce in pretty bowl, scatter baby carrots on top. Done. I plan on using store bought salad dressing because I won’t have time to make from scratch.

Garlic and Rosemary Cauliflower:
As onions continue to cook, wash and chop entire head of cauliflower and peel 4 whole garlic cloves. Mince garlic and place in very large sauté pan with about ¼ cup olive oil on low heat.
Add about 1 tablespoon-dried rosemary to the oil and garlic - stir. THEN add the cauliflower and loosely cover pan. Stir occasionally. Add about 4 tablespoons of water occasionally to help steam cauliflower and prevent too much sticking.

Back to rice … stir in 2 cups raw rice and coat with oil, sauté rice with onions about 3 minutes. THEN measure entire can of bullion with additional water until you have 4 cups liquid. Pour into rice, bring to boil, cover and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. I don’t add any extra salt because the bullion had salt inside.

Stir cauliflower, then begin to set table. Placemats, linen napkins with whimsical napkin rings, and nice water goblets. Never had time to buy flowers so there is no centerpiece (I think my friend will understand).

Back to stove, stir cauliflower and rice. Begin dessert,

Blueberry Parfait:
Take about 3 cups frozen Cool Whip, pour in about ¾ cup Frangelica or Kailua (I prefer Frangelica) and mix until smooth. Fill 4 beautiful glass parfait cups with washed blueberries, spoon liquor mixture equally on top of blueberries and place in refrigerator.

Open a nice Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon and you’re ready to eat. Enjoy!  |  digg it!  |  reddit reddit!  |  Google!

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