Dinner Parties

Since we moved into our apartment, Tyler and I have been busy with school and work. We've met so many wonderful people over the last few weeks and have really enjoyed getting to know Tyler's classmates and their significant others. Tyler is part of a cluster and within the cluster students are broken out into learning groups of 5 students. We had Tyler's learning group over for dinner Friday night before heading out. It was so much fun having everyone over and getting to know them. I, of course, was really excited to be able to cook! Here was the menu:
  • Homemade Garlic Bread
  • Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
  • Salad
  • Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies
The meal came out perfectly :) Here's the recipe for the garlic bread and baked penne with chicken and sun-dried Tomatoes:

Garlic Bread:
  • Two loaves of french bread
  • 6 tablespoons of room temperature butter
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly choped parsley
  • 4 pressed garlic cloves (you can add more or less garlic depending on your preferences)
  1. Turn the oven on broil
  2. Slice the french bread in half
  3. Mix the butter, garlic, and parsley together
  4. Spread the butter on the french bread
  5. Broil the garlic bread until butter is melted and bread is crispy
  • 6 tablespoons butter, plus more for baking dishes
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (8 ounces each), halved horizontally
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 10 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced (I didn't make it with mushrooms since Tyler doesn't like mushrooms)
  • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded provolone (6 ounces)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan (4 ounces)
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 400. Butter two shallow 2-quart baking dishes.
  2. 2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes short of al dente; drain pasta, and return to pot.
  3. 3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper; cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Halve each piece lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.
  4. 4. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium.
  5. 5. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, 1 minute.
  6. 6. While whisking, gradually add milk; bring to a simmer, whisking frequently.
  7. 7. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute.
  8. 8. Off heat, gradually stir in provolone and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
  9. 9. Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes; sprinkle each with cup Parmesan.
  10. 10. Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

  11. Then, Sunday night, we had another group of people over and cooked another delicious meal. Here's the menu I made:
  • Taco dip for an appetizer
  • Slow-cooker chicken and rice
  • Zucchini and Squash Gratin
  • Salad
  • Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake....AMAZING!
Taco Dip:
I make this taco dip for game days and everyone devours it! It's so easy to make and very tasty. All you need is:
  • Tortilla chips
  • 1 package of cream cheese
  • 1 can of chili con carne (find it in the Mexican food aisle or canned food isle)
  • 1 package of shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. I use a Le Creuset square dish, but any dish around the size of a brownie pan will work
  3. Spread the package of cream cheese on the bottom of the pan
  4. Spread the chili con carne over the cream cheese
  5. Cover the chili with 3/4 of shredded cheddar cheese bag (or the whole bag if you like it really cheesy).
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes or until the chili is bubbling around the edges.
  7. Serve the dip in the dish...be patient and let the dip cool. Otherwise, you'll burn your mouth!
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium zucchini (about 7 ounces each), sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 medium yellow squash (about 7 ounces each), sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 450. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat; add zucchini, yellow squash, shallots, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini and squash are crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes.

  2. Add cream, and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; stir in 1/2 cup panko and cup Parmesan.

  3. Spoon mixture into a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining panko and Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Bake until top is golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

Simple Slow Cooker Chicken

  • 1/2 cup apricot preserve
  • 1/3 cup bottled Russian salad dressing
  • 1/2 envelope of onion soup mix
  • 6 frozen chicken breasts (not thawed)
  1. Mix the first 3 ingredients together
  2. Place chicken breasts in crock pot and cover with apricot mixture
  3. Cook on low for 5-6 hours
*I served the chicken over a bed of rice to soak up the apricot glaze as it's really good!

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