Monday, December 21, 2009

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Surprise 25th Anniversary Dinner Party

Thank you so much to Foodbuzz for giving me the opportunity to blog this event as a December 24,24,24 submission! Be sure to go to to see all of the submissions!

My in-laws celebrated their 25th Anniversary on December 8, 2009. My husband and I thought it would be fun to throw a surprise party for them. Since we moved into our new home, I suggested we do a nice sit down dinner rather than spend 4-5 times the price going to a restaurant. He thought it was a great idea! We asked my brother-in-law what he thought and when he would be home from college, and we decided the 19th was the perfect date (though it was also his 22nd birthday, but he was willing to share).
For the menu, I decided to cook an Italian feast. I created three appetizers, a dinner with the choice of beef or chicken, and a 2 tier cake.

I decorated the house in all silver decor and had many personalized items as his parents didn't have a formal reception when they were married.
His parents were completely surprised! We had been planning this party for about 2 months, so we were so happy that no one slipped and mentioned the party. They had a fantastic time, and we are so glad we were able to celebrate their 25 years of marriage.

George & Jenny's 25th Anniversary Menu:

Caprese Spring Rolls with Pesto Dipping Sauce
Puff Pastry wrapped Blue Cheese stuffed Olives
Rosemary Tuscan Bean Dip with Flatbread Crackers
Caesar Salad with Sourdough Croutons and Homemade Dressing
Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Bread


Prosciutto and Asiago Stuffed Chicken with Mushroom Marsala Sauce
Salami and Provolne Rolled Beef with Sun-Dried Tomato, Lemon and Butter Sauce
Haricot Verts with Sauteed Shallots
Roasted Garlic Whipped Yukon Gold Potatoes

Almond Sour Cream Pound Cake with Raspberry Jam
Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries
Iced Sugar Cookie Favors

I placed a menu at each guest's seat so they would know what was going to be served. I had personalized napkins with Mom and Dad's wedding date.

The appetizers were set out so guests could start eating as soon as they arrived. We asked them to come at 6pm, and planned for JJ's parents to come around 6:30. We also served beer, wine and soda.

The first appetizer selection was Caprese Spring Rolls with Pesto Dipping Sauce. I created this recipe over the summer to win a chance to attend Foodbuzz's Blogger Festival, but I didn't win! I made the spring rolls for my cousin and her husband, and they requested that I make them again, soon! Luckily they lived up to Leah and Jay's hype, and everyone enjoyed them as well.
by Ashlee Wetherington (click link for recipe)

The second appetizer I chose is another crowd favorite, Puff Pastry wrapped Blue Cheese stuffed Olives. I came up with these after sampling a blue cheese stuffed olives. I thought it would be even better warm, wrapped like a cocktail hotdog. I first made these for a Tea Party my sisters and I hosted for my Mom. They were the first appetizer we ran out of! They're so simple to make, and they have great flavor.
by Ashlee Wetherington

The last appetizer I made was this Rosemary Tuscan Bean Dip. I have seen several bean dips lately, so I thought this would be something new to try. I tried to make this extra flavorful by simmering the beans in beef stock with a few fresh rosemary sprigs.
by Ashlee Wetherington

Since dinner was going to be fairly elaborate, I decided to make Caesar Salad. My sister's friend, Kelly, was nice enough to give me her secret Caesar salad dressing recipe. I think it tastes very similar to Carrabbas, which is my favorite Caesar Salad. I made fresh croutons to make the salad a little more special, as well.
Dressing by Doug via Kelly, Croutons by Me

Since most dinners are served with some kind of bread, I figured I would make garlic bread since it's Italian. I love when garlic bread is very garlicky, especially with slow roasted, large chunks of garlic. I roasted about 10 bulbs of garlic to use in all of the different recipes! To make this garlic bread, I simply mixed the cloves of 2 heads of roasted garlic, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1 tbsp. dried Italian herbs, salt, pepper, and 1 stick of softened butter. I split 4 baguettes, spread the mixture on, and baked them at 400 for 10 minutes. These were also great for sopping up the extra sauces from dinner!

I decided to make both a chicken dish and a beef dish so our guests would have a choice. Since JJ's mom isn't a fan of tomato based sauces, I had to think of some non-tomato based Italian sauces. I knew both his parents like marsala, so I chose that. Then I decided to make a lemon butter sauce with sun dried tomatoes, which his mom likes. In the end, everyone was pretty split on their favorite dish.

Mashed potatoes seemed to be a great choice with either chicken or beef. I think Yukon Golds make great mashed potatoes, especially with roasted garlic. The recipe I used is one I made up, but pretty standard for mashed potatoes. I used 10 lbs. of potatoes, and multiplied the recipe.
by Ashlee Wetherington
As the vegetable side, JJ and I both agreed that green beans seem to be a pretty safe vegetable. I originally thought about making asparagus, but some people don't like them. I was happy to see that everyone ate their haricot verts, and my brother in law even said they were his favorite, and he's not a vegetable eater!
To make these haricot verts: Melt 1 stick of butter over low heat. Add 4 cups of sliced shallots of sweet yellow onions. Season with salt and pepper. Stir every 10 minutes or so, cook for 2 hours, until caramelized. Set aside. Steam 5 lbs. of haricot verts, toss in caramelized shallots. Serve.

Besides Spaghetti and Meatballs, my favorite Italian dish is Chicken Marsala. I have worked for a long time to create the perfect marsala sauce, and recently got it just right for my tastes. Since I know JJ's parents love chicken marsala, I had to put it on the menu for the party.
by Ashlee Wetherington

One of my tried and true beef dishes is my mom's rouladen. I based this beef dish off her rouladen, but simplified it a bit. The lemon, butter and sun-dried tomato sauce I created was a hit, but it's definitely something you probably shouldn't eat often, as it has plenty of butter and cream!
by Ashlee Wetherington

For the cake, I decided to keep it simple. I made a two tier cake using this Paula Deen recipe. I filled it with Raspberry jam, and iced it in Almond Buttercream.

I also made these Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries to go with the cake. Thanks so much to Leah for piping them for me when I was running out of time! I baked off half a recipe of this cheesecake by Dorie Greenspan, stirred it up and get it smooth, and used a piping bag with a star tip.

The last thing I made were these Sugar Cookie Favors using my Famous Sugar Cookie recipe, which can be found here, here, here or here!

And of course, we had to have a birthday Cherry Pie for AJ!


Laurel said...

I recently stumbled upon your blog and loved this post! Looks like you put a lot of effort into everything and the meal looks fabulous. Good job!

Britt said...

What an undertaking! They must have felt so special. Well done!

Joanne said...

Oh Ash all the food looks amazing! That cake looks especially professional. You did an awesome job with this. You could have such an amazing career as a professional caterer!

Kelly said...

This is so impressive. I've always wanted to do such a spectacular dinner party. You never cease to amaze me! I hope you and your family have a wonderful christmas.

Christina said...

Great job! Your dinner party looked fantastic - I'm so impressed! You look great in your halter dress too!

Kristine said...

You are so talented. Well done, sister!

Joan Nova said...

A beautiful dinner topped by very professional looking desserts. I'm sure your in-laws were delighted.

Stephanie said...

wow you did an amazing job!! what a great daughter-inlaw you are :) the cake looks so fabulous!! good job!!!!!! (oh and you look pretty rockin' too!)

Winnie said...

Wow- so impressive! Looks like it was a fabulous dinner and that cake is just WOW. Great 24,24,24 post!

Mishy said...

wow, what a great daughter-in-law you are. all that work takes a lot of time and patience! everything looked incredible!

Erin said...

That had to have been ALOT of work and everything looked delicious!!!! Great job!

Taiwan-Teacher said...

That looks absolutely incredible. You have to be a real pro to pull off such an elaborate meal- and still look so cute serving it! Way to go!

Nate @ House of Annie said...

Awesome job, especially on that cake!

Congrats on the 24.

Lele said...

That cake is stunning! EVERYTHING is stunning! I'd be overjoyed to be served any of those things in a restaurant, let alone a home! said...

the cake looks lush, xx

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