There are few things I love more than good conversation over a good meal– unless you add some baked brie and a glass of champagne or two into the equation. Let’s face it ladies, (and gentlemen too!) Valentine’s Day isn’t all roses, chocolates, and romance. Sometimes, you just need some time to share the love with the leading ladies in your life.
Making good on my 2015 goal to cook more, I gathered the blogger babes crew at my house last Saturday for a little Gal-entine’s Dinner Party.
I decided to keep the decor simple, stringing up a couple garlands I had lying around the house, and set the table with a simple vase of white tulips and adorable heart napkins I found at Target. I opted for gold paper plates for appetizers, cutting back on the amount of dishes and clean-up and easing the transition from cocktail hour to dinner.
I love making my guests at home by immediately offering them a bite to eat and a drink. Before arrival, I set up a makeshift bar with glasses, water, an assortment of wines, champagne, and a list of options hidden in the fridge so I could focus on finishing dinner prep as they sipped, munched, and mingled.
We toasted to the night with a simple antioxidant champagne cocktail:
- Pour an inch or two of tart cherry juice into each champagne flute (I used Trader Joe’s juice)
- Drop in a spoonful of pomegranate seeds
- Top with bubbly and enjoy! (My favorite pick: La Marca prosecco)
While I don’t believe I need to justify sipping champagne, this easy cocktail packs a healthy punch as well. It’s the perfect combination of sweet, crisp, and tart while boasting a heavy dose of Vitamin C and antioxidants.
The dinner menu of the night: baked brie with apricot preserves, roasted brussel sprouts with lemon and garlic, and healthy chicken parmesan with homemade tomato basil sauce.
Dinner is never complete without a sweet! We finished off the evening with decadent red velvet brookies topped with vanilla ice cream. This is a recipe you need to make now. I’m not even a brownie or a chocolate fan (yes, I’m still human) and these have me hooked! Half cookie, half red velvet brownie- yes please! (My only tweaks: I added crushed Hershey Hugs to the cookie mix and omitted red food dye in the cookie dough.)
Quick tips to let your hostess-self enjoy the party:
- Prep what you can the day before. Clean up the house, grocery shop, and go over your recipes. See what you can chop or bake a day ahead.
- Collaborate! Don’t be afraid to ask guests to bring something to share. I love the idea of a potluck. Jess whipped up a delicious salad, Andy brought her famous beastmode bean dip and Kelli supplied cheese and crackers.
- Dinner doesn’t have to be ready & waiting when guests arrive! Pump the jams, pour a beverage, and let them dig into the cheese plate to curb hangry pangs while you finish the cooking.
Dinner parties aren’t about fancy presentation, perfection, and stress. At the end of the night, nobody is going to remember Pinterest-worthy presentation and fancy-ness. Keeping the night simple allows not only the guests to feel comfortable and at home, it lets the hostess relax and enjoy the night as well.
When our final rounds of Cards Against Humanity dwindled down and the wine bottles emptied, I forgot the brie practically exploded and melted all over the oven (we ate it all anyway), I didn’t care the dishes didn’t all match and that I had to pull extra chairs in from around the house. All I remember was the good food and good laughter with some darn good company. Happy Gal-entine’s Day!