That’s what we had Behind My Red Door last night. Several times a year I host a get together with some of my former teachers and school moms. There are about 12 of us and we try to make it as casual and stress free as possible. I began this tradition many years ago when I first started working as a teacher at the preschool. We always had a very close group of teachers and aides and it was a great way to get together outside of school and relax and connect. Back then I would cook the entire meal from scratch, often using recipes from sources like Martha Stewart and the Pickity Place cook books I collected on my many trips there.
After I left the school, I continued the tradition with the teachers who I remained in close touch with, and we now include some of the moms who were a huge support to me when I was the Director. Again, I started out making the entire meal but soon we all decided pot luck was the way to go so I can enjoy the evening as well. I will let them all know what I am making and then everyone brings something that works into their schedule. Most of the gals have young kids or other family obligations. The whole point really is the camaraderie and companionship and fun, so we try to not stress about the meal.
Because I don't have to worry about a big meal, I have fun planning the tablescape and theme and shop for just the right napkins to pull it together. This week I found some great patriotic napkins that coordinate wonderfully with my Bennington dishes and a barn red plaid tablecloth I own. Being so close the 4th, that worked for me!
My contribution to the meal this time was chicken salad, hearty whole grain bread, stuffed grape leaves from a local deli and spicy hermit squares. The chicken salad is made with shredded breast meat, diced celery, diced Vidalia onions, slivered almonds and dried cranberries.
The dressing is made with mayonnaise, lemon juice, EVOO, fresh minced garlic and a little salt and fresh ground black pepper. As it is often when I cook, I didn't measure so I can't be more specific - sorry!
I served it on a bed of radicchio for some added color, and sprinkled almonds and dried cranberries on top to let everyone know what's in the salad.
I like to put the silverware in canning jars. I used labels tied on with raffia. Even though the jars are clear, sometimes it's hard to see what's inside. I like to have the handles poking out so people are only grabbing the handles, not the part that goes in your mouth!
Okay, the table is ready - now all I need is some friends and fun!
Last night we were a much smaller than usual group - only 5 of us but there was still plenty of laughter and fun. We just have the best time and I am already planning the next get together late in the summer.
The rest of the menu was yummy! The other Linda brought a oh so good Ramen Noodle coleslaw salad I had never had before. She just emailed me the recipe:
1 bag coleslaw
1 package of Beef Ramen Noodles smashed - not too much though
5-8 oz of sunflower seeds
1 cup slivered almonds
Then right before serving mix together 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup vinegar (she used apple cider vinegar), 3/4 cup of sugar, and the beef packet from the noodles.
Add the two together mixing well. Keeps for days after (if it lasts that long).
I think I will mix them about an hour ahead to let the noodles soften. I know this will be a new staple in my recipe box! YUMMO!
Chris brought my favorite broccoli salad, Donna brought a pasta salad with a Mexican flavored dressing - very unique and I am waiting for that recipe. That's a keeper as well and we didn't touch the hermits I bought because Jody brought a Swedish Almond cake that was heavenly. I need that recipe too. The company was 5 stars and the food was as well - it was most definitely a fun evening Behind My Red Door!
The next time I post, I'll have part 2 of my decorating inspiration. I have been quite busy with other things this week but it is coming soon, I promise!
Until next time - hugs, Linda