Last weekend we hosted our very first Dinner Club in our new home! It was so nice to be settled enough to entertain friends (although, believe me, we still had plenty of unfinished projects going on in the background – welcome to moving!).
Anyway though, just as a refresher, our Dinner Club started 5 years ago and consists of 4 couples (adults only!). We take turns hosting every other month and in-between rounds the most recent host picks a restaurant for an out-to-dinner gathering. So each couple ends up hosting about once or twice a year, which makes it feel totally manageable in my opinion.
For our menu this time we went with a New Orleans theme because honestly I’ve made homemade gumbo (a family recipe of ours) a hundred times, and with our recent move still so fresh I just couldn’t be much more creative and experimental than that. As as result, I just let the decor be pretty simple so our brand new dining room could speak for itself – even though I was channeling Mardi Gras beads and feather masks in my mind (oh well, next time!). And I must give a quick shoutout to my friend Erin for helping me with the lovely centerpieces – she is great at keeping things classy and simple!
Each time I host I love to print a menu because it’s an easy way to “up” the special occasion factor. I even got my 8-year-old to help – she chose the gold font and the background paper and cut everything out too! That girl likes things fancy. :) She also helped me set the table.
For appetizers I made Crab and Corn Cakes (with gluten-free flour since we had one guest with an allergy – recipe below), Cajun Spiced Pecans, and Smoked Trout Dip. I’m including a Smoked Salmon version of this dip in my next cookbook so it was a great excuse for me to experiment!
Here’s a little snapshot of how the plated dishes turned out below, which (per the pictured menu card) were Grilled Artichokes with a Lemon-Oregano Aioli (from Martha Stewart’s American Food cookbook), Seafood and Smoked Sausage Gumbo over Brown Rice (I used our family recipe and successfully subbed a gluten-free flour blend), and Homemade Beignets with Fresh Berries (I offered our gluten-free guest some dark chocolate with her berries).
When I was finalizing the menu I asked my husband if I should make Bananas Foster or Beignets for dessert and my man – with his barely-there sweet tooth – voted for Bananas Foster. What can I say? Clearly I didn’t sway from my homemade donut day dreams! I’d honestly never made beignets from scratch before (I’d always used that Cafe du Monde boxed mix) so I was a little nervous about how they’d turn out with no time to test them out beforehand. But clearly they turned out GREAT, and I even let my daughters have the leftovers for breakfast the next morning! Like I said – hard to go wrong with fried dough topped with powdered sugar. At least in my opinion. :) (Beignet recipe courtesy of the Commander’s Kitchen cookbook.)
So I’m excited to share one of the recipes with you today …the Crab and Corn Cakes (below)! I thought I’d still have plenty of those leftover with all the other food I was serving, but everyone cleared house when it came to this dish. I hope you and your family (or friends) enjoy them just as much as we did. They’d make a great pot luck appetizer this holiday season!
Sponsor Shoutout: Lunchbox Love Cards
Speaking of the holiday season, I want to quickly give a shoutout to our wonderful sponsor – Lunchbox Love! It’s no secret I love to tuck these adorable little cards into my daughters’ lunches, but did you know they’re also a great way to share kindness and gratitude throughout the holidays? You can not only give them to the kids in your life, but also coworkers, teachers, the mail carrier and even your favorite barista. Why not? I’ve even given newly purchased packs of these cute cards to my mom-friends during the holidays, and they were so excited to use them for their own kids. So if you’re looking for creative gifts this holiday season – be sure to give this sponsor of ours some love! :)