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A Little Party. Dinner Party, if you will.

October 3, 2010

I admit, when I did not make it to round three of Project Foodblog, I was definitely disappointed. Thrown off a bit even. Had a little internal temper tantrum (only because I was at work. Had I been home, I definitely would have smashed some plates). Wondered why do I EVEN blog then? What is the POINT? Obviously I completely suck. Those thoughts, along with all kinds of other irrational emotionally charged statements that questioned the meaning of life, or okay, the meaning of my blog.  

But once I got over it five minutes later (or 3 days later, I’m not completely sure), I realized I was completely relieved at the same time. I can go back to what I love doing best on my blog – just being me. The purpose of my blog was never to compete but rather to have a creative outlet for my cooking, and sharing and learning from other food bloggers as well. I am happy to have whole-heartedly tried in this competition which is something I all to often shy away from (competition that is). And now I find myself  imagining where I could be a year from now, which just gets me excited. No matter how far I got (or didn’t get) in PFB 2010, I was totally challenged to go outside my comfort zone which really is the whole point of the competition, and the reason I entered in the first place. I put my heart on my sleeve in challenge #1, went International for challenge #2, and planned challenge #3, a “Luxury Dinner Party” knowing I would go ahead with it regardless if I was continuing on in the competition or not. The show must go on, and so must this blog – hopefully better than ever after my PFB experience. 

Once I found out I was not going through, not only was the pressure off to have a perfectly decorated home, pretty serving platters and a special “Luxurious Dinner Party Playlist” for the ipod created, but soup to start (Parsnip and Ginger soup from Jamie Oliver) and my original choice of dessert (Gingerbread-Pumpkin Trifle) were out too. Don’t worry, my guests still got dessert, and actually I cannot WAIT to share it with you because it is one of my absolute favorite fall desserts to make, and so easy too – Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares with Maple Whipped Cream. They are a huge hit wherever I take them. The only reason they weren’t on the orignal dinner menu? They can hardly be considered “luxurious”. But they were perfect for a night with good friends, a good glass of wine, and good food.  

Speaking of good food, let me share my menu with you:  

Pretend Starter:
Parsnip and Ginger Soup with Mini Breadsticks Wrapped in Bacon (trust me – this will happen someday)  

Green Apples and Walnuts on Mixed Greens with Apple-Maple vinaigrette  

Apple and Walnuts on Mixed Greens


Apple Maple Vinaigrette


 Main Course:
Goat Cheese and Basil Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Mushroom Wine Reduction Sauce
Green Beans with Lemon
Wild Rice  


Goat Cheese and Basil Stuffed Chicken


Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares with Maple Whipped Cream 
Inspiration for Maple Whipped Cream from my creative, fellow food writer and forever friend, Alison. Check out her blog on clean eating at: Fig & Fennel. 

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Maple Whipped Cream


It’s probably safe to say that this may have been the best meal I have ever prepared. Um, and Kevin liked it. KEVIN LIKED IT people!!! There is hope. Despite my non luxurious servingware, my non luxurious home, and my non luxurious attitude in general, dinner turned out beautifully. It was also a dinner of firsts: Never have I EVER had the boldness to ask friends to come to, “a dinner party”. Oh, we have had friends over for dinner, absolutely. But to have the audacity,the confidence, really, in my cooking to call it a “dinner party” – uh, no. I have also never, ever, EVER cooked with… butter. OMG I know (ok, seriously, I don’t say that, I am just imagining YOU saying that). I don’t know how I will go back. And finally, I don’t think I have ever spent so much time on one meal, ah, dinner party.  

It was worth it. I feel like I learned a LOT. I was prepared and relaxed. The music was on, candles were lit, and dinner was ready when our guests came. And I surprised myself when I realized I actually want to do this again! In fact, I even created a “dinner parties” tag for future parties. I think for my first real one, it was pretty darn good. Ideas for my next party? Well, I won’t skip the soup. I probably would work on the decor/atmosphere a bit more. And I easily could have assigned Kevin to work on the itunes playlist (instead we were treated to “Kristin’s Playlist” which did the trick. Lady Gaga, Glee and Carrie Underwood work for dinner parties as well as they do for doing dishes, right?!). Sigh, next time. 

But if one can measure the success of a good dinner party by the amount of laughing, the easy comfort of great friends, and the fact that everyone had seconds (now that is how I truly measure success!), then this was a winner. 

Recipes to follow this week. Like I said, this took way too much time. Enough time to make it last a weeks worth of blog posts. The beauty of no longer participating in Project Foodblog is that I can post them whenever I feel like it. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing. 

27 Comments leave one →
  1. October 3, 2010 2:11 pm

    I didn’t make it through either….but I feel exactly the same way…go back to blogging…
    your recipes are superior…I am still supporting you…

  2. October 3, 2010 3:15 pm

    You are awesome!!! Thanks for the shout out! I hope you know that every time I write about Picky Princess, I think of you and Kevin(your very own Picky Prince!)

  3. October 3, 2010 3:17 pm

    The point of blogging is not about competition. That is why I didn’t even enter. The point is to develop a source of recipes for yourself – a data base – and to develop feedback and interaction and friendships that share a similar interest in food that you do. Isn’t that what it is all about? Sometimes I wonder when I work really hard at posting something to share and people I really care about and read carefully and comment thoughtfully to… whip by and spew something like… nice pics… and off they go. I do not do it for them. I still read their work as it interests me and I learn from it. They would probably learn from mine, and find it interesting, too – if they would take the time to read anyone else’s work. They don’t. They are too busy writing their own. But, I love the learning. For me, I love the comments that are thoughtful and engaging. And I love the posts that are open and real.
    Your chicken looks incredible…. absolutely divine and I love the blue hue in the photos…
    … and we’re classy like that, here, too.

    • October 3, 2010 3:52 pm

      Awesome. Thanks for the much-needed perspective Valerie! I feel like I have so much to learn, and I’m glad that you’re someone I can definitely learn from. This comment will serve as a good reminder for me when I catch myself treating other bloggers as “competition” rather than exactly what you said blogging ought to be – developing feedback, interaction, friendships – you hit it on the nose!

  4. tmo permalink
    October 3, 2010 3:27 pm

    mmm butter! i can hardly cook with anything less these days…your squares look amazing can’t wait to peak at the recipe. yay for dinner parties!

    • October 3, 2010 4:01 pm

      I may regret using it once… how can I ever go back to, gasp, margarine?

  5. October 3, 2010 4:17 pm

    I did not make it to round 3 either and also had similar thoughts (complete with verge-of-tantrum, was also sitting in traffic on the George Washington Bridge when I found out – not a good combination!). Such a bummer! Either way, your dinner looks so delicious – especially the pumpkin cheesecake! Had you gotten to round 3, you would have definitely had my vote!! Keep up the great work!

  6. October 3, 2010 4:33 pm

    Despite not making it to round 3, I still had my dinner party as well! I felt the same way as you – relieved to do it “my way” instead of by the rules. It really comes down to enjoying the process of cooking, eating great food and the company of friends.

  7. October 3, 2010 5:28 pm

    Ok A) why would you use margarine? Do you know how they make that stuff? Me neither but I do know how to make butter. ’nuff said.

    and 2-you may just have inspired me to have a dinner party. Like you, I cook for friends all the time, but a dinner party? I can do it. I will do it! Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. October 3, 2010 9:34 pm

    loved this. just beautiful and inspiration (as usual with your posts!)
    i think your first paragraph sums it up perfectly (as does Valerie’s comment).
    i will be posting about my dinner party as well– which was not luxurious at all haha but delicious with good friends and great food. somewhat student style i would say!

    • October 4, 2010 8:42 am

      thanks Leslie! i cannot wait to read about your student-style dinner party! i bet it was awesome.

      to tell you the truth, after i read Val’s comment i had to go back and revamp my 2nd paragraph. what she said resonated deeply in me and i had to reflect that in my post! it was a gentle kick in the pants – much needed too 🙂

  9. October 4, 2010 7:47 am

    I loved this post. Regardless of the competition, I will tell you that through this competition I have become a loyal follower of your blog. I look forward to reading it every time I visit. Okay, so one thing I need to say is that I cannot believe that you have never cooked with butter…we need to talk about that lol. Everything here looks absolutely delicious! I love your food shots and realness in your writing. Thank you for sharing and I am a huge fan!
    – Butter

    • October 4, 2010 8:44 am

      awesome. i may have shed a tear or two reading all these lovely comments this morning.

      i should be shunned for never having cooked with butter. i think my life has changed since simmering my first stick and making that mushroom wine sauce. un-believable. i am glad i have people like you to set me straight 🙂

  10. October 4, 2010 8:28 am

    I’ve never been one to use butter either… until I realized that butter is a lot better for you than margarine. So… butter it is from now on!

    Sorry you didn’t make it through to the next round! I can imagine your disappointment. But it’s great that you’ve realized that you are blogging for YOU, not for anyone else. I’ve had many thoughts about my own blog – should I move to WordPress so I can look a bit more professional? The answer is no… I don’t blog for anyone but myself and I really like the look and feel of my blog. I love when people stop by and read, and love it even more when they take the time to comment. And I truly hope to develop some lasting friendships. But at the end of the day, I will remain true to myself.

    Can’t wait for that pumpkin cheesecake square recipe – I made pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving last year and it was amazing, but I did not have maple whipped cream to go with it! That sounds absolutely delicious.

  11. October 4, 2010 9:11 am

    I was so disappointed when I saw you wouldn’t be continuing in PFB, but I am so happy to see you have decided to take the high road and do the challenge anyways. Everything looks lovely and I adore the Apple Maple Vinaigrette! It’s cheesy, but it’s not about the destination it’s about the journey. I’m glad you enjoyed the ride even if you didn’t get to the end. You’re still a winner to me! 🙂

  12. October 4, 2010 9:16 am

    that’s what the competition should be about — pushing yourself in the kitchen and meeting new and wonderful people — not fame & not-likely fortune. i’m glad you went through with it anyway and learned a thing or two about how fun dinner party hosting can be. now all you have to do is share the pumpkin cheesecake recipe ’cause I know a pumpkin lover who would kill for those.

    • October 4, 2010 9:37 am

      stay tuned – pumpkin cheesecake squares should be posted tonight or tomorrow 🙂 they are worth killing over.

  13. October 4, 2010 9:31 am

    Sorry you did not make it to the 3rd round, I was waiting for Oct 4th to get my vote in for you.

    But everybody is right. If you love what you do and do it sincerely, you are a winner anyway. You do not need a website to tell you how good or bad you are.

    And never say “What is the point?”. Because when you start asking that question, there is really no point in anything, you’d better stop living…

    So DO it anyway…:) It is the community and friendship here that count! (for most of us anyway:-)).

  14. October 4, 2010 10:08 am

    I really like your Challenge 2 post, so I was disappointed to see . I guess that’s the hardest part of this challenge so far… seeing so many talented bloggers get eliminated, and hope that it’s not going to discourage them from blogging altogether. I’m glad to hear you took the philosophical route and forged ahead with your dinner party anyways, just to prove you could do it. Blog on, lady. Blog on! 🙂
    (PS – I fully intend to throw a temper tantrum if and when I’m eliminated, even if I’m at work when I get the news. That’s just how I roll.)

  15. October 4, 2010 12:03 pm

    Sounds like a perfect dinner party to me! 🙂

  16. October 4, 2010 1:42 pm

    I looks like the perfect dinner party! I’m not one that has dinner parties, either, but I’d sure like to be invited to one like this!

  17. Jenna permalink
    October 4, 2010 8:35 pm

    All of your comments are so nice!! You are well supported!!

    Your meal looks delicious and I think you should try to make that soup when you are home for Thanksgiving because it sounds amazing!!

    You are soooooooo amazing!! Yay!

    Ha ha, lady Gaga.

  18. October 5, 2010 8:25 am

    Um Wow Kristen!! Can I just tell you that reading your post felt like you were in my head after Round 1 (Round 1 mind you, the very first one, and the one that I didn’t even make it past!!). You expressed yourself so beautifully and openly shared your sentiments which, to me, is what blogging is all about. I connected with you through your post and that’s a beautiful thing. And what a fabulous dinner party!!! The goat cheese and basil stuffed chicken, the playlist, that your significant other LOVED it all – well, that my dear is SUCCESS!!

    Wishing you continued success–

  19. camille permalink
    October 5, 2010 11:38 am

    Definitely gotta try out those pumpkin squares!! mmmmm

    Tried your Chicken Stew (with Apricots & Carrots) and loved it. Hubby even said “It’s one of the best things you’ve ever made!” 🙂 Subbed chicken broth for apple juice. Worked well!

  20. October 5, 2010 1:41 pm

    Oh Girl….I so understand you, I have been so freaking stressed with all this challenges, my last challenge I submitted when it was 5: 58 can you believe my stress. I was shaking and screaming I’m not gonna make it. After all the work… I miss my laid back blogging. And I’m not a competitive person either. You sure don’t suck I can tell you that. And I looooved the goat cheese stuffed chicken Idea. That must be sooo yummy. Have a great week and thank you so much for your vote.

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