Here are a few final details from the progressive dinner we hosted....
After I made the mini lanterns, I mixed in pillar candles, glass vases (which were just old snapple bottles), and some pomegranates...
....and small gourds. I had a few orange place mats that I lined up down the middle of the table as a runner and then arranged my centerpieces on top.
Then right before the guest came I lit the candles and grabbed some sticks from the yard to fill the vases. It's no joke looking for sticks in the yard after dark in November. What can I say? I'm a thrill seeker.
I thought the sticks were fitting for fall, but still kept things nice and simple. Plus they were free. But I almost poked my self in the eye when I blew out the candles. Like I said, thrill seeker.
We found out we would have up to 16 people at our house, so we did a little furniture rearranging to fit everyone. I'll warn you now, these pictures are all post-party and not set up at all. But at least you'll get an idea of the layout. We moved the coffee table to the office, slid the couch against the wall, and brought up the big dining table from the basement which ended up fitting everyone.
But we also set up the small table, just in case.
Now for the yummy part - the food! And after I made those sweet buffet labels, I didn't get any pictures of them with the food. Oops. So just believe me when I say they looked good! We hosted the first course of soup, salad, and bread. I made two soups. I chose them first of all because they are my favorites, and also because they are pretty simple. First was my mom's cheese broccoli soup (I also added carrots). I made it in the afternoon and then dumped it in a crockpot to stay warm until dinner. I don't do any measuring or follow a recipe for this soup, but I found a soup recipe online that follows the basic order of events (but I use velveeta instead of cheddar) that you can play with if you like.
The second soup was a chicken taco chili I found on pinterest. The I just threw it in the crockpot in the morning, and dug in when the guest arrived. I let them dig in first, of course. And yes, it is as good as the picture looks. And no, I did not take the picture.
I love bread with my soup so I decided to make these bread bowls, but instead of each person having a whole bowl (remember, this is only the first course!) I decided to slice it so people could take less and not get too full. I have to say, bread baking is not my strong point and as always I had trouble with the rising. So they turned out very dense. But still yummy, so it was okay. :)
We also made a strawberry & spinach salad to go along with the soup. I found this picture on pinterest, it's not the recipe we used, but you don't really need a recipe! We just mixed spinach, sliced strawberries, & feta cheese in a bowl (it's also good with nuts, but we were trying to avoid common allergens). Easy. :)
I made a sweet vinegar based dressing to go with the salad. Just to warn you, it's probably the best dressing you'll ever taste. This recipe is from my grandmother-in-law, and once you taste it I will be happy to pass your praises on to her.
Beat 1 egg with a fork and mix it thoroughly with 1 c. sugar
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
3/4 c. water
Bring to a boil and boil 1 minute
Add 1 Tbsp. butter.
Chill (the dressing, not you)
Thicken with corn starch (in water) and add cooked, crumbled bacon for hot bacon dressing.
For cole slaw - mix some of this with sour cream, mayo, mustard and celery seed.
WARNING: You have to watch this while it is on the stove. It boils over very quickly once it starts boiling. I stir and lift the pan from the heat every few seconds, then return it until it is about to boil over again, then lift, etc.
This is the only terrible picture I have, but this is what it looks like. I did a double batch and it filled this jar about 3/4 full.
And we mixed up some pink lemonade to finish things off. So we kept it pretty simple & easy, but still had a great time enjoying great food with our friends.