Learning to Cook · Miss Mary · Recipes

Making Memories – Progressive Dinner #7

2016 Progressive dinner photoFor years now a few fantastic friends get together for a progressive dinner.  It was our way to tackle Valentine’s Day without making reservations.  We first started out with four homes that served each course.  As years progressed, we found that we would rather just do two homes allowing us to all linger longer at each home.

In researching Progressive Dinners (links below) for this post, ours is nothing as complicated as what’s been written.   Perhaps the first one I attended was a bit detailed, where I offered to host the dessert phase and my dog pooped in the dining room.  It’s great moments like that you’ll talk about for years.

We are extremely fortunate to always have the same party leader who in January sends out a note asking if we’re interested, provides a few possible dates in February, with a request of what you would like to prepare, let’s keep it simple, and if you’d like to host.

Via emails, details are settled, such as:  who, what, where, and when – even the casualness gets settled – jeans for us.  Example, I said I’d do a dessert and so did my friend Jane.  Jane and I emailed each other to make sure we weren’t doing the same thing.

These are our unwritten rules:

  1. The host does not have to make anything because they’re providing the home with all the amenities; they do or they do not have to abide.  Many of us like to cook and often provide food and beverages too.
  2. Everyone brings their own drinks. That can get pretty hefty with a lot of people.  So bring your wine, beer, or signature cocktail.
  3. Appetizers and cocktails at the first stop. Main meal and dessert at the second.  Now, this is just us.  When we started, we did four homes and were on a very tight schedule.
  4. We start at 5pm and usually go till 11p. Having said that, the next hosts usually scoot out ½ hour early to set up the next meal.  Sometimes we drop off our foods prior to the party getting started so that things are not in the car or if they need to be in a crock pot – you get the idea.
  5. Just communicate with the host if you need the fridge, freezer, or oven a few days beforehand. Surprises are complicated.

Food and Phases:

2016 PD mushroom1
Pioneer Woman photograph

2016 potato bar

Phase 1 – 5pm:  Dawn and Phil Heil were the perfect hosts.  Dawn made the Pioneer Woman’s Stuffed Mushrooms [which I’ve already purchased my sausage to make].  Jen Becker created a mashed potato bar.   She kept the mashed potatoes warm in a crockpot and served caramelized onions, bacon, cheese, sour cream, green onions to go on top.  Drinks and cocktails were also served.

Phase 2 – 7pm:  Carmen and Neil Boyer’s new home was our last stop where we all settled in for a wonderful evening.

The main meal was soup.  Nancy Arndt made March Madness chili (recipe on Tuesday).  Be forewarned, it packs some heat.  Pam Nutt, our leader, made Williams Sonoma Chicken and Orzo Soup that was delicious.   Caprice Towne made a wonderful Kale salad with a Honey Lemon Balsamic dressing (recipe on Wednesday).

2016 Chocolate tart
Photo from Epicurious.

Dessert was decadent to say the least.  Jane Mammoser made the Epicurious Chocolate glazed chocolate tart which was to die for.  She served it with whipped cream.  (If you want to wow your guests, make her tart!)  I made a double layer carrot cake from my previous post.  Coffee was served too, with a wee bit of Baileys, or was that at another party?  We were so grateful to our guests Carmen and Neil Boyer for a lovely evening of catching up on what all our kids were doing, what we were doing, and what’s coming along for 2016.

If you’re wanting to know more about planning a progressive party, I found several sites that offer planning suggestions.  It’s a lot of fun and we’ve been able to keep it up for several years.  You can make your own memories.

Taste of Home:  Simple instructions including recipes

My Recipes:  Detailed instructions including recipes

She Knows: More contemporary, less rules

How Stuff Works: a little more contemporary narrative  

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