My Experimental Dinner

If we’re having guests for dinner, I’ll usually make something I’ve been successful with before.  It’s always seemed like a bad idea to use friends as test subjects.  However, for some reason I decided last week to not add just one completely new item to Sunday’s menu for a couple of our good friends, but to fill it with things I’d never attempted.  I was lucky enough to come out of it with only one fail, and even that turned out okay in the end.  Oh, so lucky.

We started off with these Caprese Bites from Budget Savvy Diva.  Simple, pretty and delicious.

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Melinda and I are not huge drinkers, but when we get together we usually find a new cocktail to try.  I recently discovered that DiSaronno, an amaretto liqueur, is pretty tasty, so I wanted something that used it as an ingredient.  I ended up finding a recipe on Top Secret Recipes for the DiSaronno itself.  If you give it a try, be sure to use real almond extract and dark, rather than light, brown sugar.  I also used vanilla vodka instead of regular, because it’s what I happened to have in the house.  We mixed it with some Chai tea concentrate and cream.  Yum.

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I’ve had mixed results making bread from scratch in the past, but it’s never stopped me from trying.  I decided on this Rosemary Peasant Bread from Baking Whole Grains, and it was a winner.  I even made a mistake and used more wheat flour than white instead of the other way around as the recipe instructed.  I would do that intentionally last time.  My husband said he loved the texture.

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For our main dish, you might think I chose something with an Italian feel to coordinate with the other things I’d made.  Nope.  And I’m not even a little bit sorry.  This Cheesy Jalapeño Popper Baked Stuffed Chicken from Skinnytaste was delicious and will go into our regular dinner rotation.

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Now for the fail.  My daughter was going to bring her fiancé over for dessert so he could meet our friends.  John has celiac disease, so that meant I needed to make sure it was something gluten-free.  I found several great options, but decided to go with some fudgy cookies.  Ordinarily, this is where I would link to the recipe for you, but in the four days since I was there the website shut down.  I know, weird.  Anyway, they had lots of chocolate chips and egg whites.  This is what they were supposed to look like:

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The batter looked perfect.  The cookies had been in the oven for about 4 or 5 minutes before I turned the light on to take a peek.  Then I exclaimed “Oh goodness, what happened to my beautiful cookies?”  At least, that’s what it sounded like in my head.  I think what my husband heard was something more like “Ack!  Wha, wha, NO!  Grrrr!”  This is what came out:

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The photo doesn’t even do justice to their complete and utter flatness.  When I tried to remove them from the pan, they were just goo.  Until they cooled, and then they were hard.  I threw the second batch into a square pan and cooked it like a brownie.  You still had to eat them with a spoon, but they tasted good.  I ended up saving dessert by turning a gluten-free shortbread cookie mix into lemon bars.  Whew.

Everything turned out, but I think next time I will mix one or two new recipes with something tried-and-true.  I have enough grey hair as it is.