Welcome my guest today, Barb Collins, from Madre Minutes

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I am honored to be asked to post for Reluctant Entertainer. Sandy’s blog has kicked my thinking up a notch to opening up my home, my self and my hospitality in a more intimate setting such as a dinner party. Sure I have had people in my home since moving to Texas over the past nine years, but it has always seemed like its been in large groups. Basketball teams, graduation parties, wedding parties, women’s groups etc just to name a few. I had not hosted an intimate dinner party in a long time and was not sure I remembered how. For me the preparation of the table and anticipation of each person who will attend gives me as much satisfaction and joy as the people do.

I did however, two days before the guests arrived, had to deal with Carpenter ants that decided they wanted to either come to the party or be on the menu. No they were not a garnish!

So back to the party. I wanted to give my guests not only an experience, but a reason also to think about hosting one themselves. So, for the ladies, I gave each one a copy of Sandy’s book The Reluctant Entertainer as a door prize if you will or a plate prize in this case hidden under each ladies place setting. (Insert Sandy — thanks, Barb!)

For the guys I wanted to include them also, so decided to do a meringue lemon tart, which I had never done meringue before, but was willing. I wanted the crust a bit bigger than tart tins so made my own pastry cups.

I brought out the torches to allow the guys to brown the desserts. What can I say…..boys and kitchen toys were a hit. An interactive dessert that got everyone up from the table and moving around after a long sit, sip, and savor.

I have to say it was magical. Not only did they have fun, it was great to have laughter, discussion and praise in our home.

We decided to try and do it once a month for good measure and starters.

The menu for this evening started with nibbles in an orange vintage relish dish of candied orange peel (again not hard to make but sounds fancy), store bought pistachio nuts and cheese straws sitting under a flower arrangement I lined with carrots keeping the greenery on for color.

– Warm pear soup I got from Martha Stewarts cook book that I added my own kick to with chipotle. Delicious and not like baby food thank goodness.

– A roast cooked in Bourbon, veggie stock, water, Worchestshire Sauce, onion and potatoes all in a slow cooker turned out amazing.

– Romanescos with mascarpone, which is like a combination of broccoli and cauliflower (and I had never seen, it looks prehistoric, or heard of before going to Whole Foods ).

It all really looked hard to put together and sounded romantic and luring with its ingredients, you know the way waiters describe the specials with such flare, ambiance and style.

Well, it wasn’t that hard to prepare at all. I had a lot of fun and I can not wait to host another one.

I was the blessed receiver even though my guests thought they were the ones who left blessed. As it should be.

Sandy mission accomplished…..well done!

Do you have friends that, if possible, you’d prioritize a “once a month” dinner date with?

-Barbara Collins is the author of Madre Minutes and Madre’s Kitchen, a wife of 30 years, mother to 6 beautiful daughters, and host of two online tv shows called Madre Minutes on MomTv and Mingle Media TV Network. She loves to entertain and have people into her home, learning their stories and sharing her families stories over a hot meal.