Last weekend, we had a couple friends over for a VERY casual dinner. The Man and I both come from very casual families and have made that laid back quality a defining characteristic of our family. When we have friends over, we expect them to come empty handed. And The Man often encourages friends to wear sweat pants or yoga pants when we are just having a low key night chatting and chowing at our dining room table. In years past, we have had a New Years Eve party for which the requested attire was “anything from sweatpants to cocktail dresses” so that many of the ladies could have fun dressing up while the guys rolled up in track pants and tennis shoes. Every year, we had a great time, friends loved it, and the attire ran the gamut (and everyone felt comfortable in whatever they chose to wear, which was the best part).
But back to our Saturday evening, I wore these jeans and this T-shirt – nothing fancy. And since the gathering took place in our own apartment, I never considered shoes because I knew I would be barefoot anyway.
Here’s what I dressed T in for the night. He looked super cute (but I am clearly biased).
For dinner, we started with a buffalo chicken dip, served eggplant parmesan and a seasonal salad, and made crepes for dessert. All the recipes are super easy. The eggplant parmesan requires a bit of patience and manual labor for breading and light frying, but it’s certainly not complicated. Here are the recipes so you can try them for yourself if you’re interested.
Buffalo Chicken Dip
• 1 lb chicken, cooked and shredded
• 1 jar tomato sauce (we use arrabiatta, but marinara is fine)
Peel skin off of eggplant and cut into approximately 1/2 inch slices. We use an electric skillet, but a frying pan would work as well. Heat pan (with a couple tablespoons of olive oil) to medium heat. Scramble eggs in one container/bowl to create an egg wash and pour bread crumbs in another container/bowl.
When pan is hot, dip one slice of eggplant in the eggwash, then cover in bread crumbs and set in frying pan. Continue with all eggplant slices, flipping each slice as one side becomes golden brown. Remove each slice and set aside (we set aside on paper towel on a plate to absorb some of the excess oil) as the second side is golden brown. The pieces don’t have to be cooked all the way through because they will continue to bake in the oven later. Although it’s not required, I add olive oil with each group of eggplant. I think the olive oil helps soften the eggplant a bit which makes it taste better, in my opinion.
In a casserole or baking dish, place a layer of eggplant slices across the bottom of the pan. Add some tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese, and mozzarella cheese (as desired). Repeat to create stacks with three layers of eggplant, each covered in sauce and cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes or until hot.
Spinach, sliced strawberries, walnuts, dried cherries, and feta cheese, topped with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing.
We stuck with banana, strawberries, and Nutella as fillings for our sweet crepes. But you could certainly try a variety of other options like cinnamon and sugar, sugar and lemon, and myriad others.
If you decide to give any of these a try, let me know how it goes. And don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions!