November 7, 2012

A cook, a baker, and one yummy meal

Earlier this year I made cupcakes for my friend Michelle's birthday. I had mentioned to her that I love baking as much as she loved cooking and we both agreed that sometime in the future we should prepare a wonderful meal together. A few weeks ago our collaboration dreams became a reality. It was so much fun! We spent all day Friday planning and shopping and got together Sunday to prepare our meal.

On our planning day, we brought together recipe books and online links and compared notes on what we liked and didn't like from each recipe. We mixed and match different recipes from various cookbooks, both of us curious to see if our crazy combinations would work. We would have to wait for Sunday and just roll with it. Once our list was finalized we headed out to go shopping. I love shopping with Michelle. We made a great tag team. Plus, she didn't judge me for wanting to stop at Cost Plus World Market (sorry, Husband, I know it's crazy to force you to shop with me in those stores). Actually, it was Michelle's idea so in that way we are perfect for each other.

Our goal for this dinner was to make something simple and very Fall time appropriate but to also play with flavors we have never put together before. Here is what we made:

First Course
Homemade French Bread
Butternut Squash Bisque

Second Course
Roasted Herb Chicken with Hot Toddy Glaze (one of our gamble combinations!)
Apple-Cream and Brie Mashed Potatoes (another one that made us curious)
Broccoli Gremolata
To drink, Spiced Cider from Trader Joe's

Third Course
Snickerdoodle Cheesecake with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

What a meal! I was so excited about this menu. I couldn't wait for Sunday and to get started in the kitchen. I got the table set the day before and did my best to kid-proof the house. That meant all my candles were put up and away. I missed the air freshner which Michelle's youngest tried to eat but her husband caught him in time!

I made the bread and cheesecake in advance on Sunday so that the oven would be available for the chicken. The bread is a recipe Ryan found and it has become a fast favorite in our house. I will have to post about that one later to give it the justice it deserves. The cheesecake was simple and easy to make. I found it in a magazine at Michelle's and then lost the copy I purchased but thankfully I found it online. If anyone has family that loves snickerdoodle cookies this cheesecake is a fun, and delicious, variation.

Michelle arrived later and we got started immediately. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to be in the kitchen with her. There was a flow to our work together. We sort of rotated around each other without really getting in the other's way. Other than the bread and dessert I made earlier we both had a part in every single dish. The smells coming from the kitchen were unbelievable. The only hiccup was the chicken. Once everything was prepared we realized the chicken didn't cook all the way through. Oh, well, cook and learn I guess. We allowed the chicken to fully cook and Ryan did the honors cutting into it. Finally, our meal was ready to enjoy.

The table was beautiful. Michelle brought pumpkin shaped soup bowls and they added the right pop of color to my white servingware. We have had the Habigs over for dinner before when their oldest (Heidi) was about a year old. She is now over two and their baby boy (Hank) is a year and a half. I have never had such a pleasant meal with friends. The kids were a hoot and a half. We talked about everything, from Heidi's love of broccoli to politics to Ryan's internships. Hank entertained us with all the new words he is learning.

It was an amazing meal, both in food and company. Of course, picture taking was for the most part forgotten. We were enjoying ourselves too much! I will definitely share some of our recipes in the future since many that we tried are being added to my favorites list.

I hope everyone enjoys this time year, gathering together and giving thanks for the blessings God has given us. I am so blessed to have a friend who loves to cook and who I love to cook with. Thank you, Michelle, for hanging out with me, for being so easy to talk to, and for cooking with me.

Happy Baking!

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