For Christmas 2013 I was stumped for creative gift ideas for my parents and in-laws because I am sooooooo over buying stuff. So I came up with the idea to buy them each a case of wine and treat them to a home cooked gourmet dinner one Sunday per month. They each bring a wine from their case that pairs with the dinner I am serving. It was so well received that I basically got brow beat into doing it again this year. I will say its a lot of fun but a lot of work, too. I really enjoy being able to practice some more advanced cooking skills as well as creating a beautiful dining atmosphere. It’s putting effort into the little details that means the most to me.
I hadn’t planned on sharing about this latest dinner, but as the evening came together on Sunday it ended up being one of my favorites. I didn’t take any meal prep photos or notes. The photos are from my phone. Unstaged and unfiltered. But it was such a lovely evening that I just wanted to show how easy it is to turn an ordinary dinner into a really lovely experience by adding just a few thought out details. Again, this was all unstaged and photographed in real life so please disregard some of the background faux pas.
I love setting up little areas for beverage self service. A beautiful glass bottle for the wine and some fresh flowers in a vintage vase set the stage for the French country theme.
Random appearance of free range chickens also adds to the country ambiance, but those are probably harder to come by for most folks.
We got this adorable, handmade, navy and yellow floral picnic linens for our wedding almost 11 years ago. We don’t do a lot of picnicking but they sure came in handy to to add a little color and texture to the tablescape. They matched the daffodil and white tulip centerpieces (in vintage milk glass frogs) perfectly. I didn’t have enough matching napkins so I just alternated with accent green napkins. Which just happened to match the super cute yellow and lime chair cushions I got from Tuesday Morning a few weeks ago. Can I just say how freaking awesome that place is. If you’re into nice but inexpensive home decor and haven’t ever been there, I recommend you get there ASAP.
I’m a huge fan of a beautifully presented cheese plate. I kept it simple and elegant and served it on a cake stand – Brie cheese, grapes, cured meats and freshly baked bread with pomegranate paste. I could easily eat just these for dinner any day.
I slow cooked Beef Bourgiugnon for the main course and served over rustic mashed potatoes with a side of French cut green beans. The recipe is perfect as is and I didn’t change a thing except I used 2lbs of meat instead of the 3lbs it called for. There was plenty for 7 people with lots leftover, too.
For dessert, I prepared a Ghirardelli chocolate mousse and topped it with homemade whipped cream. Like I said, I didn’t plan on blogging about this so there are no photos, but trust me, it was To.Die.For. Click here for the recipe.
I hope this inspires you to add a few special touches to your next family dinner. I know my family loves it and I’m sure yours will too.