Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Get Ready to ROCK!

After over a year of monthly dinners on Zoom because of the pandemic, we were finally able to meet in person!  I cannot tell you how happy it made me to be able to sit around the table with my girlfriends and chat, laugh, and interact like we did before the pandemic.  

At the beginning of the pandemic last March, my daughter and I began painting rocks to decorate our yard and place around the neighborhood for others to enjoy.  I thought this would make a fun craft to do during a monthly dinner, so I have been waiting to do this theme until our monthly dinner group could begin meeting in person again.  This month was the time! So...let's get ready to ROCK!

I put together the monthly dinner invitation on Photoshop with images I found online.  I used a font that looked like paint to match the theme.

I kept the table very simple and craft-friendly.  I used a cheap plastic tablecloth so that if paint dropped on it, it wasn't a big deal. The centerpiece was just the craft supplies we would need for the fun.  This included a basket of various paint colors, a paint can with brushes, a tray of paint markers, and a glass bowl with rocks to choose from.  I also added some rocks that I painted to the table.

I used bright pink napkins for a fun pop of color.  I added a small paint palette and paintbrush to the top of the napkin and tied a ribbon around all 3.

I was originally planning to paint a rock specifically for each guest and use it as a placecard, but I ran out of time.  Instead, guests drew another guest's name from a paint can when they arrived, and they spent the first bit of the party designing a rock for that person.  It was sweet to see what the girls came up with.

With summertime approaching, I decided to serve a simple drink "on the rocks" for guests.  I went with a low calorie and refreshing drink that mixes a shot of Smirnoff pink lemonade with Lemoncello La Croix.  I painted a lemon-themed rock to place next to these ingredients.  This might be one of my go-to drinks for the pool this summer.

I also served red and white wine, and tied them to the theme with the wine labels I created.  I loved the pandemic mask of a wine glass rock!  Cracked me up.  I also painted a rock with a wine theme to place next to the bottles of wine.

I wanted all my menu items to keep with the rock theme.  I painted rocks to go with each dish, but also wanted the rocks to be silly/fun to add to our painted rock garden.

For an appetizer, I started with a pepper jack cheese ball that I shaped like a rock.  I called it the Pepper Jack Cheese Rock with "Boulder" Flavor. The recipe calls for some of the shredded cheese to be reserved to roll the ball in, but I put all the cheese inside the ball and crushed blue corn tortilla chips to coat the cheese ball with to give it more of a rock color/look.  This cheese ball was easy to make and very tasty.  It was polished off quickly by all of us.

1 3/4 cups shredded pepper jack cheese (divided if you want cheese around the outside)
1 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (divided)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened 1 lime (juiced)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)

In a mixing bowl, add 1 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese, 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese with cream cheese, lime juice, onion powder and diced cilantro.  Mix well with clean hands and form into a ball.  Place remaining 1/4 shredded pepper jack and 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese on a plate.  Roll and pat in cheese around the cheese. 

For the main dish, I served Stone Ground Mustard Drumsticks.  I haven't cooked with stone ground mustard before, but since it went with the theme I decided to try it, and WOW it was delicious!  I will definitely be making these chicken wings again. I doubled the recipe as I was using 15 drumsticks.  I think the recipe includes only 5 or 6, but doubling it was plenty for my 15. Here is the recipe for a single batch.

1 package drumsticks
1/2 Cup stone ground mustard
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray.  Pat drumsticks dry with paper towels.  Combine mustard, mayonnaise, paprika, garlic powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add drumsticks and toss until completely coated.  Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add drumsticks skin side down and sear until golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish and bake 35-40 minutes, flipping halfway through, until skin is crispy and chicken is cooked through.

I also served roasted potatoes.  I bought the small potato medley with the white, brown, and black potatoes that look like rocks.  I coated them in olive oil and seasoned them with Montreal steak seasoning before baking them in the oven.  These Roasted Potato Rocks were perfect to fit with my theme.

For the vegetable, I served b'rock' oli. Nothing fancy about steamed broccoli, but it fit with the theme, so it worked.

For our dessert, I served a Brownie Rocky Road Ice Cream treat.   I followed the recipe as directed, but did not make the ice cream.  I just bought chocolate ice cream from the grocery.  All the girls enjoyed this dessert.  If you like brownies and rocky road, you definitely will enjoy it too.

  For a simple party favor, I purchased rock candy from Amazon.  The tag I made said "You Rock" and "I'll never take you for "granite"! 

This was a fun party and a great welcome back to in-person dinners.  It was so nice to see the girls that could make it, and I can't wait for the next time we are together!                                                                     

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