Dallas and a Dinner Party

We spent a week in Dallas visiting our new best friends we met on the South Pacific cruise this April. And, three days after we returned, we threw a dinner party for 8.

I was feeling the pressure.

The cool thing about the internet is that if you decide not to take your big, heavy camera, or its batteries are dead, you can “borrow” images from the internet for purposes of illustration. Which is what I did here. I still have not learned how to get images from my phone onto my laptop, however I can put images from the laptop onto my cell phone, which take up more space on that device than I want to dedicate to pictures, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to figure it out. Posting photos to Facebook is so much easier than blogging nowadays, but I’m steadfastly refusing to go that route. The images I do show here are spot-on to what it was.

We had glorious weather in Dallas. Our hosts, Bill & Sarah, took us to the JFK Museum in downtown Dallas. One recognizes the building immediately. 512ee6149ee0e.image

They have a terrific multimedia museum of events about the assassination of JFK. You can look out the window that Oswald did when he shot the President.

You can’t see it in this photo, but there is a big X on the street where the fatal shot was fired. Most of my readers lived through that awful time and the museum brought back sad memories, but it was heartwarming to see many younger people and soldiers in uniform.348s

Then we drove out to Bill & Sarah’s Lake house in East Texas. It’s two hours ENE of Dallas. This is where we spent most of our time, playing bridge in the afternoons and drinking wine in the evening. So relaxing.vfiles37705

When we got home we had exactly two and a half days to unpack, do laundry, shop and prep for a dinner party Saturday night. I had put the leaf in the table and set it before we went to Dallas.

I am a firm believer in doing everything in advance. By Saturday afternoon I was sitting with my feet up, reading The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure. An excellent read, I highly recommend it.

I made all the food Friday. All I had to do Saturday was get a pedicure, make the salad and arrange the flowers.

Here is my recipe for Make-Ahead Scalloped Potatoes for 8 to 10 people. These are crazy good and everybody loves them.

  • 6 - 8 Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 3/4 pint heavy cream (not half & half, not milk)
  • 1 can Campbell’s chicken broth (small red/white can)
  • Salt, white pepper to taste
  • Chives, parsley (optional but recommended)
  • 1/2 – 1 stick butter
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Put the cream in a large saucepan and heat over low heat. Keep your eye on it and don’t let it boil over. Remove from heat.

Add the chicken broth, a little at a time, until the sauce is light and creamy. Add the salt, white pepper, and chives/parsley to taste.

Melt the butter. Use some of the butter to grease a large glass/ceramic baking dish. Yes you can use Pam but the butter gives it a crispy edge like in the above picture.

Peel and thinly slice the potatoes (I use a mandoline). Drop the potato slices in water as you work. Drain the potatoes in a colander.

Working in layers, arrange potato slices followed by a drizzle of melted butter. You could add cheddar or jack cheese between the layers if you want.

After the potatoes are in the baking dish, pour the cream/broth over top, until  the liquid comes up over the potatoes. If you need more liquid, you still have some cream left.

Heat the oven to 350°.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle Parmesan, and put it back in the oven uncovered for 10—15 minutes or until lightly browned.

To make ahead: Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let come to room temperature. Refrigerate for up to 2 days. When you’re ready, take the dish out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature for an hour or longer. Heat the oven to 350° and bake the potatoes until they are heated through, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle grated Parmesan over top and return to oven, uncovered, for about 10—15 minutes or until lightly browned.


The other players were Chicken Dijon with Shallots and Grainy mustard,creamy-dijon-mustard-chicken-horiz-640-600x428

and Fabulous Spinach Salad. Maple syrup and balsamic vinegar dressing: Killer.IMG_7630

The hot appetizer was melted brie with Onion-Garlic Jam. Outstanding.

What could be easier—two ingredients, cheese and jam.

Oh, and we had these. Terra Chips. Have you ever had them? So unusual.

I had planned to make an apple cobbler for dessert, but then we went to Costco and I saw this huge apple pie and it pulled me in like I was hypnotized. We served it warm with vanilla ice cream. This lit up my brain like a drug. Remember, I rarely eat this stuff. Outrageous! I swooned.


On the gluten-free front, I am finding I can have a little bit of wheat products now and then without incident, like a couple crackers or, in this case, a bit of pie crust. This could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. It’s still best to avoid wheat altogether, but it’s easier to resist when you know it’s going to get you.

Now we are gearing up to go to Barcelona in a couple weeks. We are hosting a pinot party next week and I’ll try to remember to take photos.


  1. The traveling Ammerman's~~~miss seeing you guys (after seeing this post, miss your cooking)Let's try to plan a way to share some time together when you get back from your next journey!!

  2. Well, you managed to make just a few of my "used to be " favorite foods. Great photos and I'm sure it tasted even better. How fun to hop on a jet and enjoy
    new BFF's.............
    We really liked Barcelona and all the wonderful architecture. Look for the parakeets in the trees in Parc Quell.


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