The Anniversary Feast

I just found this in my drafts folder – dated Nov 2009. Completely written. All photos inserted. A couple recipes missing – which I’m guessing is why I never hit publish – but close enough. Let me know if you want the risotto recipe! 🙂

So – enjoy? (A much-delayed, but well-deserved shout-out to Maris for helping me plan this fantastic menu.)


This year, I told the architect that I was going to make him a big fancy anniversary dinner. That way we wouldn’t have to go out & miss all the trick or treaters!

As I started the menu planning, I realized that I was in over my head. I am a pretty good cook. However, I am not a good menu planner. So, I enlisted the help of one of my favorite food bloggers, Maris! And she was AWESOME! Honestly, I couldn’t have done this without her. Go – visit her site! Make the recipes!

SO – with that being said, it is not her fault that my pictures turned out so poorly. We got back from our overnight to Astoria later than I’d planned, and by the time I’d gone to the grocery store & finished my homework, I was feeling rushed.

First – the menu.


Bacon-wrapped dates (stuffed with blue cheese)
Fig jam & goat cheese on crackers
Lemon drops (these were supposed to be pomegranate cocktails, but I forgot to buy POM at the market, and had to make do with what I had)

Salad course

Arugula, endive & spinach salad with carmelized walnuts (I carmelized my own walnuts, go me!), pears & blue cheese, with a light vinaigrette
Finished the lemon drops

Main course

Vodka garlic risotto
Sun-dried tomato & goat cheese stuffed chicken breasts
Sauvignon Blanc


Originally I was going to make this, but the architect had a special request, so I made:
Cream cheese marble brownies
Cabernet sauvignon

The recipes (+ photos & thoughts)

Bacon wrapped dates stuffed with cheese (this is so easy, I’m not even sure it’s a recipe)

  1. Remove pits from dates.
  2. Stuff cheese into hole where pit once was
  3. Wrap with bacon (it took about 1/2 slice of bacon per date)
  4. Skewer & place on baking dish with high sides (so the grease doesn’t spill out)
  5. Cook at 350* for 25 minutes, turning frequently (a lot more frequently than I did, by the way).
  6. Enjoy! (yum)

Fig jam + goat cheese + crackers

  1. Spread goat cheese on crackers.
  2. Top with jam.
  3. Eat.

Carmelized walnuts for salad (from Epicurious)


  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Line heavy rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray foil with nonstick spray.
  3. Combine sugar and vinegar in small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add nuts; toss to coat. Transfer mixture to baking sheet.
  5. Bake until nuts are deep brown and syrup thickens and coats nuts, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
  6. Cool completely on baking sheet. Break nuts apart.

I have no picture of the salad, so you’ll have to just imagine these on a bed of greens, mixed with blue cheese and pears. These were FANTASTIC, by the way. YUM!

Vodka Garlic Risotto (from my risotto cookbook)

Sundried tomato & goat cheese stuffed chicken breasts (from


  • 1  cup  boiling water
  • 1/3  cup  sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil
  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil, divided
  • 1/2  cup  chopped shallots, divided
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  sugar
  • 3  garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2  tablespoons  balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh basil
  • 3/4  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 4  (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4  teaspoon  dried thyme
  • 2  teaspoons  cornstarch
  • 2  teaspoons  water


  1. Combine boiling water and tomatoes in a bowl; cover and let stand 30 minutes or until soft. Drain and finely chop.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup shallots, sugar, and garlic; cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Spoon into a bowl; stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar.
  3. Combine chopped tomatoes, shallot mixture, cheese, basil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring well.
  4. Cut a horizontal slit through thickest portion of each chicken breast half to form a pocket. Stuff about 2 tablespoons cheese mixture into each pocket. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper.
  5. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; cover and keep warm. Add broth, remaining shallots, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and thyme; bring to a boil. Combine cornstarch and water, stirring with a whisk. Add cornstarch mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until sauce is slightly thick, stirring constantly. Serve sauce over chicken.

I also have no dessert pics (boo!), but I do have a picture of the sweet pumpkin the architect carved!

Even though I was stressed out, and we were both tired, it was a fantastic meal. I’m not sure I’ll ever do that again, though! Too much work when we should’ve been enjoying each others’ company. It was nice to have the meal at home, but it was NOT nice to have to work so hard for it. Also, due to time spent in the kitchen, I missed most of the trick-or-treaters AND ended up failing my first quiz of my class (also my life). Next time, I will just hire a personal chef. Or get take out. 🙂

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