Recently Will had a trial in Germany, and since it was the start of a very long back to back TDY Aubrey and I decided to join him. It was a tough trial, and required no less than five experts (professionals in specific fields called on to testify in court), who ended up being a fun bunch that we got to spend time with touring local cities, and enjoying a few dinners together, in between their rigorous work schedule.
Will and I had been lucky to score a three bedroom TLF (temporary lodging facility = base hotel) room that was massive, so we mentioned that everyone should come over one night for dinner at our place. I love to cook, and we miss entertaining so much, not to mention everyone but myself travels 90% of the time so a good home cooked meal can be hard to come by. One thing we did not discuss sufficiently was when this dinner party was going to take place.
The day after it came up happened to be a Sunday, and Will decided that was a good day to host the dinner. Except that he only communicated this to those attending, and forgot to mention it to the cook (read: me), until 3:30 that afternoon. I wasn’t dressed, hadn’t been to the grocery store, and everything I had planned involved at least an hour of cook time. Oh, and Will was leaving to do another interview, meaning I also had to keep Aubrey entertained while cooking, AND everyone was coming at 6:00.
Did I also mention that we were in TLF? Cooking a full meal in TLF is a bit like a Food Network challenge. You have limited cooking supplies and utensils, limited space, and to add to it, I now had limited time.
Luckily I had spent the morning planning out a menu, and with some successful time and oven space management, dinner came together beautifully – with only a slightly stressed out hostess.
So, I thought I would share a quick and easy dinner party menu, along with recipes, to help out when you’re short on time, but need to make a delicious impression.
All of these recipes happen in the oven, so if you have a small oven (like I did), you will have to do a little planning to make sure everything is cooked and warm at the same time…don’t worry, I’m here to help!
Garlic & Rosemary Pork Loin with Plum Sauce
Red Onion Flowers
Twice Baked Potatoes
Proscuitto Wrapped Asparagus
- Set your pork loin and butter out so they can come to room temperature.
- Start with the twice baked potatoes. Get your oven going, preheating it to 415 degrees. While it’s heating, get your potatoes prepped and ready to go in.
- Once your potatoes are in, prep the asparagus bundles and red onions, sear the pork loin, and start the plum sauce.
- Once the plum sauce has cooked down, remove it from the heat, puree, the set aside.
- When the potatoes are done cooking, remove them from the oven, turn the heat down to 400 degrees, and put the pork loin and onions in.
- While the meat and onions roast, prepare the twice baked potatoes mixture, and fill the potato bowls so they are ready to go back in the oven.
- When the pork is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest, put the asparagus and filled potatoes back in. *Make sure to check on your onions to ensure they aren’t burning in any places.
- Once everything is cooked, turn the oven off, and leave it all in the slightly cooled oven to keep warm until it’s time to serve.
- Heat the plum sauce in the microwave or over low heat until warm. Slice the bread if needed and place on the table with the softened butter.
- Slice the pork, plate everything, and serve.
- Have big glass of wine and take a load off!
Due to the shortage of time I didn’t get to take pictures of my own, so thank you to the fine folks that took the beautiful photos below.
Cook Time: 90 minutes
- 8 Baking Potatoes
- 10 oz Plain Greek Yogurt
- 1 c + 1/2 c Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 1 c Whole Milk
- Preheat oven to 415 degrees
- Thinly coat scrubbed potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper, prick the skins a few times, then place on roasting pan.
- Bake for 45-60 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
- Remove from oven, cut tops off, then use a spoon to scoop out the inside creating a potato “bowl.” *Remember to leave the sides of the potato thick enough to provide a sturdy base.
- Transfer the insides to a bowl, add yogurt, cheese, milk, and salt and pepper to taste. Use a hand mixer to thoroughly mix the ingredients until you have a smooth consistency.
- Spoon the mixture back into the potato bowls, top with a few sprinkles of the remaining cheese, then bake for an additional 20-30 minutes until the cheese is melted.
Cook Time: 30 minutes
- 3 8 oz packages Baby Asparagus
- 4 oz package Proscuitto
- Olive Oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Divide asparagus into 8 equal portions
- Bundle portions together by wrapping a slice of proscuitto around the middle of each bundle.
- Place bundles on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes until asparagus or crispy tender.