So my son’s friend “J” is Special Forces in the army. He let me know he and his wife were going to be in town before he gets deployed to Afghanistan for six months, so of course I had to have them over for dinner.
Let me backtrack by saying all my son’s friends used to be at my house every weekend as teens, sleeping all over the house (it’s a small house!). Sometimes they’d even sleep on the dining room table in a sleeping bag! And they loved my cooking as much as I loved cooking for them almost every weekend. When my son’s friend joined the army, my son was away at college. I decided to have a going-away dinner/BBQ, inviting all the boys that were in the area regardless of my son’s absence. Needless to say, it was wonderful, and whenever any of “my boys” are in town, they’ll still reach out and let me cook for them!
So as I was saying, my son’s friend and his wife, along with my friend Jen, were going to come over for dinner, and now I had to make the big decision of what to cook! I drive myself crazy over this, since I like to make my meals memorable. So for this dinner I decided to make pecan-encrusted chicken breasts pan-browned in butter (yes, butter makes it better – that’s the mantra in my house), then finished in the oven at 350F for 30 minutes. For a side, I made roasted asparagus (drizzled with olive oil, salt, and pepper) that I topped with Parmesan cheese. Of course, we had to have pasta, so I tossed some capellini with roasted garlic, EVOO, and fresh basil. I rounded out the meal with one of my signature salads: spring mix, baby arugula, grape tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, dried cranberries, and slivered almonds. The secret to a great salad is chopping the greens into bite-sized pieces so when everything is tossed together, you get a perfect mixture of all the flavors in every bite.
The meal was wonderful, but the company was even better. They brought me wine, and a gift of olive-wood serving utensils from Barcelona. We ate and laughed and had a fantastic evening together (and boy, can he still eat, lol – that’s why I always make plenty of food!).
My son’s friend cleaned up after dinner while Jen and I got to know his wonderful wife better. I’m very proud of J and will worry for the six months he’s in Afghanistan. Be safe!