Four Course Birthday (Valentine’s) Dinner by Jimmie

How was your Valentine’s Day? Ours was lovely.  Lazy, chocolatey, and sweet…just the way I like it.

The night before, however, was phenomenal!  I am still awestruck, and a little full, because of Saturday night.  Jimmie, my beautiful, awesome, amazing, fabulous sister, came home for a visit (and a hairdo).  I had not yet seen her since my birthday, and she brought with her everything you could possibly need for a fabulous birthday feast.  Plus, she cooked it all!  She cooked for me!  It was the best birthday meal ever, and I’m going to rub in in your faces share all the juicy details today.  Here’s Jimmie’s Four-Course Birthday (Valentine’s) Dinner, for your viewing and reading pleasure.  You will wish you had been here, and you will be jealous, and you will want recipes.  Mostly, you’ll want someone to come and cook this for you.

The Menu

Jimmie wouldn’t tell me what the meal was going to be.  She just showed up lugging sacks from Trader Joe’s (automatic drool-inducer), a giant cooler bag, and a menu that I wasn’t allowed to look at.  She did, however, ask Tigger to make her a paper heart to glue the menu to, insinuating that this was a Valentine’s Day meal instead of my birthday meal.  I’d have none of that.  I mean, I didn’t stop Tigger from cutting out a heart, I just didn’t acknowledge that the meal was for anything other than my birthday. Once the table was set, I got to look at the menu (even though I’d watched Jimmie prepare all day, I still had no clue what was on it). menu

Despite the fact that this whole fancy dinner thing was strictly for my birthday, I think Jimmie wanted to give the girls a little taste of what dining might be like in Europe, since Aunties Anne and Susanne are taking them this summer.  They’ll be spending some time in Italy, and I’ve already instructed them on what to eat (spaghetti carbonara), but this very international menu gives them a clue into the world they’ll be visiting.  I’m so excited for them, and that was so thoughtful of Jimmie, to work this into my birthday dinner!

Not sure why those cookies are called “Valentine” shortbread bites.  I think she meant to put “Birthday”.  Oh well.

The Table

After Jimmie had spent the good majority of her day whipping, blending, stirring and dirtying a bunch of dishes, and when the final preparations had begun, she set the table. I had been dutifully helping (lying on my bed watching a documentary with Coach and staying out of harm’s way).  I wandered in inquiring about the cocktail course (next), and found the table like this:table

Birthday candles!  Ok, maybe Valentine’s candles.

centerpiece

Apples and oranges.  That old kitchen table didn’t know what hit it!  The fanciest we ever get is shoving all the mail and schoolwork to the end of the table! Wow.

candles

Cocktails

Jimmie left no detail out of this event, including cocktails.  It helped keep everyone calm and patient, especially Madre, who didn’t join us for our late lunch of burgers from a nearby cafe. Around 6 pm, I made the most delicious cocktail from this beautiful blood orange soda that Jimmie brought (thank you, Trader Joe’s). cocktail I just added ice to a glass, a shot of vodka, this delicious soda, and a splash of amaretto liqueur.  It was so refreshing, and the perfect starter for our Italian-inspired supper!  This was the extent of the work that I did for this dinner party. I only had two, but that was just because we only had one bottle of soda.  I highly recommend this drink!

Antipasti

This crisp, cool, delicious wedge salad was our starter.  blt wedge salad

I’m telling you, this simple little salad was so scrumptious that I could have eaten two more plates and skipped the rest of the meal!  Ok, I’m lying, and you’ll see why when the rest of the meal is revealed.  But seriously, the salad was divine.  You can find the recipe on Damn Delicious; it’s called Mini BLT Wedge Salad.  Jimmie didn’t make them mini; she cut the head of lettuce into only 8 wedges.  Also, I skipped the bottled Ranch dressing (I’m not a fan), and went for Kraft’s Caesar Vinaigrette instead.  Deeeee-licious, I tell you.  There was one wedge of lettuce left over, and I snarfed it down for lunch the next day before anyone else got ideas about eating it.  I also bought a head of iceberg lettuce yesterday, just so I could make it again!  I may be addicted…

Primo

I’d never had minestrone soup before this night.

minestrone

I will definitely have it again!  Jimmie found this recipe on Skinnytaste, Crock Pot Minestrone Soup.  She was able to cook the soup the night before, which saved some time on Saturday for her to do everything else.  She also cooked the pasta ahead of time, and then served the soup over 1/4 cup of pasta per person.  Cooking the pasta in the soup would’ve made it too mushy, and no one likes mushy pasta! Jimmie added a can of kidney beans and a can of green beans to this hearty minestrone soup, making it even more delicious.  She served it with these warm, buttery little garlic knots, and they were the perfect accompaniment to the steaming hot, rich soup!garlic knots

Secondo and Contorno

This course was the one I’d been smelling and drooling over the whole night. Lasagna roll ups are a family favorite for us (see Tigger’s Lasagna Rolls), and I had peeked enough at what Jimmie was doing to see the cream cheese, the chicken, and the fresh parsley she was using.  I knew it was going to be insanely yummy, and it was.  I mean, seriously.

lasagandbroc

The Contorno, or side dish, was braised, fresh broccoli, which is also a family favorite, and made the plate look more balanced.  It’s good to have a vegetable next to a rich and creamy main dish, right?  That’s what they say, anyway.  Jimmie likes to follow rules like that.  I’m so glad she does!  The Creamy White Chicken Lasagna Roll Ups from Cooking Classy were so, so good.  SO so good.  MMM-mmm good.  Really, really good.

lasagandbroc2

Have I made my point?

Dolce

Cooking Classy makes a second appearance with Funfetti Shortbread Bites.  The cute little menu claimed they’d be served with gelato, but since Jimmie had to buy it closer to home (and all we have close to home is a Dollar General), we had to settle for ice cream (y’all know I didn’t cry over that).

dessert

Edy’s Neapolitan ice cream is by far the best Neapolitan ice cream I’ve had in a long, long time (real strawberries!),

dessert2

but it held nary a candle to these delicious little shortbread bites!  They’re so tiny and cute!  How long did Jimmie spend making these? I’m not a huge fan of sprinkles (this happens when you eat a whole jar at the age of 8 and wind up tossing them up later), but I might have overcome the aversion with these little cookies.

dessert3

Yes, I ate it all.  Even after alllllll the rest of that stuff.  Don’t judge me.

Having my sister (or anyone) cook a meal for me is, like, the best treat ever.  When you cook for your family every single night, even if you enjoy it (which I do), it becomes a foreign concept to think someone may cook a meal just for the purpose of showing love just to you.  I mean, sure, going out to eat is nice, but it’s still not the same thing as someone cooking for me out of love.  I know, I know…Jimmie cooked for the whole family, but I never let go of my stubborn belief that it was all for me.

There was proof of this in the form of my birthday present!

bdaygift

Jimmie got me these adorable little jar lanterns and some mosquito repelling oil to burn in them!  Now I’m all set for her next cooking adventure here at Big Creek, served al fresco!  You bring the Trader Joe’s bags, Jimmie, and I’ll provide the outdoor seating and the atmosphere, mmmkay?

jars

My sister is better than your sister.  I bet you can’t even argue with me after seeing all the work and love that went into this meal, just for me (us)!  I will never forget this night, this meal, or the labor of love that Jimmie gave me for my 42nd birthday.  Not ever. I love you, Jimmie, and not just for your cooking prowess. You’re the best 4?-year-old sister EVER!

Here’s to you, Jimmie!glugglug

X,O,X,O,   Martie

Link-Ups I’ve share this to include: Thursday Favorite Things