If anyone has hit the jackpot on great friends, it’s me. Five years ago, my husband got a job that moved us from Georgia to Kentucky. We’d never stepped foot in the state and didn’t know a single soul. Starting this new, scary life was a bit lonely at first — we spent many nights questioning if we’d made the right decision. Before long, I was jumping at every opportunity I came across and we soon found our niche in Hopkinsville.
So many people have adopted us as family and treat us as if we’ve lived here all along. Having an issue of Hoptown Families devoted to friendship had my wheels turning and made me really excited to celebrate with a few of my favorite people. I skipped visiting a restaurant this month and decided to have friends over to laugh, eat great food and give you a few entertaining tips!
My overall theme for the evening was an “upscale picnic.” If you remember much about the beginning of July, it was wet and not conducive to outdoor eating. To avoid dining by lightning, I made some slight modifications and moved our soirée indoors.
To dress up the evening, I printed menus and name cards for the plates. This is inexpensive, easy and always gets a few “oohs” and “ahhs“ from guests. I also created a fun drink for the evening. The drink could be a family-friendly mocktail or something a little more adult.
In this case, I made ice cubes using lemonade with mint leaves frozen in the center. Preparation took roughly 1 minute, but the expressions on my friend’s faces lasted all night.
Working full time and having my hands in various other activities means the crockpot is a valuable asset in my home. My slow-roasted sweet and spicy shredded pork was served in a decorative bowl straight from the crockpot and no one was the wiser. A few other twists on the night included a coleslaw made with pineapple and lime juice, grilled summer vegetables on skewers (great for mingling diners), and homemade ice cream sandwiches.
Décor for the evening included a yard of lovely fabric as a base to my centerpiece, a large coordinating vase, a summery candle and I let the food do the rest. Keep your table fairly simple for this type of meal — no one wants to reach over and around cumbersome objects to grab another helping. Save the ornate decorations for more formal occasions.
We had a great Girls Night In — there aren’t many things that can beat a night of laughter and delicious food with your dearest friends. It made me especially happy that even the pickiest of eaters tried everything and loved it all. Everything is better with people you love. Happy eating, Friends!
Mocktail with mint ice cubes
Blood Orange Juice
Squeeze of lime
*Add Triple Sec and champagne for an adult version. Mix drink ingredients and pour over mint ice cubes. For ice cubes: Pour lemonade or other beverage into ice cube tray — add mint or another garnish and freeze.
Sweet and spicy pulled pork
1 onion (cubed into chunks)
1 whole pork shoulder (pork butt)
1 11-ounce can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 cans Dr. Pepper (diet or even coke works too)
¼ cup brown sugar
Place onion on the bottom of the crockpot, and liberally salt and pepper the pork shoulder and place it on top of the onion (fat side up).
Pour in peppers and soft drink, and sprinkle brown sugar and more salt and pepper. Cook it low and slow, flipping about 4 hours into the process.
I usually keep mine going while I’m at work and turn it when I come home at lunch. The pork will fall apart extremely easy.
Serve on Hawaiian Rolls, but it’s also fantastic on nachos, tacos, sandwiches, salads and more.
Pineapple lime slaw
1 bag broccoli slaw mix
½ cup mayonnaise (I often substitute greek yogurt)
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 small can crushed pineapple
Salt, pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients, chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. If the lime is too assertive, add a pinch of sugar to cut the acidity.
Summer veggie skewers
Cut up assorted veggies, place on skewers, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill and enjoy.
I used squash, zucchini and tomatoes. Add mushrooms, onions, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, etc. Zest a little lemon on top before serving to add a fresh bang.
I made cookies the night before Girls Night In. I kept it simple with chocolate chip and sugar cookies. You could bake any type of cookie for this and be successful.
After the cookies have cooled, place them in your freezer (over-night, preferably). I used a variety of ice cream flavors and “décor” including sprinkles, mini-chocolate chips, and crushed Heath Bars.
Place 1-2 large scoops of ice cream (depending on the size of your cookies) on one cookie and sandwich it using the other. Roll the exposed ice cream in the topping of choice.
Stick them back in the freezer until you’re ready to enjoy. This is a great activity to enjoy with your children as well.