Fine Dining at Home

Hey friends, several of you who took my last survey said you’d like to see more food posts, which I was honestly thrilled to know because I missed doing Frugal Foodie Friend posts with my friend Esther!

I was brainstorming ways to add more food posts into my blog, and I realized that I could easily make something that would incorporate lots of things I love: fancy food, trying new things, and any excuse to have friends over.

Thus, the segment Fine Dining at Home was birthed.

Each month, I’m going to cook a meal that is fancier than your average home-cooked dinner. It will have a minimum of three items to ensure that it’s a well-rounded meal. I’ll also share the recipes, along with the average cost per person in case you’re curious.

And instead of making you wait for the first one, I’m sharing my first Fine Dining at Home post with you today!


White Bean and Butternut Squash Gratin with Crispy Shallot Crumbs

From: Date Night In by Ashley Rodriquez

Cost: $10.84

Time: About 45 minutes

My wonderful friend Mary bought me Date Night In last Christmas, and though I haven’t made many recipes from it yet, I absolutely love it! Ashley organized her cookbook by season with a few well-rounded meal plans in each one. I love that she shares about the memories she and her husband share with each meal. I saw this unique dish in her book and knew that it would be a great side dish to try!

The recipe calls for either pumpkin or butternut squash, and I decided to go with the squash since I wasn’t sure I could find pumpkin. While I roasted the squash, I made the crispy shallot crumbs. I hadn’t ever cooked with shallots before, and the first thing I thought when I peeled back the outer layer is that they look like they are from an alien. Exhibit A.


You would think since they are so small they wouldn’t be as tear-inducing as normal onions, but you would be wrong. They were SUPER potent. Like I ran to light a candle potent. But I think they added some great flavor to the breadcrumbs, so it was worth it in the end.

After the squash was roasted, I mixed in cannellini beans, heavy cream, sage, onion, garlic, and gruyere. The recipe called for nutmeg, but I didn’t have any so I used cinnamon instead. I had a little taste before putting it in the pan, and I just knew that it was going to be a fantastic dish.

Once the crumbs were added to the top, I baked it for about 10 minutes and it came out perfectly bubbly and golden crispy. It didn’t make a lot – I think I used a small 4×4 pan – but it. was. amazing. I loved the mixture of the cheese, heavy cream and cinnamon. It was such a unique combo! Although it was only the side dish, I think this gratin stole the show!


Chicken and Brussels Sprouts with Apple Cider Sauce

From: The Food Network

Cost: $15.51

Time: About an hour and a half

Because I wanted a good challenge, I decided to make a dish with brussels sprouts for my first Fine Dining meal. I don’t really remember ever having brussels sprouts until recently, probably because I heard they were gross. But I have had several tasty brussels sprouts, so I decided to give it a try!

First I roasted the brussels sprouts with apples and half a red onion along with some rosemary sprigs. It called for a whole red onion, but I only used half because a whole one seemed like too much. This part took about thirty minutes to prep, but look how pretty it is!


Next, Matt helped me cut the chicken. For some reason I got ginormous chicken breasts, so we had to slice them in half. After lightly grilling the sides, we covered with apple cider and put them in the oven to bake.

The veggies and chicken were done at the same time, which was nice! However for some reason the recipe called for the chicken to be sliced, so by the time I was able to plate everything it wasn’t as warm as I would have liked. Next time I think I’ll leave the chicken as is.

I really enjoyed this dish and I think it turned out really well! The sauce isn’t super thick, but it definitely added a lot of flavor.



Chocolate Hazelnut Nutella Semifreddo

From: Donal Skehan

Cost: $8.40

Time: About 30 minutes

Although I’m a big fan of ice cream and gelato, I had never heard of semifreddo! When I found it on Donal’s website, it just looked irresistible, so I added it to my menu. I must say, after exploring some other semifreddo recipes, this one looked a little extra challenging. But I decided to try it anyway.

There’s not a lot of ingredients in this recipe, but it does get pretty specific as far as consistency goes. The first step is to whisk egg yolks, vanilla and sugar in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. At which I thought, “Won’t the eggs cook?” I was REAL nervous that this was not going to turn out well. I was nervous the eggs would cook, my bowl would somehow get too hot and shatter, or that the consistency would be off. But after a tiring 8 minutes of whisking (my arm was exhausted), it actually looked pretty great!

Next I whipped the heavy cream and folded in the egg mixture. Then I put half in a pan, added a layer of nutella, and put the other half on top. The recipe said to swirl a knife through the nutella, but because the texture of the egg whip was so different, it didn’t swirl too much. I sort of wish I had blended in the nutella, but my guests said they really enjoyed the harder nutella core.

While this was freezing, I roasted the hazelnuts (which is essential because roasted hazelnuts taste WAY better than raw hazelnuts). I let the semifreddo freeze overnight, then popped it out of the pan when it was time for dessert. I added a nice nutella drizzle and lots of hazelnuts, and voila, nutella semifreddo was born. FYI, this is actually served this in slices. Who knew?



Overall, I think my first Fine Dining at Home meal was a huge success! And it was extra special to share it with our friends the Smiths, who have made us wonderful meals in their home many times.



I hope you enjoyed my first FDAH post! If you have any fancy recipes, send them my way!

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