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We invited a few friends over for dinner last night, and we were both pretty psyched about it.  I began menu planning Sunday morning, made my recipe list, and went grocery shopping.  As we were loading the last bag into the car, my husband suddenly remembers that his friend’s girlfriend is a vegetarian.

I about lost it.  Seriously, my response was “Are you kidding me?  Please say you are kidding me.  This information would have been helpful AN HOUR AGO.”  Ahem.  Remember that I love this man.

Anyway, after I sent my sweet husband back to the grocery store by himself for a few extra supplies and time to reflect on his poor decisions, I started throwing together our “Casual Italian Dinner Party for Six”.

I used this super easy recipe for Bruschetta, which was a huge hit:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs. ripe Roma tomatoes
2 tbsp. finely chopped green onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan shavings
Toasted crusty bread  (I used french bread that I cut and place on a cookie sheet, and  brushed it with olive oil)

Instructions: Cut tomatoes in half, squeeze out seeds and excess juice.  Dice, place in bowl. Add onion, garlic, basil, vinegar, salt and pepper (to taste), and olive oil. Let sit at room temperature 1 hour.  Brush toasted bread lightly with olive oil. Spoon tomato mixture over bread, sprinkle with shaved Parmesan cheese.

Luckily, our vegetarian guest eats shrimp, and I was able to make an amazing spicy shrimp linguine recipe that I found from Emeril.

Since I’m relatively new to this whole “throwing effortlessly casual dinner parties” thing, I’ll share a couple of things that helped the evening run smoothly (and kept me sane):

-PREP, PREP, PREP!  My husband and I prepped all of the ingredients before our guests arrived, using our nested prep bowls (I found ours at TJ Maxx, but these are similar)

-I threw the french bread in the oven as soon as I heard our guests knock on the door.  By the time everyone had a drink in hand, the appetizer was ready.

-Clean as you go.  My grandma taught me this when I was little, and it’s always stuck with me.  It was nice not to worry about a huge mess after dinner, and just relax with our friends.

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