Girls’ Night In!

Last night was a girls’ night in. Four years ago on my 16th birthday, four of my girlfriends came over to celebrate; we dressed up in our old homecoming dresses, ate a fabulous multiple-course dinner prepared by Mama, took lots of pictures in front of the fireplace, and were thoroughly entertained by our neighbors (who serenaded us with candles while singing “Happy Birthday” to me) and our classmate (who provided our dinner music on the piano). Oh, must I forget the swing dance lessons taught by my old dance instructor? (I lasted 1 year in ballet class – one year. But after watching my performance on an old home video the other day, I have to say — I wasn’t half bad! Well…compared to my dance moves today :))

Let’s do a little recap of us back in the day:

And today…well, we’re all grown up!

Hannah, Steph, Kirsten, and me

Things really haven’t changed (i.e. Steph and Kirsten still need to be in the middle of every photo. It’s alright though, Hannah and I have gotten used to it :))

Mama whipped up another absolutely fantastic meal — complete with the most beautiful table setting:

While she was preparing the meal, we had a mini photo-shoot:

After posing and posing and posing (we are so cool, I know), it was time to sit down to dinner. Lighting? Low. Candles? Flickering. Tree lights? On. Conversation? Flowing.

While the night was too much fun, we couldn’t help but miss our friend Casey (that travelin’ girl was on vacation).

Casey's empty seat ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

We paid her tribute, though — in the form of laughing about some of her funniest moments:

"I would like to pray for the Coga..."

Time for the first course: a juicy fruit cup filled with fresh cubes of just-right pineapple (sorry about your tongue, Stephy), plump, juicy blackberries, and tiny, flavor-bursting pomegranate seeds:

Check out Kirst in the background - haha!

We’re girls so we talk. And when something needed further clarification from some friends, we got on the phone. Hey, we needed dinner conversation.
We got it all cleared up, and by then, out came the salads: a tasty spring mix topped with thick slices of mushroom, rings of cucumber, plump cherry tomatoes, and crunchy croutons and dried cranberries for garnish:
(Sorry about the lighting; the lights were dimmed for the mood)
Dressing choices? A light, zesty Italian, a creamy Caesar, and a tangy Asian Sesame (we all loved the latter).

I barely sneaked a photo of this hardworker…
She had to get back to the kitchen. A while later, the main entree was brought out:
Chicken piccata (with lemon), pesto linguine, and cooked broccoli. I so wish you could have been there. The lemon piccata (based off of one of Ina Garten’s recipes) was so light and tangy, I can’t even put it into words. The chicken was so thin and tender, it was like butta to cut! Garnished with a little fresh lemon round? Ma, you’re killing me with your crazy culinary skills! So light, so refreshing. I almost forgot it was January until I looked outside ๐Ÿ™‚
The pesto linguine was divine as well. The linguine wasn’t too covered in pesto sauce, which was perfect (both for cleanliness sake while eating and for taste). I never like my noodles drenched in the sauce. The cooked broccoli was crisp and simple. Perfection. Except when it fell on Stephanie’s lap.

Broccoli overboard!

After the main course, we all agreed we’d take a little breather before dessert. We spentย hoursjust sitting in my family room — watching episodes ofย Modern Family (Kirsten, are you a fan now? ๐Ÿ™‚ ) and talking aboutย everything.

Pretty soon, though, we all were ready to dig in to raspberry chocolate paninis. I hadn’t made these before, but I wasn’tย too intimidated. After all, how hard could it be? I took orders and, within minutes, they were done!
I slathered some fresh-baked Italian bread with raspberry jam and then sprinkled on chocolate chips (semi-sweet and white).


Sprinkled with a little bit of powdered sugar? Crunchy, crisp, and the combination of the raspberry jam and melted chocolate (oozing out of the crust!) was divine.

I owe a huggeeee thanks to my Mom for putting this whole dinner together. She truly outdid herself once again, and though it was killing me not to be in the kitchen helping to prepare the meal, she told me that I should relish the times when someone cooksย for me. And I did! Hey, if I was in the kitchen – I couldn’t hang out with these fabulous girls (and they all know I hate being left out of the conversation…my trademark line is, “Wait, what happened?” I’m blaming it on my inquisitive nature ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

I couldn’t have asked for a better night in with my girls. I love them so much! ๐Ÿ™‚


About ciaotochow

ciao to chow: initially created as a little spot on the web devoted to the "chow" I find while studying abroad in Rome. But really, ciao to chow is about my life: the day-to-day experiences, funny stories, moments of laughter, and the food...that continue to inspire me and make me grateful for each new day.
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16 Responses to Girls’ Night In!

  1. Hannah says:

    The night was so much fun Anna! Thanks for everything ๐Ÿ™‚ Let’s keep up this tradition! (If Mama Heling approves) xoxo

  2. Julie says:

    Looks like you girls had a blast! Marilyn needs to make a special dinner for us sometime, kind of like a date ๐Ÿ˜‰ Or, better yet we can cook for her. Or, even better yet…go out to dinner in ROMA!

  3. What a night! I love how you paid tribute to your friend Casey by recalling beloved memories. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. This looks like so much fun! I love girls’ nights!!
    And to answer your question- I got my plate a longg time ago at Target ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Omgoodness! Looks like you guys had a ball! This post made me happy! and all the food looks delicious! I have been wanting to make a PB and white chocolate chip panini as well as a rasberry and WCC paninin too!
    YOU gave me a cravin for one now!

    You guys look almost the same!

  6. MareMare says:

    Glad you had a fun night — you have absolutely delightful gal pals!! You are blessed! xxxooo

  7. Picky Nicky says:

    Wow, your mom is such a sweetheart! And you and your friends are so pretty. You remind me of my group of friends, we have pictures of us “Through the years” lol it’s always funny to look back on them ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. ahh delicious food! looks like a blast- i love GNI!

  9. Erika says:

    Sounds like a load of fun. I love that dessert panini – great idea! ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. This looks like such a great time!!!!! Love girls nights-its so nice you have all remained friends:)

  11. How fun! That dessert panini sounds amazing!

  12. Pingback: Geek chic in glasses (please vote!) | ciaotochow

  13. Kirsten says:

    omgawd! my first read blog! and might I say it was just eggggcellent! I love the play by play… I’ll have to show my mother (you know she’ll love it) and I also love you! It was seriously so much fun and I’m so glad we did it! We’re all besties foreva! โค

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