Making a good impression

Here’s a secret: I still want to impress my in-laws.

I know. Shocking, considering my marriage to their son is already official. I guess I just want to be a good person.

The only problem was figuring out just how to impress them. I mean, I’m not awesome at musical instruments. I can’t play chess. I even have bad handwriting. But, two things I can pull off pretty well are cooking and baking.

That’s why I wanted to have Dan’s whole family over before his sister takes off for college next week.

After the accepted the invitation, I knew there was no turning back. So, I flipped through cookbooks and devised a menu that I thought they would enjoy.


I wanted to put my new food processor to use by making a dressing. After a quick search, I decided on a sun-dried tomato dressing from an appropriately titled “Salad” book on my bookcase.


  • 5-oz oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 C fresh basil
  • 1 T capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  • Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until combined.
  • Add oil in a slow, steady steam until desired consistency is reached.

The dressing perfectly complemented a simple salad of spring greens and fresh mozzarella. Honestly, though, I think the “dressing” would have been just as good as a topping on toast. It tasted just like bruschetta!


I tested out the Better Homes and Gardens focaccia recipe, except I substituted in two cups of whole wheat pastry flour. It was pretty good, but my bread never turns out exactly as I hope. I’m going to get it down someday.

Main Dish

For Dan’s family, I adapted Better Homes and Gardens lemon-mustard chickenrecipe by roasting, rather than broiling it. Turned out really well, according to them!

For vegetables on the side, Dan put his grilling powers to use by making some skewers of peppers, onions and mushrooms.


A few months back, I went to a cooking class at a local health food store. For that night’s dessert, we made fruit cobbler and I’ve remembered it ever since then as being ah-mah-zing. So, to impress Dan’s family, I wanted to try it again with my own spin: Making a peach cobbler.

I stuck with the basic recipe that we used the first time, but for the filling I used:

  • 4 peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 4 T whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 C sliced almonds
  • 1 T lemon juice

Everything wrapped up right when Dan’s family was set to pull up. It gave me just enough time to set the table!

Then, Dan’s family arrived and dinner was served!

Throughout all the courses, they said they enjoyed the food. Even though it felt nice to make a good impression, the best part of the night was really just getting to sit around and enjoy some time with the whole family. We ended up chatting and laughing past 10 o’clock!

That definitely qualified it as a success in my book.

Question: What meals do you like to serve for guests?


8 responses to “Making a good impression

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