Behind the Scenes: Dinner for 14 – The Dinner

How richly has God blessed me?  More richly than I deserve!

As I looked around the dining room table on Saturday night, to see the faces of 13 friends who love and support Jeff and I, I was shown living proof of God’s enormous love!

The evening began as people arrived in a trickle and then a stream.  Soon after 6:30 our house was bustling with the sounds of friends talking and laughing, glasses clinking, and Christmas music playing softly in the background.

As people arrived and settled in, we opened the many bottles of wine that were brought by our guests and nibbled on Rosemary Cashews, Black Olives and Salami & Provolone Curls.  When you are serving a full meal, your pre-dinner nibbles should be tasty but simple.  You don’t want to make your guests so full that they aren’t hungry for dinner; but on the other hand, you don’t want people drinking on an empty stomach and you want their appetites to be teased by the appetizers – perhaps Penny’s boyfriend Zack on The Big Bang Theory is right, they should be called “appeteasers!”

Everyone was nibbling and had a drink in hand, so Jeff made a lovely toast to our friends and to the evening.  That was a great moment for me to usher everyone into the dining room!  Thanks, honey…

After a brief explanation of the menu, Mark said a beautiful blessing over the meal and everyone dug in. The meal included: Fruit Stuffed Pork Loin w/ Madeira Wine Sauce; Gruyere, Caramelized Onion & Roasted Garlic Potato Stacks; Roasted Butternut Squash & Wilted Spinach Salad w/ Dried Cranberries & Pepitas; and Parmesan Herb Rolls.  Keeping in mind advice I wrote a week or so ago about entertaining, I had to keep food allergies in mind; so I made Fruit Stuffed Chicken Breast for the guest who is allergic to pork.


As every hostess hopes, the conversation was lively and everyone seemed to really enjoy the food.  I have to say again that I just love cooking for people who love to eat!!!!

So that I could remain with my guests and not be stuck in the kitchen washing dishes, I cleared the table to the utility sink in my laundry room and filled it with hot, soapy water.  That made clean up after everyone left go very smoothly!

With everyone’s’ bellies full, we played a rousing game of Catch Phrase between dinner and dessert.  That produced a lot of laughter, more than a touch of competitiveness, and lead us all to ponder Jeff B’s question, “Which phrase best describes you: (1) I love to win or (2) I hate to lose.”

After the game I set up out the desserts while Jeff filled the coffee carafe and Ben & Christa set up their Hot Brandied Cider.  Everyone got dessert at their own pace and ate when and where they wanted.  There were lots of little side conversations going on, which as the hostess made me happy.  I really enjoy hearing the buzz around me!

After dessert our guests continued to nibble and talk and laugh and spend time with one another.  But that inevitable time of the evening came – the time I find most objectionable – when people begin to leave. I figured out that I think I feel this way because when I was little and we went visiting, I didn’t normally stay awake until people said their goodbyes.  I just woke up in my bed the next morning with wonderful memories of time spend with loved ones!

A few guests hung in there with us until after midnight – we talked about life and shared stories….you know, the things you do with friends.  All in all, I’d say Dinner for 14 was a success.

I hope some of our guests will share with you their observations about the dinner………



6 thoughts on “Behind the Scenes: Dinner for 14 – The Dinner

  1. Had a wonderful time! A special date night for us…no feeding a baby with one hand while trying to eat with the other and no reminding a toddler to use her manners. It was a relaxing dinner that was perfectly executed by amazing hosts!

    • Unfortunately you had to remind some of your table mates to use their manners!!! Just kidding…..glad we could make it a good date night for you and Aaron. You can always escape to our house….no kids, but you will have to keep Jeff and I in line!!! We <3 u!

  2. Jan and Jeff
    What an incredible evening, well described in your blog. What I might add is the warm atmosphere that you provide to everyone who enters which makes your house, truly, a home. A visit to the Groff’s home, without fail, will provide love, warmth and laughter of which all was in abundance on Saturday. Not only are you two fabulously talented, you are amazing hosts. Lu and I are richly blessed to be able to call you friends!

  3. Holly (my wife) and I had the best time for different reasons. My beautiful, social butterfly of a, wife flourished in the setting that Jan and Jeff had put together. I, on the otherhand, had a completely different revelation. As with every Groff meal I have had the good fortune of attending, I’m always faced with the same problem. Jan prepares this amazing spread and I only have one (it’s a pretty good size) stomach! Imagine my delight when, just as we began to settle around the table for dinner, I found a, previously unaccounted for, second stomach located in my right calf. What are the odds!!!

    • Lmao…thanks for your insights, Jeff F! Always entertaining!! Sorry we made you go to the reserve stomach so soon in the holiday season! Much love……

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *