Dinner Party. Success!

My friend brought me a Chicago-style pizza from Chicago.  That's right, from Chicago!

First, let me explain that she had to call in the order and collect the frozen pizza on her way to the airport.  Then she had to carry the pizza (which, I kid you not, weighs at least 50 lbs.) onto the plane with her because you can't check a pizza and pick it up at baggage claim.  She handed it over to me a day and a half later still frozen and so amazing. 

I had never seen a Chicago-style, stuffed crust, cheese pizza before and can I just say, "Wow!"  It was 3 inches thick!  I also had no idea that the pizza was not just stuffed crust, it was a stuffed pizza.  Think about a huge apple pie, now change the pie crust to pizza crust and the fruit filling to pounds of mozzarella cheese, smother it in marinara sauce and, ta-da, a stuffed Chicago-style pizza.  You've never seen a stuffed pizza before either? Check it out!  Giordano's has been rated as some of the best pizza by The New York Times, so this was a serious pizza.

I wanted to share with the dedicated delivery lady and some other folks who I thought might appreciate a special treat, so I decided to have an impromptu dinner party.  I went for a three (it ended up being more like five) course dinner with some jazzed-up appetizer classics and the pizza as the center piece.

Early afternoon shopping left my sister (also known as my favorite sous-chef) and I inspired to get a little festive.  We purchased a bouquet of warm red, orange and yellow daisies and sweet little pumpkins to act as center pieces for the night.  

Then we got to cooking.  I wanted everything to be ready to pop in the oven when the time came so I could enjoy my friends and have a tidy house to boot.  It took me about 2 hours to prep, but I had the dishes done and food ready to go just in time for my first guests to arrive.

After everyone had their drink of choice in hand, we started with some garlic bread that was brought by friend.  It was, of course, an instant classic.  Next came the sauteed spinach and cheese stuffed portabella mushrooms, then the baked zucchini sticks with two different dipping sauces.  Finally the guest of honor, my dear cheese pizza, and a lovely salad made the final touches on dinner.  My roommate was kind enough to fix us all some chocolate mouse for dessert, a perfectly light way to finish off a very rich meal.

As everyone departed stuffed to the brim, I reflected on the night, my amazing friends, and a damn good meal.  Dinner party.  Success! 

Recipes to follow.  This post is already ridiculously long...

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