I may have told you before; we enjoy a group of friends (5 couples, including hubby and me) that we call “The Birthday Group”.  Each couple hosts 1 birthday celebration for 2 of our “members” each year.

Stay with me…this year its my turn to host Carla and Wendy’s birthdays, two of my nearest and dearest.  The ladies in the group select names from a hat in December during our annual Christmas Caroling evening (but more about that  later) so we know well in advance what month we will be responsible for a birthday celebration dinner.

I ended up making the invitations since the blue card stock and envelopes were on sale at a party store “Where’s the Party“.  I used blue ink on plain paper for the invitation body and simply glued it to the card stock.  Note:  I thought I had taken a picture of the invitation before I sent them out but cannot find them in my photo file, sorry.

The invitation I made was pretty simple, not nearly as cute as this one from Paper Source, but they were very tailored and worked just fine.

Since I seem to be on a blue and white kick I decided to take my inspiration for the table setting from one of my good friends, Carol, as well as the impressive Carolyne Roehm [A Passion for Blue and White].

Carolyne Roehm's blue and white table setting was 1 of 2 inspirations.

Below are pictures of my table setting—I had fun with the blue and white vases and the Chinese Emperor that kept a stately watch on our dinner.

Note to self:  Must continue to practice photography!  I can only get better, right?

(I borrowed the vases from Carol, who had set this table for a ladies lunch back in February)

As hostess, I am only responsible for the main course portion of the meal and the birthday girls… Carla and Wendy, requested a recipe I’ve made before (see below for recipe).


Appetizers: 2 delicious appetizers were provided by Linda

Linda prepared this Salsa Cheesecake which was so delicious. She served it with tortilla chips and a variety of crackers that complimented the wonderful flavors of salsa and creamy cheesecake goodness. She also made an amazing guacamole to go with the Salsa Cheesecake...yummy.

Entrée: Pistachio-crusted Chicken with Herbs and Mustard-Cream Sauce;

...must work on food photography. This is the Pistachio crusted chicken as it came out of the skillet. Too busy plating everything to remember to get a picture of the chicken with the sauce applied and the lovely garnish of two chives. Oh well, you get the jest of it, right? My guests seemed to enjoy!

Roasted potatoes — sorry, no picture (potatoes were absent on picture day)

Fresh Asparagus

I blanched the asparagus and then just before serving dinner I re-heated it in a little butter with salt and pepper and a squeeze (just one) of lemon juice.

Dessert: Brownie sundaes with ice cream and assorted toppings

Pistachio-crusted Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce

(adapted from a recipe from Bon Appetit/June 1998)



  • 1 cup shelled raw pistachios (about 4 ounces)
  • ½ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • Oil for sautéing chicken
  • Mustard Cream Sauce (recipe below)

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 400°.  Finely grind nuts in processor.  Add panko and blend, using on/off turns.  Transfer to shallow baking dish.  Spread Dijon mustard over both sides of chicken breast.  Dip chicken into nut/panko mixture, coating completely.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 2 chicken breasts to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.  Transfer chicken to baking sheet.  Remove any leftover nuts from skillet and repeat process with remaining 2 breasts, adding more oil if necessary.  Bake chicken until cooked through, about 10 minutes.  Spoon mustard-cream sauce over chicken and serve immediately.

Mustard-Cream Sauce


  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup chopped shallots
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Preparation Instructions

Boil white wine and shallots in a heavy medium saucepan over high heat until liquid reduces by half, about 3 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium-high.  Add whipping cream and simmer until reduced to 1 cup, about 2 minutes.  Add Dijon mustard and simmer 2 minutes to blend flavors.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

*I doubled the recipe but added enough chicken breasts to have 1 for each guest.