So today's the last day of August, and it's grey and raining outside. Is summer over already? I hope not, but if it is, I'm pleased I made the most of the sunny evening on Friday. It was the perfect time to get the girls round for wine, food and much needed catch up after a really stressful couple of weeks for me.
I think I'm someone who gets stressed out fairly easily, I put a lot of pressure on myself and can be a bit of a perfectionist, so I can see why it happens. I also like to obsessively plan things, which makes me feel in control, but it's when that control is lost that I start to crack. I'd been planning to have my friends over for a while - we all work different hours, so the date had been in the diary for ages, and I'd promised to cook up an American themed feast - mainly because I wanted to make my favourite buffalo wings recipe!
As Friday night got closer, I was finalising my shopping list and working out what things I'd make in advance (chocolate cheesecake and blueberry muffins), when I'd pop to Waitrose to get everything I needed, and what order I'd cook things in on the day. I've also been doing a lot of preparation for my holiday lately, which has taken up a lot of my time and planning capacity in my brain (11 sleeps until we go!) and then things at work started to get really busy and pressured. On Thursday night I had to work really late, so I didn't get the the supermarket and hadn't started any food prep. I'd also planned to take a half day on the Friday afternoon, which by then I knew was out of the question and I felt ready to pop and totally give up. At one point I thought I was just going to have to order my friends a pizza, but I'm pleased I didn't give in, although I did have to downgrade my plans and couldn't cook all of the exciting things I'd planned. Instead of a homemade cheesecake, I picked one up from Waitrose on the Friday morning before work, and they also had a delicious looking Charlie Bigham mac and cheese, which saved me another 45 minutes or so. I still made my blueberry muffins, even though my boyfriend thought I was mad - and started baking them as soon as I got home at around six. When the girls arrived they were fresh out of the oven and ready to be devoured with a much deserved glass of wine!
I still made my buffalo wings (plus barbecue wings for those who weren't so sure on the spicy buffalo wings) and blue cheese dip, and although I had to skip on trying out a baked garlic parmesan prawn recipe which would have been amazing, there was still plenty to eat with sides of sweet potato fries, the mac and cheese, corn on the cob and salad.
Once the girls arrived and everyone started pitching in I felt completely relieved and so glad that I'd not cancelled or copped out with a pizza! We chilled out in my back garden with some Waitrose sparkling rosé wine while the food cooked, and enjoyed what may have been the last warm summer evening. I'm not a huge wine drinker, but don't mind a rosé now and again, and really liked the sweet and light Ridgeview Fitzrovia Rosé. We also happily tucked away a bottle of the San Leo Rosato NV and the Italia Collezione Rosé which were both a lot drier. As I'm more of a gin and tonic person, they were a little too dry for me, but nothing a little bit of ice couldn't help, much to my friends' disgust! They're experienced wine lovers, and enjoyed all three bottles... rather quickly!
Citronella candles kept the bugs away and lit up our table as the sun started to set, and our feast was ready to serve. I really don't make the most of my garden, so I really enjoyed setting everything up outside and making it all pretty. We sat out all evening, and when it got a bit cooler we just lit even more candles and brought out the blankets for the wimps among us!
Seeing my girls was exactly what I needed, and we had such a good night, laughing until our sides hurt, about silly things nobody else would understand, in that way you can with your oldest friends. They said they wouldn't have minded a takeaway, and that I didn't have to go the trouble of cooking, but I think secretly they'd have been a bit disappointed as I'd built the buffalo wings up in a big way! I make them with Frank's red hot buffalo wing sauce - firstly baking the wings (skin on) in a hot over for around half an hour, and then brushing on the sauce. I cook again for 5 - 10 minutes and then repeat twice more with the sauce. I also add some buffalo seasoning which I got in the states, which adds extra spiciness (I'm running low, so just as well I'll be back there in a week and a half!) and serve them with my homemade blue cheese dip.
The other recipes I used are my Pinterest favourites which you might like to try - the bluberry muffin recipe turns out amazing and makes 12 regular muffins or 24 mini ones, and I've made the blue cheese dip recipe countless times - it's not good for you, so I use Hellmann's lighter than light mayonnaise and Total 0% Greek yogurt to counteract some of those blue cheese calories, but it's so amazing! We finished a whole massive bowl between us!
Back to the holiday planning now - did I mentioned it's 11 sleeps?! I'm off to Orlando, Florida and doing the whole Disney and Universal thing, staying part and part at both resorts, hence the obsessive planning! I'll be sharing some of my planning tips and essential items to pack later this week, so look out for that if you're planning a Disney holiday too. I'm also going to share lots of photos and probably even some little video clips of rides, food, shopping and general Orlando amazingness while I'm away, and you can catch those over on my facebook page, so go give it a like if you want to get those updates!