Dinner for a Grad

Good afternoon, and happy Friday!

Last night I made a dinner and had a mini celebration for my friend Sarah, who just finished her undergrad degree! We met our sophomore year of high school, and have been great friends ever since. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sarah finished her degree in three years, taking 20+ credits almost every semester. Crazy.

I took into account some of her favorite foods/drinks to make the menu, and I think it was a hit!

First up, the appetizer, which was inspired by something I saw on Pinterest:

Caprese Salads (E, N, GF)
makes 2 servings

– 2 roma tomatoes
– around 2 oz.ย fresh mozzarella cheese
– 6-10 basil leaves
– Extra virgin olive oil
– Good balsamic vinegar
– Salt, to taste


  1. After washing them off, cut about five or six slits into each tomato, making sure not to go all the way through (you’ll want them to sort of fan open).
  2. Next cut the mozzarella into a good size/shape to fit into the tomato. Mine were in triangles, and I put the point down first, so the rounded edge of the cheese matched that of the tomato.
  3. Put the basil next to the cheese. You can leave the leaves (har har) whole or tear them, depending on the size you want.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic over the top to taste. Sprinkle with salt, if desired.
  6. Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

– Let me know if these directions aren’t clear – I hope the pictures help!
– ย I think the salt adds a lot here. Flaked sea salt would be best, just because of its texture, but I used table salt, and it was just fine. The sweetness of all of the ingredients really needs to be countered, so I highly recommend it!

Next up, the main course:

Lemon Rosemary Chicken (E, N, D, GF)
makes 2 servings

– 2 uncooked chicken breasts
– Zest of 2 lemons
– Juice of 2 lemons
– 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves
– 1/2 cup dry white wine

– Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
– 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves
– 4 thick slices lemon

Lemon-Scented Spaghetti (recipe below)


  1. Combine the first five ingredients (chicken through wine) in a bowl. Allow to marinade for at least two hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 365*F.
  3. When ready to cook the chicken, heat a skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Sear chicken for about 2 minutes per side, until golden.
  5. Place chicken in an oven-safe tray.
  6. Sprinkle the other 1/2 tsp. rosemary over the top, and place two lemon slices on each chicken breast.
  7. Wrap in or cover with tin foil, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
  8. Serve over Lemon-Scented Spaghetti, and enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

– I just kind of winged this recipe, so you can adjust it to your taste. For example, if you do not want to use the wine, you don’t have to! I’d just add a bit more lemon juice, or maybe some chicken broth so the marinading liquid completely covers the chicken.
– I thought about adding some garlic to the marinade, but forgot until it was too late. I think that would be quite good!
– I love the trick of putting lemon slices over protein when it cooks. (This works really great with fish, too!) It keeps it really moist, protects the fresh herbs from burning, and smells wonderful.

Lemon-Scented Spaghetti (E, N, D)

– Whole-wheat spaghetti
– Extra virgin olive oil
– Lemon juice
– Lemon zest


  1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
  2. Rinse spaghetti as you drain it, to remove left over starches.
  3. Stir in olive oil, lemon juice, and zest.
  4. Serve warm and enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

– The amount of spaghetti you make depends on how many people you’re serving/what you’re making it for, of course. Last night I made about 1/3 pound, and had some left over.
– That being said, I probably used a couple of teaspoons each of olive oil and lemon juice, and then the zest of one lemon.
– This was perfect under the Lemon Rosemary Chickenย but would be great under/next to fish, or just by itself!
– I also seasoned the pasta water with about 1/2 tsp. salt, as I always do. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m so bummed I forgot to take a picture of the finished entree! :-/

Finally, dessert. One of Sarah’s favorite drinks is a pina colada, so I went back to a recipe I found a while ago, and made her:

Pina Colada Cupcakes
makes about 20 cupcakes

Since this recipe is not mine, I’ll just give you all the link (click on the recipe name) to the fantastic blog I got it from, Skinnytaste.com!

A short step-by-step:

Yum ๐Ÿ™‚ No eggs = safe to eat!

– The best part about these cupcakes, other than the taste, is that they are very allergy-friendly! No eggs, butter, nuts – anything like that! I’m willing to bet this would work great with a GF cake mix, too. The frosting is a little bit trickier, since it calls for cream cheese, but you could probably either use store bought frosting (which is typically dairy-free) and flavor it up, or use a dairy-free cream cheese.
– The third best aspect of these cupcakes is the fact that they are not too unhealthy. I mean, they’re from a “skinny” website! I think I calculated around 127 calories per cupcake.

While the original recipe is great, I did make some changes to it:
– Instead of using sugar in the frosting, I used Stevia – no calories!
– To make these even more pina colada-y, I put shredded coconut into the actual batter. I liked theseย much better than the cupcakes that had just pineapple in the batter.
– Because the texture of shredded coconut can be sort of unpleasant at times, I decided to shred it even more in our Magic Bullet (you could do this in a food processor). It turned the coconut into a nice, snow-like consistency, so it melted into the batter and frosting, and I didn’t have any big shreds of coconut sticking out.

– Because my brother and dad do not like coconut, I made about 1/3 of the cupcakes just pinapple – no coconut in the frosting or the cake. They loved them.

This recipe is DEFINITELY a keeper – they were so good!

After our dinner, Sarah and I chatted, caught up, and watched a movie. Thanks for a fun evening, Sarah! ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a great day, everyone!


  1. I love the caprese salad! I’ve gotta try that!

    1. I hope you like it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. […] I love Caprese salads. […]

  3. […] recent years, I have really been into the smell, texture, and taste of coconut in baked goods. I’ve found that it goes with many things, but my favorite other food to combine it with is […]

  4. […] desserts (I’m telling you, I was bad this week), I baked up two kinds of cupcakes. The first, Pina Colada Cupcakes, were made for my friend Sarah and her mom. If you click over to this post, you’ll see that […]

  5. […] came over for lunch. It was a beautiful summer day, and I was inspired to use lemon. So, based on this recipe, I made lemon-scented […]

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