Family Birthday Dinner Party

This past Friday we hosted some family for a birthday celebration, and I tried out a few new recipes for the occasion.  I began ahead of time by making Ina Garten's flourless chocolate cake...

Instead of cassis, though, I used a combination of creme de cacao liqueur and one of my favorite chocolate complements, Bluegrass Sundown.

It's a thick, syrupy concoction made of concentrated coffee, bourbon, and sugar.  I also basted the cake with the two liqueurs before pouring on the ganache (thank goodness for ganache and its ability to cover up flaws!).

It turned out so rich, but so good!

For the main course, I made individual bacon-wrapped meatloaves from Self-Proclaimed Foodie (I doubled the recipe in case anyone wanted seconds, and I'm so glad I did...we've enjoyed the leftovers all weekend!)  They were so easy but made for an impressive presentation - it was so cute that everyone got to grab their own!  I also tried my hand at hasselback butternut squash (it wasn't 100% successful but not bad...I will definitely try it again!) and made a favorite go-to side, a quinoa and kale salad with a homemade roasted garlic vinaigrette.  

On the way home from work I ran to the grocery store to pick up some cheese and olives for our guests to snack on, and I lucked up on a couple of good bottles of wine on clearance - I didn't even realize the Chardonnay literally had my name on it until I got home!

I was glad to have an excuse to host some wonderful people for dinner, and a good time was had by all!  What are some of your favorite dinner party dishes?