Cooking for friends…

Here is a simple and convenient idea for throwing big family dinners and birthday parties in the perfect entertaining space of your own backyard. The hubby and I love to entertain, especially during the summer. This year we’ve been transforming our backyard a little at a time to create the perfect entertaining space. Since I love to entertain, Smart and Final is one of my favorite places to shop because they offer everything in a party size and an individual size. Tonight we entertained a couple of friends, one of which has spent the last week moving and her kitchen is not quite up and running, so I really wanted to treat her with a nice home cooked meal. This meal would also be great for big family dinners, birthday parties, or even part of a Christmas meal with friends.
Off to Smart and Final I went and while I was there I picked up a Stoffer’s Lasagna, which is on special for $9.99, a bag of mixed green salad, and some garlic bread. Then for dessert I grabbed some Chiquita bananas, which were on sale for 2 pounds for $1. I know, you’re probably thinking bananas? Dessert? What do I have up my sleeve? Well I can’t wait to share my dessert with you.
I set the table outside so we could enjoy the beautiful summer weather we’ve been having while we ate.  Truth be told, I love our outdoor space it could’ve been cold and I would’ve still set up dinner outside. hehe. Having small children eating outdoors is such a great option because when they are done eating they can run around while the adults sit and chat. 
Tips for preparing your meal:
 With lasagna you always have to make sure you plan in advance because the oven has to be heated to 400 degrees and it takes 60-90 minutes to cook. Since my dinner guests were arriving around 6:30 I started heating my oven at 4:45pm. This gave me plenty of time to put the lasagna in at 5pm, and still have time to throw in my garlic bread in the last 15 minutes. 

After I got my lasagna in the oven, I began preparing my salad and my dessert. Salad is always a great side dish option because it’s easy to throw together and there are so many yummy things you can throw in a salad: avocado, croutons, tomatoes, apples, walnuts. I’m also a firm believer in having dessert when you have guests over. Since I don’t normally keep it in my home, it’s a yummy treat for me as well.
 I love the dessert I’m about to share with you because my Mom used to prepare it for our family when I was growing up. It was a really big deal because it had to be a special occasion for us to enjoy chocolate and marshmallows. It’s really easy to prepare and tastes delicious.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Chiquita Bananas – 1 per guest
First Street Chocolate Chips
First Street Marshmallows

1. Peel back one section of your banana.

2. Slice down the center of the banana.

3. Add marshmallows and chocolate chips.

4. Wrap in wax paper and heat each banana in microwave for 30 seconds or until marshmallows and chocolate chips are melted.

Dinner and dessert went off without a hitch and my guests enjoyed their meal and their dessert. My favorite part was sharing a dessert my Mom used to make with my kids.  I would’ve taken pictures of them eating it, but it was gone by the time I got my camera. What’s in your oven this week?
This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #collectivebias, but all my opinions are my own and yes, I really do love to entertain guests in my home.