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take-out pot-luck dinner party

take out

Our friends, Lori and Jonathan Vento, were in town last week. We wanted to get together with them along with Tram and Steve, but none of us felt like cooking. Come on – It’s August – It’s hot – Our energy level is low, at best!

I offered our house for Friday night and Lori had the great idea of just getting take-out. We decided the thing to do was a Chinese Take-Out Pot-Luck Dinner Party.

blue and white

Coincidentally, my friend, Chef Joshua Hebert of Posh was selling some excess kitchen and dining wares he’d recently acquired from a restaurant that closed. I met him at a hangar at the Scottsdale Airpark on Thursday and purchased some lovely Asian dishware.


One little thing like this is all it takes for me to go all out with a theme! Now it’s ON like Donkey Kong!


The Ventos are former neighbors of ours, so as a surprise for them, I invited two other neighbor couples, the Codys, and the Cavans. On Thursday afternoon, I learned that Friday was Lori and Jonathan’s 27th wedding anniversary. Now we really did have a party! Tram and Steve picked up a cake, and everyone brought their favorite Chinese take-out to share and an anniversary for the adorable couple!

sake bottle

Since I was hosting, I didn’t want to leave the house to get take-out, so I made a cocktail, soup, and a fruit dessert. Today, I’ll share the cocktail recipe. Tomorrow we’ll have another entry for the new weekly Travel Tuesday feature. Then, on Wednesday I’ll post the soup recipe, and Thursday I’ll share the dessert (no oven, no-bake, in other words – the perfect dessert!) recipe.

chinese dinner plate

Chinese Take-Out Pot-Luck Dinner Party Menu

~Orange-Ginger Sake Champagne Cocktail

~Lemongrass-Ginger Coconut Chicken Soup

~ Tram & Steve brought Chow Mein and Beef & Broccoli from Nee House Chinese Restaurant

~ The Anniversary couple also brought Chow Mein, along with Orange Chicken, from Chop and Wok and some cookies and candies from Sprouts. (which I forgot to put out, so I have them all to myself! Just kidding, I gave the cookies to my dad and the candies are destined for Connor’s house.)

~ The Codys picked up Chicken Lettuce Wraps from P.F. Chang’s, which Whitney beautifully served on a lovely wooden tray with a vintage covered serving dish and a stoneware pitcher for the sauce. They also brought a big bowl of fortune cookies. It’s not a Chinese dinner without fortune cookies!

~ The Cavans brought Fried Rice from Yume Sushi Grill, which Dana transferred to a big chafing dish to keep it piping hot. Smart girl!

~ Tropical Fruit stuffed Pineapples with Coconut Yogurt Sauce

~ Chocolate Mousse Anniversary Cake

It was all delicious! Even having two types of chow mein was fun since it was great to taste them side-by-side and compare.

mint tips

I have a TIP to share for this cocktail recipe. Actually, it’s a good tip for any recipe where you are using herbs in the body of the dish and again for garnish. When removing the leaves, in this case, the mint leaves, strip the leaves below the tip of each sprig and save the tops, the tip of each sprig, for garnish. Too many times, people strip off all the leaves and realize too late that they need some pretty pieces to use at the end of the recipe. Get in the habit of always reserving the pretty tips and you’ll never have that issue again.

sake cocktail

Orange-Ginger Sake Champagne Cocktail

  • 1 bottle sake, chilled
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, plus 8 to 10 sprig tips for garnish
  • 5 navel oranges, divided
  • 1 bottle champagne or sparkling wine, chilled

seep ginger

Bring sugar and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and add the chopped ginger. Let steep and cool down for 30 minutes.

strain ginger

Pour the ginger-simple syrup into a measuring cup through a sieve and discard the ginger. Cover and chill the syrup until ready to use.

mint sake

Place the mint leaves in a tall glass or measuring cup.

muddle mint

Add 1/3 cup of the sake, then mull the mint.

add sake

Thinly slice 3 of the oranges and place them in a pitcher. Add the mulled mint and the remaining sake to the pitcher.

add syrup

Now add the chilled ginger syrup to the pitcher and mix well, cover, and refrigerate the mixture, for at least 2 hours up to 24 hours before serving.

add chamnpagne

Just before serving, add the chilled champagne to the pitcher.

Thinly slice the remaining 2 oranges and cut the slices in half.


Fill “rocks” glasses with ice, pour the cocktail into the glasses, and garnish each with 2 orange slice halves and a sprig of fresh mint.

Serves 8 to 10
















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1 Peggy { 08.29.16 at 7:52 AM }

Thanks for the “save to tops” tip. Gonna have to remember that.

2 Tram Mai { 08.29.16 at 8:13 AM }

How did I miss the orange chicken?!!! We need to re-create this again because the food was so good!!! Thank you Linda for making take out feel like homemade!! 🙂 xoxoxo So much fun!!

3 Lori Vento { 08.29.16 at 8:36 AM }

Thank you everyone for such an amazing night of fun, friends and laughter! A special thank you to our hostess- who always makes everything and everyone feel so special! You are the best! Who knew group anniversary celebration was a thing- loved every minute!
PS Love that Jonathon is hamming it up for the camera and not helping me blow out the candles 🙂

4 Marissa { 08.29.16 at 12:44 PM }

Such a fun idea and I am sure it was a great time with all those amazing people.

5 Krista Walker { 09.19.16 at 4:18 PM }

Love this idea! You should rent out the dinnerware in your new business…I’d love to do this but wouldn’t want to buy all the dishes for a one-time dinner!

6 Linda Hopkins { 09.19.16 at 4:21 PM }

Hi Krista, Select dinner and service ware will be added to the Miscellany Shed at some point. But if you’d like to rent it prior to its debut, just let me know!

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