Slumber Party!

I've known my two best friends from childhood since kindergarten and first grade, respectively.  There were some glorious years after college when we all lived in the city, clueless and in our early twenties, desperate to never go home until the sun came up.  Even on Wednesdays.  Especially on Wednesdays!  So it's shocking even to us how seamlessly we've each settled into our adult lives.  With two of us married and the third to be married this year, we spend a lot more time trading emails about wedding details than scrounging for concert tickets like we did in the old days.  

In 2008 Ariel started dating an MBA candidate at Duke and when he graduated a year later, she told him she'd move anywhere but Texas.  So they moved to Houston.  And Elissa and I were left to cope with a new type of long-distance relationship.  (Ed. Note: All three of us love Texas now, and if you go to Houston and do not make a stop at Tiny Boxwood's, well then we simply have nothing in common.)  The three of us have seen eachother through seven jobs and two graduate school programs, dozens of hairlengths and more boyfriends than any of us can count.  We are a three who understand each other without having to say much, because we have literally seen it all!

When Ariel told us both at Thanksgiving that she had plans to make a quick trip to NYC in January, we eagerly reserved a date for 'just us' and then reverted completely back to childhood: we planned a sleepover party.  No, sleepover parties might not rank a 10 on the chic-scale.  But grab your PJs, cook up some lasagna and get ready for a marathon chat sesh.  Here's how:

1. Send out an invitiation via my favorite online service, Paperless Post ( - I knew this party was going to be all about pigging out!  Paperless post is the perfect way to add a personalized touch to any get-together.  You can customize everything from the invitation, the font, the envelope, the envelope liner and even the stamp.  Its perfect for when a handwritten invitation might be impractical.

2. Make sure your slumber party guests are as cozy as can be!  I set out warm socks with towels for the morning.  Tie them together with some thin velvet ribbon and add a couple of fresh cut roses!  Cover the stems with damp papertowels until just before the gals arrive to keep them fresh.

3. Find yourself a group of really great girlfriends and some festive pajamas!  I bought my vintage-inspired set on sale at J.Crew just after Christmas.  Similar available here.

4. Make this fresh herb salad in just a few minutes: toss together arugula, dill, italian parsley and marjoram in a salad bowl.  Whisk garlic, juice of one lemon and 1/4 c. high-quality olive oil together.  Dress just before serving!

5. Gossip all night over a bottle (or two) of Barolo! 

6. Serve this dreamy lasagna from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" cookbook (we decided lasagna was the perfect winter sleepover food):

Meat Sauce, p. 150:

2 T. olive oil
1 small onion
1 carrot, peeled & minced
1 celery stalk, minced
1/4 c. bacon or pancetta, minced
1/4 lb. lean ground pork
1/4 lb. lean ground beef
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 (28 or 35 oz) can of whole plum tomatoes, drained (juice reserved if you don't have wine on hand)
1 cup beef or chicken stock
Salt & fresh ground black pepper
1 cup cream, half and half or milk
Parmesean cheese

Heat oil in large saucepan on medium low.  Add onion, carrot, celery and bacon (note: I also added garlic); cook until veggies are tender (10 m).

Add ground meat & cook until all traces of red are gone (break up any clumps) (5 m.) and add the wine or tomato juice, stirring occasionally until liquid is evaporated (5m).

Crush tomatoes with a fork or your hands (note: discard the stems at the top) and add to pot.  Stir, then add the stock.  Turn heat to low and cook at a low simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook for at least an hour (note: I cooked for three), until the liquid is evaporated and the sauce is thick.  

Add the cream/half and half/milk and cook for another 15 to 30 minutes (note: this and the bacon are why I love this recipe; if you are cooking for a boy he will love it).

Assembling the lasagna:

Unless you are using no bake dried pasta, cook your lasagna noodles in boiling water until done (fresh pasta will be 1-2 m.); lay on papertowels.

Smear lasagna dish with butter or oil and place a layer of noodles, touching but not overlapping.  Cover noodles with 1 c. ricotta (note: I salt the ricotta first), followed by 1 c. of the meat sauce and 1 c. of mozzarella (note: I wanted to use fresh ingredients so I used scamorza, which is sort of like a dried fresh mozzarella (available at Eataly).  I grated it before I used it in the lasagna.)  Repeat for another layer, and then on the third layer, omit the ricotta.


 Last but not least, kick out the boys.  Peter left at 3pm for Club Macanudo to meet his best friend.  They stayed there until 11pm.  Peter came home to deliver a quick kiss around midnight, but then we kicked him out again.  x.

Your beau will not object: