When Anthony and I got engaged, we decided that we were going to have a small destination wedding. Less fuss, more time with our family and friends, and a gorgeous setting…umm, sign me up.

With the plans laid, it was time for the families to meet.

Enter: engagement party.

To ensure that the onus of having to prepare an entire meal for said party was not heavily set upon one person’s shoulders, we coerced my, to-be, mother in law, who had kindly offered to host, to make it a potluck. Primarily, I wanted this arrangement to ease the burden of meal-preparation, and, secondarily, I selfishly wanted an excuse to cook something new.

To add another dimension to this potluck, we chose a beach theme. It was easy enough to decide: we are getting married by the ocean.

With the invitations out and the theme established, all that was left was to decide what we would be making.

Anthony quickly decided that he was going to make a shrimp ceviche wrapped in radicchio leaves. Ceviche is essentially a seafood-based dish that involves “cooking” the raw protein in citrus acid. After a short time, the fish turns opaque and delicious (?). It’s not my cup of tea, but I can acknowledge its desirability among true seafood lovers.

Being an avid baker, I opted to make a bread. How to make bread fit into the beach-themed mold? You underestimate me, friends.

I baked Hawaiian bread rolls (BOOM.), and they were yummy.

Hawaiian Bread Rolls

Adapted from Handle the Heat

Makes 16 rolls

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup warm pineapple juice
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter, plus more for brushing
  • 1 tablespoon dry yeast
  • 1 large egg (at room temperature), beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

Combine water, pineapple juice, olive oil, and melted butter in a large bowl.

Sprinkle in yeast and let sit for 10 minutes until foamy.

Add salt, egg, vanilla, and sugar, stir to combine.

Using a wooden spoon, mix in the flour 1 cup at a time. Use your hands to mix if the dough becomes too stiff.

Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes, adding extra flour only as necessary.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover loosely, and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray.

Shape the dough into 16 evenly sized balls.

Place 8 balls of dough in each cake pan, cover with a towel, and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brush the rolls with a thin coating of melted butter. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on rack.

…Tender, slightly sweet, and adorable, these rolls were a great addition to the rockin’ party.

Oh, how’d the first meeting go?? Famously. Thanks for asking.