On weekends, when I'm cooking.. I rarely worry about how things are going to turn out, or what I am going to serve (aside from what we are craving). But, when having others over, I want it to be a bit more thought out. Turn that up a notch when one of your guests is one of the top chefs in the city. Instead of going all out and trying to do something fancy, I decided to treat chef Robbie Wilson and his adorable wife to one of our most casual (but also favorite) Sunday night suppers. Since they are both accustomed to eating fabulously elaborate dishes, I went the simple route.
Pineapple Chili Margaritas
Black bean, peppers and corn salsa dip with tortilla chips
Avacado and tomato salad with balsamic -lime vinaigrette
Pineapple Upside-Down cake
|Chili powder really offsets the sweet factor of the juice in these margaritas|
Because I happened to have a bunch of fresh pineapple on hand, I decided to incorporate as much of it as I could into the meal. Since it is such a delicious fruit, that wasn't so hard to do. Actually, none of this was hard. Whipped together in no time, I used the most basic grocery store ingredients (including bagged lettuces) to save time and hassle.
Wet the rim of 4 short glasses and dip into a mixture of 2 Tbsp Course sea salt and 1.5 Tbsp Chili powder. Fill a shaker 2/3 with ice, add 1 cup Patron Reposado Tequila, 1 cup fresh pineapple juice, 1/2 cup lime juice and 1 Tbsp. Agave nectar. Shake well and pour through strainer into rimmed glasses.
|This salad is ALWAYS completely gone --fast! The dressing is that amazing.|
AVOCADO & TOMATO SALAD
1 bag butter lettuce
1 bag romaine lettuces
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Avocados, diced
1 small cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
1/2 cup pepitas (pumkin seeds, lightly roasted)
Balsamic-lime vinaigrette (recipe from my previous Dinner with Friends post)
Freshly ground black pepper.
Whip up vinaigrette first, then toss all ingredients well with dressing. Top with seeds and pepper.
Enchilas are one of my husband's top menu choices when we head to restaurants, so I like creating a version at home. So yummy, affordable and the leftovers are always even better than the first night. I have made these so many times-- they are almost as good with chicken, or just beans and chopped veggies depending on what you have on hand.
|I like to put mine on broil for the last 2 minutes or so to really brown the tops|
1.5 lbs ground sirloin
1 large white onion
1 can diced green chilies
1 finely diced serrano pepper
6-7 flour tortillas (8" in size)
2 8oz cans Enchilada Sauce
1 large bag shredded Mexican style cheese
Brown ground beef and together with onion in a skillet. Drain. Put back into skillet, add diced chilies, pepper and 1/2 of one can of the sauce. Stir well. In a greased glass casserole dish, place tortillas one at a time, fill with approximately 2/3 cup of the beef mixture and roll (fold side down). Continue until beef mixture is gone. Cover all rolled enchiladas with remaining sauce, completely cover with generous layer of cheese. Place into a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove and serve hot.
We rarely have dessert at our house, unless there is company. I am not much of a baker. But, this no-fail recipe really is a crowd-pleaser. The base is light due to the sour cream and egg-whites, resulting in a cake that isn't too heavy...even after second helpings at a family-style dinner. No, it isn't really gourmet or beautiful, but the flavor more than makes up for the imperfection on the presentation.
|Cooling the cake takes about 15 minutes for easy removal from the pan|
PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup room temperature butter, divided
1 medium pineapple, cored and sliced into rings
1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. sour cream
2 egg whites
Combine brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter and pinch salt in heavy saucepan and heat on medium about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and pour into the bottom of a cast iron skillet. Put the pineapple ring slices on top of the brown sugar base.
In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs one and a time and continue to mix with electric hand mixer. Stir in extract. In another bowl, stir together baking powder, flour and salt. Start adding to sugar mixture, rotating with sour cream until all is well blended. In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold this into the batter. Pour finished batter over the pineapples. Spread for an even surface. Put into oven for 40 minutes. Remove and run knife along the sides and allow to cool. Then, turn skillet upside down over serving platter. Entire cake should be intact, but there will be a bit of run-off from brown sugar base, so make sure to have a platter big enough to catch this.
|I added fresh raspberries to the centers for a little added color and flavor|
The end result was happy, full and satisfied guests. You know that it isn't all bad when your fave culinary talent asks for seconds of everything. This is the easiest meal ever, full of shortcuts - -but one that delivers fab flavors all around!
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