Sunday, September 20, 2009

We've Come A Long Way, Baby!

It seems like forever ago that Shobhaa and I lived in a run-down apartment on Dorchester Avenue where our kitchen was lined with cereal boxes and "cooking" for me involved heating up microwavable chicken wings (Shobhaa was a tad more adventurous with smoothies and, on at least one occassion, potato leek soup). She and Dre surprised Peanut and I with a last minute trip to DC this weekend, and I was more than happy to cook them a lacto-vegetarian (no eggs, but dairy is ok!) meal. Of course, I recruited Shobhaa, who has her own fabulous baking blog, to help:

Attendees: Dre, Shobhaa, and Peanut
Cocktail(s): Fresh margaritas and non-alcoholic peachy-keens
Fresh guacamole

Main Course:
Vegetable enchiladas

Jicama and Mango salad with a chili lime dressing/Rice

"Boy, you better make her" Almond raspberry swirl!

The night called for two cocktails: One non-alcoholic, and one for Peanut and me. Peanut requested one of his favorites: fresh margaritas. Shobhaa and Dre enjoyed my newly named "Peachy Keens" - a homemade concoction of freshly squeezed orange juice, peach nectar, and a dash of some freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Really, how can you go wrong with homemade guacamole? I ran out of Tobasco, as did Whole Foods, so I used Cholula Chili Garlic Hot Sauce. Consider me converted.

I had been craving enchiladas for some unknown reason, so I spent around an hour Saturday morning looking for the recipe that looked best (and easiest). Like always, when needed, Martha Stewart is there for you. For real, such amazing enchiladas stuffed with corn, black beans, spinach, and cheese with a simple homemade enchilada sauce of tomato paste, vegetable broth and cumin. I liked these so much, in fact, that I have decided to post the recipe after this entry: only the second recipe ever to be posted on RSVP!

The enchiladas were accompanied by a jicama, mango, and cucumber salad with a chili lime dressing.

And you can't have a Mexican-inspired meal without a little bit of rice on the side.

Dinner is served!

I didn't have much time to prepare an eggless dessert, so I decided to try Ina's Almond Raspberry Swirl. Basically, it's greek yogurt with some orange zest, peach nectar, vanilla, and honey swirled with toasted almonds, rasperries, and diced peaches. The crowd seemed to like it, but I think it's more of a breakfast/brunch dish than it is a dessert. It does look somewhat elegant, though!

Martha Stewart's Vegetable Enchiladas


2 T olive oil

2 (ok, i used 3) t cumin

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 can (14.5 oz) vegetable broth

salt and pepper

3 cups grated pepper Jack cheese (I used "Fiesta Blend, which includes pepper Jack")!

1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained

10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

10 oz frozen corn kernels, thawed

6 scallions, thinly sliced

Tortillas (I used 12- the recipe called for corn tortillas, but i used flour ones instead)

1 . Make Sauce.
In medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon (I added 2) cumin, the flour, and tomato paste; cook, whisking, for 1 minute (for me, it formed a ball). Whisk in vegetable broth and 3/4 cup water (it took a while for me to fully incorporate the clumpy ball of flour and spices into the liquid). Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer, and cook slightly until slightly thickened, 5-8 minutes (um.... I kind of got distracted and it went for 10-15 minutes). Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Make Filling.
In large boal, combine 2 cups cheese, spinach, corn, scallion whites, 1 teaspoon cumin, salt, pepper. Mix well.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil two baking dishes (she says to use 8-inch squares, but I used the 9*12 glass ones that I use make lasagna).

Stack tortillas on plate and wrap in damp paper towels. Heat on high for 1 minute.

Top each tortilla with 1 and 1/2 standard ice cream scoops of filling, roll them up tightly, and arrange (seam side down) in dishes.

Sprinkle enchiladas with remaining cup cheese, and top with sauce.

7. Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Cool 5 minutes, garnish with green scallions (if you remember) and serve.

Next thing you know, you'll have some pretty happy dinner guests (Dre, Shobhaa, and me)!

Shobhaa & Dre: Come back soon!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Dog Sitting Dinner

Attendees: Peanut, Debbie, & Vixen
Spinach Dip Duo with Pumpernickel

Tomato and Corn Pie

Mixed greens with Parmesan Crisps

Peaches in Sauternes

We suspected that the "adult reception" immediately following the ceremony meant that puppies weren't allowed, so we were pressed to decide what to do with little Bindi for the night? Luckily we've got friends like Vixen, who enthusiastically agreed to spend the night and look after our little girl. To show her the ropes, and offer our thanks, we had her over for a vegetarian feast. And since I was making a veg dinner, I invited Debbie to join our soiree.

You can't, and don't need to, make everything you serve at a dinner party! Peanut bought a pumpernickel loaf from Firehook and two kinds of spinach dip from Whole Foods. I went 70's suburban (my favorite genre) and carved two holes in the loaf to create a fun way to serve.

My very simple salad: mixed greens with red onion and cucumber served on a homemade Parmesan crisp ....

Since I was so busy at work, I was a bit trepidatious about making the tomato corn pie from August's Gourmet. But when Deb said it was easy, I decided "why not?"! Now, I'm a beginner so I did try to do as told and rolled out the biscuit pie crust between two sheets of plastic. The top and bottom plastic wrap stuck to each other, so for the top half of the pie I took Deb's advice and simply rolled it out on a floured surface, which was much easier.

Mine did not look nearly as pretty as Deb's, but I imagine it tasted just as good. YUM!

And given that it was a biscuit pie crust, I thought it best to keep it on the light and juicy side for dessert. I served peaches in Sauternes, one of Peanut's favorites.