Sunday, October 23, 2011

DC2..."I almost just throwed up a little, this is a really good dinner!"

Earlier this month we had our second dinner club of the year. This was our first time having a really nice dinner with company in our new house and we knew that after last month we had a tough act to follow with dinner. Since we only do dinner club once a month and it is supposed to be something special we set our table with our finest china ($75 dollars at a consignment shop in North Dakota), Kirstina made place cards for everyone, we had all the girls eat at a "girls only" table, and had everyone else eat at our normal table. {The set up made me feel like I was in a fancy restaurant, seriously fancy. Well done, Charity!!}

Because it's fall, we started out with a Creamy Tomato Basil Soup. The key to this soup is two things. Cream and fresh tomatoes. I originally had this soup at a fancy fundraiser for the elementary school and the ladies serving were gracious enough to give it to me. The original recipe calls for wine. I omitted that...really.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
  • 4 tomatoes chunked (or a few more, depending on how chunky you like your soup)
  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • 14 leaves fresh basil
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream ( added a little more than this...)
  • 1/2 cup butter ( I added a little less than this)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Add all ingredients, simmer on stove....

Along with our soup, we had a Strawberry spinach salad with a vinaigrette dressing (or if you were under 12 no salad, just strawberries) and Rosemary Bread, with oil and vinegar, that I didn't make but Patience probably would have, I just got it from Costco. {Plain old Costco bread was Mateo's favorite part of the meal. I think he ate almost half a loaf single-handedly.}

We decided on a family favorite, at least with Nick and I, for our main course, Baja Halibut Wraps with Chipotle Lime Slaw. I wasn't sure how these would go over with all the kiddos, and at $18 a pound for Halibut (yes, we live in, Nick and I can't seem to catch any fish) I didn't want to "waste" our yummy Halibut so Nick also made some BBQ chicken...just in case. The best part of this recipe is the cinnamon and cayenne pepper in the rub and the chipotle chile in adobo in the slaw. We made this a little spicy for kids...and for some of us grown-ups too, so be careful of your chile! This recipe comes from the Weber Way To Grill cookbook, with Halibut as our fish of choice.

Baja Halibut Wraps with Chipotle Lime Slaw
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Mix ingredients, brush halibut fillets with olive oil the apply rub evenly. Cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to grill.
  • 3 cups very thinly sliced cabbage
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup mayo (not miracle whip)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (I used bottled and it was fine)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon canned chipotle chile in adobo, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, toss to coat. Set aside.

Coat grill with olive oil. Grill Halibuts over direct high heat with the lid closed as much as possible until you can lift them with a spatula off the cooking grate without sticking (about 4 minutes). Turn fillets over and cook them until they are opaque in the center, (2-3 more minutes), Transfer to a cooking platter and break fillets into large chunks.

Warm tortillas and arrange fillets and slaw onto one half, fold in sides, roll and enjoy! You can serve these warm or cold. I prefer mine warm, Nick likes his cold. I think this recipe was a hit! Everyone (except Kirstina) really liked it. {My family LOVED this!} I was surprised, but like I said before I wouldn't have made this quite so spicy. {I was surprised too because of it's "little" zing, but it was really, really yummy.}

I took a gamble with our starch and decided to do Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa). {The pronunciation is for my benefit, you know. Charity kept telling me we were having "keenwa" and finally I said, oh, you mean Que-noah!! She really did mean "keenwa". (I also have the tendency to say, "que-sa-dilla" too, but only when I'm being facetious and bugging Ethan.)} You have to follow the preparation directions on the Quinoa package or it can be really bitter, but if you do it right, it tastes awesome and is chock full of protein. You prepare this like rice only you rinse your quinoa before you put it in your pan...rinse rinse again...seriously. I like to cook mine in chicken broth instead of just plain water because it gives it more flavor, but if you want a vegetarian meal, you can simply use water. I adapted this recipe from the Our Best Bites cookbook, and did half Quinoa and half Couscous for this dish. I do have to say that this dish was not a big hit with kiddos. I think the only kiddo that really liked it was KayLee. Right Patience? {I think my bigger girls ate it fine, but didn't come back for seconds like they did with the halibut. I liked it.}

Greek Couscous Salad (or Quinoa)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dry basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dry rosemary
  • 1 (10 oz) box dry couscous (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup olives, halved
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • garlic clove, pressed or finely minces
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Place chicken broth, oregano, basil and rosemary in small pot on stove. Bring to a boil. Add couscous, cover the post with a lid and remove from heat. Let sit for at least 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork. Cool to room temperature.

For Quinoa, place chicken broth, oregano, basil and rosemary in small pot on stove. Bring to a boil. Rinse 1 cup Quinoa. Rinse again. Add Quinoa, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes or until all water is absorbed (like rice). Cool to room temperature.

Combine cooled Quinoa with tomatoes, cucumber, onion, olives and feta. Set aside.

In small jar combine vinaigrette ingredients and shake until combined. Pour over salad. stir and then refrigerate 2 hours before serving. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

I did the same think with the couscous only I omitted the olives, and feta cheese and for the vinaigrette dressing, I used lime juice instead of lemon.

This recipe makes quite a bit. Nick took the leftovers to work and fed his entire office. I think it was a good experiment, but not a hit with kids. I'd make it again, but only if I made rice or something different for the kiddos eating with us.

Dessert was molten chocolate brownies with a surprise inside! Served with ice-cream and decadent hot fudge sauce. {Not to burst any bubbles or anything, but all I used was a brownie mix. I cooked them in a muffin pan and pushed a peppermint patty into the center before baking. The fudge sauce was Ben and Jerry's Hot Fudge that I posted earlier.}

The best part of the night was having Mateo sit with us at the table. A few weeks before dinner club we had dinner at our parent's house and Mateo didn't eat his dinner, so as a result, he didn't get dessert. He was painfully aware of this rule when he came over for dinner club and kept telling Patience what a good job he was doing with eating his dinner. At one point during dinner, he asked Patience how many more bites he had to have of his soup, which he had been doing a good job of eating. Dipping his bread in and eating. Patience told him he had to eat 10 more bites. He started counting while shoveling bites in. He got to bite 9 when all of the sudden, he stopped, covered his mouth, gagged (I thought he was going to throw up right then) and announced, "I almost just throwed up a little. This is a really good dinner." He then proceeded to eat bite 10, asked Patience if he had earned dessert and got down from the table. Needless to say, we were dying laughing and thought it appropriate to dub Dinner Club 2, "I almost just throwed up a little, this is a really good dinner."