Week Night Dinner Party

Nothing is more relaxing during the week than having a great dinner and wine with my friends to unwind after work.  Springtime in Charleston is perfect to do that outside before the summer heat keeps you in the air conditioning, so we grabbed the necessities and had a great dinner on a Thursday night at a friend’s house!

Here are a few tips to quickly put together your own week night dinner party after a long day at work.  Trust me, only minimal effort is required to pull off cute table and enjoy a night with the girls!

Order Take Out

The least stressful kind of dinner party is one that you aren’t cooking, so call your favorite restaurant and grab some take out to share instead.  Five Loaves Cafe has been my favorite lunch & dinner spot in Charleston since freshman year at College of Charleston.  They have a huge variety of soups, salads, sandwiches, and entrees for all types of eaters plus amazing desserts.

We shared their beet salad, egg plant fritters salad, chicken caesar salad as well as roasted turkey sandwich,  chicken salad club and rueben sandwiches for dinner.  Cut the sandwiches into smaller pieces, throw the salads in bowls with serving spoons and you’re ready to serve!

The lemon blueberry mascarpone cake, peanut butter pie and brownie caramel cheesecake were the perfect to finish to our meal.

Variety of Wine

Try to have a variety of wine to please everyone that’s coming or just have everyone bring a bottle they like to share!  Rhône Valley Wines have reds, whites, and even roses that will pair with any type of food.  We drank Domaine de la Bastide Côtes du Rhône Villages Visan (red) , Cuvée Domaine Ventoux Rosé, and Vieilles Vignes Vacqueyras (white).  The Visan was our favorite and went down so smooth and the white was a great complement with dessert!

Add Fresh Flowers

I don’t know why, but adding a vase or two of fresh flowers just makes everything seem nicer.  You don’t have to spend a fortune on flowers either – I grabbed 2 types of white flowers from the grocery store for a few bucks and just put them in a vase and mason jars.  The tall vase adds a little height to the table and the flowers just automatically class things up.

Use Your China

Just like the flowers, there’s something about serving food on platters, and not just using disposable plates, that makes the meal seem fancier.  Yes, you’ll wash the dishes later, but you didn’t register for that serving platter not to use it, right? Another perk, if people don’t know you picked up the food, they’ll guess you made it since it looks great on a plate or in a wooden bowl. 😉

Now enjoy the fun night with your friends and enjoy these types of dinners more – Cheers!

Wine: Rhône Wines | Food: Five Loaves Cafe |Photos: Michelle O | Decor: Coastal Kelder

This post was sponsored by Rhône Wines, but all opinions and text are all mine.

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Veggie Bowl

If we had a go-to week night dinner, this would be it.  I probably make this about once a week, and even more frequently if it’s just me eating at home.  It’s so versatile, quick to put together, and healthy, so I love making them after a game or workout (and before my wine 😉 ).

Wilds’ Veggie Bowls

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 package Asian Gourmet Chinese noodles
  • 1/2 cup Garlic hoisin sauce
  • 1 cup Broccoli
  • 1/3 cup Carrots
  • 1/3 cup Baby corn
  • 1 egg
  • Salt / pepper to taste
  • Sriracha sauce

Disclaimer: These are all estimated amounts, so add as much or as little as you like!

Start by boiling water in a pan.  The chinese noodles are in 2 groupings of noodles per package, and 1 serves ~2-3 people.  Put 1 of the chinese noodle groupings in the boiling water and follow the package directions for cooking.

While the water is boiling, cut up your raw vegetables into bite sized pieces.  I usually use about 3/4 a head of broccoli, 10-15 baby carrots and half a can of baby corn cut in thirds.  Place those in a pan, add some hoisin sauce and put on medium heat.

Drain the noodles when they’re done cooking and add them to the vegetable / hoisin mixture.  Mix them together and add a little more hoisin sauce for good coverage.  In a small pan, fry an egg to your liking.

When the egg is ready, put the veggies & noodles in a bowl, then egg, and top with sriracha sauce. Done!

noodle-bowl

Edits: If Hunter is eating this, we always cook chicken and add that to the bowls for some extra protein.  We’ve done a lot of experimenting with this dish and hands down the Chinese noodles are our favorite.  The fatter noodles are a runner up.  I’m not a spicy person, but I’ve slowly been adding more and more Sriracha to my noodle bowls – baby steps.

Results: Like I said, this is a go-to meal for us and we always try to keep ingredients on hand so it’s easy to whip together last minute for dinner.  It’s also fun since we have been making these for years (?) and slowly tweaking it until it’s just to our liking.

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Old Bay Brussel Sprouts

Turns out brussels sprouts are my favorite fall / winter vegetable and we end up making them a lot.  At some point I started making them this way, and it’s now the go-to brussels recipe for an easy week night side dish.

Old Bay Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:brussels_old-bay

  • Brussel sprouts
  • ~2T olive oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Old Bay, to taste

Bring a pot of water to boil, and add your brussels sprouts.  Let them cook for 3-4 minutes, then remove from heat & drain the water (yes, we are blanching).

In a sauce pan, heat about 2T of olive oil over medium heat.  Cut the bottoms off each brussel, then slice in half.  Put the brussels in the pan and add salt, pepper, and Old Bay.

Let them cook for ~15 minutes, then serve!

Edits: I’m totally heavy handed with the Old Bay, not gonna lie.   I like it on there kinda thick, but just season them to your liking!  Also, the longer you cook the sprouts, the crispier they will be.  Sometimes I just cook them for 15 minutes, other times it’s closer to 30 depending on my mood!

Results: Like I mentioned, this is our go-to brussels recipe.  We always have the seasoning on hand, so just buy brussels and make them while the rest of dinner is cooking. Seriously such an easy week night side, that happens to get your greens in too!

Zucchini, Corn & Bacon Pizza

Do you ever have a craving for some flavors or ingredients and you come up with an idea and know it could turn out bad, but want to try it anyways?  That was exactly what happened last week when all I wanted was a pizza with zucchini, corn and bacon on top.  Who knows why I chose those 3 toppings, but it seemed like a good idea and I was determined to make it.

Zucchini, Corn & Bacon Pizza

Ingredients:

  • Pizza crust
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 ear of corn
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • Salt / pepper / Old Bay to taste
  • 4 pieces of bacon

Preheat your oven based on the instructions for your crust.  I went with the Pillsbury pizza crust because I wanted it to be a little thinner.  Spread the crust out on your pan, cover the top in your pizza sauce, and sprinkle the cheese on top.

Now work on your toppings. In one pan let your butter melt while you cut your zucchini into slices.  The thinner, the crispier they will become.  Saute the zucchini in the pan with the butter, and add some salt, pepper and Old Bay to taste.  Cut the corn off the cob and put in a bowl.  As the zucchini is close to being cooked, a the corn so give it a little crisp as well.

In another pan, cook your bacon strips over medium heat.  When they’re to your crispy liking, dry them on a paper towel and crumble them into smaller pieces.

Now top your pizza with the zucchini, corn and bacon and put into the oven!  Bake it according to the crust directions (I baked mine a little longer for a crispier crust) and enjoy!

zucchini corn pizza

Results: I really liked the different ingredients together.  It was like having a somewhat healthy pizza since there were veggies on it.. Next time I might add some red pepper flakes for a lil kick.  Hunter enjoyed it too and we both finished off the leftovers later that week!

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Chipotle Pineapple Pork Chops

Real life: Hunter and I have cooked less since we got married.  We will still put simple meals together (like our go to veggie noodle bowls), but we don’t consistently cook what I’ll call fancy meals, and we pick up a lot of take out.  I’ll blame it on our lives being pretty busy lately and having a lot of activities after work… but the other Sunday night we were in town (a first) and I was down to cook.  I wanted to try something new, and this recipe fit the bill.

Chipotle Pineapple Pork Chops

pineapple chipotle porkchop 02

Ingredients:

PORK CHOPS

  • 1 lb Boneless pork chops
  • 1 T Chili powder
  • 1 t Paprika
  • 1/2 t Sea salt
  • 1/2 t Cumin
  • 1/2 T Garlic, minced
  • Olive oil
  • 3-4 Pineapple slices (fresh or canned)
  • Garnish: cilantro, queso fresco, 1/2 lime

CILANTRO CHIPOTLE SAUCE

  • 1 T Chipotles in adobe sauce, minced
  • 1/4 C Cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 C Milk

Heat a large skillet on medium high heat with some olive oil on the bottom.  In a small bowl mix the chili powder, paprika, salt, cumin, and garlic together. Brush each pork chop with olive oil. Rub each side of the pork chops with the spice mixture.  Cook your pork chops for 2-3minutes per side (4-5 minutes for thicker chops)

While the pork chops are cooking, mix together milk, chipotle peppers, and cilantro until smooth in a blender. Set this aside.  Also, place your pineapple slices on a baking sheet in the oven on broil for 3-4 minutes.

When the pork chops are cooked through, reduce to low heat and pour the sauce on top.  Let them simmer for 2-3 minutes.

On a plate, garnish pork with pineapple, lime juice, cilantro, and serve warm!pineapple chipotle porkchop

Edits : The original recipe didn’t include topping with queso fresco, but I had some handy and have been putting it on everything lately.  I also spooned some sauce over the pineapple too, because I loved the sauce so much.

Results : While I’m confessing things… I’ve never made pork chops before. Ever. I had them a good amount growing up, but have never made them myself – maybe I assumed they were harder to cook than basic chicken? Who knows.. Either way, this was incredibly easy to make – like I was shocked at how flavorful it was with minimal effort.  A complete bite with pork chop, pineapple, sauce and queso fresco was DELICIOUS. Definitely a keeper.