Friday, July 22, 2011

Dinner with Friends - you don't always have to go out!

Sometimes I find myself looking at my calendar and finding that I have dinner plans every night in a given week - I don't like to go out to dinner that much so if I'm making after-work plans a good solution is cooking in! It's more affordable and certainly better for you - and your apartment is definitely BYOB!

Months ago my coworker had me over her condo for dinner - and given the late spring timing, we tried out a dish with cherries, which we both really ended up enjoying. It was good for after work too because it didn't take too long to put together. Ever since this dinner whenever cherries are on sale I try to find a new dish to try with them - they're not just for making pies!
We prepped the ingredients first - pitted and sliced the cherries in half, sliced some red onion, made a simple champagne vinaigrette dressing and tossed everything together with arugula.

It was served right over a grilled chicken breast and my coworker had gotten a loaf of delicious fresh bread to go with the meal. It came from Hi-Rise Bread Company, in Harvard Square and there's a second post in the Huron Village area of Cambridge.
She even treated me to fresh strawberries with homemade vanilla whipped cream, thanks to her recent kitchen aid purchase! Somehow we didn't feel quite so bad with our dessert choice and overflowing bowl because of the fresh fruit.

So a big thank you to Allison and Scarlett for having me over for dinner ... months ago :-)
Just a few weeks ago I had the chance to have a friend over my place! As I've warned before it's never the smartest idea to try out a new recipe for the first time when you're cooking for anyone except family - I totally broke this rule and tried making Tortilla Crusted Chicken for the first time!

Tortilla Crusted Chicken
with corn salsa, black beans and avocado

Except for all of the chopping for the salsa, this was a pretty simple dinner to prepare. I had bought a bag of tortilla chips and wanted another use for them besides just eating them myself! I baked my chicken but next time I would bake at a higher temp in an attempt to make the outside more crispy.

Homemade Corn Salsa
2 vine ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup frozen corn
1-2 TB red onion, finely chopped
2 TB fresh lime juice
1/2 cup sweet pepper, finely chopped
1 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 tsp cumin
dash of salt and pepper
fresh cilantro, chopped
2 stalks scallion, chopped
1 cup tomatillos, pureed in food processor

Chop all of your ingredients, mix together and add the pureed tomatillos from the food processor. It's as simple as that!
Don't worry about deseeding the tomatoes -
 throw everything in the salsa bowl
As for the chicken ... set up 3 bowls, one each for flour, egg wash (1 egg and a little water beat together) and crushed up tortilla chips. Dredge the chicken breasts first in the flour, then in the egg wash, and finally in the crushed chips. Put the crusted chicken in a baking dish if you're going to bake it (rather than saute on the stovetop) - I baked mine at 400 degrees for about 17-18 minutes. As I mentioned before I might try baking at a higher temp next time to get a crispier outside.
TIP: I couldn't find the usual low sodium black beans that I buy and when I looked at the nutrition information on the back of the regular black bean cans I couldn't stand the high levels of sodium. Instead I chose to buy a bag of black beans and try making them from "scratch." It was definitely a lot more work that's for sure, but there was something satisfying about knowing that they came from a bag and not a can. Be sure to strain the black beans and rinse them enough so that the liquid isn't black like this anymore!

No comments:

Post a Comment