My husband preaches at our church occassionally. I always love hearing him speak. Inevitably he says something that is just so "him" that it makes me smile. Sometimes he slips in a little joke that only I'll get. Sometimes he invites the whole congregation over to our house for supper.
Nope. Not kidding! :-)
And this made me smile too. We love having company over and are constantly making plans for who we can have over next. On Sunday afternoons, the question from the kids is always, "Is anyone coming for supper tonight?" and if we say no, the answer is, "Oh. That's too bad". We love company. And I love cooking. It is a win-win.
Not that everything I cook is Martha-Stewart-esque. Often it is really, really simple. And that works because then I can visit instead of stew in the kitchen. (get it? "Stew" in the kitchen?)
So today, here is a simple salad and a simple main dish that would go nicely together (I think) for a weeknight dinner, or for a casual meal with friends. And they can both be made up ahead so you can just slip it all on the table once you feel like it!
1 head of green or red leaf lettuce, torn
1 english cucumber, sliced
1 red grapefruit, sectioned (juice reserved)
1 orange, sectioned (juice reserved)
1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
handful of sunflower seeds
dried ginger to taste
pepper to taste
honey to taste
In large bowl, combine lettuce, cucumber, grapefruit and orange, and red onion. Toss gently. Sprinkle seeds on top.
To section the fruit, slice a small round horizontally off the top and bottom of the fruit to make a flat top and bottom. Then, holding your knife at the top horizontal cut, cut downward between the fruit and the white pith all around the fruit. Then, holding the fruit in your hand, wiggle the knife in between each white pith to get the slices separated (this is seriously harder to explain in writing than to do in the kitchen, believe me!)
In a small bowl, collect all juice from fruit (some will be on the cutting board, some more will be able to be squeezed from the remaining pith/peel bits).
Add the ginger, pepper and honey to the juice to taste. The ginger will make for a really good spicyness and the honey will temper the heat to be quite palatable, so don't be afraid to put a bit more ginger and pepper in than you might first think. If you don't think you have enough dressing to cover your whole salad, feel free to add a little white wine vinegar or lime juice to stretch it. Don't toss with the salad until you are ready to serve. Yum. Yum. Yum.
Thai-Inspired Chicken and Rice
Breaded Chicken Breasts (like from M&M Meat Shops...I told you I take short cuts!)
2-3 Green and/or Red Peppers, cut in strips
1 pound green beans (or more depending on how many people you are serving)
2 cans coconut milk
Chile paste (to taste. They give ideas of how much to use on the label...look for it in the international aisle in whichever heat level you like).
A couple of spoonfuls of peanut butter (assuming you aren't allergic!)
Cooked rice (cook ahead of time and reheat, or just keep warm in a crock pot.)
Cook the chicken breasts according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, saute the pepper strips and beans in olive oil, until softening. Stir in the chile paste and peanut butter (if using), and stir until all melty and blended. Slowly stir in the coconut milk until all incorporated together. Now simmer on low until you need it. (within reason. This won't simmer nicely forever!)
Serve hot, cooked rice with chicken and sauce over top. Delicious!
To make this even more make-ahead-ish, you could layer the cooked rice and cooked chicken in your crock pot, pouring the sauce and veggies over all. It can keep warm in your crock pot for a lengthier time that way, but the presentation isn't as nice.