Oh, what a night.
(Ok, I’ll stop quoting Kool and the Gang, but I am going to post the video. Deal with it.)
Last Friday, I had Kristin and Liz over for dinner and a girls’ night. It was actually a big deal because even though we all technically live in the metro-area, it’s a pain to get to one another’s homes (an hour or two of public transportation x 2 = major pain-literally-in the bum). So, I promised them a delicious dinner if they could scrape up the extra train fare it takes to get to my place.
Appetizers are my favorite part of the meal, but I never get to make them, so I decided to make Artichoke and Tomato Pastry Boats for a pre-dinner treat. For the meal, I served Cheesy Rice and Peas (such a classy, classy name, that) alongside pork chops. I wanted to make a fruit topping for the pork chops, but I couldn’t decide between Pear Compote or Peach-Plum Salsa, so I made both. They turned out to be really good, although I think the Peach-Plum Salsa was a bigger hit since it has a surprising combination of the sweet fruit and spicy jalapenos. And I had a little help: Liz brought a yummy baguette to go with dinner, and Kristin brought cookies for dessert, which we broke into as appetizers…and dessert…and then again for breakfast the next morning.
So, everything went smoothly (except for a mishap with opening—or not opening—the wine bottle) and the food was delicious!
While going through the recipes, you may notice that I’ve figured up the approximate cost of making that food. I hope you like the new feature! I plan to keep doing it for everyday meals too, although my stack of grocery receipts is getting a little out of control. Amazingly, this dinner (even with my making two fruit toppings) only cost $15.94 to serve four people. And we had lots of leftovers too! Also, I didn't have time to take pictures of everything, but if you want a visual, just click the links to the original recipes!
Artichoke and Tomato Pastry Boats
Recipe adapted from Working Mother.
1 package of frozen phyllo shells, about 15 in one pack
4 baby artichoke hearts, drained and cut into quarters
2 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 15 pieces
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place phyllo shells on baking sheet, not touching. Put a piece of artichoke, a piece of mozzarella and a tomato half in each shell. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 15 pieces. Total cost: $3.01.
Pork with Pear Compote
Pork Chops with Peach-Plum Salsa
Both recipes from Family Circle. See the originals here and here.
¼ cup dried cranberries
1 pear, cored and diced
¼ cup chopped walnuts
Pinch ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar
Peach-Plum Salsa (This made a ridiculous amount of salsa; you can safely cut this recipe in half and still have more than enough for four people, so keep that in mind!)
2 peaches, about ¾ pound
3 plums, about ¾ pound
½ cup chopped red onion
2 medium jalapenos, seeded and chopped
½ cup cilantro, chopped
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
4 pork chops (boneless, rib, thin-cut, however you like ‘em!)
Sea salt and Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons butter
Make the Peach-Plum Salsa first; it needs to refrigerate for at least one hour before eating. Pit peaches and plums and finely chop. Place in a medium size bowl. Add red onion, jalapenos, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil and salt. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate.
For Pear Compote, soak cranberries in hot water for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine pear, walnuts and cinnamon in a small bowl. Drain cranberries and add to bowl. After you finish cooking the pork chops, then come back to the compote and add the mixture to the skillet you used for the pork chops. Add sugar now, and cook for 1 minute. Remove from skillet and serve with the pork chops.
For the pork chops, melt butter (or vegetable oil) in a large skillet over medium heat. Season one side of the pork pieces with sea salt and pepper, and place the seasoned side down on hot skillet. Season the other side with pepper and salt. Cook time depends on the thickness of the meat; when you can see that the pork is cooked halfway through, flip over the meat and cook for several more minutes. When the pork is cooked all the way through, serve with the pear compote or the peach-plum salsa.
Serves 4. Cost: Pear Compote, $1.56; Peach-Plum Salsa, $5.85; Four Boneless Pork Chops, $2.89.
Cheesy Rice and Peas
Adapted from First for Women.
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1½ cups rice
2 cans (14.5 oz each) low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup frozen peas
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
In skillet over medium heat, cook olive oil and butter for 30 seconds. Add onions and garlic; cook 2 minutes. Add rice, stir to coat. Increase heat to high and add broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cover. Let simmer 15 minutes, or until rice is tender. Stir in peas and Parmesan cheese. Cook 2 minutes or until heated through.
Makes 6 servings. Total cost: $2.63
Total dinner cost for four people: $15.94