** this is not a new post, but got caught in the blogger outage last week and thus, disappeared! **
so…here is my fear of having only male offspring. mother’s day / your birthday / insert any holiday that requires attention or a gift comes around, and there is no forethought, planning, mention, you get the idea…about the day. i have seen this with my own brothers and i have seen it with my husband’s family, him coming from a family of two boys. insert daughter or daughter-in-law to the rescue, with constant pestering, asking and sometimes telling “what are we doing for our / your mom for (most recent example) mother’s day?” the answer is always foggy at best. that’s where we found ourselves this past mother’s day - 2 p.m. ON THE DAY OF with no plans in sight to celebrate phyllis, my wonderfully spunky mother-in-law.
so i did what any other empathetic gal would do – told rbb to call them and invite them over for dinner. phyllis had been waiting for an invitation to see the new house as well, so this was a perfect excuse! and i was off to whip together a menu so fast it would make your head spin. i decided we would have:
salsa and guacamole with chips (starter)
shrimp tacos (entree)
confetti corn (side dish)
strawberries and either ice cream or cream cheese fruit dip (dessert)
now – nothing fancy but all quick and great for a family dinner on a warm may night. so i scurried off to the store to pick up the necessities – some of this was fortuitous, as i had been at costco the day before and happened to pick up a carton of their ‘cilantro lime shrimp’ (already cooked, already sauced up - perfect) that i was planning to use for another dinner, but this would work even better!
the empty carton…but it was over by the refrigerated chicken salad, shrimp salad, etc. section of the store…
rush earned fifty gold stars for taking a 3.5 hour nap AND playing quietly in his crib for another HOUR (unprecedented), allowing me to get everything going in the kitchen.
first up – the salsa. now i know most of you out there would think i had gone off the reservation for making my own, but i just don’t really like any of the store-bought ones and i also happened to pick up a couple of pounds of ripe heirloom tomatoes at whole foods (they were on sale) to use for…something. enter, homemade salsa. fantastic! i quickly went to foodnetwork.com and searched “heirloom tomato salsa” – popped right up. i tweaked the recipe a bit, but everyone went ga ga for it and wanted to make sure i would not lose the recipe.
heirloom tomato salsa
2 lbs. heirloom tomatoes, seeded and cored (recipe says all the same color – 1/2 of mine were yellow, 1/2 were red – i like the color variety)
3 cloves garlic
1 red onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and split (please note this made the salsa VERY spicy – which we love, but maybe not everyone does!)
1 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup olive oil (or more if you prefer – it calls for 1/2 cup but i didn’t think it needed that much)
place all ingredients into a food processor, and pulse until desired consistency (i like mine pretty finely pureed). add salt and pepper to taste. this made a GALLON (no joke) of salsa…but five adults went through all but maybe a quart. it was delish and took me almost no time to prepare.
guacamole – i think everyone has their own guacamole method, but here’s mine. i just wing it, but this is about what i do.
4 avocados, peeled and cored
1-2 garlic clove(s), minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 tomato of any kind, small diced
juice of 1 lime (or lemon if you have no limes)
1/4 cup red onion, small diced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
mash avocados with a fork. add all other ingredients and stir gently. add salt and pepper to taste.
no picture of the guac; it was gobbled up by the time i got my blogging druthers about me and thought i should document some of this. so i got the salsa and the guac done, put big heaping portions in two bowls, set them on a platter with lots of blue corn chips inbetween and the starter was finito.
shrimp tacos – my plan was to heat up the shrimp right before we ate, but get all of the toppings ready…so i put each of the following things in small bowls and had them ready to go.
- chopped cabbage (red or green; my grocery store was out of red so i used green)
- lime wedges
- chopped cilantro
- spiked sour cream (my MIL is from texas…she likes things spicy and so do i! take sour cream and mix it with a bit of chili powder and tabasco = spiked sour cream)
- salsa and guac would already be on the table from the starter platter
confetti corn – recipe from ina (found in the green back to basics cookbook).
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 small orange bell pepper, 1/2-inch diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (now that i see this i think i forgot it…yes i definitely forgot it. oh well. tasted good anyway.)
kernels cut from 5 ears yellow or white corn, approximately 4 cups (don’t tell ina but i used frozen corn)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil, minced fresh chives, and/or minced fresh parsley leaves (i used green onions and cilantro – felt like it went more with the mexican meal)
heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft. stir in the bell pepper and saute for 2 more minutes.
add the butter to the pan and allow it to melt. over medium heat, add the corn, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the corn just loses its starchiness. season to taste, gently stir in the basil or other green herbs, and serve hot.
i got this started before the guests arrived – sauteed the onion and bell pepper, then left it sitting on the stove so i could add the corn right before we ate and it would be hot.
….and i was pretty much done! once the guests arrived, i heated up a big stack of small tortillas in the microwave, added the corn to the saute pan, dumped that dish into a bowl and then put the shrimp into the same pan to heat those up for just a couple of minutes…and dinner was served.
side note: the vintage white napkins? procured at an estate sale for 50 cents apiece. i have a set of 6 and looooovvvvve them.
dessert was uber easy – chopped up fresh strawberries and served them with guest’s choice of vanilla ice cream or cream cheese fruit dip on top.
the moral of the story is: be sure to have a daughter. no really, a simple menu makes for a quick dinner party, but sometimes simpler is better? everyone raved about the food (they were probably lying but it was still nice to hear) and i almost felt bad for taking credit because it was so easy and involved little, if any, cooking. i was so pleasantly surprised that this came together so easily and we were able to make my mother-in-law feel special!