I love having friends over for dinner but I don’t do it as often as I’d like to. But when I do, and if it’s a small gathering, sometimes I’ll experiment with new recipes versus testing them beforehand. Of course, only with the best of friends who will forgive me if the meal turns out a little “meh”! I always think, what’s the worst that can happen, we’ll have great company, wine and conversation, and we can always order a pizza if it’s a complete disaster! So far, so good – no complete disasters on record (one semi-disaster a few years ago, but we won’t talk about that.)
Recently I wanted to come up with a Latin-inspired menu for a small get together and gathered recipes from a few different sources. I experimented with different friends and a few variations over the last few weeks. In this post I’m sharing with you the most favored recipes. And to the friends who tried various concoctions of this menu – if you are reading this post – I love you!
Putting a beautiful table together is also part of the fun for me. I love what a runner adds to a table. For this Latin-inspired menu I found this colorful and textured runner at TJ maxx for $12.99 – what a score! The votives are from Marshalls, the chargers are from Michaels Craft Stores (a deal at $2 each on sale). And the beautiful peacock plates are from Macy’s.
What can I say about a mango/avocado salsa over fish – delish! This recipe makes enough for 4 people.
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and cubed
1 mango, peeled, pitted, and cubed
1/4 -1/2 of a red onion, finely chopped (more or less, whatever you prefer)
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt and black pepper
1-2 tbsp canola oil
2 large mahimahi fillets – approximately 1 1/2 lb. total
1 tbsp blackening spice
8 flour tortillas
2 cups shredded red cabbage
Lime wedges for garnish
Mix the mango, avocado, onion, and the juice of 1 lime in a bowl. Season with cilantro, salt and pepper.
Heat a grill or stovetop grill pan. Lightly drizzle oil over the fish and rub on the spice or seasoning on both sides. We used Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Magic. Cook the fish for 4 minutes, flip carefully and cook for 4 minutes more.
Warm the tortillas on the grill for 1 to 2 minutes.
Cut the fish into chunks and divide among the tortillas. Top with the cabbage and the mango salsa. Serve with lime wedges.
Kale, Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
This is such an easy recipe to make. It is also good as a stand alone salad for a weeknight dinner. This recipe serves 4-6 people.
3 tbsp Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar
1/3 cup of Olive Oil
The Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar from Trader Joe’s is my go-to for most salad dressings. For this salad, the citrus adds a delicious sweet balance to the kale. Stock your pantry with this item, you won’t be disappointed.
1 cup quinoa, Trader Joe’s frozen, fully cooked organic quinoa
6 cups chopped kale, stems removed
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn
Microwave the quinoa per package instructions. Once done, mix warm
quinoa with the black beans, corn, kale, onion and cilantro. You can swap out stove
prepared quinoa for the frozen if you prefer, but there isn’t a nutritional downside
to the microwavable version (0% sodium and 3% fat).
I like to mix all
ingredients while the quinoa is warm because it softens the kale – even if
you are making this ahead and plan on eating it cold. It is good served
warm or cold. If you aren’t a fan of onions, you can leave them out. Other
great additions are avocado and roasted pumpkin seeds. Mix all ingredients with the
dressing and you are good to go.
Dessert – Mexican Brownies! Ay Dios Mio!
The tacos and salad are super healthy, so I felt less guilty about splurging a bit on this delicious dessert. These brownies were a big hit. I served them with a few scoops of vanilla ice cream. I found this recipe at Crazy for Crust.
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons + 1/4 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
3/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13” pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
Place the two baking chocolates and butter in a large, microwave safe bowl. Heat on
high power for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until chocolate is smooth. Stir in
sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon cayenne, salt, and 2
tablespoons cocoa and stir well. Add flour and stir. Add the mini chocolate chips and
Spread the brownie batter in the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick
comes out with just a few crumbs stuck to it. Let it cool completely before slicing into
Whisk powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cocoa, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle over
I hope you enjoyed this post and make these recipes soon. I welcome your comments!