Menu to banish the midwinter blahs

February 20th, 2012

February has been a grey blur of damp days and a cramped schedule. Especially last week. By the weekend, I was wiped out and ready to nap for two days. But my sideways brain had other plans, scheduling dinner guests for the same day I had to launch two boy scouts to camp in the morning and sign books in the afternoon. That left me about four hours to clean house and cook. Actually, ninety minutes after you deduct the two and half hours I spent in avoidance.

Fortunately, we have a small house that cleans up quickly. And I kept the menu very simple, which is hard for me. It took a ridiculous amount of self-soothing in the grocery store to convince myself it was okay THIS ONE TIME to use bottled key lime juice in the drinks and buy yellow cake already baked and sliced for dessert.

Seriously. The cake went in and out of my basket four times. Yes, it does sounds insufferable. Just imagine, I have to live with me.

It also helped that I was highly motivated to see our guests, Stacey and Jay. We had such a great evening, and the menu worked out so well, and was such a sunny antidote for the midwinter blahs, I thought I’d share it here.

  • Bobby Flay’s rum punch, except I only had a half cup of grenadine, and substituted a simple sugar syrup for the rest, and using only gold rum
  • salade composée of mixed field greens, sliced pink navel oranges and red onion flung on a platter and passed around with a  dressing of oil, key lime juice, honey, curry powder and salt
  • pan roasted pork tenderloin, using Alton Brown’s lime marinade recipe, and Emeril Lagasse’s method for pan-roasting
  • brown rice
  • black beans sauteed with onions and chipotle chile peppers
  • Pioneer Woman’s pico de gallo  (also served this with tortilla chips as an appetizer, and ate it on everything else I could think of all weekend)
Dessert was a seat-of-my-pants special, composed of a piece of  yellow cake plated with a slice of broiled pineapple and warm dulce de leche rum sauce from the back of the can of Nestle’s dulce de leche. The cake was pre-baked and pre-sliced, did I mention that? The pineapple was canned. To my knowledge, nobody died.

I also just realized all of the linked recipes came from Food Network. Which I have occasionally decried as the reason we can’t have nice things in America.

So I think I”ll call my improvised dessert recipe humble torte. And maybe they’ll give me a show.

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