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The FULL MEAL: Starting with a Sauce

I love sauces. Dipping sauces, drizzling sauces, sauce for meat or fish or poultry, sauce for salad (aka dressing)…I love sauces.

This meal came together around one particular sauce, a favorite of mine, chimichurri.

This sauce is especially good drizzled over flank steak, and thus the meal preparation began.

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FULL MEAL RECIPE: Cilantro Lime Marinated Flank Steak with Chimichurri sauce. Sweet Potato Quinoa Patties. Baked Asparagus with a Balsamic Butter Sauce. And Grilled Pears with Cinnamon Drizzle and Vanilla Ice Cream for Dessert.

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Cilantro Lime Marinated Flank Steak: This marinade was used for tacos. So I just ignored the last four ingredients to just focus on the marinade. It was very tasty. I don’t have a grill, so I seared the meat on both sides for about 2 min each and then transferred into the oven at 400 for about 8 min.

Chimichurri Sauce: There are many varieties when it comes to chimichurri. I prefer recipes that utilize Cilantro and it went well with marinade for the meat, so this was a winner. It has a very bright green color to the sauce which may be a bit off putting for some, but once you taste it, it will be well worth it. I just used this recipe for the sauce, since I found a meat marinade that I liked better elsewhere.

Sweet Potato Quinoa Patties: These were DELICIOUS! and good with a little chimichurri as well. I would suggest possibly putting the mixture in the refrigerator for awhile before cooking them (the mixture was pretty sticky and it was hard to form the perfect patty), also just putting the rolled ball into the skillet and flattening it while in there may help as well. Regardless of them not coming out looking the greatest, the taste was incredible.

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Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce: Classic. Delicious. So good, and when asparagus is on sale, so cheap!

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Grilled Pears with Cinnamon Drizzle: This dessert is my new favorite! It was incredibly simple and so tasty. I don’t have a grill pan so I just put the pears face down in a casserole dish and baked them at 400 for about 15 min. Don’t skimp on the Maldon Salt. It is worth having the higher quality salt to really set this dish off.

 

The food was delicious and the company was even better. Sharing our table this evening was the Leonard Family. David works for New Hope Grief Support, a grief support community in Long Beach provided much need help and resources for people who are grieving and Gerty works as an elementary school teacher in the city. Their baby boy Isaiah didn’t get to enjoy the meal (not big enough yet) but he was the cause of many smiles and much laughter. So blessed to have these friends in my life!

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The FULL MEAL: Starting with One Ingredient

I had never eaten, seen, or cooked with blood oranges before, so I thought…let’s make an entire meal where the blood orange takes center stage (see the logic there?, nope?, yeah, me either.)

This meal required a lot of fresh produce.

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FULL MEAL RECIPE: Mixed Baby Beet Salad with Blood Oranges, Shaved Fennel, and Chevrot Cheese, Spice Crusted Chicken + Blood Orange Maple Glaze, Roasted Potatoes, and Orange Ricotta Cookies with Blood Orange Glaze for Dessert.

Salad. Why I thought I could take on a Martha Stewart recipe is beyond me, but I have a Vitamix and I know how to improvise, so I went for it. This was a first for me in cooking beets and using fennel. Couple of tips…get smaller beets than what are pictured. (Mine were too big and took forever to cook), when it tells you to strain through a fine sieve, do it..and when you do, tell me what you did. Aside from that, the salad was still good and had a lot of taste.

Chicken. This was delicious. I would definitely spring for the actual maple syrup instead of subbing in pancake syrup. Making pan sauces for chicken/meat/shrimp is becoming one of my new favorite things.

Potatoes. I used small, multicolored, fingerling potatoes. Mix with garlic, olive oil and fresh rosemary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put on cookie sheet. Bake at 400 for 30 min.

Cookies. When I first tasted the icing, it was sugar overload and didn’t know if these cookies were going to work, but when it is all put together, the taste was delicious. The cookie itself is pretty plain without the icing but has a nice subtle orange taste. These were a hit!

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We got to share this meal with Becca Bacon, a dear friend is who all about faithful presence within the context of neighborhood and speaking out on justice issues. Her latest project included helping people get signed up for healthcare using CoveredCalifornia. She is a gift to the city of Long Beach.

 

The Full Meal: Starting with a Focus Dish

When I first started putting meals together I would head to food blogs and recipe sites and find something that looked great, but inevitably the next question was…what do I make with it? How do I make a full meal?

This blog will contain the recipes for everything that I served to make a full meal. It will then include any variations that I made to the recipes. Possible serving tips, and then will conclude with a bit about who shared our table that particular evening.

While there are many ways to put a meal together, this meal began around one single dish: CARAMELIZED SHALLOT AND BLUE CHEESE BUTTER. It looked delicious, was something I had never attempted before, and I wanted to try it. So thus, the meal was started.

FULL MEAL RECIPE: Tomato-Arugula Salad with Homemade Dijon Vinaigrette dressing, ribeye steak with caramelized shallot and blue cheese butter, sautéed wild mushrooms, lemon garlic brussels sprouts and homemade strawberry and blackberry cobbler for dessert.

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Caramelized Shallot and Blue Cheese Butter. I had recently learned that shallots weren’t the same as green onions (remember, I’m fairly new on this journey) and instead looked a lot like garlic (and that is usually where you will find them in the grocery store). I had also become a fan of caramelizing, this goes perfect on steak, and I love steak. So this was a win all around.

I chose ribeye steaks for this meal and used this cooking method. I suggest more than 30 seconds to create a greater sear on the steaks. And I cooked mine for 3 min on both sides and they came out between Med-Med Well.

I wanted to figure out a few side dishes that weren’t potatoes. So I chose sautéed wild mushrooms and lemon garlic brussels sprouts. The mushrooms were delicious and added a great smell to the kitchen. And, don’t be a hater of brussels sprouts until you try them!

I wanted a simple salad to serve as well so I went with a Arugula- Tomato Salad with homemade dijon vinaigrette dressing. I would suggest doubling the dressing recipe.

And for dessert…homemade strawberry and blackberry cobbler. I’ve made this many times and the substitutes are unlimited. You can do coconut milk and gluten-free flour (it just won’t come out looking very fluffy). You can do fresh fruit or frozen (fresh is better, but seriously, the frozen is pretty darn good as well.) P.S. the reason the pic of the cobbler isn’t that great is because we tore into before I remembered to get one…this was seconds.

There were no leftovers.

 

We got to share the evening with our friends, Billy and Carly Pruden. They are rock stars in the wedding world. They own and run Carly Rae Weddings  and they offer one stop shopping for wedding planning/coordinating, flowers, and videography. They do incredible work so if you or someone you know is in need of these services, check them out!

 

Getting Started

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At the beginning of  this year, Stephen and I decided that we would open up my apartment once a week and that we would cook a delicious meals for our friends, family, leaders in the city, people we wanted to connect with, bless, or simply get to know better.

There were a few weeks where we hosted on two nights. That was a bit much.

This was something we had talked about for the past two years. We wanted to have people over. We wanted to share what we had been given, but life ALWAYS got in the way.

We came up with a plan…we would craft an email, send it to a few of our friends with some open dates on the calendar and we would start scheduling our dinners.

Here is the email:

Rachel and I have decided to begin a new weekly tradition of having people we love over for dinner. We are excited to open up Rachel’s new place and her new table and be able to bless you with some good food and a fun evening. 

Here are the logistics.

  1. Pick a date you are available to come over.
  2. Let us know about any dietary restrictions.
  3. Let us know what your favorite types of food are. Seriously, we want to bless you!
  4. You bring drinks, and your favorite board game if you feel so inclined, and leave the rest to us.
  5.  You are free to bring your little one or leave him/her at home, you decide.

DATES: ———————-

ADDRESS:—————– (there is a front gate so call when you arrive)

We love doing life with you and are looking forward to some intentional time set aside to be together! Thanks for being in our lives and blessing us in the many ways that you do.

We look forward to hearing back from you. 

Love, 

Stephen and Rachel

 

It really was that simple. But it took actually sending the email for the dinners to start happening. We then set a budget for the meals (usually around $30 for 3-4 people) and I began exploring food blogs, finding recipes, and discovering new ingredients I had never heard of before.

Next step…creating the full meal.

My Dining Room Table

Three years ago if you would tell me that I would be hosting people around my table AND cooking for them, I may have laughed in your face.

Three years ago I was the queen of take-out and “I’m too busy to cook” excuses.

I was too busy for a lot of things. Important things.

And so…a change.

This is my experiment in hospitality and caring for people around my table. My experiment in slowing down and by doing so, communicating to people that I have time for them. It is my experiment in making good food and leaving my guests, my friends, my family satisfied in their bellies as well as in their hearts.

It is an experiment in learning to do life around the table. To invite people into my home and to share not only my space but also my life with them.
This blog will include the recipes I use for the meals I make, stories about those that sit around my table, ideas and tips on being more hospitable with ourselves and with others, and my learnings along the way.

I looking forward to sharing my table with you.