Social Gatherings in July

 The biggest innovation in the past weeks: Pizza-fied Trader Joe's Frozen Naan.

I haven’t posted lately because the days I have cooked have been too busy. Most other days I’ve been out and about eating, drinking, movie-watching or exercising. The past couple of weeks have been quite social.
 Vegan Chicken Piccata - my husband requested I make this once a week from now on. My carnivorous friends agree, it's not half-bad!

Last weekend I hosted dinner parties both Friday and Saturday. With so many people to cook for and catch up with, I decided to make tried-and-true meals that I hardly had to think about as I cooked. Friday was more challenging than I hoped, since I made Chicken Piccata and it’s vegan twin both at the same time. The hardest part was avoiding cross-contamination – one spoon to stir chicken and one to stir vegan, and rinsing the one set of tongs between flipping fillets.

In the end, everything came out great and everyone was quite satisfied with the menu of Vegan Tomato Bisque, Spaghetti, Chicken Piccata and Vegan Chicken Piccata. My friends brought some taco dip and chips, liquor, wine and ice cream – so I only had to work on the main event.

Saturday my husband’s family came over, for a total of nine for dinner. The biggest challenge with this group is finding one dish that everyone will eat. Everyone is picky, it is no wonder my Mother-in-law spends about 3-4 hours cooking and catering to everyone every single day.

For me, just having the family over is a big production in itself, although they always offer help. I’m just not that good at sharing my kitchen… or anything at all, for that matter. Yes, I’m an only child. Never spoiled in terms of attention or money, but spoiled in the sense that I’ve always been able to enjoy an abundance of personal space.  This is crucial to my well-being. Otherwise known as stay the F--- out of my kitchen while I’m cooking.

My famous enchiladas: they're not always this pretty - but always taste fantastic.

This may be the 3rd or 4th time I’ve cooked for the in-laws, but I decided to make the famous Black Bean Enchiladas again. Personally, I hate dinner party repeats. I rarely cook the same thing twice for myself, let alone guests. Luckily, the family didn’t mind Enchilada repeat at all. Mom gets a night off from cooking, and I didn’t have to slave too hard. Win-win. 

Great Enchiladas come from my simple formula:
1. Create a flavorful filling of black beans
2. Make a sauce that contains Tomato (sauce, paste, fresh, diced - whatever), mixed with vegetable oil, chili powder, and spices.
3. Fold tortillas around bean filling plus cheese. Top with sauce and more cheese. Bake.

For specifics, see this recipe: Sweet Red Onion & Black Bean Enchiladas
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