Making some tweaks to Your Kind of Salad; so don’t mind the construction as things shift slightly!
As a Lebanese girl, I pride myself on being a good hostess.
Three of the tenants I try to adhere to:
– Be hospitable
– Be generous
– Be ready for anything
That last tidbit is a lesson well-learned from my family’s kitchen. My Mom and Dad are wonderful hosts; my Dad getting drinks and shaking hands and my Mom encouraging everyone to be comfortable and have a bite to eat. One of my mom’s greatest feats in the kitchen is the phenomenon of “making something out of nothing.”
Bringing home 3 friends for dinner without notice? No problem. The friend who stopped by unannounced but ended up staying to chat? No problem. And my favorite: everyone’s tired, we’re due to grocery shop tomorrow and no one feels like eating anything in particular? NO PROBLEM.
I’ve often teased my mother that she can make a feast for 12 with some limp lettuce and batteries. This feat is due to a well-stocked pantry, a little creativity and some patience. Skills I hope I’ve acquired.
I put this to the test Friday night. It had been a LONG week; a busy weekend, work travel, some evening events. I never got to the grocery store last week so when I invited my two girlfriends over for wine and snacks Friday night I knew I had a challenge on my hands:
Make dinner for 3 with what was in my fridge/freezer after not grocery shopping for two weeks.
Of course I could have gone to the store Friday after work, or gotten take-out; but I liked the idea of a challenge….and not wasting what I had on hand.
What my fridge looked like when I got home Friday night at 6:45pm, friends expected at 7pm:
Top Shelf: Seltzer water, Regular Water, Giant Cookie (from a work mtg)
Second Shelf: sun-dried tomatoes, 3 Apples, Figs, 4 individually wrapped Whole Wheat dough balls and 1 Chicken Sausage I had thawed from my freezer that morning. 1 oz of Gouda cheese. (Baking Needs and Pickles in the back row).
Third Shelf: Leftover Four Onion Soup, 1 White Onion, Sabra Lemon Hummus, 1/2 lb Bacon I thawed from the freezer, 1/2 pack leftover
La Tortilla Factory WW tortillas.
Sort of a motley crew, right? Good thing I was inspired that morning with the following recipes:
Appetizer: Hummus/Crisps (using WW Tortillas & Sabra)
Dinner: Flatbread Pizzas (no cheese? no problem).
– Balsamic Fig, Bacon & Onion Pizza
– Caramelized Onion, Chicken Sausage and Gouda Pizza
Dessert: Apple Tart
Beverages: Wine, Beer, Seltzer
First things firsts:
I got out the seltzer water, chilled a bottle of white wine and opened a bottle of red. Friends are fine watching you cook as long as they have a glass of wine in their hands. I mean, MY friends are anyway :).
Out came the appetizers:
Sabra Hummus, sun-dried Tomatoes, Homemade Sea Salt & Pepper
WW Tortilla “Crisps” (Simply cut tortillas into pieces, spray with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes until crisp).
My friend Nursey had also brought yummy Trader Joe’s Arancini bites; which I put out as well. Yum!
Once the girls had wine and a snack in their hands; I got to work on the flatbreads. Since I had packaged my dough into 4 individual bags; I rolled out each one individually, so I could make four flatbreads.
Vowing I would find a way to use the Four Onion Soup; I simply drained the onions (and reserved the broth to use as stock for rice or veggies) and spread the onions as a base for the first flatbread. I diced up the chicken sausage (which was fully cooked) and sprinkled that and the little bit of Gouda cheese on top. A hearty sprinkle of black pepper and this was ready to bake.
After 15 minutes, we had this:
I sliced the white onion and figs and laid them out with the strips of bacon all together on a baking sheet. I drizzled it all with balsamic vinegar and honey; and let it bake in a 350 oven until caramelized.
I threw the figs into the food processor with a little more honey and water; and processed into a fig jam which I used as a base . I layered the fig jam on two of the flatbreads and then covered each with the crisp bacon, and balsamic onions and a few fig slices and baked everything together for 15 minutes.
I reserved the last dough ball for dessert and made a quick Apple Tart. I simply peeled and chopped three apples, tossed them with brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon and pecans. I folded the mix into the WW dough; sealing it like an Apple Calzone. I had leftover apple filling; so I made a quick apple crisp by pouring the remaining apples into a ramekin, covering them with a bit of flour-butter-sugar-cinnamon mixture and baking both this and the Tart for about 20 minutes.
I also put out the big cookie; because really, who doesn’t like a big cookie? And served it with this amazing Dickinson’s Coconut Creme Curd and Vanilla Curd. Delightful!
Although this was not most perfect dinner effort; and there are definitely some tweaks I would have made to the dishes (those damn “four onions” still tasted off) but for a “something out of nothing” dinner; I think I did all right. And most importantly; my friends were warm, cozy and happily stuffed (with leftovers to take home) while in my home. A night any Lebanese girl could be proud of.