A Catch Up Dinner

I hadn’t seen my friend Meredith since before the holidays.
That was way too long to go without gossiping catching up.

After several unsuccessful attempts to plan a weekend brunch, we finally decided on a Tuesday night dinner. After discussing locales and times (dang, we are busy); I finally suggested throwing on cozy clothes and coming to my house where I’d cook. My house don’t care if you hang out in your PJs until all hours. Plus #nonstopwine.

So, here it is; a light dinner for a girls catch-up!
Vegetable & Avocado Dip with Crudite
Mixed Greens with Shaved Carrots & Beets
Chicken & Zucchini Gratin
Coconut & White Chocolate Blondies

Avocado & Vegetable Dip with Crudite
Mix 8oz non-fat, plain Greek yogurt with one very ripe (peeled & pitted) avocado until smooth. Stir in 1/2 packet of Knorr Vegetable Dip mix. Add dill and black pepper to taste. Serve with Crudite or Homemade Pita Chips.  Serves 4.

Mixed Greens with Shaved Carrot & Beet
Toss 5oz of mixed baby greens with 1/2c. unsalted pumpkin seeds. Using a cheese grater, shave one peeled carrot and one peeled beet into the greens. Season with salt, pepper and a dash of olive oil. Optional: Lemon Avocado Salad Dressing. Serves 4.

Chicken & Zucchini Gratin
A lightened up gratin made with non-dairy milk. I also added brown rice to make this more of an entrée. It could be considered a (gulp) casserole.

3 tbs butter (plus more for topping)
1 garlic clove, peeled and diced
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 large zucchini (or 2 medium), peeled and diced
1.5 c. cooked brown rice
2 c. cooked chicken, diced (I used light and dark meat from a roasted chicken)
1/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour (or AP flour)
3 c. milk (dairy or non-dairy; rice or almond)
pinch nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper
3/4 c. grated Gruyère cheese
Sea Salt, Black Pepper
3/4 c. Panko Bread Crumbs (I mixed Panko with Almond Meal for a little more flavor)

Pre-heat oven to 350. Spray a 11×9 dish (or four individual ramekins) with cooking spray.
In a large, deep saucepan, melt 1 tbs butter. Saute garlic, onion and zucchini until tender; but not mushy. Spoon vegetables into a large bowl. Add rice and chicken, stir together. Set aside.

Without wiping out the saucepan, melt remaining 2 tbs butter. Whisk flour in briskly to create a roux. Slowly add milk, still whisking, so that the flour is completely incorporated. Add nutmeg and cayenne. Allow white sauce to heat and thicken (but not boil). When you see small bubbles form around edges, lower heat, and slowly stir in cheese until smooth. Taste here; add salt and pepper as needed.

Adding a spoonful at a time, add 3/4 of the sauce to the Chicken/Veg/Rice mix, stirring to blend. Transfer mix to greased dish(es). Pour remaining sauce over the mix. Sprinkle on Panko/Almond crumbs. You can dot butter over the top or leave as-is. Bake for 20-30 minutes until sauce is bubbly and Panko has browned. Serves 4.

The White Chocolate & Coconut blondies were simply this divine recipe with coconut swapped out for the almonds. Drool.

A light and lovely dinner for a girls catch up. And you know #nonstopwine.


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