Monday, June 10, 2013
You know that whole thing they say about babies not caring if you have a hangover? Yea, it is totally true.
Last month (on Cinco de Mayo), a few neighbors came over for some impromptu margaritas on the then-new patio, and someone threw out the idea of a progressive dinner. I had recently seen that episode of Desperate Housewives where they throw a progressive dinner, so I immediately jumped on it. Of course in that episode someone gets murdered...so I had to tone ours down a little bit...but still, same idea. I spent the past several weeks trying to coordinate via group email, and after a ton of back and forth, I finally got it all worked out.
Our neighborhood is actually kind of sadly known for being not very social, and Matt and I have been trying to get everyone together for about a year now to change that. Miraculously this past Saturday evening worked for everyone. Originally there were four couples, and by the time the plan was set we were up to seven couples. Thankfully the eighth couple had last minute plans, because I own exactly 14 forks. It worked out that none of the couples knew everyone that was coming, so we all were meeting at least two couples for the first time.
Even though everyone really wanted to host, we decided to keep it at five host houses maximum. I tried to work out a way to include all seven...but those two extra courses would have been pretty creative, and the night would have been even longer than it already was. So we stuck with five, and it worked out perfectly. We volunteered a neighbor known for his awesome cooking (meaning we just see him in his backyard constantly messing with all sorts of different smokers and grills...and it smells amazing) to do the main course, and he was a great sport about it. Because he had the most pressure, we let him decide the theme. Being in Texas, of course we went with Mexican/Tex-Mex/Southwestern. Can't go wrong with that. We drew names out of a hat for the rest of the courses. Here's how we broke up the evening, including what everyone served:
1. Cocktails - Wine, beer and some sort of mixed drink I didn't get to try + nuts and popcorn.
2. Appetizers - Chicken quesadillas, black bean/corn/avocado salad, individual 7 layer dip, queso, pico +
margaritas, wine and beer
3. Entree - Smoked pulled pork street tacos with tons of fixins + mexican martinis
4. Dessert - Mini key lime pies, tres leches cupcakes + every drink under the sun
5. After Dinner Drinks - I lost track at this point. I was jumping on a trampoline and drinking something
that I was pretty sure was a Zima. At the same time.
And a few pictures of the night, start to finish. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the trampoline pics didn't turn out.
By the end of the evening we had all gotten to know each other so well, toured each others houses and had a ton of laughs. And because you are on the move every half an hour or an hour, it never gets boring or dull. There is always a change of scenery and something new to talk about. What an awesome way to meet your neighbors. It just so happened that the couple whose name got drawn for after dinner drinks has a huge kickass backyard complete with a fire pit and trampoline, so we were able to stay for several hours with tons of room to spread out and plenty of things to do. If you are planning a progressive dinner and drawing for courses, I would suggest maybe picking (rather than drawing) somewhere to end your evening that works best logistically and has a host that is willing to let you stay well into the night.
As promised, here is the black bean/corn salad recipe that will definitely be on the menu in my house at least once a week now. My cousin pinned something similar on Pinterest JUST in time for the party! I just eyeballed the quantities and taste tested as I went:
- fresh key lime juice
- olive oil
- minced garlic
- cayenne pepper
Mix ingredients well.
- black beans
- avocado, diced
- red bell pepper, diced
- tomato, diced
- onion, finely chopped
- fresh jalapeno, finely chopped
-(you can sub ready made pico for the last four ingredients if you need a time saver!)
Combine all ingredients. Add the dressing, little by little, and toss. Taste as you go and add dressing as needed.
I served it in individual cups with some fresh cilantro and a lime wedge which was convenient for a mingling event, and the next day I topped some chips with the leftovers of it, added some cheese and threw it in the oven for a few minutes for the most delicious nachos EVER (awesome hangover cure, too). Or throw it between two tortillas with some cheese for some equally good quesadillas. Tip: I make mine on my second favorite appliance, the electric griddle. So quick and easy, and they get an awesome golden brown crispness on the tortillas.
We spent Sunday recuperating and cleaning up the house, and before we knew it, Monday had arrived. Back to reality! Hope everyone had a fantastic weekend...and if you haven't gotten to know your neighbors, consider a progressive dinner! I highly recommend it!