Girls’ Night IN!

by kathyjeanwelsh

Sometimes ya just gotta get the girls together to eat, drink and be catty merry, right?!  It really should happen every few weeks – like vacuuming under the couch, or getting a manicure, or backing up your computer – but summer is a busy time and it can be tough!  Well, Friday night was the night that Janine, Darrow, Gerri, Friend and I decided to have our own happy hour on the patio at Chez Welsh, and it was so, SO much fun!

We had one (bag) boy…

… who kept us company in the kitchen while we were prepping… a key “ingredient”….

Once everyone got a glass of wine in their hands, we had to think about the food.  To start us off, Friend made quesadillas with sautéed spinach, mushrooms, onions, Monterey Jack and goat cheese.  She used Rudy’s whole spelt tortillas, which we love with all of our hungry hearts.  I sometimes like to use sprouted grain tortillas, but they are a little tougher (literally) to work with, and whole grains are the next best thing. Why sprouted/whole grains? They’re more delicious, more nutritious, have more fiber, and provide a sustained energy source.  Pretty cool, right?!  This action seriously rocked, people.  Low fat?  Nope.  High yum?  Yep!

For part of the “main course”, I was super psyched to try this new recipe I found online – it just sounded so fresh and light and perfect for a warm summer evening!  The creamy avocado dressing really intrigued me and I have to say that it was pretty fab!  Per request, I substituted garbanzos for black beans, and they worked beautifully because of their nutty flavor and firmer texture.  Another yum!  This recipe has a lot of ingredients, but don’t be scared… it’s really easy to prepare.

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

FOR THE SALAD:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can (15.5 ounce can) black beans, drained and rinsed (I used garbanzos)
  • 1 can (15.5 ounce can) sweet corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes sliced
  • 2 whole green onions, sliced
  • 1 whole jalapeño, seeds and membrane removed, sliced
  • ¼ cups fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoons paprika

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 1 whole avocado, peeled and pitted
  • ½ cups fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cups fresh, flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoons black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil

PREPARATION:

For the salad, combine the quinoa and vegetable broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed and the germ of the quinoa is exposed. Remove from heat.

While the quinoa is cooking, combine the black beans, corn, tomatoes, green onions, jalapeño, cilantro, cumin and paprika in a large bowl.

Prepare the dressing by combining all of the dressing ingredients (everything except the olive oil) in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine and then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn on the processor and then slowly stream the olive oil through the top opening, continuing to process until the dressing is combined.

Add the quinoa to the black bean/corn mixture and toss to combine. Pour the dressing over the mixture. Serve warm or chilled (I served it chilled). Top with additional cilantro if desired.

Well, woman cannot survive on wine, quinoa and “Magic Mike” alone, so we fired up the grill and threw on some taco ingredients, like –  fresh veggies…

… and shrimp…

… and, of course, fresh corn tortillas.  For accompaniments, I had cilantro, avocado, cheddar/jack cheese, cabbage and two different salsas.  Wine, women and… food that makes you sing with joy?  Heck yeah!  All we were missing was a pillow fight!  Or maybe that’s a whole different type of girls’ night…

Hmmm… Anywaaaaay…!  It’s no secret I’m a big fan of a yummy breakfast, and Husband and I took full advantage of the evening’s leftovers for Saturday breakfast.  Iced coffee and veggie quesadillas?  Yes, please!

Great conversation, lots of laughs, yummy food and crazy fun?  Sign me up!  Again and again and again!  What’s your favorite food for a girls’ night?  And do you require M&Ms?  Inquiring minds want to know!

Hope you’re having a “Magic” weekend, everyone!  Until next time…

Cheers, dears!  *clink!