The Honey and I make time every week for date night; one night a week carved out for just the two of us to explore new local restaurants. The tradition started when I first moved to the South and has become our weekly ritual – even when things get busy or stressful with work, it’s our night to decompress and spend quality time together. We’ve discovered some gems along the way, and keep a running list of new places to try.
One of the restaurants that has been on the list for months is a little – and highly elusive – Thai restaurant in the town just next to ours, that was recommended to us shortly after we moved in. On our first attempt we discovered that they only serve lunch. The next time we got rained out. Then over-an-hour-waited out. This week we tried for a lunch date, on Monday, when it turns out they are closed. The stars just haven’t aligned.
Instead, I came home and whipped up these scrumptious Thai-spiced chicken meatballs; my way of making up for our latest strike-out. But don’t think these flavor-packed nibbles are some mere consolation prize. Packed with fresh herbs and spices and dipped in a bold roasted red pepper curry sauce, these Thai-inspired meatballs are full of flavor and won’t last long as either a tasty appetizer or easy dinner.
Every year since we first moved into my childhood home, my parents have hosted a pot-luck barbecue over Memorial Day weekend for friends and neighbors. When we were little, the neighborhood was bustling with dozens of other kids around the same age, and we spent the afternoon running around the yard and munching on classic burgers and hot dogs. Now, with most of us well out of college, it remains an annual tradition.
This year however, for the first time since it began, the festivities are being postponed. My cousin is getting married, and the family is converging on my Aunt and Uncle’s lovely home in Santa Rosa for the wedding this weekend.
I’ll be flying back to California tomorrow for a few days of R&R before the family celebrations begin, and soaking up some sun in my old coastal stomping grounds. It just wouldn’t be Memorial Day weekend without some great barbecue dishes though, so while I’m gone I’m leaving you with some easy and delicious grilling ideas and recipes for outdoor gatherings.
These juicy, flavorful Chili Lime Shrimp Skewers are delicious in a lick-your-fingers-clean sort of way, and equally simple to pull together. A quick marinade of fresh lime juice, spicy chilies and fragrant herbs, then a brief stint under the broiler, and these succulent coral beauties are ready to be devoured.
If you have more self-control than we do, these would make a fantastic appetizer. However, if you too can’t help having just one more spicy-sweet little shrimp, a couple of these skewers make a great dinner paired with a salad or grain.
I have a fondness for goat cheese. That’s a polite way of saying I have an obsession that borders on madness. We always have goat cheese on hand, often more than one variety, and I start to get nervous when my supply runs low. I toss it in salads, top burgers and sandwiches with it, and often sneak it into pasta dishes. My orders at restaurants are entirely predictable if goat cheese is featured prominently on the menu.
As I began planning some south-of-the-border-inspired dishes for Cinco de Mayo, I had in mind a quick, flavorful little stuffed pepper appetizer to nibble on while sipping margaritas. Naturally, I reached for the goat cheese. Spicy, red cherry peppers stuffed with ever-so-sweet, creamy goat cheese combine to create little bites of bright flavor, and are a delicious way to kick off your next fiesta.
Do you have plans for Cinco de Mayo? With the Honey still out of town, it’s looking like a fiesta for one at the Swoon homestead this year. Perhaps I’ll dress the pup in a sombrero and make it a date!
As a native of Southern California, I grew up eating a lot of authentic Mexican food. Those dishes remain a big inspiration in the Swoon Kitchen, and I almost never need an excuse to whip up a spicy south-of-the-border-inspired recipe. I kicked off the Cinco de Mayo festivities early with these little veggie tostadas. Smokey, chile-spiced sweet potatoes combine with black beans and fresh chilies atop a crispy corn tortilla for a delicious vegetarian dish that’s perfect for one – or a party.
Check back this week for more Cinco de Mayo recipes and inspiration!
We live a bit outside of town, where farmland regularly intersects with a scattering of houses and small neighborhoods. It’s peaceful here. Open. Quiet. Plenty of land to meander through with the pup. This winter, it’s been especially still, with occasional falling snow and misty, foggy days.
When the weather grows chilly, I turn to a handful of my favorite comfort recipes; tried-and-true soups and stews, warming roasts and a few other cozy dishes, including this hearty Turkey Chili. Not only is this flavorful chili a perfect cold-weather antidote, I love that it mostly cooks itself, simmering away all day in the Slow Cooker, awaiting our return from a late-afternoon walk in the fields.
We make these simple, lighter chicken enchiladas fairly often; they come to together quickly for a flavorful dinner, and the honey loves them for leftovers the day – or two – after. I’ve hesitated to write about this dish for Swoon, only because I don’t particularly follow a strict recipe and the ingredients tend to change slightly each time, depending on what we have in the pantry.
I’ve experimented with homemade and store-bought enchilada sauce. Corn and flour tortillas. If we have green chilis on hand, I add those for some extra heat. Or sauteed red peppers and onions, which gives the dish bold fajita-flavors. I love that it’s so adaptable and easy to throw together for a weeknight dinner; I can adjust the quantity for just the two of us – or to feed a crowd – with the same delicious results.