Tuesday, July 5, 2011

An Estrogen-packed Independence Day

Another friend is leaving Boston in pursue of higher education... dear Ann is headed for medical school in Texas next week, so we thought we would get some girls together for this Fourth of July to send her off right.

I already gave you a little preview, so you've probably guessed that I am feeling quite festive and smily from my watermelon cocktail, and I'm ready to grill!


Okay, fine, I'm grilling on a grill pan. It's girls' night, what did you expect? Hamburgers on the grill?! Pshhha! Try Portobello burgers on the grill-pan! Before you pooh-pooh me, let me assure you that these portobello burgers are to die for. I can't remember where I got this recipe, but I've been using it for years, and have refined it a bit, so I can call it my own now, right?

...I bought some flowers for the party...

This morning I washed and dried 6 portobello caps and put them in a gallon-size ziplock. In a bowl, I whisked balsamic vinegar, olive oil, 2 small cloves minced garlic, a splash of horseradish sauce (Nope. Forgot to add that.), and s+p. I poured it into the mushroom bag and gave it a good shaking. I put it in the refrigerator, where it has been marinating for the past 3 hours or so. I turned it once, so that both sides would coat evenly.

After I prepared those, I mixed up that watermelon drink (see previous post), using Sanne's Cuisenart hand mixer, which is so much fun I wanted to make something else with it.

Then I remembered a can of black beans in the pantry and some salsa in the fridge, so I made the Joy of Cooking's Black Bean Salsa! Why is it that the best ideas come to you either a) last minute or b) in the bathroom?

you'll need:
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
6T salsa
1 clove garlic, mincified
2T fresh lime juice (I didn't have any, and it was still tasty without it...)
tomato and/or cilantro, for garnishment

Blend all of these things with your nifty hand-mixer. I have a funny story. The first dozen or so times that I made this recipe, I just read the ingredients and not the directions, so I didn't realize it was blended. It wasn't until I moved up here and we threw a Mexican Fiesta that I looked closely and realized what I wasn't doing. It's really good that way too! Unblended, its more salsa-consistency. The JOC recipe is technically a dip.

it aint pretty
While we waited for the other patriots to arrive, Elizabeth and I had ourselves a nice little cocktail hour. Elizabeth made a delicious Margarita and a Fresco something-or-other, which was comprised of pineapple juice and ginger, and if the spirit moves you, rum :)

When given a choice, I typically go with flavored margaritas, because I am not a fan of the regular ones (I can't get past the salt-- blurg!), But Elizabeth's margarita was GOOD. Like, capital letters good. Here's the recipe for 4 servings:

6oz limeade concentrate
6oz tequila
2oz triple sec
blend with ice until smooth

and for the Fresco a la Firework Cocktail:
5c pineapple (1"cubes)
4c water
1/2c sugar- we made a simple syrup (1/2c sugar, 1c water) instead of adding the straight cup of sugar.
2t grated ginger
blend until smooth.

We made this one dry, in case anyone didn't want alcohol, and then added rum to our individual drinks. ;)

In regards to corn, I just boiled it for 10ish minutes and dredged it in butter. Sorry, corn. No special treatment today. Mushrooms are the stars.

When it was time to grill(pan) the portobellos, I heated some olive oil in the pan at med-high, and cooked them until done, about 5 minutes each side.

I wish this were scratch-n-sniff
Kasia brought the appropriately named Cowboy Caviar, which was deliciously fresh, the perfect light component to our dinner. It was awesome.

Cowboy Caviar


1 c. olive oil
1 c. sugar
½ c. cider vinegar

Mix together and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Cool.


1 (15 oz.) can shoepeg corn
1 (15 oz.) can black beans
1 (15 oz.) can black eyed peas

Drain all three cans listed above and rinse in a colander.

Jalapeno peppers (4 oz. or less – depending on how hot you like it)
½ c. chopped red onion
½ c. chopped green bell pepper

serve with tortilla chips

Ann brought this incredible Indian dessert. Sadly, I was too stuffed to try it. Hopefully I have a piece saved for later... recipe coming soon!

And here are some photos from the rest of the evening...

sweet, sweet Ann
Neville (every girls' night needs a token man) and Kasia

Jenni, aka The Pyranose Producer

Neville approves of this meal
Sadly/Amazingly enough, this all went down while Sanne was sleeping off her jet lag. Sanne, check the fridge for leftovers!



  1. How fun! I think I'm going to host a girls night and in honor of your inspiration I will use at least one of your recipes. Blog will soon follow! :)

  2. Sounds great, Nicole! Can't wait to see what you come up with!

  3. cute tea set! and i never knew that dip/salsa was blended either! which way is better? and where'd you get that grill pan?

  4. Thanks! Isn't that crazy?? I kind of like it unblended better, actually. The grill pan is from Ikea.

  5. Your pictures for this turned out perfect! those portaoello burgers were so delicious! thanks for the shout out!