Friday, February 10, 2012

Easy, Frugal Dinner for Twelve

Last night I hosted my bunco group for dinner, drinks and dice rolling. I had pondered what to make for dinner for while. In the 12 years we’ve been playing I have tended to gravitate toward pasta or Mexican dishes for ease and economy, both good options, but I was craving something a little different this year. I decided to spice things up by trying an Indian-ish menu from starter to dessert. It was a hit. One of my friends who arrived late said, “I don’t know what you’re making, but it smells fantastic. I can’t wait to try it.” I broke the cardinal rule of not trying something new when entertaining, and in this case it worked out. It was delicious, inexpensive, and except for the asparagus, everything was prepped or prepared the day before. I tripled recipes to serve 12. Here’s what I served:

Indian Relish photo credit
Appetizer -Red Pepper and Onion Indian Relish with pita chips and carrots. I mixed in cream cheese to cut the heat so mine was more orange than red. Delish

Dinner – Tandoori Style Chicken over Basmati Rice, Cucumber Raita, Asparagus with Curry Butter, choice of Sauvignon Blanc or Zinfandel
cucumber raita photo credit
Eating Well Asparagus with Curry Butter

Tandoori Style Chicken (recipe via St. Supery Wine Club)

2 pounds chicken parts – (used skinless, boneless thighs)
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup yellow onion - chopped
3 tablespoons garlic – chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger – peeled and chopped
1 Serrano chili – seeds removed and chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plain yogurt

Prick holes all over the chicken pieces with a fork.
Combine the rest of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Pour the marinade over the chicken and rub until the chicken is completely coated. Cover with plastic wrap or place in a large zip lock bag. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Rub off excess marinade and grill over hot coals until the juices run clearor you may bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for about 30 minutes (this is what I did). Serves 4 

photo credit

Dessert – store bought Mango Sorbet with a spring of mint
photo credit
Note on cost: I had all of these spices on hand which helped keep costs down. If you had to buy them all to start, it could get expensive. Also, I splurged and used Greek yogurt for both this and the cucumber raita,  but that did not add significant expense. Chicken thighs are always inexpensive and red peppers, cukes, asparagus were all on sale this week. 

I would love to know if you have a go-to menu to serve to a crowd? And, do you try new recipes out when you have company?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Replenishing & Upgrading Makeup

I recently restocked my makeup; it seems to all run out, dry up, or disintegrate at the same time. I needed new foundation, a blush, neutral eye shadow and mascara. I decided to upgrade to some higher end products. From Sephora I ordered Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer and Nars Powder Blush, and from the drug store I picked up a Revlon eye shadow quad and CoverGirl Lash Blast Volume.

My favorite of the bunch is the Laura Mercier foundation. In the three days I’ve worn it, I’ve gotten comments like “you look great,” from a friend. “Did you do something different with your hair?” from my husband (I did not, but he couldn't quite put his finger on the subtle change he sensed), and “you have great skin,” from a new acquaintance (this last was at happy hour in a dimly lit pub, but still). I’m sold. Even though this foundation is sheer and doesn’t hide imperfections like brown spots, it adds a luminosity that I have not found in other products, and because it’s sheer I don’t have to worry about ring-around-the-jawline either.

The Nars blush was my other splurge. It’s a pretty pink, in that most famous of shades, orgasm. Even though this product gets rave reviews, I don’t think I’ll buy it again. It has some sparkles or shimmer to it that I’m not crazy about. I think it would be fine for evening. I have dry skin, so a cream formula would probably have been a better choice. Recommendations?

My drug store purchases were a bargain and are completely serviceable. The shadows are in a colorway called khakis and the mascara is well, mascara. The next time I’m at a mall however,  I want to stop by the Bobbi Brown counter and check out Deja’s recommendation for eye shadow and I’ll also stop by the Mac store for a new lipstick. My current faves are Hug Me (neutral) and Syrup (pink), both very quiet shades.

Like my wardrobe, finding what works in makeup is a work in progress. What makeup items do you rely on?