I’m a social person. I always have been. When my energy is low or if I’m feeling frazzled, I like to reconnect with friends and family to recharge. I realize that this isn’t the case for everyone and that many people like to turn inwards to ground themselves, but for some reason, my personality thrives on fellowshipping. So when I sent out a quick email to 3 of my closest friends to meet in my basement living room for a Girls Night In, it was just as much for my own selfish reasons as it was to give everyone a chance to break away from their everyday stressors and unwind.
Just this week, I posted to my Facebook status that I like to cook when I am stressed because it’s a release for me. So when one of my friends couldn’t fathom why I would go to the trouble to prepare a mini-spread for the gals, I explained that I enjoyed doing it – cooking for others really does bring me joy. Not to mention, what I threw together really wasn’t all that labor intensive.
I had originally planned to do comfort foods because each of us was experiencing life challenges and I wanted to provide as much comfort as possible. But, given the insane temps in our area and the definite effort labor involved in preparing items like fried chicken, mac and cheese and banana pudding, I opted to the obvious backup plan: call Mommy. My mom, as usual, came through with ideas. She had just made a Jerk chicken dish for her bookclub and gave me the quick recipe. Then she remembered a guacamole and crab appetizer that she had at a restaurant. Both sounded perfect, and I was on my way.
The Jerk Chicken Pasta was so easy. I marinated the chicken tenderloin in fresh lemon juice, then seasoned it with Jerk seasoning, stuck it under the broiler and that was that. I sliced up red and yellow bell peppers along with a sweet onion, sauteed them in a generous amount of olive oil infused with fresh garlic and parsley from Chatterbox’s herb garden. I made angel hair pasta (love making this since it takes exactly 3 minutes), and then added the drained pasta to the veggies and tossed it all together, adding salt and pepper to taste. I sliced the chicken and topped the pasta with it. No problem, mon!
For the Guaca-tinis, I made my signature avocado salad, and topped it with lump crabmeat from the seafood cooler at the grocery store. Stuck a Lime Tostito chip in each glass and I was done. It was off.the.charts. Definitely a keeper.
The Summer Salad was a random mix of what I had laying around: romaine hearts, sliced strawberries, cornbread croutons and red onion. And I threw some frozen garlic ciabatta bread into the oven (which I forgot so they ended up a bit more ‘golden’ than planned).
I completely forgot to snap a shot of the desserts. I picked up a Red Velvet Cheesecake along with gelato and made some Chocolate-Covered Strawberries. Add some Middle Sister Sweet & Sassy Moscato that I got as a gift from the Wine Sisterhood at Type A Parent Conference to the mix and we were in business.
Everyone ooo’d and ahh’d over the food and I was happy that they felt special…because they are. That was the whole point of the evening. We talked and laughed and some cried, and we watched episodes of Braxton Family Values On Demand. And I went to sleep that night feeling like myself again.