Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dinner Party for 6 for under $20

I admit it, I love to entertain and try and do so as much as possible, but it can get pretty expensive. Last night I decided to cook dinner for 5 of my favorite people but with all of the recent beginning of new semester expenses (books, etc.) I needed to do so as cheaply as possible.

After scanning the contents of my fridge and assessing my guest list I decided to make my own version of Moe's so I set up a taco bar, which looked very cool and was just as easy to make as it was cheap.

Several of the ingredients for this dinner come directly from the supermarket so I'll list those first followed by the recipes for the stuff I actually had to cook. My taco bar consisted of the essentials for any good taco - homemade salsa (recipe follows), guacamole (brought by a friend), sour cream, black olives (just buy a small can at the supermarket drain and serve), shredded cheese, rice, black beans, chicken and grilled vegetables and of course tortillas. I also had a selection of beer and wine (I also asked the guests to bring their favorite adult beverage) and provided margaritas.

Now that I've provided an overview of what I made I'm going to provide the recipes for the homemade stuff:

Margarita Fajita Chicken:
1 lb. chicken breast tenders cut into small pieces
2 red bell peppers cut into small pieces
1 red onion chopped
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of fresh parsley minced
Margarita Marinade:
- juice of 1/2 a lime
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon of pepper
- 1 tablespoon steak seasoning
- 1 teaspoon of sage
- 2 teaspoons of Emeril's Essence
- 2 teaspoons of cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons granulated garlic
- 1/2 cup of Margarita Mix (any brand)
Enough cooking oil to cover bottom of pan

At the beginning of dinner preparation (or an hour or so before) combine all of the Margarita Marinade ingredients in either a large bowl or a large food storage bag. Add the chicken and place in the fridge until ready to cook. Make sure that all of the seasonings cover the chicken and add more if you so choose.

When ready to cook the chicken heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the chicken (w/o the marinade, try and discard as much as the marinade as possible when adding the chicken to the skillet) and cook over medium high heat until brown. While the chicken is cooking chop the peppers and onion. Place in a large bowl and add the thyme, salt, pepper, and lime juice. Add a little bit of oil and mix. Add this mixture to the chicken and let cook until your desired level of doneness. Adjust the seasonings and add the fresh parsley.

Serve with black beans, sour cream, salsa and tortillas.

Fresh Salsa (well kind of)
1 can of diced tomatoes with green chilis lightly drained
1 can of diced tomatoes finely drained
3 cloves of garlic finely minced
1 red onion minced
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons Emeril's Essence
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 handful of fresh cilantro chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin

Add all ingredients in a large bowl (make sure it is NOT a metal bowl). Mix, taste and adjust seasonings. Place in fridge until ready to serve.

Black Beans:
2 cans of black beans drained
1 can of diced tomatoes with green chilis
1 large onion minced
3 cloves garlic minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons Emeril's Essence
1 teaspoon granulated garlic (if you like things garlicky)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley or cilantro chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the onions and garlic and cook till soft. Add the diced tomatoes and cook until the liquid reduces a bit. Add all of the spices except the cilantro. Cook for 1 minute and add the beans. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Cook until all of the other taco bar components are done. At the last minute add the fresh cilantro. Serve with the chicken, sour cream, etc.

Make enough instant rice to feed however many people you are having over.



AmyT said...

sounds great!!! thanks for sharing!

Katie said...

No problem! It turned out so well I can't wait to do it again!