A Spring Dinner To Remember

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Spring has finally arrived in the form of beautiful, sunny, skies and pleasantly warm weather! We had what seemed like an unusually long winter, but somehow I remember saying the same thing last year… not really sure if it’s true, but I think it is safe to say that we are all definitely ready for some warmer weather and sunlight.

While my husband was taking hang gliding lessons yesterday, I was planning a spring celebration dinner that we could enjoy in the back yard. It ended up being an incredibly gorgeous day and I cannot tell you how nice it was to sit in the back yard, listen to the birds, and soak up as much of the beautiful weather as we could. All of the tree buds are opening up and even the lilacs are preparing themselves for warmer days.

I wish this tree could stay this gorgeous all summer! By this afternoon it will be filled with hundreds and hundreds of honeybees.

I love to sit on the porch and listen to them all.

 This is one of three lilacs that I had to cut way back last year because they were having “issues”.  I was worried that they wouldn’t recover, but it looks like they are going to have a good year. Fingers crossed. I can’t remember the name of this one but it smells divine. It sits right off our back deck and if it blooms like it’s supposed to, soon the entire main floor of our house will be filled with its gorgeous perfume.

This is our favorite tree. It has 4 different stages it goes through to prepare for summer. This stage where it begins to bud, then a flowering stage which isn’t quite as pleasant because although it looks gorgeous…the flowers smell like cat pee at night. The third stage is when the flowers drop and large green leaves appear, and then in the final stage the green leaves darken to a beautiful deep purple that shades our hot tub and hides us from the neighbors.

Last night was the first time I’ve ever had swordfish. Not being a fish lover I was a little apprehensive but it was interesting to me to learn that they hold together well on a skewer as a kabob. Fish on a kabob? Why not!

For some reason “celebration” for me either translates into an array of decadent desserts or Mexican food. Even though it would be wonderful to have an array of desserts for dinner, I figured my husband would probably want a real meal after a work out of hang gliding and then mountain biking. So I came up with a nice little Mexican feast for us to celebrate such a lovely weekend.

Oh yes, I almost forgot…Swordfish is now my new favorite fish!

Swordfish Skewers with Spicy Kumquat & Mango Salsa for Two

For the Swordfish Skewers:

A little over 1 Pound of Swordfish Steak, cubed (about 10 pieces)

2 Pablano Peppers, cleaned and cubed

1 Small Red Onion, cubed

Olive Oil

1 1/2 teaspoons Chili Powder

1/2 – 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, minced

1 1/2 Tablespoons Cilantro, chopped

Pinch of Kosher Salt

1/2 Lime, juiced

Pat the fish dry and place in a small zipper plastic back. Drizzle with about  1 Tablespoon olive oil. Add chili powder, cayenne pepper, minced garlic, and a pinch of kosher salt. Seal the bag, gently massage for a few seconds and refrigerate.

Next, place the pablano and onion cubes in a large zipper bag. Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of minced garlic, about 1 1/2  Tablespoons chopped cilantro, the juice of 1/2 a lime, a good pinch of kosher salt, and several grinds of pepper. Seal the bag, gently massage for a few seconds and refrigerate.

After the Swordfish and vegetables have marinated (mine marinated for 7 hours), layer the ingredients on skewers.

Set aside and allow them to come to room temperature. Heat gas grill to 425 degrees. Grill skewers for about 4 -5 minutes on each side until the Swordfish is almost cooked through and vegetables are grilled and crispy on the edges. It will go very quickly.

Top with the Spicy Kumquat & Mango Salsa.

 Spicy Kumquat & Mango Salsa: 

6 Kumquats, each sliced into 8 sections, seeds removed

1 Mango, peeled and cubed

2 Tablespoons Red Onion, diced

1/2 Red Bell Pepper, diced

1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeds and membrane intact

1 1/2 Tablespoons Cilantro, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons Raw Agave Syrup

1 1/2 Limes, juiced

 Place all ingredients in a bowl, stir, cover, and refrigerate. I allowed the fish, vegetables, and salsa to marinate for 7 hours.

Simple Tostadas

4 Corn Tortillas (You really only need 2)

Canola Oil (or whatever frying oil you like)

Kosher Salt

About 1 Cup Shredded Lettuce (I used iceberg because it was left over from the asian chicken wraps)

1 Tomato, diced

1/4 Cup Red Onion, diced

Dairy Free Cheese (I used Daiya Cheddar Style)

Refried Black Beans (I used canned low-fat Rosarita brand)

Pour about 2 cups of the oil in a small saucepan. (Make sure pets and kids are out of the kitchen…I’m sure I don’t have to give you lessons on how dangerous frying in oil can be.) Heat on medium-high. Fry tortillas one at a time until they are crisp and lightly browned on both sides. It only takes about 1  minute per side. Remove to a plate covered with a couple of paper towels. Blot lightly and sprinkle with kosher salt.

**I fried these right before I was ready to serve dinner. If you’re cooking for a larger crowd you can also buy them already crisp (make sure they’re gluten-free) or, you could fry them ahead of time, allow them to cool completely, and then place them in a zipper bag until dinner.

Plate the tostadas and spread a thick layer of beans over the top. Next, add the cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion. Serve with Tabasco and lime wedges.


Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

10 Strawberries

3 ounces of Dark Chocolate (Dairy Free)

Pretty much the easiest dessert on earth and always pretty. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, dip strawberries, and refrigerate until dinner is served. Allow to sit out and come to room temperature before eating. If you don’t, they will stick to the plate.

Lime Margaritas

1800 Silver Tequila (100% Agave)

Lime Juice (I used Simply Lime)

Limes, quartered

Kosher Salt

Granulated Sugar

Crystallized Lime (I used True Lime)

Ice

I’m not sure this can be truly categorized as a margarita. I don’t make a lot of mixed cocktails but of the 3 or 4 I do make, this is my favorite.

In a small ramekin add about 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 Tablespoon sugar, and 1 Tablespoon crystallized lime. Stir to combine and pour on a small plate. Wet the rim of a tumbler with a quarter of lime and dip the rim of the glass in the sugar mixture.

Add ice, I like to fill mine 3/4 full. Add tequila, I don’t measure… but I probably add 2 shots. Fill remainder of glass with lime juice. Squeeze a couple of pieces of lime and leave in glass as a garnish.

Yum!