When was the last time you invited your girlfriends over or suggested a night out on the town? What with all the snow and cold, it’s probably been a while. Like bears and groundhogs, we tend to hibernate when the wind blows and the mercury plummets. With all those layers of scarves, hats, mittens, heavy coats and sweaters, we’re exhausted before we even get out the door.
Whether you believe it or not, spring is just a couple of weeks away. Yes, spring. All right, not the kind they have in more temperate climes. Don’t go expecting a bunch of daffodils to pop up anytime soon. The snowbanks in front of my house are still at least seven feet tall. That said, the sun is higher in the sky. While we can’t seem to shake the arctic express, a little sunshine makes the day seem warmer (even when it isn’t).
So, it’s time to step up to the plate and put on your organizing hat. Send an email. Make a few phone calls. Don’t take no for an answer. It’s time to get out and about again. It’s time for Girls’ Night Out.
If you and your friends are charter members of the I Hate to Cook Club, then I suggest that you make reservations. It doesn’t matter whether you go five-star or diner style, the point is to see each other and have fun. Just be sure to pick a place that won’t rush you in and out in twenty minutes.
Perhaps your group is from that other school and loves all things culinary. A whole universe of fun is available to you. Of course, you could throw caution to the wind and hold a cooking party. Depending on how far you take it, a cooking party takes a little or a lot of planning. You can keep it simple and give everyone a turn stirring the risotto … or … go a little crazy and roll out dough for dozens and dozens of dumplings. Hmm, a potluck may be a better idea and less chaotic for the host.
Anyone who likes to cook, loves a potluck. Hey, it’s been a long, cold winter with lots of time to experiment in the kitchen and practice new recipes. I bet your friends can’t wait to show off their latest masterpieces. Before you start calling and emailing, here are a few tips:
Theme or not? Some people don’t mind, even hope for, a colossal mashup at their potluck. While surprises can be fun and funny, dinner can end up a hodgepodge. Think spanakopita meets kimchi and Boston baked beans. When you’re the host, feel free reign it in and declare a theme. How about Italian night or a seafood festival? Don’t want to dictate? Take charge of the main course and ask the girls to follow your lead. Your Thai curry or lobster mac & cheese will set the scene.
Plot the course. Some hosts don’t check to see who’s cooking what. You may be one of them. Perhaps you not-so-secretly hope that everyone will bring dessert. I’ve been there; it’s not pretty. Unless your tooth is really sweet, don’t hesitate to give the menu a guiding hand and ask a question or two. After all, there’s salad and then there is salad. While you’re assuming leafy greens, your friend is thinking hearty spuds. Delicious as it may be, her potato salad is not a great match for lasagna.
Forewarned is forearmed. Most guests limit their on-site preparation but it’s not a bad idea to find out who needs a spot in the oven or some last minute prep. Who knows, you may learn that your dear but ditzy friend is bringing a bag full of groceries so you can teach her how to make pot stickers. Postpone the dumpling lesson for another night and suggest she bring fresh fruit or a bottle of sake.
Be nothing if not flexible. Rest assured, with all those cooks and moving parts, something will go amiss. The salad maker will cancel at the last minute or the appetizers will arrive in time for dessert. It’s okay, pour another glass of wine and enjoy the company.
Have a fun night with the girls and bon appétit!
8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
1 1/2-2 teaspoons herbs de Provence
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 lemons
1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
8-12 ounces fresh (peeled and trimmed) or frozen pearl onions
8-12 garlic cloves, trimmed, peeled and left whole
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a roasting pan large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer in the oven for 10 minutes.
Sprinkle the chicken with 1-1 1/2 teaspoons herbs and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken, skin-side down in the hot roasting pan. Return the pan to the oven and roast the chicken at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.
While the chicken roasts, put the juice of 1/2 lemon, the stock, wine, olive oil and mustard in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the onions and garlic, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon herbs, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
Thinly slice 2 lemons and discard any seeds.
Turn the chicken, add the onions and garlic and scatter them around the pan. Scatter the lemon slices over the chicken and onions and return the pan to the oven. Continue roasting until the chicken is cooked through and golden and the onions and garlic are tender and caramelized, about 30 minutes more.
Serve the chicken thighs with a spoonful of onions, garlic and lemon.
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Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!
When was the last time you got together for a Girls’ Night Out? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.
Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015