In which I host a ‘dinner party’…

Those of you who know me know that I can bake, but cannot cook. Every once in a while, I go slightly insane and decide to prove that I can, in fact, cook. Some of these…experiences…are more successful than others. Tonight’s, I think, can be added to the ‘Success’ column. Huzzah!

The theme for this evening’s dinner was ‘The Four Seasons.’ Representing summer was the appetizer, Crab, Mango, and Avocado Salad from Simply Recipes. I think this was the least successful of the dishes. I substituted coconut rice for the crab which was problematic on a number of levels, but mainly that cold rice does not equal good rice. Also, if I made this again (and it was good enough to have another go at it), I’d probably layer it mango-avocado, then rice, then another mango-avocado instead of the opposite. But it wasn’t bad.

There was also some trouble with this one as one of the slices of mango made a run for it underneath one of the stone’s burners while I was making the main course.

After repeated attempts to stab it out of there (and rather more swearing than I’m proud of), I eventually had to wait until the soup was done, then lift up the top of the stove, and retrieve it.

ETA: This evening for dinner, I decided to try and heat the rice, mango, avocado salad up and see if that improved it at all and it did! It’s still quite a bit more bland than you’d expect with all those flavors in there, but it softened the rice up a bit and made it seem a bit less dry. Still needs some work, but much better!

Then, for fall, I made Pumpkin Soup with Smoked Paprika also from Simply Recipes. I won’t go into the entire rant, but needless to say, the local market no longer seems to carry McCormick’s spices and flavorings, so I had to jury-rig smoked paprika from turmeric, cumin, and cayenne. I was trying to recreate a soup I had when I was visiting a friend in Sweden and, while I didn’t manage that, it was still very yummy. And I did this the long way, too, which was very satisfying. I started with this:

And ended up with this:

(It really is rather more orange-y than it looks in that picture…) Yum! Very good for a chilly fall (or winter) night. And I now have vast quantities of it, so I’ll probably end up freezing it and saving it for later.

To go with that, there were hot rolls (made from a box, so nothing special) and…spring! Green beans provencale from Recipe Zaar. Verrry yummy. I added cubes of mozarella to this and it was perfect. (Alas, the picture is quite blurry – I promise they were in focus when I took it…)

And there was winter for dessert, in the form of Gingerbread Cupcakes from Post-Punk Kitchen (a vegan recipe, made unvegan by me), which went from this:

To this:

I was not sure the frosting was going to work, but I finally got out my hand-mixer and it ended up being really nice – sweet, but with enough lemony flavor and surprisingly light considering it has shortening in it. It didn’t look very pretty, but it sure tasted good…So. 3 out of 4 ain’t bad, right?;)


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