Memorial Day 2011: The Menu

We spent Memorial Day with my husband’s best childhood buddies and their (lucky for me!) amazing wives.  We have been taking variations of this same trip — to one friend’s house near South Lake Tahoe — for over a decade, but the dynamics have shifted considerably as we have gotten older, gotten hitched, gotten pregnant.  What was once a party house full of dudes and the occasional girlfriend is now a (mostly) civilized portrait of four couples, a dog, an infant, and a Cars-obsessed toddler (that would be mine).  Where we once trucked down to the lake at 2am, Coors Lights in hand, for “polar bear” swims followed by grilling sessions of whatever meats were left over, we now eat dinner at the dining room table and turn in by midnight knowing that at least 3 adults will need to be functional by about 6am to administer breakfast and exercise to our various human and canine dependents.  We still drink a lot of wine (well, not me, this year), but we also play a lot of Scrabble.

This being a totally bizarre year for weather, it snowed, Day After Tomorrow-style, the entire time we were in the mountains ostensibly kicking off summer.  On Saturday night our host heroically grilled steaks on the Weber, white wine stubbornly in hand, wearing a fleece vest and wool cap while snowflakes the size of daisies piled up on the deck all around him.  Otherwise we stayed indoors and took a lot of naps.  But we did manage to keep the TV off, save for the Giants game and, you guessed it, Cars.

It has become the tradition to divide up the meal planning so that each couple is responsible for one or two meals — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — over the course of the long weekend.  All of the parties involved are rather ambitious home chefs who love to entertain, so the result is a three-day string of show-stopping eats.  Now that I have emerged from my food coma and opened my email, I see that the more organized wives among us have proposed a recipe swap, so I am passing the love along.

Here it is: Memorial Day 2011 — The Menu.

FRIDAY (arrivals)
Dinner – Individual Pizzas on the Grill
Homemade pizza dough, a variety of toppings (sausage, olives, tomatoes, caramelized shallots, cheese,  arugula, mushrooms), baked on the Weber outside.  Romaine salad with eggless Caesar dressing.  (No dessert…full-disclosure: This was our night, and we don’t make dessert.  It’s just not our thing.  Fortunately someone else brought chocolate chip cookies.)

Breakfast – Egg and Cheese sandwiches
Bacon or turkey bacon (optional) on English muffins.
Lunch – Mexican Fiesta
Roast chicken enchiladas with red sauce (see recipe below).  Salad with balsamic dressing.
Dinner – Steakhouse Extravaganza
Grilled artichokes with balsamic vinaigrette and Green Goddess dipping sauces.  Grilled New York steaks, baked potato bar, salad.  Strawberry shortcake.

SUNDAY (are you full yet??)
Breakfast – On the Lighter Side
Granola or cereal with fresh fruit and yogurt.
Lunch – Wrap It Up
Build-your-own: chicken, ham, roast beef, provolone, lettuce, tomato, hummus, mustard, mayo, and salad.  Whole wheat or sundried tomato wraps. 
Cocktail Hour – Arriba!
Homemade jalapeno poppers (NB: These were too spicy to eat; our friend surmised that she had bought the wrong peppers, probably habaneros.  Oops.  But the filling was delicious and she assures me that she has made them in the past to great acclaim.  Buyer beware!)
Dinner – Italian Restaurant
Orichietti with broccoli rabe and chicken sausage.  Salad.  Garlic-parmesan bread.  Make-your-own sundaes. 
We didn’t do the sundaes until after 11pm and a vigorous round of Catchphrase, because everyone was too full from the day to contemplate dessert.

MONDAY (departures)
Breakfast – Grab, Pack, n’ Go
Fruit and yogurt smoothies, bagels, a variety of toppings (cream cheese, tomato, onion, peanut butter ‘n jelly, butter), all sliced and plated and left on the counter at 6:30am by the couple with the infant, who were on the road before 8.  Impressive. 

Aunt Jen’s Enchiladas

2T butter
2T flour
2T or more New Mexico Red Chile powder (or mild chili powder)
2 cups chicken broth
1 can tomato sauce (8oz)
1 clove garlic, mashed
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt

Melt butter in sauce pan and blend in flour. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add chile powder. Slowly add the broth, sauce, and spices. Simmer about 30 min. (Optional: add a can of tomatoes and then use hand blender to make it smooth.)

Roast a chicken (or just a few breasts or thighs) with olive oil, salt & pepper until cooked through. Tear into pieces. Sauté onions and garlic in oil and add cooked chicken pieces, seasoning again with salt, cumin, and chili powder. Add bell peppers or mushrooms – what ever is in the fridge to bulk it out a bit.

Put a bit of the sauce at the bottom of a large baking dish, then make individual rolls of chicken and vegetables in corn tortillas. Pack tortilla rolls in a single layer in the baking dish. Pour the rest of the sauce over and cover with cheese (cheddar or jack) and bake at 350°, 375° ‘til bubbling.

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