Dinner Party Vol. I

Dinner party idea

I wouldn’t consider myself to be a great cook–I’m decent at putting things together, but definitely don’t feel comfortable following complicated recipes and lack confidence when it comes to cooking certain meats (even though we have a great meat thermometer!). However, both J and I are slowly becoming more savvy in the kitchen and regularly follow relatively simple recipes from cookbooks or online, and create a few random combinations ourselves (if you’re interested in the latter, they’re saved under the “Easy Eats” highlight on my Instagram and some are in this post).

We also love cooking for friends, even though our “dinner parties” require breaking out our folding table (this one is great, by the way) since we don’t have a dining table, and mean borrowing chairs from a neighbor if there are more than four people. We really enjoy bringing people together over food and coming up with comprehensive menu–ideally a themed one! We had some friends over for Mexican food on Sunday and I had this idea to start a mini series where I round up the menu from these little dinners…we probably have friends over for a meal like this once every couple of months but end up both discovering great new recipes and relying on tried and trues. Hopefully these inspire you if you’re hosting or just looking to try something different! Here’s what we made this week…

Instant Pot Mexican Rice

Our Instant Pot has been a game changer in so many ways, and this Mexican Rice recipe was so easy and good. We paired it with canned black beans. This would be so easy to do on a Sunday so you’d have leftovers to eat with quesadillas or a protein throughout the week!

Cilantro Corn Salad (adapted from The Chunky Chef)

We roughly followed this recipe but added diced heirloom tomatoes, used an entire red pepper, and omitted the jalapeños. It was good as an app but also went well with the rest of the meal, particularly when accompanying the rice and beans. I also made guacamole–I don’t have a specific recipe but whipping up a great batch comes weirdly naturally to me…I attribute it to my Texas roots and hope I never lose my touch!

Skinnytaste Enchiladas Verdes

J and I have made these a couple of times and they are so easy and so good! I love enchiladas and am happy we have a relatively healthy version to rely on. I do like adding a light shredded Mexican blend of cheese to the filling but in general, they’re not heavy and are so easy to reheat throughout the week. Also, we’ll use feta instead of queso fresco–it’s cheaper and tastes similar!

Blueberry Cobbler

Remember this interview with Kate Bowler? Her cookbook is wonderful and we made this blueberry cobbler recipe that was so quick and easy. She notes this in the book, but you can use frozen blueberries instead–we did and it turned out great! Just drain some of the excess liquid after you simmer. This is 100% going into my rotation of go-tos…it would be perfect for potlucks, brunches (we ate the minimal leftovers for breakfast the next morning), and when you want to bake something quickly with simple ingredients…it’s the best!

The Best Margaritas

I knew Victoria had posted a really good margarita recipe a few years ago (five years, to be exact!) and we finally gave it a shot this weekend since at the time, I wasn’t ready to splurge on good tequila :) These are fantastic and SO easy to make…squeezing the limes is the only laborious process and I was surprised how much I enjoyed these given how partial I typically am to frozen vs. on the rocks. Another bonus: no fancy ingredients and no sugar!

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  1. Debbie wrote:

    I made the enchiladas and Mexican rice recipes last night for my family and they were a BIG hit! Thanks for the easy and tasty recipes. I have not thought to cook the chicken with an onion – it added enough flavor so that the chicken was not boring. I also used lite Mexican shredded cheese and added that into the dish, highly recommended. And the rice turned out perfectly. Now I need to try the cobbler and corn recipes too. I didn’t have time for those since I threw these together during commercial breaks for the Oscars. It was THAT easy.

    Posted 2.25.19 Reply
    • Monica wrote:

      Debbie, you just made my day!! I’m so happy to hear this and am so glad you enjoyed the enchiladas. We actually made them last night again, too! The extra cheese definitely makes a difference so definitely the right move :) Can’t wait to hear how you like the other recipes–thank you so much for letting me know!

      Posted 2.25.19 Reply
      • Debbie wrote:

        I’m having people over on Saturday and I think I will make this again – this time your entire meal. I’ll probably add guac and chips for an appetizer. Looking forward to Vol. 2 of your dinner party recipes! I love how you are a Trader Joe’s fan (as am I). I actually tried some of their products that I never tried before due to your posts.

        PS – I don’t follow too many blogs and for the life of me can’t recall how I found yours but I really enjoy your posts.

        Posted 2.28.19 Reply
        • Monica wrote:

          I’m sorry for the late response, Debbie–thank you so much for sharing this! I also made guac for the app and it was perfect :) Your comment literally made my day when I saw it come through on my phone, so thank you so much for taking the time to read + comment…and I will continue to bring on the TJ’s recommendations!!

          Posted 3.10.19 Reply