Monday, February 09, 2015

Valentine-Making Party, February 7, 2015

I love to have a Valentine-making party each year! I also love potlucks, because I get to eat things I normally wouldn't think to make. So, Saturday night, I combined the two. I decided to make red beans and rice, given the Valentine's Day theme and the color red. I'd considered making apple and brie toasts and lavender truffles, but, given the cold, something a bit less frouffy seemed in order. What, I wondered, would go great with red beans and rice? How about some Mexican Espresso Brownies? Perfect! I decided to play around and see what I could come up with. I used a box of Duncan Hines chewy fudge brownies and mixed them up according to the package directions, using melted butter instead of oil because I'd run myself out of oil on the fried chicken and forgot until the last minute. I like my brownies chewy much more than cakey, so I used just one egg, instead of two. Into the mix, I put 2 tsp. cinnamon, 2 tsp. chile, a big pinch of cayenne, and about a tablespoon of instant espresso powder. They were stellar, as were the red beans.

Red Beans & Rice
1 lb. dried red beans
4 c. water (plus more for soaking)
1 onion, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. salt
1/4 lb. diced ham (you can sub bacon or salt pork or omit altogether for a vegan dish)
2 tsp. cumin
Cooked rice

Soak beans in cold water to cover by at least 4 inches for at least 8 hours. Drain and mix with rest of ingredients, except rice, in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 6-8 hours. Serves 6. 

My sweet wife's contribution was yummy little shredded beef sliders with honey chipotle sauce. Ken & Meghan brought brownies, too, but theirs were topped with York mini patties before baking (in a heart-shaped pan!) & then they were sprinkled with Valentine sprinkles. Meghan's always got adorable desserts! They also brought delicious honey garlic meatballs. Brenda & Kenny brought an Italian sub they sliced up into teeny individual subs, along with some chicken salad (oh, yum!) and palmiers for dessert. Frank & Connie brought all the makings for Bananas Foster and we had quite a show, what with the flames and the cinnamon sparkles! 

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