7 Foods & Beverages for a Special DinnerSometimes, you need to celebrate something and plan on impressing a special guest with an awesome-looking and delicious dinner. Other times, you may feel like getting creative and want to turn a regular evening meal into a tasteful delight. Here are 7 meal suggestions, paired with complementing drinks and helpful cooking tips, to inspire you.
1. Pork ChopsPork chops are rich in taste but extremely versatile. There are numerous ways to prepare chops—from baking to grilling, to frying. You are only limited by your imagination. This recipe for Circle B Ranch Pork Chops with Cranberry-Maple Pan Sauce is quick to prepare, and the dish will impress any special dinner guest with its perfect combination of spice and sweetness. Food Network's Harvest Pork Chops with Cranberry and Kale look striking on the plate, are surprisingly easy to make, and are extremely tasty. This meal contains an enticing blend of flavors: cranberry, rosemary, garlic, and a touch of grainy mustard for balance. TIP: For this recipe, the trick is in the cranberry and Italian sausage stuffing. Make sure to evenly stuff the pork chops, and follow the recipe’s suggestion on closing the chops while cooking to keep the stuffing in.
Blends with Red WineYou can successfully serve your pork dish with a light red wine, such as a Zinfandel or Grenache-based variety. Your chosen wine should have a good acidity to balance the meat’s strong taste.
2. Chicken BreastsChicken breasts are low-fat and are relatively easy to prepare, generally taking around 20 minutes to cook. For your special dinner, try cooking the chicken breasts with tortellini or potatoes, or steaming them to create a juicy effect. When prepared with mascarpone and rosemary, chicken breasts become a treat for the palette. Tip: Don’t buy boneless and skinless half breasts that weigh more than 8 – 9 ounces. These come from stewing hens. Therefore, they are hard to make tender when not cooked in liquid.
Blends with White WineTry a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc to go with your chicken breast dinner. These wines enhance their taste when consumed with a meal containing green herbs.
3. Roasted Whole ChickenRoast chicken has pros and cons. While roast chicken may take considerable time to cook—approximately 20 minutes per pound—it has its charm in its sauce, which leaves you plenty of room for creativity. If you prefer a spicy flavor, try a sauce with jalapenos, cilantro, and lime juice or prepare a Cajun-style recipe. For a sweeter taste, go with apples and cider or honey and herbs. Tip: The more generous the stuffing, the juicier and tastier the chicken. Moreover, always remember to tie the chicken legs with a cooking string.
Blends with Red WineRed wines have a higher acid content and mix with the little fat from chicken and generous seasonings. If you add extra herbs, you can go for a red burgundy variety.
4. SalmonSalmon is one of the easiest dishes to prepare and one of the quickest to cook. Baked in the oven, salmon is fully cooked at about 15 minutes. Pan frying the fish takes about 10 minutes. You can serve it with kale or other choice greens or veggies. However, salmon enhances its taste and becomes lighter when cooked with olive oil. Tip: Cooking salmon with the skin on helps crisp the salmon while preventing overcooking.
Blends with BeerYou can try a German pilsner, which is fresh and bitter enough to balance the salmon’s fat. Also, white beers—low-alcohol wheat beers traditionally flavored with orange peel and coriander—mix with any kind of sea food, especially salmon.
5. LambLamb is not a dish you cook every day, but it is easy to prepare. For example, it takes about half an hour to cook a well-done leg of lamb meal, and you do not need to marinate the meat beforehand. There are several options for cooking a leg of lamb, but it shines when cooked with green veggies and herbs. TIP: Lamb leg goes well with garlic and rosemary. Moreover, you can serve it with pesto sauce and a touch of mint. If you want to try an even fancier dinner, prepare a rack of lamb. Circle B Ranch’s recipe for Pomegranate-Glazed Rack of Lamb will excite any dinner guest with the combined flavors of Pomegranate, rosemary, honey, and orange.
Blends with CocktailsThat sweet and fresh cocktail completes the subtle spicy taste of roast lamb leg. However, the dish is also wine friendly if you don’t choose a dry variety. Go for sweet, fresh and chilly options. Pair the pomegranate-glazed rack of lamb with a white wine to complement the pomegranate flavor.
6. Risotto with ShrimpParmesan Risotto with Roasted Shrimp is a light idea that combines flair with the simplicity of a home-cooked dinner. If you add Parmesan to the risotto and roast the shrimp for 5 minutes before adding them to the risotto, you will get a delightful restaurant-style meal in your home. Tip: Use the oven for the shrimp and make sure they are pink before adding them to the risotto. Also, serve immediately to enjoy a warm meal.
Blends with Dry WineA dry white one is the perfect choice for risotto and shrimp. It will add a sharp flavor to the meal, while keeping the sensation of a complex and delightful treat.
7. Chow MeinChow Mein is a Chinese recipe with a touch of Cantonese gourmet. It’s rich in content, and yet light when you consume it. Based on egg noodles, Chow Mein contains bamboo, shrimp, roast pork , chicken, beef and plenty of sauce. It’s also easy to cook and has a little sister – Low Mein. Tip: Follow the recipe every step of the way. Instructions are important, as you cook the recipe from scratch. Also, remember that al dente means cooked so that is seems ready, not soft.
Blends with JuiceA subtle, not so sweet juice goes perfectly with Chow Mein. Extremely sweet juice will enhance the spicy taste. Instead, choose a fresh one: oranges or tangerines. You can also go for a Sauvignon Blanc, as it is preferred for most Chinese dishes.
Bon Appetit!Remember, you don’t always need a special occasion to create a delicious and elaborate meal. These seven dish ideas can help you create a special gourmet dinner in your home in no time. Completing them with the suggested drinks will add an extra sparkle if you want to create a restaurant atmosphere. Don’t forget to include salads or a dessert course to round out the meal, or to choose the healthiest and safest ingredients for the recipes. Choose your meal, purchase its ingredients, prepare your special dinner, and get ready to dine! [ ... ]
The year seems to be flying by. We’re well into Spring and edging toward Summer. Farmers’ markets are teeming with fresh produce and bustling with consumers. Now is the perfect time to stop by and pick up a fresh veggie or fruit to complete a healthy dinner for your family. Buying from a farmers’ market supplies you with more benefits than you realize. Fresh produce, grown without all the extra additives and chemicals, provides a wide variety of nutrients and a purer taste that you just can’t get from the grocery aisle. And when you buy from a farmers’ market you know you are purchasing the produce at the height of its season. That’s as fresh as it gets. For example, Asparagus is in season right now. If you were to swing by the farmers’ market, you could treat yourself to an assortment of this super-vegetable. Edible varieties include the usual green asparagus that everyone finds familiar, a white asparagus that has a very delicate flavor, and even a purple asparagus that is smaller with a fruity type flavor. Whichever type you prefer, one thing is for sure; asparagus is one of Spring’s finest super-foods. Let’s take a look at the veggie’s amazing benefits! Asparagus is rich in a variety of vitamins and nutrients:Read More
- Fiber improves digestive health and aids with weight loss.
- Folate strengthens brain function, especially when paired with B12, and positively enhances your mood.
- Asparagus boosts your immune system with a high Vitamin C content.
- Vitamin E helps strengthen your immune system.
- To assist with blood coagulation and bone health and contribute to the body's absorption of calcium, asparagus contains a decent amount of Vitamin K.
- Glutathione breaks down carcinogens & free radicals.
- Iron works to avoid anemia.
- Folic acid, a necessary dietary supplement for pregnant women, helps prevent premature births and birth defects.
- Vitamin A