Special Occasion Menu

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Last Saturday was Katie's 21st birthday. Twenty-one is a very important birthday and it demands a spectacular birthday dinner. Today I'm sharing one of our families' favorite menus for a special occasion. It is a little more labor intensive than an everyday dinner, but so worth it in deliciousness when you really want to pull out all the stops.

Here is the line up along with recipes:

Thai curry seafood 
Chicken satay with peanut sauce
Mandarin Salad

and for dessert Mario Betali's Panna Cotta

Let's start with the chicken satay and peanut sauce because you can do them both the night before if you like.
I slice up 4 or 5 boneless, skinless chicken breast like so-
And marinate them in the Yoshida marinade from costco by placing them in a ziplock bag with about a cup of the marinade and then refrigerating it overnight or for a minimum of 6 hours.

When you're ready to cook them thread them onto wooden skewers and have your man child squat with them.
  Spread the satays out in a single layer on a baking sheet and broil for about 4 minutes, flip, and broil 4 minutes on the other side or until cooked through with no pink in the middle. Serve with...


This is my mom's peanut sauce and boy are you going to thank me when you try it. Or her, if you want to thank her I will pass it along.

In a 2-quart pan, combine 1 cup water, 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter, and 2 cloves garlic (minced or pressed). Cook over medium low heat, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Serve hot. If made ahead, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Now for the Mandarin Salad. I love it because it is light and refreshing and goes really well with any Asian type foods you might serve. I think I got this recipe from my friend Susan in Virginia but it's been so long I'm not entirely sure. Susan, if it is your recipe, thank you and credit. I am giving you credit-however that is done.

1/2 c sliced almonds       3 TBS sugar
1/2 head iceberg lettuce   1 c chopped celery
1/2 head romaine
2 whole green onions, chopped
1 11 ounce can mandarin oranges, drained


1/2 tsp salt              dash of pepper
1/4 c veg. oil            2 TBS sugar
1 TBS chopped parsley     dash of tabasco
2 TBS Vinegar

In a small pan over medium head, cook almonds and sugar, stirring constantly until almonds are coated and sugar dissolved. Watch carefully as they will burn easily. When they are done spread them on a piece of tin foil to cool.
 These are so yummy all by themselves. My advice is twofold, first, wait before tasting them. They take awhile to cool down and will burn your tongue like the dickens if you are not careful. When these come off the stove everyone in my family eyes them with trepidation and anticipation because we all love them and we have ALL been burned when we were too eager/greedy. The second part of my advice is, even though they are really tasty to munch while you're cooking-try to leave some for the salad.

Mix all dressing ingredients in a blender or magic bullet, cover and chill. This can be done earlier in the day or the night before to make getting everything done easier.

Mix lettuces, celery, and onions. Just before serving add almonds and oranges. Toss with the dressing.         

Now onto the star, the seafood curry.
 The recipe is originally from Epicurious but it has been heavily edited by my Aunt Colleen. I'm sharing her version because it is better.


    • 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
    • 2 13.5 oz cans of unsweetened coconut milk
    • 1 bag of broccoli slaw
    • 1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined (cooked will work too)
    • 1/2 pound sea scallops (frozen is fine, defrost according to package directions
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
    • 1 red bell pepper chopped
    • 1 TBS minced ginger
    • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
    • Peanut oil OR Sesame oil
    • Olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla; optional)
    • 2 cups hot cooked jasmine rice or medium-grain rice (2/3 cup raw)


    1. Swirl Peanut or Sesame oil in a medium pan and saute garlic and ginger over medium heat until soft. Remove to plate. In the same pan heat 1 TBS olive oil and saute red pepper until soft. Set aside with the garlic and ginger. Place curry paste in large pot. Whisk in 1 can of coconut milk. Bring to boil; boil 1 minute. Stir in remaining 1 can of coconut milk. Add broccoli slaw, shrimp, and scallops, and ginger/pepper/garlic mix. Return to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until seafood is cooked, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add basil, lime juice, and fish sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
    2. Press hot rice into four 2/3-cup custard cups, dividing equally. Invert cups to unmold rice into 4 bowls. Spoon stew around rice and serve.
After eating all that you are going to have to sit around, visit, and play games before you have room for dessert. Even though it's Italian instead of Asian inspired, this panna cotta goes perfectly with this menu. It isn't too sweet or heavy and it is super duper delicious.

  1. It turns out that I forgot to take a photo of the finished panna cotta, but here it is chilling in my fridge...
Makes 6 servings


  1. Panna cotta
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
    • 2 cups whipping cream
    • 1 1/4 cups plain goat's-milk or whole-milk yogurt (I like the Pavels)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup sugar
  2. Strawberries
    • 2 1-pint baskets strawberries, hulled, thinly sliced
    • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar-we had fig balsamic from the farmer's market and it was amazing!
    • 1 tablespoon sugar


  1. For panna cotta:
    1. Pour 2 tablespoons water into small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand until softened, about 15 minutes. Whisk 1 cup cream, yogurt, and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Heat remaining 1 cup cream and 1/2 cup sugar in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves and cream comes to simmer. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture, stirring to dissolve gelatin. Mix hot cream-gelatin mixture into yogurt mixture in bowl. Divide mixture among six 3/4-cup ramekins, using about 1/2 cup for each. Refrigerate desserts uncovered until cold, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. For strawberries:
    1. Toss strawberries, vinegar, and sugar in large bowl to combine. Let stand 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Spoon strawberries over panna cotta and serve.
    2. Like I said, this menu is pretty special. When you make it your guest are sure to know how important you think they are and how much you love them (Hey! There's a little peeky-peek into some of my issues with food. Food=Love)

Bon Appetit and have a wonderful day my friends.  

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