We all remember our childhood birthday parties, right? Streamers, games and cake! The last time I had a birthday party was for my 15th. N actually made it a surprise birthday party. Sadly the surprise was ruined by one friend who wrote in my yearbook "hope you have a great summer! can't wait to see you at your party!," but, regardless my 15th arrived with a bang and I was super excited to have a birthday party. Since then, I've brought in a new year with happy hours and dinner. But, this year, for my 30th, I decided to throw myself a birthday party!
Yes, I turned 30 a couple weeks ago, and to bring it in I hosted my own birthday party, complete with a themed menu. I invited about 15 friends over to a cookout on my apartment building's rooftop, where we have a few gas grills and long tables - the perfect setting for a cookout and to lay out a huge spread. I decided to go with a Caribbean themed menu. I went to the local latino grocery store and bought the freshest ingredients, and plantain and yucca chips of course, and began to cook. The menu was as follows:
To Start: Plantain and Yucca Chips served with Guacamole and Pineapple/Mango Salsa
To Drink: Watermelon Sangria (courtesy of my friend, Supreet) - it was fabulous!
The Mains: Roasted, Spiced, Almond-y Cauliflower (courtesy of Food52 Blog)
Cabbage Slaw with Mango and Black Beans
Jerk Chicken Kebabs
The Sweet Ending:
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (courtesy of my roommate, Shelly)
I can't take any of the praise for the Roasted, Spiced, Almond-y Cauliflower. The recipe I used is from Food52. The dish was incredibly simple and added a different dish and taste to what would otherwise be a pretty standard menu. This dish isn't very spicy at all, which I liked because I wanted to be sure that everyone could enjoy the dishes without burning their mouths. The cauliflower and the cole slaw allowed for everyone to have a cooling break in between bites of the moist and spicy jerk chicken kebabs.
Jerk Chicken Kebabs - Makes ~20 kebabs
3 lbs of chicken
1 can or chopped pineapples
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
For the Marinade:
1 scotch bonnet OR 4 habaneros, chopped (I used the habaneros, because I could only buy scotch bonnets in bulk at my local grocery)
2 jalapenos, chopped
4 cloves garlic
4 tbsps packed light brown sugar
2 tsps sea salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsps ground black pepper
2 tsps grated ginger
3 tsps all spice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
zest of 1 lime
- Chop your peppers. Remove some of the seeds and the veins if you would like. The more you remove the less spicy the kebabs will be. The heat is really in the white veins, not the seeds, so remember to take those out.
- Add everything to a blender and let it run. In a large bowl or ziplock bag place your raw chopped chicken and add the marinade. Set aside about 1 cup of the marinade to baste your kebabs as they cook. Refrigerate overnight to let the marinade absorb into the chicken.
- The next day soak your skewers in water (the skewers should be submerged in the water) for about 15 minutes. Then start making your skewers, by layering chicken with the pineapple chunks and chopped peppers.
- You can bake these in the oven but they taste so much better off the grill. I placed these on an oiled (take a brush and oil the grill) gas grill and then placed about 5 kebabs at a time on the grill at high heat for about 3-4 minutes per side. Then you're ready to eat. Remember to baste the kebabs halfway through cooking to keep the flavor going.
Coleslaw with Black Beans and Mango
2 bags shredded cabbage (with carrots and purple cabbage) or any mix you like
2 ripe mangoes, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 green onions, chopped
For the Dressing:
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup olive oil
2 tsps sea salt
2 tsps black pepper
2 tsps all spice
- Place your shredded cabbage in a bowl. Chop up your mangoes and add them into the bowl along with your black beans.
- In a separate bowl make your dressing. Add the dressing on top of the cabbage mixture and toss thoroughly.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Then top with the green onions and toss one last time before serving.