Monday, July 22, 2013

A Recipe for Fun!

We recently started a new dinner club with a group of friends from our neighborhood. This is the second such "club" of which we have been a part. The first was a group of college friends and we enjoyed a 15-year run. Now that we are all through the baby stage (most of us!), it seems easier to get together for adults only fun every month or so. 

We hosted the first Montlake Dinner Club last month. The theme was Mexican (our favorite). Our dinner club model makes it pretty easy to have a great time.... The hosts come up with the theme, prepare the main dish and divvy up the rest of the menu. Everyone contributes a beverage to share. It's truly a simple recipe that yields a lot of fun! I look forward to many years of friendship and frolicking with this group. I think we're off to a great start!

Here I share a recipe from Geoff's aunt Jonnie Kae for yummy (and very easy) enchiladas that we served, as well as Geoff's "famous" margarita recipe. 

Aunt Jonnie Kae’s Chicken Enchiladas

1 chicken, cooked and shredded into bite-sized pieces (I use a roasted chicken)

Add 1 8 oz can of diced green chilis to the chicken

Combine first two ingredients together in a bowl

In another bowl, mix 1 can of cream of mushroom soup and 1 carton of sour cream

1 pound of colby jack cheese – shredded

1 package large flour tortillas

Lightly spray glass casserole pan with cooking spray.

Add a couple of spoonfuls of the soup/sour cream mixture to the pan, spreading the mixture back and forth.

Lay out the tortillas and evenly divide the chicken/green chili mixture among the tortillas. About ½ cup of the mixture per tortilla.

Top tortilla and chicken mixture with ¼ cup shredded cheese.

Roll up and place seam side down in prepared pan.

Top with sour cream/soup mixture and remaining cheese. 

Sprinkle a dash of paprika for color!

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until soup/sour cream mixture bubbles.

Top with salsa, avocado, cilantro and sour cream. 

Geoff's "Famous" Margaritas

I cup Sauza Hornitos Tequila
½ cup Hiram Walker Triple Sec
I cup Rose's Lime Juice
I large lime, squeezed
Splash of Cointreau

Mix together all ingredients in a pitcher.
Rim glasses with salt if desired.
Pour margarita over ice and serve with a slice of lime. 

There you have it - my recipe for a really fun time! I can't wait to see what theme our hosts dish up next month. Cheers friends!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Mamnoon: A Hip Middle East Experience in Seattle!

I have said this many times, our trip to Jordan and Israel/Palestine last year opened my heart and mind to the people, culture and food of the Middle East. So when I read about Mamnoon, a Middle Eastern restaurant in one of Seattle's hippest neighborhoods, and a friend urged me to go there saying "you and Geoff will LOVE it!" I couldn't wait to try it. We went for date night a couple of months ago and we had a fantastic experience.

Mamnoon, which means “grateful” or “thankful” in Arabic, is unlike anything we experienced in the Middle East. It's hip and cool and modern. The hummus, za'atar and flatbreads mustered up memories from our trip, but overall everything was presented with a lot more flair than what we experienced in the Middle East. But it did not disappoint at all. In fact, it was a really wonderful experience. I can't wait to go back.

Here I share some of the highlights from our experience.

First off, the cocktail menu is amazing featuring 10 signature cocktails simply named No. 1 - No. 10. Observant Muslims refrain from drinking alcohol, so the cocktail menu was our first hint that this was going to be a non-traditional Middle East experience. Again, we were delighted, not disappointed!

I ordered No. 10: prosecco, pomegranate syrup and rose water. It was simply divine, with a lovely perfume aroma and fresh taste.

We had a hard time deciding what to order because everything on the menu made our mouths water. We started with a couple of traditional mezzes (small plates) and flatbread.

Instead of the "regular" hummus, we "splurged" on the fatteh hummus, which my husband proclaimed was so good he wanted to cry! It's a creamier version of regular hummus made with fresh chickpeas and green garlic yogurt. I highly recommend it.

For our main course, we landed on the rubyan (marinated prawns) and tenderloin kebab. Both were very, very good.

I couldn't resist taking pictures of some of the artful touches, including these colorful glass chandeliers and a few other cheeky items!

To top it off, Mamnoon has their very own special edition glassybaby that benefits Syrian refugee relief.


In addition to the beautifully designed restaurant, superb service and delicious food, one of the highlights of our evening was meeting the owner on our way out. Racha Haroun (pictured with me below) and her husband, Wassef, are from Syria. The article I read in The Seattle Times says "their hope is that Mamnoon brings to the city a sense of modern Middle Eastern culture, something beyond the headlines and the suspicion that have permeated the United States for so many years."

Run don't walk to Mamnoon for a hip Middle East experience right here in Seattle!