Even though going out to bars and pretending to be Sex in the City's Carrie and Charlotte are all the rage now, hanging out at home with your chick friends can be so much more appealing. You can eat, drink and wear anything you want without some waiter pushing you to leave because you have been sitting and chatting too long at his coveted table!
About four years ago, my now-husband (Mr T) got down on one knee and presented me with a beautiful sapphire and diamond ring and asked me to marry him. From that point on, I was in a whirlwind of couple-like things: Flowers, dresses, china and mixers. It was madness. But oddly enough, being brought into the paired-off world made me want to bond with women more. Of course, I always had girlfriends, but I suddenly felt like I had a stronger bond with them. The bond grew because never before did I fully understand the transformation thousands of woman go through every day -- into wives.
While I was thrilled to be marrying Mr T -- my best friend -- part of me was scared. The way I had always known myself -- fun, carefree Cate -- was changing. I was going to have another half, and I worried that the me I loved would be gone.
Nervous, and even embarrassed, about my fears, I very slowly began opening up to the women in my life. Were you scared? Did you change? The replies "YES!" and "kind of" began to be the most common answers I got. I found myself making new friends, including some women older than I was, and I listened intently -- many times while nibbling food and sipping drink -- to their life experiences and advice.
For years, we women go out and compete with each other (contending for the titles of better outfit, longer hair, bigger breasts, higher-paying job and a purseload of other things), and then one day we wake up and realize we are on the same team. Gradually, I noticed many, many women around me with these incredibly insightful experiences and stories from which I -- and every other woman -- can learn.
Ironically, my wedding planning ended up being a time when I seriously bonded with my girlfriends and realized the depth of our friendships. And since then, I've made it a point to invite them over and to continue deepening our relationships, which is always more fun and delicious over a plate of simply made but flavorful foods. Give these recipes a try the next time you, too, need a girls' night in.
20 large uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons lime juice
1/4 cup cilantro
2 teaspoons of chili garlic sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and black pepper to taste
1. Grill shrimp over medium-high heat. When cool, combine shrimp, black beans, onion, bell pepper, and cilantro in a large bowl.
2. In a food processor, puree dressing ingredients until smooth. Pour dressing over salad, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
3. When ready to serve, drain and reserve the liquid from the salad. Fold salad into tortillas wrap-style. Add a drop more chili garlic sauce to the reserved liquid and serve on the side as a dipping sauce.
This recipe is for women who like options. It's also the perfect meal for munching while chatting! Make the sauces first, to give them time to develop their flavors, then grill up the moist and juicy chicken.
Peppery dipping sauce ingredients:
1/4 cup black peppercorns
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons thyme
4 cloves mince garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1. Heat peppercorns until they are fragrant. Add them to a food processor and chop until they are almost a powder.
2. Add mustard, soy sauce, thyme, garlic and olive oil and mix well. Refrigerate for an hour before serving to let flavors develop. This recipe calls for chicken breasts, but you can use wings or thighs or a combination.
Caesar dipping sauce:
3 cloves garlic
4 anchovy filets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1. Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend well.
2. Chill and serve.
6 chicken breast halves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry. Grill over medium-high heat, turning once, until cooked through.
2. Serve on a platter with dipping sauces on the side.
What's a girls' night without a girly drink? This is great for a summer party at your place. It goes fast, so you might want to double up!
1-1/2 cups of your favorite fresh berries
1 bottle of chardonnay
3 cups of Sprite or 7-up
1/2 cup of cognac
1 (12-ounce) can of frozen concentrate pink lemonade
1. Put berries in the freezer until frozen.
2. Mix chardonnay, Sprite or 7-up, and cognac.
3. Stir in frozen lemonade, add berries and serve.
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