Carribbean Inspired Weeknight Dinner Party

Tonight we had another couple over for dinner. It’s amazing that despite living within a mile from each other, we all haven’t gotten together in almost a whole year! To celebrate the much needed reunion, I prepared a special dinner that was inspired by Caribbean flavors. Here’s the dinner menu I prepared:

Click the links above on for pics and recipes of the dishes I made!
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Carribbean Inspired Weeknight Dinner Party

Tonight we had another couple over for dinner. It’s amazing that despite living within a mile from each other, we all haven’t gotten together in almost a whole year! To celebrate the much needed reunion, I prepared a special dinner that was inspired by Caribbean flavors. Here’s the dinner menu I prepared:

Click the links above on for pics and recipes of the dishes I made!

Spicy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Spicy Garlic Mashed Potatoes
original Joelen recipe


1 head garlic, cut in half horizontally
olive oil for drizzling
salt & pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons spice garlic & onion seasoning
2-3 large Russet baking potatoes
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup half & half

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Tear off a sheet of foil (about 8×12 inches).
Place garlic halves onto the foil.
Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper.
Wrap the garlic & jalepenos into a foil packet and place in preheated oven.
Bake for 30 – 45 minutes; set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, boil a pot of water and add chopped potatoes.
Cook potatoes until softened and drain.
Place potatoes into a large bowl.
Add butter, half & half, salt & pepper to taste.
When cooled, squeeze garlic out of paper wrappings and place into large bowl.
Mash potatoes with all ingredients until you reach your desired consistency.
Add more butter/half & half if preferred.
Garnish with chopped chives before serving.

Sauteed Spinach with Bacon

Sauteed Spinach w/Bacon
original Joelen recipe

1-2 packages fresh baby spinach leaves

5 slices canadian bacon, diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2-3 tablespoons butter
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth

In a saute pan, melt butter and saute garlic and bacon.
When bacon is crisp, add chicken broth and spinach; toss until it wilts.
Serve immediately.

Mango Lime Pie

Mango Lime Pie
adapted recipe courtesy of Rick Bayless

For the crust:
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) butter
4 ounces (about 32) Mexican “Maria” cookies (or 16 Graham crackers)
3 tablespoons sugar

For the filling and topping:
1 cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
1 1/3 cup cold water
A big pinch of salt
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup fresh lime juice, plus the finely grated zest of 1 large lime
3 tablespoons butter
A big pinch of salt

For the topping:
*due to time constraints, I used whipped topping instead*
4 egg whites (you should have about ½ cup)
1 cup sugar
1 large ripe mango, peeled, flesh cut from the pit and cut into ¼-inch dice
Sprigs of mint, for garnish

1. The crust. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a small saucepan, melt the butter, letting it brown slightly. Break the cookies (or crackers) into a food processor and pulse until pulverized. Add the 3 tablespoons of sugar and melted butter, then continue to pulse until the mixture begins to clump slightly. Set aside 3 tablespoons of the crumb mixture to use as a garnish for the tart. Press the remainder evenly over the bottom and sides of 8-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. ( In an effort to save time on a weeknight, I used a prepared graham cracker crust.)

2. The filling. In a medium (3-quart) heavy-bottom saucepan, whisk together the 1 cup of sugar, cornstarch, water and salt. Set over medium heat and whisk until the mixture begins to boil (it will be quite thick), 3 or 4 minutes. Add the egg yolks to the hot mixture and immediately whisk vigorously until thoroughly incorporated. Lastly, whisk in the lime juice, zest and butter. Continue whisking until the mixture returns to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour into the crust. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, until the filling is chilled and nicely set. (The tart can made 24 hours ahead up to this point.)

3. Finishing the pie. In the metal bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the egg whites and remaining 1 cup of sugar over a pan of simmering water until the egg whites are very warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and beat with the electric mixer until cool, about 5 minutes; the meringue should be thick and fluffy and hold glossy stiff peaks. (The meringue may be prepared up to 24 hours ahead; cover and refrigerate.)

Shortly before serving, preheat the oven to 500 degrees or set out a propane or butane torch. Scoop the meringue into a ring around the outside edge of the tart (an ice cream scoop works well), then use the back of a spoon or a small spatula to form dramatic peaks in it. Place in the oven for 2 or 3 minutes, until the meringue is evenly browned, or brown the meringue with the torch, moving it back and forth over the surface until browned. Fill the center with the chopped mango, sprinkle with the reserved crumbs and decorate with mint, if you wish.

A little mango sauce (pureed mango, sugar, a dash of water and a little orange liqueur) or chopped strawberries (or whole raspberries) make a beautiful plate with wedges of Mango-Lime Tart.

Roasted Pineapple Pork Tenderloin

Roasted Pineapple Pork Tenderloin
adapted recipe courtesy of Epicurious


1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon mild or hot chili powder (or achiote paste)
1 jalapeno, finely minced
1/2 cup orange juice
3 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
1 small golden pineapple (about 1 1/2 pound), diced into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup pineapple (or orange) juice
1/4 small red onion, finely chopped
Vegetable oil cooking spray

Heat a large pan over high heat to the smoking point, 3 to 4 minutes. Brown pineapple 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pineapple juice and stir 1 minute, scraping up brown bits from pan. Remove pineapple from heat. Combine in a bowl with pepper, onion and basil. Mash together and set aside.
Mix tomato paste with chili powder.
Combine with orange juice, lime juice and oil in a double resealable bag.
Add pineapple mixture to the bag.
Add tenderloin and marinate at least 3 hours.
Heat a grill or grill pan over high. Coat with cooking spray.
Remove pork from marinade; place on baking pan. (Discard excess marinade.)
Bake marinated pork in a preheated 350 oven, until pork is no longer pink and internal temperature is 160°F 18 to 20 minutes. Let pork rest 5 minutes before slicing.
Garnish with cilantro leaves before serving.

Tostaditas with Black Bean & Scallop Ceviche

Tostaditas with Black Bean & Scallop Ceviche
(sadly, no picture available since we ate it all up!)


For the black bean spread:

original Joelen recipe
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
2 tablespoons finely minced cilantro
3 tablespoons light sour cream
salt & pepper to taste

In a bowl, mash black beans to paste, leaving it slightly chunky for texture.
Add remaining ingredients and fold in until combined and incorporated; set aside.

For the ceviche:
adapted ceviche recipe courtesy of Food Network
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cilantro
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 pound fresh diver-harvested sea scallops or any other fresh scallop of high quality
1/4 cup diced red or yellow onion
1/2 minced, seeded jalapeno
1 plum tomato, seeded, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh minced cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine lime zest, juice, and spices. Set mixture aside. Clean and wash the scallops, then cut each 1 in 1/2 lengthwise. Add scallops to lime juice mixture, stir well and set aside in cooler. Add the vegetables and cilantro to the scallop mixture. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and chill at least 3 hours.

To prepare & assemble the Tostaditas:
prepared black bean spread
prepared scallop ceviche above
tortilla chips
1/2 cup sour cream
1-2 tablespoons water

Spread black bean spread on a tortilla chip.
Top with scallop ceviche.
Combine sour cream and water in a small bowl and drizzle over the top of the tostadita.
Serve immediately or have guests make them as they eat.