Simply Enjoying Life 8

I’ve noticed the business of living complicates life. It gets in the way of walking through a farmers market with your friend and driving down the coast singing to music. It messes with coffee dates and Monday night dance parties. It takes you 802 miles away from the apartment you used to live in – the one that rattled when the Bart train passed and had a sloping balcony, prefect for sunsets and evening breezes.

Somewhere in growing up, senseless walking to the coffee shop turned into driving to client meetings. Reading a novel with sliced apples and peanut butter faded into underlining business books and saving articles from the latest trade journal. Like I said, living complicates life.

Photo contributed by Julie Mcavoy

As mixed up and turned around as life can get, it can be as simple as pressing one on your speed dial or as easy as a five ingredient party. Sometimes life is full of love and laughter. It’s friends and family eating together.

Despite being in different cities, Jujus and I have found ways to maintain our friendship. We’ve cooked dinner together over the phone. We started Saturday Steals, a large collection of restaurant reviews in Seattle and the Bay Area. Most recently, we’ve devised inexpensive dinner parties. It’s been quite a trip.

Photo contributed by Julie McAvoy

With only five ingredients, we made several different party perfect small bites. What better way to celebrate life than gathering over food?

A small ingredient list is a great way to keep your cost to a minimum. These five common products will give you a party full of fun. Consider one or more of the optional additions to expand your choices or create dessert.

5 Ingredient Fix
Turn these five ingredients into a two-for-one bonus, food and a centerpiece. Serve each ingredient in its own funky bowl and let your guests be creative as they mix this and that to their hearts content. I’ve also listed a few additional ideas if you want to expand your selection even further.

Baguette, thinly sliced
1½ cup Balsamic Vinegar, reduced (see link)
Peaches, halved and grilled (see link)
Red Onion, caramelized
Tomato, thinly sliced

Optional Addition Ideas
Goat Cheese

For Dessert
Shortcake (see link)
Red Wine
Vanilla ice cream

To assemble, top a slice of baguette with your choice of toppings. Here are some ideas to get you started:

baguette topped with peaches and reduced balsamic
baguette topped with peaches and caramelized red onion
baguette topped with peaches, caramelized onion, and reduced balsamic
baguette topped with tomato and reduced balsamic
baguette topped with tomato and caramelized red onion
baguette topped with tomato, caramelized onion, and reduced balsamic

If you selected one of optional ingredient recommendations, here are some ideas for topping your baguette slices:

baguette topped with peaches and goat cheese
baguette topped with peaches, caramelized onion, and goat cheese
baguette topped with peaches, caramelized onion, goat cheese, and reduced balsamic
baguette topped with tomato and basil
baguette topped with tomato, basil, and reduced balsamic
baguette topped with goat cheese and basil

Dessert Ideas
Extend your balsamic reduction and peaches into dessert by combining shortcake and warm grilled peaches. Top with reduced balsamic. Serve immediately.

Consider mixing up the balsamic reduction with a little red wine and chocolate – Reheat balsamic reduction (about ½ cup), a small handful of chocolate chips (about ¼ cup), and a small glug of red wine (about 1/8 cup) stirring constantly until chocolate has fully melted and sauce is smooth.
Put one scoop ice cream in a bowl with warm grilled peaches and top with sauce. Serve immediately.

About Mikaela Cowles

I’m a food-gobbling, book-reading, aspiring photog. Born and raised in Seattle, I love dancing in the rain, bouquets of fresh basil and green grass between my toes. I like how kneading butter into flour makes my fingers soft. I’m passionate about all things sweet potato. I prefer my coffee black, my scotch on the rocks and my steak bloody. I hunt, when I have time; play basketball; and hike. I’ve been known to laugh so hard I hyperventilate. And, I’m the owner of Making Language Count, a boutique freelance writing business.

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