Happy Meatless Monday! What about a Meatless Sunday? That's exactly what my family had yesterday when I hosted my dad's birthday party. I was really excited to have everyone over to my house and to cook them a fabulous meal in celebration of my dad, who does so much for me–and selflessly so–that sometimes I feel like I could never give it all back. This meal was a small token of my appreciation for all that he does. Happy Birthday, Dad!
I started things off with a tropical mocktail. This was a last minute drink that I pulled together. I don't have much of a recipe. I improvised in between preparing all of the food. I poured 4 cups of pineapple coconut water into a pitcher with a handful of mint and let it sit in the fridge overnight. When my guests arrived, I strained out the mint, added a large bottle of mint flavored sparkling mineral water and fresh squeezed lime juice to taste. Everyone loved it and my brother said it tasted like a coconut Dum Dum. I think it's nice to have other beverages besides water to offer guests, but making drinks always seems like too much extra work when I'm pouring my heart into the food menu. This was an easy, refreshing, and healthy fizzy drink to make.
While my guests mingled and drank their mocktails, I pulled together the rest of our meal. We had coconut-crusted tofu with mango dipping sauce. Alongside, I made a pink rice “stir-fry”. I didn't get the most presentable picture of this (oops) because I was busy playing host, but suffice it to say, this was one incredible meal. I'm tweaking a few things with the recipe, but I plan on posting it soon. Get ready!
For the cake, I made the sugar and spice pineapple upside-down cake from Isa Does It. It's one of my dad's favorite desserts, and I've made my own version for him for several previous birthdays. This version adds cinnamon and allspice to the batter which works beautifully with the pineapple. I wasn't sure what I was going to do about the maraschino cherries on top. As far as I'm concerned, they are essential for this cake, but they are made with corn syrup, artificial dyes, and preservatives. I had no idea that anyone was making maraschino cherries without all of that junk, but I ran across these at Whole Foods and into my cart they went.
The great part about eating this way–as opposed to more traditional birthday foods like pizza, wings, sugar shock grocery store birthday cake, ice cream, and pop (It's pop, not soda. This is Pittsburgh, people!)–is that no one fell into a food coma. We were wide awake, able to relish in the company of each other. My grandma told her stories (that I will never, ever tire of), my brother played a cd of his music that he just finished recording, we talked vacation plans, and then we finished the night off with me and my piano. My grandma always requests I play her “a concert” on my piano, and I willingly oblige (the encore was an arrangement of the Game of Thrones theme song which is epic). With full bellies and full hearts, we parted with hugs and new memories. Until the next celebration!