I consider myself incredibly lucky. I have amazing friends. My best girlfriends, Holley and Lisa are like family to me. We are all unique in our own ways, but we all love each other very much.

I’m also incredibly lucky that my friend Holley loves to cook and can whip up a dinner like nobody’s business.

It’s been a while since our little group of three has gotten together so we decided last night would be a girl’s night, complete with wine and dinner at my house.

Holley works a shorter day on Friday’s and since my home has become her home away from home, she headed over to my place from work to start getting dinner ready.

I’ve lived alone for a long time, so imagine getting a text in the middle of the day that the plums were poaching, the rice was cooking and the wine was ready for pouring… Woo-hoo!!!

After a long, and more than a bit challenging week, I took off the first chance I got and headed home.

Ok… now I thought that text was exciting. It had nothing on the excitement of walking into the house filled with happy smells of food cooking and my friend in the kitchen cooking up a storm!

Because I’m a bit of a snacker and we’d decided dinner would be vegan, the menu consisted of:

  • Chips and guac (a staple at pretty much every gathering)
  • Hummus that we whipped up… and when I say ‘we’, I mean I tried to start and Holley finished.
  • Baby carrots, sugar snap peas, and cucumber
  • Zucchini sauteed with olive oil, cinnamon, cumin and garam masala
  • And the main dish that came from Whole Foods Recipes – Stuffed collard greens:
  •   Ingredients

    2 bunches collard greens
    1/3 cup orange juice
    3 tablespoons tahini
    1 clove garlic, minced
    2 cups cooked brown rice
    1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added aduki beans, rinsed and drained
    1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
    2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove and discard thick stems from collard greens and place leaves in boiling water. Cook 5 minutes or until just tender. Gently remove leaves from water and drain in a colander. Carefully transfer 12 largest leaves to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Chop remaining leaves and squeeze to drain excess liquid (you should have about 1 cup chopped leaves).

    In a large bowl, whisk together orange juice, tahini and garlic. Add chopped collards, rice, beans, bell pepper and sesame seeds. You will have about 4 cups mixture. Arrange a reserved collard leaf on your work surface and top with 1/3 cup rice filling. Roll up, starting with the large end of the leaf and rolling it over the filling, tucking in the ends, like a burrito. Repeat with remaining leaves and filling and serve.

Now, we may have improvised a little…  but the result was delish and so incredibly satisfying!

Oh, and can’t forget dessert!!

Angel food cake (for Lisa and Holley), strawberries and reduced vanilla balsamic vinegar.

Oh, and som sparkling wine to top it off! Here’s a little note we learned the hard way though… If you stick sparkling wine in the freezer to chill it, don’t forget to take it out. It freezes. And, much as I love a slushy in the summer, it doesn’t exactly work with sparkling wine.

It was a wonderful night with wonderful friends — and, of course, wonderful  food!