Friday Night Feast - Birthday Edition

I had the honor of preparing my sister's special birthday meal...and it happened to fall on Friday. Friday Night Feast Time!

I kept bugging her all week about what she wanted me to make. Finally I gave her a huge stack of random recipes and told her to pick out what sounded best to her. I loved all the things she picked! Two of the recipes were ones I've never done before, but I'm hardly ever afraid to try new recipes. In fact, I absolutely love to try new recipes and do so often.

I was able to make almost everything the night before so I could enjoy the day with the birthday girl. Here's the birthday girl, by the way:

I love her.

Birthday Feast Menu

Grilled Shrimp with Strawberry-Mango Salsa
Pepper-Crusted Maple Glazed Salmon
Creamy Parmesan Swiss Chard Gratin
Fresh Blueberry Pie
Pear Cardamon Bread with Vanilla Ice Cream

Grilled Shrimp with Strawberry-Mango Salsa
~This was a wonderfully refreshing first course~

Shrimp Marinade:
  • 1 1/2 lbs raw large shrimp (or you could use scallops...I used some thawed out frozen shrimp)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 package strawberries, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (I used about 1/2 a pepper to make it less hot)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 2 or 3 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt to taste
  1. Make sure the shrimp is shelled and deveined. Prepare the grill.
  2. Combine oil, vinegar, and garlic in a small bowl. Add shrimp (or scallops) and toss lightly to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours. (I prepared the marinade in a large ziploc bag and then threw the shrimp in there to marinate).
  3. Meanwhile, combine all of the salsa ingredients. The salsa should stand at least 15 minutes before serving so that the flavors mesh together. (I made it the night before and stuck it in the fridge..it was perfect!)
  4. Grill shrimp on medium heat until pink and opaque (or until firm for scallops). Don't over cook...it only takes two or 3 minutes on each side at the most! (I skewer the shrimp to make them easier to turn).
  5. Serve the shrimp on top of the salsa. The shrimp tastes great warm or at room temperature. This salsa is great for lots of things...grilled fish, meat, or tortilla chips.
Pepper-Crusted Maple Glazed Salmon
~So simple, yet so delicious~

(I doubled the quantities below in order to serve 6)
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 4 salmon fillets, about 6 oz each
  • 1/4 cup cracked black pepper
  • Vegetable oil spray
  1. Prepare the marinade by whisking the maple syrup and soy sauce together. Pour the marinade into a large ziploc bag and add the fillets. Press the air out of the bag, seal it, and turn the bag several times to distribute the marinade.
  2. Set the bag in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight.
  3. Place pepper on a small plate and remove salmon fillets from the marinade. Generously spray both sides of each fillet with oil (cooking spray). Pat the top side of each fillet into the cracked pepper to coat.
  4. Grill fillets pepper side up for a 3 or 4 minutes and then turn to grill an additional 3 or 4 minutes (you may prefer to cook it longer or shorter depending on your preference).
Creamy Parmesan Swiss Chard Gratin
~This is a very decadent side dish~

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter; more for coating the gratin dish
  • 1/2 cup toasted, coarse fresh bread crumbs (or plain store bought)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 3 strips bacon
  • 1 lb Swiss chard(1 or 2 bunches) washed and drained, stems removed and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices, leaves cut into 1/2 inch ribbons
  • 1/3 cup parmesan
  • freshly ground pepper
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a shallow 5 or 6 cup ceramic gratin dish (or any shallow medium sized baking dish). Melt 1 tbsp of the butter and toss it with the breadcrumbs; set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream and the garlic to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer vigorously for 5 minutes. The cream should reduce to 3/4 cup. Take the pan off the heat and remove the garlic cloves with a slotted spoon. Let the cream cool slightly and then season it with the salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp and browned. Transfer to paper towels to drain and leave the bacon fat in the pan. Add the remaining tbsp butter to the skillet.
  4. Add the chard stems and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until softened. Add the chard leaves and season with salt. Saute until all the leaves are wilted, about 2 minutes.
  5. Using tongs, transfer the chard to the gratin dish and spread them evenly.
  6. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon and cheese over the chard. Pour the seasoned cream over all and top with the buttered bread crumbs. Bake for 25 minutes; the gratin will be brown and bubbly. Let rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
All three recipes were learned at The Kitchen Workshop

~This was a beautiful meal to celebrate a beautiful person!~


  1. You are a wonderful sister to cook such a feast! Food is love, right? I am going to try each of these recipes - yum!