OH I had some fun this weekend!
If you’re a regular reader, then you know about our strict grocery budget. And if you know about our strict grocery budget, then you also know that, while I think all cooking is “fun”, my opportunities to have some real fun in the kitchen and indulge my more extravagant cooking fantasies are pretty rare. (Can anyone think of a non-dirty-sounding way to word that sentence? I swear I tried more than once.)
Aaaanyway, I’m always finding recipes online or in favorite cookbooks that I’d love to try, but budget is usually a prohibitive factor. Ahh, the beauty of sacrifice! So I really relish special occasion meals. We typically have one every month or two, and usually we budget for those separately (not as a part of our $200 per month grocery limit.) A special occasion meal could be anything from an Easter Brunch, to a Birthday Dinner, to a Mother’s Day celebration like I’m showing you today! But before I launch into the menu and you rush to Pin these recipes (because you will want to, trust me. They were insane!)… I want to point out that even our “special occassion” meals get budgeted. This is an extremely helpful money-saving tool for us. In many areas of life, I tend to respond very well to a “freedom within boundaries” mentality. Enjoy desserts and treats, but have a calorie cap for the day. Host a special dinner, but give yourself a spending cap… that sort of thing.
In other words, to quote my girl Bon-Qui-Qui, “Have it your way, but don’t get crazy!“
Yes, this is the mentality I encourage when planning a special occasion meal. Hope the visual image is helpful in communicating my point. Speaking of, I wrote this post awhile back about how to entertain company on a budget, if you’d like to read a bit further on the topic and get some helpful tips for “not gettin’ crazy.”
Alright, now that we’ve taken all the magic out of this meal by breaking it down financially, let’s talk about the food! It was a dream meal for me! Colorful, flavorful, and healthy… aperfect medley of dishes! I chose them all with my dear mother-in-law in mind. I knew she would appreciate the flavors, the colors, and the fact that these are not foods she would typically cook for herself.
The main entree was velvety baked salmon, brushed with this balsamic brown sugar glaze. This glaze is life-changing. You will want to put it on every meat you ever make from now on, mark my words. I bake it the same way I do my Mustard Roasted Salmon, and I broil it for 2-3 minutes at the end to get a little caramelization.
To accompany the salmon, I made Spring Spirit Polenta, a recipe I discovered on a new favorite food blog called My New Roots. I have loved everything I have cooked from that site so far! Sarah’s recipes are largely plant-based and incredibly tempting-looking. I didn’t think it was possible to make food that healthy sound that appealing, but she does it, and she delivers! Oh and her photos are utterly lovely too. I’m a fan for life. Anyway, this Spring Spirit Polenta is a base of creamy corn grits, topped with lightly sauteed Spring vegetables (asparagus, leeks, and snap peas.) So beautiful to look at and so delightful to eat! All my dinner guests agreed. Here’s the recipe… I highly recommend you try it!
And the second side dish was a stunner I’ve had my eye on for quite awhile… I just needed an occasion to make it! Herb-Roasted Purple Potatoes & Corn. It is a perfect dish for summer because purple potatoes and fresh corn are at peak season and are much more affordable. Isn’t this dish lovely? It’s so effortless, yet so impressive. And with a simple marinade of olive oil, rice vinegar, and fresh herbs, it is absolutely scrumptious. You can scroll down to the bottom of today’s post for the printable recipe!
Dessert was one of my mother-in-law’s favorites- these Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars! They are delectable (especially if you are salty & sweet lover, like me.) And bonus: They are very easy to make!
And Chris (being the sweet son that he is) made them even more special by adding a decorative touch to the top. It says, “Congrats, Dr. Mom” because Suzanne just successfully defended her dissertation in Marriage & Family Therapy! We had a lot to celebrate this Mother’s Day.
I hope you get the opportunity to make these dishes sometime very soon. They really knocked our socks off! I’m posting the recipe for the potatoes/corn dish today, and I will share printable recipes for the others very soon. Meanwhile, how did you spend Mother’s Day?
- -1 bag (3 lbs.) purple potatoes, or potato medley
- -3 ears fresh, sweet corn
- -1/4 C. olive oil
- -3 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar (divided)
- -salt & pepper, to taste
- -1 clove garlic, minced
- -2 Tbsp. fresh thyme (divided)
- -1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
- -1 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Scrub and thinly slice potatoes (in ¼ in. slices.) Place potato slices in a bowl of water to soak while you prepare other ingredients.
- Shuck, rinse, and dry the ears of corn, then use a sharp knife and a large cutting board to carve the corn kernels off the cobs.
- Meanwhile, in a measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil, the minced garlic, 2 Tbsp. of the rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp. of the fresh thyme, the rosemary, and the basil.
- Drain and dry the potato slices well. Then spread them onto a large baking sheet along with the corn kernels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper in a light, even coating. Then drizzle with the dressing/marinade and use clean hands to toss the vegetables in the dressing, so that all pieces are evenly coated. Make sure that the vegetables are in one layer and are not too crowded.
- Cover pan loosely with foil and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes. (You may remove the foil during the last 5 minutes to allow a bit of browning.) Potatoes should be fork tender when done.
- Remove vegetables from oven and sprinkle with remaining fresh thyme and rice vinegar. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if needed.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure here.