Candlelight Dinner And Dancing

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Hello readers. I am titling this column, "Candlelight Dinner and Dancing" because I love life so much, I am always finding new ways to enhance how to live it. Among my many interests, dancing is at the top, so, when the opportunity presented itself to take ballroom dancing classes (first lesson free), I went for it.

First thought was, this will be easy -- I've been dancing before I could talk. Growing up in South America made it possible to learn and perform a multitude of dances from Latino to ethnic, including Spanish flamenco. The first day when D. J. started the music (from the 30s and 40s), I recognized a challenge right away. But it is so much fun. We laughed, and even tried to teach him how it's done in South America. Before we knew it, class was over. I came home tired, yet invigorated. Dancing is great exercise -- I was feeling muscles I forgot about and a great sense of accomplishment. It's a new adventure to share with the world -- being alive.

This experience reminded me of all the fun and joy we are all missing in our daily lives. Work, work, is all we do, right along with the stress and thinking too much, especially of things and events we can do nothing about.

Now is the time and the place to apply yourself like never before and make the changes, make a date with your special person, arrange with a trusting friend or in-laws to take the children for the night.

It is time for a delicious and simple dinner with Fizzy Drinks, music for dancing, candles for mood, small branches of evergreen trees (spruce, pine, etc.) in a vase of water (flowers are not always needed) and a beautifully set table. Think color, maybe a runner with plates on each end, instead of full tablecloth, candles in the middle or on the side with the vase between.

The menu consists of Orange Vegetable Kabobs, Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken and Bruschetta. The tangy chicken and colorful vegetable kabobs can be cooked on your grill or under the broiler in your oven. Bruschetta is prepared last. For dessert, prepare some fresh strawberries with a little sugar or whipped cream. While you wait for the dinner, begin with a Fizzy Drink of your choice. Concentrate on the moment and put the rest of the world on hold.

To new beginnings,

Shirley

Fizzy Drinks

Fizzy drinks are made with soda water. If champagne is used, the drink is known as a Royal Fizz. They should be served in tumblers with a straw and served immediately, while still fizzy.

Gin Fizz

Mix five ice cubes, juice of one lemon, three teaspoons of sugar and one measure of gin in a blender and blend for one minute. Pour into a glass and top with soda water.

Golden Fizz

Mix one egg yolk with ice, juice of one lemon, two teaspoons of sugar and one measure of gin. Strain into a glass and top with soda water.

Orange Fizz

Mix the juice of two oranges with ice, two teaspoons of sugar and one measure of gin in a blender and blend. Strain into a glass and top with soda water.

Apricot Fizz

Mix the juice of one-half melon and one-half orange with ice and one measure of apricot brandy in a blender and blend. Strain into a glass and top with soda water.

Each of the above recipes makes one drink.

Bruschetta

4 bread slices

6 to 8 tomato slices

2 garlic cloves

Parmesan shavings (optional)

Olive oil

Fresh basil leaves

Salt and pepper

Toast the bread slices in a toaster until the outsides are crunchy but the insides are still soft. Cut the garlic cloves in half lengthwise. Using a half clove for each bread slice, evenly and thoroughly run one side of the toast with the cut side of the garlic. Cut each tomato into 6 to 8 wedges and divide the wedges evenly among the bread slices, arranging them on the garlic-rubbed sides. Sprinkle each toast with salt and pepper to taste and then drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Finally, garnish each toast with a basil leaf and serve.

You can use mayonnaise on toast or tomatoes and omit oil.

Orange Vegetable Kabobs

1 large sweet onion

1 large unpeeled navel orange

1 medium sweet red pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium sweet yellow pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

8 medium fresh mushrooms

8 cherry tomatoes

2 small yellow summer squash, cut into 1-inch slices

Marinade

1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil

1/3 cup lemon juice

1-1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt, optional

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons orange juice

Cut the onion and orange into eight wedges; halve each wedge. Alternately thread vegetables and orange pieces onto eight metal or soaked wooden skewers. Place in a shallow oblong dish. In a bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, sugar, salt (if desired), garlic powder and pepper. Pour over skewers. Marinate for 15 minutes, turning and basting frequently. Grill, covered over indirect heat for 10-15 minutes or until he vegetables are crisp-tender. Brush with orange juice before serving.

Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup lime juice

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

In a resealable plastic bag or shallow glass container, combine the honey, soy sauce and lime juice; mix well. Add chicken and turn to coat. Seal or cover and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes. Drain and discard marinade. Grill chicken, uncovered, over medium heat for 6-7 minutes on each side or until juices run clear.

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