Archive for the Theme Nights Category

Tropical Night – March 12, 2010

Posted in Theme Nights with tags on March 13, 2010 by spiffyriki

Our first Tropical Night was back in January 2009.  Suffering from the Winter Blahs, we decided to crank up the heat, throw on some shorts and make our apartment into a tropical paradise for the night.

This year’s Tropical Night was similar, though I didn’t have the time to decorate the house (it was much easier to decorate the apartment).  For those curious, here are some of the specifics.

Menu

We skipped appetizers and headed straight into the meal.  To start, we had a nice salad with homemade pineapple vinaigrette dressing and toasted macadamia nuts.  We based it on this recipe (which we also used for our last Tropical Night), but altered a few things.  We used a bag of baby spinach for the salad, rather than romaine lettuce, and completely omitted the coconut flakes (due to a texture preference).  We also used bacon bits instead of making bacon and crumbling it.  I also made the dressing by pouring the necessary ingredients into a martini shaker, which works just as well as a jar and helps control pouring a bit better.  I only added about half of the dressing to the salad before serving it, and left the rest out if we needed it (which we didn’t).  Zach said it was the “best salad we’ve had in a while” and I tend to agree.

Because we’re big fans of asparagus, I made some on the side.  I marinated the asparagus in olive oil, fresh minced garlic, and balsamic vinegar for about 30 minutes before putting them in the skillet, but I found that the balsamic was a bit too much for our taste.  But, hey…  Trying something new is always worthwhile!  Now I know to drop the balsamic next time.

For our main dish, we used a recipe for Tropical Chicken Breasts that I found online the night before.  I found it hard to actually “brush” the first mixture onto the chicken breasts, so I ended up rubbing it into the chicken (which got harder after having been in the oven for 15 minutes, so I used the back of a spoon to help things along).  Both mixtures were seriously easy to make, and the chicken was pretty tasty, though next time I would use less Worcestershire sauce, since that seemed to overpower the other tastes for me (Zach thought it was just fine, but I doubt he’d notice if I reduced the recipe by a tablespoon).

Drinks, as you can imagine, were the most fun part of the evening.  Based on a recipe in my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, we made raspberry daiquiris.  Instead of JUST frozen raspberries, we used some fresh ones as well.  And rather than “normal” rum, we used Bacardi Dragon Berry rum.  Zach was skeptical, since the recipe used frozen limeade concentrate, but when all was said and done, the lime was just a hint amidst the raspberry and rum.  To top it off, I garnished our glasses with leftover pineapple slices.

All in all, the meal was a success.  I started the chicken first so that during the last 30 minutes or so, I had time to cook the asparagus, toast the macadamia nuts, and make the dressing.  Drinks were almost an afterthought, since they were so easy to make, but definitely shouldn’t be missed.  So tasty!

Entertainment

While I was working on the meal, we put in Madagascar.  While not totally tropical, the movie is sort of set around the idea that sometimes we all need to get away in order to appreciate home.  Since I can’t just book a vacation to the Bahamas every time I’m sick of the snow, this was our way of getting away.

After dinner, Zach and I played 9 holes of Wii golf as part of the original Wii Sports package while we finished up our daiquiris.

Clothing & Decor

After turning the heat up to 72 or 73 (which, for March in Wisconsin, is HOT), we were more than willing to put on shorts and t-shirts for the night.  In the past, we also wore things like shell necklaces and plastic leis, but since we recently moved, we decided hunting for such items would take too long. I did bust out my visor for Wii golf, and wore my sunglasses for a bit.

Decor was definitely lacking this year (again, not enough time to hunt for things), but in the past we had everything from seashells and beach accessories to drink umbrellas and miniature palm trees.

Alternative Ideas & Suggestions

Since we had to go grocery shopping before all of this, dinner didn’t get served until after 8 PM (which is late considering we usually eat around 6).  It would’ve been nice to have an appetizer to start with.  Coconut shrimp might be a fun one to try.  Or you could always have some fresh pineapple and mango to snack on while you wait for your meal.  For an easier, quicker dinner recipe, there’s also the Pineapple Chicken Tenders that we had in 2009, which we actually made on our George Foreman.  They turned out great, and they’re nice and colorful!

Other movies we considered (based on those we own) were Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Pirates of the Carribean 2, 50 First Dates, Joe vs the Volcano or Lilo & Stitch.  Obviously this depends on what we’ve seen recently and what we’re in the mood for, but all have a fairly tropical setting or theme.

Personally, I think it would be fun to have a kiddie pool we could drag into the living room and stick our feet in for future endeavors, but I’m not sure that would be wise with the dog (who did actually get in on the tropical theme, but not really by choice).  A few decorative pineapples or palm trees would also have helped set the mood, and next time I may work on getting some nice island-y background music for dinner.

Summary

Tropical Night is a blast!  It’s especially fun to pretend you’re away on Spring Break or off in the tropics for the evening if there’s snow on the ground, but it’s bound to be a fun experience even if it’s warm outside (you just might not want to turn up the heat).  It makes a great, intimate date night with your SO, but could be a fun family night or even a theme party if done on a larger scale.  No matter what the reason, it’s ALWAYS in season.  😉