How to Elevate Your Evening at Home Before Your Night Out

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This past Christmas, Steven got me the gift that any girl would want...tickets to see Bianca Del Rio. And last week, I finally saw her. I've been seeing Bianca Del Rio every time she's come to San Francisco since she won Season 6. And this time it was my boyfriend who made it all happen. (Thank you baby!)

Steven and I felt like relaxing at the house before going out, rather than getting dinner at a restaurant. But being that it was a special night, we decided we should treat it as such, and make an elevated dinner at home before the show. So we put together a spread fit for a 1-bedroom 1-bathroom king. And might we say, we enjoyed ourselves plenty. We got to go out on the town and enjoy the city, while also spending time in the comfort of our own abode after a long day of work. If that sounds appealing to you, here are some simple steps you can take to creating a special night in before going out into the madness of the big city.

 

 

PICK THE PERFECT RECIPE

The most important thing on a night like this is to choose a reliable recipe that doesn't cause you stress. If you don't like stirring, don't choose a risotto. If you don't like crock pots, don't do a pea soup. Or if you're like me and you get stressed out chopping an armfull of vegetables, choose a dish that requires very little cutting.

We decided to choose Nigella Lawson's Crunchy Chicken Dijon Cutlet recipe from her book Simply Nigella. The breading mixture is fun to make, the tenderizing of the chicken is therapeutic after a long day at work and the salad requires very little chopping as well. And as for the white rice? We let our rice cooker get that job done for us with the push of a button. All in all, this recipe can take just 45 minutes if you work efficiently. 

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This dish is always a winner. The chicken is first soaked in a mixture of dijon mustard and cinnamon, and then dunked into a breading mixture of Panko and paprika. Nigella uses Corn Flakes for her breading, but we personally love Panko. All the flavors come together in this complex and scrumptious savory concoction that has become a go-to for a relaxing night in this house.

 

HOW TO MAKE NIGELLA'S CRUNCHY CHICKEN DIJON CUTLETS

Chicken Ingredients (Serves 4)

4 chicken breasts

7 tablespoons dijon mustard

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1/2 cup flour

1 clove garlic (peeled and finely grated or minced)

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 egg

75 grams Panko breadcrumbs (1 small box/can)

1½ teaspoons smoked paprika

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and Pepper

 

Basic Side Salad Ingredients

Three handfulls of arugula

1 handful cherry tomatoes

1/2 lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and Pepper

1 avocado (optional)

 

Chicken Directions

1. Allow chicken to thaw, and tenderize with a meat mallet until extremely flat, but not falling apart.

2. Prepare three wide dishes or bowls for the breading process

3. In the first dish, spread out your flour

4. In the second dish, combine dijon mustard, egg, cinnamon, salt and pepper with a whisk and spread the mixture out as much as possible

5. In the third dish, combine Panko with paprika salt and pepper and spread it out

6. Repeat the breading process for each escalope, flouring it first, then dipping it thoroughly in the dredging mixture and finally covering it with the Panko breading mixture

7. Leave the escalopes on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes to allow them to dry out a bit

8. Heat oil in a cast-iron pan or heavy-based frying pan in which the chicken pieces will fit neatly and, when hot, fry for 3 minutes on the first side, then turn them over carefully and give them another 3 minutes, by which time the chicken should be cooked through in the middle, though do check.

 

Basic Side Salad Directions

Wash and dry arugula and place in a salad bowl

Top with halved cherry tomatoes and optional cubed avocado

Finally, create a lemon vinaigrette with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and an optional teaspoon of water, give it a good shake or stir, and squirt or pour it over the salad

Serve the chicken with the side salad and some white rice, and you're in for a night of comfort.

 

UTILIZE YOUR BEST DINNERWARE

If you have any fancy silverware, glassware or plates collecting dust at a top shelf, this night is the perfect time to bust them out. Just be sure to give them a good rinse. So often we forget to use the top shelf items, as they are supposed to be saved for holidays or birthdays, for which we usually end up going to a restaurant anyway. Nights where you're about to go out or celebrating something random like the use of a Christmas gift, are the perfect opportunities to bring out your fun salad set and tallest salt and pepper shaker, like we did this evening.

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BREAK OUT THE BUBBLY

Another easy way to elevate your evening is to bring out some liquor or champagne you have stashed away. We put not only this bottle of Prosecco to good use, but also our new Magisso Ceramic Champagne Bucket. Magisso is a Finnish home decor and supply company that creates chic yet utilitarian products that fancify any and every situation in your home on a daily basis.

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We've paired this champagne bucket with our Waterford martini glasses that also work beautifully for champagne if you're going for that 30's cocktail hour vibe.

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ENJOY GETTING THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

After that delicious dinner, while there were dishes to wash, there was no check to wait for and no tip to pay. Plus I got to get ready for the show in the comfort of my own apartment. We then just headed straight from our home to the venue right in time to check in. 

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Above is the man who made it happen. And below is our selfie together before the show. A bit blurry, but still cute. Plus we had pretty great seats. Nothing could have made this night better...well, except Bianca selling her makeup remover wipes as part of her merch.

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Bianca is an absolute riot and a natural. Steven even said at one point "Bianca Del Rio is my kind of drag queen." She read everyone of every color, culture, shape, size, orientation and political party. Which is just the way we like it. She praised an elderly woman in the audience for being so open minded, jokingly called out a couple for bringing their 14 month baby to the show and brought a woman up onstage who was Skyping with her recently deployed husband, so she could thank him for his services front of the audience.

She's an absolute class act and I can't wait to see what she comes up with on her next tour. 

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This night was such a treat for me. I'm so happy to share it with you guys. It makes me want to make a special night out of more occasions in the future. It's the little efforts that truly make a night both exciting and relaxing in the ways that suit you best.

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