January Dinner: Cocktails 101 and Versatile Pineapple Stir-Fry

&coeats-23It’s hard to believe that January has come and gone. It seems like just yesterday we were toasting to a new year, and the day before yesterday wrapping gifts and decking halls with holly. It’s undeniable, time moves quickly. Too quickly at times. January’s dinner was an absolutely perfect remedy to the flying time. But then, when isn’t a 3 hour long meal a breath of fresh air? In a world that values convenience over all else, its rejuvenating to sit down with friends and talk. Really talk. And eat. Really eat. To taste everything that is in a dish, recognize it and appreciate it. We had the opportunity to do just that with a couple of friends who love combining flavors as much as we do, but in a slightly different way.

Daniel Valentine and Lanna Jones are Joplin, Missouri’s bartenders. If you want a drink – a drink that’s not a Long Island Iced Tea, a Vegas Bomb or neon colored and too fruity – you go see Daniel and Lanna at Infusion, where they keep bar and take names Wednesday through Saturday, 4 to close. They have a deep love for their work and are passionate about exposing Joplin to the art that is craft cocktails. Daniel and Lanna use fresh herbs, local and organic produce for fresh squeezed juice and high quality, hard-to-get-your-hands-on liquor. We’re so digging their vibes. And these two have it down to a science. They hold the herbs in the palm of their hands, then clap their hands together, which heightens the aroma and flavor of the herbs immensely. Watching them make a drink is equally as enjoyable as drinking the finished product…almost.

We chose Daniel and Lanna for our January dinner not only because they make a mean drink, but because they have refused to be stagnant. They believe in innovation, in changing with the times, thinking outside of the box and taking risks. They also believe in Joplin and the potential it has to be a city full of life and culture. Like our past guests, they are inspiring and dedicated in the midst of challenges and discouragement. Also, because they make a mean drink.

We served Daniel and Lanna a Thai-inspired meal, and they crafted two cocktails that paired perfectly with our appetizer and main course. For more details on the drinks, you’re going to have to wait for our book. But we can assure you that they were original, delicious boozy glasses of perfection that you won’t find on any average drink menu. As far as the meal we served, it was colorful, full of spice and unbelievably easy. We are going to share our Pineapple Chicken Stir-fry with you all, because it’s incredibly versatile. Maybe you don’t like pineapple. Totally fine. Sub another fruit or veggie. Maybe you’re allergic to basil (if that’s the case we are SO sorry). But really, no big deal. This meal would rock with cilantro, too. It’s absolutely acceptable to make this one your own. We hope you enjoy.

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Pineapple Chicken Stir-Fry

(Serves 6)

1.5-2 pounds chicken breast (omit if you’re an herbivore)

1 Pineapple, diced

2 Red Bell Peppers, diced

2 C Sugar Snap Peas

6 Cloves Garlic, minced

1 T fresh Ginger, minced

1/2 to 1 C Fresh Basil, chopped (plus more for garnish)

1/4 C Olive Oil

1/2 C Coconut Aminos (or Soy Sauce, if you’re not Soy free)

1/4 Rice Vinegar

2 C Mung Bean Sprouts, divided

Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

Defrost and cut chicken into 1 inch pieces, then transfer to a bowl and drizzle with coconut aminos and sea salt. Let marinate for at least half an hour.

Heat Olive Oil in a skillet over medium high heat, until it’s nice and shiny and coats the pan.

Brown chicken on medium high, adding coconut aminos and rice vinegar as you stir.

Add all of the vegetables except the bean sprouts, and continue to stir.

Stir meat and veggies until they crisp slightly, then add 1/2 of the mung bean sprouts and stir for another minute.

Transfer stir-fry to a large serving platter, and garnish with leftover bean sprouts and fresh basil.

Serve along Jasmine Rice (and a craft cocktail) and enjoy!

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