Last Friday, we had our monthly Cookbook Club meeting. Each month, one member hosts a dinner party in their home and the rest of us bring one recipe from the pre-selected cookbook or cooking magazine of their choice. So far, each hostess has also taken the opportunity to write about their cookbook selecting process, what they did to prepare for their guests, or whatever else was on their mind. We were overjoyed when January’s hostess, Kathryn, took on this task as we know it will continue to give our readers a fresh new look at hosting and what this club has to offer. So without further ado, we introduce our friend Kathryn (First Grade Teacher and Hostess Extraordinaire) …

 

Written by: Kathryn

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As a recent West Coast transplant from the Midwest, I am always looking for new things to try and opportunities to meet new people. I was so touched when Tami asked me to join the Cookbook Club at November’s gathering. I had never heard of a Cookbook Club and loved the idea of gathering around food and trying new recipes. The November get-together was so fun and enjoyable; I immediately jumped at the chance to host the next gathering.

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After a fun and busy holiday season, I was so looking forward to seeing everyone at Cookbook Club. I, like many others, have a tendency to overindulge during all of the holiday fun in December and early January but really try to eat in a way that is healthy and clean once the parties fizzle out. I selected Cooking Light as our source of inspiration and booked the common room in our apartment community.

We enjoyed:

Seared Sirloin with Miso Butter Stir Fry

Roasted Shrimp with White Beans and Feta

Lemony Chicken Kebabs with Tomato Parsley Salad

Broccoli Steaks and Tofu Fries

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My take on entertaining is keep everything simple. I’m not great at extravagant details but kept the feeling casual and special by having fresh flowers on the table, cloth napkins, a simple cheese plate, and plenty of wine. I also ordered beautiful fruit tarts from a local bakery to keep things easy for dessert.

We had so much to celebrate. Lauren and Tami were celebrating their birthday and Paige, the original Cookbook Club Founder, popped over from Arizona for a surprise visit. The food was delicious but it could not compare to the company!

 

We are already counting down the days until our next Cookbook Club event (and we haven’t actually set a date or selected a cookbook yet). There is still time this month to get your group together and try out this month’s edition of Cooking Light. Let us know what recipes you try out! Also, any suggestions for a cookbook or cooking magazine to use for our February event is greatly appreciated. Keep on cooking!

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Last Friday, we had our monthly Cookbook Club meeting. For the past couple months, one of the girls has offered to host a dinner party in their home and the rest of us bring one recipe from the pre-selected cookbook or cooking magazine of their choice. So far, each hostess has also taken the opportunity to write about their cookbook selecting process, what they did to prepare for their guests, or whatever else was on their mind. We were overjoyed when November’s hostess, Mary, took on this task as we know it will continue to give our readers a fresh new look at hosting and what this club has to offer. So without further ado, we introduce our friend Mary (Teacher, Pilates Instructor, and Hostess with the Mostess) …

 

Written by: Mary

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I was very excited to host our October Cookbook Club dinner party! There is nothing better than staying in on a Friday night with girlfriends, sipping wine, and devouring delicious homemade food. The best part is, I only had to make one dish! I chose the October issue of the Food Network magazine; a magazine I had never actually purchased before that was filled with hundreds of recipes! The recipes were appropriately themed for Fall and they appeared relatively basic. As soon as I purchased the magazine I knew I wanted a fun Fall theme to kick off the holiday season!

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This month’s cookbook club was exactly one week before Halloween so I incorporated a lot of miniature pumpkins and candy corn into the decor. Since it was 90 degrees in Los Angeles that day I kept the flowers light by mixing pinks and yellows into the otherwise orange color scheme. I picked up unscented candles and votives from Michael’s the week prior to add some sparkle and set the tone for the evening.

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As guests arrived we opened a bottle of Rose’ to start which seemed appropriate as we transition into a still-warm Fall evening. I announced to the guests that I set up a little game to play to get into the holiday spirit. I had filled a jar with candy corn and placed it next to a chalk board with the question “How many Candy Corn?” Each guest wrote down their estimate on the chalk board. This was a great way to entertain guests while I had the chance to do last-minute food preparations, fill water glasses, and to spark conversation.

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Our dinner menu was delicious! The recipes chosen were the Butternut Squash Risotto (pg 133), Apple Cheese Toast (pg 75), Celery Salt Fries with Bloody Mary Ketchup (pg 97), Baked Goat Cheese Dip (pg 94), and Roasted Fall Vegetables (pg 123). We all filled our plates with second helpings and were unapologetic about the mostly carb-filled meal!

We all gossiped and caught up until the wee hours of the morning with full tummies. At the end of the evening the winner of the Candy Corn game was announced. Every guest had under-estimated (who knew so many pieces could fit in that jar?) but Paige had the highest guess, closest to the correct answer of 312. Paige took home the jar to enjoy with her family. Congrats, Paige!

I am very much looking forward to next month’s Cookbook Club at Tami’s new apartment with Martha Stewart magazine!

 

As Mary mentioned, our very own Tami will be hosting next month’s Cookbook Club dinner party. We are so excited! Tami is also especially excited to finally be able to show off her new place (look for posts to come showcasing the finished product as well in the near future). Next month, we will be creating dishes from the November issue of Martha Stewart Living. We have made it extremely easy for you and your crew to take part. Don’t get up! Just click on this link and you can purchase the magazine right from home! Also, as this is intended as an interactive post, we would love to hear from you. Have you tried any of the recipes from the October issue of Food Network magazine? What did you make and what did you think? If not, join us for our November challenge … gather your friends and get cooking!

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Last Friday, we had our monthly meeting for our new Cookbook Club. Each month, one of the girls hosts a dinner party in their home and the rest of us bring one recipe from the pre-selected cookbook or cooking magazine of their choice. Over the past two months, each hostess has also taken the opportunity to write about their cookbook selecting process, what they did to prepare for their guests, or whatever else was on their mind. This month, Lauren offered to host Cookbook Club and selected one of her favorite cooking magazines as the starting point for this whole event. So without further ado … we introduce our very own Lauren!

 

Written by: Lauren

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Ever since the start of this club, I have been so excited to get the opportunity to host. I love getting the chance to host a good dinner party and knowing that each of the girls would be bringing a dish to share takes some of the pressure off. When I thought about what cooking publication I would pick, I knew I wanted to go with Bon Appetit. I have been getting their magazine for some time now and have always been a bit intimidated by the recipes. I decided that now is the best time to put that fear to rest, and I am so glad I did.

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When the September issue came out, I knew I wanted to keep the overall look for the dinner party consistent with the magazine cover. It was just so edgy and colorful, I knew it would make for a fun inspiration. I decided to go with dark purple tablecloths (which I already had) with all white dishes and glassware. Mixing in gold chalkboard frames, antique glass candle holders, and bright florals kept things formal and fun at the same time.

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Since each of the girls had told me ahead of time what they were planning to make, I thought it would be fun to create food tags out of the gold framed chalkboards I had on hand. I also used the same tags to show each girl to their seat.

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As I was already intimidated by the complex recipes found inside this magazine, I decided why not go completely out of my comfort zone and make something I wouldn’t normally make. I decided on the Marinated Tofu with Peanuts and Charred Bean Sprouts and was surprised at how simple it ended up being.

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While we were shopping for all of the necessary ingredients, Tami and I decided to take on one last recipe together. No dinner party is complete without dessert and the Rice Pudding with Fresh Pears and Honey sounded relatively easy without too many ingredients.

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The other dishes the girls made were delicious as well. I would highly recommend getting this magazine and trying them out yourself.  If you want to recreate our menu from the night, it included:

 

Crab Toasts with Spicy Yogurt, pg 85

Zucchini Patties, pg 106

Tuna Melt, pg 24

Marinated Tofu with Peanuts and Charred Bean Sprouts, pg 74

Rice Pudding with Fresh Pears and Honey, pg 70

 

We are already looking forward to next month’s meeting which will be hosted by our friend Mary. We will be creating dishes from the October issue of Food Network Magazine, and this month have made it even easier for you and your crew. Don’t get up! Just click on this link and you can purchase the magazine right from home! Also, as this is intended as an interactive post, we would love to hear from you. Have you tried any of the recipes from the September issue of Bon Appetit? What did you make and what did you think? If you haven’t, you are in luck as September is not quite over yet … Gather your friends and get cooking!

 

 

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One thing we truly look forward to each month is our time spent with our Craft Club girls. It really is such a great way to spend a Sunday … chatting, eating, and getting our craft on! Depending on what the season is and what holidays are coming up, we will often times plan a theme and each girl will create something based on that general idea. However, there are many times as well that we all just feel like we have been wanting to get to something or other and this is that perfect opportunity. This was one of those months … no theme was planned. Although it turned out that the majority of the group had a common purpose; to create DIY decorations for upcoming parties in our lives.

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This month we kept the snacks simple. Our hostess, Paige, set out a few options to keep our tummies happy while our hands were hard at work.

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Beautiful floral arrangements that decorated our work space were enjoyed and so were these delicious glasses of rose.

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Unfortunately (for you) we don’t have much to show yet in the way of projects, as they are all still in the works and it would really ruin the party surprise if we showed our DIY creations ahead of time. We will just say that the girls really outdid themselves this time and we will post finished products and details as soon as we possibly can. Such a tease, we know!

After two years of crafting together, we are happy to announce that we still have just as much fun each month as we did in the beginning. It never ceases to amaze us how talented each of the girls we craft with is and how much we continue to inspire each other (#luckyladies … right girls?). For those of you crafty individuals out there, we would love your input. What is a good theme for our September Craft Club meeting? What are you crafting these days? Leave us a comment below? We’d love to hear from you.

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In our first Cookbook Club post, we introduced the concept for this new monthly “treat” that we get to take part in. Each month, one of the girls will host a dinner party in their home and each of us will bring one recipe from the pre-selected cookbook or cooking magazine of their choice. We have also decided that we will give the hostess the opportunity to write about their cookbook selecting process, what they did to prepare for their guests, or whatever else is on their mind. This will allow for a different perspective each month. We will also make a point to announce the cookbook choice for the upcoming month in each of these posts so that you all can take part as well if you so choose! So without further ado, we introduce Katie, our hostess for the month of August!

 

Written by: Katie

Paige hosted our first Cookbook Club last month at her place. When the night was coming to an end, Paige asked where we should have the next one. Having recently moved into a new apartment, I jumped at the opportunity. We decided on the August issue of Cooking Light.

The week leading up to our dinner, I decided that I wanted to do a picnic theme since we are nearing the end of the summer and everyone would be bringing a dish, potluck style. Keeping in mind that I am on a budget, I decided that some fresh flowers, a table runner, and some cute paper goods would do the trick and get the theme across. Not to mention the easy clean up ;).

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To make the table runner, I just purchased a couple yards of red and white plaid fabric and a package of fabric tape. I cut the fabric to make it about 16 inches wide and folded the sides of the fabric, keeping it secure with the fabric tape. This hid the fringe and took a lot less time than if I were to sew it. With limited space, I had to make a couple changes to the table set up to accommodate everyone- 10 ladies in total. Thankfully, a couple of the girls had some chairs and a folding table for me to borrow. I moved the table and set it up the night prior to having company- I would definitely recommend this! It gave me more time to focus on last minute setup.

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Morning of, I headed over to the Downtown Flower Market to get some flowers to dress up the table and pull the whole picnic theme together. With so much to choose from, it was hard to decide! I finally settled on a couple different types of flowers to make up a summery bouquet- only two of which I actually hadn’t seen before!

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After work, I did a couple last minute adjustments to the table, put the bouquets together and prepared my dishes- Crispy Fish Sticks and Peach and Prosciutto Canapés. I definitely should have started my dishes a bit earlier, but I had some friends willing to help me out. I can honestly say that I would recommend each and every one of the dishes! Below are the links to each of the dishes that were made.

 

Crispy Fish Sticks with Pineapple Ketchup

Peach and Prosciutto Canapés

Crab and Heirloom Tomato Salad

Asparagus, Ricotta, and Egg Pizza

Summer Bread Salad

Toasted Millet with Cilantro Vinaigrette

Bourbon-Peach Limeade

Quinoa-Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes with Romesco

 

Really, how can you go wrong with food, friends, and wine? After reading this you surely are interested in starting a Cookbook Club of your own! Come on, it’ll be easy! We’ll even tell you what cookbook or publication to use each month! Then we can all talk about the yummy recipes we tried. Are you excited? We are! If you already started your own Cookbook Club, let’s start the dialogue now … feel free to comment below and get it going; Which Cooking Light recipes did you like? Which ones can be tweaked? We made the crab and heirloom tomato salad along with the asparagus, ricotta, and egg pizza. Tami found the salad easy to make and very tasty. Great choice for just having moved into her new kitchen. Lauren however, made her recipe twice. It turned out great and was delicious … the second time around with a little help from her husband. Eek!

We are already looking forward to next month’s meeting (Lauren will be hosting!) where we will be creating dishes from the September issue of Bon Appetit magazine, and this month we have made it even easier for you. Don’t get up! Just click on this link and you can purchase the magazine right from home! Gather your friends and get cooking!

 

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