The “Ultimutt” Dog Party

September 25, 2020

Since Cookbook Club events were few and far between this year, I wanted to include something we did for our furry pals that our friends Jamie and Karen hosted. I mean who doesn’t love dogs?!?! And who doesn’t love a dog party?!?!

No cooking at this party … appetizers, pizza, and booze. And dog treats. And dog snuggles.

Randi, Otis, Bowie, and Huck looking for a place to poop.
Huck smiling for the camera.

Randi, Bowie, Otis, Jack, Huck, Blue, Oscar, and Brutus were there along were their parents. And although I don’t I have a pet, I consider myself a god-parent to all of my furry friends.

Oscar and Jamie

This was Jack’s first time socializing with the others, and he did great!

Jack under the chair, protecting his ball.

Pup-cakes for all puppies!

It was a great night hanging out with our human and furry friends.

Otis enjoying the fire.
Bowie and Karen

Dim Sum Very Nice Dumplings You Have There

September 4, 2020

In between Cookbook Club events, we still get together and cook. Well, usually Nancy does the cooking, and we do the eating. Nancy and Laura love dim sum and dumplings, so …. Dumpling Party!

The menu consisted of shrimp toast, shrimp and pork dumplings, and Chinese spareribs with black bean sauce, and fried rice. Yum!

I was put in charge of the Chinese Spareribs with Black Bean Sauce – easy right? The recipe looked easy and straight forward, and I was sure I had seen black bean sauce with garlic at the grocery store multiple times. After going to four grocery stores and the Asian market twice, I ended up back at the Asian Market to finally buy the ingredient. This took way longer than making the whole recipe. The recipe for Chinese Spareribs with Black Bean Sauce is here:

The shrimp toast was SO GOOD! I had never had it before, and it was delicious!

We all pitched in to make the dumplings. It was actually pretty easy, especially when Nancy made the fillings ahead of time.

It turns out I really do like dumplings, and have jumped on the Laura and Nancy Dumpling Train!

Smitten with The Smitten Kitchen

July 10, 2020

The best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray … or something like that! Our intention was to have Cookbook Club once a month. The first one was in February, so the second one should be in March … correct? Well, not in 2020. COVID raised its ugly head and put us all in a quarantine-like status – pretty much staying at home, doing puzzles, bingeing Netflix, and communicating by FaceTime, Zoom, and Instagram. For what seemed like years. Finally in June things started looking up, and we got back to planning our next meal. We all follow The Smitten Kitchen on Instagram, and The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook really rocks – like “I want to make everything in it” rocks!

The Smitten Kitchen Instagram page is full of delicious recipes for cocktails, so we decided to do the Bourbon Slush Punch – so good!

It was also a beautiful night out, so we had cocktails on the terrace!

Nancy was the hostess, and responsible for the main dish. She chose Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes, Olives, and Rosemary. It was delicious!

I made the appetizer/salad, and chose Tomato Scallion Shortcakes with Whipped Goat Cheese. I had not much luck in the past making biscuits, but these turned out great!

Dee provided the side, which was Roasted Fingerling and Carrot Coins. We gave her an easy one after she made the complicated and labor intensive cake last time!

And finally, what I think everyone will agree was the star of the show! Laura made the Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake, and it was divine!

The wine selection was also fantastic – Paso Robles wine makers Desperada and Booker Vineyards – two of my favorites!

Overall – cocktail, meal, wine, company – could not be beat!

Small Victories

February 21, 2020

February 21, 2020 – a date that will go down in infamy. Not really! But it was the date of our first cookbook club dinner. When we finally decided that 2020 was the year we were going to get this thing going, we had no idea what was in store for the year. I retired on January 1, went on a kick ass retirement trip to Maui, and was just settling in to retirement life. Hanging with my friends over food and wine on the regular was my plan!

Back to the our first cookbook choice … Getting the cookbook club started was a small victory, so why not start with Small Victories by Julia Turshen? This is a great cookbook for people who have little time but want to make flavorful meals – although Dee may take exception with this statement. Nancy and I were out of town, so the recipe selection and assignments were left up to Dee, Laura, and Nancy’s husband Zach (our husbands and significant others are our supporting cast).

Roasted Scallion and Chive Dip

This dip was addicting! In fact I dream about it … sitting on the couch with a glass of champagne, salty potato chips and dip, watching a movie – yum! Needless to say, it went fast! The recipe can be found here:

Roasted Radishes with Kalamata Dressing


Cauliflower with Anchovy Breadcrumbs

I usually don’t get too excited about side dishes, but was intrigued by both recipes. Mainly because I saw how easy they both were to pull together since Nancy brought all of the ingredients to my house and made them both while we were munching on chips and dip. They were both delicious and deserving of a place at the table. The recipe for the roasted radishes can be found here:; the recipe for the cauliflower with anchovy breadcrumbs can be found here:

Grilled Skirt Steak with Pickled Jalapeño Relish

The hardest part of this recipe was finding the skirt steak – I went to two grocery stores before finding them at Humphrey’s Market (note to self – don’t forget about this place). After getting the steaks, this was probably the easiest recipe to pull together of the night. I made the jalapeño relish that afternoon, and grilled the steaks right before we were ready to eat. So easy and full of flavor! Here is the recipe:

Happy Wife, Happy Life Chocolate Cake

Dee definitely did not pull the “easy” card for this go round! She made the cake the night before, and said it was very labor intensive and that she dirtied every pan in her kitchen! All I know is that it was delicious, and we served it with a magnificent port to end the evening. Here is the recipe:

The guys did the dishes, and we made plans for the next Cookbook Club Meeting.