I am part of a dinner club that one of my friends started just over a year ago. Our group consists of about 10 girls and we alternate hosting month to month. When it is your turn you host at your home choosing recipes that are new, not your norm or out of your comfort zone. April was my month and I hosted this past Saturday night. I picked a Caribbean theme to kick off Spring and get us ready for the warm months ahead.
The menu for the night was for appetizers: Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Salsa and Mango Pomegranate Guacamole, for our main course we had Jerk Chicken Salad and to finish off my friend Lisa made a blueberry and lemon trifle. I also made my popular Jamaican Rum Punch for our cocktail of the evening. I had made the jerk chicken salad before but only once and the other recipes I had never tried before. I was a little out of my comfort zone with the coconut shrimp recipe and even though it was an easy recipe it was new to me which made me nervous. I am one that if I am uncomfortable with a recipe then I follow it to a T, I am not good at substitutions and winging it if I need to.
That morning I headed to Publix for my shopping, they always have everything I need. Well they failed me on 2 things which put me in somewhat of a panic mode. They stopped carrying Pineapple preserves which is the main ingredient in the dressing for the salad and I also needed it for the salsa. PANIC! Also pomegranates are out of season and they haven’t been able to get them in for about 3 months. Umm..Hello! I’m making POMEGRANATE mango guacamole! What am I going to do!?!?!? Complete panic set in. I called my friend who is the cooking queen and asked what should about substituting for the preserves and pomegranate. She put my mind to ease with getting pineapple-apricot preserves and just leaving the pomegranate out completely and she reassured me that everything would be fine. Awesome!
My biggest fear was time management, there was much more food prep to be done than actual cooking time. The shrimp prep would be the biggest time consumption. The ladies were due to start arriving around 7pm so I started the food prep at 4 starting with the shrimp. Thank goodness I did this because it took forever and that is with B helping me. After that was done I finished up getting ready and setting up the table and then it was real cooking time. I started with the coconut shrimp. 5 minutes after it being in the oven and it was smelling so good! I got the first round out of the oven and the ladies started to arrive around 6:30 or so. It was on to the guacamole which was so easy. I got the appetizers out and relaxed for a moment with a nice glass of rum punch. The reviews of the appetizers were great! Everyone loved it!
Please excuse the pictures by the time I remembered to take pictures everyone had dug in and started eating and I had 2 glasses of rum punch in me! Thank goodness the salad was up next and it is easy and quick!
It was time for the main course. Lisa and I headed in to start the salad. It is so easy, the only cooking involved is the chicken. We put together the salad and it was ready to serve.
Everyone loved it and it was time for dessert. I unfortunately don’t have a picture of the trifle but the word at the table is that it was delicious! We ended the night with a little game of questions from a box that was made for a girls night. The questions were hilarious and had us laughing hysterically. The more punch that was consumed the answers became more honest and just down right funny.
Everyone had a great time, the punch did what it was supposed to do and had everyone extremely happy! The word on Facebook the next morning is that the majority of us had pounding headaches and I was even asked if I was sure I had put juice in the punch and just didn’t leave it straight up alcohol. Haha! Everyone headed out around midnight or so with smiles and full bellies. Mission Dinner Club was a success! My friend Lisa stayed and she and I hung out on the patio till about 2am with rum punch in hand in my hand and water in hers to sober her up to drive home!
I was reminded yesterday how wonderful it is to have family close to spend these precious holidays with. As the kids played and the 3 of us girls were in the kitchen and the guys were in the barn cooking the turkey I stopped and took it all in for a moment. What a wonderful day. I enjoyed being in the kitchen cooking with my step mom more than anything else yesterday. We cracked open our wine and cooked away. We had great conversations, laughed much, made many messes and just enjoyed the time together. We had Christmas music playing in the background as we cooked and Tennessee Christmas came on the radio. I stopped and looked at Susie (stepmom) and said “This year you get to have a Tennessee Christmas”. That brought some tears as she listened to the words of the beautiful song and said “yes I am and I couldn’t be happier”. Love her! As we all came together at the table for the first time in many many years for our Thanksgiving dinner we went around the table and said what we are thankful for. My daughter (who is 5) led the way and instantly brought tears to the whole table. She said without being coached mind you “I am thankful for Pa-pa and my family”. I am pretty sure with that comment that she can get anything she wants from her Pa-pa now. She said it with such sincerity in her voice and the cutest genuine smile on her face you could tell it came straight from her heart. My son was thankful for the ham and the candy crust, as he calls it, that is on the ham. Way to be truthful kiddo! I love that kid. The rest of us had our turn and when it came to my stepmom and dad they couldn’t hold back their emotion which made the rest of us a little choked up. They were so thankful for all of us to be together again, as a family on this holiday. Like I said before it has been over 10 years since we have all spent Thanksgiving together and it was wonderful. I am so thankful to have them close to us again. It was a wonderful wonderful day.
Growing up we always went to my grandmother’s house on Thanksgiving and it was my grandma and my 3 aunts in the kitchen cooking away. The kids never really helped. Then I went straight to cooking my own Thanksgiving dinner when we moved away so the only person I ever had in the kitchen with me was my sister and on occasion my sister in law when they would come visit. So yesterday was amazing for me. To be in the kitchen with my sister and Susie and contribute to the dinner with my own recipes that have became tradition with my small family over the years was truly touching for me. I felt like such a big girl haha! It was very heart warming for me and I look forward to many more holidays in the kitchen with them in the years to come.
After dinner we all sat down stuffed and lazy around the living room and played a game as a family. It was fantastic. It has been, again, many years since this has happened. Just sitting here thinking about it puts such a smile on my face and warms my heart. We laughed, we played and we were..a family.
I am happy.
I am happy to report that dinner club was a success! Yesterday I spent the day cleaning, cooking and getting ready for the evening festivities.
What a great time! There was nine of us that got together for it last night. There was much laughter, food, and good times had by all. I stayed very simple with everything on the menu. Crack Dip for an appetizer, chili for the main course and S’more’s for dessert around the fire. What is Crack Dip you say? Well it is crack in dip form because once you start eating it you can’t stop, hints the name Crack Dip, it is so very tasty. The word around the table was that everyone liked my chili.
Some didn’t understand why it had spaghetti in it but that is the way we have always made it..it’s the only way I know chili. I thought maybe it was a northern thing to put spaghetti in your chili, not so much I think it is just a Cincinnati area thing. (I grew up right outside of Cincinnati in Indiana) I had a few fellow yankees here last night from Jersey, Vermont, and Northern Ohio and they had never heard of it like that. Well now they have and they liked it! Word.
After dinner we headed outside and my friend Liz and I made a fire. We rock.
I had gotten sticks out of the brush pile and prepared them earlier in the day so I handed out the roasters to who ever was ready for some S’more action. I had to explain to a couple how to roast a marshmallow..are you kidding? Have you lived in a cave your whole life? ;) I’m kidding of course!! One had never used a stick before to roast..huh? One asked if it was sanitary to use the stick..again huh? Another asked if we needed to soak it in water because it will catch fire..um..no mam. Rules of roasting over an open fire… You find a tree with a good skinny branch or a stick on the ground, you prepare stick by tearing off any leaves and little baby branches, place marshmallow on stick, put stick with marshmallow in flame…easy as that. There is no sanitizing, no soaking. If your stick happens to catch fire, which would mean that you had it down in the flame to much, you simply place stick in fire to burn and find another. :)
I had bought 2 bottles of wine, with the thinking of one for me and one just in case someone else would like some. This did not go as planned. Me, myself and I consumed 2 bottles of wine last night. I turned dinner club into my own personal little drinking club. Champion. This champion is paying for it today but thankfully I have no kids this weekend to parent. Awesome. My husband made his own little drinking club last night as well. His buddy came over and they stayed out in the band room consuming Crown Royal like true rock stars. I came inside at one point during the evening, it was around 9:30, went to look for him and the room was locked. I thought they had left and headed to the bar, which was their original plan. I headed into the bedroom and someone was in my bathroom..it was my husband. I came back in a few minutes later to see why he was still here, he informed me that he was praying to the porcelain god. Champion. It was 9:30.
Everyone started heading home around midnight or so. My bestie Lisa stayed to hang out with me. As we are sitting in the living room chatting about, well I have no idea and I am pretty sure by this point I was slurring and mumbling because she just kept laughing at me, I realized how much wine I had throughout the evening and all of a sudden I was talking to 2 Lisas. She headed home about 1am and as she closed the door I went horizontal on the couch and didn’t move till 6am. Woke up clothed, head pounding, parched and needing Advil like a human needs air to breath..I needed Advil to live.
So in conclusion, Dinner club was a huge success. There is nothing like a night with all your girlfriends! Good friends, Good food, Good Times.
We were being complete dorks and thought it would be a good idea to get out the fur and sequence hats. I had an excuse for this behavior and you can see that in my hand, my friend Kathy on the other hand has no excuse because she has water due to the two babies in the belly. God love her! A good friend is someone that will act the fool with you even though you are hammered and they are not! I love my girls.
Friday night I am hosting Dinner Club. We have a group of around 10 girls that get together each month, someone different hosting each time, you pick a restaurant that the majority hasn’t been to or a recipe that is different and make it for the group. We have had so much fun doing this. We have had the majority of nights at someone’s home but been to the winery and a couple of different restaurants. Sadly I have had to miss a handful of dinner club nights due to being busy and not being able to mesh with the schedule. This is my first time hosting, sadly last year when I was up to host I had to back out because I had something going on, so I am a little nervous. I hate cooking for people, well not really, I just get nervous that someone is not going to like what I make. I am a people pleaser and I want everyone to be happy and have a good time. With it being Fall I have chosen to stay true to the season and do a chili night followed by S’mores for dessert around the fire pit. I know, too easy, I’m a whimp. It’s hard to compete (not that it is a competition by any means) with last years Fall dinner club. My friend Kim hosted and did a roasted pumpkin soup, a squash and mussel linguine, followed up with a pumpkin type truffle. It was amazing. She went all out even down to the table decorations. I was talking with a girlfriend about dinner club and what I was going to make, such a tough decision, and we got on the topic of chili and she asked how I made mine. After explaining it to her and the fact it has spaghetti in it she said how weird that was and that she never had chili like that before and would be interesting to try. BINGO! It must be a northern thing to have spaghetti in your chili because that is the only way I know, plus I have never had anyone else’s chili like mine, really it’s my mom’s recipe but I am keeping it alive! It’s a thicker, sweet kind of chili with yes, spaghetti in it. Then there was the question of what to make for dessert. I am not a dessert person so I could really care less about it and don’t know that special dessert to make for everyone. I already had the idea of starting a fire out back so we could all sit out there and enjoy our wine under the night sky then it hit me….S’mores. How easy is that??? After sending out the invite and getting feedback about the menu everyone was excited about the S’mores! I think it’s all of our inner kids coming out, who doesn’t love a S’more?
I am uber stoked about Friday night because it’s the first time in a long time that almost the entire gang has been together. We will still sadly miss one girl who can’t make it. :( We have a couple of chicks that are new to the dinner club scene joining us and oh are they in for a treat. Well one will fit right in because she is crazy, this is one of our requirements to be a part of dinner club, mental instability and you must have a love for wine or alcohol in general. See after having kids you learn that your mental state is questionable and then you resort to wine/alcohol to fix it, so needless to say we are all moms in our dinner club. We all can rock some wine drinking, we are very very very good at it..did I mention we are good at it? One of the newbies is my stepmom, she is in for a treat but she will fit right in and have a great time. We are all nuts, have a love for food and adult beverages, have mouths of sailors (ok not all but most of us) and we can rock some inappropriateness at any given moment. One girl that might be coming I don’t know very well so she is in for an eye opening treat as well. One of my friend’s husband has taken upon himself to rename our dinner club to “The Drinking Club” and has threatened to put us all in therapy. He knows us all way to well and has witnessed first hand our shenanigans. Friday should be somewhat low key..maybe.
Here’s to Dinner Club..or should I say “The Drinking Club”. Cheers.