Category Archives: Book Club

Book Club: Dill & Egg Potato Salad and Spring Vegetable Potato Salad

I hosted my Book Club at our house a couple of weeks ago, there were 8 of us here to talk about The Corrections, and catch up on what’s going on in our lives.  Check out what else was on the Book Club menu!

I almost forgot to post the potato salad recipes from when I hosted Book Club.  Since summer is here, these are the perfect dishes to bring over to a friends BBQ, or for a picnic.  I wasn’t sure what kind of potato salad everyone liked, so I decided to make 2 different ones, hopefully satisfying everyone’s taste buds.

I ended up cooking all of the potatoes together to save time, and just divided them amongst the two salads.  Both can be made the day before, just don’t add the vinaigrette until the last minute, or else the salad will get soggy!

Dill & Egg Potato Salad
Adapted from: So Good and Tasty

6-8 baby red potatoes, washed
1/4 cup chives, minced
1/4 cup dill, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 red pepper flakes (optional)
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped

Add potatoes to a large pot, pour water over them.  Turn on the heat and bring water to a boil, cook the potatoes until they are soft in the middle so a knife can easily pierce through (the time will depend on the size of the potatoes).  When the potatoes are done, rinse them under cold water.  Then chop them into quarters or smaller pieces.

To make the dressing add all of these ingredients into a small bowl, then whisk them together: chives, dill, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

Toss the potatoes, eggs and dressing together- then serve.

Spring Vegetable Potato Salad
Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen

8-10 fingerling potatoes
1 lb asparagus, chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 cups sugar snap peas, cut into halves
4 radishes, thinly sliced
4 spring onions, chopped (or green onions)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp whole grain mustard
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Add potatoes to a large pot, pour water over them.  Turn on the heat and bring water to a boil, cook the potatoes until they are soft in the middle so a knife can easily pierce through (the time will depend on the size of the potatoes).  When the potatoes are done, rinse them under cold water.  Then chop them into quarters or smaller pieces, add them to a large bowl.

Bring water to a boil in a small pot.  Add in the asparagus and cook it for 2-3 minutes.  Drain it and place it in a bowl of ice cold water for 3 minutes.  Drain it again, and add it into the bowl filled with potatoes.

To the potatoes and asparagus, add the: sugar snap peas, radishes, spring onions and garlic.

In a small bowl whisk together the ingredients for the dressing: olive oil, whole grain mustard, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

Finally, toss the dressing with the vegetables and serve.

Book Club: Spinach & Artichoke Dip

I hosted my Book Club at our house last week, there were 8 of us here to talk about The Corrections, and catch up on what’s going on in our lives.  Check out what else was on the Book Club menu!

Sam and I really enjoy sharing meals with our friends and family, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon or evening.  Of course, when your guests arrive they need something to nibble on before everyone eases into the meal you will be eating.  There are some great appetizers our there: chips & salsa, hummus, tomatoes with mozzarella, or roasted mushrooms.

I wanted something a little different, a dish that would linger on the table longer.  Our book club tends to straggle in as everyone is finished with work, and we all have vastly different schedules.  Instead, I opted for spinach and artichoke dip- it’s everyone’s favorite.  I figured it’d go well with my “all-american” theme- what restaurant in the U.S. doesn’t have this on their menu?

I put out Peasant Bread and fresh veggies with this dip.  To make the plate colorful (which I forgot to take a picture of!) I had red bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, cucumbers and celery.

Everyone seemed to like it, since there was barely any left!  This dip was easy and can be done a day or two ahead of time- perfect for a busy host or hostess!

Spinach & Artichoke Dip
Adapted from: Dashing Dish

1/4 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
10 oz spinach, chopped (fresh or defrosted and dried)
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
14 oz can artichokes, drained & chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Heat olive oil in a pan, when it’s warm add the onion.  Cook the onion for about 5 minutes, until it is translucent.  Add the garlic, and cook for a couple of minutes.  Then add spinach and cook until is heated through (about 3-5 min).  Next, add in the cream cheese, stirring frequently until it is melted.  Lastly, stir in the sour cream, Parmesan cheese, artichokes, salt and pepper.

Transfer the dip into a oven-safe dish.

Preheat the oven to 35oºF.  Bake the dip for about 10-15 minutes, until the top begins to lightly brown.

Serve with: peasant bread, pita bread, peppers, cucumbers or celery

Book Club: Cantaloupe Agua Fresca

I hosted my Book Club at our house last week, there were 8 of us here to talk about The Corrections, and catch up on what’s going on in our lives.  Check out what else was on the Book Club menu!

Today we have another birthday celebration!  Sam’s turning another year older!

Happy Birthday Sam!!!

Sometimes our book club turns into a wine club.  Everyone brings a bottle of wine, and it’s fun to taste-test and find one that each of us enjoys!  But within the next year, our book club will be getting two new members- 2 babies!  Since all of us need a fun drink, I decided to make something tasty and non-alcoholic for the mamas-to-be!

This is also great if you mix it with a little champagne, prosecco or white wine.  It can be a great drink with dinner, or something you can enjoy for an outdoor lunch!

Cantaloupe Agua Fresca
Adapted from: Bon Appetit (June 2012)

2 cantaloupes
3/4 cup lemon juice
4 cups of water
1/2 cup basil leaves

Peel and chop the cantaloupes, removing the seeds.  Then purée them in a food processor or a blender.  Strain the purée into a bowl through a cheesecloth or fine-mesh sieve.  Then add in the lemon juice, water and basil; stir well.

Pour into a pitcher and refrigerate before serving.

Book Club: S’more Cookie

I hosted my Book Club at our house last week, there were 8 of us here to talk about The Corrections, and catch up on what’s going on in our lives.  Check out what else was on the Book Club menu!

I’ll skip around the book club menu a bit to tell you all about the dessert.  I do have a reason- today it’s my Dad’s birthday, and I think he’d love this dessert.  Happy Birthday Dad!  One of his favorite desserts are chocolate chip cookies, and this is equally good.

I found this recipe thanks to Pinterest, I kept seeing recipes for s’more bars or cupcakes, and since it is an American dessert, I thought this would be perfect.  Although s’mores tend to be eaten near a bonfire or while camping, this is the perfect indoor substitute.

Growing up I spent a couple of summers at Cedar Lodge Summer Camp, in a tiny town of Lawrence, Michigan.  It’s mainly a horseback riding camp, but there were some that attended and didn’t ride.  I have very fond memories of my summers there, especially at the campfire at the end of each week!

Every Saturday night, all the campers and staff would gather around the bonfire with their blankets, bug spray, flashlights and sticks to make s’mores.  First we would eat dinner (burgers, hot dogs, or sloppy joe’s) and then we would find a great place to sit to hear stories.  My first week there, I remember Eddy, the owner of the camp, told us a scary ghost story which kept me awake that night in the cabin.  After he passed away, Amy (his daughter and Camp Director) continued to keep us entertained.  With night settling in, all of us would make s’mores and huddle together.  It was the perfect way to close a week of camp, before the new set of campers arrived.

S’more Cookie
Adapted from: Wit & Whistle

I basically did the same recipe, although I made it in a bigger pan.  It’s possible to make it smaller as well.  Best served when it’s cooled off, maybe with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 6-8 blocks)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 King-sized Hershey’s chocolate bars
3 1/2 oz marshmallow puff*

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Using about a tablespoon of butter, grease a 9′x13′ baking pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar.  Add in the egg and vanilla, beat well.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.  Slowly incorporate it into the large bowl, mixing at a lower speed until it’s combined.

Divide the dough in two chunks.  Press the half into the baking pan, an even layer.  Then place the chocolate bars on top, try not to break the bars.  Spread the marshmallow puff onto the chocolate in an even layer.  Press the remaining dough onto the layer of marshmallows.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the top is lightly brown.  Cut into pieces after this has cooled off.

*Do not use melted marshmallows!

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

I hosted my Book Club at our house last week, there were 8 of us here to talk about The Corrections, and catch up on what’s going on in our lives.  Check out what else was on the Book Club menu!

As I mentioned, I was looking for “all-american” foods, but with a fun new twist.  How about Sloppy Joe’s?  A sloppy joe is an American dish which usually consists of ground beef, onions, tomato sauce (or ketchup) and additional seasonings.  It’s served on a bun, and tends to be very messy!

The origin of the sloppy joe sandwich is not definite.  Some say it started at a cafe in Sioux City, Iowa when a cook, by the name of Joe, made this sandwich.  Others, believe it was first made at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, Florida.  Most of us identify with the sauce that comes in a can: Hunt’s Manwich Sloppy Joes.

I did not want to serve my friends something out of a can, so instead I made my own sauce.  I added green bell peppers, garlic and some spices to give it a better flavor.  In addition, since not everyone in our Book Club eats meat- I decided to use the MorningStar Crumbles to make it vegetarian!  The texture was very similar to ground beef, and the sauce had the tomato flavors!

 

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes
Inspired from: Pinch My Salt

I was making these sloppy joe’s vegetarian, so I added the MorningStar Crumbles; but if you prefer to have a meat version, substitute 1 lb of ground beef.  Also, for a less spicy taste, omit the jalapeño.  This is something which can be made ahead (a day or two), allowing the flavors to blend together much better.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño, chopped (optional)
1 12oz package of MorningStar Farms Meal Starter Crumbles
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tomatoes, chopped
6 oz tomato paste
1 1/2 cup of water
hamburger buns

Heat up olive oil in a saucepan, then add the onion.  Sauté for about 4 minutes, until it’s translucent.  Then add the garlic, green bell pepper and jalapeño.  Cook for about 3 minutes, then add the meat, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper.  Stir well and cook all of these ingredients for about 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to mix together.  Add in the tomatoes, stir them in well.  Finally, stir in tomato paste and water.  Make sure all of the ingredients are stirred well, and allow to cook for about 5-10 minutes.

I put out the sloppy joe mixture and buns separately, allowing everyone to serve themselves.