The more active of the two bookclubs I am in meets about once every six weeks on a Saturday at rotating members houses. After about a year of getting to know the majority of these awesome ladies, it was my turn to host last Saturday, and I was uber thankful to my Pinterest boards for laying out the majority of my menu. Bookclub is set up so that whoever is hosting, is hosting. If you’re not hosting, all you have to worry about is reading the book and showing up for a fun evening of wine, food, and conversation. With the number of people involved in this group, it works out so that each person only hosts about once per year, so when it’s your turn, you’d better be ready.
For the month or so before the meeting, I’d kept my eyes open on Pinterest for simple, delicious dishes that were mostly vegetarian and would play to a majority of tastes. That’s a little trickier than it sounds, because I also wanted to be sure everyone was full, but not in a food coma all night. Delicious, simple, filling, but not overwhelming.
I can’t take credit for all of these recipes, but I can speak to their results and give you the links here. All but one that I tried (baked zucchini chips what were soggy instead of crispy, booo) turned out great!
1. Cucumber cups stuffed with tuna salad – I used a smoked tuna salad from my favorite farmers market. Pinterest link here: http://pinterest.com/pin/218495019392763075/ – pretty self explanatory from the photo. I liked this dish because it was an easy way to eat tuna, and without any bread.
2. Crispy edamame – I followed the recipe written out in the pin description, and will definitely make this again for myself! Healthy and filling, this dish served warm was a big crowd pleaser: http://pinterest.com/pin/218495019392365343/ . I used a parmesan that was very coarsely grated, and used more like a half cup than a quarter cup.
3. A fresh spinach salad – I didn’t follow a recipe for this one. I bought a bunch of fresh items from the farmers market and just made a light dressing to toss in: spinach, roma tomatoes, feta cheese, dried cranberries, a tiny bit of finely diced red onion, and dressing of lemon juice / olive oil / herbs.
4. Fresh fruit bowl – ripe strawberries, raspberries, and kiwi. A nice balace for the salad.
5. A crusty baguette from the farmers market with soft goat cheese on the side for spreading. Yuummm!
6. Black bean & corn salad – inspired by this pin, but modified because I already had edamame in the Crispy Edamame dish. My favorite element was the fresh lime juice squeezed in — fresh citrus makes such a difference when compared to those small bottles of lemon or lime juice at the store. I served blue corn chips and a red tomato salsa on the side for people to mix them up as desired. Protein in the black beans helps fill you up without making you sleepy.
7. Pumpkin cupcakes – I modified this pinned recipe to make the dish a little fresher, and used a different icing recipe that was also fresher & simpler than the original (crisco in icing = gross and unnecessary, in my opinion). I made my version of icing from 4 cups powdered sugar + ~2 tsp cinnamon + 8 ounces cream cheese + 2 tbsp whole milk, in that order, beat in the mixer. For the cupcake recipe, I substituted a can of actual pumpkin for the jello pumpkin spice pudding mix, and cut the butter in half. You’ll need to bake the cupcakes for 28-30 minutes if you substitute canned pumpkin for the pudding mix like I did. I doubled the cinnamon in the icing that the original pinned recipe called for to make it more present in the overall taste of the dessert, and used a special Vietnamese cinnamon from Penzeys Spices. Side note: we buy as many of our spices and seasonings as we can from Penzeys; they are high quality, delicious, pretty affordable and they recently opened a store in Atlanta (so you can smell them in person before buying)!
Regarding drinks, we keep it plain & simple: water and wine. If I were to fancy-up the drink offerings, I have a short list of seasonal cocktails that I’ve been wanting to test out for small gatherings:
Honeycrisp apple sangria – fall
Cranberry ginger fizz – winter
Mimosa punch – spring
Peach flip – summer
What’s your go-to dish or drink when people come over?
Thanks for reading!