book club

Last week, I was the host for my book club’s monthly meeting. I really like the set up we have: each month, one member is the “host.” This means they pick the book, hosts the event at their place, and provides all the food and drinks. If someone feels they don’t have enough room for all the ladies, another member can offer up their home, but the “host” still provides the food and libations. I’m a huge fan of this kind of reciprocal hosting set up because I often find it stressful when I’m heading over to a friends house for a party or casual occasion and I have to contemplate what I’m supposed to bring. I always more than happy to provide snacks or wine or whatever, but I’m a planner. I like to plan ahead. Plan out the menu. Picking up a random bottle of wine on the way to someone’s place feels a bit lackluster.

The point is, I was excited to host all the lovely ladies in my book club for an evening of food and conversation. I had extra time to plan this gathering because it was actually supposed to be a week earlier but we postponed due to the snow and freezing rain. The extra time was key, because I ended up being happy with the food I made. I don’t mean to sound braggy at all, because quite often, despite my best efforts to plan out a menu, the food I serve guests is a big flop. Last time I hosted book club I think all I served was a red pepper dip and everyone left hungry I’m sure. Another one of my blunders is that I misjudge what my guests will want to eat; just a few weeks ago I thought about making a raw kale salad for a dinner party. Luckily my husband kindly guided me away from that plan.

Long story short, if you’re hosting a book club or any other dinner gathering, I highly recommend the recipes below! And if you don’t belong to a book club, you should create one. They’re really great.

APPETIZERS
Red Pepper Spread with Eggplant and Garlic (Trader Joe’s)
Hummus (TJ’s)
Pitas – regular & whole wheat, cut up into triangles (TJ’s)

DINNER
Double-Dutch Mac and Cheese with Chard (Bon Appétit)
I added extra chard (the whole bunch I bought, I didn’t measure) and an extra 4 ounces of pasta. I also didn’t parboil the chard, but instead I finely chopped it before washing and then added it to the cheese sauce as the same time as the pasta. This caused it to wilt slightly and mix well throughout the whole dish. I didn’t make any changes to the cheese sauce, but it still ended up cheesy enough!

Arugula, raisin, dried cranberry, and peacan salad with balsamic vinaigrette
I stumbled upon this balsamic vinaigrette recipe a few months ago, and it’s quickly become a staple in my fridge. It comes together so easily and stores beautifully in a jar in the fridge.

DESSERT
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles (our little bee hive)
These took work. I’d never made truffles before, and thought I should try. Well, dipping truffles is no easy task, I learned. I perfected my technique as I went along, finding out the best way was leave a little opening at the top of the truffle so I could push it off the fork, and then fill in that hole immediately (before the chocolate started to dry) with a dab of chocolate from a spoon. Time intensive for sure, but worth it. Yum.

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