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Cooking Club


Cooking Club–Holiday Edition!

Our last Cooking Club is in the books for 2017!   It’s always fun, but this one is our particular favoritie – just apps, dessert and wine!  


It’s always great to start with wine, no?! 


Since I follow Courtney (are you following her? She has amazing organizing tips and great recipes!) I already saw the table scape.  She is the perfect hostess – but I love her philosophy of prepping everything ahead of time so that she can enjoy her guests, even if that means setting the table 24 hours in advance. 


The spread πŸ˜€


Lindsay made this cowboy caviar with chips:


Catherine made this ahi tuna with avocado and I cannot wait to replicate this at home.  Ahi tuna would be free on the new Weight Watchers #freestyle plan πŸ˜€  She did make an interesting point – if you are buying sushi grade ahi tuna, you should tell the person behind the counter, because they will cut it differently because it will be raw and not cooked.  Good to know!


This salad.  Holy balls.  I could eat this every day for dinner and be a happy camper.  Julie made this what I am calling “harvest salad” – it was arugula and mixed baby greens, sweet walnuts, raspberries and sliced pears – oh my!


These baked ham and cheese sammies are so delicious! Courtney brushed them with melted butter and Dijon mustard and baked them – this would be perfect if you had a crowd coming over at the holidays, because even though they are delicious hot, they are perfect at room temp too.


My shrimp cocktail dish was boring in comparison, but I liked the dipping sauces I made – one was a cucumber dill dip (1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons mayo, 1/3 cup chopped dill, 1/2 cup shredded cucumber, pinch of cayenne and salt and pepper) the second was a spicy Asian sauce (1/2 cup soy sauce, 3 tablespoons spicy stirfry sauce, 1 tablespoon sriracha, 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger and chopped cilantro).  My recipe for the best shrimp cocktail can be found here.

best shrimp cocktail

But my favorite dish of the night, being the soup whore that I am, was Tina’s butternut squash soup with pepita seeds, fresh grated nutmeg and apple and gruyere cheese crostini.  I ran her recipe through the Weight Watchers recipe builder (my app won’t switch over until tomorrow!) but making this 6 servings, each serving is only 3 points, so you can enjoy the delicious crostini guilt free.  You can find her recipe here.


My plate of deliciousness!


And for the record, dessert is always insulin worthy at Cooking Club!  The chocolate cake that Donna made was made with pudding so it was so moist, and had toffee bits for a bit of crunch.  And MaryBeth made scotcheroos – a grown up version of rice krispie treats made with butterscotch chips and cranberry white chocolate chip cookies.  Those were her Aunt’s signature holiday desserts, and her Aunt passed away over the summer, so these were made in memory of her.  I love food memories!


Courtney gave everyone kitchen themed ornaments – I got this super cute colander.  #love


The group!  I brought Hannah with me – thanks for letting me bring her Courtney!  So shorties in the middle – that would be me and Hannah!


What a great way to kick off the holiday season.  Be Merry!



Cooking Club! Chipotle Bang Bang Shrimp Bites

It was nearly 55 degrees by the time I got to work yesterday, such a beautiful day.

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I knew it was going to be a busy day, it being the last full day at the office.  I had a taste for oats for some reason, so hit up Pret for their steel cut oats – so creamy and only 4 smart points.  They have tiny cups of brown sugar and granola that go with the granola, so I am calling my “extras” 3, with sliced banana, so breakfast came in at 7 points.  I’ve packed all my bowls, so my glass coffee mug had to step in.  I couldn’t use it anyway because the coffee machines were already packed for our office move.

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And Pret again for lunch!  This was a bacon and egg breakfast sammie – this bread is amazing, I haven’t looked up the points yet, but I am calling it 10. 

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TODAY IS MOVING DAY!  I am sure you guys are sick of having me talk about it, but this has been my life the last two weeks.  Packing boxes, throwing out old shit (my boss had papers in his office from 1979!).   Still so much to do, but if I end up throwing stuff in a box just to move it, that’s what’s going to have to happen. 

So it was a nice reprieve to have Cooking Club last night! Courtney is always the hostest with the mostest!

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Our Cooking Club meets every two months.  Courtney assigns the head chef, the theme of the dinner is decided and everyone is assigned either a signature drink, appetizer, side dish or dessert.  

I was assigned an appetizer.  I have to be a bit creative because I come straight from work.  Courtney had already told me she was making queso fundido, so I wanted to do a lighter app to balance it.  I cooked the shrimp and made the sauce the night before, then had Hannah meet me at the train station to bring me my food and I assembled this in a couple minutes at Court’s house.

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Everything was delicious.  Lindsay made a cucumber and honeydew melon sangria; Courtney made queso fundido; Tina made chicken and salsa verde enchiladas with a pineapple avocado salsa; Catherine brought chips and salsa; Mary Beth made a Mexican street food corn salad (so spicy good – I could have eaten the whole bowl!); Julie made a cowboy caviar salad with roasted corn, black beans, black eyed peas, avocado and cherry tomatoes with a delicious dressing (middle picture below); and because we hadn’t eaten enough, finished with Donna’s sopapilla cheese cake pie that was amazing and definitely insulin worthy.  Pretty sure everything I ate will be on my dinner menu next week πŸ˜€

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Great food and friends, delicious wine and so much to be thankful for in this crazy mixed up world we live in.

I was also happy to meet my friend Mary Beth’s new adopted son Jude.  I want to share his picture, but I didn’t want to post it without her permission, but I know I’ll be doing some babysitting in the near future – he looks like a cabbage patch doll, is only 2 months old and stayed awake the whole time just looking at everything that was going on around him.  MB, he can come to every Cooking Club get together πŸ˜€

I have a busy weekend!  Tomorrow I am a culinary judge for the ACT-SO program on the south side of Chicago – I have to be there bright and early at 8:00 a.m.  And on Sunday my Mom and I are going to the White Sox game.  Joe, I keep meaning to call you this week, but it’s been crazy, but I plan on spreading some of your Dad’s ashes at the game on Sunday – it’s the first game I’ve gone to since he passed away.  A co-worker of mine has season tickets in the first row on the 3rd base side that she couldn’t use.  The weather is supposed to be sunny and 60 – perfect baseball weather in my book!  I’ll try to take some video for you. 

I hope you have an amazing weekend!  Make it a great day πŸ˜€