Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Book Club was a success!


Book Club Update:  my good friend Kerry, who teaches 3rd grade in Connecticut, just told me this is a 5th grade level book. Oops. She asked who picked it out. Uh, that would be me and Elli. What do we know?  So now I am SUPER DUPER PROUD of Elli for finishing it. She's a rock star!!

We successfully hosted book club at our house last Sunday. So now I can quit stressing about it.

First, Elli and I had to finish reading the book we picked (Mrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH.) It was a great story and we really enjoyed reading it together. However, it was kind of long, and a little bit hard for Elli to read and understand. So it took F-O-R E-V-E-R to read. It was painfully slow sometimes. I admit, I read a few chapters outloud just to speed up the process.
Only two of the six girls actually finished the book. That's not good. That means the book was a tad hard for everyone. I have no regrets picking it though, because everyone, mom's and daughter's, enjoyed the story. And Elli was so proud of herself for being one of the only girls to finish. And it really pushed Elli.

You wouldn't believe how much I thought about, and stressed about hosting book club at my house. My house had to be perfect. The food had to be perfect. My head spun round and round in the kitchen all day Sunday. Don avoided me, which was wise, as I was swearing under my breath about all the chaos I had created - shopping, cooking, baking, cleaning, and laundry. While he sat at the kitchen table finishing our taxes and watching basketball ALL DAY LONG.

I went with my cousin Sarah's suggestion and set up a Burrito/Taco Buffet. It was a hit with everyone. Although several girls had never made their own taco before. Say what? I thought taco night was a standard in most households. Guess not.

I made 4 new recipes for the evening. And they were all keepers. Three recipes are all adapted from The Tasty Kitchen/Pioneer Woman website. (I just love the Pioneer Woman.)

1) Roasted Tomatillo Dressing - great as a dip with chips and veggies, or poured all over burrito, or as a salad dressing. The flavors in the dip get richer the longer it's in the fridge. And when I say longer I'm referring to days in the fridge. As in today was day 3 and you could really taste the garlic and lime today.

2) Mexican rice - yummy, colorful, made it ahead and reheated it in the oven. Yummy and good. Also really good on day 3.

3) Lemon Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze - mmmmm So good at the party, and the leftovers will be treating us for weeks. I've wrapped pieces and put them in the freezer for future enjoyment! (Big secret here. This is a box cake mix. Not your everyday box mix - it's from Williams Sonoma and it is FAN-TASTIC.)

4) Chocolate Sprinkles Cupcakes with THE BEST FROSTING EVER.  The Chocolate Sprinkles cupcakes (mix is from Williams Sonoma) were good too. But man, the frosting was AWESOME!

You can't believe how relieved I am that I have one of these behind me. I had myself all stressed out for no reason. Stupid, I know. Like who cares if there is a splatter on the bathroom mirror. Oh wait, I DO!!!

Relax dummy. It's all over.

PS. Of course there was WINE too. Duh! I was so focused on the best frosting ever I forgot to include the vino!

A little Cava sparkling from Canals & Nubiola, Some Zolo Gaucho Select Unoaked Chardonnay and of course Tapiz Malbec. Three favs to share with the gals. 

Mexican Rice

Olive oil
1 whole shallot, finely diced
2 whole garlic cloves, minced
1 whole red bell pepper, diced
1 whole green bell pepper, diced
2 whole jalapenos, finely diced
1 14-½ ounce can,  petite-cut diced tomatoes, drained
1 T. tomato paste
1 cup water
1 T better than bouillon chicken base
1 cup long grain rice
1/2 t. salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
2. Add the shallot, garlic, red and green bell peppers, and jalapenos. Saute for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the tomatoes and stir until heated through. Add the tomato paste, water, bouillon base, rice, and salt and pepper. Stir thoroughly and cover.
4. Cook on medium for 20 – 25 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
5. Season with more salt and pepper if desired. 

Roasted Tomatillo Dressing/Dip

4 whole tomatillos, roasted
½ bunch cilantro
1 whole jalapeño, seeded
1 clove roasted garlic
olive oil
1 whole lime, juiced
½ cups milk
1 package (about 1 Oz. Packet) Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Mix
½ cups Sour Cream
1 cup light mayonnaise

Fresh vegetables - baby carrots, celery sticks, broccoli, jicama, radishes

1. Preheat toaster oven to 425º Start by roasting the tomatillos and garlic. Remove the husks, wash, quarter, and roast on a baking sheet for a few minutes until they brown a little. Drizzle a little olive oil on a clove of garlic, wrap in foil and roast in the toaster oven until soft.
2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
3. Chill until ready to serve. 

4. Serve dip with veggies on a platter.

Fluffy White Vanilla Frosting

5 T. flour
1 cup milk
1 t. vanilla paste
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar (not Powdered Sugar!)
1. Bake your favorite chocolate cake and let it cool.
2. In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. You want it to be very thick like a brownie mix is. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.  It must be completely cool before you use it in the next step. Stir in vanilla.
3. While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together in your kitchen aid mixer with the whip attachment until light and fluffy. Add the completely cooled milk mixture to the butter and whip until it resembles whipped cream.
4. Frost cupcakes and enjoy!


  1. Glad it worked out! I don't know how I missed the tomatillo recipe-I've got to try that! Thanks for turning me on to that site!

  2. Oh my gosh......Sarah.......what a great idea you had...........why don't you come to California and we can all meet and plan a dinner at Kris's house......what fun....She's the wine "mama", ou are the food "Mama", and I'm the....let's see.....hmmmmm.
    I'll be there!
    Love you both,


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