Foodie Feasts Recipe Club: Guilt-Free January

I posted a very long while back about the first meeting of the Foodie Feast group I started and how much fun it was. Since then the group has gotten larger and we’ve had 6 awesome meetings with great people and amazing food. Each event there has been more and more food, almost so much that you can’t even try everything. Some of our themes have been: Best Food Memories, Food on a stick, Brunch, White Hot, Summer Favorites and Fall Fresh. I’m really sad I didn’t have time the last few months to blog about them but they have been documented and well photographed so later on I will have to share some of what I’ve made with y’all for those themes. (and other members creations too if they give me permission).

We all decided it would be best to take a break from the club through the holidays since everyone has a million parties and obligations with family. I’m so excited for tonight and our first Foodie meeting of 2014! This guilt-free theme is a welcome one after the garbage I’ve been eating the last few months.

I’m always a bit excessive and obsessive when it comes to parties, planning, creating and eating. I made a list of considerations to make. I thought of raw dishes, eating clean dishes, low-sodium and healthier versions of comfort food. What was decided on was completely random. I am marinating some english cucumbers as a fresh side dish and am doing a slight variation on Rawmazing’s recipes that you can find here.

I made a couple of changes to her recipe. I like to cut my cucumbers in cute u-shapes and used 3 large English cucumbers. See picture below. I omitted the onion because I’m a cucumber purist. I used 1/4 cup light agave nectar instead of coconut sugar. I also added dill because cucumbers and dill are happy together.

It has a wonderful crunch, a little sweet, nice tang from the vinegar and a slight kick with the chili flakes.

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Chris thought stuffed cabbage sounded good so we are also doing a turkey and brown rice stuffed cabbage.

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For dessert I am making a tofu chocolate mousse adapted from the Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno. I know it sounds gross but I promise you would never a million years know there was any tofu in it! It’s chocolately deliciousness with a good punch of protein and my version is dairy free. I like dark chocolate but you could use semi sweet chips too.
Tofu Chocolate Mousse
Ingredients:
1 Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate bar, broken into squares
1/2 bar Ghiradelli 100% cocoa chocolate bar, broken into squares
16 oz organic silken tofu, at room temperature, drained
3/4 cup warm vanilla coconut milk (soy, rice and almond milk can be used)
1 tsp best-quality vanilla extract (I use homemade, so easy and cheap!)

Directions:
1. Melt chocolate in double boiler.
2. Heat milk to warm, do not boil.
3. Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
4. Pour the mousse into individual sized containers and refrigerate to thicken, at least 1 hour.
5. Optional: Serve with fresh raspberries garnished on top!

Starting a Recipe Club & The Joy of Sharing Food

Last night was just noodles of fun! I had a dozen people over to my house who all brought prepared dishes representing their fondest food memories and the corresponding printed recipe to share. I’ll tell you how this came about:
A few weeks ago I had the crazy idea of getting a recipe club started. Without knowing if anyone else would be into it I got to work brain storming how it would happen. What I did know was that I love to eat and cook but I always struggle to decide what to make, I wanted to use my growing collection of cookbooks more and I wanted other people to share their favorite go-to recipes and experiment right along with me.

I managed to get a few people interested and started talking about making it a monthly event with alternating hosts and having each host choose a theme for the recipe exchange. Since I hosted first I chose the theme “Best Food Memories” to sort of break the ice and talk about what we made by sharing the inspiration of our own personal experiences. After we got everything set up and the dishes labeled ( Diana made the darling little cards) then I put everyone on the spot and had them go around in a circle and tell us about their dish and why they chose that recipe. What resulted was a really fun diverse sampling of what food memories can mean. Some people thought of food they ate growing up, some reminded them of a specific place they used to live, some by vacations to Italy and experiences at restaurants and for some it was food that gave them comfort or just plain made them happy.

Noodle Kugal
My neighbor made noodle kugal and says this is the only recipe she could “remember” how to make. It is creamy sweet and so unexpected to have noodles for dessert.
It’s a package of wide egg noodles blended with 16 oz cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter, 6 eggs, 1 cup sour cream, 2 cups sugar, 2 TBS vanilla and 1/2 tsp salt. You boil the noodles according to the package and drain. Add the remaining ingredients and mix together well. Bake in a 9×13 dish at 350 for 1 hour.
My husband as you know is from Cincinnati so he has a long standing love affair with Skyline Chili. He was so excited to find the chili in the freezer section here in Charlotte. The recipe for the dip is on the box: 1 package cream cheese, 1/4 cup diced onions and 12 oz (or more if you're Chris) of shredded cheddar cheese.Everything is layered in that order and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or you could nuke it in the micro for 2 minutes.
My husband as you know is from Cincinnati so he has a long-standing love affair with Skyline Chili. He was so excited to find the chili in the freezer section here in Charlotte. The recipe for the dip is on the box: 1 package cream cheese, 1/4 cup diced onions and 12 oz (or more if you’re Chris) of shredded cheddar cheese.Everything is layered in that order and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or you could nuke it in the micro for 2 minutes.
I made these dolmas. It was my first go at them but I have very fold memories of these and various other Lebanese dishes from one of my favorite restaurants in Monterey. These are stuffed with Egyptian rice I found at an Arabic market, pine nuts, golden raisins, tomato paste, dill and lemon wrapped in California brined grape leaves.
I made these dolmas. It was my first go at them but I have very fold memories of these and various other Lebanese dishes from one of my favorite restaurants in Monterey. These are stuffed with Egyptian rice I found at an Arabic market, pine nuts, golden raisins, tomato paste, dill and lemon wrapped in California brined grape leaves.
Dan is a coworker of my husbands. He and his wife both relocated here from Cincinnati as well. They said these are their go to "Indroductions" recipe for parties and meeting new people. I love just about anything curry and these were no exception.
Dan is a coworker of my husbands. He and his wife both relocated here from Cincinnati as well. They said these are their go to “introductions” recipe for parties and meeting new people. I love just about anything curry and these were no exception.
It's not a party without candied bacon. Brandon brought the party!
It’s not a party without candied bacon. Brandon brought the party!

 

I have eaten this at numerous restaurants and just love the flavors, the crunchiness and the conformity of all the chopped vegetables. Fattoush is a "bread salad" and most recipes call to fry pita bread but I bought baked pita chips (Stacy's brand) which were perfect.  Vegetables chopped: 1 cup vine tomatoes 1 cup cucumber 1/2 head red cabbage 2 heads romaine hearts 1/2 cup radishes 1/2 cup fresh mint Dressing: Juice of 2 lemons freshly squeezed 3-4 cloves garlic mashed with 1 tsp sea salt 1 TBS Sumac Spice (can be found in specialty market)
I have eaten this at numerous restaurants and just love the flavors, the crunchiness and the conformity of all the chopped vegetables. Fattoush is a “bread salad” and most recipes call to fry pita bread but I bought baked pita chips (Stacy’s brand) which were perfect.
Vegetables chopped:
1 cup vine tomatoes
1 cup cucumber
1/2 head red cabbage
2 heads romaine hearts
1/2 cup radishes
1/2 cup fresh mint
Dressing:
Juice of 2 lemons freshly squeezed
3-4 cloves garlic mashed with 1 tsp sea salt
1 TBS Sumac Spice (can be found in specialty market)

 

 

My friend's grandmothers recipe which was never written down and took years to recreate.
My friend’s grandmothers recipe which was never written down and took years to recreate.

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Kyro and the boys
My dog Kyro is such a ham. The minute someone sat down on the couch he was in their lap nudging their arm with his head. Glad everyone was ok with dogs because mine were in the middle of the action all night! With all the wonderful food smells coming from the kitchen I can hardly blame them.
Everyone mingling before we ate!
Everyone mingling before we ate!
The third seating area I made a little fancier for those who wanted to make it a little more special. The way it turned out though was that this was the table set up closest to the t.v. and given that it was March Madness all the guys sat in there together to watch the game. It was the man date table, haha. I really just enjoyed the opportunity to put out dishes that just don’t get used. I feel like people get stuff for their weddings and they are afraid to use it. If you own it and it takes up valuable cabinet space, USE IT!! I was hoping it didn’t seem too over-the-top but I’m glad it just got a little love.
The Beverage Station
At every party possible I use my glass decanter. I just adore the thing. This time I filled it with water and added some sliced lemons. Had a little bucket for ice. Chrissy brought a very nice Prosecco and Diana brought some sodas as well. I had my coffee all set up as well but we were all so busy eating no one went for coffee. Since it was Easter I had my coffee mugs inside the Easter basket.
Casual Country French Table Setting
This table seating area inside the kitchen was a casual country french feel. I got to use my floral hankie collection as napkins. All my dishes on this table are from Anthropologie. The cake plate is from Home Goods and I just love that you can take the ribbon out and interchange the colors to match your decor.

The one dish not pictured was probably the most impressive so it is really too bad you don’t get to see it. It was Diana’s chocolate souffles (She made 14 of them in individual ramekins) Diana and Jon learned how to make these in a cooking class while on vacation in Florence. *SWOON* It’s sort of a dream of mine to go on a culinary vacation to Italy, actually there is one in Sicily that looks amazing…but I digress. We had the souffles in the freezer until they were ready to go in the oven while we ate our main courses. We preheated the oven to 400 and they baked for about 15 minutes. Some needed longer to set up. Ultimately they were just like little molten melty chocolatey decadence and the perfect way to end the meal! I am so looking forward to the next recipe club meeting. Katie is hosting and will be picking the theme.

I plan on photographing all the recipes and compiling them to make a yearly cookbook if we keep it going and I really really hope we do! We are currently thinking about a good name for our recipe club. So far I’ve thought of things like:

Sweet & Savory

Good Grub

Meet and Eat

Chow and Chat

Food with Friends

Recipes Relived

 Fat Asses…as suggested by my adorable husband

Any other Ideas???

We shall put it to a vote the next meeting 🙂