About Our Group

The group consists of 12 girls, each paired with a partner. Each month a partnership will host a dinner, which entails formal invitations, decorations, menus, a multi-course dinner, party favors, etc. Each year we'll have six hosted dinners, a few potlucks, and then take the summer off. The dinners are a lot of work, but a lot of fun. Each partnership will host once a year, and usually have a few months to plan. There are no set themes – be as creative as you want. This gives each of us plenty of opportunities to not only try out new recipes, but to also share an evening with friends.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Gourmet "Ghouls" Halloween Party

October's Event:

This month was a potluck. Thank you to Megan for having this at your home. Your house is so beautiful and incredible, even without furniture. There were prizes given for the 3 best costumes, so everybody dressed their best. We had a great night the party almost lasted until midnight. With these girls you can talk and laugh all night long. We missed you Melissa and Joni.

The Girls

From Left to Right:

Crissy: Mad Hatter
1st place winner for best overall costume

Katie: Pregnant Lady Gaga
Megan: pirate
Brooke: Girl Scout
Lindsey: Flo, the progressive insurance girl
Amanda: Orbitz Girl
Sara: Trophy Wife
Darleen: Pregnant Kitty Cat

Ashley: Beehive Girl
2nd place winner for most creative

Liz: Indiana Jane
3rd place winner for having the sexiest costume


Brooke did an incredible job with the decorations. She said it was very simple to put together. She found branches in her backyard and spray painted them black and put them in a tall cylinder vase. She already had the tablecloth, borrowed the flying bats from Liz, got white flowers from the dollar store and spray painted them black and arranged them on a wreath she had. She added the finishing touches by putting skulls and bones within the wreath.


Bubbling Witches Brew
Zombie Punch

Side Dishes

"Intestines with Clotted blood" Empanada's
"Mini Pumpkin" Cheese balls
Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Beluga Lentils and Sage-Flavored Croutons
Wheat Berry and Red Fruit Salad with Toasted Pecans

Main Dish

Butternut Squash Soup
and Sage & Fontina Crustini
(sorry no picture)


Pumpkin Cookies
Chocolate Spiders

Party Favors


Bubbling Witches Brew:


1 (2 liter) bottle orange-flavored soda, chilled

24 oz. fruit punch, chilled

1/4 gallon (half of a 1/2 gallon carton) vanilla ice cream

1. In a punch bowl, stir together the fruit punch and the soda.
2. Scoop out the ice cream and place all over the top of the punch. Stir gently for a moment to get the right look.
3. Garnish this Halloween party punch with creepy crawlies, if desired.

Zombie Punch

2 cups 7-Up or Sprite

2 cups lime soda

4 cups ginger ale

1 gallon lime sherbet, softened

Place ingredients in punch bowl and stir until mixed. You can also mix it using a stick blender.

Mini "Pumpkin" Cheese Balls

8 ounces, weight Cream Cheese, softened
¼ cups Finely Chopped Roasted Red Peppers
½ teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 pinch Cayenne Pepper
1 cup Finely Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Paprika, For Dusting (I used a mixture of normal paprika and smoked paprika)
2 whole Green Onions

Preparation Instructions

Beat cream cheese, red peppers, garlic and cayenne until well blended. Stir in cheddar cheese. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm enough to handle.

Roll into 1-inch balls and then coat in paprika. Make indents in the side of each one with a knife to make a pumpkin shape (refrigerate longer if needed before shaping with a knife).
Slice green onion into 1-inch pieces (green parts only). Stick into the top of the cheese ball for a stem. If they are larger green onions you may slice each piece in half lengthwise. Roll each half back into a circular shape and stick into the top of the cheese ball to make it the appropriate size. Refrigerate until serving.

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup with Sage & Fontina Crustini

6 cups (about 2 large squash) seeded 2-inch wide chunks butternut squash
Melted butter, for brushing
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon
3 to 4 cups of chicken stock
4 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the butternut squash in quarters. Brush the flesh of the squash with a little butter and season with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper. On a sheet pan lay the squash flesh side up. Roast for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the flesh is nice and soft.
Scoop the flesh from the skin into a pot and add the stock, honey, and ginger. Bring to a simmer and puree using a stick blender. Stir in the heavy cream and return to a low simmer. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Sage and Fontina Crustini

1 Baguette thinly sliced
Olive oil
8 ounces of grated fontina cheese
1/4 chopped fresh sage
Preheat over to 425

Place sliced baguette on a sheet pan. Drizzle bread with olive oil. Sprinkle chopped sage over bread. Place grated cheese evenly over each slice of bread. Bake for 15 minutes or until bread is toasted and cheese is melted

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
with Beluga Lentils and Sage-Flavored Croutons
Adapted from a recipe by Jacqueline Pham

1 (2-pound) butternut squash
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature

6 sprigs fresh sage leaves
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 cup olive oil

1 cup baby spinach, tightly packed
1 cup arugula, tightly packed
1 cup rocket leaves, tightly packed
1 cup frisee lettuce
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, tightly packed, chopped

2/3 cup Beluga lentils, pre-cooked
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1 cup apple cider
1-1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 slices stale white bread
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 tablespoons herbs (tarragon, thyme, oregano, dill), finely chopped
3 tablespoons dill

Pomegranate Dressing (see following recipe)


Roasting the butternut squash:
Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Peel and dice the butternut squash into 1-1/2-inch cubes. In a bowl, toss the diced butternut squash in 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, kosher salt, pepper, butter, nutmeg and 1 sprig of sage.

Brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Place the butternut squash pieces without crowding them. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until slightly browned and softened. Let cool completely. Remove and discard the sage leaves.

For the cranberries:
Soak the cranberries in the cup of apple cider and let them sit for at least 20 minutes, then strain and reserve the cranberries. Discard the liquid.

For the sage-flavored oil:
Gather about 1/3 cup of loosely packed fresh sage leaves.
Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium low heat. As soon as the oil is hot, lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Add the minced garlic and cook for a minute until fragrant. Turn off the heat. Add the sage and lemon zest. Stir well. Cool the oil completely. Strain out the herbs through a double-layered cheese cloth and pour the sage-flavored oil into the bowl.

Set aside about 1/3 cup of sage-flavored oil for the vinaigrette. Use the rest for the croutons.

For the croutons:

Preheat oven to 325°F.
In a food processor mix 1-1/2 tablespoons of herbs in the sage-flavored oil. Give it a few pulses.

Cut the bread into about 1-inch to 1-1/2-inch cubes. Spread the bread cubes onto a non-stick baking sheet. Drizzle the oil on the bread cubes and season with salt and pepper. Toss well.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Cool the croutons for at least 15 minutes.

Assembly time:

Mix all the greens and croutons together. Add the maple-roasted butternut squash, cranberries and the beluga lentils. Drizzle with pomegranate vinaigrette. Toss well. Sprinkle more dill and serve immediately.

Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Dissolve 4 teaspoons of sugar in 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a bowl. Add 1-1/2 tablespoons of mustard. Set aside.

Secondly, gather all the pomegranate seeds of 2 fruits. For an easy way to de-seed a pomegranate check out this website. Blend seeds in a blender, then strain through a cheesecloth and gather as much juice as possible. Discard the pomegranate seeds.

Place the pomegranate juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle simmer for a little less than 5 minutes. The liquid should reduce to about two tablespoons of the syrupy pomegranate juice. Remove from the heat. Add about 1/3 teaspoon of salt and whisk in about 1/2 cup of olive oil immediately while the juice is still hot. Add the mustard / apple cider vinegar mixture. Finish with white pepper.

Wheat Berry and Red Fruit Salad with Toasted Pecans
Adapted from Eating Well

1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 cups Cooked Wheat Berries
1 large Fuji apple, unpeeled, diced
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar*
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Combine orange juice and cranberries in a small bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Combine wheat berries, apples and pecans in a large bowl; stir gently. Drain the cranberries, reserving the juice. Stir the cranberries into the wheat berry mixture.

Whisk the reserved orange juice, vinegar and oil in a small bowl until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and stir gently to coat. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.

I recommend preparing the salad a day ahead to let the flavors combine, but reserve the toasted pecans until just before serving.

*Raspberry vinegar can be purchased in some specialty stores, or made by blending 1 cup fresh raspberries to ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar in a food processor.

Intestines with Clotted Blood


1 pound puff pastry (purchased in frozen section)
1 empanada recipe (or any other desired filling)
1 egg, beaten
Red food coloring and a small paint brush

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Thaw the puff pastry and using a rolling pin, roll out the pastry on a floured surface until roughly 1/8 inch in thickness. Using a knife (or pizza cutter), cut the puff pastry lengthwise into thirds, making three long strips. Place the thirds end to end creating a very long strip of dough. Seal the seams with egg wash.

Spread the filling down the entire center of the dough, leaving a bit of space on each side to pinch closed. Brush the edges with a little egg and pinch the whole thing closed, creating what will look like a long worm. Carefully lift the dough onto the baking sheet and form intestines, rolling it over so the sealed edge is on the bottom. Repeat with the second sheet of pastry dough, continuing the intestines and then shaping the colon (see photo). Brush the pastry with the egg wash. Dip a small brush into red food coloring (for a darker color add some blue coloring) and paint on the “blood.” Bake for about 20-25 minutes, just until golden, but not overly brown. Serve with a syringe of Clotted Blood.

Empanadas (Intestine filling)

1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
8 green olives, pitted and cut into slices
2 hard-boiled eggs, cut into rounds
salt and pepper to taste
Crushed red pepper, to taste
12 empanada rounds (refrigerated cresent rolls are also good*)
1 egg, beaten

Note: The meat mixture may be made a day in advance.

In a medium saucepan heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until they become translucent. Add the beef and cook, adding salt and pepper to taste. Once the meat has browned, stir in the paprika, cumin, and crushed red pepper and mix well. Remove from heat and add the green olives and hard boiled eggs.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the empanada rounds on a lightly floured work surface. Add a tablespoon of the meat filling in the center of the dough round. Use the egg wash to seal the empanadas, making them in half-moon shapes. Brush the egg wash over each finished empanada and bake at 350 for about 12-15 minutes. Serve immediately with guacamole, salsa, sour cream or any other condiment you like.

*If using cresent rolls, roll out the dough until it is about ¼ inch thick and cut into rounds and then follow the recipe as stated. You may need a little longer baking time.

Clotted Blood (Roasted Tomato Salsa)

10 large Roma tomatoes, whole
2 Serrano or jalapeño chilies (depending on heat preference)
4 cloves garlic, skin on
1 large white onion, quartered
1 bunch cilantro
4 limes, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1-2 tablespoons oil

Place the first four ingredients on a tin foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with oil, until the vegetables are well coated. Place under your broiler and broil until the vegetables are becoming charred – about 5 to 10 minutes depending on your oven. Turn over the vegetables and repeat, until all sides are charred. Remove from the oven and take off the garlic skins and the stem and seeds (seeds are optional) from the chilies. Place in a blender or food processor and add cilantro and lime zest and juice. Blend until desired consistency. Season with salt and serve.

Pumpkin Cookies

1 stick of butter softened
1 egg
2 1/2 cups of flower
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin
1 tsp of nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and vanilla
1/2 tsp of salt

Mix all together! Add 2 cups (or more or less) of chocolate chips.

Bake on 375 for 10 minutes

Sorry no recipe for the chocolate spiders. When you are as talented as Joni in making chocolates, you can whip up an incredible dessert with no recipe at all. Thanks Joni for the spiders, they were delicious.


Ashley said...

Such a fun night!

Gluten Free Teacups said...

Joni, I would love the "how to" on the spiders. Sam and Audrey would think they have the coolest mom in the world. I am guessing the web is candied sugar over a silver bowl shape. The spiders seem to have a chocolate cake bottom and a solid chocolate dome top from a candy mold maybe. Just guessing...

This site is fantastic and I will have to share this blog with my SF friends and tell them about your fabulous group. Much Love

The Arbuckle's said...

I just made the butternut squash salad and it was yummy. My husband even loved it. Thanks Liz for the recipe.

Alison said...

It all looks like so much fun. Wish I could have been there.

Lillian said...

Umm... this looks like such a great group... can I join? I wish I was kidding. This looks too fun. And amazingly yummy!