Cooking Class

Lynley and Bridget (that's me) decided it would be fun to take a cooking class together. We attended "Your Best Barbeque" by Sara Voortmeyer at "The Finishing School" ( We learned how to make three BBQ sauces, "Best Ribs", "Better than the best Potato Salad" and "Banana Cream Pie". Sara also teaches classes at Thanksgiving Point. We had a great time learning "tips of the trade" from Sara and decided the BBQ sauces were definitely our favorite part of the evening.
Check out "Sara's Secrets":

Episode 1.5

We were scheduled to dine at Andrea's on May 13, 2008, but since her husband surprised her with a Mother's Day Get-Away, which left that morning, we changed the venue to Bridget's and ate "sans main dish". The evening started with Lynley's "Fresh Tomato Bisque". We then had two salads,"Tortellini Salad with Asparagus and Fresh Basil Vinaigrette" by Lara and "Vietnamese Cabbage and Chicken Salad" by L.S. (Jodi made some delicious homemade rolls with "Raspberry Butter" and Bridget supplied the Barefoot Contessa's "Coconut Cake". There was definitely plenty of food. and as usual, we enjoyed going around the table, getting the "scoop" on every one's lives.
Tortellini Salad with Asparagus and Fresh Basil Vinaigrette
(This was a hit - we all loved it!)
6 T olive oil
1/2 c chopped fresh basil
3 T fresh lemon juice
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1 lb asparagus, tough ends trimmed and sliced thin on the bias
2 (9 oz) packages fresh cheese tortellini
1/4 c pine nuts
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
Whisk olive oil, basil, lemon juice, shallot, garlic, 1/2 t salt, and 1/2 t pepper together in a bowl large enough to hold the salad.
Cook the asparagus in boiling water seasoned with 1 T salt until tender, about 3 min. Transfer asparagus to a colander using a slotted spoon (do not discard the boiling water) and run under cold water until cool. Shake out any excess water and toss with the vinaigrette.
Return the water to a boil, add tortellini. Cook until tender, following the package instructions. Drain the tortellini thoroughly, toss while hot with the asparagus and dressing. Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 min.
Toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat until golden and fragrant, about 5 min. Just before serving, stir in the toasted pine nuts, tomatoes, and parmesan into the salad and season with salt and pepper.

Season Two - "Season Premier"

On April 15, 2008 we were back to Lynley's for some more fabulous filet's ("Filet Mignon with Mushroom-Wine Sauce"), fitting for Lynley's new nickname - "Wine Girl"! Lara brought two yummy appetizers, "Pickled Mushrooms" and "Pickled Okra Roll-ups". Andrea shared a "Honey Citrus Salad"; Bridget tried "Pat's Stromboli Bread " (from Everyday with Rachel Ray), and Jodi made delicious "Gouda Potatoes". Sadly, L.S. wasn't able to make it (our first absentee yet), but Lynley treated us to some chocolate fondue for desert. We dipped strawberries, bananas and marshmallows. Yum!

Gouda Potatoes
3 lbs Potatoes (thinly sliced)
6 oz of grated Gouda cheese
3 Tbs butter
5 garlic cloves minced
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. Place half of the potatoes in dish. Sprinkle with Gouda cheese. Then place the remaining potatoes on top of the cheese. In a skillet, saute butter and garlic until golden. Pour over potatoes. combine cream, salt and pepper and pour over potatoes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 75 minutes.
Honey Citrus Salad
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup dijon mustard
2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
fresh ground pepper
Salad ingredients:
mixed baby lettuces
cubed avocado
cut up oranges
shaved asiago cheese
candied pecans

A Night on the Town

As mentioned previously, we thought it would be fun to take a month off from actually cooking, and just do the eating. March 18, 2008 we met at "Tiburon Fine Dining" in Sandy and boy did we have some amazing food! I believe everyone enjoyed their meals and we decided to go for "Season Two" with the same format we had followed previously! So back to Lynley's it was for April's Gourmet Group.

Season Finale

The evening of February 12, 2008 was once again filled with good food and good times. Jodi brought the yummy "Brie in Puff Pastry" which we spread over fresh sliced apples; Bridget made "Warm Spinach Salads" and L.S.'s main dish was "Brown Sugar Meatloaf". Lara provided "The Lady's Cheesy Mac" (Paula Deen); Andrea made "Golden Pumpkin Rolls" with Cinnamon Butter and Lynley finished the night off with her amazing "Chocolate Mouse" topped with Chocolate-Covered Strawberries. This completed our first "season" of Gourmet Group. We had each taken the opportunity to make one of the six courses. We decided to go out for a fancy dinner in March and discuss the format for our next "round" of Gourmet Group.
Brown Sugar Meatloaf
1/2 Cup packed brown sugar (or more for more sauce)
1/2 Cup Ketchup (or more)
1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef or turkey
3/4 Cup milk
2 Eggs
1 1/2 t. Salt
1/4 t. Ground black pepper
1 Small chopped onion
1/4 t. Ground ginger
1 Cup finely crushed saltine cracker crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 5x9 inch loaf pan. Press the brown sugar into the bottom of the pan. Spread the ketchup over the sugar. Mix remaining ingredients into a bowl. Shape into loaf, put in pan and bake 1 hour.
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Cinnamon Butter (this would taste good on just about any roll)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1/8 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
Mix all ingredients with hand mixer until blended. Refrigerate. Use ice cream scoop to form balls. To serve, place one ball in small dish, store others in fridge. Great with hot, homemade rolls. They taste almost better than cinnamon rolls!

Ringing in the New Year

We were all very excited to meet at Jodi's newly re-modeled townhome for January's Gourmet Group on January 8, 2008. Andrea brought a yummy "Bread Dip Appetizer"; Lynley created each of us our own "Fabulous Wedge Salads"; Jodi baked a delicious "Chicken Elizabeth"; Bridget's side dish was "Cilantro Lime Rice", and Lara's Desert was "Apple Crostata" (pictured). Unfortunately L.S. provided our very first "Recipe Disaster" with her rolls/donuts/dough. :) As always we enjoyed catching up as friends and shared a wonderful meal.
Cilantro Lime Rice
4 TBS butter
2 TBS cilantro, minced
2 green onions chopped
4 cups (2 cans) chicken broth, hot
2 cups jasmine rice
grated zest of 2 limes
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in pan and saute the onions until tender. Add the rice and cook until coated with butter. Stir in the lime, cilantro and the broth. Cover and place in oven. Bake until the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 20-25 min. Serves 6-8.

Cooking for the Holidays

Unfortunately we did not meet in November due to a few crazy travel schedules and the arrival of Andrea's new baby girl - Ryan Jane! We were all very excited to get back to cooking (and eating) at Bridget's on December 4, 2007. Lynley brought Paula Deen's "Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms" for our appetizer. L.S. brewed up a delicious "Winter Vegetable and Bean Soup with Pesto"; Jodi provided the "Christmas Salad" and Bridget's main dish was "Orecchiette with Seared Shrimp, Brocoli Rabe, and Sweet Red and Yellow Peppers" (that's quite a title)! Lara made a yummy "Basil Tomato Bread" and Andrea finished the night off with not one, but TWO delectable deserts - "Chocolate Decadence Cake" and "Cranberry Apple Desert Risotto"! What a way to ring in the holidays!

October at L.D's

It seems we all learned from last month's "double booking" 'cause this night was a fabulously balanced meal! We held October's gourmet group at Lara Dixon's since she loves to celebrate Halloween with all of her crazy spook decor! We started the evening with Bridget's "Spinach Artichoke Dip" and moved right into Lynley's "Yummy Pumpkin Soup" (and it was yummy)! L.S. brought a tasty "Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Oregano Greek Salad", main dish was "Chicken Puffs", "Savory Rice" was Andrea's contribution and then we took things into the living room where we chatted over Jodi's amazing "Ginger Crunch Cake with Strawberry Sauce". Another fabulous evening of high caloric intake with the ladies!
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Savory Rice
1/4 cup butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cups sticky or long grain white rice
1 tablespoon parsley
5 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
5 cups water
8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
Brown onion in butter. Combine with remaining ingredients in rice cooker or sauce pan. Simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is gone. Sour cream can be mixed in after cooking for creamier rice dish.

Round II

Gourmet Group Round II was held in Andrea's lovely home on September 4, 2007. We discovered that night the need for coordination on dishes since Lara's "salad" and Lynley's "side dish" were the exact same thing - "Insalata Caprese"! (Lara will argue that it is called a Caprese Salad). L.S. brought a "White Bean Salad" served on crackers for an appetizer, Jodi busted out some "Oatmeal Dinner Rolls", Andrea treated us to "Coriander-Crusted Pork Chops with Sauteed Apples and Caramelized Onions" and Bridget finished off the evening with "Rasberry-Topped Lemon Pie". Another successful night at the dinner table!
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Insalata Caprese
3 large tomatoes, sliced
1 pkg (9 oz.) POLLY-O Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (6 balls), drained, sliced
1/3 cup fresh basic
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. each: salt, and freshly ground black pepper
ARRANGE: tomatoes, cheese and basil alternately on platter.
BEAT oil and vinegar with wire whisk until well blended. Drizzle over tomatoes.
SPRINKLE with salt and pepper.

Getting Started

Gourmet Girls met together for the first time on August 7, 2007 at Dr. Rowan's pad. The evening began with Lara's "Marinated Cheeses". Andrea provided her famous "Green Grapes and Pasta Salad." Lynley did not disappoint with her amazing "Filet Mignon with Merlot Reduction" (pictured). Jodi brought the side dish, "Orzo Pilaf" (from Favorites), Bridget made her first batch of homemade rolls ("Jane's Homemade Rolls", also from Favorites), and L.S. whipped up some Mint Chocolate-Chip ice-cream with fresh mint leaves from her garden. We had a fabulous evening!