Just in Time for Thanksgiving!

I know I say this almost every time the Gourmet Girls girls get together, but seriously this was one of the most fabulous meals we have had in the past five years!  (Yes, August marked the 5 year anniversary of the Gourmet Girls!)  We dinned on Tuesday, November 15 at Miss Raquel's home.  Raquel always puts together the most exquisite table decor.  She is so talented and so creative., and always has the perfect table for the season.  We started the evening off with an appetizer by Jodi, Cheesy Roasted Red Pepper Dip with french baguettes from Our Best Bites (you can find it on their blog or in their cookbook).  Next was Bridget's Pear and Blue Cheese Salad, also from Our Best Bites.  Andrea arrived with two different types of rolls, No Knead Dinner Rolls by Martha Stewart and Thanksgiving Bread (I'm making it this afternoon from Taste of Home.  After we had stuffed ourselves with appetizers, salad and bread, we served up Raquel's Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Preserves (Pioneer Woman), LS's Sweet Potato Gratin (I'm still dreaming about this), a Williams-Somoma Recipe, and Lara's southern flair on stuffing, Cornbread Stuffing (a family recipe).  And then to finish the night off,  Lynley treated us to a beautiful and delicious cake layered with chocolate cake, cream cheese and chocolate frosting, a Lion House recipe.  See those beautifully wrapped packages in front of each place setting?  Scroll to the bottom of this post to find out what was inside!
 Andrea, Jodi & Bridget
Jodi, Raquel, LS & Andrea


The first course-  salad and bread

Sweet Potato Gratin
Cornbread Stuffing

8 cups cornbread, crumbled - 2 boxes Jiffy cornbread mix works great
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup celery, diced
3/4 cup butter
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 eggs, beaten
2-3 cups chicken broth
1 tsp seasoning salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp sage
1 tsp poultry seasoning

Make and bake cornbread mix according to package, then crumble until you have 8 cups (2 boxes in a 9x13 pan will make 8 cups).  You can make the cornbread the night before - just keep it covered.

Melt butter in skillet and simmer the onion and celery until soft.  Combine all ingredients with celery and onion (only using 1 cups of chicken broth).  Put in lightly greased 9x13 dish.  Lara pours 2 cups more chicken broth over the dish before baking so dressing will be moist.

Bake for 20-30 minutes at 450 degrees.
Mid meal-shot of LS, Jodi & Lara
Mid-meal shot of Bridget, Raquel & Lynley
(oh . . . and Miss Scarlet)
Chocolate Cake
Slice of chocolate cake 
Check out those gorgeous layers!

Sweet Home Alabama

The gourmet girls met on Tuesday, October 25 for another fabulous evening of food and friends!  (I know, it's about time I get this post up!)  We met at Lara's for a good 'ol southern meal.  Lara grew up in Huntsville, Alabama and wanted to share some of her southern cuisine with us.  Boy are we glad she did!  We started the evening out with Antipasto Kabobs, a recipe my sister-in-law Whitney shared with me.  Our main dish was Shrimp and Grits by Lara; YUM!  LS decided to stick with the theme for her side dish and favored us with Fried Green Tomatoes, fresh from her garden!  She served an Onion Relish to go with.  Lynley provided some delicious orange rolls and Jodi made Black and White Brownies, complete with ghost decorations on top!  Unfortunately Raquel and Andrea weren't able to join us.  Stay tuned for our next gourmet gathering on Tuesday, November 15!
Antipasto Kabobs

1 9 oz package of Three Cheese Tortellini (I used Buitoni, but Costco has better tortellini) cooked to package directions
Grape or cherry tomatoes (I used grape)
1 can Medium or Large pitted Black Olives (I used extra large)
1 5.75 oz jar Green Olives (I used the pimento stuffed ones)
2 12 oz containers of marinated mozzarella balls (I just bought the large container at Costco.  Much more cost effective and great flavor).
30 slices of Salami, cut in half (I just bought the Kroger brand)
1 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing (store bought or homemade – I made mine with ¾ cup olive oil, ¼ cup balsamic, 2 TBS brown sugar, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, 2 cloves garlic minced, juice of ½ of a lemon)
Skewers (I cut mine down)

Place the cooked tortellini in a bowl or large gallon freeze bag. Pour the salad dressing over the top and marinade in the fridge for a few hours (I did mine overnight). Drain the pasta.  Place one of each item onto the skewer using the pointy side.  This can be made a few hours in advance. Just cover tightly and place in the refrigerator.  (I think it’s actually a better flavor if they marinate together for a few hours).

  Lynley, Bridget & Jodi

 Lynley helping out in the kitchen

 Hostess Lara & Bridget
The table loaded up with food!
Onion Relish to go with the Fried Green Tomatoes

2 white onions, diced
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped chives

Rhodes Orange Rolls
(We'll forgive Lynley since she recently had major surgery, plus they're delicious!)

 Black and White Brownies

Brownie Layer
1 pound butter, softened
4 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa
2 tsp salt 
6 eggs
4 tsp vanilla
3 cups four
Cream butter and sugar together.  Mix in remaining ingredients in order listed.  Bake in greased jellyroll pan at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 

Vanilla Butter Cream Layer
1 cup butter, softened
4-6 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar
1/2 cup cream
2 tsp vanilla
For the vanilla butter cream layer:
Cream the butter thoroughly with an electric mixer.  Gradually add the powdered sugar alternately with the cream.  Add the vanilla and beat until very light and fluffy.  Spread evenly over the cooled brownie layer.  Chill in the refrigerator at least 10 minutes.

1 cube + 1 TBS butter
1 TBS vanilla
1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
Melt butter and chocolate chips.  Add vanilla.  Pour over cold brownies, tipping pan to cover evenly.  To cut brownies use a very sharp thin bladed knife.