Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy 4th Birthday, Meilani Cora!

Our little girl turns 4 today!
Four words that celebrate her personality:


Sunday, May 02, 2010

Cooking Club Grand Finale: Dorina celebrates her birthday with all her fave cooks and eats

After seven years of great memories, Ericlee and I decided it was time we had a Grand Finale for our Cooking Club. We are planning to sell our house this summer/fall and we are not sure what the future holds. We have cherished this monthly gathering of friends to cook, eat and fellowship together. We have explored all types of cuisines and learned together the art of cooking. Since my birthday this year fell on a Saturday, we decided this would be a grand way to also celebrate my 33rd birthday.
One friend suggested everyone bring a dish ready-made so we would have more time for hanging out and reminiscing. We made this dinner an "adults only" affair. I flipped through my Cooking Club recipe binder and perused blog entries from the past seven years of cooking together. I picked out some of my fave dishes and suggested some to the ladies. Everyone selected a dish and here's the menu we ended up with. In my opinion, it topped any restaurant I could have paid for my birthday!

The Best of Cooking Club:
Spanish Sangria
Zucchini Cakes with Cilantro Dressing
Hmong Egg Rolls
Baked Brie with Pecans, Cranberries and Crackers

Baby Greens, Feta, Strawberries and Walnuts Salad
Italian Eggplant Caprese
Gouda Spinach Mac & Cheese
Roast Beef with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Lemon-filled Cream Puffs
Triple-layered Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Filling

We ended up having a little bit of prep to do before serving up the grand meal. It just wouldn't be Cooking Club without some organized chaos in the Gilmore Kitchen. I usually assign a few ladies to each recipe and then we get down to business. This time around people fell into their places. Christine and Cori sliced strawberries and tossed the salad.
Mary prepared the Sangria, a Spanish beverage that incorporates fresh sliced fruit with wine and juice. Yum-o!

The guys got to work setting the tables, lighting the candles, setting up our picture slideshow, and, of course, chowing down the appetizer course.

(Left to Right: Susan, Dorina, Danna & Christine)
One of the joys of Cooking Club through the years was the excuse to get together with my friends on a regular basis. These ladies were my friends through many seasons of life. Now Susan lives in Sanger (about 30 minutes away), Danna lives in San Jose (3 hours away) and Christine lives in Tulare (about 45 minutes away). Although many miles separate us on a daily basis, we have stayed close because of Cooking Club. I am so grateful for their friendship.

My hubby declared "Ladies first" at the buffet line and there was no argument from anyone. We piled our plates with all the fabulous foods. I have to say I was like a proud mama of all these ladies and their culinary accomplishments. I remember when we started out that some of us barely knew how to hold a knife or crack an egg. Now I have a whole crew of expert onion-choppers and recipe-improvisers.

After dinner Ericlee led us in a time of "walking down memory lane." He asked everyone to share a favorite Cooking Club moment, recipe or accomplishment from over the years. I am sentimental in nature and it was a lot of fun salivating over the recipes and laughing over the blunders. Troy and Allison also prepared a "Joy of Cooking Club" slide show with fave pictures from through the years and great food-themed music.

A birthday party wouldn't be complete without a cake. Stacie and Susan were the stars of this yumminess. Stacie baked the cakes at home and Susan helped beautify the cake with fresh berries and a finger-licking good chocolate frosting. Yes, I'm a chocoholic and I loved it! I was so blessed by the evening of fun with some of my dearest friends doing something I love - cooking - I mean, eating!

This is what happens when kids are not invited: Crazy cooks!
(Looks like there were some aphrodisiacs on the menu...)

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Dorina donates to Locks for Love

This year I decided to do something crazy. I generally get my hair cut around my birthday. I usually get a few inches cut and have them straighten it to wear to a party or other event. As most of you know, my long curly hairdo has not changed for years. I think the last time I had short hair was 5th grade. Last week my friend suggested I donate my hair to an organization called Locks for Love. They make wigs with real human hair for disadvantaged children who have long-term medical hair loss. These wigs might go to cancer patients or others. As soon as I read about what this non-profit provides I knew what I had to do. It was a little scary when my hair stylist took out the big scissors and chopped off my long ponytail. Then she proceeded to cut layers and a few more inches fell to the salon floor. In the end, I really liked the new style (and so did my hubby!) Sure, I plan to grow my long hair back in the future but for now it's a fun new twist on my look.