Friday, April 27, 2018

Book Club Snacks



            Lately it seems like I’ve been hungry all the time. I don’t know why—maybe it’s because spring is in the air, maybe it’s stress, maybe the fault lies with Pinterest and Instagram—but more often than not, my thoughts have turned to food.


photo has nothing to do with post--it's just a photo I love and it's cake...

            So this month, in honor of World Book Day (which was April 23rd), I’ve decided to write a post about book club snacks. The post therefore combines two of my loves: reading and eating. And yes, there will be recipes.

            Ideally, a book club snack serves two purposes: 1) it is tasty and invites club members to linger, and 2) it has some connection, however tenuous, to the book under discussion.

            I am lucky to have been invited to attend book club discussions on many occasions when clubs are reading and discussing one of my books. One club has had me visit twice—first to discuss House of the Hanging Jade and second to discuss The House on Candlewick Lane.

The members of this particular club really get into the food-theme pairings. For the discussion of House of the Hanging Jade, which was set on the Island of Hawaii, the members served a smorgasbord of tropical delights, two of my favorites being the fruit punch and poke. For the discussion of The House on Candlewick Lane, which is set in Scotland, the members brought Scotch Eggs, homemade toffee, and even whisky for those who wanted to partake! I took shortbread to add to the spirit of the discussion.

One group in Pennsylvania read The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor. There is a hurricane in the book, which is set outside Charleston, South Carolina, and the family in the book makes something called Hurricane Stew. The group made stew for our meeting! There were also quick breads, which was a specialty of one of the book’s characters.

Book clubs that meet to merely discuss books are great and I’ve been to plenty of those, too, but add food to the mix and you’ve got an extra layer of fun and discussion.

So below are three of my favorite snacks for book clubs. Is your book club reading a romance, or a book set in a steamy locale? Try the Jalapeno Popper Dip. Are you reading something funny? Try a snack that’s sweet and light, like the Fruit Dip. Are you reading a psychological thriller? Try the UFO Dip, which is layered, just like the story.

            Got any favorites of your own? Share them in the comments!

Jalapeno Popper Dip
(from “Every Day with Rachael Ray”)

3 slices bacon, chopped
1 c. panko
3 cans (4 oz. each) diced jalapenos, drained
2 pkgs (8 oz. each) cream cheese, room temperature
1 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 small fresh jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 T. grated Parmesan cheese
Tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet cook bacon over medium heat until crispy, 6-8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain all but 2 T. of the bacon drippings; add the panko and stir to coat. Remove from heat.

In a bowl, mix half the bacon with the canned jalapenos, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and cheddar cheese. Transfer mixture to a 2-qt. baking dish. Sprinkle with the panko, remaining bacon, fresh jalapeno, and Parmesan cheese. 

Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25-30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips.

Fruit Dip

2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding
3 c. cold milk
8 oz. container whipped topping
almond extract to taste
cut-up fruit

Mix pudding and milk for about 2 minutes. Fold in whipped topping. Add almond extract to taste and mix well. Serve with cut-up fruit.




UFO Dip

2 pkgs (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 pint sour cream
onion powder to taste
1 jar medium salsa, divided
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 large tomato, diced
1 large can black olives, sliced
1 green pepper, chopped.

Using an electric mixer, blend together the cream cheese and the sour cream. Spread on a large circular platter or tray (I use the reusable aluminum ones) and sprinkle with onion powder to taste.

On top of the cream cheese mixture, layer the rest of the ingredients in the order they're listed above. Use only 3/4 of the jar of salsa and 1 1/2 c. of the cheddar cheese. On top of the green pepper layer, sprinkle remaining cheese, then dot with remaining salsa. Serve with tortilla chips or crudites.

P.S. Wine is also a popular beverage at book club meetings. Need a suggestion? You're in luck! My website has some great lists of reds and whites--find it at www.amymreade.com/wines.



3 comments:

Linda Thorne said...

What a neat idea. The picture alone made me hungry for sweets. Carry over the idea of cake or wine to a book selling event and you're likely to "up" your sales.

Liane Spicer said...

OMG. I need to come to your book club talks!

Off to view the wines...

Maggie King said...

Most book groups I've attended, either as reader or visiting author, serve desserts. Some do a buffet dinner. A friend says her group serves M&Ms!

My sleuth Hazel Rose is fond of pumpkin brownies and regular brownies. Fortunately no one in her group is allergic to walnuts, so she gets to add them.