Saturday, December 14, 2013

Hungry for Good Eats, Great Reads and Girlfriends? Come to the First Annual Girlfriends Holiday Dinner By Ariella Papa

It’s hard for any of us to believe, but the girlfriends have never all been in one room. In fact, I have only met two of the girlfriends in person. Yet in the few years since I’ve become a “girlfriend”, I’ve relied on their advice and support immensely. Whenever I have a question on just about anything in the publishing industry I know one of them will have the answer.
We’ve all been talking and writing about what we are grateful for and which of our amazing books we are celebrating this year. I thought it would be nice for us all to have a virtual holiday potluck with food (and drink!) based on our work.
Everyone’s invited to come and everyone’s invited to follow the links within this post and try these books out for your own holiday treat.
We start our bash in the mid afternoon. We relax over some tea sandwiches that Ms. Cindy Jones brought. They are inspired by her novel My Jane Austen Summer and the manor house where scenes from Mansfeild Park are reenacted.
Beside that we serve blueberry scones. There’s plenty of booze and sex in Margaret Marr’s Hollywood Hit, but not a lot of food. Luckily the protagonist, Nikki Solange loves a good scone and so do we.
Every girlfriend is all a buzz from the excitement of meeting in person and from the lattes that Hank Phillippi Ryan is whipping up for everyone. Most of us are as grateful for caffeine as Jane Ryland, the investigative reporter in her novel The Wrong Girl. She needs to be awake to get those bad guys just like we need to be awake for deadlines.
Many of us are working writing mothers so you know there is a kids’ table. Thankfully Lauren Baratz-Logsted brought the favorite foods of the Sisters 8 series pink frosting in a can, juice boxes and homemade French fries. (She also brought copies of the books, so those kids can keep themselves occupied while we eat and DRINK!)
And there are quite a few cocktails to be had. Thanks to Brenda Janowitz we have sparkling rose. Hannah’s grandmother tells her in Recipe for a Happy Life, sparkling rose is very Hamptons. We girlfriends love things that sparkle AND give us a buzz.
There’s also hooch that Jess Riley brings to get us beyond buzzed. We balance that with seg, this weird oatmeal meatloaf thing that the inmates eat in her novel, Mandatory Release. She promises there are cupcakes with hacksaws baked in for dessert.
And now dinner is on. We start with Chili from Serendipity in New York just like they eat on the first day it snows in Malena Lott’s BRAND NEW holiday novella Sterling & Sloane.
Thank goodness Marilyn Brant reminds us that carbs don’t count during the holidays because everyone loves her cheeseburgers, fries and Coca-Cola. It’s just like the Rt. 66 diners the hero and heroine stop at in The Road To You as they fall in love and solve a mystery.
There has to be turkey for the holidays. Leslie Langtry makes it deep-fried in honor of her Bombay Assassin Series. It’s crispy and fun to make in the (very assasiny!) boiling oil. Usually people want a nice nap after this, but we are too busy talking about reading and writing.
There are a ton of great sides, but by far the best is Jenny Gardiner’s rice croquettes. These are served in her novel Slim to None and come from an old family recipe passed down from JG’s great great grand-mother. The recipe is in the comments. Jenny also pops some champers. We toast the craft… among other things.
Girlfriends are never satisfied. Believe it or not there are a few more things we’re craving for dinner, but luckily Laura Spinella brought a personal chef inspired by the filthy rich Aidan in her novel Perfect Timing. Anything we can think of he can make. It’s not easy being the only man around these parts. He holds his own.
And now for dessert. So much dessert. No one wants to be the first one to cut into the beautiful cake Sheila Curran makes, but thankfully she slices it for us.  The cake is just like the one served by Lucy to her departed best friend’s daughter to help pull her back to the land of the living in Everyone She Loved.
We also have array of ice cream (ten flavors!) from Samantha Wilde. There is a great deal of ice cream consumption from the mothers and daughters in her novel I’ll Take What She Has and there’s quite a bit here too.
More maternalism. This time it’s chocolate chip cookies thanks to Judith Arnold.  These are baked perfectly and just like the ones the heroine of the upcoming mystery release Still Kicking makes for her young adult sons. You’re never too old to love homemade cookies from mom or from Judith.
And more cookies from Sara Rosset. These sugar cookies are served in Mistletoe Merriment and Murder at the Chrismas cookie exchange. Sara made these with her mom and now with her own kids. She always makes too many. No one ever complains about that.
Hershey’s kisses magically appear on the table from Leslie Lehr. Like most writers in the group the protagonist of What A Mother Knows loves chocolate and these little treats lead to a special first kiss.
I brought some hard cantucci cookies to be dippied in sweet vin santo wine.  I first had this in Siena, Italy which is the setting for my latest coming of age novel A Semester Abroad. I like my endings a little bittersweet.
But it’s not the end!
 No one wants to stop talking, so we hang late into the night and make it a sleepover. The best part about it that Saralee Rosenberg brought breakfast stuff. We eat the breakfast that the president of the Skinny Mom Society devours at her enemy neighbors house in Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead. It includes eggs, hash browns, buttered toast and a slice of chocolate cream pie on the side. Now this is a way to wake up.

Happy Holidays everyone and may there be good books for all in 2014! 


  1. Just reading about this fabulous buffet makes me drool--for food and for all these wonderful books by my girlfriends!

  2. This is my kind of party! Thanks, Ariella, for including me (and Hannah!)

  3. Aidan appreciates the shout out, Ariella! He's dedicating his last number to you and blowing you a kiss from center stage!

  4. I'm ready to eat! (A cocktail would be nice too!)

  5. I am now ready for this amazing feast, Ariella! Thanks for such a fun post and for including us all in it :).
    Happy Holidays to you, too!!

  6. Having so much fun with you girlfriends. Here is the rice croquette recipe.
    1 quart (4 cups) milk
    3 tbl. sugar
    1 tsp. vanilla extract (not vanilla flavoring)
    1 tsp. kosher salt
    4 sticks cinnamon
    ¾ c. raw rice (long-grain)
    Kellogg's Corn Flake Crumbs (about 3-4 cups)
    Peanut oil (2-3 bottle of Planter's brand)
    Red currant jelly

    In double boiler on high, with water in bottom pan just shy of touching the bottom of insert pan, bring to scald one quart (four cups) whole milk. You will know it is scalded when a thin skin forms on surface of the milk. Then add 3 tbl. Sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp. salt, 4 sticks cinnamon, and ¾ c. raw rice. Stir well.

    Cook on low to medium temperature for several hours, stirring occasionally, and checking to be sure water doesn't boil away from bottom pan (add more when necessary), until mixture is so thick you can barely stir it with a wooden spoon. Let cool (can refrigerate overnight if need be).
    Shape into 1" balls, roll in egg and then in corn flake crumbs to coat.

    Deep-fry in peanut oil at 375• or in wok on medium high. Can be refrigerated and re-heated in 350• oven for about 12-15 minutes.

    Serve warm with currant jelly.

  7. haha love this! But the rice croquette recipe is mine!

    1. OMG! This is why you don't give away your recipes. Other people claim them. I am SO sorry.

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