Cooking for a Crowd

Cooking for 20 can be tricky, but every month Junior League of Omaha Board of Directors take on the challenge of providing dinner for a monthly Board meeting. When it came time for New Member Chair Bethany Banister and Communications Chair Melissa Carlberg to take their turn, they were confident the Junior League’s Toast to Omaha cookbook would be the perfect resource – and would build excitement for the upcoming release of the League’s new cookbook, to be released in conjunction with our 100th anniversary in 2019.

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“We thought soup would be a crowd-pleaser, and also figured it’d be fairly easy to transport and keep warm,” says Melissa. “Bethany and I got together, picked out some recipes that looked delicious and started planning a couple weeks before the meeting.”

Melissa made the following soup recipes:

  • Curried Pumpkin Soup, page 49
  • Upsteam Brewing Company’s Smoked Gouda Beer Soup, page 59
  • Italian Vegetable soup, page 55

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For a side, Bethany chose Ron’s Wheatfield Cornbread, page 182, and for dessert, gave Very Rich Everything Bars, page 214, a try.

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“The cornbread was super easy,” says Bethany. “I do have a suggestion for the dessert, though. Use creamy peanut butter instead of crunchy for both the base and the fudge topping. I also used salted nuts, even though the recipe called for unsalted. It seemed to cut down the richness a little!”

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Final consensus? Everything was a hit! The sausage soup was nearly gone and the beer cheese soup reheated wonderfully.  

“The Italian vegetable soup was a fairly quick, easy recipe and you can even save some time by eliminating the chopping and buying frozen spinach and carrots,” says Melissa. “I’d definitely make it again. In fact, I’d make them all again. I especially liked the Upstream beer cheese soup. I used a cheddar to supplement the Gouda, simply because it was a bit more economical for a double batch.”

Both Bethany and Melissa agree that the dinner was a success; board members all tasted several Toast to Omaha recipes for the first time and everyone seemed excited to make them again! Hopefully, it got members thinking about what they can submit for the next Junior League of Omaha cookbook!

The Cookbook Committee is currently planning for the upcoming edition, A Century of Serving, and looks forward to hosting tasting parties beginning this summer to choose the entries for the anniversary cookbook. Be on the lookout for recipes you’d be interested in submitting – and if you’d like one of the special edition Junior League of Omaha aprons, orders will be available soon at jlomaha.org.

Junior League of Omaha Members Out and About Enjoying Autumn Events

Vivid colored leaves still hang from trees in Omaha. The ones that have made their way to the ground, crunch and crackle under step. It is autumn, or fall, in the heartland and there is one thing on which we can all agree…

Autumn leaves are most beautiful when being raked by someone else.

There was a steady cool breeze in the air this weekend and many Junior League of Omaha members reached for their tall boots and vests officially marking the start of Han Solo Season.

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The cool air inspires many League members to fire up the oven or the slow cooker and whip up something delicious. Tracy Cartwright baked a batch of Mini Pumpkin Poppers.

Tracy Weis made a batch of yummy taco soup and cornbread. (Make something similar with this recipe.) And now that the slow cooker is working overtime, make sure it stays squeaky clean.

Melissa Carlberg and her husband Zach hosted a fall-theme dinner party for friends featuring recipes that gave a nod to the season including: roasted walnuts, apple parsnip soup and baked apple roses.

Other League members ventured out and about this weekend.

Many members attended the Women’s Center for Advancement TGIF event. Angela Cutler was one of three co-chairs for the western-themed event and Veronica Wortman served on the silent auction committee. Many league members put together silent auction items and attended the event that raised money to help women in the Omaha area out of domestic crisis.

Junior League of Omaha members attended the 2015 Women's Center for Advancement's TGIF event include: Angela Kros Cutler, Veronica Wortman, Melissa Hoeman Carlberg, Kate Hansen, Jen Olson Alloway (sustainer), Meghan Hope, Shelly Marsh, Tina Nelson, Chaley Smith Chandler, Mary Jane Tritsch, Lindsey Snyder, Alysia Radica and Liz Akert (not pictured)
Junior League of Omaha members attended the 2015 Women’s Center for Advancement’s TGIF event include: Angela Cutler, Veronica Wortman, Melissa Carlberg, Kate Hansen,  Jen Alloway (sustainer), Lindsey Buchanan, Meghan Hope, Shelly Marsh, Tina Nelson, Chaley Chandler, Mary Jane Tritsch, Lindsey Snyder, Alysia Radica and Liz Akert (not pictured)

League sustainer Catherine McAllister and her friend served as co-chairs for Omaha’s Great Pumpkin event this weekend. The event supports Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska‘s adoption and foster care awareness. Catherine has been involved in supporting the organization for five years.

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Done in a Day project organized volunteers to assist with the Omaha Symphony Spooktacular. League members helped decorate the lobby of the Holland Performing Arts Center, set up trick-or-treat stations, run pre-concert activities including instrument petting zoo, costume contest, and a Halloween-themed craft. Thank you to Kristen Bladt, Kelly Brooks, Melissa Hoeman Carlberg, Beverly Gorman, Kimberly Johnston, Racheal McMahon, Meghan Bothe, Caroline Drumm, Erin Fairchild, Megan Gerwick, Katie Lange Allebone, Terri Sharpe, Leigh Shea, Sarah Smith, and Ashlee Young for participating.

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Other League members were in the Halloween spirit. Megan Riebe and friends went to the Ranch of Terror at the Bellevue Berry Farm.

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Heather Vanourney ran the Bones 5K this weekend. The Omaha Running Club sponsored the run through the moonlit trails of Standing Bear Lake. Runners’ hearts raced in fear of all things that go bump in the night, according to the event page.

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Katie Triplett and Veronica Wortman spent an afternoon decorating Halloween and fall cookies to share with friends and colleagues.

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Before heading out to Trick-or-Treat with the kiddos, the Omaha Fire Department suggests several safety tips, such as adding a strip of reflective tape to trick-or-treat bags or clothing and costumes for greater visibility.

Going to a costume party? Revisit recent pop culture phenomenon for inspiration in creating a costume. Kelly Giese and her husband Matt, created this Double Rainbow costume.
(It was soo beautiful.)

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The party doesn’t stop when we put Halloween 2015 in the books. Tickets to the 3rd annual Barn Bash are available now through the Junior League of Omaha website. The event features a chili cook-off, BINGO, cash bar, pumpkin pie martinis, bonfire and s’mores. Members, significant others and friends welcome at the event.

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Runza Restaurants Break Fundraising Record with Junior League of Omaha Project

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Recently Runza® Restaurants conducted the 13th annual Great Books for Great Kids fundraiser. This year the funds raised benefited the Junior League of Omaha’s A Book of My Own community project. The League’s Board of Directors and project committee members staffed each location to provide members of the community more information about the Great Books for Great Kids event as well as general information about the league.

Blake (daughter of League President-Elect, Chaley Chandler) and Soren (son of League member Lexie Fraham enjoyed their frozen treats from Runza. A portion of sales from the day supported the League's community project.
Blake (daughter of League President-Elect, Chaley Chandler) and Soren (son of League member Lexie Fraham enjoyed their frozen treats from Runza. A portion of sales from the day supported the League’s community project.

Fourteen Omaha area Runza® Restaurants each pledged 15 percent of sales that day to the project. A record-breaking $8,162.07 was raised that day. Runza® has been a longtime supporter of reading. “Reading is vital to lifelong success and provides an excellent opportunity for families to spend time together,” stated Becky Perrett, director of marketing for Runza® National. “Donating funds for books and promoting literacy is an important endeavor for children and the community.”

League member and A Book of My Own community project Co-Chair, Cindy Guenzel and her children supported the event that raised over $6,0000.
League member and A Book of My Own community project Co-Chair, Cindy Guenzel and her children supported the event that raised over $8,100.

A Book of My Own has distributed close to 70,000 books to children in the Omaha area since the community project began in 2011. Visit the Junior League of Omaha’s Facebook Runza Great Books for Great Kids photo album to see more of this successful event. Special thank you to the A Book of My Own committee members who make this project successful: Britt Dudzinski, Cindy Guenzel, Katie Anderson, Becca Bode, Lyndsey Canning, Leigh Garvin, Gina Murante, Liz Akert, Maria Michaelis, Erin Glidden, Becky Heckman, Katie Martens, Sara Hemley, Laura Snyder, Chinh Doan, Emily Flom, Meghan Bothe, Sarah Carse, Amy Niederee, Melissa O’Neill, Megan Guenther, Nicole Seckman Jilek and Steffanie Luteran.

League member and Communications Chair, Melissa Hoeman Carlberg along with her several of her Nebraska Medicine colleagues supported the event by lunching at Runza that day.
League member and Communications Chair, Melissa Hoeman Carlberg, along with her several of her Nebraska Medicine colleagues, supported the event by lunching at Runza that day.