Malibu, CA bachelorette weekend - Ladies' cooking party, recipes included!

Last weekend I had the pleasure of co-hosting my little sister, Kristen's, bachelorette and bridal shower weekend extravaganza in Malibu, California. My sister and 13 of her closest girlfriends rented a huge house in Malibu for three nights and it was one of the most fun, relaxing and soul-filling weekends I have ever had. On the first night we decided to stay in and cook a nice Italian-themed meal. After an afternoon of lounging by the pool, drinking wine and nibbling on grapes, cheese and nuts, we ventured into the spacious kitchen to start what would be an hours-long night of cooking, drinking wine and, eventually, eating! I think we all agreed that this was one of the best nights of the weekend and we would love to do it again. 

I chose five recipes and we all broke off into groups of three or four to begin cooking our dish(es). Since we were in a foreign kitchen, we spent a lot of time searching for various utensils and cookware, and ended up improvising quite a bit (hence the wine bottle rolling pin below!), but that made the experience that much more memorable.

No rolling pin? Wrap a wine bottle in plastic wrap!

Chopping away!
Poolside nibbles and sips

After having this experience, I highly recommend hosting a cooking party with a group of your favorite people. You don't have to be in Malibu, you can be anywhere! You just need a fairly large kitchen to accommodate multiple cooks, a lot of good wine, and friends who are somewhat interested in cooking. I also recommend renting a house with a group of friends for your next getaway. It allows for a much more relaxed vacation, control over food and drinks, and lots of bonding! This would work well in any beach locale, the mountains or Palm Springs.

Souvenir stemless wine glass

The following are the recipes that we cooked and pictures of the food. Even though it probably took us longer than necessary to prepare everything, when we finally ate it was one of the best meals I've ever had!

Deanna's Malibu Salad:

One 5-ounce container of organic baby arugula
One 5-ounce container of organic mesclun, mixed greens or "herb blend" salad greens
1 cup fresh strawberries (sliced) and blackberries
1 avocado, cubed
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup crumbled cheese (feta, goat cheese or gorgonzola)
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion (soak in water for 10 minutes, then drain to mild the onion flavor) toss with champagne vinaigrette (like Girard's) or a classic French vinaigrette (like Brianna's)

Malibu Salad - sans cheese

Our favorite sauce
Chicken Parmesan a la Buddy "the Cake Boss" Valastro  (as featured on the Rachael Ray show)

Recipe is in the above link, and was one of the best chicken parmesan dishes I've had. It calls for fresh mozzarella, which tastes so much better than traditional mozzarella that is usually used in this dish. Note, we did not make our own sauce or bread crumbs (blasphemy!) - we used regular Italian-style bread crumbs and for the sauce, I was lucky enough to find a large jar of Michael's of Brooklyn sauce at the local Italian store in La Habra, near my parents' home in Whittier. Michael's is our go-to jarred sauce here in New York so I was really happy to find it all the way in California!

Ooey-gooey Chicken Parmesan

Pasta Provencale with sauteed shrimp

Pasta Provencale with sauteed shrimp

1 lb. fresh pasta (linguini, spaghetti or angel hair)
1 cup dry white wine (like Chablis)
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 shallots, chopped
1.5 pounds plum tomatoes (peeled, cored, seeded and chopped)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp thyme
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp chopped parsley
1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano 

Peel Tomatoes

To peel a tomato, first use your paring knife to cut out the stem. Then slice a shallow X in the bottom (blossom) end. Using a slotted spoon, plunge the tomato into boiling water for a few seconds, then plunge it into a bowl of iced water. This will stop the tomato from cooking and further loosen the skin. Remove the cooled tomato and peel away the skin. 

Boil water and make fresh pasta 
Just added the tomatoes

Heat oil on medium-high heat, add garlic and shallots and stir often until wilted
Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste, and wine, and bring to boil. Simmer for two minutes. 
Add fresh basil and parsley, and parmesan cheese
Add fresh cooked pasta and toss.

Top with seared scallops or sauteed shrimp. We used fresh large shrimp, "marinated" them for about 20 minutes in olive oil, chopped garlic, salt and pepper, and then sauteed them in a pan until cooked. We topped it all off with extra fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil. Absolutely delicious!

Some extra shrimp :)

Pizza Margherita by Emeril Lagasse

Recipe in the above link. We used my Mom's Pampered Chef pizza stone. We had a little mishap transferring the raw prepared pizza from the cutting board to the hot pizza stone, so it came out very rustic looking, but oh so delicious! Note: we bought fresh pizza dough at Whole Foods, we did not make our own. 

rustic Margherita Pizza

Impromptu caprese salad with tomatoes from Mom's garden

Giada's version - we made ours a regular pizza!

Disclosure: the onions take a very long time to caramelize, so by the time they were ready it was getting late and we didn't have time to cut out the pizzette rounds. We made this as a regular round-ish pizza instead, and it was still great! I love the combination of sweet caramelized onions, tart goat cheese and salty prosciutto on pizza. Caramelized onions also go really well with fig spread on pizza - one of my Mom's favorite recipes.

Dessert: we did not make our own- we saw this beautiful peach tart at the Whole Foods Santa Monica bakery and we just could not resist! It was a real hit.

Peach Tart - by Whole Foods :)

Enjoying the fruits of our labor. A beautiful evening!


  1. Thanks a lot for sharing such unique recipes here. Well I am arranging a holiday party at Malibu wedding venues and was looking something delicious to serve my guests. Here I have got great ideas to finalize menu items.


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