Monday, May 24, 2010

Tablescape - Hawaiian theme

My goodness - it's time for a new post - a tablescape! I've been so busy lately, I've just completely ignored you all!

My oldest daughter (and her friend) are getting ready to take a missions trip to Brazil. To help fund their trip, I have been baking my fingers off! We have hosted 6 bake sales in the last 6 weeks! Finally they have raised enough for their tickets. Now we just have to trust God that He will provide what they need to live on while they are there. They have a little (very little) but God knows and I believe HE is IN this thing. This Saturday was our last sale ~*sigh*~ time to take a break from baking! In a few short weeks our Sunday family dinners will be missing 1 person! I'm having a hard time with the thought of her leaving. She is the sweetest, most precious 27 yr old lady you would ever want to meet (and one of my dearest friends.) She LOVES her mama!

Yesterday it was a WARM 87 degrees - time to break out the Summery tablescapes. To surprise everyone (especially Sarah, who LOVES table decor as much as I do!) I decorated the table in a Hawaiian theme.

When my little 4 yr old grandson saw the table, he said, "Wow! Somebody really did a lot of work on this!" haha He was enamored with the little paper umbrellas I stuck in our cups. He even had one stuck in the hole of his sippy cup!

We have 2 college age girls who attend our church (we actually have many college age kids) but these two (Rebekah and Jamie) are some of our faithful servants in our bus ministry and just all around good helpers. To encourage them a bit, I invited them over to share Sunday dinner with us. I think they enjoyed themselves! Praise the Lord for willing workers to help share the load.
Rebekah insisted on an "eating" pose. I wish I would have snapped a nice pic too, but everyone was getting down to the business of eating!

I served Beef AND pork roast. Mashed potatoes and gravy, mashed yams, corn, and broccoli. My daughter-in-law is the queen of making hot yeast rolls, so we enjoyed those too! She also made a delicious berry compote and served it warm, over a small slice of marbled pound cake. Then she whipped up a batch of homemade whipped cream with orange zest to top it with. Mmm! DEElicious!

I cannot believe this place setting has UNmatched silverware! I'm so ashamed! haha I have 2 of these cute fish plates - and the grandbabies had fun eating on them.

I love FUN, theme related dishes. I find most of them at places like Rite Aid, Walgreens, the Dollar Store, etc... I like to keep just enough to decorate a Sunday dinner table.

The pretty floral table runner, is actually a piece of one of those cheap plastic tablecloths. I cut it lengthwise into 4 runners. I used them for a dinner at our church.

I think I've posted about these napkin rings before, but I really love them. Our "adopted" daughter, Amy bought them for me when she was in FL on vacation. They are made from real shells and are so pretty. I have 4 of them, so don't get to use them a lot, since I'm usually hosting larger groups. But I DO love them.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


A few years ago my daughter Sarah found a recipe and asked if I would make it for her birthday dessert. Birthdays are a BIG DEAL in our home! The birthday person always gets their favorite dinner, favorite dessert and many times we'll have extended family or other company in for dinner, with lots of presents and celebrating! When I agreed to making Sarah's dessert, I didn't realize it was a souffle! When I read the recipe, I was a bit apprehensive. But after it was done, I thought it was one of the easiest recipes I'd ever made! So tender, light and delicious! And the raspberries with the chocolate.... WOW!! The flavors just POP in your mouth! The batter for these souffles is all mixed in the blender! How easy is that?! You have GOT to try this one! The best part is, you can mix these up ahead of time and then just pop them in the oven when you sit down to dinner!


1 Tblsp soft butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water1 Tblsp espresso powder (I sub. instant coffee granules)
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate + 3 oz. milk chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 eggs
1 tsp. rum flavoring
12 oz. cream cheese, cut into chunks
Preheat oven to 375.
1. Coat 6 mini souffle dishes with butter (any oven safe, 8 oz glass bowl, will work). Using 1/4 cup of the sugar, distributing among the 6 dishes, sprinkle evenly with sugar.
2. Put remaining 1/2 cup sugar, bittersweet chocolate, milk chocolate and water together in microwave safe bowl and heat for 2 minutes. Remove and whisk to combine.
3. Break the eggs into a blender, add the heavy cream and the rum flavoring. Blend until eggs and cream are thoroughly mixed.
4. With the blender running, scrape in the melted chocolate slowly. Add the cream cheese chunks one at a time. When batter is completely mixed, blend on high speed for a few seconds to make sure any leftover chunks of cream cheese don't get missed.
5. Pour the batter to 3/4 full, distributing evenly among the 6 dishes.
6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove from oven, sprinkle with powdered sugar or serve with mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries and strawberries) drizzle with creme anglaise and serve warm!

(I usually double this - YES, it's THAT good!)

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 egg yolks
2 Tblsp butter

In a saucepan over med-high heat, combine cream, 1/4 sugar, whisk. In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar. When cream mixture comes to just a boil, remove from heat, whisk a small amount of hot cream into egg yolks, stir, then whisk in a bit more until the temp of the eggs gradually rises to meet the temp of the hot cream. This is called 'tempering' the eggs. If you do it too quickly you will 'cook' the eggs and ruin your sauce. So just a couple small drizzles at a time, until the eggs are warmed. Then pour warmed egg yolks into hot cream and whisk until smooth. Return this mixture to med high heat and cook, stirring constantly until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Serve warm over mini chocolate souffles and assorted berries.


I love Italian food, and have always wanted to make 'real' Tiramisu. The last event I catered was our church's formal Winter banquet. The theme was "A Night to Remember" and it was decorated in Italian flair, complete with red & white checked tablecloths, drippy candles, imported cheeses, grapes and big crusty loaves of bread w/ seasoned olive oil. I served Chicken Marsala, Mozzarella stuffed meatballs, Angel hair pasta, Strawberry lemonade salad, Garlic bread, and then Tiramisu for dessert. If you like coffee flavored desserts, then you will love this. So easy to put together too.


3 egg yolks
3 1/2 oz. white sugar
8 oz. Mascarpone cheese (sub: softened Cream cheese)
16 oz. cream, whipped
(if you're pressed for time, you can use cool whip - but the REAL thing is so much better!)
8 1/2 oz. strong espresso or 3 tsp. of strong instant coffee in 250 ml of hot water
20 Lady fingers (can find these in the ethnic section of your local grocery store)
1 3/4 oz. cocoa powder

Cook egg yolks and sugar over hot water until thin (to do this, fill a saucepan 1/3 of the way with hot water, place pan over med-high heat, then place a mixing bowl in the top of the pan, making sure it doesn't touch the water. Then place the eggs and sugar in the mixing bowl and continue). After eggs are thinned and heated, add them to the Mascarpone cheese (or softened cream cheese), add whipped cream and gently stir until well combined. Dip lady fingers in coffee, layer in pan, cover with cream mixture, add another layer of dipped lady fingers and cream mixture. Refrigerate until firm. Before serving, dust with cocoa powder (do this by holding a small mesh seive over a bowl, place a couple of tablespoons of cocoa in the seive. Gently move over the top of the pan of Tiramisu and begin tapping the edge of the seive as you move it evenly over the top of the dessert.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


What's your favorite thing to make on a Snow Day? School is canceled, many can't get out to go to work, you're not going anywhere until the driveway is plowed or snowblowed. You may as well make a hot breakfast for everyone. If you like egg nog and can get your hands on some, you have GOT to try this! It's so custardy and delicious. The only thing I would change would be to use a heartier bread. All I had in the bread box was Aunt Millies Cracked Wheat bread, and it was a bit to thin for this thick, custardy recipe. I still used it, but a nice, crusty, french, bread loaf, sliced thick, would work a lot better for this.


2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup store bought egg nog
1 tsp rum flavoring (or vanilla, it's your choice)
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1/8 t. cinnamon + 1/8 t. nutmeg)
6 slices bread

Whisk together eggs, egg nog, rum flavoring and spices. Heat a griddle to hot. Dip bread in egg mixture, allowing it to soak in slightly. Butter (or oil) the hot griddle and place soaked bread on griddle. Cook on each side until golden brown and crispy. Serve with butter and powdered sugar or hot syrup.

*Note* To increase the recipe: for every additional 3 slices of bread, add one egg, 1/4 cup of egg nog and 1 tsp. rum flavoring (or 1/2 t. vanilla)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Don't you just love a nice crispy, oven fried chicken? This chicken recipe is as easy as falling off a log! Exactly what you want on a busy day - something that goes together in a snap AND bakes in the oven! For having so few ingredients, it had great flavor. The onions gave it a nice crunch. Super easy and quick! A real keeper, for sure!


1 (6 oz) French's original or cheddar french fried onions (crushed)
2 Tblsp flour
1 egg, beaten
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or whatever chicken pieces you prefer)

Crush french fried onions with flour in plastic bags. Dip chicken in egg, coat in onion crumbs. Press firmly to make the crumbs adhere. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until no longer pink in center. Bigger pieces of chicken will require a bit more cooking time.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Just in time for your Valentine goody boxes. These glazed nuts will be a HUGE hit with your loved ones. They are so addicting! If you start eating them warm from the oven, before you've even packaged them, you'll have to tell yourself to "STEP AWAY FROM THE PAN!"


1 lb pecans (I use half walnuts and half pecans)
1 egg white
1 tsp cold water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325.
Beat egg white with cold water until frothy. Mix nuts thoroughly with it. Mix dry ingredients, coat nuts. Bake on buttered cookie sheet at 325 for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes. Dry on paper towels until dry. Nice for gift and goody boxes!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Here is a cool spin on an old favorite - Mac-n-Cheese! Try it with a Southwestern flair! It's delicious and so hearty, you could serve it as the main entree for dinner and the whole family would be happy! Well unless you have a hubby that is a "meat and potatoes" man like mine is! *wink*


1 (16 oz) pkg. uncooked elbow macaroni (or pasta of your choice)
1 lb Ground Beef
1 medium onion, diced
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1 pkg. Taco seasonings
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 (8 oz) brick shredded Pepper Jack cheese
1 (8 oz) brick shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Pace Picante, medium

Extra Shredded Mozzarella and Pepper Jack
Tortilla chips, crushed
Sour cream

Cook macaroni according to pkg directions. In a separate skillet, brown 1 lb of ground beef with 1 medium diced onion, 4 oz can of chopped green chiles and 1/2 cup diced tomatoes. When the hamburger is done, stir in the packet of taco seasoning. Meanwhile in a dutch oven, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in milk, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat, stir in cheeses. Drain macaroni, and pour into cheese sauce in dutch oven. Stir in ground beef mixture and Pace picante. Top with more shredded cheese and bake in oven for 20 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Top with crushed tortilla chips. Serve with extra salsa and sour cream, if desired.


Don't you just love a good Southwestern flavored dish? Here are a couple of new recipes to add to your collection. This first one is a dip that goes together in a snap. It's a good ol' standby for a spur of the moment get-together, and young and old people alike love this dip.


8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 oz sour cream
4 oz Pace Picante, medium
1 Tblsp chopped green chiles
2 Tblsp Taco seasoning (more or less to taste)

Beat cream cheese with mixer until smooth, Stir in sour cream, and taco seasoning. Beat with mixer until combined. Add picante sauce (or salsa) and chopped green chiles. Stir with wooden spoon until well combined. Serve with tortilla chips.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I was going back through my pic files and realized there are pics of recipes that I haven't posted yet! This is one of them, and it's one of our all time favorites! Peach Cobbler. I should have posted it when peaches were in season. But it turns out equally good using canned peaches. It goes together in a snap and puts a smile on everybody's face!

  • 4 cups peeled, sliced peaches (if using canned, buy peaches packed in juice, not syrup)
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • Ground cinnamon, optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the peaches, 1 cup sugar, and water in a saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Note: If using canned peaches - drain them first, then proceed.

Put the butter in a 3-quart baking dish and place in oven to melt.

Mix remaining 1 cup sugar, flour, and milk slowly to prevent clumping. Pour mixture over melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup. Sprinkle top with ground cinnamon, if using. Batter will rise to top during baking. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.

To serve, scoop onto a plate and serve with your choice of whipped cream or a good quality vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I've been away too long! But I'm back with a brand new chicken dish. I've been hearing and reading a lot about braising lately. A while back my daughter in law made braised beef ribs and we enjoyed them immensely. Yesterday I watched a French chef make braised rabbit, and I thought, wow, that recipe would be good with chicken! I also have to take my hubby's tastes into consideration, so many times a recipe gets altered simply because I know he won't care for the ingredients. And meal time isn't all about me playing with food! haha It's about pleasing the ones I'm feeding. And I certainly want my family to enjoy what I fix for them!
This chicken was SO wonderfully moist! It received thumbs up from everybody - but especially hubby, which means I'll be making it again and again!

What is braising and what cuts of meat are best suited to being braised?

Braising is a slow, wet cooking method that blends flavors and softens tough textures. The best cuts of meat for braising are those with a lot of connective tissue, that is, the sinew (gristle) and fat that hold the bands of protein together in meat. The connective tissue, during a long, moist cooking process, breaks down into gelatin, becoming soft in texture while retaining its juiciness. Many of these cuts would be horribly tough and unpalatable if they were cooked quickly or with dry heat, since high temperatures make the connective tissue hard and chewy. Braising develops deep, layered flavors and a thick, richly-textured sauce.

Beef cuts most suitable to braising are: chuck pot roast, brisket, rump roast, short ribs, flank steak, skirt steak, eye round roast, top round roast, shanks, chuck eye roast, arm pot roast, shoulder pot roast, cross rib roast, blade roast, bottom round roast and 7-bone pot roast. Veal cuts best suited to braising are: shanks, neck, rib chop, short ribs, arm roast, blade roast, shoulder eye roast, arm roast, round steak, rump roast, breast, riblet, kidney chop and sirloin steak. Cuts of pork that are best braised are: blade roast, picnic roast, sirloin chop, country style ribs and trotters. Lamb is especially good braised, shanks, rolled breast, shoulder roast, shoulder arm chop, neck, blade chop, riblets and sirloin chop are the cuts most used. And the legs and thighs of poultry are good braised, whether chicken, turkey or duck.

Most of these cuts are less expensive, which makes braising a flavorful, satisfying, and inexpensive dinner. Braises are especially easy to prepare if you use a crockpot. Braises are usually served over or with a starch, whether a rice pilaf, couscous, barley, risotto, polenta, wide egg noodles or with biscuits. A mixed salad with a sharp vinaigrette balances the meal.


  • 4 chicken leg quarters (or 8 thighs) (dark meat works best in this recipe)
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 cups white cooking wine (sold in the sauce & marinade aisle)
  • 6 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 dozen small pearl onions, peeled
  • 1 pound button mushrooms
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup croutons (I buy the extra large ass't. Caesar croutons, and I don't measure!)
  • 1 ounce chives, finely chopped


Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring the chicken stock and cooking wine to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and keep at a slow, steady simmer.

Warm the olive oil and butter in a 7 quart cast iron low-sided braiser (I used an enamel coated cast iron dutch oven) over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dust with the flour. Add the chicken and sear until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Add the onions and mushrooms and sweat, while stirring, for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the bay leaves and thyme leaves. Pour in the hot stock/cooking wine mixture, cover with a round of buttered parchment paper (Don't use the lid to the pan, just use the parchment paper and make sure it is pressed right down on top of the chicken and the broth) and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Remove and discard the parchment paper and bake 10 minutes more.

(to make this parchment cover: use the lid to the pot - lay it on the parchment paper and draw a circle around it. Cut the circle out. Cut a small venting circle in the middle of that for the steam to escape)

To check for doneness, using a small knife pierce the thickest part of the thigh. The meat should feel tender. Remove chicken to serving platter. Scoop out onions and mushrooms and scatter over chicken. Sprinkle the croutons and chives over the top. Serve.