Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November Cookbook Club

 Upon arrival to our November Cookbook Club Hostess home, we were greeted with this fabulous, berry full, Pyracantha.  This took me back to my home where I grew up.  I can't remember exactly where it was, but we had this in our yard.  The berries are so pretty and wait until you see what the hostess did with these beautiful berries inside her home.

 What a happy Turkey door arrangement.  It put a big smile on my face.

 A beautiful table

 I love crystal and silver together.

 Wow, just Wow is all I can say.  This was such a pretty arrangement, I could not stop looking at it.  I think I may plant some Pyracantha somewhere in my yard.

 This was my favorite dish of the day.  Country Ham and Shrimp on Toast.


1/2 cup butter
12 oz. chopped, cooked, country ham (can use a ham steak)
3 cloves of finely chopped garlic
1 leek bulb, finely chopped
1/2 cup brandy
2 cups whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1 1/2 pounds fresh, small shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
8 slices bread, trimmed, cut into points, toasted

Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over high heat.  Add the country ham.  Saute quickly.  Add garlic and leek.

Saute until the leek begins to wilt, remove from heat.  Stir in the brandy.  Return to heat. Stir in whipping cream, cayenne sage.

Cook until thickened, stirring constantly.  Add the shrimp.  Simmer for 2 minutes or until the shrimp turn light pink.  Stir in the parsley.

Serve on toast points.  

 Breakfast casserole served in individual baking dishes.

 Stuffed Collard Rolls with Tomato Sauce.  I thought I would not like this, but it was actually pretty tasty although the lady that made them said they were pretty labor intensive to prepare.

 These were so pretty, I did not want to take one off the platter.  Autumn Cranberry Pie.

Heavenly Cheese Grits...oh so soul satisfying!

As you can see, we had sort of a brunchie theme going on.  It was a really fun and yummy day.  I love seeing how other people set their tables and serve their food. 

As always, if there is a dish you would like the recipe to, just leave me a comment.  Talk soon!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Crockpot Crazy

AHH, the first bit of crisp, cool air summons me to pull out the crock pot and wipe the summer dust off of it.  I thought I would share some recipes that are great in the crock pot.  Fall just seems like the perfect time to conjure something hearty and warm.  My family loves these recipes and I hope you do to. 

Before I move on, I must apologize for those of you who could not see the photos on my Homecoming post.  I could see them on my computer but not on my phone.  I have no idea what to do about that.  I do hope that in some fashion you were able to see the photos because they were a lot of fun.

Here is the recipe for the chili above. This chili recipe is a little different but I love the flavors of the cinnamon and cocoa....yes that's right!  I am not sure why these take this recipe up a notch but boy is it good.  This can be ready to go whenever the door opens and your family descends.  Serve this with a salad and cornbread and you are good to go.  

Mole Chili

2 quarts beef stock
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 slices lean smoky bacon cooked, drained and crumbled
4 pounds ground sirloin
2 large onions, chopped and sauteed in vegetable oil
8 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 15 oz cans fire roasted tomatoes
4 tablespoons smoked sweet paprika
4 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons coriander
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Saute onions and garlic in vegetable oil. Brown ground sirloin and drain. In a large soup pot, add beef stock, bacon, sauteed onions and garlic, tomato paste, fire roasted tomatoes and all the spices. Stir and place in crock pot on low or warm.  Everything is already cooked so the crock pot helps the flavors blend.   

I don't have a photo for this recipe, but this recipe is delicious and a little lighter than a regular chili.  I still warms the soul.

2 cans navy beans, drained
1 small roasted chicken with meat pulled off the bones
1 small onion, diced
1 can diced green chilies
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Shredded Colby/Jack cheese
Sour Cream
Chopped tomatoes

Saute onions in olive oil. Combine all ingredients except the cheese, sour cream and chopped tomatoes in a large stockpot or crock pot.  Place on low for a few hours.  Add cheese, sour cream and chopped tomatoes upon serving. Enjoy

Navy bean soup is one of Son 1's favorite soups.  I usually make this after Thanksgiving or Christmas when we have a ham bone.  The ham bone gives this soup such rich, flavorful broth.

Sparkling's Navy Bean Soup

One ham bone
2 boxes chicken broth
2 cans navy beans
1 can whole tomatoes, cut very small
1/2 white onion, diced

Combine all ingredients except the navy beans in a crock pot and let them cook on low several hours. About a hour before serving add the navy beans. We like this served with cornbread and salad. Enjoy!!

Gina's Pot Roast

1 pot roast
6 - new potatoes, cubed
20 - baby carrots
1 - onion, chopped
1 bottle Wishbone Italian dressing
Salt and Pepper
Bay leaves

Place roast and vegetables in a crock pot sprayed with non stick spray. Salt and Pepper the roast and then pour the dressing on top. Place two bay leaves on top. Cook on low all day or 6 - 8 hours. Once done, take meat and all vegetables out of crock pot. Place the remaining juices in a pan and thicken with flour to make a gravy. I usually use two tablespoons of flour and mix it with water and then pour it in with my juices and whisk until thick. Yummy!!

I hope this makes you want to go crock pot crazy and create some yummy goodness for your family. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Let's Go Back to High School

Do you remember your Homecoming dances?  I remember mine down to what I wore to each one of them.  A couple of my friends hosted a dinner before this years homecoming dance for their children and friends.  Let's take a look at how it's done now.

I don't remember my shoes being this pretty.

What a pretty centerpiece. 

Here's another view.  Love all the colors!

More pretty flowers.

This makes me want to make a fruit salad this very minute!

Strawberries and Grapes....this could be a painting.

This salad looks very yummy.

And just in case you did not want the other salad, here is another choice.

Oh my, this corn and bean salad looks fabulous.  I will see if I can get the recipe as I am sure my readers would surely enjoy this!

If I saw this HUGE platter of sushi, I would be in heaven!  Funny thing, when I was in high school we never even thought of sushi.

Another tray of goodness...wraps have certainly become popular.

This is one thing that has not never go out of style!

Signs of a great time!!  Thanks to my good friend and one of the hosts of this dinner for sharing these photos with me.  I bet the parents had a great time putting this wonderful "before dance" meal together. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Let's Go To A Friends House

I love to entertain in my home.  Nothing seems to fill my home better than good friends and family.  Last week I has the pleasure of visiting a friends home and had so much fun.  Don't you just love to see how others have decorated or how they serve their food or how they organize or just how they do things in general?  I find this to be a great source of inspiration and generally just a lot of fun.  I decided it would be a great idea to show you how my friend had decorated for fall.  So sit back and be inspired!

 What a wonderful welcome!  Doesn't this just make you want to walk right inside?

 Love these stacked pumpkins in the urns and the ceramic pumpkins that will look so great all lit up at night.
 This just says Happy Fall! 

 I love how she arranged this trio on her dining table.  It is so happy!

 What a great arrangement in this copper container.  Love the characters too!
 I love how she used this crystal bowl and turned it into a fall centerpiece.

 Look at the vibrant color of these leaves and what a nice arrangement it makes on her coffee table.
 I want to wear this hat but would not dream of taking it away from this spot.  If that candy corn were in my home, it would not last long!

 My friends mantle is always very pretty but I especially love it with all the fall accents woven in. 
Love the hollowed out pumpkin filled with mums.  Couldn't you just imagine yourself sitting in this picture?

Wasn't that fun taking a tour of this wonderful home?  I want to thank my friend for allowing me to share these photos with you.  Besides having a wonderful home, she is one of the best friends a girl could ask for.

I don't know how I got so lucky to have received these photos but I also have some of a Homecoming Party to share with you on my next post...stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Home Alone

This past weekend the Sparkling Boys set off to a football game about 7 hours from our home.  I decided to stay home and get some projects done around the house.  It is really weird being in a house all alone when you are used to lots of noise and activity.  With all the quiet, I was able to complete many projects that have been on my to do list and just enjoy some of life's quiet moments.  Let's take a look.

My Herbier Collection is finally complete!  Before we moved, I decided to collect and dry some of the herbs I had been growing for many years.  So I clipped them and placed them carefully between parchment paper in a huge, heavy book.  And then we moved.  I forgot about them.  A few months ago, I found my big book with my perfectly dried herbs and decided it was time to turn these into the collection I had dreamed of. 

There is not too much information on how to create an herbier collection.  So I went with my gut.  I decided to use paper that would stand the test of time and glue that would not ruin my herbs.  That was step one and a tedious one I might add.  I used Tacky Glue in very, very small amounts and scrapbook paper.  Once all herbs were secure, I took them to the frame shop.  The staff there were a little afraid to work with these.  I told them if they survived a move and sitting under a chair for nearly a year, they would be fine.  At first, one of the frame guys thought I should do French mats.  That day, I learned just what French mats were.  Basically, they hand tint the edge of each mat.  It is really pretty.  When the guy realized they were real herbs and not prints, he told me I should not spend the money on the French mats.

Question.  Would a print be more valuable than actual herbs hand selected from my garden and cured for over a year?  Just askin?  At any rate, since I had 8 of them, it was cost prohibitive to do the French mats anyway.

So here is the collection up close.  I really like the mats and frames they chose.  It is exactly what I was looking for.  I am so happy I took the time to create this collection and think it will be a keepsake for years to come.  While my guys were out of town, I hung these.  Oh, the patience that was required and that I DID NOT have.  Lining these up was a task!  Happy it is done!

After running a few errands this was my view on the way back to my house.  I just had to stop and thank God for his miraculous beauty.

Without her "boyz" to play with, Sparkling dog gave me more attention than I normally get.  Note to Memphistanista, she did give me permission to post this photo of her.  To my faithful readers, Memphistanista has made several comments that I should not take photos of Sparkling Dog without her written permission. 

We had a small breakfast bar at our former home with two counter stools.  When we moved in, I began to look for something for our island.  After much thought and gnashing of teeth, I finally decided and purchased these stools from Ballard Designs.  They arrived on Friday and I opened all the boxes on Saturday.  I am happy to have four stools and I know they will come in handy.

Why do custom curtains take so long?  We have been working our way through our home with decor and our next project was to be our kitchen.  The thought of having to wait months for more curtains was more than I could bare.  So since I had time to shop, I found these ready made, pinch pleated, linen, lined panels.  I am so happy with the fabric and how it looks with everything in our room.    I found these last Saturday and picked up my four panels today!  You just gotta love that kind of turn around!  I will share photos once they are in place.

I knew the Sparkling men would welcome a home cooked meal after being on the road the whole weekend.  I made my favorite wild rice, cooked some steaks and decided to make a wedge salad.  Once my guys arrived home, we sat down to dinner.  I wish you could have heard the questions about the wedge.  From what is this, to how am I supposed to eat it, to why didn't you chop it up like you usually do, were on the top of the list.  Son 1 told me he never wanted me to make it again while Son 2 told asked when we were having it again.  Mr. Sparkling and I loved it so Son 1 is out numbered.   This is a Pioneer Woman recipe and I will share it for you to enjoy too!



1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth.


4 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
1 iceberg lettuce head
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar or other cheese

Cut iceberg lettuce into four equal quarters.  Place on plate.  Top with dressing then bacon and cheese.  Enjoy!!

So my lonely weekend turned into a very productive one.  In addition to these projects, I watched football literally all day and night.  When I was watching my home team play, I was yelling so loud the dog next door started barking.  Oops!  We will see what this weekend brings.  Enjoy this wonderful Fall weather and I will talk to you next week.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cookbook Club Luncheon and a Scallop Potato Recipe

This is the cookbook my club has been working out of for about a year now.  We have enjoyed the recipes but are almost out of some of the categories.  We have selected Barefoot Contessa cookbooks for our new book (s).

Upon arrival to our hostesses home, we were greeted with this beautiful arrangement.  What a wonderful welcome!

Our hostess certainly set a beautiful table.  She is fortunate to have a table that will seat 12.

Here is the place setting up close.  So very pretty.

Here was the centerpiece.  I love the touch of pumpkins added to this orchid arrangement.

This was Ultimate Salsa from our cookbook.  It was very fresh and delicious.

This was a yummy, warm bean dip.

Before serving our main plate, I noticed this fabulous arrangement in front of the hostesses sink.  Again, I love how the pumpkins are mixed in the the ivy and Kalanchoe.

Our main dish was Chicken in Phyllo.  It had a great flavor and the chicken was moist.

This dish is Green Beans Provencal.  The green beans used in this dish were so fresh.

This is the Scallop Potato and Garden Tomato dish.  I will share the recipe now.

2 pounds tomatoes
3 cups thinly sliced onions
2 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 1/ 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter

Peel the tomatoes and cut into halves, discarding the seeds.  Invert to drain for 1 minute.  Chop the tomatoes.

Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet until tender but not brown.  Add the tomatoes, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and pepper: mix gently.

Spoon 1/3 of the tomato mixture into a greased 3 quart baking dish.

Layer potatoes, Swiss cheese, Parmesan cheese and remaining tomato mixture 1/2 at a time in the prepared dish.  Dot with two tablespoons butter.

Bake at 375 degrees for 1 1/2 hours or until the potatoes are tender.

This spinach and artichoke tart was delicious.

I forgot to take photos of the desserts.  Didn't the same thing happen last week???  More picture taking and less talking for me in November.

I hope this inspires you to make a wonderful dinner or create a beautiful table.  Until next time.