Friday, August 24, 2007


I haven't been posting this week because I've been preparing for a trip to Mexico. It will be a mission trip/vacation and I will be gone until September 2. I will post about my adventures when I get back!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Birthday Parties and Tablescapes

We recently celebrated the birthday of my aunt, Maxine. I will say that it was a landmark birthday, but I will not say which one. She is adorable and does not look anywhere near her age.
We ate at the French restaurant at the Botanical Gardens. The gardens were beautiful but the restaurant would not receive any recommendation from me. We had fun anyway, though. This is me with Maxine:

There were several nice guests, such as Nathan and Amby...

Victoria, who is Maxine's daughter-in-law (with Maxine)...

My aunts Peggy and Margo...

And my grandmother, Lottie, with my Aunt Betty and Uncle Wayne:

And speaking of my grandmother, I recently had a birthday celebration for her and others in my family who were celebrating August birthdays. She is 94. I wanted to do very lady-like table because she is such a lady. I used an old, but beautiful cut work tablecloth that was my mom's. I bought a bouquet from Publix and cut it into short stems. I chose this pitcher to put the flowers in because it reminded me of depression glass. I liked the way it looked with the tablecloth.

I found these napkins at Target, which is a great place to find interesting linens. I love intricate napkin folding. This is not a fancy fold, just a modified fleur-de-lys, but the layering accentuated the pretty ruffles on the napkin. My grandmother actually would not use the napkin, but instead opted for the paper version because she said they were too pretty. Lottie is very cute.

Although I usually don't do this during the day, I added a couple of candles, just for atmosphere. I used two antique etched glasses which belonged to Gil's mother for the candles. I put the votives in separate glass holders so I wouldn't get wax on the glasses. With the exception of the flowers, I was able to use what I already had. It was simple and understated, and easy to put together.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Sandwich

This is a sandwich I created from ingredients that my family really likes, which are pepperoni, artichoke hearts, feta cheese, and basil. I usually use pesto to spread on the rolls, but I couldn't find it at the store today. So instead, I tried the basil concentrate in a tube that you can find in the produce section. (I found it at Publix). I mixed it with a little mayonnaise and, for this sandwich, I actually liked it better than the pesto.

The Sandwich

hoagie rolls
1 pkg pepperoni
1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
1 container feta cheese
1 can sliced black olives
basil in a tube
fresh basil (opt)
banana pepper slices
jalapeno pepper slices
oil & vinegar dressing (I like Newman's)
splash of balsamic vinegar

Split the rolls in half. Combine 2-3 tbsp basil concentrate with about 3/4 cup mayonnaise. Assemble the other ingredients.

Spread basil/mayo mixture onto the bread. Place the pepperoni slices on the bottom half. Sometimes I use fresh basil leaves as well.

Add artichoke hearts, olives, crumbles of feta cheese, peppers, etc. Sprinkle a little oil and vinegar on top, then a final splash of balsamic vinegar. Bake at 350 for about 7-10 minutes.

Yum. It is a really intense combination of flavor. Great with cheese curls.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Pasta Salad

This is the pasta version of the potato/pasta salad that I posted back in September. The best part about this salad is the dressing. You can then just pick your favorite pasta and vegetables to put it all together. My favorite pastas for this are bowtie and whole wheat penne. The vegetables I used this time were cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, and bell pepper. Yellow squash, zucchini, and celery are also good. And onion, of course, for all of you onion fans.

Pasta Salad

12 oz pasta (your favorite)
1 cup mayo (I use Kraft Light)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp prepared mustard
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt (or more if needed, to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp dillweed
assorted vegetables, chopped

Cook pasta al dente (Italian for "to the tooth", or cooked but not overdone). Drain. Combine dressing ingredients and gently mix together. Add vegetables. Refrigerate.
Yield: About 10 servings

Chop vegetables:

Cook pasta and drain:

Combine ingredients and refrigerate:

I served this with Honey Baked Ham sandwiches. It was a great meal to have after a 100 degree day.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Mississippi Mud Cake

I have eaten Mississippi Mud Cake several times, but had never actually made it myself. This recipe is from the August issue Southern Living magazine. It requires a few steps, but it is WELL worth it. The frosting has an old-fashioned crunchy chocolate flavor that only the combination of cocoa and confectioners sugar can achieve.

Mississippi Mud Cake

1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup butter
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 (1o.5 oz) bag miniature marshmallows
Chocolate Frosting

Place pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until toasted.
Microwave 1 cup butter and semi-sweet chocolate together on high for 1 minutes or until melted. Stir until smooth.
Whisk sugar, flour, cocoa, eggs, vanilla, and salt together with chocolate mixture. Pour batter into a greased 15 x 10 x1 inch baking dish.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle evenly with marshmallows. Bake 8-10 minutes more, or until golden brown. Drizzle warm cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkle with pecans.

Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/3 cup milk 1 (16 oz) package powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Stir butter, cocoa, and milk together in a saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove form heat. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla at medium speed until smooth.

Melt butter and chocolate together in the microwave:

Stir together until smooth:

Add to remaining ingredients and pour into glass baking dish:

After baking for 20 minutes, sprinkle with miniature marshmallows:

Bake an additional 8-10 minutes until marshmallows are nicely browned:
Meanwhile, prepare frosting by combining cocoa, butter, and milk in a saucepan over medium heat. (Note: This mixture will separate after cooking but it will all blend together when the sugar is added).

Add sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth:
Pour over warm cake and top with toasted pecans:

This cake is absolutely delicious and I'm sure I will make it often. It makes a huge amount, so it would be great to serve for a party. I promise that it will bring rave reviews!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Parmesan Pepperoni Bread

Today was one of those days that I intended to go to the grocery store and got busy with other things and just didn't make it there. So, I had to make do with the various ingredients I had in the kitchen, which I think is a fun challenge. I was making spinach bisque, so I wanted a moist, cheesy bread to go with it. I had a package of pepperoni on hand, as well as freshly grated parmesan cheese. With Bisquick as the foundation, I put this recipe together.

Parmesan Pepperoni Bread

2 cups Bisquick
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1/2 stick butter
3/4 cup chopped pepperoni
1 tsp oregano
sesame seeds

Combine all ingredients except sesame seeds. Pour into a greased 9" cake pan. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

Pour into a 9" cake pan and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake at 375...

....until golden brown:
It went perfectly with the spinach bisque.