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Safari Supper

Years ago, I had the opportunity to work with some university students as they learned how to prepare food in institutional portions.  One year, we had an African student who was a really good cook.  Her stews were much like we cook, but the flavors were intensely spiced.  They weren't too hot, just perfect combinations.

My interest was sparked this summer, after binge watching the television miniseries, "The Book of Negroes."  I won't give away the storyline, but there is a significant amount of information about Sierra Leone.  It was a place where freed negro slaves could be returned without danger. Over time, it was inhabited by many cultures, so the food culture is a real blend of ethnic favorites.

All this prompted a themed family meal.  Our 'Safari Supper' was lots of fun.  We ate on tinware, just like we would if we were camping!  The recipes came from a variety of internet sites and I included a couple things that my meat and potatoes son-in-law would love!

Before you read farther, you might want to take a look at my post about Abayomi African Dolls.  Making these neat dolls prompted the meal, too!

I do these meals to provide training ground for Miss Phoebe.  I want her to know history and the impact it has had on our lives.  We had a big conversation about sweet potatoes and the importance of growing them in developing countries. 

We did this when Phoebe's mother was growing up and I'm proud of the results!  I think I'll keep my good habits!

Let's take a look at the whole table, then we can look at each element.  Phoebe created this tablescape using things we have in our vast collection!  The table runner is a sort of jungle print pattern with lots of green and pink in it!  We added our big jug of silk flowers that are the perfect colors.

I have a collection of wooden animals that came from Kenya, via a favorite antique store!  This giraffe is definitely my favorite.

Look at the other animals.  They are so wonderful!  I made the clothing for the little doll wearing the tiny sand dollar necklace.  The big doll in orange came from a collectible shop and a couple of our Abayomi dolls are pictured too.  This cluster was on the end of our table.

Take a look at the cute napkin rings ... also wooden safari animals!

Now take a look at the table filled with all the food containers!  The cut teal speckled pots came from World Market this summer!  I couldn't resist them (and they were way on sale) for this dinner!

On to the food ...

We started with the mussels!  So easy to fix and such a great start to a meal!  Phoebe started eating clams with her Papa Joe when she was just three years old!  She still loves them!

The Tanzanian Stew was the favorite!  We always love sweet potatoes and the Boboti is just like 'hamburger hash' that we've made forever ... spiced a little differently!  I added curry powder and dried orange rind to my normal beef stew recipe and it was scrumptious!  Jollof rice can be purchased in a package with the seasoning in the bag!  The green beans and red cabbage were roasted in a spritz of olive oil and a sprinkle of garlic powder, red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese.

And ... here's the MONKEY PUDDING!  A little whimsy with every meal.  Our favorite banana pudding made the old-fashioned way with vanilla wafers!  Each serving had an animal perched in the topping! 

I'll share this post on a few blog parties, so make sure you click through to see the other party-goers!

Abayomi Dolls!

I learned about these  cute dolls from an Activity Director at one of the skilled nursing facilities that I work with.  When I saw the dolls that she made with the residents, I knew I had to teach Phoebe how to make them!  I had been planning a special supper themed around African foods, so these dolls just fit right in with the theme.

"Abayomi" is the name of a traditional African rag doll made from scrap material ... knots tied on rags.  The dolls have been around for over three-hundred years in certain parts of Africa and are known to bring happiness and kindness.  No stitches or glue are used to make these dolls!

To see a video about making these sweet dolls, you can visit

I love the way the expressionless faces look.  I created hair on a couple of our dolls and tied different styles of scarves.  Individuality is what makes them so neat!

I'm sharing the above picture so you can see that it is simply a matter of making a few knots and ties to create something special.

If you'd like to see the "Safari Supper" blog post that goes along with our dolls, go to
Great Family Dinner!!

Turkey in August Table!

The most important part of our table ... is usually the food and the people sitting around the table!  I work to set meaningful tablescapes, though!  As of late, I've started incorporating 'words' in my tablescapes.  I think you can't go wrong with children at the table ... when you are instilling important messages! When we say grace .. and we don't always do that ... I make sure I pray in words that a kiddo will understand!  Talking to the Lord should be just like talking to your friends and family!  So, here is the tablescape and, "thank you Jesus for the tradition that Papa Joe started!" If you want to see more about the food ... visit this Turkey in August post!l

"Family is belonging to ... and believing in each other."  I created a centerpiece, which actually sat on the end of the table, and looks very much like the graphics on the invitation!  Sunflowers and pumpkins ... apples and pears ... and turkeys!  Yes, one of the turkeys is wearing pearls!

I used some old Memory Lane dinnerware ... and galvanized charger plates and napkin rings!  I love 'galvanized'!  Place mats are Pioneer Woman and the napkins came from World Market!  I think!  The flatware is a Kim Parker pattern ... has sunflowers on it!

I'll share this post with some of the blog parties listed in my side bar, so make sure you click through to see more!

September is here now ... so keep watching for Autumn tablescapes!  My favorite season!

Turkey in August!

We have a tradition at our house, which was created by my husband years ago.  He always started getting hungry for Thanksgiving food in August, so I started making sure I had a turkey in the freezer so I could prepare an abbreviated Thanksgiving Dinner in August!

This year's turkey dinner had an Italian theme and the menu was lots of fun!

I want to start by describing my method of preparing our turkey breast.  I used a packet of Wishbone Italian salad dressing mix and a Tablespoon of dried Italian herbs as a rub for the breast.  I put a layer of cooled melted butter on the breast, then sprinkled on half the packet of mix (because all I had was a breast - would have used the whole packet on a whole turkey).  I added the  dried herbs to the skin and stuffed the cavity with fresh basil, thyme and rosemary.  I roasted a ten pound breast at 350 degrees for 3 hours.
The skin was beautiful, crispy and tasty ... and the meat was tender.

Now, let's discuss the other sensation from the meal!  Phoebe's peanut butter avalanche cake was fantastic!  Reese's Pieces filled the cavity in the middle of the bundt cake.  When you take the slices from the cake ... the candies drift out of the center and make it look like an avalanche! This is a cake mix doctor recipe, so it doesn't take long to prepare!

Peanut Butter Cake

1 butter yellow cake mix
1 1/3 cup water
3 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon almond extract

Mix and bake according to the instructions on the box.  Let the cake cool 30 minutes before turning it from the pan.

Peanut Butter Icing

1/2 brick of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter

Whip these two ingredients together, then begin adding powdered sugar a cup at a time.  Alternate adding a Tablespoon of milk at a time.  You will need about a pound and a half of powdered sugar and maybe 3 Tablespoons of milk.  Judge it as you mix.
Make sure the cake is completely cool before frosting it.

Finish the cake by pouring candies into the center and down the sides of the cake ... and you'll probably spill some on the counter and on the floor!  MeMutt had fun chasing the escaping Reese's Pieces!

Now ... on to the rest of the menu!

Million Dollar Dip

1 8-ounce container of almond flavored spreadable cheese
1 cup Miracle Whip
1 teaspoon garlic
1 cup bacon bits
1 cup of cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped green onions - tops included

Mix all the ingredients and serve with savory crackers or pretzel rods.

Mozzarella Pepperoni Salad

Use your favorite variety of lettuce.  Top the greens with marinated mozzarella pearls, slices of pepperoni and banana pepper rings.  Use your favorite Italian dressing on the salad.  Easy!

Turkey Tetrazzini

Use a pound of your favorite pasta.  I used little pipes for this, because the sauce gets caught in the middle and makes delicious bites!  Prepare the pasta according to package instructions.

For the sauce:

Melt a stick of butter and make a roux by stirring in 3 Tablespoons of flour.  Add 3 cups of chicken broth and half a brick of cream cheese.  Blend and gently heat until everything has melted together.  Add 1 teaspoon of  dried Italian herbs or a handful of fresh chopped herbs.  Add a teaspoon of garlic paste and continue stirring until well-mixed.  

Combine the casserole:

Place the pasta in a casserole dish.  Sprinkle 3/4 cup of dried Parmesean cheese over it.  Sprinkle chopped cooked bacon bits over it.  Gently pour the sauce over all.  Cover the casserole with foil and bake at 350 for 40 minutes.  When you remove it from the oven, remove foil and sprinkle a cup of shredded Provel cheese over the casserole.  Let it melt and serve it.

We love sauteed mushrooms, so I added those at the last minute.  I melt butter in a very hot skillet and drop in the sliced mushrooms.  They brown/scald quickly and that is the way we love them!

Lemon Dump Cake

This is so easy ...  Prepare a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray.  Pour in 2 15-ounce cans of lemon pie filling.  Sprinkle a dry white cake mix over the top.  Pour a stick of melted butter over that and bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 40 minutes.  Make sure the topping is browned and the filling is bubbling.  During the last ten minutes of baking, sprinkle shredded almonds over the top.  Just the amount that you want ... a little or a lot!  Serve with whipped topping!

If you make this in a crock pot, it probably won't take more than 1 and a half hours on high.  Just watch it carefully!

If you want to see the tablescape for this meal, visit

Cactus Pink!

Tell me this isn't the cutest napkin ring ever!!!  I found them this summer at Pier One and couldn't resist!  I need to stay out of that place because I always bring home too much.  But, I'm selling in my antique mall booth, so that is my excuse!  Ha!

Speaking of antique mall, I found this pretty  pink pitcher and brought it home to brighten up my wicker tablescape! The galvanized candle globes were part of my Mother's Day gift!

This easy tablescape included a Mexican print plate, floral wine glass, multi-colored flatware and the adorable crock bowl with a handle!

I have several of the little crockery pails in a variety of colors.  They are perfect for hot soup, but on this summer day, I used them for a pretty tomato salad!

Just thought I'd share something pink with Pink Saturday!

Flowers and Ferns!

I was raised by a man who could make anything grow and flourish, but Daddy did not pass those genes on to me!

I try, and when I find a good spot that gets the right amount of sun ... I stick to that location!

I cluster plants in one of those good spots on the back deck and here is this year's results!  I have to admit ... plants seemed to be much more expensive this year than they were last year ... so I waited for a half price sale!


Butter and Sage Chicken

My fresh herbs are growing like crazy, so it is time to start using them! This easy crock pot meal is delicious and creates a chicken that is tender and flavorful.  I'm a proponent of using likes of herbs and spices in crock pot dishes ... otherwise they all taste the same!

The end result of this recipe also provides some wonderful sweet onions ... and a couple cups of savory broth to freeze for another delicious recipe later on!  I added roasted green beans with burst cherry tomatoes ... topped with bleu cheese.  Of course, that slice of sun dried tomato bread made the meal even better!  That's a recipe you'll see another day.

Begin preparation with 3 Tablespoons of soft butter. Add the equivalent of 2 Tablespoons of chopped fresh sage leaves. I enjoy using my Pampered Chef herb shredder!  Add a teaspoon of paprika, a teaspoon of mustard seed and a teaspoon of celery seed.  Blend it all together.

To keep the chicken from swimming in broth in the bottom of the crock pot, cut 2 sweet onions - Vidalia are my favorite - in half and place them in the bottom of the pot.  I usually leave the skins on, because skins naturally color the broth and I like that!  Add 2 cups of chicken broth to the bottom of the pot.

Place the chicken on top of the onions and rub the butter combination all over the breast.  It is important for the chicken skin to be dry.  Use a paper towel to blot up any moisture.

Cook on high for 3 hours.  After the butter begins to melt, use a brush to spread the herbs over the chicken.

The chicken is fork tender... depending upon the weight of the chicken, it might fall off the bone after 3 hours!  Notice that nice piece of onion in the middle of this plate.  We love onions, so that is a treat!

Serve this with your favorite vegetables or add a little pasta or potato!  It is delicious.

I'll be sharing this post with a few of the parties listed in my sidebar!  Make sure you click through to see the other posts.

Royal Wedding Supper Tea Party!

I'm reposting something from the last royal wedding!  Enjoyed Harry's wedding today!

Last week's Royal Wedding was cause for celebration at my house!  I was a big follower of Princess Diana because I thought she brought a little reality to the British Monarch ... so you know I had to follow the lives of her sons.  I hosted a little supper tea party, complete with a 5-course meal that I adapted from past royal wedding meals. 

A table for six, set in the dining room.

The first thing guests saw was the engagement picture of
Prince William and Catherine.

 The centerpiece was a silk floral arrangement that picked up the colors of  the tablecloth ... all sitting on a vintage hand-crocheted table cloth bunched up in the center of the table.  Surrounding the flowers were framed pictures of past Royal weddings ... Prince William's ancestors back to Queen Victoria!  I also included a portrait of  Henry VIII and Anne Boelyn ... just for fun!

The menu featured items from past Royal Wedding reception breakfast menus.  Normally, the weddings were held in later morning, with a meal ... called breakfast ... in early afternoon.   Cumberland Sauce dates to Queen Victoria's wedding reception ... the late Queen Mother had grilled scallions at her reception ... The Queen Mother and Diana had strawberries and cream for dessert.

I used my Johnson Brothers Old Britain Castles ... and yes, that's one of the Christmas Tree plates.  Don't forget that Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, introduced England to the (German) Christmas Tree!  I added some pink Depression Glass, including my cream soup bowls ... and my Fostoria Mignon stemmed glasses.   The flatware is Oneida Evening Star silverplate.  I have actual 'afternoon spoons' in that pattern ... that are intended for afternoon, tea ... so I chose it for this meal.
The favors were coasters imprinted with the wedding date, the picture and names of the bride and groom ... and the Windsor coat of arms.  Each guest also received a tiny can of English tea!  If you missed my other Royal Wedding post with all the vintage photographs, visit my home page.  I'm linking with Tablescape Thursday and Pink Saturday so make sure you click t
hrough to visit the other posts!

Royal Wedding Time!

Here's a post from the last royal wedding!  Enjoyed the one today!

Here's a little teaser!  A little pink for Pink Saturday!  Next week I'll be posting all the pictures from my Royal Wedding Supper Tea party, but this week ... just a little tease!  Make sure you click through to see all the other pink posts ... but first, take a look at my Royal Wedding post, updated with a couple wedding pictures from today.  Enjoy ... and make sure you come back next week for a full display of my royal tablescape!

It's Royal Wedding Time!  I have always enjoyed studying the British Royals and my two favorites are Queen Victoria ... because she had spunk ... and Princess Diana ... because she had spunk!   I doubt that those two women would ever have agreed on anything ... but they were both driven by what they thought was right ... "right" was probably not defined in the same ways!

The marriage of Prince William and Catherine will be an exciting time and I'm having a supper tea party to commemorate the occasion.  You'll have to check my site next weekend to see pictures of my tablescape!  Did you know that Queen Elizabeth is hosting the wedding reception and is only serving appetizers and sparkling lemonade, wine and champagne?  Typically, royal wedding receptions have included elaborate multi-course meals ... but not this time.  Why?  Maybe the menu is a reflection of the economic times all over the world.  Maybe the Queen is sensitive to the notion that being extravagant might not be appropriate.  We shouldn't  be surprised by that.  Then Princess Elizabeth was married in 1947, just two years after the end of World War II.  Great Britain was still using clothing rations and Princess Elizabeth was given 200 extra clothing coupons to use to buy her trousseau.  The coupons had been donated by young women all over Great Britain.  Queen Elizabeth understands austerity.

Did you know that Queen Victoria started the tradition of wearing white as a wedding gown?  Until that time, the color blue symbolized chastity and purity ... but she wore what she wanted to wear and dressed her attendants in white gowns that she had designed herself!  Her bouquet included orange blossoms and myrtle, which she had grown in her garden.  She married Prince (Consort) Albert in 1840.  No expense was spared for their wedding (reception) breakfast was served in early afternoon and
the menu was ten courses including Ballotine of Duck with Cumberland Sauce.

Here's the wedding portrait of Victoria and Albert's son, the future King Edward VII and the Princess Alexandra of Denmark.  The Edwardian era was a time of abundance and high fashion ... a time when the upper class splurged on everything!   Edward and Alexandra's marriage was the first Royal wedding to be photographed!

Their son, the future King George V, married Princess Victoria Mary of Teck in 1893.  The Princess was supposed to have married George's older brother who died six weeks after the original engagement was announced.  Growing closer through their grieving, George and Mary fell in love.

The 1923 wedding of next in line to the Crown was the first to be recorded on film The future King George VI (Queen Elizabeth's father) married Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon ... never expecting to be King.  Their traditional afternoon wedding breakfast included an elaborate menu of items named after Royals ... like fancy lamb chops named after Prince Albert!  This is a common practice!  Here they are in the official family wedding portrait ... with the King and Queen on the right.

Here's then Princess Elizabeth on her 1947 wedding day ... doing the official balcony wave!  We've grown so accustomed to seeing these sites on the balcony!  Elizabeth's trousseau might have been 'subsidized'  because of the times, but her wedding seemed to lack nothing!  Her 500 pound wedding cake was 9 feet tall!  Her bouquet included a sprig of myrtle from the bush grown for Queen Victoria's wedding bouquet over a hundred years earlier.

Finally ... here's Princess Diana.  I think Lady Di shared a sense of normalcy with the British Monarchy, but I'm not sure they wanted it!  She was a beautiful bride ... and a true humanitarian.  I think she was a great mom ... and had a magnificent influence on the two young Princes.   I suspect the future of Great Britain will tell the story we don't yet know.   Prince William seems to have a level head ... accepting his duties ... and respecting all people. 

So here he is!   The great-great-great-great grandson of Queen Victoria ... the ruler who did things her way!  It is hard not to remember those early pictures right after he was born!  What a cutie ... Now he's about to enter that next chapter of life.    I expect to see the streets lined with thousands of onlookers ... flags waiving.  I cannot wait to see Catherine walk down the aisle.  I'm
not admitting that I am a Royal-watcher ... but I certainly enjoyed watching this young man's mother.  She was true to herself ... and I want him to be just like her ... and just like Queen Victoria!  'Spunk' is the word ... do it your way!

 And here they are ... the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge ... the future King and Queen of England!