I still enjoy having a special birthday meal for my only ... Niki turned 44 this year and we finally had her little celebration at the end of October. She was traveling on her actual birthday, so we had to wait a couple weeks!
A menu card remains one of my favorite ways to make a meal special, so here is the one for her brunch!
She has an attachment to owls ... and who isn't attached to Pioneer Woman these days? Our table is a mixed up vignette of lots of colors!
PW table runner, napkins and place mats ... Dazzling Dahlia and Fiona patterns.
The centerpiece, set on the end of the table, so we could fill the table with food ... is a simple globe filled with flowers that match the linens ... a couple candles in bright orange glasses ... galvanized lanterns and the yellow owl!
The square dinner plate is Pfaltzgraff, but the owl is a cheap Walmart plate from this new season! If you follow my blog, you've seen the Labrador flatware before. It is one of my favorite Cambridge patterns. We love our Labs!
The owl salt and pepper shakers are from Cracker Barrel and the napkins rings are vintage! I'm vintage, too ... and I've had these for years!
Here's the birthday girl! Can't believe that she is 44. Seems like she should still be toddling around in pigtails!
I'll be sharing this post with a couple blog parties, so make sure you click through to see the other posts.
Yesterday, we spent a nice morning at a local orchard where beautiful sunflowers have been harvested for the last couple weeks! Sunflowers are so cheerful, real ones and silk ones ... always make me smile! Today's tablescape is dedicated to making sunshine on a day when it is cold and raining!
These bright colors sure are a welcomed sight on a rainy morning! Good coffee, juice and a little sparkling wine make a perfect brunch when the food savory and sweet and delicious! This dinnerware is Norfolk and was probably a Dollar Tree find at one point, although I picked mine up on Ebay!
These fantastic rustic wooden pieces came from my favorite collectible shop and the sage green color is a perfect color for alots of themes! I still enjoy using battery powered candles, even though the baby I was protecting when I first switched from real flames to batteries ... is all grown up!
I love this place setting. The sunflower place mats are from Kohl's this season, but I've had the napkin rings for years! The flatware is Towle "everyday" sunflowers ... and the orange stemmed glass is vintage 1970s Noritake Provincial! If it is vintage, so am I!
I'll be sharing with a few blog parties listed on my sidebar, so make sure you click through to see some other entries! Keep your sun shining!
Our favorite German meat market sells 'bundles' each month and September's bundle included ten pounds of chicken legs and thighs. That might seem like a lot of chicken for an empty nester, but I packaged mine in small portions and will enjoy it for a few weeks! I usually cook two sections, then I have one left for something else! This time, I made chicken quesadillas the second day and you can see that post right here!
If you think this plate is a little heavy on corn ... on the cob, cornbread and coating on the chicken ... well, too bad! We like corn. The recipe for the chicken couldn't be easier. For 2 legs and 2 thighs, here's what you need to combine:
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
a couple dashes of salt
Soak the chicken pieces in milk for thirty minutes. Then dry the chicken and dip it in cooled melted butter (about half a stick). Then dredge the chicken pieces in the corn meal mixture. Bake the chicken at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Test it to make sure the juices run clear and bake a little longer, if they don't. When you want chicken to absorb the flavors of the seasoning, the best pieces to use are the leg and thigh. The meat is filled with juice and the flavors will really come through!
I stick my ears of corn right in the oven while the chicken is roasting. You can wrap them in foil, or simply leave the shucks on them. The corn will be done when the chicken is done. Small sweet potatoes can also be baked right on the oven rack. Make it easy!
Butter, a little salt and lots of fresh cilantro make the corn and sweet potato better! Use your favorite cornbread recipe ... maybe one that includes cheddar cheese and green chili peppers!
This is a beautiful and delicious meal. It can't be much easier when you put everything in the oven at the same time!
I'll be sharing this recipe with a few blog parties, so make sure you click through to see the other posts! Enjoy!
The day after I made delicious Chicken Southwestern Style, I used the left over chicken to make quesadillas! I simply shredded the chicken, added cilantro, scallions, tomatoes and sweet red peppers. I topped it all with shredded cheddar cheese and had a delicious meal
Served with additional fresh vegetables, sour cream, avocado salsa and cilantro! It was supper ... then a packed lunch the next day, too!
I'll be sharing this with a couple blog parties, so make sure you click through to see other posts. Have fun!
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!
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!!
Great Family Dinner!!
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!
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
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!
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