Fantastic Tres Leches Cake!

I've been looking for a really good cake that I can make a few of ... to serve at a banquet dinner that my daughter and I will prepare for about 50 people! I've found it. I've been baking poke cakes since the 1970s and have been making frosting using frozen whipped topping and instant pudding since we all started making the infamous Watergate Cake! So, it seems natural to bake this yummy cake!  If you haven't tried this new cake mix, you should.  It has a wonderful packet of powdered milk sauce that you mix with milk and pour over the cake, after it cools a bit and you poke plenty of fork holes in it!

I baked the cake according to the package instructions, but I added a few drops of orange flavoring and a cup of flaked coconut. Look closely at this picture and you can see the extra moist channels of the milk sauce soaking into the cake!

While the cake was refrigerated for the first 2 hours, so the sauce could set ... I made the frosting. That was simple! I mixed a 12 ounce can of mandarin oranges with the juice ... with a small box of instant coconut pudding. Save a few oranges for garnish, if you'd like. Then fold in a cup of flaked coconut and a small container of whipped topping. You could drop in a little orange food coloring ... but I chose not to do that. You can ice the whole cake, or just a piece at a time. Everything needs to be kept in the fridge!

Every single bite was scrumptious, melt in your mouth, goodness! 

I'll be sharing this recipe and post at some of the parties listed in my sidebar! Before you click through ... take a look at my home page to see my other posts!

Have a great week ahead! Hope the sun shines in your neck of the woods!

Meat Mallet Memories!

The kitchen at our house belonged to my mother. It was her territory. She was quite the cook and wasn't afraid to tackle wild game. She'd make fantastic fried squirrel or rabbit and happily added milk gravy and homemade biscuits to the menu. She could stand for an hour or so and fry dozens of little blue gill fish ... after she had already made a giant bowl of potato salad and a big casserole of delicious baked beans. But ... when it came to cooking a raccoon or working at processing a deer ... she was absent! That was not her thing. That is when Daddy stepped in ... and most of that work took place in his shop in the garage! This old meat mallet was not something we had when I was a kid. I think he must have found it in a box of junk at a yard sale and took it home to put a handle on it. I do remember him working on some beef and venison with it, but I was an adult by then.

I think this is probably a 1940s or 1950s vintage of a perfect mallet! When Daddy died, I found it in his kitchen drawer (he had his own drawer where he kept things separated from Mother's kitchen gadgets)! I brought it home with intentions of just displaying it in my kitchen. Then ... I used it and I'll never used another mallet again. This thing is incredible! It is just the right weight and the handle is the perfect length for my swing! I'm pretty sure Daddy put the handle on it, because it is secured with a couple nails. Daddy was a carpenter and he used nails for everything!  I used it today to make Chicken Paillard and I'll tell you how easy that recipe is. It would have been too fancy for my mom and dad, but we have always loved it at my house!

I started with a boned, skinned chicken breast that probably weighed 12 to 14 ounces. That was plenty for two servings and some scraps to cook for the dog! I cut the breast into two large pieces and two smaller pieces, using a sharp fillet knife.  Then I placed a plastic bag over the meat ... and a double layer of paper towels over that. I pounded the meat until it was a little more than a quarter inch thick. Just took seconds with Daddy's mallet! I'm trying to use up all my frozen herbs, because the new herb plants are in the ground and I'll start snipping them soon. So, I sprinkled frozen thyme over the meat, added a good sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper ... and a sprinkle of smokey paprika. I stay away from salt and the addition of lemon juice to this dish adds plenty of the salty flavor later.  Use your fingers to push the herbs and spices into the meat.

Getting this beautiful browned surface is easy. Heat your skillet until it is hot, then add a Tablespoon of olive oil and two pats of butter. It will melt quickly ... so immediately add the chicken (herb side down) and turn the heat down to medium-high. Turn the meat in about two minutes. It should already be beautifully browned. Continue to brown the other side and when the meat is done (in another couple minutes) remove it to a platter. Make a sauce by adding 2 Tablespoons of butter to the pan drippings and 1/2 cup of chicken broth. Who has a 1/2 cup of chicken broth? I keep chicken base/bouillon powder for this purpose. Just mix up a little of it! While that sauce starts to simmer, squeeze the juice from half a lemon. Drizzle this over the chicken and use the remaining lemon wedges to add more flavor after the meat is plated.

The ingredients for my 
side dish of fried corn came from left overs and a couple ears of corn that needed to be used! I had homemade tacos this week and had some of the toppings left ... chopped onion, tomato and a little leaf lettuce! So, I cut the corn off the ear and fried all those ingredients in a little canola oil ... no butter because there was plenty in the chicken recipe! I did add a sprinkle of pink salt to this.

I'll be sharing this post with some of the parties I list on my sidebar! Before you click through to visit those parties, take a look at my home page and my other posts! Have a great week!

Tarragon Chicken in Browned Butter

I will be the first to admit that cooking for just one person isn't nearly as much fun as cooking for a family or a small crowd! But, I love food and I love to cook ... so I've slowly managed to learn how to prepare 
really good food ... for just one person! My husband always loved preparing what he called "one potters" and some of my best meals for one are done in one pot ... even the vegetables and wilted salads!

This recipe is pretty simple. Dredge a couple pieces of chicken in egg wash and seasoned flour. Melt a couple pats of butter and about a Tablespoon of oil in a heavy deep skillet. Brown the chicken, turning to brown all sides. Add a potato cut in chunks and your favorite vegetables.  Cover the pot and put it in the oven at 350 degrees. In about 15 minutes, I turn the chunks of potatoes and the chicken.

I sprinkle plenty of fresh tarragon all over the chicken and the vegetables. I usually add softer vegetables at this point ... like the chunks of yellow bell pepper shown in this picture ... because it takes less time for those to cook.  Put the lid back on and continue roasting for 20 to 30 minutes, until the chicken is fall off the bone tender!  When I remove the pot from the oven, I add a big handful of fresh spinach to the top of the ingredients and put the lid back on the pot. Let this sit for a couple minutes to wilt the spinach. I add a little bit of salt and freshly ground pepper to everything and drizzle balsamic glaze over the spinach.

To me, this is comfort food that is easy to prepare because the oven does most of the work. I often add frozen pearl onions to this dish. Sometimes I throw in frozen peas ... and when I'm not in the mood for potatoes, I add Brussels sprouts at the very beginning! 

These beautiful bright colors are enough to make you forget that you are eating alone! A one potter for one ... 

I'll be sharing this post with some of the parties listed in my sidebar. Make sure you stick around and look at some of my other posts, before you move on to party!

The GW Boutique!

My daughter and I haul tons of stuff to the Goodwill store and sometimes we just have to go in the front door and see what kind of junk they have ... that we need! I'm always looking for books for Miss Phoebe, but sometimes I find things that amaze me!  

My latest finds from the "G W Boutique" include a k-kup caddie, this cute pitcher and the two glass dishes.

This k-kup holder (on the left) is exactly like one I already have. I paid a big paper dollar for the one from GW and paid $18 for the one hanging (right) on my wall! 
I don't need these glass relish dishes, but I bought them anyway. I have a plan for them. I think I'll just stash them and have them available to give as a little gift with a jar of home canned pickles or relish.

That would make a good door prize for a women's club meeting.

Phoebe was with us at our Federated Women's Club meeting several months ago when we were planning our meetings for the upcoming year. She volunteered to host one of the meetings! She is just eight years old, but all the ladies thought that was wonderful! Maybe we'll give these away at Phoebe's meeting in June!

I don't plan to part with this "made in Spain" pitcher. I love the fact that it is pink. I have a set of solid pink dinnerware that I plan to use for my annual Cinco de Mayo supper!

Phoebe and I will make paper flowers and a paper banner to use as decorations! Cricut will help us out and we will use this pitcher filled with flowers as the central focus of the decorations!

Instead of using bright primary colors for our party, we'll use soft pastels!

You'll see that post in the near future.

Hope you enjoyed this post about one of my favorite pastimes ... junking!  I'll share it with a few of the parties listed in my sidebar, but make sure you hang around long enough to visit the rest of my posts! Just go to my home page.

I'm a Bean Snob!

You probably already know that I'm a coffee snob! When I find what I like ... I stick to it! I am smart enough to know, however, that the most expensive brands aren't necessarily the best brands!  Did you know that I am a pork & bean snob, too?  Probably not! I'm not going to tell you that I only buy that brand that has a dog in the tv commercial! I like cheap, plain old Showboat Pork & Beans! My mom used them. My husband loved them. I love them. Don't try to make me use any other brand. I've been bothered the last few years about the price of Showboats! You should also know that Showboats are made by the same Bush company that makes the beans that Jay and Duke talk about on television! But ... they don't taste the same as the fancy varieties! When did they get over a dollar a can? My problem ... I remember when you could get ten cans of Showboats for a dollar! That has changed!

So ... for a couple of years, I've been trying to find cheap pork & beans that taste like Showboats. No luck ... until now. I decided to try the Dakota's Pride pork & beans from Aldi's. Today I did the taste test. Right out of the can ... they look the same and taste almost the same ... very, very close. So close, that I mixed a can of each to make my baked beans and I couldn't tell the difference in the end product. For all I know, the Dakota's could be canned by Bush ... but it would, of course, be one of Jay's secrets and Duke wont tell us! 

I've made baked beans the same way for decades. With 2 cans of beans ... mix half a chopped onion and half a chopped green or red sweet bell pepper with a couple Tablespoons of catsup, 1 cup of brown sugar, a couple dashes of liquid smoke, about a Tablespoon of Kitchen Bouquet ... and salt and pepper to taste. I usually add a couple slices of bacon on top, so the drippings flavor the beans.  Bake them at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour.

You may be asking yourself why this crazy blogger cares so much about pork & beans ...  It is because we eat a lot of this ...

This is my brother and my nephew ... all dirty and wet from pulling nets from the Big Muddy River in Southern Illinois! They actually both clean up to be handsome men! This carp weighs over 100 pounds ... and he isn't the largest they've netted! A couple years ago, they had one that weighed in at 135 pounds! This guy equals a few family fish fries! Fish fries require baked beans ... sometimes potato salad ... other times fried potatoes ... but always baked beans. Mine will always be made with Showboats, but now I'll add Dakota's!  We are just country folk when it comes right down to it! The only thing better than the fish at a family fish fry ... is the family!

I'll be sharing this with a few of the parties listed in my sidebar! Make sure you stick around though ... and check out my other posts!

The Pinks!

This is the time of year that I really like to play! I have a very long list of important things that need to be done including power washing and staining two very large decks. I'll do that myself because I'm never satisfied when I hire others to do it. But, today, after a five-hour dance competition that good grandmas go to ... I decided to play a little!

I found this adorable little flower cart at a collectible shop. I paid a couple dollars for it and it was painted a dark color, which wouldn't do for me! So, out came the pink spray paint and a can of glitter paint to go over it! It didn't have an insert, but a lid from an old jar fit it perfectly! I found these tiny silks at Walmart and loved that butterflies were included.

While I had the paint out, I decided that this cute hanging basket needed a coat of pink! Not sure where I'm going to put it, but I love it!

These cast iron bunnies have been a dozen different colors in the past fifteen years! I use them outside and they always seem to add the right amount of cuteness to wherever  I place them!

I think this group of pinks would be cute clustered on my front porch! Yep, that's where I'm going to put them when I get everything cleaned up and stained!

Hope you've enjoyed my pink fix! I'll be sharing with some of the parties listed on my sidebar, so make sure you click through to see some of the other posts. I hope you'll visit my home page to take a look at my other posts! I have a little bit of Easter still up! Happy Springtime!

Galvanized Tiered Tray!

I'm afraid I've been coveting my neighbors' galvanized tiered trays! They are all over blogland and when I saw one at Sam's Club, I splurged and brought it home! It was a little bigger than I realized, so when I put it on my kitchen counter, I decided that it had to contain some practical things, as well as, some cute stylish things! Miss Phoebe comes to my house after school a couple days a week, so we have plenty of snacks handy and this makes a cute place to put some of those things.

I loved the fact that the trays were oval!

It sure didn't take too long to fill it up. Paper plates and napkins are really handy and the long red dishes are things I use frequently to hold snacks for Miss Phoebe. Who doesn't have bananas on the counter someplace?!

Blue Bunny might be my favorite addition to the tray! She holds sweetener!

Nuts are always on my grocery list! I've decided that I really like the kind of flavored whole cashews that Aldi's carries sometimes! Honey coated and the Black Pepper Lime are the best ones!

I wanted to have a couple conversation starters on display in my tray because my friends hover around this counter when I'm in the kitchen! In keeping with my recent new addition to spoolies, I've included some wooden mill machine bobbins. Aren't they neat? 

 I included woven coasters and a small candle holder shaped like a yard light. I found that at a collectible shop and loved it because of the chicken on the fence. Of course, I have a pig in my tray! It is a bag clip!

My cherry tree is in full bloom today, so I brought a few of the blossoms inside! Miss Phoebe has enjoyed picking flowers at my house since the time she was old enough to toddle over to the rose bed! She learned about "prickly thorn bushes" from one of the Back Yardigans television shows, so she always asked for help. As a result, I've acquired a collection of tiny vases, so her little hands could carry a bouquet home!

So, here's my practical galvanized tiered tray. I've collected several new galvanized pieces this spring and I'll show them in a post on another day! I may party with some of the links listed in my sidebar, so make sure you click through to see more creative things!  Happy Springtime!

Polka Dot Easter!

Happy Easter! 
This guy is my favorite from my batch of bunnies that have moved to my dining room table! Isn't he adorable?

I'm going to let my photos do most of the talking! Easter, at my house, is all done for Miss Phoebe!

I created a silk centerpiece in a ceramic watering can. The flowers are similar to the flowers in the Pfaltzgraff English Garden china pattern.

I love the polka dots on the rim of this china pattern. I layered my table and place settings with plenty of country garden fabrics. First ... the floral table cloth; then the blue dot runner; and finally ... the quilted bunny place mats. I wanted a cute informal look for my Easter dinner table.

The napkins and bunny napkin rings came from Pier 1. The soft cotton fabric in pastel checks is perfect for this table!

Cricut helped me by cutting several butterflies from dots and floral papers. I sprinkled those all over the table top for a little added interest. Miss Phoebe will collect those and play with them for days!

I scattered bunnies and eggs down the center of the table. It looks like the Easter Bunny left eggs in our butterfly garden!

I love polka dots! This table and our fireplace mantel in the dining room are dressed in dots!  We made a bunny banner this week and added lots of cute things to the mantel ... including spoolies and a polka dot wreath.

Look closely at the bunnies on the banner! They have real cotton tails!

I'll be sharing my post with some of the parties listed on my sidebar. Hope you'll visit the parties to see all the other cute things. First ... go to my home page and take a look at all my other Easter posts.

Happy Easter!

February's Family Sunday Dinner

Christmas 2020

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Grandma Debbie's Christmas 2018

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Autumn at Grandma Debbie's