Phoebe is a Star!

Phoebe started third grade at a new school. She is now in private school and is doing very well. She is bringing home A+ papers. I decided it was time to celebrate, so I whipped up a prime rib Sunday dinner!

Of course, I had to decorate a little, so added this banner to the dining room mantel.

In keeping with the star theme, I pulled the July 4th dinnerware back out! The dinnerware is Gibson and the table cloth is this year's stock from Kohl's.

The red chargers are surrounded with stars and I originally purchased them to use under clear plates. These flag dinner plates are extra large, so in order to see the stars on the charger, I placed the plates off center.

Phoebe had a few more stars at her place setting!

Back to the mantel before we move to the food! For 30 years, this has been a place to decorate with theme after theme! I offered to take the banner down so Phoebe could take it home, but she said she wanted it to stay right where it is! The mantel in the dining room is a very special place!

I placed a small Eastern Star planter on the mantel ... only because it is a star!

I picked this little pottery planter up at an antique store and don't know how old it is or much else about it.

I'm guessing they were popular gift items in the 1950s to 1960s.

In an attempt to merge two color themes, I placed a big star in the patriotic centerpiece!  Take a look at this centerpiece, though! This is actually a chicken feeder!  I just stuffed the tin feeder with oasis and stuck geraniums in it ... and normally I put a flameless candle in the jar.

Our menu was simple. I made prime rib and a couple salads ... the upper left is a Greek inspired salad with lots of mint, basil and oregano ... mac and cheese for Phoebe (who didn't eat any) and smashed potatoes topped with bacon and cheddar cheese. I had purple and pink potatoes from my CSA! Phoebe helped finish the jus for the prime rib by whisking the ingredients together in the roasting pan ... and she helped me finish this delicious butterfinger pie!

Phoebe helped crush the candy bars for the top ... using our antique meat mallet. She spread the whipped topping over the pie and 'dumped' the crushed candy on top!

Butter Finger Pie

12 mini Butter Finger candy bars
16 ounces Whipped Topping, thawed and divided 12 ounces for filling and 4 ounces for topping
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 small box instant vanilla pudding

Crush 8 of the candy bars and blend all the ingredients together reserving about 4 ounces of the topping for the top of the pie.  Pour into a graham cracker pie crust and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Top with reserved whipped topping and crush the other 4 candy bars to sprinkle on top.

It is best to refrigerate this pie overnight.  The candy bars turn to little pockets of syrup ... and that is really good.  You can make it with any kind of candy bar!

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Red Pepper Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I have had the most delicious sweet red peppers in my CSA bags almost all summer long! I've also had an abundance of tiny yellow tomatoes. This chicken breast recipe comes from the combination of the two! I simply cut a slit in the side of a big chicken breast half and stuffed it with slices of red pepper and mozzarella pearls. Nothing more.  I used picks to secure the closure and roasted the breast in the oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. This breast was about 8 ounces ... smaller ones would take less roasting time.  You can salt and pepper the breast, if you'd like.  I didn't.

Just look how that cheese oozes out! This breast would easily have made two servings. While roasting the chicken, I also roasted a few additional slices of pepper and topped the breast with a good scoop of my roasted tomatoes.  The flavors of the peppers and tomatoes are wonderful ... and really added a perfect sweetness to the menu. Speaking of sweetness ... I added roasted sweet potato to the plate and with a little fresh salad greens, had a great dinner menu.

I'll be sharing this post with a few blog parties listed on my sidebar. Make sure you click through to visit the other creative partiers!

Autumn in August

When I was cleaning up all the scrapbooking supplies Miss Phoebe and I had used recently ... and sorting things as I put them away ... I stopped and made something to perch in an autumn vignette. No, I didn't finish the cleaning project, but August in Southern Illinois has included some nice cool days and I'm in the mood for fall!

I used my Cricut to cut some pretty fall leaves and used embellishments from a kit.  I printed my poem on a textured heavy card stock page and just tore the edges. I used some pages from a stack of Impressionist paintings including Monet's Haystack ... to cut the leaves, so they had some additional meaning! Notice my lace edge in the lower left of this next collage.

I have acquired a large supply of vintage lace and ribbons ... from an old flower shop that closed down and sold their inventory years ago. I also used some ribbon recently purchased at the Dollar Tree in this piece ... and in a future post you'll see more of it used in a vignette.  Maybe over the fireplace! I haven't decided.

The embellishments across the bottom of this piece include several paper flowers, and fall die cuts. 

I'll be sharing this post with several of the blog parties listed on my sidebar ... so make sure you click through to see the other posts!  Happy Autumn in August!

More than Anything Else on Earth!

A recent Sunday dinner at Miss Phoebe's house was a special celebration! 
Got-cha Day is very important in our family ... because we are blessed with an adopted angel! When I arrived, Miss Phoebe was all decked out in "dress up" jewelry and a party dress ... and heels!

A couple years ago, Phoebe began choosing her own party theme for this special day! She spent lots of time with me this summer and we talked a lot about loving our family. I told her many times that I loved her "more than anything else on earth" and she'd ask ... "even more than my mom?" ... and I would explain that her mom was grown up now and didn't need as much love from me!

I was not surprised when she said she wanted to celebrate the EARTH for her special day ... and less surprised when she told me that I could bake a cake that looked like the world! She thinks I can cook and make anything!

Of course, I baked a big flat round cake (we know the earth isn't flat!) and found some cookie cutters for the continents! I baked sugar cookies tinted with a little green coloring. I took all the components to Phoebe's house, so she could help me finish it!

Those are fish shaped sprinkles in the ocean ... and not all the flags are in the right places ... One of my Canadian friends needs to send me a little flag from Canada!

Here's my cute homemade card for Phoebe ... We crafted all summer, using my Cricut and lots of embellishments!  Phoebe's gifts included a new globe and several books ... and a new bike! Her long legs and finally outgrown her first bike!

I'll share this post with a few of the parties listed in my side bar.  Make sure you click through to see some of the other posts!

Home Made Flat Bread and Tzatziki

Dill and Cucumbers are such wonderful flavors. Add a little plain yogurt and a smear of garlic paste and you have a wonderful, healthy dip.  Grill your own homemade flat bread and enjoy the addition of the wood smoke flavor!

To make the Tzatziki, peel and seed a large cucumber. Grate the cucumber and place it in a small sieve. Sprinkle a little salt on it to force some of the liquid out of it and after a few minutes, use your hand to squeeze out the liquid.

Add the cucumber to 2 cups of plain yogurt, add a couple Tablespoons of chopped fresh dill and a teaspoon of garlic paste. Refrigerate a couple of hours so the flavors can meld and serve with warm ... right off the grill ... flat bread.

Flat Bread Recipe

Warm 2/3 cup of water and 1/2 cup of milk to about 100 degrees. Add 2 teaspoons instant yeast, 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 Tablespoon of olive oil.  Let this sit until the yeast begins to bubble a little bit.  It just takes a few minutes.

I use my Kitchen Aid, but you can do all this by hand, if you'd like. Add 3 cups of flour to the liquid ingredients ... fold in a cup at a time.  Knead the dough for about 5 minutes.

Oil the ball of dough and place it in a warm place ... covered. In about an hour, it will have doubled in size. Punch the dough down ... cut it into a dozen portions ... and use you hands to push each portion into a flat piece of bread.

You can fry these on a dry griddle ... stove top ... or grill them outside ... or if you are fortunate enough to have an outdoor pizza oven ... bake them, turning them once.  They are delicious.

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Grilled Cabbage!

I have always loved cooked cabbage ...even when I was a little kid. Smelling it cooking from my German grandmother's house would lure me down the street for a visit and plate filled with her food! My parents built a house just a block away from their parents ... Mother's German parents lived on the north side of the street and Daddy's Scotch-Irish father lived on the south side!

Grandma Schuster cooked differently than my mom ... because my dad wasn't fond of "one-potters"! So, for that cabbage cooked with pork ribs or a ham bone, I had to go down the street! My husband, however, loved "one-potters" and cooked cabbage (in a variety of ways) was one of his favorites!  So, when it became so popular to grill  cabbage, I jumped on that bandwagon!

It is so easy to do ... just cut the cabbage in half to one inch "steaks" ... drizzle them with your favorite olive oil ... and grill each side. The firmer the cabbage, the longer it takes ... but my cabbage was a small head of Savoy (from the CSA) and it took less than five minutes for both sides.

I also grilled a small egg shaped egg plant ... the cute little purple striped variety. I drizzled it with lemon flavored olive oil ... and this particular variety doesn't soak up as much of the oil, so I got pretty grill marks!

With all that healthy food, I added my "once a month" baked potato to the menu and ... as always ... grilled the steaks medium rare!

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Garlic Scapes at the Wine Party!

My daughter had a wine party for her girlfriends one weekend when husband was gone ... and I was invited! We all took some food and because I knew nobody would know what garlic scapes are ... I happily stuck a couple in my basket! Of course, I had used some to flavor my food.

I mixed cooked salad size shrimp with lots of fresh garden veges that I had received in my CSA bag that week ... chopped radishes, carrots, peppers and I added crunchy celery, too.  The pretty leaves are Napa cabbage leaves.

I was given a recipe for for peanut sauces 30 years ago from a friend who grew up in Nepal. It is too easy!  Mix 1 cup of creamy peanut butter with 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce, 1 teaspoon crush garlic, 1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce and 1 Tablespoon of honey.  I like for the sauce to be slightly thick, but you can thin it with a little peanut oil or canola oil. Drizzle as much as you like over the contents of the wrap and enjoy!

We call "Bang Bang Chicken" ... "Pow Pow Chicken"!  I use the same simple recipe for shrimp or chicken.  I grill the meat, then toss it in a sauce made with 1 cup of Mayonnaise, 1/4 cup of Asian Chili Sauce, 1 teaspoon garlic paste and a couple drops of Siracha.

The more meat you have, the more sauce you'll need and the recipe is easy enough to expand.  I garnished this dish with chopped greens, yellow peppers and sweet onions.  

I'll probably share this with a couple parties listed in my sidebar, so make sure you click through!

Creamy Black Bean Soup

I don't like beans! If you follow my blog, you know that already! It isn't a totally true statement ... I like baked beans loaded with onions, green peppers and brown sugar .... I love big broad butter beans ... I love black eyed peas ... and I can tolerate little green lima beans! Don't try to feed me any other kind!

So ... why did I make black bean soup?  Because I had a bag of black beans and some fresh cilantro ... and I was craving that flavor ... on one of those unseasonably cool days a couple weeks ago!

I ate one bowl of it and froze the rest in single size portions. It might still be in the freezer this time next year!

I cooked the black beans all night on low in the crockpot.  I cooked a pound of beans in six cups of chicken stock and by the time they were done, there was very little liquid left, but that is what I wanted.

I seasoned the beans with chopped onion and green bell pepper ... 1 Tablespoon of Cumin, 1 Tablespoon of Chipotle pepper and about 1/4 cup of chopped Cilantro.  I didn't add salt, because I was satisfied that the chicken stock had enough.

I used my immersion blender stick to puree the beans, added 2 cups of half and half and 1 cup of sour cream.

How simple is that?  The soup does freeze well ... I've made it for years because other people like it!  Thaw it overnight in the fridge and cream it a little more with milk or half and half.

I garnished mine with additional fresh Cilantro, sour cream and crushed tortilla chips.  Chunks of avocado are good, too!

I'll probably share this with a few of the blog parties listed in my sidebar, so make sure you click through to visit!

Halloweens Past!

Welcome to Halloweens Past! 
I gave up on traditional Halloween  colors years ago ... because I just love being different!  Finally, retailers decided purple and green could be added to the orange and black themes we had seen for years.  When you look at vintage Halloween cards, you'll find all kinds of color, so I typically choose a couple cards I love and create themes using those colors!   The cute purple witch was my inspiration for a tablescape in the sunroom one year, but these 
cards carry similar color schemes.


Then came blue ... another year.  I had first found this transfer plate in some graphic files I had and it made me think that metallic blue would be fun!  Low and behold ... Kohl's had some metallic blue flameless candles that year ... and Walmart was loaded with plastic pumpkins in blue!  Blue ... was Miss Phoebe's favorite color that year ... 
so the sunroom theme was blue!

Now I don't want you to think I don't do anything traditional ... I do and my ladies' luncheon in 2009 was all tradition!   Look how cute the tablescape was.

Sometimes ... traditional takes a different spin for me and polka dots donned the dining room in 2010!  

For a couple years ... I scouted "after" Halloween sales and bought all the vintage looking decorations I could find.  I refused to pay original prices for those things, and eventually I had enough to do something dramatic!  Take a look at this fantastic theme!

The front porch and yard are special places for us at Halloween because we have 400 
little goblins who come visit for the ten seconds it takes to load up on candy!

 My Cricut machine gets a work out in the fall ... You probably noticed the framed items in the Blue Tablescape ... and here are a couple more!  I made this one the year Phoebe dressed like a Mermaid!

Even if nothing else gets decorated, 
the fireplace mantel is usually appropriately dressed for the holiday!

Hope you've enjoyed this giant Halloween post!  I'll be sharing with the Fabulous Fall Party, so make sure you click through to see the other posts!

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