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Posts from — November 2014

Thanksgiving wrap up

dinner time

Since I failed to get this post up yesterday, I present it today as a rare Saturday post.


It was a glorious Thanksgiving at the Hopkins’ home. Dave’s mom is in from Illinois, my dad was here and we also invited Marissa’s finance, Jeff, and his parents, Dean and Amy. Dad and Jeff came over around 1:00 and we played cards…


… beer pong for Dave and the kids…


… plus bags/corn-hole…

puzzle workers

… an ongoing jigsaw puzzle that the grandparents were working on.

making gravy

… and, of course, cooking.

brined brid

There was a brined turkey on the outdoor grill…

perfect bird

… and a traditional stuffed and roasted turkey – fresh from the oven.

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November 29, 2014   3 Comments

Happy Thanksgiving

Wish you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving filled with good food, family and fun.

vintage Thanksgiving [

November 27, 2014   4 Comments

Barb’s Apple Tart with Jalapeno


The tart recipe I’m sharing with you today is Barb Fenzl’s recipe and it was the delectable dessert she brought to our Fall Picnic. 

green pumpkin soup bowl

Before I get to the recipe, which I will be making for Thanksgiving, I’ll share with you a few photos of my Thanksgiving table, which I set yesterday.

orange pumpkin soup bowl

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November 25, 2014   3 Comments

Thanksgiving side (or appetizer!)


Are you still looking for an outstanding Thanksgiving side dish? Maybe something to bring to a dinner you’ve been invited to?

Are you looking for something that everyone will proclaim was the best side dish of the big meal?

I have it for you!

fresh horseradish

Not only does this make a great green bean side dish  – but the fresh horseradish sauce is also fabulous served over blanched broccoli or asparagus …. and it makes an excellent light dip for crudites too!

Versatile!  That’s what it is… oh, so versatile and delicious.

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November 24, 2014   2 Comments

wrapped chicken & pear sandwiches

patio menu

The recipe for this second Fall Picnic sandwich is written differently than how I actually made it.

I’m giving you the recipe for the sandwich at its best. I changed it for the picnic by using chipotle mayonnaise and a cilantro dressing instead of plain mayonnaise and balsamic vinaigrette because I was already using balsamic vinegar on the first sandwich.

It is far better with the balsamic than it was with the cilantro.

wrapped sandwiches

For extra flair and fun, I wrapped and tied the center of the sandwiches with parchment and twine.

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November 21, 2014   No Comments

picnic sandwiches

sandwiches under the domes

The main course for the Fall Picnic was two types of sandwiches, the first, a pressed sandwich, the recipe is here today. The second, a chicken sandwich … I’ll post tomorrow.

pressed Italian sandwiches

Pressed Italian Sandwiches

  • 4 ciabatta rolls, cut in half horizontally
  • 1/2 cup black or green olive tapenade
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 thin slices Genoa salami
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto
  • 8 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 2 roasted red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, sliced
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves


Then spread the bottom half of each ciabatta roll with tapenade.


In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil and mustard and season with salt and pepper Drizzle the cut side of top half of each roll with the dressing.

meat layers

Arrange salami on top of the tapenade, followed by the prosciutto.

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November 20, 2014   1 Comment

hot toddy and mulled wine

bird view

The weather has finally cooled down – to the lovely point of chilly! Since our Fall Picnic was held outside, as the best picnics are, I needed my signature cocktails to be hot.

picnic chalkboard

I made hot toddies and mulled wine. The wine is spicy and tasty, but the hot toddy – the hot toddy is the BOMB!

mighty leaf ginger twist tea

You’ll need tea bags for the toddy. I use my favorite Ginger Twist tea from Mighty Leaf Tea because apple and ginger are the absolute loveliest combination. Any tea you like will work just fine, from Breakfast to Earl Grey and beyond.

Along with the drink recipes, allow me to show you the way I set up the buffet table.

plaid ice chest

Plaid was a big part of the theme, so this vintage Thermos brand oval cooler fit right in. I filled it with ice and placed bottles of “Butter” white wine inside and a couple of bottles of “Jam” red wine next to it. How perfect are Butter and Jam for a picnic?!?  By the way, the wines are made by Jam Cellars and I found them at Costco.

tiered server

In front of the cooler, sits a cute 3-step metal server filled with French radishes and salt, seedless grapes, and cute mini white pumpkins.

buffet tables

  • Next to the cooler is a cloth-lined wicker picnic basket filled with herb plants.
  • The cork-filled urn, with the candle in the middle, is my everyday centerpiece of this outdoor table, I left it since it fits right in.
  • A plaid tin filled with fresh flowers sits on an overturned vintage Pepsi crate along with my prized vintage plaid thermos. Mason jars were used to serve the drinks because my plaid mugs are packed away with the Christmas stuff.
  • Wicker domes cover the main course sandwiches.

The tall plaid thermos was just a prop and not used for the cocktails, instead, I had the wine in the smaller red thermos and the hot toddy in the green thermos.

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November 19, 2014   1 Comment

roasted mushroom soup

picnic basket

The only course I plated for the Fall Picnic was the soup, the rest of the meal was served buffet style. As a result, I didn’t get a decent photo of the soup. I’m going to try and make up for it with quite a few in-process cooking pictures and a bunch of decor photos.

gather props

The first thing I do when I set about to create a theme for a party is to hunt and gather from around my house for decorating items. For this dinner party, I was thinking – of picnic baskets, blankets, thermoses, wicker, plaid, pumpkins, and squash.


I had two main areas to decorate, the buffet table and the dinner table. We’ll get to the buffet table in a later post, today we’ll focus on the dinner table. I started with a plaid throw as the tablecloth and plaid salad plates.


The centerpiece was a rustic stand with fresh pumpkins and squash above and below, a garland of fall leaves, a couple of candles, and my Bundt Pan Pumpkin from last year’s craft class.


Add in the setting sun…


… and it’s easy to have a pretty table!

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November 18, 2014   1 Comment

“Autumn Picnic” Dinner Party

deer lake sign

Do you remember my posts about Deer Lake in Canada? They were from July 2013. Deer Lake is a gorgeous property owned by our friends, Paul and Kim Howard. Barb and Terry Fenzl, Dave and I, and the Howards had a wonderful week at the lake that summer. Afterward, we talked about having a reunion dinner in our backyard. We were supposed to do that in the fall of 2013, but it didn’t happen.


When Barb, Kim, and I were at Rancho la Puerta in September, we were talking and realized we still needed to have our reunion dinner. On Saturday night, we finally did!


I decided on a Fall Picnic theme and then I asked Kim to bring the appetizer and Barb to bring the dessert.

picnic chalkboard

All of the recipes will be posted in the coming week, with decorating ideas to boot.  Today, we’ll start with the salad.

apple and celery root salad with horseradish dressing

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November 17, 2014   2 Comments

Friday Funnies

Today, I start with my favorite Funny of the week and end with two that are very closely related and on the mark!




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November 14, 2014   2 Comments