Thursday, September 30, 2010

Yes We're Going to a Party, Party-Tablescape Thursday

     My sister turned 50 over the weekend! It was a great excuse to get the family together and celebrate. We decided to have appetizers and dessert at my house, we went to our local "fancy place" for dinner.

     My sis and I are extremely close and so different from each other. We often say that together, we make one great person. She is the laid back sister, I'm a control freak. She is high, high heels and I'm ballerina flats. She is animal print and I'm a turtleneck and jeans. She is also the one person that I know I can call anytime and just say, "I need you" and she wouldn't even ask why...she'd just get in the car and head my way. The past few months have been really hard for our family and if anything it has only brought us closer as sisters. I feel very blessed to have her in my life.

     I decided not to use all the typical black, over-the-hill items that one usually sees for a 50th. I went more with a girly-girl theme using pink and black. I found the paper napkins at our local party store and did the rest of the table around them.

     For appetizer plates I used a combination of plain black (Wal-Mart) and these darling pink trimmed plates that I won in a giveaway last year from Barbara @ Purple Goat Lady. The wine glasses are a mix of pink and clear with black stems. Both were garage sale finds. Dad found the silk black rose to add to the table.

Every diva needs a crown!

...and roses!

     The menu was very simple, we had a big dinner planned. A little cheese and fruit on my granite cheese board. See that cute little starfish knife, part of a recent giveaway win from Kat @ Low Tide High Style. I also got a beautiful sea urchin candle, a starfish handtowel and some yummy lemonade mix. What a fun package to open. Thanks Kat!

Crab bites and a Mexican dip finished out the appetizers.

Rubbing in the big "50"!

     My sister collects wine stoppers. We found one that matched the napkins. The black table runner and sparkly beads added to the "glam" of the table.

     We headed to the restaurant for dinner. I could only reach a few of our plates with my camera, but I thought I'd share them. My dad had scallops with the best risotto I've ever tasted. 

I opted for mussels...yummy!

My husband's beef strogonoff.

    Then it was back home for coffee and dessert. We had the Caramel Apple Strata that I posted the recipe for on Tuesday as well as the Flourless Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce that you see above. The recipe will be posted for Foodie Friday tomorrow. It was a fun evening. We all really missed my mom. It was our first happy event without her, but we are also very grateful to have each other.

Happy Birthday to my sweet sis! I hope you have many more!

I'm joining Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch
for Tablescape Thursday. Please stop by to say hello to her.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010



Last night I saw a shooting star
Fall from the sky, on a perfect night
Filled with wood smoke and crisp air
 A hint of coming winter on the breeze

God surprises us in many ways
A rainbow, when there is no rain
Brilliant sunsets at the end of a busy day
The tiny fingers of a new born babe

It is easy to forget the simple things
Our lives a sea of stress
An endless road of twists and turns
They tell us to “smell the roses” but who has time?

And yet, one instant of awareness
Can lift the pain of a troubled day
Offer hope of better times to come
Discover your moment and simply breathe…

Please visit our hostesses for the following Wednesday events.

Susan @ A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday
Heidi @ Heart and Home for Wednesday Gratitude
Kathleen @ Faded Charm for White Wednesday

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Caramel Apple Strata-So Good, Oh Yeah!

     Sunday my dad and I had a little family "party" for my sister's 50th birthday. We had appetizers and desserts at my house, and we went out for dinner. I'll share more of the party later this week. Today I'm going to show you one of the desserts I made.

     How many of you have recipes like this? I jotted this from a magazine (on a paper napkin) while at the hospital with my niece a few weeks ago. I don't know what magazine, so I can't credit the recipe. If anyone finds it, let me know.

Caramel Apple Strata

2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter cubed
1/4 cup corn syrup

3 large apples, peeled and chopped
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. apple pie spice
1 loaf day old cinnamon bread
1/2 cup chopped pecans
10 eggs
1 cup 2 percent milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla

In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened, and set aside. (I found 2 minutes was a bit too long, my sauce was almost candy-next time I will remove it from the heat a little sooner)

In a small bowl combine apples, lemon juice, sugar and apple pie spice.

In a greased 9 x 13 pan arrange 1/2 the bread slices.

Spoon the apple mixture on top of the
bread and drizzle with half of the caramel sauce.
Top with pecans.

Top with a second layer of bread.

     In large bowl combine eggs, milk, salt and vanilla. Pour over top of casserole, cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. Cover and refrigerate remaining caramel sauce. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking the next day. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving. Mine set out of the oven while we went to dinner. Heat remaining caramel sauce and drizzle over the strata. Cut into squares and serve alone or with a good quality vanilla ice cream.

My family loved this one!

This could also be served for brunch.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Easy Fall Floral-Met Monday

     A few weeks ago I found these twig and wire leaves at an area craft store. The store had one displayed with a couple of twig pumpkins sitting in it. I quickly grabbed the last two in the store, one for me and one to add to my sister's birthday presents.

     I decided to add some silk fall flowers and a funky wire Halloween spider to my sister's. I simply wired the items on, no glue gun because I want her to be able to remove the decorations easily if she wants to use it for a centerpiece.

I'm using mine with pumpkins on my library table.

I'm joining Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch for Met Monday.
My simple transformation is nothing compared to
the wonderful projects you will see there!

I'm also joining The Tablescaper for Seasonal Sunday


Friday, September 24, 2010

"Just Like Your Mama Made"

     One thing that I find difficult about sharing family recipes, is that they don't exist. While my dad is here, I'm trying to cook things for him that he might not fix for himself. He is cooking and of course he has access to every restaurant you can imagine, but there is something nice about old family comfort foods. One of my mom's go to recipes was Chicken Tetrazzini. Of course I don't have her "recipe" written down anywhere. This is one of those foods that we both tend to make using what we have on hand at the time. Yesterday as I prepared dinner, I took notes as I went along so that I could share it here. One thing to remember about this recipe is you can tweek it based on what you have on hand. Use turkey if you don't have chicken, use more or less veggies, you could change the pasta shape if get the idea.

Chicken Tetrazzini

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease 1 or 2 casserole dishes.

1 1/2 cups celery (chopped)
1/2 cup chopped green pepper (or any color)
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced (canned would be fine)
2 T. butter
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 can chicken broth
1 lb. thin spaghetti
3 cups cooked chicken (in bite size pieces)
3-4 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

This recipe will make one large 9 x 13 pan with a little left over or 2 smaller casseroles. It freezes beautifully.

     For my chicken I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I boiled mine, cooled and cut them into pieces. You could use any cooked chicken, even the meat from a roasted chicken from the store. When  the chicken is almost done, you can prepare the sauce.

Melt the butter in a skillet. Sauté celery,
peppers and mushrooms until wilted.

Stir in 2 cans cream of mushroom soup and set aside.

     In large pan cook the spaghetti according to directions. Add the can of chicken broth to the water in which you are cooking the pasta. When the pasta is done, it is time to assemble the casserole.

Fold the 3 cups of chicken into the
veggies and mushroom soup mixture.

Stir in 1 cup of the shredded cheese to the mixture and stir gently.

     Add the cooked spaghetti along with some of the pasta broth/water. I used all but 2 cups of the cooked pound of pasta and enough of the broth to create a slightly soupy mix. You don't want it to be too dry before baking as the pasta will swell as it bakes. Mine looked like the above picture, before baking.

     I decided to bake mine in 2 pans last night. The smaller pan went into the freezer for next month. Spoon mixture into prepared pan(s) and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or so, until cheese is melted and casserole is hot and bubbling around the edges.

Serve with a salad and hot bread...enjoy!

     My dad's comment last night after dinner was that it was "just like your mama made"! I really couldn't ask for a better compliment than that! I am joinging Michael @ Designs by Gollum today for Foodie Friday. It is the best place in all of Blogland to find wonderful recipes!