Monday, December 7, 2009

A Christmas Dinner Party

It doesn't get any better than Susan's Between Naps on the Porch in December! Check her out!I love having my two sets of children... the bigs and the babes...because I still get to make things wonderful for the babes during the holidays with all of our traditions. However, I just love having a grown up daughter to make things special for too! Her kind of special does not require candy sprinkles on houses or cookie baking. For Liza, it was hosting an dinner party for her and her husband and her friends from work! I just happen to love every one of them, so the treat was mine!
On top of my china cabinet there is a little lit menagerie of trees and I thought that it would be to carry the trees over to our tablescape with seven other little trees and, as always, lots of candles!
After Thanksgiving Dinner this year, we decided that our Christmas Village china plates were too small. This wasn't really a fine china menu anyway. So, I kept things simple with my favorite sage green plates, red chargers and a candycane hanging from each goblet.
The menu, kept simple, was delectable!
Fresh Cranberry Salsa and Crackers
Spinach Salad with Craisins, Sunflower Seeds, Mandarin Oranges & Cheeses
tossed in Poppyseed Dressing
Sun-dried Tomato Cream Sauce & Chicken Ravioli
Buttery Green Beans
Fresh out of the oven Rolls
Peppermint & Brownie Trifle
Pomegranate 7-up on Sonic Ice, the preferred drink of the season in our home
(all recipes can be found here on this blog)
Christmas music in the background. A fresh snowstorm just before the party...special ordered, naturally. (wink-wink!)

Of course, my favorite part of any dinner party is the table talk. For this meal, I made a fun list of questions that brought about many fond memories for us all and, surprisingly, some very loud laughter!

Table Talk Questions
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
What was one tradition from your childhood that you plan on carrying on through generations?
Was there a must have in your stocking each year?
Did you have any special traditions about opening the gifts?
How old were you when you knew the “truth” about the Magic of Christmas? How did you find out?
If money were no object, name three things on your wish list this year?
Is there a gift that you’ve wanted for a long time but never received?
Are you more of a Grinch/Scrooge or Griswold?
What’s your favorite Christmas song?
Share a “feel good moment” from one of your Christmas’.
Do you come from a Conservative during the holidays Christmas family or an over the top Christmas family?
What’s your favorite Christmas movie? Why?
Are you a Last minute shopper or ready months before?
What’s the most special gift you’ve ever given?
If you were to write a brag letter for the past year, what would you include in it?
When you hear the song “Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer”, what memory comes to mind?
After dessert, we moved to the living room for games and laughter and fun! Again, I do love having a grown-up daughter! One of the best parts of a grown-up married daughter is that she's gracious and appreciative... when the party was over, she and her sweet hubby did the dishes!I can hardly wait for the next the next time!

Brownies and Peppermint Trifle

I created this recipe last night and it was a huge hit at our Christmas party. It sounds like quite the task. BUT... Actually, this whole thing can be prepared while the brownies bake and then the whole thing took about five minutes to "concoct". It sounds strange. BUT. It's very pretty, it looks like you spent hours on it and oh sooooooooo nummy!

Here's what you'll need:
1 box brownie mix. (I used Pillsbury Dark Fudge because I knew I'd share this recipe and won't share the brownie recipe.) Besides that, box brownies are more like Lo-Cal brownies compared to mine. We'd have had heart attacks after all the cream in the main dish and then cream cheese in my own brownies.)

Bake brownies as directed. Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting. Cut into 1 inch squares.

2 cups cream cheese chocolate frosting. (I keep this frosting made and ready in the refrigerator all the time for brownies and cakes.)

4 cups powdered sugar
8 OZ. cream cheese
1/2 cup softened butter

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa

NEXT, while the brownies are baking:

1 large package instant vanilla pudding
1 regular size Cool Whip
1 tsp. peppermint flavoring
RED food coloring

Mix pudding as directed on the box. Add peppermint flavoring and red food coloring. Whip well. Gently fold in the Cool Whip. Set aside.

1 bag Candy Cane flavored Hershey's Kisses

Unwrap the kisses and place in a double boiler. (or place in a bowl and place it in boiling water.) Stir until softened and melted.

Layer in Trifle Dish as follows:

An inch of peppermint mixture. A layer of brownies completely covering the peppermint mixdrizzle some of the melted Kisses onto the peppermint layerRepeat two more times, noting that the last drizzle of Kisses will set up and harden, giving this an extra crunch when served. Top with crushed candycane if desired. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Festive Spinach Salad

This has to be my favorite salad at any time of the year, but it's especially fun at Christmastime because it's so pretty to look at! Every time I serve it, Doug says, "You can make this salad every day!"

Fresh spinach leaves, torn into bite-sizes
Fresh romaine lettuce, if desired
Can of Mandarin Oranges, drained and sliced in half
about 1/2 cup of salted roasted sunflower seeds (not in the shell) or pinenuts
about 1/2 cup of shredded fresh Romano cheese shredded
about 1/2 cup of Mozzarella Cheese, shredded or thin slices of String cheese (dime size discs)
about 1/2 cup Craisins

Note: My "about 1/2 cups" are very generous! Pour Brianna's Poppy Seed Dressing over salad just before serving and toss well. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

7 layer Chicken Casserole

This is a great meal to serve on a night that you don't have lots of time to spend in the kitchen. Ten minutes in prep time and your out of the kitchen while it bakes! Very tasty!

Layer 1: Pour half a bag of your favorite tortilla chips (or Fritos) into a greased 9x13" pan.
Layer 2: Spread about 3 cups of cooked, chopped chicken over the chips.
Layer 3: Pour one can of chicken and Wild Rice soup over that.
Layer 4: Pour one can of Mexcian spiced tomatoes over the soup.
Layer 5: Add 2 cups of shredded cheese. (I use more.)
Layer 6: Cover with the rest of the chips.
Layer 7: Add two more cups of shredded cheese on top of this.

Cover with foil, that has been sprayed with Pam and bake for 40 minutes at 350. Serve with salsa, sour cream and guacamole, if desired. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Here's a tried and true favorite in our neighborhood! It's simple to make but read through the directions before you start, so you don't jump the gun, like I did the first time I made it. It's simple and sure to become a favorite at your house too!

1 pkg. yellow cake mix (2 layer size)
1 large can of pumpkin
1 can of evaporated milk
3 eggs
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chopped nuts

Combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Pour into a well-greased 9x13 inch pan. Sprinkle about a cup of the cake mix over the top and very gently, fold the cake mix into the pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle the rest of the cake mix on top of that and pat down with a fork or big spoon. Drizzle the melted butter over top and bake for about 1 hour at 350. Let cool and serve with plenty of whipped cream. Enjoy!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Caramel Fruit Dip

This fruit dip is absolutely sinful! You'll love it!

1 8-oz. package cream cheese (light cream cheese works)
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
Toffee bits

Allow cream cheese to reach room temperature or seften for a few seconds in the microwave. Using an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla. Just before you serve, stir in about 1/2 a bag of toffee bits. Serve with fresh apples, bananas and strawberries. MMMM! Enjoy! (I should add... just double the batch or you'll end up making it twice!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

a BeWitChiNg DiNneR ParTy

Last weekend, another siblings dinner. This time, it was all about spells and potions. I'd created a little Potion Recipe book a few weeks ago and happened onto these adorable glittery witches boots, which in my opinion were the cutest Halloween decoration I'd ever seen. From there, my every other thought for days was this tablescape...It was so fun to create!

I gathered lots of containers and filled them with everything from eyeballs ( foil-wrapped chocolate peanutbutter balls) to the bubbling witches brew (purple colored water with dry ice bubbling). Lots of candles and a few spiders here and there... Voila! My favorite tablescape yet!

Here's a close-up of the book. I picked up an old textbook at the thrift shop, painted it orange with craft paint, stamped the title on the front cover and spine of the book, sprayed it with glitter spray paint and tied an old black ribbon on for fun. Love it!

Aren't these boots fabulous!? The neon green and deep purple velvet flowers are amazing. We did remove the boots from the table during dinner so that we could visit. I replaced the boots with a large "concoction" vessel during the meal.

This siblings dinner menu was kept sweet and simple:

Soy and Sesame Cream Cheese Dip on Sliced Asian Pears
Fresh Jalapeno Poppers
Homemade Sweet Pickles and Cheese
Baked Potato Soup
Chicken Fajita Soup
Homemade Whole Wheat Bread
Apple Cobbler Ala mode

These tiny ghost bags were our party favors, filled with Fall Hershey's Kisses, Caramels and Tootsie Rolls. Did you know that Tootsie Rolls were the first wrapped candy ever sold in America? That's one of the Halloween Trivial facts that shared at dinners.

Our Spooky Tabletalk questions:

What keeps your awakes in the middle of the night?
What would people be "surprised" to know about you?
What is the best prank you’ve ever pulled?
What’s the best prank anyone ever pulled on you?
What’s the most “real” frightened you’ve ever been?
What’s the most “fun” frightened you’ve ever been?
Since Halloween costumes frequently require make-up, what’s your best beauty tip?
Share a specific memory of Trick or Treating?
What creepy thing scares you the most…mice, spiders, bats or something us? Share an experience of one of these.
What was your favorite Halloween costume ever?
What’s your favorite fall food? How do you prepare it?
Were you a candy hoarder or do you eat it all up on Halloween night?
How old you do you think is too old for Trick or Treating?
Speaking of ghosts, is there an ancestor that you’ve never met but feel a connection to?
What scents remind you of fall?
Do you have any phobias?
Speaking of potions, what’s your favorite home remedy?
On your worst day, are you more of a witch, a vampire, a ghost?
If you could have a bottomless bucket of Halloween Treats, what are three things you’d have in it?
What’s your favorite “scary” movie?
Pick a costume and tell us why:
Male: Michael Jackson in Thriller OR Indiana Jones OR a Mad Scientist OR Barney
Female: Scarlett O’Hara OR Dolly Parton OR Amelia Earhart or A Witch
If you could “wiggle your nose” and have an instant “material” wish, what would it be?
What’s your favorite thing about Halloween? Your least?
If you could cast a spell to change one thing about you, what would it be?

Last year for Christmas, my married daughters bought me a couple of sets of Corelle Plain White dishes because they are so versatile and durable! Love them! The girls and the dishes!

The more candles, the better the effect! One of my favorite homemaking tips...
Candles are to be burned, not dusted!

These adorable little fingertowels from Dollar Tree made the cutest napkins ever!

I'll post a few of our weekend recipes in a separate entry but I hope you enjoyed this fun and bewitching tablescape! Thanks Susan, for hosting another fabulous Tablescape Thursday!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sesame and Soy Cream Cheese Spread

Seriously. This just sounds wrong!! Marilyn and I ordered this appetizer at a funky restaurant in the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake City and we were c-r-r-r-a-a-a-z-z-z-y-y-y over it. It could be served with crackers or spread on whole wheat bread or with apples as a dip. "The Dodo" served it with Asian pears and celery sticks. The pears were wonderful! And this has to be the most simple appetizer ever!

1 ~ 8 ounce brick of cream cheese
Kikkoman Soy Sauce
Sesame Seeds (in the photo, black sesame seeds were used for the Halloween effect. In the restaurant, regular sesame seeds were used. I love the look of the black seeds!)

Place the cream cheese in a bowl and cover with soy sauce. Marinate for 4-6 hours, turning the cream cheese, if necessary. Remove from soy sauce and place in a plate of sesame seeds, covering completely. Serve with slices of Asian pears! Enjoy!

Fruity Apple Salad

My good friend, Connie, who is a fabulous cook brought this fruity salad over for dinner on Sunday and it was the talk of the meal! This is one of those recipes that you don't talk about the ingredients... you just serve and watch everyone enjoy. Eggs and vinegar in fruit salad?? Whodathunkit?? Honestly, I'll never make a Waldorf Salad again now that I've had this one!

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon flour
2/3 cup water
1 egg lightly beaten
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon butter
3 medium apples, diced
2 medium firm bananas sliced
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup red grapes
1/2 cup fresh or canned pinapple tidbits
1/2 cup chopped cashews

In a saucepan, combine sugars, flour and water until blended. Bring to a boil over medium heat, cook for two minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir a small amount (2 - 3 tablespoons (one at a time) into egg; return to heat, add egg. Cook and stir mixture until it reaches 160 degrees or until mixture coats the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat, stir in butter and vinegar. Cool completely and then combine with fruit and nuts. Chill and serve. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Crunchy Corn Salad

My fun friend, Julie, brought this nummy dish to a Relief Society Social and I fell in love! Very simple to make, super quick and so so tasty! It sounds a bit different and I'd have probably never tried it had I not tasted it before reading the recipe! It's a big hit at our house and the babes haven't a clue that they're eating peppers and onions! Take it to your next potluck, you'll be asked for the recipe for certain! I'm thinking you could add some cooked ground beef and make a total meal of it!

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup chopped green or red pepper
1 cup red onion, chopped
2 cans drained corn
2 cans mexicorn, drained
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 bag chili-cheese Fritos - crushed to bits

Mix all except for the Fritos and chill. Just before serving, add the fritos and mix well. Enjoy

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fried Ice Cream that's not Fried!

I've never been a fried ice cream fan, but this no-fry recipe, shared by my friend, Jen, is amazing! I almost didn't make it but, I was out of an ingredient for the "Plan A" dessert and tried it while in a pinch. This will change ice cream forever in the Corbridge home! This recipe could not be any more simple and oh, my heck! You must try it! Honestly, don't let the reputation frighten you away because, start to finish, this took less than fifteen minutes to prepare and was almost as simple as whipping up a batch of Rice Krispie treats with much easier clean-up!

2 1/2 generous cups crushed corn flakes (measurements are after they are crushed)
1/2 cup crushed pecans
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
Vanilla ice cream

Remove ice cream from the freezer as you begin to soften it just a bit. Melt the butter in a large bowl in your microwave. Add the brown sugar and stir until the sugar is almost a "syrup". Add pecans, crushed cornflakes and coconut. Stir and mix well, coating all of the crunchy additions with the "syrup". Spread half of the crunchy mix to cover the bottom of a 9x13" pan. Then, slice or scoop your slightly softened icecream, placing it in the pan on top of the crunchy layer. Let the icecream soften enough in the pan to pat it together and make it one solid layer. (I did the layer about 1 1/2" thick.) Top with the remaining crunchy mix. Cover with saran wrap and refreeze. Serve it with a drizzle of chocolate syrup, or honey, or both, or caramel or strawberry ice cream syrup or just plain! OH MY! Enjoy!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Quick and Easy Spanish Rice

This is a great rice that's tastier than any packaged Spanish Rice, almost as simple and much less expensive than a little box that has two servings in it!

3 cups rice
6 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1 tbs[. Taco seasoning
1 1/2 cups salsa
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. pepper

Combine all ingredients in a 9x13" pan and cover tightly. Bake for one hour at 375. Season to taste, fluff and serve. You may also top with shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream and a little more salsa just before serving. Enjoy!

Heart Attack Bars

Liza did a Toyota kick when we arrived at her Bunco and her friend Taryl walked in with these bar cookies. Oh my! When you look at the ingredients, you'll see why they are called Heart Attack Bars, but if you made them for a group to share, and showed some self-control, and didn't eat the whole pan, they could just be semi-painless and as Taryl put it, "nummy deliciousness"! Who am I kidding? You'll want to eat the whole pan! Seriously, they're killer cookies! Taryl sent me the recipe this morning and made my day! A must try recipe!

1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c old-fashion oats
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/8 c butter, melted
14 oz (1 bag) Caramels
1/3 c heavy whipping cream
12 oz (1 bag) milk choc chips (i only use half a bag)

In a large bowl combine first 6 ingredients. (the mix)-melt caramels and cream in sauce pan over low heat.-Press 1/2-3/4 of mix into bottom of 9x13 pan*. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.-sprinkle choc chips over baked mix and top with melted caramel mix.-sprinkle remaining oat mix on top*Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Cool completely.***Best if made day before*** Enjoy!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Peppers & Cream Dip

Oh my goodness! My sister-in-law, Barbie, a master-gardener, grows fifty varieties of peppers every summer. She should write a pepper cook-book because she puts peppers in recipes that no one would ever think of and they are always great! This is one of my favorite appetizers ever and oh, so simple! I've made it twice now and tripled the recipe both times. (It's fall and I have 20 pepper bountiful plants myself!) You'll be wishing you'd made more even at that! The photo was taken as an afterthought but everyone at my dinner party last night thought that this photo was telling... it's gone before you can grab the camera! I decided after dinner last night that next time I try this recipe, I'm going to try ...what else... cream cheese for a different flavor and texture. I've got the peppers, so why not!?

8 peppers, red peppers make it very pretty, as well as tasty
2/3 cups heavy cream
4 tbsp. fresh grated Parmesan (we used Romano)

Place cleaned, seeded peppers, cut in half, on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour at 425. After the peppers are roasted, place them in the blender with the cream and cheese. Blend until completely pureed. Pour into a baking dish and bake until bubbly. Serve hot on fresh bread or with chips. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Here's my own variation on a recipe I found on the internet and then served at my Back to School Brunch two weeks ago. Very simple and easy meal and it made a mean dinner too!

4-6 cups frozen shredded hash browns
2 c. shredded Cheddar or Colby-Jack cheese
2 tbsp. chopped onion
1 lb. mild sausage
4 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
6 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 c. milk
1 tsp. dry mustard

Brown and drain sausage. Set aside. Thaw potatoes and place 1/2 in bottom of 9x13 inch casserole (or 3 broken slices of bread may be substituted.) Add 1/2 of cheese and 1/2 of sausage and the mushrooms and repeat. Beat eggs, salt, pepper, chopped onions, mustard and milk. Pour liquid over top of potatoes and cheese. Cover and leave in refrigerator overnight. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let set for about ten minutes before serving. enjoy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to School Brunch ~ Mom's only!

It's Thursday and it's about time for me to join in Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for a Tablescape Thursday! Our entertaining for the month of August was all done outside by the pool! I'm excited to start thinking about the holidays and moving the fun inside! For other fabulous tablescapes, check out Susan's blog every Thursday!

Just for the fun of it, I invited a few friends who's kiddos had gone off to school last week to celebrate our "freedom". I've cried every morning all week watching my son go off to Middle School but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I do love the freedom that comes to moms when school begins! In honor of that freedom, I hosted a little brunch!

The menu:
Hashbrown and Sausage Casserole
Cinnamon Rolls
Fresh Fruit
Yogurt Dip
Apple Juice

The table was pulled together from things that I had around the house. I am a paper napkin lover because they come in so many fun colors, so nothing fancy here. After brunch, we clear the table and played cards. Of course, as will all dinners that I host, the little red bowl with paper in it was filled with questions for some fun table talk! Enjoy a little virtual tour of our brunch.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fresh unbaked Peach Pie

Thirty years ago, this month, an amazing woman, Elaine Nielson brought me dinner one evening and included in the meal was this fresh peach pie. Seriously, thirty years later, I remember that moment as one of the best food moments in my lifetime. I've never tasted anything that was as heavenly as this dessert and to this day, all desserts, in my home, are compared to this one! Here's the recipe on the original card that Elaine typed and gave me! (Click on it to enlarge.)

A few comments about making the pie.
  • Mix the Eagle Brand and lemon juice first so that you can pour it directly over the peaches before they start to turn color. (The photo of the pie I made this morning is deceiving. I used Eagle Brand from my food storage and it's a year old, which turned it a bit darker than normal.
  • I use about 7-8 good size peaches and make it a very tall pie!
  • If you hate peeling peaches, a great tip that I learned in canning is to drop a peach into a pot of boiling water for a few seconds. Then remove the peach and drop it into cold water. Slice the peach in half and the skin will just slip right off the peach. Just don't leave in the hot water too long and cook the peach.
  • I usually serve the slice of pie with more cookie crumbs sprinkled on top! To die for, I promise!
  • Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lemon Layered Dessert!

We had this delicious dessert at my nephew's missionary homecoming last week! I've been craving more ever since! Thankfully, his aunt, who'd made it, knew the recipe by heart and was willing to share! It's ever so good! OH MY!

1 cup oats

1 cup flour

1/2 cup melted butter

Mix and pat into 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Let cool.

Mix in a separate bowl:

1 8 0z. cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup Cool Whip

Spread over crust layer.

Mix 4 small packages of instant lemon pudding (or any flavor you'd like, Jodie recommended chocolate or lemon) with 4 1/2 cups milk. Spread this layer next and then top with a layer of coolwhip. Chill and serve. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bar Cookies

I happened onto this recipe a few weeks ago and could hardly wait to make them! I waited until we went to the ranch for our little vacation and shared them with everyone. It was agreed that these were the best bar cookies we'd tasted in a long time! The sweet and salty taste really adds to the recipe! I may never make a regular chocolate chip cookie again!

2 cups all purpose flour
1-teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks of butter, softened
1-cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 – 12 ounce bag milk chocolate chips
1 ½ cups mini pretzels, crushed

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat the butter with both sugars at medium speed for about 1 minute. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in the chips and pretzels.Spread the batter in the pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. The center will still be a little gooey. Cool completely. Cut into squares and serve. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dorito Casserole

Another quickie Mexican casserole, this one from Carol's kitchen. I keep browned ground beef with chopped onions and garlic in my freezer all the time, so this is a dinner in minutes but it tastes like you've been slaving away! I can't wait to try this one with shredded chicken too!

1 bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos (My friend Erin has tried it with Fritos too!)
1 16-oz. Sour Cream
1 small jar of Salsa (about 2 cups)
Ground beef, browned, as much as desired
Shredded Cheese (Colby-Jack or Cheddar are great!)

Cut a tiny slit in the bag of chips to let the air out of it. Lay the chip bag on the counter and crush the chips completely into tiny pieces. Pour half the bag of chips into the bottom of a 9x13" baking pan. Next, layer the ground beef on the chips. Mix the salsa and sour cream and then, cover the meat with this mixture. (Next time I make it, I mix in a can of black beans and some frozen corn.) Cover with shredded cheese. Pour the remaining half of the bag of chips over the casserole and bake at 350 until it is heated through (about 20 minutes). Enjoy!

"anything goes" 90 second dessert

Carol turned us on to this simple and fun treat! These individual desserts are a huge hit because they're so fun and so easy! The ingredients are "anything goes"! We've had them with bottled sliced peaches, coconut, heath toffee bits, chocolate chips, fresh cherries chopped, broken up candy bars, cherry pie filling and so on. I can't wait to have a little gathering to let everyone make their own.

You will need:

  • Cake mix, any flavor or flavors you choose
  • Water
  • Toppings such as chocolate chips, M&Ms, Reeses pieces, Toffee Bits, Coconut, nuts, fruit (bottled, canned or fresh), cake sprinkles, mini-marshmallows, syrups, you get the idea...
  • measuring cups (1/2 cup and 1/3 cup)

In regular cereal size bowl, mix 1/2 cup dry cake mix and 1/3 cup of water. Stir with a fork until it's no longer lumpy. Add any toppings you desire. Microwave cook for 90 seconds. (My microwave takes 100 seconds for the fruity ones.) Eat! You can top the cake with whipped cream or icecream or, again, anything goes! Enjoy!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Best Sloppy Joes in Town

For my entire life, I've thought that my Aunt Loraine made the best Sloppy Joes in the world and none have ever matched up to hers. However...Carol made "Sloppies", as we call them, last week for one of our LOST marathons and they were so good that I couldn't wait to make them again at home! These are the best! Very simple, very very tasty! It's one of those "to taste" recipes, but you'll get the idea. (Note: the photo is from Taste of Home, not the recipe.)

4-5 pounds of ground beef, browned with onions (add peppers, too, if you like) (I used 4#)

3 cans of Chicken Gumbo Soup

1-2 Tbsp. Mustard (I used 2)

1/2 - 1 cup brown sugar (I used a whole cup)

1 1/2 cups ketchup

Brown the beef. Add the rest. Cook down until thickened. Or Brown the beef and add all ingredients in the crock pot. Simmer on low until serving. Most excellent and it makes a ton! Enjoy!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Heritage Siblings Dinner

Thursday is the day to visit one of my favorite places in the cyber-world, Susan's blog full of luscious tablescapes and decorating ideas!

This week, I'm partying with the best of them, sharing my own tablescape and celebrating America's freedom and our family's heritage! I'd been planning this tablescape since our last siblings dinner in April!

Our quarterly Siblings Dinner was fantastic. Spending time with Doug's brothers and sisters and their spouses is the best!

I was quite pleased with the meal and I fell in love with the tablescape. So much that I'm keeping the table setting until the fourth of July! Our theme for the evening was "Heritage", so the patriotic table was perfect to go along.

The menu:

Sun-dried Tomato Pasta with Roasted Chicken
Linda's Garlic Bread
Garden Fresh Peas
Caesar's Salad
Fruit Platter
Rhubarb Cake

The little party favors/placecards, filled with Hershey's Kisses, were quick and easy to make and were just another little thing to make the table pop! And yes, I used my everyday dishes, plain white Corelleware for this setting. Every home needs a good set of plain white dishes!

Our table talk was the highlight of the night for me. The theme was heritage and all of the questions brought fascinating conversation. We always learn so much about each other!

My sister-in-law shared an intriguing story from her family about her great grandfather, who'd purchased a ticket to travel to America on the Titanic. His sister convinced him to stay longer, so he never boarded the ship. He was listed among those lost at sea, but was safe at home with family. There were many stories to be told and each one was as intriguing as the next.

Heritage Table Talk Questions:

  • Use a list of five words to describe your own heritage.

  • How has your heritage reflected the way that you were raised and the way you are raising your children?

  • What’s the best thing that you do to connect with your heritage?

  • What scents do you remember about your grandparents’ home? Your parent’s home?

  • What was the most important value taught to you by your mother? Father?

  • What family heirloom has been placed in your possession to be passed down to future generations?

  • If you could have one momento of your parents’ or grandparents, what would it be?

  • If you could go back in time, and visit with one ancestor, who would it be?

  • What is one story that’s been passed down through the generations of your family that is told over and over again? Why do you think that one was "the" one?
  • Do you have any family mysteries?

  • What would be your parents (or grandparents) biggest surprise about you today?

  • Describe which physical qualities you share with your parents and grandparents.

  • What talents do you share with your ancestors?

  • What talents of yours would you hope that your posterity would inherit?

  • Tell how you got your name. If you don’t know, share how you chose your childrens’ names.

  • Is there a certain specific place that you have a fond memory with an ancestor? Do you visit it? Have you shared this spot and the memory with others?

  • Is there a song that reminds you of an ancestor?

  • Did your parent have close friends? Was there a friend of your parent that made an impression in your life?

  • What famous person did your parent love/respect/admire? Did that influence you?

  • Do you feel that your parent had any type of prejudices/perceptions that impacted you?

  • What one lesson did your parents teach you without ever saying a word about it?

  • What thing/things did you do that you knew would always make your parents happy?

  • What characteristic do you have that is the most different from that of any siblings or your parents?

  • Share something that you learned about your parent that you never knew/realized as a child?

For us, family is what matters most! So, our evening was a perfect way to escape from the rest of the world and connect with each other.

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