Summer Entertaining

Well happy July — Almost August. Where did summer go? We have spent the better part of our summer traveling between home, Napa and Lake Tahoe. I feel so lucky that we are right in-between two beautiful places. My husband’s family is located primarily in Napa. We had out of state family visiting as well as my niece’s wedding and a surprise 50th birthday party for Steve’s brother. It was a lot of family time and amazing moments. Tahoe is just close enough to escape the heat. We did a few day trips, a camping trip to Camp Richardson and then a 2 night getaway to The Resort at Squaw Creek. It was go, go, go but every minute was wonderful.

I am a bit of a decorating and entertaining dreamer. I literally lie in bed at night and think of things I can decorate or parties I could throw. I thought I’d share some fun finds for summer entertaining. It’s a bit of decor, food, drinks and just all around fabulous party ideas.

First we have to start with some pretty decor.

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I love these jars of flowers that I found on Pinterest. Original source unknown.

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I love this simple tables cape at Style Me Pretty. You could use cloth napkins with a simple piece of rosemary or lavender sitting on top as well. I also love that using mixed patterns has become quite trendy and it’s a great way to up cycle as well. You never know what fabulous new pieces you might find at garage sales, flea markets or thrift stores.

 

Summer-Lemonade-BarGiggles Galore shared this adorable make your own lemonade bar. Kids would have a blast creating their own concoction.

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Of course a grown up version of a beverage bar would be a hit. So how about a mojito bar?

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Gourmande in the Kitchen shares this appetizer using herbed flatbread and then topped with arugula, almonds and fresh parmesan. It looks light and refreshing. Plus it’s gluten and grain free.

 

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I had to throw in a tomato recipe since tomatoes are in season and there really is nothing better then a fresh garden tomato. How about some grilled tomatoes with a basil vinaigrette? Yum! This was over at My Recipes.

 

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These kabobs at Natasha’s Kitchen would make a great main course. You could of course sub chicken or even shrimp for the beef if you wanted.

 

Delicious-Very-Berry-Cheesecake-Oat-BarsBeauty and Bedlam gives a step by step tutorial on these mouth watering berry cheesecake bars.

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Peach Cobbler is a great ‘go to’ summer desert. With fresh peaches available at Farmers Markets, you just can’t go wrong.

If you feel like throwing a little summer soiree I have given you some funny summer entertaining ideas. ;) Do you have go to receipts for hosting summer dinners? Please feel free to share.

 

Summer Fun

I decided to do a little searching for some creative summer fun ideas. Ya’ll know where I went first, right? Yep to my Summer Board over at Pinterest. My boys are getting big. One is 11 {going on 13} and the other is 9. They are all about being social. They would be happy just playing XBox and swimming all summer long with their friends. I should mention that we don’t have a pool. Thank goodness for amazing neighbors who fill this void. In my little Pinterest ‘hunt’ I found some stuff that just screams summer. Freebies, party ideas, bucket lists …

I love this idea of hosting a Sidewalk Chalk Festival over at My Kids Eat Off the Floor {formally June Bug Parties}. What a great idea to entertain the kiddos while the adults mingle and perhaps have some cocktails? ;)

invitationSew Home Grown created this fun printable. Wouldn’t it look great framed on a mantel with some fun summer accessories?

summerprintableI am a sucker for all things chalkboard related so this sign from Scrapping with Liz jumped out at me instantly. It’s a bucket list created on a chalkboard. Swoon.

swl_bucketlist_digitalscrapbook3Its a Lovely Life shares some sweet popsicle recipes. I think these are on my bucket list for tomorrow.

PopsiclesI’ve always wanted to host an outside movie night for the kids and their friends. Prairie Hive shared their version of a movie night complete with cute decor.

UnknownDo you have any fun and fabulous Summer plans? I’d love to hear them. Creative, fun, different .. feel free to share. Happy Summer friends!

 

 

 

Quinoa Goodness

I know, strange name for a recipe but it’s a mash up of so many things. I created it using leftovers in my fridge and it is Delicious (yes, with a capital D). It was basically an accidental creation that I love so much that I just had to share. I did not measure. What you see is just a little of this and that thrown into a bowl, mixed up and devoured. It does not require dressing because the avocado and goat cheese make it kind of creamy. I think dressing might over power it although a tad lemon juice and olive oil might make it pop. What you will need:

  • Cooked Quinoa
  • Avocado
  • Green onions
  • Fresh corn off the cob (must be fresh or the taste just isn’t the same)
  • Goat cheese (crumbled)
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Cherry tomatoes (halved)

This is a cold salad so make sure the quinoa is room temp before adding. Mix all ingredients together and viola, lunch is served.

You get something that looks like this:

Quinoa

This has been my lunch for the past two days and tomorrow will make for day #3. I love all of the yummy garden foods that come from summer. Corn on the cob is my current obsession. What about you? Are you foodie obsessed? What is your go to lunch?

Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies

A couple of things, #1 – I love baking. I only want to sample said baked item and pass it on. Still, my butt and thighs hold on to that tiny taste. Sigh. #2 – My best intentions of keeping up on the blog {and keeping the content fun, fresh and current} fall to the wayside. Life just happens and days go by. Sigh again. I wish it would slow down just a tiny bit. Anyway, enough fluff. I wanted to share this delish little recipe that I found on Pinterest but it truly belongs to Averie Cooks. Her recipes have caught my eye a few times now. Mmmm goodness! Peanut butter was the desired ingredient and this recipe just looked simple and well, satisfying. It was. My taste testers all agreed. Two thumbs up!

Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies

Cookies

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 c unsalted butter
  • 1/3 c creamy peanut butter
  • 1 c light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 c old fashioned whole oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 c white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c peanut butter chips (I used more white chocolate chips as it’s what I had but you can sub whatever chips you’d like)

DIRECTIONS:

  • In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and peanut butter together.  This took me about 45 seconds on high.
  • Add the brown & white sugar to the melted butter & peanut butter mixture and stir.  Let sit til slightly cooled and then add the egg plus egg yolk. You don’t want to ‘cook’ your eggs in the hot mixture hence letting it cool. Add the vanilla and stir.
  • Then add the flour, oats, baking soda and stir.  This recipe stirs quite nicely. I tend to use my mixer for everything but these mixed great by hand.
  • Finally, add your chips.
  • Scoop dough using a cookie scoop and put on parchment paper lined baking sheets about 2 minutes a part. Bake at 325 for 10-12 minutes. I always seem to bake cookies at the longer time and they come out perfect.
  • Let cool slightly and then serve warm with a cold glass of milk. Yum!

 

Thanksgiving 2013 Menu

Thanksgiving-Autumn-Leaves

Happy Fall Y’all! A fellow blogger and friend of mine shared her Thanksgiving menu and I thought, “what a great idea”. So I am being a bit of a copy cat. Hopefully flattery will get me everywhere ;) Charene’s blog is Copper Lantern Cooking. I actually found her a few years back when she had a local cupcake business and was generous enough to donate to a fundraiser at my kids school. We have since become Facebook friends and recipe sharers. I love social media for just these type of friendships. I get to meet people that I otherwise would not and share fun things like well, food!

So let me preface by saying that I have a pretty straight forward, stick to the classics type of family. However, I like to mix it up so I’ve added a few things with flair.

Appetizers

  • Salami, cheese and crackers – we grew up with this on hand at every family function. My dad is adding deer salami which I do not like so I asked for regular ol’ salami for me.
  • Black olives – you know, for wearing on your fingers.
  • Deviled eggs — another dad specialty

Main Course

Desert

My dad is in charge of deserts. I am the queen of baking in my house but for Thanksgiving, I appreciate the pies that show up in my kitchen. We get various versions of apple pie from Apple Hill, a banana cream pie from Buttercream Bakery and the pumpkin pies are from Costco. Trust me, I make it up with the loads of cookies that I crank out throughout the rest of the holiday season. Oh, I’ll take a little credit cause I do make homemade whipped cream for the pies. Homemade. No canned or Cool Whip {yes, I know some people love it but I have to make the real stuff, I’ve even added a little bourbon for a kick.}

Do you host or travel for Thanksgiving? Do you have a standard menu or do you serve things unique? I’d love to hear about your families favorite recipes.

However you spend Thanksgiving, I wish you a happy one. Count your blessings everyday.

Fall Entertaining

Sometimes I just want to jump into a magazine that features the perfect tablescape. Tonight I was inspired by this amazing photo on Joss & Main.

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I love this table over at Bird’s Party. The sprinkles of gold confetti are a fun addition to an already whimsical table.

thanksgiving-fall-tablescape-ideasClassy in the City shared this simple yet inviting table for 4.

Fall2 I love this photo on LampsPlus page. I think the whole property just works for that rustic feel that I adore.

Fall3I love how Sew Fine a Seam incorporated some blue into her table. I love adding blue into my holiday color scheme. Light blue, robins egg blue, soft aqua. It’s a soothing color and adds a fun pop to any decor.

fall-tablescape-3-620x1014The Happier Homemaker kept it simple with whites and a burst of green. I love the addition of the initial as a table marker {I have a slight obsession with initials}.

autumn-tablescapeSo there you have it, a few of my favorite fall tablescapes although I have a confession, I grew up spending holidays with my dad, siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. so we all ended up eating wherever we found a seat and this involved paper plates and plastic utensils but guess what? It was the best and even though we didn’t have fancy place settings, there wasn’t a lack of blessings and things to be thankful for. Still, I do love pretty table.

 

French Breakfast Puffs

These might be one of my most favorite recipes of all time. I don’t think you can go wrong with something coated in dripping butter and then rolled in cinnamon and sugar. Tell me if I am wrong! I saw The Pioneer Woman whipping these up on her TV show a few weeks back and immediately made them for our breakfast for dinner that same night. They were irresistible and gone in a flash. I’m pretty sure I drooled as I waited for the rest of our dinner to finish cooking.  I made these ham breakfast cups to go with the muffins. It was one of the best breakfast for dinners I have ever had.

French Breakfast Puffs

Photo Source

French Breakfast Puffs

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Flour
  • 3 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2/3 cups Shortening (Crisco)
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1-1/2 cup Sugar
  • 3 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 2 sticks Butter

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups.

In a large bowl stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a different bowl, cream together 1 cup sugar and shortening. Then add eggs and mix again. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.

Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

In a bowl, melt 2 sticks butter. In a separate bowl combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Dip baked muffins in butter, coating thoroughly, then coat with cinnamon-sugar mixture.

These are amazing fresh from the oven and just as great the next day {I’ve tried both — don’t judge! ;)}

Cinnamon & Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie Cookies

Heeeeelllllo Fall! So it’s that season {yeah yeah yeah .. I’m so redundant in expressing my love of Fall, sorry if it gets annoying but I just can not help myself} for baking. Today I had three goals, #1 – Bake with pumpkin, #2 – make some goodies for our schools Fall Festival Cake Walk tomorrow and #3 – Appease my neighbor who has been relentless in reminding me that I have not made anything pumpkin for him yet. So I went to my recipe book Pinterest and found these goodies which were over at Keep it Sweet Deserts. I whipped them up and of course had my delivery boy run them to the neighbors house which resulted in a text telling me that it was a keeper. Oh whew! ;) Then I bagged them up for the cake fight. Oh yes, prior to these two things my taste tester and I sampled the goods and yes, this recipe is a keeper.

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Cinnamon & Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie Cookies

Yield: Makes 5 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie seasoning
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips

Cooking Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and pumpkin pie seasoning; set aside
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy
  4. Beat in eggs and vanilla; beat in pumpkin until well-combined
  5. Stir in dry ingredients just until combined
  6. Stir in chocolate and cinnamon chips
  7. Use a cookie dough scoop or tablespoon to place cookie dough mounds (about 1 1/2 tablespoons each) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about 1 inch apart
  8. Bake 9-11 minutes or until cookies are puffed up and no longer wet
  9. Allow cookies to cool on cooling rack before serving

Little Pieces of Fall

I know, I go on and on and on about how I heart Fall. I even have a hashtag for it on Instagram. #iheartfall. For real. I’m literally sitting here eating apple crisp while apple coffee cake bakes in the oven. At 10pm. #issues. I know I am not alone so I’ve compiled some of my favorite Fall things to share here with you. Your welcome and happy Fall ya’ll.

Fall collage 1

Felt leaves at 5 Orange Potatoes

Chai Pumpkin Spice Thumbprints at Pass the Sushi

Sweater Pumpkin at Confessions of a Plate Addict

Heart Shaped Leaves at The Berry

Fall Collage 2Cider Spiced Donut Holes at Honeybear Lane

Free Fall printable at I Should Be Mopping the Floor

Spicy Pumpkin Soup at A Spicy Perspective

Chevron Wreath at Crafty Texas Girls

Last year I shared all of these yummy pumpkin recipes and these free printables. Is Fall your favorite season or are you all about the hot summer days?

 

 

 

 

Crock Pot Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

I love Fall and one of my most favorite parts of this season is the food. Pumpkin and apple everything? Yes please! I also love crock-pot meals for the convenience. With a little bit of prep you can have this yummy soup simmering for dinner. Serve with a fresh loaf of french bread and a side salad and viola, dinner is served!

Soup

Crock Pot Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 package of Rice-a-Roni long grain and wild rice
1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
2 cups half and half (I used fat-free half and half)
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup diced celery

Directions:

Combine broth, water, carrots, celery, chicken and rice (along with seasoning packet) in a large slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 4 hours. Take out chicken and shred with two forks and then add back into slow cooker. In a small bowl combine salt, pepper, and flour. In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in flour mixture by tablespoon to form a roux. Whisk in cream, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Stir cream mixture into slow cooker and then let cook on low for 15 more minutes.