Monday, November 28, 2011

A Last Shout Out To Fall

Thanksgiving and Black Friday are over and in just a few days will be December and the wonderful Christmas Season. (Well commercially the season is pretty much already  here.)  But yet it is still November. So I want to give a last shout out for this wonderful month and for the fall season in general.

A Treasured Autumn Cornucopia

Pictured below is the large (huge really) and beautiful Fall Cornucopia that I purchased at a crafts boutique several years ago. When I first saw it I really wanted it but it was pretty pricey. So I passed it up. After Christmas I went back and to my surprise there it was in all its glory and..... marked down ….70% off. Wow! Well now  the price was just  right and so I grabbed it up. We have enjoyed  it ever since in our foyer during the fall season. I also put it on the buffet table at Thanksgiving Dinner and other autumn luncheons and dinner parties I give.  It truly gives a ‘warm welcome’  to all who enter the door.

My daughter and her family traveled from Colorado to be with us for Thanksgiving. Besides her making rolls and pies, she out did herself with this gorgeous, delicious cheesecake. Truly a labor of love it was worth all the time and effort it took her to make it. Without question it 

was the ‘Piece de Resistance’ at the dessert table.  

                  Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake
                      (The piece de resistance)
                          And here is the recipe for this beauty.

Pumpking Praline Cheesecake

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup finely chopped pecans
5 TBSP butter, melted
3 TBSP light brown sugar
4 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups canned pumpkin
1 ½ TBSP lemon juice
   Praline Topping,    Pre-glazed pecans
1.        Preheat oven to 325.  Stir together first 4 ingredients in a bowl until well blended.  Press mixture on bottom and 1 ½ inches up sides of a 9-inch springform pan.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

2.        Beat cream cheese and next 2 ingredients at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until blended and smooth.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.  Add pumpkin and lemon juice, beating until blended.  Pour batter into prepared crust.  (Pan will be very full.)

3.        Bake at 325 for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until almost set.  Turn oven off.  Let cheesecake stand in oven, with door closed, 15 minutes.  Remove cheesecake from oven, and gently run knife around outer edge of cheesecake to loosen from sides of pan.  (Do not remove sides of pan.)  Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour).  Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.

4.        Remove sides and bottom of pan, and transfer cheesecake to a serving plate.  Prepare Pralin Topping; immediately pour slowly over top of cheesecake.  Garnish with pre-glazed pecans.

Praline Topping
1 Cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup whipping cream
¼ cup butter
1 cup powder sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in a 1-qt saucepan over medium heat, stirring often.  Boil, stirring occasionally, 1 minute; remove from heat.  Gradually whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Let stand 5 minutes, whisking occasionally.  Use immediately.
Pre-Glazed Pecans
Stir together ¼ cup dark corn syrup and 2 TBSP sugar.  Add 2 Cups pecan halves; stir until pecans are coated.  Line a jelly-roll pan with parchment paper;  coat parchment paper with vegetable cooking spray.  Spread pecans in a single layer in prepared pan.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until glaze bubbles slowly and thickens, stirring every 3 minutes.   Transfer pan to a wire rack.  Spread pecans in a single layer, separating individual pecans; cool completely.  Cooled pecans should be crisp, if not, bake 5 more minutes.     From...SOUTHERN LIVING MAGAZINE.

Cranberries aren’t just for Sauce

Cranberries go hand in hand with Fall and the Thanksgiving Feast. We made both a spiced cooked cranberry relish and a raw cranberry relish. Both were delicious….even with leftovers. I even put it on my Toasted Turkey Sandwiches. Yum! But another FUN and Delicious way to serve it is as an APPETIZER. At a neighborhood Christmas party a few years ago, my next door neighbor Michelle brought what I call a Fresh Cranberry  Salsa that she served with crackers and chewy slices of baguettes. Wow! It was the hit of the party. And to make a long story short I’ve been making it ever since. It is a fast, easy and simple recipe and everyone who tries it just loves it. Including kids. Hope you will try it too. It is now requested by family and friends during the holiday season.

Fresh Cranberry Salsa

12 oz. package fresh cranberries. (Washed and picked through and finely chopped)
½ cup sugar (more to taste if desired)
½ bunch of green onions thinly sliced
½ to one bunch fresh cilantro chopped
1-2 jalepeno peppers finely diced (be sure to remove seeds)
½ t. cumin
1-2    8oz. packages  cream cheese
Assorted crackers, pita chips and/or thin baguette slices 
Mix first six ingredients  together in a glass bowl. Chill until ready to serve.
Put cream cheese on a dish and pour chilled salsa over top. Surround with Crackers, pita chips and baguette slices. Serve! Expect Rave Reviews!!

Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful. We had 32….all family and it was such a delight to have them. A  NEW TRADITION was started when my daughter put 3 kernels of corn on each plate and told everyone that the pilgrims had only that to eat. And yet they were so thankful. It helped us to be aware of the all the sacrifices these good people made to come to this great land so that they could be free to worship as they pleased. Those 3 little kernels of corn helped us to realize that we should  be even more grateful for the bounteous blessings we so much enjoy. And to give GRATITUDE to a loving God who has provided all this… for us.

After the feast some watched Christmas videos while others did crafts or played board games. One of the highlights of the day for me was when I sat down to eat dinner. My legs and feet sang the Hallelujah Chorus. I didn’t want to have to get up after that. It just felt so good to sit down.

Thanks for being with me today.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Laughing Myself to Another Piece of Pumpkin Pie

Recently we attended a funeral of a friend’s Mother who was 91 years old when she passed away. When we walked into the funeral home and picked up a program to our surprise next to the programs were  a small stack of pumpkin pie recipes. The recipe belonged  to the deceased and was entitled  
Allah Gardner Deveys Pumpkin Pie’

 I thought….well how neat is this. This must be a treasured family recipe. Later we found out that it was. I thought to myself maybe I should try making this pumpkin pie recipe for Thanksgiving this year.

 As the funeral proceeded  our friend gave some wonderful insights to her beloved mother as she spoke. She referred to the recipe for pumpkin pie that everyone had picked up with the program and said that all of her life (and she is now in her late 50’s) she thought this recipe was her mother’s original. Well to her surprise she learned it was the recipe on the back of the pumpkin can. We all had a good chuckle. I think it is just a delightful story. I’ve put the picture of the recipe above. It’s a little blurry but if you can’t make it out clearly enough then just look on the back of the Libby’s pumpkin can and you’ll have it (smile.)

 This pumpkin pie photo is from Taste of Home and you can learn how to make the pastry leaves on Taste of Homes’ website.  (
Also I’m including an email I received from a friend today. You may have read it before but it really struck my funny bone. When I was a young mother I could relate. I wanted to share it with you today also.

Martha Stewart won’t be coming for Thanksgiving this Year

For those of you who are coming to our place for Thanksgiving dinner- Martha Stewart is not going to be here! I'm telling you in advance, so don't act surprised. Since Ms. Stewart won't be coming, I've made a few small changes: Our sidewalk will not be lined with homemade, paper bag luminaries. After a trial run, it was decided that no matter how cleverly done, rows of flaming lunch sacks do not have the desired welcoming effect.
Once inside, our guests will note that the entry hall is not decorated with the swags of Indian corn and fall foliage I had planned to make. Instead, I've gotten the kids involved in the decorating by having them track in colorful autumn leaves from the front yard. The mud was their idea. The dining table will not be covered with expensive linens, fancy china, or crystal goblets. If possible, we will use dishes that match and everyone will get a fork. Since this IS Thanksgiving, we will refrain from using the plastic Peter Rabbit plate and the Santa napkins from last Christmas.

Our centerpiece will not be the tower of fresh fruit and flowers that I promised. Instead we will be displaying a hedgehog-like decoration hand-crafted from the finest construction paper. The artist assures me it is a turkey.

We will be dining fashionably late. The children will entertain you while you wait. I'm sure they will be happy to share every choice comment I have made regarding Thanksgiving, pilgrims and the turkey hot line. Please remember that most of these comments were made at 5:00 a. m. upon discovering that the turkey was still hard enough to cut diamonds.

As accompaniment to the children's recital, I will play a recording of tribal drumming. If the children should mention that I don't own a recording of tribal drumming, or that tribal drumming sounds suspiciously like a frozen Turkey in a clothes dryer, ignore them. They are lying.

We toyed with the idea of ringing a dainty silver bell to announce the start of our feast. In the end, we chose to keep our traditional method. We've also decided against a formal seating arrangement. When the smoke alarm sounds, please gather around the table and sit where you like. In the spirit of harmony, we will ask the children to sit at a separate table. In a separate room.    Next door.

Now, I know you have all seen pictures of one person carving a turkey in front of a crowd of appreciative onlookers. This will not be happening at our dinner. For safety reasons, the turkey will be carved in a private ceremony. I stress "private" meaning: Do not, under any circumstances enter the kitchen to laugh at me. Do not send small, unsuspecting children to check on my progress. I have an electric knife. The turkey is unarmed. It stands to reason that I will eventually win. When I do, we will eat.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind my young diners that "passing the rolls" is not a football play. Nor is it a request to bean your sister in the head with warm tasty bread. Oh, and one reminder for the adults: For the duration of the meal, and especially while in the presence of young diners, we will refer to the giblet gravy by its lesser-known name: Cheese Sauce. If a young diner questions you regarding the origins or type of Cheese Sauce, plead ignorance. Cheese Sauce stains.
Before I forget, there is one last change. Instead of offering a choice between 12 different scrumptious desserts, we will be serving the traditional pumpkin pie, garnished with whipped cream and small fingerprints. You will still have a choice; take it or leave it.

Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this year. She probably won't come next year either. I am thankful.

 Be sure to come back tomorrow when I give a tutorial on THE cutest Turkey Shaped Rolls. Your family will love these for Thanksgiving. And the big bonus is that they are as delicious as they are cute!

Thanks for joining me today .


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Friday, November 18, 2011

An Autumn Luncheon for Friends

 Greetings and Welcome. Today I ‘m going to show  some photos from the two autumn luncheons that I gave earlier this month.

 First though I want you to know that I LOVE to entertain. I want my guests (and family) to always feel warm and welcome in my home. Over the years I've learned alot of wonderful  things that can make any type of event one to remember. For example...  Sending or giving out invitations sets the tone for what’s coming. Cooking and baking yummy food, setting a beautiful table, putting out little details like place cards and favors, serving a warm beverage like the Warm Caramel Creme Apple Punch as they arrive, a fire in the fireplace, beautiful music playing in the background and delicious aromas filling the air. These things all say 'Welcome to My Home and My Table.'  And guests really do feel it.   I hope you will feel this same welcome when you come here to my blog.                          

                                       You are invited    

For these invitations I used 'Painted Maple Leaves' paper that I purchased at an office supply store. It even had stickers to go with them. There were 50 sheets in the package. I have enough paper leftover to save and use again in the future.

   Warm Caramel Creme Apple Punch was served as they arrived
(The recipe is in my first post 'Welcome')

          Flames were dancing in the fireplace and the mantle was decorated for fall. 
The beautiful piano music of John Livingston called 'Candlelight Classics 2' ( the first volume is wonderful too) is  softly playing. It’s very relaxing and it seems to transport you to another world. After one luncheon I gave awhile back, two of the guests went right down and bought themselves a copy. It really is worth listening to any time of the day or night. You can purchase it at 

For the table I used a burgundy tablecloth.
The goblets are generic that you buy at Dollar Tree. We often have large group dinner parties and so we have several dozen matching goblets. They are so inexpensive that if one accidentally gets broken I don't have a heart attack over it. And I can replace it easily. Often I even tie ribbons or bows or flowers or leaves on the stems for added color and interest.

The napkins are from Ross (this year). And the cute napkin rings are petite sized grapevine wreaths with ribbons and little nuts and acorns and baby pumpkins. Too cute. I got them at a Crafts boutique several years ago and love to use them in the fall. These would be easy to replicate quite inexpensively.



The pumpkin plates were on sale several years ago at a local Crafts Store. They were orignally priced at $4.99 but were marked down to a dollar each. I bought 12 and wish I had bought 24. I have used them over and over again for the last several years. They are as large as a dinner plate. The gold flatware I purchased for a song when a store was going out of business awhile back. My guests, grandchildren and family love to use the goldware. The children tell me that it makes them feel very special. And that's always nice to hear.


          The little green glass tea light holders and the cinnamon scented tea lights add color and brightness to the table. Even if it is in daylight it’s nice to lite them. It just adds a nice ambience. The cute little acorn salt and pepper shakers add more interest. So glad I found them at Walmart and on sale to boot. (This year)

The luncheons turned out to be some of the most fun l I have ever given. The lasts guests didn't leave until nearly 3pm. And they didn't want to go home even then. That always makes a hostess feel good. (a little tired maybe but still good)

I hope you've enjoyed our soiree today. Thanks for joining me.
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