Sunday, November 30, 2008

Great Thanksgivings and to all good night!

We had two great Thanksgiving celebrations! We had around 45 crazy folks at Mom's on Thursday, and around 20 at our house on Saturday! That's two full houses! And all the food was plentiful and good.

Now, Scarecrow Soup is bowing out, and giving Pumpkins and Reindeer center stage...check in often over there, I'll be posting all kinds of stuff in the next 25 (gasp) days!!


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Thank God for your blessings today...and tomorrow...and every day after that.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

One Day to Go!

Tomorrow is the big day. Today is shaping up to be a busy one. I won't go into details, since I already did that...but I'll bet you really don't have much time either to read a lot of details-you're probably busy, too!

This punch recipe couldn't be simpler, and it's so pretty in a glass or crystal punch bowl. I like to freeze the cranberry juice in mini bundt pans or heart shaped pans. The idea behind it is that the cranberry juice cubes melting into the oj looks like a sunrise. Nice!

Thanksgiving Sunrise Punch
1 quart orange juice
1 quart cranapple juice cocktail or cranberry juice
2 litres ginger ale

Freeze the cranberry juice in ice cube trays or other molds a few days before serving. Put the orange juice in a punch bowl, then add the cranberry ice cubes a few minutes before serving. Just before serving, pour the ginger ale over the ice cubes and stir gently. Serve.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cranberry-Pineapple Cups

Tonight is our annual Thanksgiving service at church. I can't wait!

I mentioned yesterday that I'll be cooking on Friday in preparation for Lynn's family gathering on Saturday. I will make a cake, get the ham and turkey ready for the oven, peel the potatoes
and put them in water until tomorrow, and put together the relish tray. I'll put the green beans in the crockpot when I go to bed, then Saturday morning, all I'll have to do is roast the turkey, bake the ham and bake the dressing. Oh, yeah, and set the table. I'll try to have some photos of my tablescape up soon. Need to dry-run it anyway!

This is a new to me recipe that sounds so yummy...I'm going to give it a try this year. I think it would be good to substitute a can of mandarin oranges for the pineapple.

Cranberry-Pineapple Cups
1 can crushed pineapple in juice
2 pkg. raspberry flavored jello
1 can whole cranberry sauce
2/3 cup walnut pieces
1 apple, chopped

Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Add enough water to juice to measure 2 1/2 cups; pour into saucepan. Bring to boil. Pour over gelatin mixes in a large bowl; stir 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Stir in pineapple, cranberry sauce, walnuts and apple. Spoon into 24 paper lined muffin cups. Refrigerate 2 1/2 hours or until firm. Remove liners. Makes 24 servings.

This will look so festive on a relish tray. The kids might actually pick them up and eat them before they realize it has fruit in it! When Lynn's sister Gail moved she gave me (among a ton of other stuff) a beautiful crystal tray, which will hold our pickles, olives, cranberry cups and other relishes.

Next post: Thanksgiving Sunrise Punch. Oh, it's good, and it's a pretty punch. Stay tuned!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just to clarify...

I got a message on my last post asking about if we eat at both events...I should clarify that.

We go to my Mom's, with the hordes of 40, on Thanksgiving Day to celebrate with my side of the family. Then, on Saturday after Thanksgiving, we host Lynn's side, usually between 20 & 30 people. So yes, we do eat both times...and we do eat the next week! LOL!!

Thanksgiving Week! And-a Breakfast Casserole!

It's finally Thanksgiving week! Yay!! I can't believe it's finally here. I've been planning this week for ages, and now that it's here, it's time to put the plans into action.

I have a full week ahead. The kids are in school today and tomorrow. I'm off today, but may have to work tomorrow. I'm not sure yet. So, today on the agenda is lots of cleaning...our bedroom is basically clean but needs a big de-cluttering...and our bathroom is pretty bad...but it's small, so it won't take too long. A little tidying up around the rest of the house and it should be in pretty good shape. Wednesday I'm sure I'll be helping Mom get ready for that massive crowd that comes to her house-usually around 40. I have about half that many at my house. I am making the dressing for both houses this year, so I'm planning on doing that on Wednesday. I'll also make the Pumpkin Ooey Gooey Cake on Wednesday. The recipe for that is from Paula Deen, and it is a keeper!! (You'll have to scroll down a little for the recipe) I'll also make the BLT dip and the cranberry spread on Wednesday so that the flavors can marry. Then, Thursday morning I'll pop the hams in the oven and get them ready. Shouldn't be too much for one day!

On Friday, when the rest of the world is shopping, I'll be cooking!! Details on this later!

Here's the breakfast casserole recipe. It's so good, and if you don't have homemade dressing left over, you can use the packaged stuff. It's really good with that, too.

Breakfast Casserole
Leftover dressing to fill the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish, or use a boxed mix, prepared according to package directions
1 pound breakfast sausage, crumbled and browned
12 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put dressing in the bottom of a sprayed baking dish, then layer the sausage and 1 cup of the cheese on top of the dressing. Add salt and pepper to eggs, then pour over the sausage and cheese. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake for about an hour, until the eggs are set. If the cheese on top starts to brown before the eggs are done, cover with foil and continue to bake.

Once you make this once, you'll think of all kinds of yummy variations...put a can of green chilies in the eggs and top with hot pepper jack cheese or Monterrey Jack. Or, use some Italian herbs, like basil and oregano, and top with mozzarella cheese. The variations are limited only by your imagination!

I like to serve this with biscuits or croissants, jelly and butter, and fresh fruit. Add some coffee and juice and you're set!

Next post: Cranberry Cups and the rest of my plans!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cornbread Dressing

I do believe I could eat cornbread dressing with every single meal. I love the stuff...and it's even better the next day, so I like to make extra. Sometimes I even make a small "extra" pan of it and keep it hidden until the next day...but don't tell anyone!

This is my own adaptation of a basic, old southern recipe. I rarely measure anything, but I'll guesstimate for you!!

Cornbread Dressing
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 T. butter
1 pan of cornbread, cooked, cooled and crumbled (cornbread recipe to follow)
5 slices of white bread, set out to dry a couple of hours, then finely crumbled
1 sleeve saltine crackers, finely crushed
4 eggs
1 quart chicken broth
2 t. poultry seasoning (or to taste on all seasonings)
1 t. sage
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
Butter for greasing the casserole dish, or use non-stick cooking spray

Saute the onion and celery in the butter until tender. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a very large bowl, combine the crumbed cornbread, the crumbled white bread and the crushed crackers. Add the eggs and use the chicken broth to moisten the mixture. Stir in the cooled veggies and the seasonings. Add more broth if necessary to get it to the consistency you like. I like mine just a little "soupy" when I put it in the oven, so that it stays nice and moist. Butter or spray a large casserole dish...I use a 10x13 baking pan. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees about 60-75 minutes. (Don't overcook or it will dry out.) This is good hot, but it's also good served at room temperature, so you can make it early in the day.

I'm sure you could stuff a turkey with this...we don't do that at our house, we just cook it in the pan. Also, this freezes like a dream, and actually seems to get better in the freezer. Freeze it before baking, just be sure to wrap it very tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil. Then, put it in the fridge the night before you want to bake it and let it thaw, then pop it in the oven the next day. It also freezes well as leftovers, if you happen to have any left over. We always eat it before I can freeze it.

My sweet neighbor, Cissy, doesn't put eggs in hers, and it works great. She's the one who introduced me to the freezing it idea. She makes her dressing for Thanksgiving and Christmas a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving then freezes both pans. Then during the busy cooking time, she has that much done. She's one smart cookie!!

Next post-a great breakfast casserole that uses up any of the leftover dressing you might have!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Quick Old-Fashioned Corn Relish

I think this is a beautiful addition to a relish tray. I'm not sure if I'll be making the relish tray for my Mom's house, but I know I will for my house on Saturday. I think this will be so pretty in a small crystal bowl. When Lynn and I married we got a bunch of beautiful crystal bowls and platters. I use them for every holiday. I am not in favor of "saving" the good stuff-I never really understood what you're saving it for. If you can't use your pretty dishes on Thanksgiving and Christmas, when will you use it? I use mine for New Year's, Valentines, Easter, Memorial Day, July get the idea. I even use them for Tuesday night hamburgers at home sometimes. And if we have guests, I always use the nice stuff. Ok, enough lecturing. Here's that corn relish recipe...and it would even be pretty in a styrofoam bowl if that's your style!

Quick Old-Fashioned Corn Relish
1/2 c. vinegar
1/3 c. sugar
1 t. salt
1/2 t. celery seed
1/4 t. mustard seed
14 t. hot pepper sauce
15 1/4 oz. canned corn, drained
2 T. green pepper, chopped
1 T. pimento, chopped
1 T. onion, minced

Combine the first 6 ingredients together in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes; remove from heat and set aside to cool. Combine remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl; add vinegar mixture. Cover and refrigerate. Makes 1 2/3 cups.

I hope you enjoy it!
Next post-Cornbread Dressing-oh, yeah, baby-now we're getting to the good stuff!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Grandma's Dressing

Well, ok, this is not my grandma's dressing, it's from Gooseberry Patch's Flavors of Fall book. I like it with a grilled or baked chicken breast. It would never work in our traditional family (both sides) as the "main" dressing, but it would be a nice side. Or, it would be great with left over turkey slices, if you have any left.

Grandma's Dressing
1 T. plus 1 t. salt, divided
3/4 cup long-cooking rice, uncooked
1/2 cup raisins or sweetened dried cranberries (or a combo)
2 onions, chopped
1 T. butter
1 t. sugar
1 t. pepper

Place water in a saucepan according to rice package directions and add one T. salt; bring to a boil. Add rice; return to a boil for 10 minutes. Stir in cranberries and/or raisins and remove from heat. Saute onions in butter until golden; mix into rice mixture. Add sugar, remaining salt and pepper. Stir well. Remove from heat and cool. Serves 4 (but is easily doubled or tripled).

Easy, peasy, lemon squeezie! Enjoy!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pumpkin Cobbler

Here's a great Thanksgiving recipe. It has all the flavors of a pumpkin pie, as well as the Pumpkin Ooey Gooey Cake I posted a while back, but with a slightly different texture. It's good!!

Pumpkin Cobbler
3 eggs, beaten
15 oz. can of pumpkin
12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 c. sugar
1/8 t. salt
1 t. ground ginger
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 T. vanilla extract
18 1/2 oz package yellow cake mix
1 1/4 c. margarine
1 c. chopped nuts

Mix the first 8 ingredients together; pour into an ungreased 13"x9" baking pan. Sprinkle cake mix over the top; drizzle with margarine. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes; top with nuts. Bake for an additional 15 minutes. Makes 15-18 servings.

This is good with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. Even Cool Whip is pretty good on it!

I hope you like it!


Glass mugs

I've had several questions about the glass mugs you see in the cider post. I shouldn't tell my secret source, but since it's you, I'll tell you...Dollar Tree. Yep. Dollar Tree, as in $1 each. See why I got 10?! Gotta love a good bargain!
What bargains are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Here's another great little appetizer that is so easy to do. I love this stuff, and have been known to even serve it for breakfasts and brunches. I've made it every Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve since I found this recipe!

1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayo
1 jar bacon pieces
1 can petite diced tomatoes or 1 diced fresh tomato, both seeded and drained
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder

Mix the sour cream and mayo together until well blended, then stir in the bacon, tomatoes and seasonings. Stir well, then put in a serving bowl and refrigerate until serving. I don't know why it's called BLT, because there is actually no L, but you could certainly shred some lettuce and sprinkle in...that would be good!

Serve with club crackers or chunks of French bread! Good stuff!

Next Post: Pumpkin Cobbler-oh, yeah, baby!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cranberry Spread

I wish I had a picture of this to share, but trust me when I tell you it's very festive and pretty, as well as good! I have to make this every year, or a certain cousin fusses (you know who you are, Bobbie!). And it's so easy there's no reason not to make it.

This is one of those "method" recipes rather than just a "recipe" recipe, if you know what I mean. Once you make it, you'll think of a dozen ways to alter it and jazz it up according to your tastes.

16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 bag dried cranberries
1 Tablespoon of orange juice (more if needed to make the mixture loose enough to stir)

Put the cream cheese in a mixing bowl and mash it up with a fork...when it's soft and loose, stir in the dried cranberries and orange juice. Use your clean hands and mold it into a ball on a serving plate. Serve with crackers, gingersnaps or vanilla wafers.

I think you could easily substitute savory things for the cranberries-olives, onions, artichoke hearts, even mushrooms would be good...

Next post: BLT dip, another perennial holiday favorite in our family!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hot Spiced Apple Cider

Do you like hot spiced apple cider? I really like it, but I don't like the instant powdered kind that you just add water to very much. It has a funny, artificial taste to me. I made a pot of the homemade kind for our family breakfast today.

I went to Dollar Tree and picked up the glass mugs and set out a tray of them along with some apple slices, cinnamon sticks and the cider.

Here's a picture of how it looked:

Very Southern Livingish, don't you think?

Here's my simple recipe for this yummy seasonal drink. My family thinks it's not Thanksgiving if I don't make hot cider!

1 gallon apple cider or apple juice-I usually use the juice, and sometimes I even use the frozen tastes just as good as the bottled stuff.

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 cup brown sugar (or more to taste)

Put the cider in a large saucepan or a crockpot. Stir in the sugar and spices, let it warm up and serve. That's it! Sometimes I use whole cloves and cinnamon sticks and tie them in a cheesecloth bag and let it steep...but most times I just dump the ground spices in!

Slice up an apple and put out a jar of cinnamon sticks to serve with the cider...very pretty!

Next post: my recipe for Cranberry Spread, a yummy and pretty appetizer for Thanksgiving or Christmas!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

First fire of the fall!!

Do you know what this is? Well, it's the first inside fire of the season at the Hamlet! I stopped by Wal-Mart and picked up a box of firestarters because it was cold and rain was predicted! And we had a little firewood left over from the Boo!Bash2, so we decided to put it to good use!

And here's a shot of how the fireplace looks with the little fall banner I made to jazz up the joint!

Cozy, huh?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Gratitude Saturday

Today I am thankful for a roof over my head, food in my pantry, a sweet, loving Godly husband and three little munchkins, who are snuggled in their beds sleeping like angels right now. I have to say that early, because I might not be as thankful for them later today!

What are YOU thankful for this Harvest season?

Friday, November 7, 2008

20 Days!

Only 20 days until Thanksgiving..I can smell the turkey and dressing already!

Today's post is about the menu. I like to keep the menu fairly traditional, but flexible enough that guests can bring family favorites that might not be on my list. If I haven't mentioned this 100 times already, let me just say that we go to my Mom's house for a family gathering on Thanksgiving Day, then Lynn and I host the Miller family on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This has worked out really well...I can often pick up a ham and a turkey on "Black Friday" (you know, the day after Thanksgiving) for much less than I could on, say, "orange Wednesday" or whatever you would call the day before Thanksgiving.

So, here's the menu I have planned right now. Of course, it could change!

Cranberry spread with crackers
Veggie tray with assorted dips
Thanksgiving Sunrise punch-this is orange juice with cranberry juice ice cubes, with ginger ale pour over! Looks like the sunrise!
hot spiced cider

Main dishes and sides:
Turkey and cornbread dressing
Potatoes (mashed this year, I think)
Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans
Relish tray with pickles, olives and cranberry sauce

Desserts are assorted, but I usually try to make something pumpkiny...usually Paula Deen's Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake..the recipe is on this blog, several posts down! Try it-it's so good!

Drinks are usually tea and coffee, with assorted sodas available.

This is just part of the menu, because everyone who attends bring things too. I like to make these basics myself, that way everyone else can bring those family favorites I mentioned earlier.

I can't wait to eat!



Thursday, November 6, 2008

Harvest Cake

This is a good recipe that I sort of created a couple of years ago. I call it "Harvest Cake".

I cheat and use a cake mix and canned frosting, but you can use homemade if that's important to you!

Harvest Cake
1 spice cake mix, with ingredients to prepare
1 cup applesauce
1 cup pumpkin puree
handful each of raisins, dried cranberries and chopped pecans
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
t tsp. ground cinnamon
cream cheese icing

Make the cake mix according to package directions, then stir in the applesauce, pumpkin, fruit, nuts and spices. Pour into a bundt pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for amount of time listed on the cake mix box for the bundt pan. When it's done, cool it on a rack and then ice it with the cream cheese icing. I like to put it on a pedastal cake plate and put dried cranberries around the bottom. Very festive and pretty!!

I hope you enjoy this's very moist and tender. However, due to the high moisture content, be sure you put the leftovers in the fridge.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Looms!

Oh, yeah! It's time to start preparing for my favorite holiday! You just have to love a holiday that doesn't focus on anything but gratitude, food, football and fellowship!! No gifts to buy, no elaborate decorations are necessary (but they are nice if you like to do that sort of thing) and nothing to worry about but the kind of pie you'll have for dessert...gotta love that!

Here's a recipe that I found in Susan Branch's Autumn From the Heart of the Home cookbook. If you're not familiar with Susan Branch, check out her site and think about ordering her books. I got mine from Amazon last year, and they weren't at all expensive...I can't remember how much I spent, but I know for sure it wasn't much or I wouldn't have ordered them. I like them as well as the Gooseberry Patch books, which you all know I am crazy about.

I think I'll make this for our Thanksgiving celebration this just sounds so good and fall like to me.

Warm Salad of White Beans, Sage and Garlic
9 oz small white beans (dried)
1/4 c. minced fresh sage
1 tsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsp. minced flat leaf parsley
1/3 c. olive oil,
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Arugula leaves

Sort, rinse and drain beans. Bring them to a boil in 4 cups water; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let sit 1 hour. Rinse beans and return to pan with 8 cups fresh water. Simmer 20 minutes so beans are tender but not mushy. Rinse again in hot water and drain. Put in bowl. Mix together sage, garlic, parsley, oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. Pour over beans, stir gently. Let sit 1/2 hour. Add celery and taste for seasoning. Serve warm or at room temp. It's pretty on a bed of arugula.

I have to be honest...I'll probably use canned beans, drained and rinsed and warmed. But doesn't that sound good? It's all the flavors I put in my dressing. It sounds like a great side dish for a grilled chicken breast too. And you know, don't you, that beans are full of fiber. A surgeon friend of ours told me once that the reason so many people have colon related problems is because the typical American diet is too low on fiber and water. So drink up and eat bean salad!

Keep watching for more Thanksgiving related posts in November...tis the season!!


Friday, October 17, 2008

Scarecrow re-do!

Did you notice the new header picture? I don't really like the way it doesn't completely fit the space, but I'll work on that when I have more time! But isn't he the cutest scarecrow you've seen today?

I picked him up at a yard sale for...are you ready for this? $5! Honestly! $5!

Here he is before I took a Sharpie marker to him:

And here he is after! I'd planned to completely repaint him, and I may still, but not this year. I have too much other stuff to do. I am going to make him a cute little vintage looking banner to hold for the Boo!Bash2, and then he'll have some pumpkins and hay to keep him company for Thanksgiving and the rest of fall. I just love him!

I think we'll call him Henry. He looks like a Henry to me...look for Henry again soon!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

In the mood!

I am in the mood for Thanksgiving! Now that I've got Halloween under control (she said sarcastically), I'm anxious for my favorite holiday of all...Thanksgiving! Several sitcoms have had Thanksgiving episodes on lately, and it really makes me ready for it!

I love Thanksgiving. I used to always use the Friday after as the day I started decorating for Christmas. However, several years ago after Lynn's grandfather passed away, I inherited Thanksgiving dinner for his side of the family. Since most of us have other obigations on the actual Turkey Day, we decided to make the Saturday after our Thanksgiving Dinner day. That meant that I wouldn't decorate for Christmas until we were done with all the Thanksgiving festivities. For all my holiday goofiness, I am a bit of a purist...I like my holidays one at a time! So, that first year it was difficult, because I was itching to decorate for the holidays. But as the years have gone by, I've embraced Thanksgiving weekend as just that....a whole weekend to celebrate with family and friends and, most importantly, thank God for our blessings.

An added bonus is that I can usually get most of my dinner supplies on sale the day after Thanksgiving!!

So, don't be looking for colored lights and HO HO himself at our house until at least the Monday after Thanksgiving..he'll be too busy eating turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie!

Hope you have a wonderful fall!


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's Coming...

...and it won't be long now! These are the first pumpkins from our crop!! Thanks for bringing them home, Keith and Debbie! I've loved looking out my front door and seeing them there! It gives me hope that fall is not far away!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

20 minute fall craft!

I did a quick little 20 minute craft this morning, and I wanted to show all of you! I loved the way it turned out!

Here's what I started with:

A couple of bags of leaves, picked up at Wal-Mart for $1 each, and a table runner that was on sale for $5, also at Wal-Mart. I wasn't all that crazy about the color of the runner at first, but after I finished it....

I loved it! I just used my hot glue gun and glued the leaves on, focusing on the ends mostly, but sprinkling some on the middle of the runner, too...

I plan to use it on the dessert buffet at our Thanksgiving celebration!

Pretty cute, don't cha think???
Ever Grateful,
PS-hop over to Haunted Hamlet and see what's on my front porch!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Yearning for Fall!

At this time of year, I'm always more than ready for fall. We've had several straight days of 100+ degree heat and I'm tired of it! I want cool mornings, warm days and crisp, cool nights...I want a fire in the firepit (which we can have way before a fire in the fireplace!), snuggly socks on my feet, the red, gold and oranges of fall foliage and the holidays looming ahead!

I am ready for sweater weather and football, for pumpkins and gourds, for pots of mums and Yankee Candles in yummy scents. I want school to start, and a routine to get established. I want to start planning my Thanksgiving table, and not sweat when I think about it! I want the flies and mosquitos to go away...but not the fireflies!

I want fall!! But, as we all know, God promised us that everything has a season and a purpose...I'm sure summer is no exception. Perhaps it's purpose is to make us grateful for fall!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Lord, today I'm grateful that You are faithful and loving, despite our circumstances making us believe otherwise. It's all for the greater good.

Please pray for my sweet friends Cory and Shara...they are in an adoption process, and the baby is coming today! There's still a 10 day waiting period, so Lord, please, we want Your will in this precious families' life. God bless you, Cory and Shara!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Catching Up!

Thanksgiving in June went extremely well. I ended up not doing a whole turkey breast...I made a small (8x8 square) baking dish of dressing, then laid some turkey cutlets on top, doused the whole thing with chicken broth, and put it in the oven. It was really good. Lynn and I both liked it a lot.

My Sunday school class is still faithfully journaling at least twice a Sunday I wasn't there on the day they were supposed to journal, so they coerced me into letting them journal the next week. Actually, I had it planned for them to journal, they just didn't know that! They are doing such a good job with their journals. One young lady even types her journaling at home and brings it with her to embellish in class. She really puts a lot of thought into it. And, surprisingly, they all "get" it. They understand the concept of gratitude, and have taken that and ran with it. I'm very proud of them!

Turkey Day will be here soon, right in the midst of Christmas in July. I've gotten so much done, all of which is chronicled on my Rudolph Day planning blog, Pumpkins and Reindeer. Check it out!!

I don't know yet what I want to do this Turkey Day. I've pretty well got my menu and grocery list done, as part of my CiJ prep and planning, so I won't need to do that. I would like to work on those plates I discussed earlier...if I can find the time (and, more importantly, remember to get the stuff). I'll be back to let you know what I've decided and how I've progressed...and maybe even share a picture!


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Thank you, Ms. Deen!

Although my Granny used to make Gooey Butter Cake, Paula Deen is the one that introduced me to the variations of this rich, flavorful, fat-filled delight! I love the pumpkin version, and I've made it that past two Thanksgivings...and it's been a big hit, both times. I can't wait for Thanksgiving in June so that I can make it again! Check out the Haunted Hamlet for my favorite Halloween version!! This is from Paula's book, Lady and the Son's Just Desserts

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake
1 (18.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix
1 egg
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (16-ounce) box confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well. Pat into the bottom of prepared pan and set aside.
Still using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth; add eggs and vanilla. Dump in confectioners' sugar and beat well. Reduce speed of mixer and slowly pour in butter. Mix well.
Pour filling onto cake mixture and spread evenly. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Don't be afraid to make a judgment call on the cooking time, because oven temperatures can vary. You want the center to be a little gooey, so don't bake it past that point!
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into squares. Just remember that these wonderful little cakes are very, very rich, and a little will go a long way-even for piggies like me!

Pumpkin Gooey: This variation has to be at the top of my list, especially around Thanksgiving. For the cake part, I sometimes use a spice cake mix. I have even used a chocolate cake mix, but I think my favorite is the basic yellow cake mix. Follow the original recipe, adding a 15-ounce can of pumpkin pie filling and an extra egg to the cream cheese filling. Bake as usual, remove from oven, and allow to cool. Cut into squares and top each square with a pecan half. Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. I promise you'll never want pumpkin pie again!

Those are Paula's comments, but she's won't!!

Thanksgiving in June!

Happyalice over at Magical Holiday Homementioned that her clever hubby asked her if, since we are all celebrating Christmas in July over there, if that means we'd have Thanksgiving in June! Although he might have been joking (or maybe not!) I've decided that is a FABULOUS idea!! So, we'll be having Thanksgiving in June! It'll be the 4th Thursday in June, which is June 26, Turkey Day!! So we'll do just that...we'll have a turkey breast (cooked in the the crockpot with a package of French Onion Soup mix poured over it, it is so good!), dressing, green beans, mashed potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, rolls and pumpkin gooey cake. I am already excited about it! Thanks for the idea, Mr. Happyalice! Even though I try to do something similar on Turkey Day, this is the first time that I'm calling it "Thanksgiving in June"! Don't you just LOVE IT??


Monday, June 2, 2008

Autumn in the Country

Here's some tips from Gooseberry Patch's Autumn in the Country cookbook. If you are not familiar with these books, I highly recommend them. They are fabulous for their recipes (mostly country type food, but quick and easy usually!), but they have great tips on the bottom of each page as well.

Here's a few that I've either done or plan to do this year:

*Top decorative urns with plump pumpkins for a quick and easy doorstep welcome. Orange pumpkins are oh, so cheerful, or try white Lumina pumpkins for a ghostly appearance!

*Enjoy a weekend retreat, at home or away! Spend the day in your jammies...savor a leisurely brunch, work puzzles, re-read a favorite book or browse holiday catalogs. What could be cozier?

*Put away summer toss pillows for the season...set out warm & cozy cushions of flannel or fleece

*Go out and greet the sunrise! Wrap warm breakfast breads in a vintage tea towel before tucking into a basket...add a thermos of hot coffee or tea

*Stir caramel topping into a mug of hot cider for an instant warmer-upper

*Carve an extra Jack O'Lantern or two and deliver to elderly neighbors so they can enjoy some Halloween fun...what a neighborly gesture!

*Set mini pumpkins on top of terra cotta pots...line them up the front porch steps for a cheery welcome!

*An oh-so-simple harvest decoration...roll out a wheelbarrow and heap it full of large, colorful squash and pumpkins

*Tuck some aluminum foil wrapped apples or sweet potatoes into campfire coals for a treat. When they're tender, sprinkle with brown sugar or right from the foil packet.

And, finally a quote that I just love:

All seasons are beautiful for the person who carries happiness within. Horace Friess

Carry happiness within!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Turkey Day, wasted!

I didn't get a thing done this past Turkey Day that I'd planned once again got in the way! Oh, well...plenty of time!

I'm still looking for solid autumn colored plates, cups, saucers and bowls...I can just see a fall table set with a dark green or gold tablecloth with green, gold, red, purple and dark blue plates, each one uniquely decorated to reflect the glories of autumn...falling leaves, pumpkins, cornucopias, etc. What fun!!

I have a gorgeous amber colored hurricane globe, etched with sheaves of wheat, that I use on my fall table. I bought it last year at Kirkland's for half price-I only paid about $5 for it, but it's a stunner when filled with fresh cranberries and a pillar candle! Can't wait to use it!!

We journaled again this past Sunday in class, with Memorial Day as our theme. It was fun! They are such creative little girls!

I'll be back with some plans for June!


Monday, May 12, 2008

Turkey Day project and challenge!

The gratitude journals are going well. We made the covers last week and made our first journal entries this week for Mother's Day. They are doing great jobs.

I have decided on my Turkey Day project. I am going to hand stamp plates for serving Thanksgiving dinner. I'll be searching out solid autumn colored plates at dollar stores and flea markets, then using glass paint and rubber stamps to embellish them, then sealing them to make them usable for food. I have a book that gives detailed directions. If anyone is interested, just leave me a message and I'll post the instructions. Also, when I get one finished, I'll post a picture. I am pretty sure that Fred's has the solid colored plates for a dollar or so each...I am so excited about this! I'm thinking that I might do napkins to match, since I found out that Sam's carries fabric napkins cheap!!

Now for a little challenge:

Decide on a project for Thanksgiving-a crafty project, a food project, a centerpiece, whatever...and get it done or at least started! Only 6 months to go!!

For a small amount of inspiration, here's the wreath I have on my back kitchen door...I use it all year round, but in the fall I add the pumpkins and leaves!

Who's up for it?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dinner and Gratitude

We're trying to establish a new routine at our house. Everyone has to tell one thing they are grateful for that day at the dinner table each night. So far, so good. When you have little kids-Benjie and Jonah are 6 and 7-the things they are grateful for are sometimes entertaining. I'll try to keep a list of them and report them to you periodically.

I taught a lesson on gratitude last Sunday to my 6th and 7th grade girls, and tomorrow I'll finish it. It's from Psalms 107, and we didn't even get half way through it. If you haven't read that chapter, you should. It's awesome!

I also introduced the idea of the gratitude journal to them. We'll make it the first week in May. I plan to let them decorate the covers (cardstock) and then staple them together with 8 pages in each. We'll journal 8 times this summer-twice each month in May, June, July and August. Then we'll take them apart, I'll have the covers laminated and the journals bound with plastic combs. Then they will have something they can keep and refer back to, and hopefully will continue to add to. That's the plan, anyway!

I plan to make my own journal, and to write it in every week, but especially on Turkey Day!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

New dessert

I made a new dessert last night, and it was good. It'll definately be going on the menu for holidays, including Thanksgiving. It is actually not a new recipe, just newe to me. It's 4 Layer Chocolate Delight, and Lynn's mother used to make it. It's so good, and it can be tweaked in a number of Bunco friend Debbie made it with strawberries...I'm thinking it would be yummy with bananas and vanilla pudding. Here's the basic recipe! Oohh...think how good it would be done with pumpkin instead of pudding...or maybe like a pumpkin mousse...hmmm...

4 Layer Chocolate Delight

1 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup melted margarine or butter
2 tablespoons sugar

Mix all together and press into a 9x13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Let cool, then

Mix together:
1 package softned cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cool whip

Spread over the crust, then

Mix together
1 large (family sized) box instant chocolate pudding mix
3 cups milk (I used chocolate milk...double yummy)
1 cup cool whip

Spread over the cream cheese mixture, then spread another cup or so of cool whip over the entire dessert. Let chill for a few minutes, if you can bear to wait. If not, eat it a little soft. Either way, it's good!

I'm going to experiment with the recipe between now and Thanksgiving and see what else I can come up with.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Gratitude Journal

This is a picture from last fall of some ornaments I made for the fall tree. I am going to make some this year and fill them with candy for take-home favors. What do you think? I'm also thinking about filling them with small lists of things we're thankful for...not sure how that will play out just yet! That's the great thing about starting 7 months can tweak things like you want them!

On her Turkey Day Journal, Ginger mentioned a Gratitude Journal. This is something else cooked up over at Magical Holiday Home...I'm telling you, these girls are fabulous at coming up with cool stuff.

I haven't been as faithful as I should with a gratitude journal, but I'm going to start one. It's simply a list of things you are thankful for. I remember BBJ (before Benjie and Jonah), when Jacob was little, every night Lynn and I would sit on his bed at bedtime and each one of us would have to mention 3 things that we were thankful for that day...and no copying! It was amazing how you start paying attention to things to be grateful for to report in that night! I don't know why we stopped doing got in the way, I guess, not to mention two babies, but I want to start doing it again. Jonah has to journal every Thursday night for school, so I'm giving him prompts to write about what he's grateful for. Also, I'm thinking I'm going to start this in my Sunday School class...I'll get each one of them-there's only about 5 on a big day-their own little journal ($1 shop has some cute ones) and make it a monthly lesson to write in them. I just came up with that idea, but I'm liking it!!

My Turkey Day challenge for April:

*purchase journals for me, the boys and my class to start Gratitude Journals
*resume listing 3 things we're thankful for every night-maybe around the dinner table

What about you? Are you grateful enough? Are any of us?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Turkey Day plans

Turkey Day is coming up at the end of the month (the fourth Thursday), so I decided to go ahead and get some plans made, because this is a CRAZY month!

For April Turkey Day, I plan to start working on some new recipe ideas for appetizers, desserts and sides for the big meal. I also want to start working on some decorating ideas, tablescapes and autumn favors for guests to take home.

Check back in a few weeks to see what's new!

Here's a quick picture from last fall...enjoy!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Turkey Day

On this blog, I'll be discussing my thoughts and plans for Thanksgiving. The fourth Thursday of every month has been declared "Turkey Day", dedicated in part to preparing for Thanksgiving and other fall holidays.

I love's my favorite holiday next to Christmas. I love the parade, the food, the fellowship...I love it all! So, at least twice each month I'll be checking in here to make plans and let you know how I'm doing on them!

This is in response to Ginger's challenge at Magical Holiday Home. She keeps us on our toes! I'll be linking her blogs and others as soon as i have time!

Check back on the fourth Thursday for some Scarecrow Soup!