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Archive for January, 2014

enchiladas platedIf you are hosting a crowd this weekend for the Super Bowl, these beefy enchiladas are filling and easy to make.

Ingredients. The pot is holding some very hot beef.

Ingredients. The pot is holding some very hot beef.

Shred your beef or cut it into pieces. Layer it on corn tortillas.

Shred your beef or cut it into pieces. Layer it on corn tortillas.

Roll up the tortillas and place in a large baking dish.

Roll up the tortillas and place in a large baking dish.

Cover with cream of celery soup. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes, until soup is bubbling and edges are brown.

Cover with cream of celery soup. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes, until soup is bubbling and edges are brown.

Add a layer of cheese and return to oven for just a few minutes, until cheese melts.

Add a layer of cheese and return to oven for just a few minutes, until cheese melts.

Serve immediately with cream cheese, salsa or your choice of toppings.

Serve immediately with cream cheese, salsa or your choice of toppings.

 

Beefy Enchiladas

2 cups shredded beef

1 1/2 cups shredded cheese

1 can cream of celery soup

1 package of corn tortillas

NOTE  – I put stew meat in the slow cooker with a little chicken broth and let it cook all day. You could easily do this a day or two before so your meat is cooked and shredded before you assemble. Also – we don’t (can’t or won’t) eat a lot of spicy foods, so if you want to jazz this up, add peppers and onions to your meat and use a can of chiles mixed into the soup.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray.

In each tortilla, place meat in the center and roll up, placing seam down in the baking dish. Continue until you’ve filled the pan (we used eight shells, but they were good-sized.) Spoon soup over the top and bake uncovered for about 20 minutes or until soup is bubbling.

Sprinkle cheese over the top (I used Colby-Jack, but you could also use cheddar or a spicy cheese) and return to oven until cheese is melted.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, chopped tomatoes, olives, or whatever your heart desires.

She Who Likes Easy  To Make Entrees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Red Envelope  posted a beautiful, fabulous blog with ideas for entertaining in 2014.

With their permission, I’m sharing it with you today!

how to entertain in 2014

The New Year has arrived, and with it comes a bevy of predictions about what to expect in 2014. Our favorites come from experts in exciting industries like interior design, fashion, art and technology.

While the future is anyone’s guess, cultural trends are a wealth of inspiration for the modern hostess. We’ve culled the predictions from experts across the web to find the trends most likely to influence your entertaining decisions in 2014. If you want to host trendsetting events this year, then these are things you need to know when planning your parties.

Party Planning Gets Personal

According to craft retailer Michaels, the art of handwriting will be making a reappearance in 2014. This is a continuation of popular trends like hand-sketched illustrations and chalkboard art, but expect it to take on new forms this year.

handwritten invitation

Incorporate this trend into your party by eschewing evites in favor of mailed invitations addressed in your own handwriting or, for more formal occasions, calligraphy. While sending a handwritten invitation for an intimate dinner party is feasible, writing out custom invites for a large retirement party is beyond the scope for most of us.

Instead, party planner David Stark recommends combining the convenience of technology with the warmth of a personal message, “Sometimes we’ll send a digital invitation, but then we’ll send a hand-written note as a reminder, letting guests know we can’t wait to see them there.”

Color Trends

According to the color experts at Pantone, the Color of the Year for 2014 is Radiant Orchid. “It is an expressive, creative and embracing purple … a captivating harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones.” The designers at Sherwin-Williams are in agreement, naming their favorite color for 2014 Exclusive Plum, “a sophisticated violet” that balances “cool blue and feisty red with a splash of gray.” Both pair well with the many shades of green, blue and turquoise currently trending among designers and highlighted as top accent colors for the coming year.

When choosing party decorations, incorporate hues like lavender, orchid, indigo and turquoise into your color palette to take advantage of this burgeoning entertaining trend.

lavender and gray dessert table

This lavender and grey dessert table from Amy Atlas, photographed by Johnny Miller, combines several shades of purple with a cool, neutral gray for a color palette that is nearly monochromatic. The soft tones are sophisticated enough to work for many different occasions, like a birthday party or bridal brunch.

purple and fuschia tablescape

You can set a table with bright colors like fuchsia, orange and orchid to infuse any event with a festive party spirit. Amy from Living Locurto decorated her birthday with pops of energetic color that made turning 40 fun.

red orchid tablescape

Modern Wedding celebrated Pantone’s color of the year in a special photo spread filled with Radiant Orchid inspiration. This table combines lush purple hues with bright red and pink, creating a romantic tablescape that exudes love.

Egyptian-inspired table

Paired with a vibrant shade of turquoise, hues like orchid and plum take on a more jewel-like appearance that is rich and bold as seen in this Egyptian-inspired table by Petalicious Flowers.

Décor Trends

Decorating is an intensely personal subject filled with varied opinions, yet still there is consensus among the experts on several trends. Look for light woods with natural grain, oversize floral prints, large-scale geometric wall paper, Asian-inspired accessories and new animal accents in 2014.

Test out this year’s hottest looks by letting the top 2014 interior design trends inspire your party decorations.

botanical dinner party

Yeti and the Beast set out reclaimed wood serving trays with bamboo plates and utensils to bring the fresh feel of natural wood to this botanical-themed party table photographed by Meghan Sadler. Light wood looks lovely paired with this season’s beautiful floral prints, or even real flowers.

floral paper lanterns

Update your paper lanterns from last summer with this year’s prettiest trend. Christy of One Handspun Day offers instructions for beautifying outdoor lights by adding floral fabric and a touch of pastel paint.

cherry blossom tablescape

Kate Webber photography captured this cherry blossom tablescape which mixes elements from 2014’s top trends: Asian-inspired cherry blossoms and rustic wood.

On a side note, several lifestyle experts have also written treatise on trends that need to go in 2014. Several, including blogger Jennifer Perkins of Naughty Secretary’s Club, put chevrons on that list. The next time you’re choosing patterns for your party—whether it’s a table runner, napkins or a pennant banner—think beyond the chevron and try herringbone or flame stitching as suggested by Tastemaker.

Food & Drink Trends

Many upcoming food trends take their cue from recent years. Health foods are expected to make a strong showing on most menus, influenced by increasing interest in foraged foods.

Another idea we’re loving is the introduction of more all-natural convenience foods, a category termed speed scratch. Thanks to movements like this, a busy hostess can prepare a delicious, healthy menu without spending all day in the kitchen.

In addition, here are some other delicious ideas for better menu planning in 2014.

exotic meat charcuterie

A charcuterie of exotic meats will tempt guests to experiment with never-before-tried flavors. Many fine grocery stores are starting to stock unusual meats, or check out Honest Food for a wonderful primer to help you learn how to cure your own meat. Photo by Holly A. Heyser.

wild garlic biscuits

Farm to table is so 2013. This year’s eyebrow-raising edible is foraged, a style of cooking which takes native or invasive plants and stirs them up into something unexpectedly delicious, like these Wild Foraged Garlic Biscuits by pastry chef Sarah Villamere. Photo by Yossie Arefi.

Beeroness pulled chicken sliders

Booze you can bite into will delight foodies this year. Trends that started with desserts like adults-only milkshakes and boozy marshmallows, will continue to grow with more food-drink combinations on the horizon. The Beeroness has this recipe for Pulled Chicken Sliders with a tantalizing beer and brown sugar sauce that can be made in a slow cooker—a big time-saver for busy party planners.

basil gin smash

Now that the craft beer movement is firmly established, craft spirits are the new rising star. Artisanal spirit makers are making quite a splash with the cocktail crowd, so much so that even major manufacturers are launching new lines of small batch booze.

In addition, bartending legend Dale DeGroff expects more artisanal gin to join the shelves of handcrafted rum, vodka and tequila this year. Try a Basil Gin Smash from Food Fanatic with your favorite specialty gin to get an early start on 2014.

chamomile whiskey cocktail

Teetotaler takes on new meaning this year. Even when it’s green, tea is the new black, and it’s popular in everything from food to cocktails. This Chamomile Whiskey Cocktail is one example that is easy to make in advance so you can spend more time mingling with guests.

lemon blueberry ice cream sandwiches

Ice cream sandwiches are predicted to be the top dessert for 2014. Andrew Freeman, chief executive of San Francisco-based hospitality firm Andrew Freeman & Co., even predicts they will replace cupcakes as the “in” dessert this year. Try a homemade version to capitalize on the gourmet trend, like these Lemon and Blueberry Ice Cream Sandwiches from Shutterbean.

The hottest trends from every genre will always tend to cross-over. The season’s best parties will inevitably reflect what’s walking down the runway, playing on the radio and being served in the top restaurants. We expect 2014 will bring plenty of new inspiration from these sources for another great year of party enjoyment.

***

Aren’t these great ideas? I personally am completely in love with the rose paper lanterns. And ice cream sandwiches. Who doesn’t love ice cream?

Check out Red Envelope for some amazing ideas!

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Love at the 20 Yard Line Cover

Love at the 20-Yard Line is available for your reading pleasure today! (And yes, I know t his is shameless self-promotion, but what’s a girl to do when she has a new book out and wants to share it with the world?)

If you enjoy football and a fun romance – I think you’ll really enjoy Brody and Haven’s story.

I had so much fun with these two characters (and the supporting characters, as well).

Here is a brief description of the book:

Love at the 20-Yard Line –  Brody Jackson lives and breathes football as a wide receiver for an arena team. Focused on his aspirations to make the NFL, he’s blindsided by the love that intercepts his plans during the first game of the season. Possessing all the skills and talent to be the best at his game, Brody isn’t properly equipped for the playing field of romance. It’s going to take all he’s got to score a touchdown with love instead of fumbling his chance at winning one sweet girl’s heart.

Successful in business but woefully inept when it comes to men, Haven Haggarty has much to learn. Coached by her outgoing cousin how to pass and receive in the game of love, Haven keeps coming up short of the goal line. Falling for the local arena football team’s handsome wide receiver, Haven realizes she needs to tackle her fears or lose a future with the man of her dreams.

You can find it on:

Kindle

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

The paperback version will be available in just a few days!

And do me a huge favor? If you enjoy the book, please tell all your friends and family about it, too!

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If any of you are hosting a gathering this weekend for the Super Bowl, here are some fun food and entertaining ideas.

Keeping in the football theme, here area few ideas for a Super-Duper Super Bowl Party!

Fun Football Burger from Hungry Happenings. If you don't want to freeze your buns off cooking burgers now, I found some great sliders in the freezer section at the grocery store.

Fun Football Burger from Hungry Happenings. If you don’t want to freeze your buns off cooking burgers now, I found some great sliders in the freezer section at the grocery store.

Try some spicy deviled eggs from Southern Living. They're sure to be a hit with your football fans!

Try some spicy deviled eggs from Southern Living. They’re sure to be a hit with your football fans!

Yummy Bacon Double Cheeseburger Dip from Too Stinkin' Cute.

Yummy Bacon Double Cheeseburger Dip from Too Stinkin’ Cute.

Taco Bites are always a crowd pleaser.

Taco Bites are always a crowd pleaser.

Porky Pie Pockets are super easy and good to make and can be eaten with one hand while the other is madly waving to cheer on the winning team.

Porky Pie Pockets are super easy and good to make and can be eaten with one hand while the other is madly waving to cheer on the winning team.

Tortilla Wrap Appetizers are also quite tasty and easy to make.

Tortilla Wrap Appetizers are also quite tasty and easy to make.

I love this idea for serving popcorn from Divine Party Concepts. You can also use canning jars for serving drinks, snack mix or candy.

I love this idea for serving popcorn from Divine Party Concepts. You can also use canning jars for serving drinks, snack mix or candy.

Football Whoopie Pies from The Finer ThingsFootball Whoopie Pies from The Finer Things

Rice Krispie Football from Life, Love, Beauty

Rice Krispie Football from Life, Love, Beauty

Truffle Cupcakes from Taste of Home

Truffle Cupcakes from Taste of Home

 

Chocolate Covered Strawberries by Calligraphy by Jennifer

Chocolate Covered Strawberries by Calligraphy by Jennifer

Football Brownies from Betty Crocker

Keep the decorations simple and to a minimum. Most likely the people coming to your house could care less about centerpieces and much more about the snacks and how well they can see the game. Use team colors for some streamers or balloons. If you want to do something fun, put prize slips inside balloons and let guests pop them at half-time. Prizes could be things from the dollar store or even a coupon for a free coffee. Nothing elaborate or that will break the bank.

You’ll have enough mess to clean up without spending hours taking down a bunch of decorations. Fill jars with candy in the favored teams colors and set them around.

Do light a few candles so your home smells inviting. Make sure your bathroom is spotless and be sure you are stocked up on the basics.

Plan to have plenty of seating, loads of extra napkins and put out a few garbage cans where people can see them. They are much more likely to pick up after themselves if you make it easy for them.

For the non-game watchers who get dragged along, set up a TV in another room with some fun movies. If kids will be attending, make sure they have a play area with plenty of activities. If the gathering is large, you may even want to hire a babysitter to keep an eye on the kiddos.

Most of all, remember to have fun and please, if any one drinks – make sure they don’t drive.

She Who Needs to Get Crackin’ on a Menu

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bubble wrapI’m pretty sure you can find a “National Day” for just about anything.

Seriously.

I say that because today is National Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day.

So in honor of this auspicious occasion, go pop some bubble wrap. At the very least, it will make you smile.

She Who Needs to Go Find Some Bubble Wrap

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banana pie plated

Yesterday was National Pie Day.

On Facebook, I asked the question “What’s your favorite pie?” and got so many yummy responses, I had to make a pie.

Captain Cavedweller loves banana cream pie, so I decided to make one for him (and I may have eaten a piece, too).

This recipe has a few steps to it, but it is easy to make.

 

Ingredients

Ingredients

Melt butter and stir in graham cracker crumbs.

Melt butter and stir in graham cracker crumbs.

Press into a pie pan and bake at 375 for about eight minutes.

Press into a pie pan and bake at 375 for about eight minutes. (Be prepared for your family to wander into the kitchen looking for cookies because the crust does create a warm cookie-like aroma as it bakes.)

Whip two cups of heavy cream with a little vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Set aside.

Whip two cups of heavy cream with a little vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Set aside.

Blend pudding mix with one cup of milk and set aside.

Blend pudding mix with one cup of milk and set aside.

Whip cream cheese until fluffy.

Whip cream cheese until fluffy.

Then mix in sweetened condensed milk and pudding.

Then mix in sweetened condensed milk and pudding.

Gently fold in half of the whipped cream.

Gently fold in half of the whipped cream.

 

Spread a thin layer of filling in the cooled pie crust.

Spread a thin layer of filling in the cooled pie crust.

Top with sliced bananas. (If you want more bananas, cut them into chunks and double the amount.)

Top with sliced bananas. (If you want more bananas, cut them into chunks and double the amount.)

Add remaining filling.

Add remaining filling.

Then top with the remaining whipped cream. Chill for at least an hour. Overnight would be even better.

Then top with the remaining whipped cream. Chill for at least an hour. Overnight would be even better.

And enjoy! We may have cut into this one before it was quite ready, but it was really tasty!

And enjoy! We may have cut into this one before it was quite ready, but it was really tasty!

Banana Cream Pie

For the Crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

4 Tbsp. melted butter

2 Tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

For the Filling:

2 cups heavy cream, whipped

3 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 3.4oz box instant banana cream pudding

1 cup cold milk

8 oz. cream cheese

1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk

2 ripe bananas, sliced

toasted coconut (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the graham crackers with sugar and cinnamon then blend with the melted butter. When the crumbs are moist and you can pinch them together, they are well blended. If they still seem a little dry, add a dash of water. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a pie pan. (I cheated and melted the butter in the pie pan then mixed the crumbs with the butter directly in the pan. One less dish to wash and the pan doesn’t lose any of the butter in transfer.) Bake the crust for approximately 8 minutes then cool completely.

Using a mixer, whip the cream with sugar and vanilla until peaks form. Set aside.

Mix the pudding mix with one cup of milk and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy then add the pudding and sweetened condensed milk, scraping the bowl and beating until smooth. Using a spatula or spoon, gently fold in half of the whipped cream.

In the cooled crust, spread a thin layer of the filling. Top with banana slices. If you like more banana, cut into chunks rather than slices and use three or four, instead of two. Spoon in the rest of the filling then top with the remaining whipped cream.

Carefully cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour (overnight is even better).

To serve, decorate the top with toasted coconut and banana chunks (or a drizzle of caramel or chocolate).

She Who Had a Very Happy Husband When He Tasted This Pie

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Drizzle on some caramel sauce and enjoy!

It’s National Pie Day!

A yummy hooray to that!

My dad always says he only likes two kinds of pie – hot and cold. So for all you pie lovers out there, here are a few of my favorite pie recipes.

I was nearly giddy at this point in the game because the crust was so easy to handle. Mine would have been in about 10 pieces or flaky messiness at this point with my old stand-by pie crust recipe.

Let’s start with a recipe for the flakiest, best pie crust.

Apple Pie Bite platedApple Pie Bites

 

slice-of-pieOld Fashioned Apple Pie

RF pie platedCream Pie

choc-rasp pie with berries up closeChocolate Raspberry Ritzy Pie

 

raspberry pie bakedRaspberry Cream Pie

Pumpkin Pie Bites

Zest a fresh lemon. As the scent fills your kitchen with a divine fragrance that makes your knees week, try not to pass out on the floor. Spouses, children and pets may find that disturbing.

Lemon Meringue Pie

orange pie finishedOrange Dream Pie (great in the summer!)

She Who Will Be Making a Pie Today

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