Appetizer · Brunch · entertaining · main dish · Sandwich · Side dish

Around our Table

We are traditionalists on most holidays. The same foods are usually served each year on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But you know what? Sometimes it’s really fun to break out of that “mold” and do something completely different! That’s what happened this year.

My daughter hosted us for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and she and her sister did all the food. Not only did I not contribute to the meal, I wasn’t allowed to lift a finger. That was a gift in itself. They are the sweetest.

Here are the meals they planned and prepared.

Christmas Eve night, they had all appetizers. (BTW, This would make a great menu for New Year’s Eve, too!)

From Monte Cristo Sliders, Chicken sliders (something like these), Cocktail Wieners and Pizza Dip it was a delicious spread.

We had a mid-morning brunch on Christmas morning. The egg casserole Whitney made was a.maz.ing! It had all the brunchy feels to it and balanced out the sweetness of the Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Rolls that Alli and her husband made! What a way to start the day!

Here was the menu for supper
Steak with Texas Roadhouse seasoning, and Crispy Onion Straws
Roasted potatoes with Blue Cheese
Caesar Salad

Learn from a 5-year old how to eat a cookie. Fill your plate with your favorites. Look carefully at the cookie to decide which corner to attack first. Then go in and nibble away until completely devoured!

After church yesterday we were blessed to host everyone for Sunday dinner. It was very impromptu, but I made a simple meal everyone loves – Soup beans and cornbread. I used the simple recipe I’ve shared here. This is such a great meal for ease and for comfort. I served it with roasted potatoes, cornbread, and cooked apples. Even our little guys love this meal.

All these meals were great, yes, but the best part was sitting around the table as a family, thanking the Lord, chatting, laughing, listening, watching, loving, caring and serving. That’s what mealtime is all about.

Plan something simple this week and invite others to join around your table. Eat slowly. Make conversation. Serve them. Love them. There’s nothing that tastes any better!

What kind of foods did your family share over Chrismtas?

Appetizer · Budget friendly meal · Main dish. · Pasta

Cheese Ravioli Appetizer/Side Dish

I have an old recipe for you today that can serve as either an appetizer OR a side dish. It can be served any time of the year, but because it’s served with a (red) marinara or spaghetti sauce, it makes a great accompaniment to a Christmas menu! This is also a budget-friendly recipe!

This Toasted Ravioli is super fast and easy, and is a true crowd pleaser. I discovered this recipe years ago in my Southern Living Cookbook. Being crispy on the outside and cheesy on the inside, makes it irresistible! It’s a perfect finger food appetizer, but you can also serve it alongside a meal, as I did recently.

Toasted Ravioli

  • Packaged frozen Cheese Ravioli – Thawed
  • Seasoned bread crumbs
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • Cooking oil – Canola works well
  • Marinara or Spaghetti Sauce

Instructions:

  1. In a dish, combine seasoned bread crumbs and about half as much Parmesan cheese.
  2. In another dish, combine one egg and milk
  3. Dip ravioli in egg wash, then breadcrumbs.  Place enough oil in the bottom of a medium skillet. After it gets hot, add ravioli, a few at a time,  Toast until golden This will only take a couple of minutes.  Keep warm.  
  4. Serve with a marinara or spaghetti sauce.

I made this French Bread to go along with the meal. I broiled it until it was lightly browned and crisp. This has come to be one of my favorite breads to make because I can have bread in two hours from start to finish.

I hope you’ll add this ravioli recipe to your menu soon, then let me know what you thought about it!

Appetizer · Easy recipe · Fast meal · Fish

Mock Sushi Appetizer

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It’s crazy how our taste buds “grow up” as we do, isn’t it? I feel like I’ve ventured out a whole lot more in recent years, enjoying more spice than I ever would have tolerated. My husband has definitely branched out in his food choices. He grew up on the basic meat and potatoes diet, and then he married a girl who loves to try new recipes each week! He’s been so accommodating and has willingly tried everything I put on the table.

One area we’ve both grown to appreciate is sushi – him even more so than me. I love the fish – I don’t always love the additions. Knowing his love for sushi, I decided to venture out and try an easy “sushi” kind of appetizer for our Valentine’s dinner. Wow! We both LOVED it!

This recipe is from one of my favorite food blogs – Skinny Taste. She calls this a Spicy California Shrimp Stack. It’s not wrapped in the sushi paper – instead, you pile each ingredient into a measuring cup, pack it in, then flip it over onto the plate. It’s then topped with a drizzle of soy sauce and Sriracha Mayo. If you don’t have Sriracha, don’t worry – I used hot sauce in its place and it was delicious!

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My stacks aren’t quite as pretty as hers, but my measuring cups aren’t straight sides – they’re sloped, so my are more like “domes” than stacks! It didn’t change the taste, and that’s all that matters!! Here’s the simple recipe and instructions I found on her site:

Spicy California Shrimp Stack – From Skinny Taste

  • 1 1/3 cups cooked brown rice – I usually always make extra and keep it in the freezer. So handy!
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 8 ounces cooked shrimp, peeled and tails removed
  • 1 cup diced cucumber, about 1 small
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 cup mashed avocado, about 1 medium
  • 4 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 4 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons mayonnaise – I used light mayo
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce – I used hot sauce

Directions:

  • Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and oil.  When rice is done, add rice vinegar and stir.  Evenly spread rice on a sheet pan to cool.
  • Cut shrimp into 1-inch cubes. In a small bowl, combine cucumber and chives. In another small bowl, combine mayonnaise and sriracha sauce.
  • Using a 1 cup dry measuring cup, layer ¼ cup cucumber, then 2 tablespoon of avocado, then ¼ of the shrimp, and 1/3 cup rice.
  •  Carefully turn the cup upside down to turn the stack out onto a plate, lightly tapping the bottom of the cup if necessary.  Sprinkle with Furikake and drizzle with 1 teaspoon soy sauce and sriracha mayonnaise.
  •  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

This was a great appetizer, but would be a wonderful lunch, too! I’m still dreaming about the way it tasted with that spicy mayo on top. Mmmm. I can’t wait to make it again!

Are you a sushi eater? If you like shrimp cocktail, I think you’ll love this recipe!

What food do you eat today that you wouldn’t have eaten in years past?

Appetizer · Side dish

Creamy Homemade Hummus

Creamy hummus. I learned to love it when we went to Israel. Not only does it taste great as a dip, it actually has lots of good health benefits. I had only purchased it in the store until I recently watched Girl meets Farm on Discovery plus. She made the process look easy…and it really is! It’s a little time consuming, but most of that time is just letting the Chick peas soak overnight! There is very little hands-on time! (I have some lovely pictures of my hummus that I hope I’ll get to finally upload for you to see how creamy this recipe turned out!. In the meantime you can go to my Instagram and see my pictures there. You’ll find me at RefreshHerblog.)

Like any recipe, one benefit of making it yourself is that you can control all the ingredients, adding what you like. The other blessing is the cost. As I figured it, it was at least half the cost of purchasing it, and maybe even a third! This recipe cost me about $3 total and it made a huge bowl of hummus!

My notes: The recipe calls for one cup of chickpeas – I went ahead and cooked the whole bag at one time, then I froze the other half so the next time I need hummus, the chick peas will be ready to process!
This is a basic recipe that needs a little flavor. Adding a sprinkling of paprika on top is good, or adding in sun-dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers would also be good additions!

Here’s the recipe from Girl Meets Farm ~

Creamy Homemade Hummus

Ingredients

1 cup dried chickpeas

1/2 teaspoon baking soda 

3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste 

1 tablespoon lemon juice 

1/2 cup tahini 

2 cloves garlic, optional 

1/4 cup cold water 

Olive oil, for serving 

Finely chopped onion (for topping) or onion wedges (for dipping) 

Chopped fresh parsley, for serving

Fresh pita, for serving

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, cover the chickpeas with enough water to reach 2 inches above the height of the chickpeas and soak them for 12 hours.
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and place them in a large saucepan with the baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Cover them with 1 to 2 inches water and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer until the chickpeas are very soft, about 2 hours. Drain them, let them cool slightly and then transfer to a food processor.

Add the lemon juice, tahini, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the garlic, if using, and blend until very smooth, about 1 minute. With the motor running, drizzle in the water and continue to blend for 1 more minute. Taste and add additional salt to taste. Transfer to a serving dish and top with a drizzle of olive oil and some chopped onion and parsley. Serve with fresh pita and onion wedges and enjoy

You can serve hummus with vegetables or dip pita bread in it. I found lots of recipes using hummus here. If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to try it with the veggies and then branch out.

Are you a hummus lover?

Appetizer · Bread · Mentoring

Homemade Pita Bread

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If you’ve read my blog for more than a week, you know I love bread!  I love eating it, making it and I enjoy trying to bake lots of different kinds!

When I was planning a dinner this summer that included Greek Chicken, I thought about trying to make my own Pita Bread. I know you can buy it, but the last time I did, I could NOT get the pocket to separate so it could be stuffed with fillings!  Also, they’re usually dry and tasteless!  So I set out looking for a recipe that sounded perfect and doable!

Well, friends, that search led me to the best tasting Pita Bread I’ve ever put in my mouth! Honestly, every time I eat one I feel like I’m eating a pastry! The little bit of honey added gives it just the perfect taste of sweetness! Continue reading “Homemade Pita Bread”