(L)Oven Monday – Entertain with Appetizers

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Last week I had a group of women over for a night of fellowship and I wanted to serve refreshments that were tasty, but not too heavy.  So I dug into my recipes (some I’ve share here on the blog) and pulled out three appetizer dips!  I had a couple that were sweet and one that was savory.  Appetizers are fun because you can make a little meal with them.  The ladies enjoyed them and it was fun to watch them go back for more.  Here are the ones I chose for our party.

Tex-Mex Black Bean Dip

Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

S’mores Dip

bean dip

This Tex-Mex Black Bean Dip is great as an appetizer or served with a meal of Mexican foods!  It’s super good and really fast to put together!  You can make this ahead and pop it into the oven or microwave to warm up.

Tex-Mex Black Bean Dip
Ingredients
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained – I always use Bush’s Beans
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup diced tomato
1/3 cup mild picante sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Preparation

Place beans in a bowl; partially mash until chunky. Set aside.

Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add beans, tomato, picante sauce, cumin, and chili powder; cook 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add cheese, cilantro, and lime juice, stirring well. Serve warm or at room temperature with fat-free corn or flour tortilla chips.

*If you want to make this extra decadent, put softened cream cheese in the bottom of the dish and spread to cover, then pour the bean dip over top of it.  Yum!

 

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Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

If you want to do this ahead of time, mix up your fruit, but wait to add the sweet things into it right before your party.

Ingredients:

  • Variety of fruits, diced – Strawberries, blueberries, fresh pineapple, etc.
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons fruit preserves, any flavor (I used strawberry)
  • 10 (10 inch) flour tortillas (or use Stacy’s cinnamon chips or cinnamon graham crackers)
  • melted butter or butter flavored cooking spray
Cinnamon sugar:
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix kiwis, apples, raspberries, strawberries, white sugar, brown sugar and fruit preserves. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes. This is best made the same day and not too far ahead of time so your apples don’t start browning and the fruit gives off so too much juice and it gets runny.. This salsa can also be serve with cinnamon graham Crackers. Best when made and eaten the same day.

For the Cinnamon Chips:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Coat one side of each flour tortilla with melted butter or butter flavored cooking spray. Sprinkle tortillas with desired amount of cinnamon sugar. Cut into wedges and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Spray again with cooking spray (not necessary if using melted butter).
  3. Bake in the preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes. Repeat with any remaining tortilla wedges. Allow to cool approximately 15 minutes. Serve with chilled fruit mixture.

 

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This dip is heavenly!  It literally takes less than ten minutes to make and have ready to serve!  It’s always a winner!!  And if you don’t leave the party with marshmallow or chocolate somewhere on your face, you did NOT have a good time!  Ha!!  I think it’s impossible to eat this dip and not wear it!!

S’mores Dip

Instructions:

  1.  In a cast iron skillet place two cups of chocolate chips.  Place in 400 degree oven for a couple of minutes, until chocolate begins to melt.  Smooth out chocolate with spatula.
  2. Cover completely with marshmallows.  Place back in oven and watch carefully until marshmallows turn a light golden brown.
  3. Serve dip immediately with Graham cracker squares.

All these dips are simple and so good!  A party like this would be great this summer!  You could even do your S’more dip on the fire pit!  I hope you’ll try these soon!

What is your favorite food to serve or to enjoy at a girl’s gathering?

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

 

 

(L)Oven Monday – Easter Dinner 2017 Recap

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If you’ve been reading my blog more than a week, you know how I treasure Sunday dinner.  It makes my heart sooo happy! But how does Sunday dinner get even better?  It’s when Sunday dinner is Easter Sunday dinner.  On top of good food, there’s the blessing of remembering Christ’s resurrection from the dead and celebrating that truth that He lives!

So, yesterday, we did indeed have a big Sunday meal, but we started with a wonderful church service where Christ was exalted! We sang of His resurrection and heard God’s truth about how to be sure you can have eternal life!  Then we came home for dinner and included our daughter and son-in-law and a couple of other special people.  We also incorporated a few family traditions, which brings memories and makes memories.  It was a great day!

Here’s the menu:

 Brown Sugar Glazed Ham
Ruth’s Chris’ Sweet Potato Casserole
Tarragon Asparagus – New recipe
Deviled Eggs
Caesar Salad in Parmesan Bowls
Bunny-Shaped Breadsticks – New recipe
Coconut Cake with Lemon Filling

Let me roll the pictures so you can have a peek into our day and see that I also incorporated all the principles I’ve recently shared about Sunday dinner!

I worked early in the week and got the Coconut Cake baked and layers put in the freezer.  Then at the end of the week, I made the lemon curd and the icing.  It simplifies the process so much!  By Saturday night here’s what was already prepped:

The cake, the rolls, the Sweet potato Casserole, Deviled eggs, and the salad ingredients were totally ready. The table was all set, too.  I also had the roasting pan for the ham set out and ready to bake the main entree.

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When I got home from church it only required to put the finishing touches on everything and bake the casserole.

Here’s how things turned out on Sunday~

Caesar Salad in Parmesan Cups –

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Sweet Potato Casserole – The best in my book!

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Terragon Asparagus – This was new, and it was pretty good.  My asparagus wasn’t as fresh as I’ve ever gotten, so I’m going to try this again before giving it a final verdict!

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Bunny Breadsticks – Another new recipe.  These were fantastic on Saturday when I made them, but they don’t really do well the next day.  Sooo, I won’t make these for Sunday any more, but I sure will use this recipe for other days when I have time to make them for that day.  They were delicious right out of the oven!!  And how cute are they???? They can be baked into regular bread sticks if you want to make them other times of the year!

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Coconut Cake

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One tradition that we’ve had for years is Easter sunrise service outside at home.  That was a challenge (and very cold) when we lived in Indiana, but we would don our coats and head to the tree house where we would have our own Sunrise service!  Then we would come inside and have Cinnamon rolls and scrambled eggs.  Now that it’s just my husband and me, we simply eat breakfast on the patio and read Scripture together.  It’s usually warm enough that we don’t shiver, thank the Lord!  Here’s what we had yesterday:

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We had Fresh farm eggs, Prosciutto, Cream Cheese Coffee Cake, Fresh fruit and Coffee.
It was a great way to start Easter Sunday!  This is a reminder that traditions aren’t just for when your kids are at home.  Keep those traditions going even when they’re gone.  It will continue to build strong home ties, and will also give your grown kids the security of knowing that you’re still making the most of your marriage!

So, another Easter dinner is in the (memory) books, and I’ll have to say, it’s a memorable chapter!  I thank the Lord for the blessing of celebrating our Savior’s life and getting to do it at church AND at home around the Sunday dinner table.

Did you have Easter dinner?  Did you cook?  What made it special for your family?

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

(L)Oven Monday – Super-Fast Drop Sugar Cookies

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Not all sugar cookies are created equal.  Many recipes call for an hour of refrigeration before you can roll out the dough.  But what if you need a dessert in a hurry and decide that sugar cookies would be the perfect ending for your  meal for guests that’s just 45 minutes away?!

That’s exactly the predicament I was in a week ago!  I decided last minute to add cookies to the menu.  So what did I do? I made Drop Sugar Cookies!  This soft dough is whipped up in the mixer, then spooned onto baking sheets for a quick bake.  These make a delicious dessert!  Because I was in a real hurry, I only baked up one sheet (a dozen), which was all I needed, then after my guests left, I baked the remaining dough and froze the extras.  Yay for cookies in the freezer!!  This recipe was found on Pinterest and is a family recipe from The Mom Who.

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Drop Sugar Cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • ¾ cup Milk
  • ¾ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup Crisco
  • 1 Egg
  • 2½ cups Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • Sugar Sprinkles
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and baking powder.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, mix the sugar and Crisco.
  5. Then add the egg to your mixture.
  6. Next add the milk and vanilla extract to your wet mixture.
  7. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture that’s in the large bowl. Mix until incorporated. Don’t over mix!
  8. Scoop dough into 2 tablespoon sized scoops and drop them on your sheet.
  9. Bake for 6- 7 minutes and then carefully add sprinkles to the tops of the cookies. Continue baking for 2-3 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.
  11. Enjoy!
  12. *Note- You can add the sprinkles to the cookies before baking, but the sprinkles sink down into the cookies. You decide on when to place the sprinkles- Before, During, or After baking.

Is there a recipe you pull up if you need a fast dessert?  I’d love to hear what it is!

Happy Baking!

Denise Signature 150 px

(L)Oven Monday – Successful Sunday Dinner Finale

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Today is the last post for Successful Sunday dinner.  I will continue to share my recipes and what I served at my house, but as far as the 1,2,3’s, we’re going to wrap it up and get you ready to dive into that great Sunday meal for your family!

Remember that if it’s your desire to make Sunday dinner special at your house, it’s going to take some intentional effort and planning. Here were the three crucial steps before getting the meal going:

  1. Ponder the needs –

  2. Plan the menu 

  3. Prepare ahead

  • Ponder the needs -Consider any allergies or health concerns, like diabetes.
  • Plan the menu around those needs, your time and budget.  Typically if I’m making a main dish or a bread that requires lots of time, I’ll make another part of the meal easier to prepare.
  • Prepare ahead by doing everything you can on Saturday (or before).  It will lessen your stress level!
    • Set the table
    • Chop all veggies
    • Marinate meat
    • Prepare the salad
    • Prepare the dessert
    • Get the side dishes started

Let me give you a little rundown on how my week may look when I’m hosting a typical Sunday dinner…

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Early in the week – 

Wednesday – 

  • Make Rolls and freeze
  • Check to see if tablecloth or napkins need ironing

Saturday – 

  • Prep chicken dish and  go ahead and bake it.  All it needs on Sunday is to be warmed up. I wouldn’t leave this dish in the oven during church – it would dry out.
  • Peel potatoes and place in water overnight
  • Cut up apples for salad and place in lemon juice/water mixture overnight
  • Make Vinaigrette for salad
  • Wash and slice strawberries
  • Make tea
  • Set table
  • Set out serving dishes

Sunday – Before church

  • Mix salad ingredients, except dressing
  • Put potatoes in crock pot, turn on high
  • Set rolls out to rise

Sunday – After church

  • Set out a light snack for guests, if needed
  • Warm chicken either in a large pan on the stove or in the microwave on a med setting.
  • Prep asparagus for roasting
  • Mash potatoes and keep warm
  • Bake rolls – Keep warm
  • Roast asparagus
  • Put into serving dishes

Enjoy the meal!!!

Serve dessert and then pray someone volunteers to help with the dishes!

I hope this series has helped you to see that you CAN make Sunday dinner something special and memorable.  Start out small and work your way into more complicated menus.  Do what you feel comfortable with and keep trying to improve your game plan.

 

Remember that the most important ingredient of any meal is THE PEOPLE!  Don’t make it about you and your inadequacies.  Make them feel welcome and important and they will love their time around your Sunday dinner table!

Is there an unanswered question that you have?  I’d be happy to address it!  Leave me a comment here and I promise to answer you!

Let’s eat!

Denise Signature 150 px

 

 

 

(L)Oven Monday – Hot Chicken Salad

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If you thought Chicken Salad only came in the cold variety stuffed onto a piece of bread, I have news for you – there’s a hot chicken salad that is totally a comfort food perfect for winter dinner!

 In my hunger for some good ol’ American comfort food after our trip to the Middle East, I pulled out this old recipe last week.  It’s one I often made for company because it’s a great do-ahead dish.  Southerners love their chicken salad, and this is a hot version!  Hot Chicken Salad is the best chicken salad with a cheesy addition.  That cannot be a bad thing!

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If you keep roasted chicken breasts in your freezer, you could whip this together in minutes!  The  potato chip topping is both crunchy and a little salty – a perfect addition to the creamy/cheesy chicken salad underneath!  Without further ado, I give you the recipe:

Hot Chicken Salad

Ingredients

2 cups cooked chicken breast meat, cubed
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar Cheese
2/3 cup crushed potato chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl combine the chicken, celery, almonds, salt, pepper, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and cheese. Place the mixture in the prepared baking dish. Spread the crushed potato chips on top. Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly.

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Add a potato dish and a salad and the meal is complete!  It’s a picnic to make, but you’ll be glad you don’t have to wait until picnic season to enjoy this recipe!  

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

 

Simple Christmas Entertaining

Continuing the theme of having a Simple Christmas, today’s video will give several simple ways to open your heart and home during the holidays.

After watching the video, do you have an idea of something you could do?  I’d love to hear about it!  Get started making plans and then invite others to come!  Use your “substance” for the Lord!

Denise Signature 150 px

Easy Entertaining Menu

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Entertaining at any season can be overwhelming, but especially so at Christmas, right?  I came up with an entertaining menu that can be made completely ahead of time and simply warmed up when ready to serve.  This is a Mexican Food feast that is delicious and stress-free!  Talk about simplifying things – this will do just that when you invite folks over!

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Avocado Salsa

Spanish Rice

Refried Beans

Coffee Pie

spiced-pork

Spiced Pork Tenderloin Tacos

  • 1 pork tenderloin (about 4 pounds)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive

Preheat the oven to 375°. Set the tenderloin on a large rimmed baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix the smoked paprika with the cumin, garlic powder, oregano and cinnamon. Rub the pork with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture all over the pork. Roast the tenderloin until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the centers registers 145°. Transfer the tenderloins to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Using two forks, shred the tenderloin for tacos.

Salsa Ingredients

  • 1/2 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 medium tomato, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 Hass avocado, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon minced chipotle in adobo
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Warm tortillas, for serving

For Salsa:

In a medium bowl, mix the onion with the red wine vinegar and let stand for 10 minutes. Add the tomato, avocado, chipotle, oregano and olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss gently. Fill warm tortillas with the sliced pork, top with the salsa and serve.

spanishrice

The Spanish Rice is every bit as easy as a boxed brand but even tastier!  You may already have every ingredient in your pantry for this recipe!

Spanish Rice

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Mix rice into skillet, stirring often. When rice begins to brown, stir in chicken broth and salsa. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed.

refried-beans

Refried beans are not the most beautiful dish to photograph, but when they’re made from scratch, they are a beautiful thing! This recipe is so delicious.  Here’s how I made mine using the crock pot to simplify the recipe:

Refried Beans
(I halved the recipe and it made plenty for 6-8)

6 cups dried pinto beans
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch slices (or you can use salt pork, ham hock or diced ham instead)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
2 teaspoons black pepper, plus more if needed
1/2 stick butter
1 onion, diced
2 cups grated sharp Cheddar
Sliced jarred jalapenos

Put beans in a pot of water and let sit overnight.  In the morning, cook beans at medium-high temp until boiling.  Add 2 tsp baking soda.  Cook for 2 minutes. (This releases the gases in the beans and will keep tummies from feeling like they’ve eaten beans!)  Drain off water, rinse and place beans and bacon in a crock pot with enough water to cover.  Cover and cook on high for 3 hours.  Simmer butter and cook onion until tender.  Add the beans and liquid into a cast iron skillet, along with seasonings.  Cook until the sauce thickens and beans are tender.  Mash with potato masher until some beans still remain whole.  Serve with Cheddar cheese and Jalapenos.

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Coffee Pie

1 Cup Water
1 tlb instant coffee granules
30 Large marshmallows
1/2 Cup walnuts
1 cup Whipping Cream
Cool Whip
Chopped Coffee Beans or Mini Chocolate Chips
Baked pie Shell

Bake Pie shell.  Let cool.
In a medium sauce pan, boil water.  Add coffee granules and marshmallows, stirring constantly until melted.  Let cool completely.

Whip the whipping cream.  Fold into cooled coffee mixture.  Pour into bake pie shell.  Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Cover with Cool Whip and Coffee beans or Chocolate chips.  Serve (with coffee!)

Take the stress out of entertaining and make a menu like this one that can all be prepared ahead of time!  My guests enjoyed it, and if you invite people that love Mexican food, they’ll be really glad you invited them over!

Happy entertaining!

Denise Signature 150 px