(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

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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.

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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

 

 

Being the Best Guest/Best Hostess

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If you’re blessed enough to be a guest in someone’s home for Thanksgiving tomorrow, let me remind you of a few things that will make your hostess sorry to see you leave!

  • Take a thoughtful Hostess gift – even if you’re going to your mom’s!  It doesn’t have to be expensive – just thoughtful.  Here are some ideas:
    • Tea Towel – A Christmas one she can use right away would be nice!
    • A Bag of coffee, Tea or Hot Chocolate – Find something they’d love.  Maybe include a couple pretty mugs (unless the already have 1,000,000,000,000)
    • Homemade cookies or muffins on a pretty platter they can keep.
    • Homemade bread wrapped on a cutting board they can keep.
    • Delicious smelling candle – Those 3-wick candles are wonderful!
    • Box of chocolates
    • Guest book
    • Holiday magazines, slipper socks and packages of hot chocolate so she can relax after the crowd has gone home!
  • Offer to help and then stick around and do it.  Don’t say, “Let me know if I can do anything and then leave the room.  Offer to:
    • Wash up any dishes in the sink
    • Fill glasses with ice
    • Pour beverages
    • Cut the pies
  • Keep your children in tow.  In other words, keep them from destroying your host’s home.  Bring things for them to play with while the meal is being prepared and keep them out of the hostess’s way.  Teach them to respect the property of the host.  We recently had little ones in our home (2 and 4) and you hardly knew they were in the house.  They played with toys, chatted, obeyed their parents, and were a joy to entertain!
  • If you’re staying overnight, remove the sheets from the bed the morning you leave and fold them and stack them on the washer.  Remake the bed without the sheets and leave the room tidy.  Place wet towels and washcloths on the washer, too.
  • Let the hostess rise in the morning and have a few minutes to get things together for breakfast.  It’s nice to get the coffee going and breakfast laid out before guests are staring at you!  =)
  • Don’t stay longer than you’d arranged.  Leaving promptly is as gracious as arriving promptly.

Now if you’re going to be the hostess, here are a few reminders that will keep your guests wanting to return:

  • Have something your guests can snack on before the meal is ready.  Crackers and cheese, a veggie tray or chips and salsa would be great.
  • Be prompt with the mealtime.  If you invite your guests for dinner at 1:00 don’t be peeling the potatoes then.  The gravy should be ready to pour at 1:00.  There’s nothing worse than wondering when the meal is going to be ready.
  • Think ahead about who will be there.  If little ones are coming, make it as easy on the parents as you can.
    • Have a place for the children to sit so they’ll be comfortable and won’t have the parents worrying that they’re going to destroy your white covered dining room chairs.
    • Put away anything you don’t want broken.
    • Have a little stash of toys you can bring out for the children to play with.
    • Set a table just for the children.  Include crayons and coloring place mats and fun treats.
  • Provide snacks in the room for overnight guests.  Packages of crackers, granola bars and water bottles are sufficient.  Pieces of fruit would be nice, too.
  • Provide your Internet password for overnight guests.
  • Let them know exactly where the towels and washcloths are.  Keep your pretty “untouchable” towels stashed away.  Nothing like standing at the sink with drippy hands wondering which towel to use!
  • Have breakfast foods prepared and frozen.  The night before, put breakfast foods out so your guests can help themselves.  Set out coffee cups and creamers, too.
  • Make your home inviting by playing soft music and lighting candles.
  • Be interested in your guests.  Ask them questions and listen with caring ears.  Have prayer together before they leave.

I’ve had the blessing of having VERY gracious guests, and I’ve also been the recipient of VERY gracious hostesses.  Let’s each put our best foot forward and strive to be a blessing – no matter if we’re on the giving or receiving end of the Thanksgiving Day celebration!

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you!!!

With a grateful heart,

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