Brunch · entertaining · Hostess Goals · organization · Time management · Uncategorized

Tips For Hosting a Stress-Free Shower

wedding shower 1

I love hosting showers! Babies and weddings are just fun events to celebrate! They are both gifts from God, and that alone makes them special!  This past Saturday I had the blessing of having a wedding shower in my home for a sweet young woman who has been a part of my Adult Bible Fellowship this year.  I had so much fun coming up with a menu and decorations to help her celebrate her upcoming fall wedding!

I thought I’d show you how I plan and work ahead of time to keep things from being too stressful the morning of the shower.

  1. Decide on a menu – I went with brunch and served:
    Egg and Sausage sliders
    Strawberry White Chocolate Scones –
    Crackers with Cheese Dip
    Fresh Fruit & Dip (Provided by a friend)
    Cappuccino Punch/Coffee/Water
  2. scones
    These are wonderful!!!

    Decide on a color scheme – I used pink and deep maroon flowers, the colors of the bride’s wedding.

  3. Begin to decorate the week before.  Here are some things I had done before Friday~
    Flower arrangements
    Mantle decorated
    Sketched on my chalkboards
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  4. Make/prep whatever food you can ahead of time.  My do-ahead’s included:
    Cooking the sausage for the sandwiches
    Cutting strawberries for the scones
    Putting all the dry ingredients for the scones in Ziploc bags, ready to mix
  5. Get out all the dishes/platters you’ll need ahead of time. The night before set the tables, label platters and places where the food will be placed.  I use sticky notes on the platters telling what food goes there.  Then the day of the shower, if someone wants to help, they know where to put things. or if I’m working alone, that keeps me from getting frazzled!
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  7. Cute chalkboard labels are great to label food platters
  8. Get the pitchers, utensils, plates and napkins ready.
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  10. The day of the shower, try to have the food ready for the oven, or finished, if possible  30-60 minutes before your guests arrive. Then you can have the kitchen clean and  you’ll be ready to greet your friends as they come.
    Also, accept help if others offer!  A friend from church did the fruit and the punch.  My daughter came an hour early and helped me finish plating food.  Oh,and having a husband who is so wonderful to do dishes is a super-duper blessing!!!!

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Working ahead is the best way to keep from being stressed.  A relaxed hostess can make her guests feel welcome because she really will be glad they came!

Happy showering!

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

Christian Life · entertaining · hospitality · Hostess Goals

Serve the Gospel

hostess a

Wow.  I love being a hostess and having people in my home!  It’s just a blessing to throw open the door and invite them in.  I love sharing what I have cooked or baked.  It’s also fun to just share a steaming cup of coffee in ceramic mugs.  It’s fun setting out my pretty dishes, linen napkins and basket full of silverware so everyone can help themselves to a casual buffet-style meal. I also love setting the table for a sit-down brunch or dinner.  Either way, bowls full of steaming hot foods are shared while the conversation pours out easier than the full pitcher of tea.

Southerners are typically noted for entertaining.  We have books written on the subject and even magazines overflowing with recipes and tips for success, but for a follower of Christ, if one ingredient is missing we will have served that food in vain.  As a child of the Lord Jesus Christ, we must share the Gospel.  It must be as natural a part of our conversation as adding the bananas to the Banana Pudding.  Oh yes, it’s that important. Let me share why.

First, our home is really the easiest place in which to share the Gospel – the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.  We’re on our own comfortable turf.  We have control over the conversation topic and we can steer that subject matter in a causal way to the Theme of Themes.

Secondly, the Gospel should flow from a believer’s heart in a way that serves others.  Because Christ served in humility by dying on the cross, we learn to serve others by sharing with them the Truth that will do far more for them than our fried chicken or Coconut Cake.

Lastly, our ultimate goal in opening our home must come from a heart that desires to bring every person who walks in our door to an understanding that Christ loves them and offers eternal life through a relationship with Him. The conversation may be brief, but it should be even more important than making sure everyone’s glasses stay full.

How to do that?

  • Look for an opportunity to share your own testimony of how you were saved.
  • Ask gentle questions .
    • How do you see God at work in your life right now?
    • Do you have any spiritual beliefs?
    • Do you believe in a heaven and hell?
    • How do you think a person goes to heaven?
  • Share with your guests something the Lord has taught you in His Word.
  • Open the door for them to return to do a Bible study with you.

This conversation should be as natural as you offering another biscuit.  Make it part of the table talk as you’re enjoying dessert and coffee. The more we do it, the easier it will become.

Even if your guests are all believers, share the Word together.  Ask what God is teaching them, what burdens they are bearing and how you can pray for them, then do it before they leave your home.

I’ve failed miserably at this over the years, but the Lord has been awakening in my heart the need to serve the Gospel each time my doors open to a guest.  It’s the most important Theme of any social gathering in my kitchen and I pray it is in yours, too.

How do you share the Gospel in your home?

Denise Signature 150 px

entertaining · snack

Sweet & Salty Treat

pretzels a

With the holidays around the corner, you will probably need a little treat.  If you want to make something that’s super fast and super delicious, I have the perfect suggestion.  I’m not sure you could even call this a “recipe” because it requires no baking or even baking skills!  Melt some chocolate, caramel and pour over pretzels.  That’s pretty much what you do!  Here are the ingredients and the instructions:

Ingredients
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used a chocolate bar I had on hand)
  • 8 ounces mini pretzel twists , half of a regular 16-ounce bag
  • 11 ounce bag Kraft Caramel Bits
  • Sea salt for sprinkling

pretzels

Instructions
  1. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Melt 8 ounces of the chocolate chips gently in the microwave (on low heat, stirring every 15 seconds) until smooth.

  3. Spread the chocolate evenly over the parchment. Immediately add the pretzel twists over the top (it’s fine if they overlap!) and gently press them into the chocolate.

  4. Add caramel bits to a microwave safe bowl with 2 tablespoons water and melt according to package instructions (on high for 2 minutes). Stir well and drizzle the melted caramel over the top of all of the pretzels.
  5. Melt remaining 4 ounces of chocolate and drizzle over the caramel. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Refrigerate until hardened.
  7. Cut into pieces, I found it best to serve them in cupcake liners for individual servings.  It looks better than a pile would!

pretzels 2a

These are delicious and so easy.  What event is coming up that you could take these to?!  I took them to the Pinterest Party at our church this past weekend and came home with empty platters!
With love from my country kitchen,
Denise Signature 150 px
baking · cakes · dessert · entertaining

Best-Ever German Chocolate Cupcakes

Last week I shared with you about the Fall Bridal shower I had the joy of hosting.  However, I left you hanging about the most important component of the day – DESSERT! I had asked the bride-to-be what her favorite cake was and learned that she loves German Chocolate.  I set out looking for what looked like the best Cupcake recipe.

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I found it via Pinterest – it is Ina Garten’s recipe – always a winner in my book!  These were the most moist little cakes – even before the decadent icing was added!  The buttermilk and sour cream do the trick!  Even if you don’t love German chocolate icing, you need this chocolate cake recipe!  But if you’re a German Cake lover, too, I bet you’ll love them as much as we did!!

 

The recipe says it Makes 14 cupcakes – I got more like 21!

Ingredients:

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream at room temperature
2 tablespoons freshly brewed coffee
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with 14 paper liners.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it’s completely blended.

3. Divide the batter between the cupcake pans (I use one rounded 2 1/4-inch ice cream scoop per cupcake). Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

GERMAN CHOCOLATE FROSTING
For 14 cupcakes

Ingredients:

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 extra-large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted
1 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the milk, sugar, egg yolks, almond extract, vanilla extract, and salt with a wooden spoon. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Lower the heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes until the mixture thickens a little and coats the back of the spoon. Don’t allow it to boil! If the mixture gets lumpy, turn off the heat and beat it vigorously with a whisk. **My personal note on this would be to cook it a little longer than five minutes, or at least be sure you can refrigerate it overnight so it has time to get nice and thick!  My icing did drip a little, but it was spreadable the next morning and delicious!

2. Off the heat, add the coconut, almonds, and pecans and allow to cool about 1 hour. Frost the cupcakes with a dinner knife or metal spatula

Whatever your need for cake is in the near future, these little chocolate cupcakes will make your guests smile!  I plan on making these again this week for a whole different celebration and a new icing!  I’ll share in an upcoming post!

Happy baking!

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

entertaining · Fall · hospitality · snack

Bridal Shower & Fun Food

bridal shower 4

I love hosting showers – Bridal showers, Baby showers – they’re just so much fun!  It’s great to get a little creative with the display of the food, as well as the decor, but then the food can be a whole mixture of things you wouldn’t normally put on your menu, like snack foods.

I got to host a bridal shower here a couple weekends ago and using the Theme “Fall in Love” I decorated with fall items, and fixed fall-type foods.  Here was the menu:

Chili Bar
Fritos ~Hot Dogs~Crackers
Cheese Ball
Munch & Crunch Mix
Veggie Tray ~ Hummus ~ Ranch Dip
German Chocolate Cupcakes
Cider~Iced Tea~Coffee~Water

bridal shower 3

Today I’m going to highlight and share the Crunch & Munch Snack Mix – it was a new recipe to me and I loved it!  From the way it disappeared during the shower, I think everyone else enjoyed it, too!  It’s another Gooseberry Patch recipe. It’s the perfect blend of a little spicy and a little sweet. It mixes up in ten minutes and takes 25 minutes to bake.  I doubled the recipe, and would advise you to do the same.  You have a whole bag or box of each of the ingredients; it only makes sense to use it while it’s fresh!

bridal shower 1a

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mini pretzels
  • 1 cup corn chips
  • 1 cup oyster crackers
  • 1 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seed kernels
  • 1 cup honey-roasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper – I left this out.  Add if you love spicy foods!

Toss together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; set aside. Whisk together butter and remaining 6 ingredients in another bowl; pour over snack mix, stirring to coat. Spread mix in a roasting pan; bake at 300 degrees for 25 minutes, stirring after 12 minutes. Cool completely; store in an airtight container.

bridal shower 1b

bridal shower 5a

For the decor, I used large, square flannel scarves as “runners” and then used all my fall pumpkins, gourds, bittersweet branches and even some branches from outside.  I filled a tall vase with the real branches and tied cardboard leaves on.  I asked each guest to take a leaf off and write her best piece of marriage advice for the bride-to-be.

bridal shower 6

We had a great time honoring the bride and the fellowship we enjoyed around the fall foods was a special blessing!

I hope you’ll try the snack mix – it would be great for any gathering or even movie night at your house!  You might make up small bags-full for your favorite Halloween Trick-or-Treaters!

If I told you the snack mix was my favorite thing I served that wouldn’t quite be true because THE CUPCAKES…Oh my!  You’ll have to wait until next Monday for that recipe, though.  Until then, enjoy Crunching and Munching!!

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

baking · Bread · Cooking · dessert · Dinner · dinner in 30 minutes · entertaining · Fall · main dish · Pasta · soup

Roll Call of Fall Favorite Foods

I’m not sure what it is about fall and winter that bring a variety of foods to our mind, but aren’t we all thinking about comforting casseroles, warm soups, and pumpkin everything?  I thought I’d gather together some of my favorites in those categories and highlight them all in one post for you today!  My recipe index here on my blog could be overwhelming, so maybe this list of a few favorites will help your October to be delicious!

meat loaf meal
I’m not a mac and cheese fan, but this recipe is fabulous!!!  I’d eat it every day if I could!

Casseroles
Mexican Chicken Casserole
Countryside Chicken Bake
The Best Ever Mac and Cheese
Taco Casserole
Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes and Cheese

Breads
Nutty Orange Coffee Cake – Perfect for breakfast or brunch!
French Breakfast Puffs – Breakfast or brunch
Butter Dips – Delicious with supper!
Low-Fat Baking Powder Biscuits – Any time you need a biscuit – breakfast or supper!

Soups
Spicy Chicken Corn Chowder
Sausage Corn Chowder
Butternut Squash Soup – I made this again last week.  It’s heavenly!
Taco Soup
Baked Potato Soup

Oh, this cake!!!!  Love it.

Pumpkin
Pumpkin Muffins – Great addition to breakfast or a fall supper!
Pumpkin Roll Step by step instructions in my post!  You can make this!
Pumpkin Crunch Cake – Fast and incredible!
Pumpkin Bread – Make small loaves to share.
Pumpkin Scones with Berry Butter – Oh my goodness, these are fantastic!!

Pumpkin Scones with Berry Butter Recipe
Picture credit:  Taste of Home

 

If you’ll be hosting any fall event, having guests over, or cooking supper for your own family and want to try something new and delicious, here’s a great list to pull from!  These are some of my favorite fall foods that are tried and true!

If you need suggestions for other categories – salad, easy bread, breakfast, etc.) just leave a comment.  I’ll be happy to help you!

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

 

Dinner · entertaining · Family life · home · Home making · How-to Video

Setting the Dinner Table

A part of every day life is eating a meal.  So, too, is the need to set the table.  I’ve heard many women say they don’t really know how to properly put the silverware and tableware out.  Is it just being too fussy to set the table?  No!  But if you don’t know what to do, fear not; it’s not something that requires lifted pinkies or tea cups!

My video today will show how to set a simple table, making it pretty enough for company, but also perfect for your family.  Don’t let them have your leftovers (no pun intended!). Make them feel special by making mealtime an event.  It’s really up to us to make the table pretty, and this simple video will give you a few ideas to show how.

 

What centerpiece do you have on your table right now?

Refresh your family’s dinner table!

Denise Signature 150 px