baking · Easter · Entertainment · Make-Ahead · Time management · Uncategorized

Organizing Plans for a Special Dinner- Like Easter!

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This Sunday is Easter – my favorite holiday!   I’m excited about attending our church services, worshiping the Lord with a thankful heart, hearing God’s Word preached, and then having guests in our home for a special Easter dinner.  What a great day to look forward to!

Because the meal is quite involved, I knew I needed to really get my plans organized.  I even started my preparations last weekend.  I thought I’d share my plans with you about how I am working to get everything ready as much ahead of time so I won’t be  Continue reading “Organizing Plans for a Special Dinner- Like Easter!”

breakfast · Fast meal · Make-Ahead

Breakfast That is “Love In a Jar”

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Yep, you read that right – love in a jar!  That quote came from my husband when I fixed these cute little Instant Oatmeal Jars to have ready for his breakfast.  He LOVES a good bowl of hot oatmeal with fruit and a handful of nuts.

Our morning routines find my husband downstairs with coffee and Bible, and me upstairs.  Because of this, he often starts our breakfast.  This winter he had gotten really proficient at making up a couple of servings of oatmeal for us to have each morning!  That is saying a lot for a guy who only feels confident enough to make about three things – Scrambled eggs, French toast and …okay, make that two!  Though he’d learned the simple art of cooking the Quick oats, I thought I’d make it even a little easier without purchasing those nasty packets of Instant Oatmeal.

Here was the result: Instant Oatmeal Jars

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The blessing of having the jars already filled is that there’s no measuring or finding a pan or the additives.  Just open a jar, add a cup of boiling water and let it set for 4-5 minutes.  Voila!  It’s done!  You can be as creative with flavors and additions as your taste buds allow.  I made up several jars and have them in the pantry ready for any morning we’re hungry for oatmeal!

Here’s how I made mine:

Instant Oatmeal Jars

1/2 C Quick cooking oats
1 Tbl Craisins
1Tbl Chopped nuts
Dash of salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbl brown sugar

Keep in a tightly closed jar until ready to use!

When ready to use:

  1. Add 1 cup boiling water (you could use milk instead) to the jar.
  2. Stir.
  3. Replace lid and let set for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add other fresh fruits as desired. Eat!

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Here is the process in pictures:
1.
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2.
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3.
Oatmeal

4.

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We love blueberries, bananas and/or strawberries in our oatmeal!

This would make a great breakfast for a busy morning!  You could take the jar out the door with you, if needed.  Everything is contained and could be sealed back up when empty!

The first morning my husband had his “jar of oatmeal,” he sent me a text while I was getting ready upstairs.  It read,

“Now that’s love in a jar right there!”


That made me smile!! I’m on the lookout for freeze-dried fruits to add to my next batches.  I wonder what he’ll say about that?! I can’t wait to hear!

What would you add to a jar of oatmeal?  Peanut butter?  Coconut?  I’d love to hear!

Denise Signature 150 px

Cooking · Dinner · Main entree · Make-Ahead · Pasta · salad · Side dish

Summertime Pasta Salad

pasta salad

I tried a new recipe this week that I loved for several reasons:

  1. I love a cold pasta salad in the summertime.
  2. I served it alongside a BLT and it was a great side dish.
  3. This would also be a great main dish by adding grilled chicken strips, or even shrimp or crab meat!
  4. It’s also a great do-ahead dish.  I made it the night before and it was so great to have it all ready to pull out and add to a simple summer meal like BLT’s!

BLT

Tortellini Caesar Pasta Salad

This recipe was found in a Community Table magazine.  

INGREDIENTS

2 (9-oz) packages cheese tortellini

1 head broccoli, cut into small florets

3 ears corn – I used frozen corn kernels – You could use any fresh vegetable – cucumbers, zucchini or squash would all be delicious in this!

1 cup creamy Caesar salad dressing

Juice of 1 lemon

2 carrots, thinly

4 tomatoes, diced

Kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

Cook tortellini according to package directions; drain and cool.

Steam broccoli until tender, about 6 minutes; cool.

Cook corn in boiling water, 5 minutes; cool, then slice kernels off cob. I simply ran the frozen kernels under cold water and added it to the salad.

Toss tortellini, broccoli, and corn with dressing, lemon juice, carrots, tomatoes; salt to taste.

If you love pasta, you’ll love this recipe!  I hope you’ll add it to your menu, either as a side or a main dish, and do it this summer!!

With love from my country kitchen,

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dessert · Make-Ahead · summertime

No-Churn Peppermint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

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On this (L)Oven Monday, I’m sharing a recipe that has NOTHING to do with the oven!  This is all about cold, creamy homemade ice cream!  I’m thinking that homemade ice cream is dying.  That makes me sad.  Very sad!  Sure, store-bought is cheap, easy and good, but there’s something really special about making up your own flavors at home!!  You don’t have an ice cream freezer?  Then this recipe is especially for you!

No ice cream could be easier!  I found this recipe on Pinterest and had to try it because it just seemed too good to be true.  Now mind you, this doesn’t take the place of home-churned ice cream, but it is a great second!  The ingredients are few and the method is simple!  Check out this easy recipe!!

No-Churn Peppermint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

INGREDIENTS
2 cup Heavy Cream
14 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
Red or Pink Food Coloring (if desired)
1 cup Miniature Chocolate Chips
1 tsp Peppermint Extract

DIRECTIONS
Whip heavy cream and peppermint extract until stiff peaks form.
Beat in condensed milk.
Add food color and beat until color is uniform.
Fold in chocolate chips (reserve a few to sprinkle on top).
Spread mixture in loaf pan.
Distribute remaining chocolate chips on top.
Place in freezer for at least 5 hours.

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It’s as easy as these these pictures show!

This would be great served with these brownies or between two cookies or in a dish all by itself!  This is one of those great do-ahead desserts.  Mix it up, pop it into the freezer the night before you’re having company, and boom!  Homemade dessert is served!

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Who owns a freezer and makes homemade ice cream?  
Who’s going to try this simple recipe?

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breakfast · Make-Ahead

(L)Oven Monday – Baked Oatmeal Cups

Oatmeal Cups 1

Hi Friends!  Happy Monday and Happy May 1st!  I hope you all had a great week last week.  I had a restful time away, but am happy to be back here with you today sharing another great recipe!

I’ve shared my recipe here for Baked Oatmeal – it’s a great do-ahead dish.  It’s nice to have on hand for a couple of days.  But there are times when I don’t have that made up and I need to eat something before heading out the door in the morning.  I’ve recently found a recipe for a Breakfast Oatmeal Cup that is a baked oatmeal made in muffin tins, creating the perfect single-serving size.  Once baked, they can be kept in the fridge for a several days, but what I’ve been doing is freezing them and popping one into the microwave for those busy mornings.  I put one into a bowl and add milk, just like I do with my other Baked Oatmeal.  It’s so delicious, and keeps me from getting that low-sugar drop later on.  This is so good, and lots better than regular oatmeal!  I love the texture of these as opposed to the traditional bowl of oats.


You could add any variety of fruits and nuts.  This recipe is one of my favorite combos – Strawberry-Banana.  So good!  Here’s the recipe:

Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Cups

Ingredients

  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2⅓ cup low-fat milk
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup pure maple syrup – you could use honey instead, if desired
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • ½ cup sliced almonds or walnuts

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix well until everything is combined.
  2. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and scoop oatmeal mixture in using a large ice cream scoop or a ¼ measuring cup. The mixture will be a little watery, so it’s important to mix well before each scoop to make sure you get an even combination of milk and oats.
  3. Bake oatmeal cups for 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
  4. Keep in fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days or in the freezer for 3 months.

Oatmeal cups 2

To eat from frozen state, thaw overnight in fridge or in microwave, then warm for about 30 seconds.  Add milk and enjoy!

What do you keep on hand for breakfast on busy days?

Denise Signature 150 px

 

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baking · cakes · dessert · hospitality · Make-Ahead

(L)Oven Monday – A Healthy, Yummy Dessert

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Cooking Light has great recipes for Angel Food Cakes.  These cakes have no fat, making them a healthier dessert than most.  The nice thing about baking your own Angel Food cake is:

  1. They taste better
  2. You can add flavorings
  3. They cost pennies
  4. You can make it ahead of time and freeze it

This recipe  – Cafe’ au Lait Angel food has a coffee flavor and we love that!  Cafe’ au Lait means coffee with milk.  This recipe also has a custard-like sauce to serve with it,which gives the coffee flavor it’s “milk addition.  It takes regular old Angel Food to the next level, and certainly makes it company worthy!  Here’s the recipe:

Cafe’ au Lait Angel Food Cake

Ingredients

  • Cake:
  • 1 cup sifted cake flour – Don’t have any?  Try this – Take one level cup of AP flour, remove two tablespoons, and then add two tablespoons of cornstarch back in. Be sure to sift the flour to distribute the cornstarch well before using it in your cake batter.
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso granules or 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 12 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Sauce:
  • 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk, divided
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons Frangelico (hazelnut-flavored liqueur) –  I didn’t use this or substitute
  • Remaining ingredient:
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.

  2. To prepare cake, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, and cinnamon, stirring with a whisk, and set aside. Combine espresso and hot water, stirring until espresso dissolves; set aside.

  3. Place egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and 1/4 teaspoon salt; beat until soft peaks form. Add 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.

  4. Beat in espresso mixture and vanilla extract. Sift 1/4 cup flour mixture over egg white mixture; fold in. Repeat procedure with remaining flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time.

  5. Spoon batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, spreading evenly. Break air pockets by cutting through batter with a knife. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Invert pan; cool completely. Loosen cake from sides of pan using a narrow metal spatula. Invert cake onto plate.

    I had to work just  a little to loosen my cake from the pan, but it did come out whole after a few little “tugs” with my metal spatula.

    I saw that eggs are on sale at Kroger this week for .79, so it’s a good time to make one of these cakes!  I’m going to attempt to upload a video  this Wednesday of how to make this cake.  You can see just how simple it really is!  It’s really fun to venture out a little a make something a little challenging.  I hope you’ll give this a try!  Plus it’s just fun to say – Cafe’ au Lait!

    Happy baking!

    With love from my country kitchen,

    Denise Signature 150 px

    Dinner · entertaining · Family life · home · Home making · hospitality · main dish · Main entree · Make-Ahead · refreshment at home · Side dish

    (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