Saturday, February 27, 2016

Allison's 40th Birthday Party!

I got stuck was blessed with two younger brothers and no sisters. But - they both married wonderful women who have become more than best friends. They are my sisters!

Early in February, we celebrated Allison's 40th birthday with a surprise party for her at my parent's house.

We chose a simple country theme for the decorating. Barbecue sliders were the main course, so these blue checkered table toppers and jars full of daisies were perfect! We have tons of blue and white because of Faulkner, so we didn't have to buy anything but the flowers.

Mama found several pictures of David and Allison from high school. I think the top right one may be their first date - junior year. 

Don't they look like babies?! Everyone brought cards and put them in the basket.

I made my "famous" white cupcakes with cream cheese icing.

Everyone brought a dish. We pretty much brought all of Allison's favorites!

We had sooo much good food...

Husbands and kids were invited!

Allison's parents were there as well as her brother who was in town for the weekend.


We women all fit in the dining room...

and enjoyed the company even more than the food!

Allison is a crazy talented professional photographer. (Seriously - she is CRAZY and talented!) She hates to be in front of the camera, but here she is on the left with one of her besties from way back in high school.

We had a wonderful night celebrating this special lady! Tomorrow I'll share the recipe for my homemade barbecue sauce that I made to accompany the Boston butt sliders.

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Friday, February 26, 2016

Raspberry Mousse

Today I finish up my posting about our family Valentine's Day dinner. And, of course, I saved the best for last...dessert!

I wanted something light for dessert, so I found this recipe for Raspberry Mousse. It was a sweet ending to our Valentine's Day meal, and I think it sure looks like "love", don't you?

Guess what - I didn't follow the recipe exactly. Surprised? Me either. The only unflavored gelatin my Walmart had was a huge box for $10. I needed 2 teaspoons. Yeah. Not happening.

In a medium saucepan, mix one small package raspberry Jello with 1/4 cup cold water. Mix and let it sit for five minutes. 

Stir in 1/2 cup boiling water, 1/4 cup white sugar, one teaspoon vanilla, one tablespoon fresh lemon juice, and one cup fresh raspberries. Bring to a boil over medium heat and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for five minutes.

Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. Allow to cool at least fifteen minutes.

When raspberry puree is cool, beat two cups cold heavy cream and 1/4 cup powdered sugar until hard peaks form.

Gently fold in cooled raspberry puree.

Continue to fold gently until there are no visible red streaks. Don't deflate the whipped cream.

Use a piping bag and large tip to swirl mousse into pretty glasses. Garnish with more fresh raspberries.

TIP - If you don't have a stash of these bags and tips, go NOW to your local Hobby Lobby and get some! About every four years I buy a box. They come 100 to a box and Hobby Lobby has them for $19.99. Don't forget your 40% coupon!

I use these for making deviled eggs, icing cakes and cupcakes and for desserts, like these.

The tips are less than $1 each and having a few large ones on hand is great.

This dessert was light and delicious. The kids loved it! It makes a lot, so I put the leftover mousse in a Tupperware bowl and stuck it in the fridge. I saw each kid (at least once) take a spoon to the fridge and just dig in. (I know - double dipping and all that - but we're family!) After I thought they were done the next day, I finished it off. Let's just say they made me promise to make it again soon!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cheesy Green Chili Rice

Good morning! February is quickly coming to a close, and I'm working hard to finish up with my posts from Valentine's Day and other February events.

Yesterday I gave you the recipe for the Mojo Marinated Pork Roast. Today I'm talking salad and sides.

Yesterday, I called this "refrigerator salad", and that's a great description because I literally opened the fridge to see what I had on hand for a salad! I always have a box of baby spinach. It lasts forever in the fridge (TIP - each time you use some of the spinach, put a clean, dry paper towel in the box. It absorbs moisture and keeps the spinach from wilting and going bad.), and it's so much better for you than iceberg.  

I had served a fruit salad the day before at the Mother/Son Valentine's Day party I hosted, so I pulled out the leftovers and dipped out some mandarin orange slices and some of the pomegranate seeds. I added some slivered almonds and dressing, and Voila! 

My Cuban inspired pork needed an equally flavorful side, so I made cheesy green chili rice. As usual, I read the recipe (link above) and then proceeded to make it my way.

I began by cooking two cups of (dry) rice in two cups of water. Set aside. Then I grated some Monterrey Jack cheese, and I had a half a bag of Mexican blend cheese in the fridge.

Mix the rice, Monterrey jack cheese, one 4 oz. can of drained chopped green chilies, about a half a cup of sour cream and salt and pepper to taste. (My taste needed a lot...rice is pretty bland and the jack cheese is not as salty as a cheddar.) Mix well.

Spread evenly into a greased casserole dish.

Sprinkle with the Mexican blend cheese and cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until beginning to bubble. Remove foil and cook another 10 minutes or until cheese on top begins to bubble and brown.

Green beans are my go-to vegetable. I buy a case of twelve from Costco. They're easy to keep on hand, quick to cook and MOST everyone likes them!

That's the meal! Check back in tomorrow when I share dessert...Raspberry Mousse!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mojo Marinated Pork Roast

Yesterday I shared the tablescape from our family Valentine's Day dinner from earlier this month. You can check it out here.

Here's a look at the menu I chose.

Refrigerator Salad
Mojo Marinated Pork Roast
Cheesy Green Chile Rice
Green Beans
Raspberry Mousse

We lovvvvvve pork, and the picture I found of this recipe on pinterest was so beautiful, I knew I had to make it. Here's a link, but please know I never follow recipes exactly. I use what I have, substitute when needed, and if I like an ingredient, I'll add more. 

Zest an orange.

Juice the orange. I got about 1/2 cup of juice.

OK - people either LOVE or HATE cilantro. I happen to love it. And though my family doesn't know they like it (and would probably deny liking it!), they love salsa that contains it. If you don't love it, you might need to keep walking. This recipe might not be for you! But if you don't know if you do, or don't have an opinion, give it a try. This is so good!

Pull the leaves off the stem and rough chop the cilantro. I used a bout half a bunch.

I think it called for nine cloves of garlic. I love garlic and some of my nine cloves were really the size of two! Use what you like.

It's winter now (yes, even in Alabama!), and so the only fresh herb I have right now is rosemary. I found these small packages of fresh herbs at Winn Dixie. They are only $1! That's great since often, they're about $4, which, interestingly enough, is what a pot of herbs would cost to plant yourself!

Pinch off the mint leaves, roll them and chop.

Add all this to a food processor and add orange juice. Pulse until it's a fine paste.

I also found a $1 pack of oregano (another one of my favorite herbs).

Chop it.

Add to 3/4 a cup of EVOO, along with the juice of two limes and two teaspoons cumin. 

I found this pork loin roast at Walmart. It had a thick fat cap on the bottom which I trimmed to about 1/4". Forgot to photograph that. Sorry!

Add the orange juice and cilantro paste mixture along with the EVOO mixture to a Ziploc bag and add the pork roast. Work it around with your hands so it is well coated. Marinate at least two hours to over night. I only had two hours. I wish I had done it the night before, but I was hosting a bunch of little boys and their moms! Oh well! That's what you get for being dazzled by a pretty photo without actually reading the recipe.

Preheat oven to 425. Place a cooling rack on a sheet pan and spray both with Pam. (Trust me. Spray and spray some more. I forgot to do this.)

Place the roast on the rack and discard the marinade. Salt and pepper liberally on both sides.

Roast for 30 minutes at 425. It should be beginning to turn a light brown. Reduce heat to 375 and continue cooking until the roast registers 160 degrees in the middle. This will take about an hour and fifteen more minutes.


Remove from oven and tent with foil for about 15 minutes. 

I used my electric knife to slice the roast on the diagonal against the grain.

This was soooo good. Everyone loved this roast! I had about half of it left over, so I put it in the freezer. I plan to pull it out this morning so it can thaw in the fridge for dinner on Thursday night. I'm thinking sliced on a hamburger bun...

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Family Valentine's Day Dinner 2016

I've spent the last week sharing details from the Mother/Son Valentine's Day Party I hosted on February 13th. Today I'll show you what I did for my family on Valentine's Day.

First - you'll notice the red checked runner I told you about in my first post about the Mother/Son party. You can read more about that here. Long story short, I made two of them out of fabric I bought years ago for matching PJ's for the kids. It's been in my closet for a long time just waiting to be used! I plan to see how many different ways I can use it this year.

You can see it above, and now here's what it looked like the day before...

Close...but the different colored accents changes the look, don't you think?

Back to the family dinner...

I used my everyday dishes ("White Satin" by Nikko) and my everyday flatware ("Austen" by Yamazaki). Both were wedding gifts. I placed the dishes on top of some wicker chargers I've had for years. I can't remember where or when I got them, but I love the texture they give the table.

I used a set of blue stems that I have had for a long time ("Virginia" by Fostoria) and mixed it with a vintage set I found on ebay. I'm not sure of the pattern or maker, but they're a red hobnail pattern that I love! $20 for 4 included s/h. I hope I can add to these over time.

You know me and napkins. Since I used my white linen tablecloth and "recycled" the table runner from the party the day before, I allowed myself to splurge on the red tumblers and fabric for these napkins. I found this Waverly print at my local Walmart and bought 2 1/2 yards - enough for eight napkins. I love the vintage look of this print!

I also reused the flowers from the day before - where I had actually reused the white daisies from the WEEK before! I scattered some leftover candy conversation hearts along the table and finished it with white tealight candle holders.

Of course this blue and red tablescape matched the blue and red hearts I hung on the backs of my chairs. I thought it was just right for our family Valentine's Day Dinner.

Check back tomorrow for recipes!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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I wouldn't want you to miss one crazy thing...