Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mexican Inspired Birthday Dinner

My friend Brigitte celebrated her birthday and we were happy to be able to share some time with her and her husband as well as another couple. Brigitte likes Mexican food, so I tried to carry out the theme in the menu.

For cocktail hour I served Sangria and my friend Kristen's version of Guacamole along side of Jay's salsa with tortilla and blue corn chips for dipping.

Dinner was comprised of a garden salad with a lime cilantro vinaigrette (from Trader Joe's), Spanish Rice, and Chicken Enchilada Lasagna.

Dessert was a Key Lime Pie served in a tart shell instead of a traditional pie crust. I used Paula Deen's recipe that I have used several times and it usually gets a good response.http://http//

Button Mum Presents

My sweet friend Jenna got married this summer and I had the wonderful pleasure of assisting her with a few things. She had the idea to make two gifts (made of button mums and oasis) to place in the area where guests could recognize as the place for wedding gifts. I tied the bows with raffia style ribbon and we were set.

These pics were from the Woodland Baby Shower for Baby Fife.
My inspiration was taken mostly from ideas from my favorite site: and also

Monday, July 26, 2010

Shower Menus

This summer we held three showers for girls in our Sunday School Class. I was remiss and didn't take pictures, but wanted to remember the menus.

The first shower , for a baby boy was decorated with brown as a background color with yellow, orange, turquoise, red, and lime green stripes and polka dots. I did 5 vases of flowers down the center of the table with a different bunch of the same flower in each vase:bright yellow daffodils, red sunflowers, orange alstromeria, lime green buttons, and yellow sunflowers.

Menu for Baby Lawless:

Fresh Fruit Platter

Cheese Wafers

Spinach Dip with Toast Points

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

Chicken Salad Tassies

Lemon Cupcakes with Butter cream

Vanilla Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Icing

The second shower was for a baby girl was pretty much as girly as we could get this summer (other showers were for boys). I used all different shades of pink with a little brown and white and sage green. The flowers were white alstromeria, pink roses and green hydrangeas. My sweet friend Allyson let me borrow her pink tissue paper flowers so we hung them from the ceiling over the gift table. I made a banner to hang behind the buffet table that was made of pink and pink stripes and coordinating dots and brown letters that spelled out It's A Girl.

Menu for MGT:

Fresh Fruit Platter

Cheddar Cheese Ball with Crackers

Chicken Salad Tassies

Spinach Dip with Toast Points

Brownie Bites

Grandmother's Cupcakes with Pink Butter Cream

White/Red Grape Juice Punch

We have not actually given this shower yet- a few more weeks out, but the menu is planned and pictures will be taken/posted. It will be a Woodland theme with woodland creatures.

Menu for Fife:

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Nuts

Cheese Wafers

Grape Salad

Onion and Goat Cheese Tartlets

Cucumber Sandwiches

Mini BLTs

Individual Key Lime Tarts

S'more Pops

Chocolate Cupcakes

Lime and Pineapple Punch

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Its that time of year again when we plan for our Annual Ladies' Dinner at church. A different lady hosts each table and creates her own tablescape. Last year, my theme was Easter. The menu was delicious (spinach and strawberry salad with poppy seed vinaigrette, roasted pork tenderloin with a cornbread pudding, roasted spring vegetables, and not to forget the strawberry shortcake for the dessert).

This year we are planning another delicious menu as well- spring mix salad with feta, craisins and pecans, Chicken Piccata with fettuccini noodles and roasted green beans. For dessert we will have individual key lime tarts.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Delicious Desserts

This picture was shot by my Aunt- a fabulous photographer-
The picture was from my 30th birthday celebration. Grandmother's Chocolate Cupcakes, Aunt Christy's Banana Pudding, Lemon Tartlettes and Mini Pecan Pies. The Lemon Tartlettes were an easy choice- individual puff pastries stuffed with lemon curd and then meringue piped on top. I think I may have used my Dad's pecan pie filling recipe and just placed it in phyllo cups.

There is an ongoing discussion with my family to decide whether the chocolate icing we make should include fresh lemon juice, or a small amount of coffee. I am partial to coffee- it is delicious- but my mom prefers lemon juice.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Balsamic Reduction Sauce

To my delight, I came home from dance/choir to find Jay preparing a feast that I hate was not shared by all the very special people in our lives. I walked into the kitchen to find lamb chops coated with Thyme and Rosemary and the pan heating to sear them. Asparagus was prepped and ready to be cooked and potatoes were roasting in the oven. I adore lamb chops and mom has told me many stories about Grandmother preparing lamb when she was a little girl. Grandmother would make mint sauce to drizzle over it. I love serving lamb with a mint sauce too- probably the vinegar in it which also happens to be a family favorite. For the past few times we have served lamb, I have improvised and dissolved sugar in cider vinegar and added mint to steep in it while I prepare the other components of the meal.

Jay's colleague, Richard, is an avid cook and he has been talking about making Balsamic Reductions- for berries, pears, meats, and pretty much whatever else-you name it. To my surprise, Jay decided to make a balsamic reduction to top the lamp chops. He used the recipe from All Recipes ( and it was FANTASTIC. After eating it with the lamb, I also drizzled it over the potatoes. It really was so fabulous that I had to write about it so I wouldn't forget it. While we had no reason to celebrate- this is a perfect example of how an ordinary meal can be turned into something fabulous. We even ate at our kitchen table which we never do (we normally eat at the dining table because there is much more room). I am sure we will be replicating this meal soon- it was too delicious to keep to ourselves. The picture doesn't do it justice because I took it with my phone, but at least you get the idea.

Happy New Year

This year I have decided that instead of making resolutions, I will make a list of foods that I want to make-successfully- before the end of 2010.

First on the list, while not hard, is scones. My father is an excellent biscuit maker and while I have tried to make them, I have not mastered them- partially because I use a food processor instead of working the Crisco in by hand or with a pastry cutter. So, I was determined to do scones without a food processor. I searched several recipes and found that I would try one from Tyler Florence (

After sifting the dry ingredients, I dropped in the pieces of cold butter and incorporated them by hand. All went well until time to turn the dough out to roll. It was a little wet, so I added flour and then found it easy to roll out and cut into triangles. I brushed with half and half and sprinkled one pan with sugar. For the lemon glaze, I decided that I would omit the cream and the butter and just used lemon juice and powdered sugar. I was delighted to share with my parents who enjoyed them and Jay and I enjoyed them before church on Sunday. Equally enjoyable was the fact that I served the scones on my Spode breakfast plates.

Our Tribute to Lilette

When my brother comes home for a holiday, we try to crowd into my parents' kitchen and cook together. This Christmas was nothing different except that we added a trip to Atlanta to food shop before we began cooking our meals. Jay and Dad didn't make the shopping trip but mom, Jon, and I took the Wednesday before Christmas and made plans that included shopping at Ikea (not for food, but just for the fun of it all), Trader Joe's, The Whole Foods on Ponce, and the Dekalb Farmers Market. We also planned to stop for lunch at a great Thai place called Little Bangkok (, but as we pulled into the parking lot, we found them to be closed between lunch and dinner. So we ate at Whole Foods instead.

Our meals this year included some of the following:

Jon's Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo

Pan Seared Venison Tenderloin (fresh from Jay's hunting excursion) with the best demi glace/bourgandy reduction sauce that wasn't made by someone who graduated from Cullinary School.

Toast Points with Truffle Butter and melted Parmesean- A tribute to Lilette's "White truffle parmigiano toast with wild mushrooms, marrow and veal glace" (

Potato Gnoccho with Parmesan/sage cream sauce- also a tribute to Lilette's "Potato gnocchi with sage brown butter and parmigiano cream" (

A delicious fresh fruit tart with berries and kiwi.
Fruit Tart is a picture taken by Christy Stanfield:

Grilled Oysters

This fall, my husband and I took a trip to New Orleans to visit my brother. My family has a huge affection (or more correctly -addiction) to food, and Jon was ready to show us some of his favorite spots in the Crescent City. Our Friday night dinner was possibly the best meal I have ever eaten. We had reservations for dinner at Lilette ( If you are ever in New Orleans and need your fix for some of the best french food this side of the Atlantic, I would recommend you go there. There are few words that I have to describe the fullness of the flavors.

The second night, Jon hosted us and several of his friends in his home. We picked up a box of oysters from a fish market on Magazine and grilled them in his backyard. I hate that we don't have the opportunity to purchase fresh oysters in Auburn because they were delicious- maybe I can find a way around it. He sauteed minced garlic and shallots in butter and a smidge of olive oil and took half of the butter mixture and poured over the oysters in the shell as they cooked on the grill. Just before they came off the grill, he placed grated Parmesan on each oyster- I thought those were delicious but then he took the remaining portion of the butter mixture and melted a little Gorgonzola into it and poured that mixture over the remaining oysters on the grill. Just before serving the second round, he crumbled bacon on top. They were delightful.