Friday, July 23, 2010

Last Minute Luncheon - Fruity Chicken Salad

Three girlfriends; Kathleen, Becky (Lace and Lures/One Shabby Old House Blogs) and Kellie. We were all free on the same day...a rarity! Spontaneous idea to get together for lunch...Not much time to prepare food...

I decided to make a chicken salad using a rotisserie chicken from Publix...but there were NONE ready...not even COLD ones. I wanted petit fours and mini-eclairs from the bakery...none were ready! Publix actually FAILED me! Guess I hit the store too early. OK... move to Plan B...

Fruity Chicken Salad

Publix Mixed Fruit Salad
(cut into smaller pieces and add some blueberries)

Mixed Baby Greens

Cuban Soda Crackers

(planned to make Date Nut muffins, but I did not have time)
Pomegranate Mint Lemonade
or Mint Iced Tea
(recipe found in 7/8/10 post)
Publix Two-Bite Cupcakes

Fruity Chicken Salad in a Hurry Recipe (there isn't one!)

In the microwave, cook 3 boneless chicken breasts for about 10 minutes. (I used the Pampered Chef Covered Baker). Cut breasts into bite-sized chunks. Put into a bowl and pop into the freezer for a few minutes to quickly cool. When chilled, add 1 small can diced or sliced water chestnuts (drain), a handful of raisins, craisins, or dates, a handful of blueberries, and green grapes (cut in half). Add mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste.

Line 1/2 of a dinner plate with mixed baby greens. Top with a generous scoop of the chicken salad. Place a scoop of Fruit Salad on the other half of the plate. Add a tiny dish of Poppyseed Dressing (I used an egg cup.) so your guests can add to their salads, according to their tastes.

For the table...I used a 1 1/2 yard rectangle of fabric, turned at an angle. Turquoise sea grass placemats added a tiny touch of color, followed by rattan chargers and coral (orange) plates. I used lime green and turquoise egg cups to hold individual portions of Poppyseed Dressing. Turquoise napkins and orange, yellow and white daisies completed the table.

The centerpiece is a handmade basket, made by a friend filled with flowers from...PUBLIX. A medium bowl was inside the basket and filled with water. To hold the cut flowers in place, I used a grid made of painter's tape. It helps to hold the short stemmed flowers.

Simple...quick...inexpensive! And what fun we had!
Wish you could have been with us....

Visit Michelle at for more Foodie Friday posts.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ice Cream Toppings: Hot Fudge Sauce

My family LOVES ice cream sundaes...with our own homemade sauces. While we love making our own ice cream, we rarely do so. We just head to our neighborhood Publix and pick up BLUE BELL Ice Cream...usually homemade vanilla (MacDaddy's favorite!). We discovered this ice cream while living in Texas. We were so disappointed, when we moved to Florida, that the local stores here in the Bay Area did not carry it....until just a few years ago.

Music Guy called me from Ocala, one day, telling me that he was following a delivery truck with a photo of a Blue Bell Ice Cream carton on it. He followed it to the store, then went inside and bought a pint of chocolate ice cream and ate it right there in the parking lot. Then he went back into the store and bought a cooler and bought 2 more pints to bring here for me. (BIG SMILE!!!). It was a little soft when he got here, but oh... it was SOOOOOO GOOD!!!!!!!

Below is our favorite sundae topping. This recipe was given to my mother by an old, long-gone friend. It's one of the best fudge sauces I have ever tasted....and it's a killer in an ice cream pie! Enjoy!

Grandma's Hot Fudge Sauce
2 1-oz. squares unsweetened chocolate (Baker's)
2 cups 10x confectioner's sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
3 tbsp. butter
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

In a saucepan, melt chocolate over low heat. Gradually add sugar and milk, alternately, to chocolate. Stir over low heat until smooth. Add butter and salt. Cook until butter is melted, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Stir. Serve warm over ice cream.

(Our hot fudge sundaes are usually topped with toasted, buttered pecans on top. Put a little butter into a saute pan. Add chopped pecans and cook over medium heat, until the pecans are covered in butter and toasted. MMMMMMM.....delicious!)

Be sure to stop by for all the Foodie Friday recipes. And visit to join the Ice Cream Social. You'll find some great recipes and ideas for ice cream...

Have a wonderful weekend...and EAT SOME ICE CREAM! (And read my previous post...try to enjoy your ice cream AROUND the TABLE and enjoy being with your family and friends!)


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Around the Table

Freedom from Want, Norman Rockwell's painting of family and friends gathered around the table, is still one of the most popular paintings today. Have you ever wondered why this painting resonates with so many of us? I believe it's because the painting represents something that we all long for...something that we seem to have forgotten in our fast-paced society. We were created to desire fellowship. We crave relationships with our family and friends. But we allow ourselves to get caught up in our hectic schedules and forget the IMPORTANCE of coming together around the table.

Table time was one of out BEST tools for teaching our children...and their friends. It was a time for teaching good manners and civility towards each other, respect for the opinions of others, and for learning to think outside the proverbial box. It was a time to CONNECT.

Believe me, I know how difficult it can be to gather each and every day. In our home, that practice did not work most of the time. During the years our boys lived at home, we were always running from one training session or game to another. And with Dad being gone most of the week, I drove in circles...about 150 miles each day. We did connect during the long car rides, but by the time we were all home, all we could think about was homework, eating, and SLEEP. We ate in shifts...and usually wherever we dropped.

Weekends...especially Sundays
...that's when we had some of the best mealtimes ever!!! The food was usually good, but the family time around the table was priceless!

With our crack-up sons, we were often entertained with quips and quotes from movies (all three were masters with the dialog from Aladdin...with the appropriate voices!), rampant jokes, and even deep discussions about the happenings in the world and religion. When they were young, we played "head math" and other types of "educational" games. We even made a game about using our dinner napkins...the napkins had to be on everyone's laps before the first bite of food was taken (after the prayer, of course). If one was it child or parent... the culprit had to leave the room and count to 20, VERY LOUDLY, in Spanish, before he/she returned to the table to eat. It was always a red-letter day when the boys could catch MacDaddy or me without our napkins! (That was a teaching time, special treatment for those in "power".) Would you believe the guys...and their friends still try t catch each other when they eat here?

Mealtime around the table was a time to learn about the world, to learn about each other, and to ...just BE. And it was never dull!

As the boys grew up, our table...and our meals...stretched to include their many friends who always seemed to stop by around dinner time. Many of these kids had never eaten food that didn't come from a box or the (gasp!) drive-thru window. I remember Brian, who had never tasted fresh vegetables. He arrived after the meal was finished and made himself a plate of leftover black-eyed peas, fried corn, and cornbread. He practically licked the bowls clean! (And he always asked when I was going to fix this meal again...promising to show up for dinner!)

Then there was Christian, who share how much he loved sitting at out tale...even with paper-wrapped burgers from WENDY'S! He commented that his mom would cook, but that everyone would serve his plate and head to a different room...never to eat together as a family - even on Thanksgiving!

Drummer Boy's many band members would often stay for spaghetti or enchilada dinners after practicing in the garage (Oh, my ears!). And MacDaddy (or "Mad Dog", as they called him) would use this time to challenge these kids to think well beyond their supposed capabilities. We rarely had less than 8 people squeezed around the kitchen table. These dinners would often last 2-3 hours...around the table. The kids did not want to leave!

Our boys are grown and gone, but when they visit, we still have great meals together...Around the Table! And our meals still stretch for hours...and their friends are still welcome...and the conversation, and teasing, and joking continues...and we all grow closer.

And now, in our new "childless" phase of life, OUR friends gather around the table...and the conversation lasts for hours...and we all CONNECT!

Take time this week, to reconnect with your family and friends... around the table. Jane

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pomegranate Mint Lemonade

My new favorite summertime beverage... well, maybe after a mango margarita... is

Pomegranate Mint Lemonade.
I had this fabulous beverage at a local restaurant. It was the most refreshing drink I have tasted in years...and I ordered TWO of them! The waiter was kind enough to share the "recipe"...

Start with a SIMPLE SYRUP: Bring to a boil, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cool. (I keep this in my refrigerator...always ready to add to iced tea. Hey...I'm Southern!)

Pour a little Simple Syrup (about an inch or so in a highball glass) into the bottom of a glass.
Add several
torn mint leaves to the syrup and muddle, releasing the mint essence. (I use a muddler, but a spoon/wooden spoon can be used). Squeeze and strain the juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon into the glass. Stir.
Add 1 oz. of pomegranate syrup* or pomegranate juice and stir.
Top with sparkling water and a splash of Sprite.
Add ice and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint. (Adjust amounts to taste.)

For a "kick", consider using Pomegranate Vodka (suggested by our server!).

*Pomegranate Syrup and Pomegranate Vodka is available at Total Wine or most good liquor stores. Grenadine Syrup will work, too (Grenadine used to be made from pomegranates or cherries. Today it's basically made with high fructose corn syrup.) Or you can make your own syrup by boiling pomegranate juice with super-fine sugar.

Stay cool...

Be sure to stop by Michele's blog, for all the Foodie Friday ideas and recipes. There are some really scrumptious posts this week!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Birthday Musings...

Would you believe that it's my birthday? I tried to let it pass me by this year...but alas, I am constantly reminded that "time keeps on slipping...slipping...slipping into the future".
Well, that's beats the alternative (as my dad always said). You know, I don't feel older than last year... and I am still trying to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. I guess that's a question that I will be pondering for years to come.

This past year has been filled with ups and LOTS of downs. Starting with my husband joining an upstart company... with a MUCH lower salary to which we have had to adjust... But in this economy, we are all grateful for the opportunity. Like many Americans, our home has been in jeopardy of foreclosure...but it looks like we will be able to ride this out (God willing). Through it all, we have been blessed in innumerable ways. We have seen God move in our lives ...Our health has been good (finally!) ...our family is strong and growing (we have another wedding in the spring!)...we have been able to pay all of our bills...the business continues to grow, even in this unusual economy...and the love between my husband and I has grown exponentially! Who could ask for anything more?

So what goals will I set for myself this year?
1. To grow in my daily walk with God.
2. To be more focused and productive.
3. To be healthy...drink more water and exercise daily.
4. To be even more creative.
5. To be a better friend.
6. To challenge my mind.
7. To keep my mouth shut when it should be so... and to speak up when I should

There are more goals, but I do not wish to bore you.... Just suffice it to say that I have a LOT of work ahead of me...and it will be a good challenge.

So here's to a new year! May it be a good one!!!


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Have a happy July 4th weekend!

Have a happy and safe
4th of July!!!

(Don't forget to wear sunscreen!)