Y is for Yard House

Visit this link to read about the ABC Dinner Club’s selection for the letter “Y.”


Small Gatherings|May 2015|Smoked Pulled Pork Sliders

For this month’s small gathering we hosted family and friends for some good ‘ole Kansas City Bar-B-Que, smoked pork sliders and ribs.  Dave is the official griller/smoker in this house but on this particular day he had an obligation away from the house for several hours.  If you have ever smoked meat you understand that it is an all-day process and according to the hubby depending on the quality of your smoker can require a large amount of attention/intervention.  Much to Dave’s unhappiness our smoker is on the low end of the spectrum which means we have to babysit the charcoal fire every hour, all day long.

The night before smoking day, Dave applied his go-to rub (recipe below) to the pork, covered it in foil and refrigerated it for about 12 hours.  The next morning before he left, he started the pork in the smoker and tutored me in the process.

First, I had to make sure this fire did not go out which meant I had to continually add charcoal.   I also had to throw on a few pecan and cherry wood chips every so often.  According to Dave’s smoking bible, “The Art of Smokology” by Chef Richard McPeake, wood chips add a taste dimension to your finished product.  So far not too hard, but very messy!


Next I had to slather this hunk of pork with the mop (a basting sauce used to add moisture during the cooking process)every so often and monitor the internal temperature.  We were shooting for an internal temp of 165 degrees before we wrapped the pork in foil with additional mop and continued cooking.


Fortunately for me Dave came home before we had to wrap this beast in foil because I was not quite sure how I was going to do that by myself.  This was a LARGE (and very hot) piece of meat.  We cooked the meat for an additional four hours, about 12 hours in total before it was taken off to cool.  Once it was cooled, the pork was hand pulled and the “finishing flavors” were added.  The next day, about an hour before we served it, the pork was put back on the smoker to add the final touch of smoke.

The process is lengthy but if you enjoy pulled pork it is worth it.


Here is the rub Dave likes to use:

Pulled Pork Rub

“The Art of Smokology” by Chef Richard McPeake

½ cup Chili Powder

¼ cup Paprika

1 TB Kosher Salt

1 TB Ground Cumin

1 TB Ground Poultry Seasoning

1 TB Superfine Sugar

1 TB Garlic Powder

Combine all ingredients and blend well.  Liberally cover all sides of the pork, wrap the pork in foil and refrigerate for 12 hours.

In the next post I will share the fun dessert we had!

Small Gatherings | July | 1st Birthday Party Brunch | Egg Muffin Recipe

My daughter and grandson were visiting from Houston this past week and since Levi recently celebrated his first birthday we decided to throw a small party so we could celebrate with him.    We did not want to interfere with naptime so we thought a brunch would be the perfect time to party.   I had recently seen some party inspiration at the blog Hostess with the Mostess.  If you are ever looking for birthday party, shower or wedding inspiration you must check this site out.  They literally have hundreds of pictures of theme decor and food ideas.  I totally copied this idea for my kitchen chalkboard.


Our menu consisted of:

menu Breakfast-pigs-in-a-blanket





The egg muffin recipe is one of my favorite breakfast items.   I have been making them since my girls were little and they became our traditional breakfast for the first day back at school.   Try them sometime, I promise you will like them!

Savory-Egg-MuffinsLinking to Inspiration Monday Party




Small Gatherings|June|Light Dinner Al Fresco

After work last night I had several errands to run and Dave needed to do some work in the yard.  We decided to get those things done then have a late dinner.  By the time we both had completed, it was close to 7:00 pm and still pushing 90 degrees.  The last thing I felt like doing was making a big dinner.  I started thinking about what I could pull together and then it dawned on me that I had picked up some of Sargento’s new tasting cheese at the store and that coupled with some sausage would be a perfect light, no-cook dinner.


I am pretty much in love with Sargento brand of cheese, it started with the low-fat cheese sticks and I was totally won over when they started making the Ultrathin Cheese slices.  These two items are always in my fridge.  This is not a sponsored post by the way, I just love cheese! When I heard that Sargento had come up with some new block cheese I knew I had to try it.  There are eight different varieties but I just picked up three, Brushetta Jack, New Zealander and Aged Wisconsin Cheddar.  You can see all the varieties here.  They are the perfect size for tasting and trying new items.


They did not disappoint.  I paired them with some summer sausage, grapes, cherries, nuts, baguette slices, pretzel thins, and hummus.


Of course I threw in a few bottles of Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.


We enjoyed this light dinner outside (aka AL Fresco) on the patio and it was delightful.  A perfect ending to a hot, busy day.


I am thinking this menu, with a few variations depending on what is in the fridge, will be making a weekly appearance in the summer rotation.  I have already thought of other easy items to add such as hard boiled eggs, roasted garbanzo beans, sliced red and green peppers, cherry tomatoes, marinated mozzarella.  The list is endless!

Have a great weekend friends!

Sharing at Foodie Fridays@ Rattlebridge Farm

Small Gatherings|May|Breakfast on the Patio

Sunday morning we are packing up our youngest daughter and moving her to Denver.  She will finish her last internship rotation this summer and take the Registered Dietitian’s exam this fall.  If we are all lucky, that will result in a paying job soon thereafter!!!!  Such a bittersweet time, I am so excited for her to start this new phase of her life, yet sad because she will be so far away.  For her last Saturday at home, I thought we would make the day special by starting our morning with breakfast on the patio.


One of my favorite items to make for breakfast are scones, I LOVE,LOVE,LOVE them.  My go-to recipe comes from a workshop I took with Jenny Steffens Hobick at Everyday Occasions.  She makes several versions of these, cranberry, vanilla bean and cinnamon swirl to name a few, but my favorite are the jalepeno cheddar.  Click here for the link to that recipe.  For this mornings scones, I left out the jalepenos.


Another quick breakfast recipe I love are frittatas, first because I like my eggs cooked well done and that is easy to accomplish in this recipe and also because frittata’s are great for throwing in leftover veggies.


I have included this recipe at the end of the post.  Did you happen to notice the wooden butter knife in the scone picture above and the wooden cutting board in this frittata picture.  These are handmade items by my brother-in-law Steve.  I have talked about his craftsmanship several times on the blog including here, here and here.  I should just start a page about all the items he makes, better yet, I should start a shop to start selling his items.  Hmmmm…

Here is another picture of the frittata where you can see a better view of the inlaid cutting board.  This board is actually a pizza peel.  It has a very thin edge perfect for scooping up a pizza out of the oven.  We use it all the time, I love it!


I got off track a little there, back to our breakfast!  I kept the table-setting very simple with a tablecloth over our bistro set and a few individual flowers in vases.


I did spend a couple of minutes making fun bowtie napkins!


Below is the Veggie Frittata recipe…..enjoy your weekend!


Veggie Frittata

6 Eggs

2T butter

½ onion, diced

2 cups chopped broccoli

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1/3 c diced green pepper

1/3 c diced red pepper

2 t minced garlic

Red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste


In a heavy, oven-proof skillet, melt the butter. Sauté the onions, broccoli, peppers and mushrooms until soft. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and seasonings together. Pour the eggs over the veggies until the sides are set. Set the oven to broil and put the skillet in the oven until the top of the frittata is set and browned. Slide from the pan and slice.


Linking to

Amaze Me Monday

Inspiration Monday

Foodie Friday @ Rattlebridge Farm

Tablescape Thursdays

Hymns and Verses Find your Voice Friday #1

Small Gatherings|April|Brunch|Cinnamon Rolls

Last Sunday was stormy, cloudy and the perfect day to stay in and host a brunch for friends.  We started with a fun Bloody Mary Bar that included the usual vodka and Zing Zang.  For the adventuresome who preferred to build their own we added tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and pepper.  Toppings included lemon and lime slices, celery sticks, green olives and jalepenos.  Yummy!



Although this was not an Easter brunch per say, I could not resist adding some fun napkins folded in the shape of bunny ears.  There are many tutorials out there in blog land to show you how to fold these.  Here is a link to the one I used.



When I host a brunch I frequently purchase a Honey Baked Ham because it is SOOOO easy and most everyone enjoys it.  The serving instructions suggest just bringing it to room temperature.  Could it be any easier?   Dave also likes it because we usually have enough leftovers for his lunch for an entire week.



Our friends pitched in with a couple of savory egg casseroles, some muffins and amazing individual cherry cheesecakes.  I also used this occasion to make a batch of my mom’s cinnamon rolls.  When I was growing up, my mom made bread every Sunday and I never once saw her use a recipe.  I also do not recall ever seeing her measure ingredients.  My sister inherited this baking gene and she is always in charge of hot rolls on holidays.   A few years before my mom passed away I had her tell me her recipe and I wrote it down.  She said she was just guessing on the measurements.

Nena making cinnamon rolls

I have only tried making these a few times and they have turned out differently every time.  They tasted fine but they did not measure up to my mom’s or even my sister’s cinnamon rolls.  I will keep trying though!


Here is the recipe if you would like to try also:


For a printable version click Nena’s Cinnamon Rolls.


Tea Time

Our small town boasts one of Missouri’s top rated Tearooms as ranked by Teamap.com.  It is actually the only tearoom I have ever visited but based on my experiences here I would love to visit others.  It is located on the lower level of Henry’s Antiques and Collectibles, both of which are housed in a former historic church.

ChurchOn Saturday, I meet a group of friends for lunch, tea and great conversation.  As soon as we were shown to our table, we were provided with hot peach herbal tea and a shortbread cookie.


On this particular day, there were four entrees to choose from, each described in detail by our server.  All selections included rustic potato soup, a croissant and a salad with vinaigrette dressing.  A few in our party choose the Spinach and Bacon quiche.


A few others choose the chicken salad.


The portions were just perfect for lunch and everything tasted wonderful.  After the entrees were cleared, we were shown the dessert tray.


I am pretty sure I gained five pounds just looking at this platter.  Since dessert is part of the price of lunch we felt obligated to indulge.  No one really had to twist our arms very hard.  Our choices included Missouri Mud cake, Carrot Cake, Bread Pudding, Ganache topped Chocolate Cake, Susie Q cake and Tea Cake.  A very difficult decision!

Besides being a very enjoyable way to spend a Saturday afternoon,  I was inspired to add a Tea Party to my ever expanding list of entertaining options for my Small Gatherings Project.  Tea anyone?


Small Gatherings| February Valentine’s Dinner

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day.  We celebrated with a small dinner party and in spite of my crazy work week thwarting the preparations, I think we all enjoyed the evening.  This was our first gathering in our newly reclaimed dining room (more on that later) and although it is not completely done yet, it was nice to have a more formal sitting area for this special event.


Since I wanted to chill the salad plates and serve the food plated, I only set the table with the charger and appetizer plate.  I added the gorgeous pink roses and a few candles to insert a little romance.


At each place setting I had a bag of chocolates and a printed dinner menu.



I am going to post a few of the recipes later but here is a peek at some of the goodies we enjoyed.  If you look closely at our appetizers, Basil Pesto and Parmesan Palmiers, they somewhat resemble a heart!


We were also a little decadant for dessert with two choices, but hey, it was Valentine’s Day!


Raspberries-in-Chocolate-CuOur evening ended with a game of “How well do you know your Spouse?” similar to the Newlywed Game, but our guests were not even close to being newlyweds!  Then we passed around each others wedding albums and marveled at how young we once were, not to mention a few laughs at the funny hairstyles and clothes.  It was a very enjoyable evening spent with good friends.

Linking to:

Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style

Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch

Simple and Sweet Fridays at Rooted In Thyme

Bits and Pieces – Christmas Edition

I worked at a feverish pace this past week both for my day job and in trying to get ready for Christmas.  As an accountant/systems analyst/project manager this time of year is crazy insane.  Not only do I have two projects being implemented in the next two weeks, but I am also preparing the system for year end and building new reports for next year.  I have several other projects I am managing plus I attended a kick-off meeting for a new project on Friday.  At the end of each work day this week my mind was mush.  However, last weekend I had laid out a plan (the thing I do best!) to tackle all my Christmas tasks this week and nothing was going to stop me from getting those things done.

*We made our traditional Candy Cane Cookies.


I  have been making these cookies since before Dave and I were married and it would not be Christmas at our house without these.  Usually I have a daughter or two, or even a son-in-law to help but this year we were on our own.  As soon as they cooled I threw them in the freezer so I would not eat them all before our Christmas Eve party!  If you are interested, I have attached the recipe.

Candy Cane Cookie Recipe

*I finished our 2013 Christmas Card.  I am having so much fun learning new things in photoshop.  This year’s card started with a photo I took at our house last year after a snowfall.  I added some falling snow then applied a watercolor effect.  Here is the before and after.



*I hosted the first of two holiday gatherings we are having this year.  We started with Candy Cane Cocktails (click here for recipe) and antipasta inspired by The Barefoot Contessa.  Then we feasted on salad, pasta and finished with multiple desserts.  Fortunately our guests each brought a dish so I was able to spend more time enjoying myself at the party then actually cooking.  The best kind of party!!!



*I finished my shopping and spent three hours Friday night wrapping while I watched the “I Love Lucy” Christmas special.  Did anyone else watch it?  I thought they did a great job colorizing it.  It was specially fun to watch the classic Italian movie episode where Lucy was stomping grapes…this was the only part that I really noticed the coloring did not look totally natural.

*We woke up Sunday morning to a blanket of snow, just enough for a white Christmas.  It was the perfect morning for cinnamon rolls and hot tea.



Now I feel ready for Christmas, not to mention a few days of rest and relaxation.  Merry Christmas everyone!


Our holidays start today with a Thanksgiving dinner/birthday celebration for Dave’s side of the family.  That is quickly followed by a family reunion for my side of the family lasting several days.  I am so excited to see our Seattle, California and Houston family, although pretty sure those warm blooded folk are going to freeze……I was just outside and it was 26 degrees at 1:00 in the afternoon!  I am hosting tonight’s dinner which has made for a crazy week since I was out of town for work several days and attended a photography workshop this morning.  The key to getting it all done is planning and lots and lots of list.  You know I love me some lists!

For my table I chose a very simple centerpiece, starting with my handmade dough bowl (see more about that here ) adding three candles and throwing in some nuts, pine cones and leaves.


Considering I had all the items on hand and it took a total of two minutes to pull together, I was pretty happy with the results.


I recently found this fun site that shows several ways to fold napkins so I chose this classic envelope style but would really like to try several of the others.


I enlisted the help of a few others to bring desserts but I just had to make cherry pie which is the favorite of both Dave and I.


I also tried this fun appetizer I ran across here.  Use your imagination folks, this is an individual size cheese ball turkey.



I can already hear my kids making fun of me!

One of these days when I have all the time I want to prepare for Thanksgiving I am going to try a few of these other ideas I found.  I absolutely love the idea of these placements and they would be so simple to make using grocery bags.

Placemat                                                                                                                 SOURCE UNKNOWN

Even if I had the time to make them, I am not sure my cookies would turn out so cute!

Pie cookies coffee_loving_mom                                                                                                                  SOURCE

And what about these rolls, how cute are these?

Pumpkin shaped rolls                                                                                                                   SOURCE

The guests will be arriving soon so I better get back to my dinner.  I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving filled with family, food, fun and a grateful heart!