A Casual And fun Presentation

Dessert Bar

When you have dessert options this allows guests the opportunity to try a taste of each. Highly recommended for the holidays. Pictured are three traditional pies, apple, pecan and pumpkin. Served with a dollop of ice cream or whipping cream, or not. My guests will be happy. The chocolate cream pie will have to wait until the New Year.

Innovative, Simple And Classy

Last Minute Table

As a single mom with limited resources (and time) innovation was high on my list! I have to admit I have had help with my ideas. I was always looking around me for ideas, value ideas … formerly called cheap ideas. I would look at magazine covers while waiting in line at the grocery store … iPads were unheard of … Computers, yes, but not with the search engines there are now. I knew more about what I didn’t like for my dining table.

When it came into vogue to have several mismatched place settings and mismatched dining chairs I loved it! I could easily do this! The secondhand store was a friend. Love the idea of mismatched sterling settings for the table. And how cheap, oops, are the plants and trees growing in the yard for filling in what is missing in an arrangement! Love it!

I can do the china thing now but I still love the homeyness of Portuguese ceramics. Now I mismatch more purposefully. The budget still needs managing.

Innovative Place Cards







You forgot the place cards! Try this. I did this one Thanksgiving when I had a very large group. My daughter was in college … So, about 15 years ago. I don’t remember where the idea popped up! But it might have been Martha. It was quite a conversation piece for my guests.

Still trying to make memories!


Pinot Noir is great with turkey. But not all are equally light. Make sure you can see through the Pinot Noir wine. The wine will be more likely made with Pinot Noir grapes only.

Light the candle wick before guests arrive. Light (without letting the candle burn), then blow out, wait for the wick to cool and trim. Just looks more finished.

Start A Tradition

Hot Chocolate Bar

If not a tradition why not create sweet memories. This is so easy and fun. Adults will enjoy it too.

My first exposure to making hot chocolate from a  chocolate candy bar came from viewing an episode of Family Affair, a 1960’s TV series. Mr. French, Uncle Bill’s butler, is snow bound in Vermont with Uncle Bill’s niece and nephew, Buffy and Jody. And the only food they have is a chocolate candy bar. Yep, Mr. French makes hot chocolate with the candy bar and water.

I hope you will enjoy this richer version of hot chocolate.

If not into hot chocolate the tips on whipped cream may be new to you.

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A Little Surprise In A Much Loved Cookie

Mexican Wedding Cakes With Chocolate Surprise

Chocolate Surprise Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies

Try this Mexican Wedding Cake Cookie with a milk chocolate kiss, my favorite! This is one of those cookies that has a long history with me. My first experience with this recipe was not really appreciated. And in fact, for the reasons this cookie is popular, subtle flavor with extraordinary richness, my parents found it difficult to enjoy. It was just not a chocolate chip, peanut butter or oatmeal cookie. But after years of making these I was asked to bake them, dozens and dozens, for a reception my mother was giving. This cookie now surpasses many other cookies in popularity for my family.

I added a chocolate kiss to the center of this cookie to surprise my very young children. It isn’t a practice now. In fact, the children prefer the Mexican Wedding Cake without alteration!

Today I decided to try dark chocolate. To my surprise the dark chocolate steals the taste of the cookie. I recommend a milk chocolate instead. And baking a few without this alteration for the purists.

This is another recipe where you are likely to have all the ingredients in your pantry most of the time!

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A Family or Company Meal

Enchilada Taco dinner and Wine

Enchilada Casserole, Taco Salad, and Wine

Pair this casual dinner with a dry or sweet Rose’, or beer or even a skinny Margarita. Sounds a bit like summer! Just a bit of fun before slipping into the icy cold of winter. No intense spiciness here. This enchilada casserole can be a welcome in cold weather too … with rice and beans. Or for a brunch!

For those intense spicy meals wines with higher alcohol content are not suggested nor are expensive reds. The expensive reds will be clouded by the spiciness. And alcohol adds fuel to the fire of spice. FYI: Dry Rose’ generally has a higher alcohol content than the sweeter variety.

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A Big Taste Casserole With A Little Bite

Tuna Chicken or Turkey Casserole

A quickie meal, Tuna Chicken or Turkey Casserole, with a rich taste and a hint of heat. In the 50’s and early 60’s we were not a casserole family at all. In fact, I don’t remember having a meal with a casserole as a main dish until I discovered them. My mother had a true prejudice for these dishes … Until she tasted my tuna casserole! I hope you will enjoy it too!

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 Apple Pie at its Best!

Apple Pie

As American as Apple Pie…. That brings about emotion, doesn’t it? And in our family we love our apple pie … not necessarily to just eat. Especially our Favorite French Apple Pie! I started baking pies as a preteen … Not surprising to my children. But what they don’t know … my father was the first to show me how to bake an apple pie. Now this was odd in any day! My father was an athlete, always golfing in his spare time. And had never shown any interest in cooking before this … other than barbecue. But his mother, my Grandmother Rose, was always in the kitchen. So, I concluded he was quietly observant as a young boy. And craving apple pie as he remembered it. His most important step was to precook the apples to assure that they would be fully cooked after baking. What my son, Stephen, likes to refer to as the applesauce pie. Stephen didn’t taste my dad’s pie and I don’t use this method. But I do like to bake my apple pie until the apples are no longer al dente. (Al dente is not used to describe fruit? Oop.) This is the applesauce bake. You can be sure when I bake this for Stephen’s birthday I strive to keep the apples a little firm. This is sometimes done by baking the pie less time, or using 3 different apple types that cook at different rates. Oh, one last trick … not cutting the apples pieces smaller than 1/8 of a large apple. But the tenderness of the cooked apples is not the only thing that comes under scrutiny. The crust … two crust versus one, versus French topping (brown sugar vs white, flour vs oatmeal), versus butter crust, vs vodka crust, vs vegetable shortening crust. You get the picture.

Apple Pie






I just love this pie!

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