Luncheon for the Girls

Having spent much of my growing up years in the metro area as well as living in the metro a couple of times in our marriage, moving to Atlanta back in March was almost like coming “home” for me.

Home is such a comforting place and a welcoming word.  Just like we want our families to feel comfortable and welcome in our home, I also try to make each person who comes through the door feel the same. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s teenagers or adults, old friends or new, or even the Marine recruiter, I want everyone who crosses our thresh hold to know we love having them in our lives and treasure them.

Earlier this week I was so excited to open our new home to an old friend and fellow blogger, Tami Reed (Talking with Tami) for a luncheon and afternoon of girl chat. Tami is an Atlanta area lifestyle blogger who shares fashion, beauty, film, and travel.  She always has something exciting going on!

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Tami checking out a sweet little bird’s nest that we found on the deck with little ones in inside!

It doesn’t matter what stage in life you are, us ladies need good friends!  Tami and I both have sons who will be seniors this year, husbands who travel for work and a desire to enjoy each and everyday so we have a lot in common which always makes for enjoyable moments.

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With a little extra time on my hands, I found it fun to set a pretty, yet simple table using my vintage Noritake china and roses from Kroger.

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{You know I love fresh flowers & they don’t have to be expensive!}

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The roasted green beans were really good with a touch of the orange-riesling sauce.

On the menu was a flavorful resiling orange chicken (adapted from a Williams-Sonoma recipe from years ago), roasted green beans, spring greens with herbs, crisp veggies & French vinaigrette, and fresh berries and cream for dessert.

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Simple with few ingredients, delicious and ready in 35 minutes…. the perfect recipe for company dinner!

Click here for the full Chicken in Orange-Riesling Sauce

We really enjoyed the afternoon catching up with each other lives and it just really felt good!

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What are some of the things that make you feel “home”?  I would love to hear your ideas!  

Have a fabulous weekend!

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Bright & Cheery Summer Tablescape

We’ve had a lot of rain this summer here in the Southeast.  In fact it hasn’t really seemed like summer much at all.

I’m not complaining as summer’s heat is not something that I enjoy, though the masses of mosquitos do need to go away.

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After multiple days of dreary rain and storms here in Georgia, and the excitement of Audley being home from working in Savannah, I decided we need a little cheery color to help make Sunday dinner cheery and bright for our little family.

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Our table is always set with the basic plate, fork, napkin, and glass when we eat, but sometimes family dinner deserves to be elevated.  It’s a great reminder to your kids and husband that they are special and even dinner at home calls for pretty and fun from time-to-time!

All the white in the blogosphere right now is pretty, but it’s repetitive and boring.  I love color and try to incorporate lots of it (within reason of course) all through our lifestyle! Color is a sure mood booster!

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For this colorful tabletop I incorporated lime, red and blue.  I also used items that are kept on-hand for use throughout several seasons or celebrations in a year.  It sure keeps the clutter down when you have items that can be used in a multiple of ways.

The plates are Royal Warwick,  Lochs of Scotland Blue.  I love this vintage patterned plate, how versitle it can be and it can be used in just about every season as well as mixed up with other blue patterns for a unique table setting!   You can see another setting I did back in the fall using the same plates here.

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I added lime napkins that were found in a shop on St Simons Island secured with BH&G napkin rings.  The red silverware is something I love having as it is useful for themed celebrations from Christmas to Patriotic days and any day in-between!

The cobalt blue glasses are a bright finishing touch to the place-setting.  I found these gems at Steve Mckenzie’s awesome shop in Atlanta.

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Flowers are the perfect accent to any tabletop.  You don’t have to spend a lot if money on them.  I love going to Costco and shopping their flowers as well as hitting up Trader Joe’s or Whole Food’s Market.  Normally I would stick to a short display, because it makes it easier for conversation, but I just love all the color in this arrangement!

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We will just remove it when the food is served anyway!

I had never visited an IKEA until we moved to Atlanta, but we have found some fun buys there!  The lime votive candles were a 4 for a $1 purchase, so I stocked up for use throughout a couple of seasons.

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The red lanterns were just the perfect finishing touch.  These were picked up at a yard sale several years ago and are another of those items I keep around for use through multiple seasons.

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On the menu is tarragon lemon chicken with mini potatoes and asparagus.  Simple yet delicious and totally worthy of an elevated table setting!

I would love to hear your favorite ways to set a table!  Are you a fan of the “white” trend or do you just adore color?

Have a fabulous holiday weekend!

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Strawberry Caprese Salad

By far one of the highlights of spring has to be farm fresh strawberries.  Whether you pick your own, purchase them at a farmers market, or travel to your local strawberry farm, there is something absolutely wonderful about these sweet, juicy berries that always beckon and call my name in the month of May!

Fresh Strawberries

While just washing them and popping twenty or so a few in my mouth throughout the day is always delicious, I love to cook or make dishes that incorporate my favorite berry.  From jam (Strawberry Wine Jam, Vanilla-Laced Strawberry Jam)  to dessert (White-Chocolate & Strawberry Pie, Pavlova with fresh berries) or even breakfast (Mixed-Berry Muffins)your imagination can guide you to all kinds of mouth-watering treats!

Recently I stumbled on a recipe for a Strawberry Caprese Salad that Southern Living Mag had shared on Facebook.  After tweaking it just a little, I put together my own Strawberry Caprese Salad that was absolutely flavorful and delicious; a real spring treat for sure!

Strawberry Caprese Salad

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup Peach White Balsamic Vinegar (can be purchased in a speciality store)

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons Splenda brown sugar blend

1/4 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup chopped basil

10 ounces mozzarella, cut into bite sized pieces

1 1/2 quarts fresh strawberries, quartered.

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ASSEMBLING THE CAPRESE SALAD

Whisk together the peach white balsamic vinegar, garlic, Splenda brown sugar blend, pink salt and black pepper in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved. Add olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth. Add fresh basil (saving just a little to garnish with) and mozzarella cheese bites; toss to coat. Cover and chill about 2 hours. Stir in strawberries; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve as an appetizer with toasted French bread baguette slices (I found mine at Fresh Market in the deli). Garnish with thinly sliced fresh basil.

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This is such a unique dish and with the use of farm fresh flavors of spring, you can’t go wrong!

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finger food snacks

The Strawberry Caprese Salad makes a great addition to a finger food buffet for a girls night in!

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What is your favorite dish to incorporate strawberries?  Inquiring minds want to know!

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Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Sauce

It’s just eight days before Christmas.

 The halls are decked (well the best they are going to be this year); travel plans to see family are in place; wrestling season is in full-swing, frantic, last-minute shoppers are descending upon Macy’s (pushing me into week number two of overtime), we’ve had our visit with Santa, and I’m finalizing our menu for a lovely Sunday afternoon Christmas with special friends.

Yes, my teenagers still visit Santa Claus each year.

Yes, my teenagers still visit Santa Claus each year.

‘Tis the season, right?

My absolute favorite part of celebrating the holiday season is sharing this special time of year with friends, especially those who live a good distance from family as we do.   Each year since moving to South Carolina we host a cookie baking and decorating party.  This year it happens to fall on a Sunday which does shorten our day, but will not deter us from having a fabulous time!  As we are planning for Sunday I wanted something super flavorful and easy for lunch since we will be working around regular worship Sunday morning and a special Christmas service that night.

My choice?  Grilled pork tenderloin  (with an option to make into sandwiches using Kings Hawaiian Sweet rolls) topped with homemade cranberry sauce.  Seasonal, flavorful and easy to make a head of time, this will be a perfect treat for Sunday lunch.  I love this for two reasons: one, hubby can man the grill which takes care of the tenderloin, and two, it really is easy.

Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry

INGREDIENTS:

Pork tenderloin, pan seared and grilled  (season with pink salt and black pepper)
1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries
1  cup Splenda Brown Sugar blend (to keep it lower in sugar)
2 Tbsp orange zest (from 1 large orange)

1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup fresh ginger, minced
Juice of one large orange
1 1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary

DIRECTIONS:

1. For the tenderloin:  heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil (I use California Olive brand) a large pan or dutch oven on medium-high heat.  Season your tenderloin with black pepper and pink Himalayan salt and place in the pan, searing each side five minutes to lock in your juices.

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2. Preheat your grill to 400°.  Take the seared tenderloin and place on the grill.  Grill, turning once, until internal temperature reaches 160°.  Place on a platter or large cutting board to rest for a few minutes before slicing.  Use an electric knife to aid in slicing the tenderloin thinly, especially if you will serve rolls with it for sandwiches.

3. Making the cranberry sauce is as easy as it gets!

ginger

Peel and chop your fresh ginger

orange juice

Squeeze the juice from your large orange.

walnuts

Chop your walnuts.

Take all of your ingredients and combine in a medium saucepan.

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All the ingredients added and ready to simmer.

Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking.  I prefer tart over sweet, so taste for sweetness.  If you feel you want it sweeter, add  Splenda brown sugar blend 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired sweet flavor you want.  Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes (stirring occasionally) until the sauce has thickened up.

If you hear a little pooping, don’t worry, it’s just the cranberries!

4. Remove the cranberry sauce from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

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You can serve the cranberry sauce over the pork tenderloin or on the side to use as a condiment on little sandwiches (which is my plan for Sunday).

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The sliced tenderloin glazed with the cranberry sauce makes such a pretty main course for any holiday buffet, and the homemade cranberry sauce will be a hit with all of your guests!

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What holiday celebration (outside of family Christmas) do you enjoy most?  I would love to hear your traditions!

Have a fabulous weekend!

Linking up with Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday this week!  Check out all of the fabulousness!

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