A Blue Willow Autumn Tablescape

Happy Fall Y’all!  Are you all decorated and ready to kick off the flurry of holidays?  I think we are all set in our home, so next comes the fun of opening our home to friends and planning company dinners.

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I’ve always loved to set a pretty and often over-the-top table for our family at random times, so when company is coming it’s just natural to do a little more!  Setting a pretty table is my way of creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.  Our guests are very special to us, and I try to show that feeling by the little things that can make dinner intimate and unique.

Nature and traditional color associated with autumn was my inspiration for the table.  For this particular setting I decided that a little nontraditional blue was the perfect combination for those traditional and vivid fall colors.

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I love to use real pumpkins in my decorating because they fit any fall theme, but I can also cook with some of them as needed for Pumpkin pies and the like, so they are useful as well!

This centerpiece was so easy to put together!  Using a variety of pumpkins, I arranged them on top of the table around an old tobacco jar that was picked up at Scott’s Antique market in Atlanta filled with $5 grocery store flowers and cut greenery from the yard.

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The Dutch blue and white candle sticks were from a local thrift store.  Final touches of a leafy garland and deer antlers add more layers of natural elements to pull it all together.

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When I put together a large centerpiece on the table as I did here, it is generally because I am also setting up a buffet to serve from.  It allows the table to be pretty, and people can spend more time enjoying their meal instead of constantly passing food around!

The Blue Willow china was handed down from my mom, while the blue transfer-ware plates are from a local antique/thrift store.

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The crystal has been our favorite for many a dinner party for 21 years now. We didn’t want folks spending a lot of money on something that could be considered frivolous when we married, so Audley and I picked out this Longchamp Crystal that is beautiful and definitely affordable!

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I love using thrift store finds in my decorating as it goes to show that you do have to have expensive dinnerware to create a warm and inviting table.

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Well, our first autumn themed table of the season is set and ready!

How are you decorating your table this year?

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“Cuppa” Peach Cobbler

Audley and I are blessed to host a Life Group (small group Bible study) in our home each Sunday evening.  One of the most enjoyable aspects of the evening is sharing Sunday supper together before we begin.  We generally pick a theme and everyone brings something to accompany the main dish.  It’s a great way to spend time with our Christian family before the chaos of the week begins.

This week after Audley sent the email out for our potluck, I realized that we had left dessert off the list.  As you know, you can’t have a true Sunday supper without ending with a yummy dessert!  It’s just not the southern way of doing things!

Looking through my cabinets I discovered the ingredients for a simple “Cuppa” Cobbler that would be sure to satisfy the need for dessert.

It’s not elaborate, nor is it beautiful, but in case you aren’t sure what a “cuppa” cobbler is, let me share the easiest dessert ever!

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INGREDIENTS

1 cup self-rising flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup whole milk

1 stick of butter

1 quart fresh peaches (or any other fruit you would like to use)

ASSEMBLING YOUR CUPPA COBBLER

**Preheat your oven to 375°.  In an enamel plated cast iron pan (11 3/4 Lodge enamelware) melt your stick of butter.  You can also use a 9×11 cake pan.  While the butter is melting, mix together the “cuppa” flour, sugar and milk to form a batter.  Remove the pan from the oven when the butter is completely melted.  Pour the batter over the melted butter, then add your fruit to the top.

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South Carolina peaches are so delicious!!

**Return the pan to the oven and bake 30-45 minutes (ovens vary as you know) until the crust has risen over most of the fruit and is cooked through.

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Carmelized fruit is beautiful.

Serve with homemade whipped cream or scrumptious vanilla ice cream.

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I’m partial to homemade whipped cream.

Once again I do want emphasize, this is not beautiful dessert.  It’s not meant to be.  “Cuppa” Peach Cobbler is supposed to be easy and delicious.

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And I assure you, it is!

This recipe has been around literally for generations.  I have even seen a version of this (made using fruit cocktail instead of fresh fruit) from a 1950s magazine.

Seriously.

My grandmother and my mother both used this recipe throughout my life.  Now I use it in a pinch, and have taught my girls this simple dessert perfect for any time.

If you are counting, that’s four generations of women in my family that have used the “Cuppa” Cobbler.

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Keep this handy, as I promise you will find plenty of use for the “cuppa” cobbler and maybe you can pass it along to the next generation as well!

Happy Monday Y’all!

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Red, White, & Blue Snack Mix

It seems no matter how large our Independence Day cookouts might be,  the insatiable teenagers in this house always want snacks on hand.  Chips and dip is always an easy option for quick snacking, but sometimes it’s fun to change up the ordinary and make snacking a little more unique.

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This easy-peasy sweet and salty Patriotic themed snack mix is just perfect for the holiday as they can grab a handful while playing Bocce or Corn-Hole and keep moving.

Check it out for your own family!

red white and blue snack mix

INGREDIENTS:

15 cups Popcorn (I used pre-popped by Cape Cod), divided into 1/3’s

1/2 bag of red Wilton candy melts

1/2 bag of blue Wilton candy melts

White Candy Sprinkles

Salted Almonds

Mini Pretzels (I used Snack Factory Mini’s)

1 Bag Red, White & Blue plain M&M’s (available only in May, June & July)

ASSEMBLING THE SNACK MIX:

Using your preferred method of melting candy, melt the red and blue Wilton candy melts.   Divide your popcorn into thirds; coat 1/3 with the red candy coating, and 1/3 with blue candy coating.  Leave the other 1/3 plain.  Lay out on wax paper and sprinkle with the white candy sprinkles and almonds.  Let candy coating harden.

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Break apart the popcorn mixture and mix in a large bowl with the reamining plain popcorn, mini pretzels and the M&M’s.

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Serve up in a colorful holiday bowl… and that’s it.

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I think the thing I love about this easy snack mis is that it can be easily adjusted for other holidays just by changing the color of the candy melts and M & M’s (think Christmas parties here).

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Give it a whirl for your next holiday celebration!

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A Nacho Buffet & Fiesta Steak

Cinco de Mayo is upon us which means every Mexican restaurant in the US will be packed to the brim with people indulging in Mexican food and drinking margaritas.  They may not be sure of the reason they are celebrating, but we all enjoy an ethnic dinner every now and then.

Cinco de Mayo is actually a date observed to mark the surprise defeat of French forces by the Mexican army in the battle of Peubla, in 1862.  For all of you who use this day to celebrate Mexico’s independence, you will want to mark your calendars for September 16 and plan another celebration!

I’m not one to fight crowds in restaurants in order to celebrate holidays.  Creating themed meals at home is so much more fun and memorable for everyone!  For this Cinco De Mayo holiday put together a Nacho buffet for your family and friends, pleasing everyone’s appetites with your creativity!

Easy Nacho Buffet

Here are some ideas of what to add to your buffet:

Ground Beef

Chili-Lime Grilled Chicken (you can find my favorite seasoning here)

Fiesta Steak (recipe to follow)

Tortilla chips

Salsa (Check out my easy-peasy version here)

Fruit Salsa

Guacamole (Here’s my tasty recipe for you to try)

Black Beans

Corn Salad

Queso Cheese dip

Sliced Avocado

Onion

Fresh Cilantro

Limes

Jalapeno

Cucumber

Shredded Lettuce

Sour Cream

Honestly, it’s a simple menu to plan and assemble, especially when enlist the help of your family to pull it all together!

So now that you have the menu plan and a few recipe links to get you started, I thought  I would share the fabulous Fiesta Lime Steak recipe that’s included in the list.

Fiesta Steak

INGREDIENTS:

4 pounds Flank steak

3 Cloves Minced Garlic

1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 Cup Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice

1/4 cup Fresh squeezed Orange Juice + 1 Tablespoon Orange Zest

1/4 Cup Chopped Cilantro

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

1 Large Jalapeno pepper

1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander

1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin

1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano

Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Juicing Limes

PREPARING THE DISH

** Place your flank steak in a gallon-sized Ziplock bag.

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Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the steak.  Seal the bag  and refrigerate 4-6 hours; turning occasionally to fully coat and marinade the meat.

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**Preheat your grill to 500º, then lower the temperature to low.  Place your meat on the grill, turning once as it cooks.  When the temperature of the meat reaches 135° – 145°, medium-rare to medium (honestly, you don’t want it cooked any more), pull it and allow to rest on a platter.

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**Carve with an electric knife and serve as an option for your nacho bar, steak tacos, or on top of a taco salad.

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And there you have an easy-peasy Cinco De Mayo Buffet laid out for you!

Ole′!

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