Saturday, February 13, 2016

I LOVE to break hearts, and so will you! Giant Homemade Heart Croutons!

Breaking hearts has never felt so good or tasted any better.  I have broken a few hearts in my time, and as of late, I devour them like a fiend.  You will too, I guarantee it, once you make these homemade, butter drenched,  crunchy toasted croutons.

There used to be a restaurant here in Tulsa called The Green Onion.  Shawn and I ate there all the time and one of the many things we liked were the croutons they put on the salad.  Instead of a few croutons tossed over the greens, they served two large croutons, sliced off of a baguette.  There was something fun about crumbling them over my salad, but what I enjoyed the most was just eating them as they came.   Isn't it funny that many fond memories come from the enjoyment of food?  

For Valentines Day (and don't forget to tune in later for my ♥Day  tablescape later tonight), I decided to change  up the croutons and give a nod to the Green Onion for serving up some yummy meals and memories,  by making huge croutons in the shape of, well, what else, a heart!

 And let me tell you all, no-one has ever said anything about my croutons except to say, "they are the best".  I have to make extras because my family would like to eat them like potato chips.  You know how once you eat  one, you can't stop until the bag is gone!  
Now I realize Valentines Day is tomorrow, but I promise you can make these in plenty of time for your special meal.    

Nancy's Homemade Croutons 
(I always, always double or triple this because...well you read it above)

8 slices white sandwich bread, etc.  I don't trim the crust.  For heart shaped (or whatever shape you want) use about a 3-4" cookie cutter.  I had to turn my bread at an angle to get the largest heart shape I had to work.  So what you are seeing is croutons that are about as wide as a typical sandwich bread slice.  For regular croutons: Cut into 3/4" squares or tear into bite sized chunks...size, shape...up to you.

1 stick salted butter, melted
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

Spread the bread crumbs or shapes onto a cookie sheet, or sheets, and bake at 200-225 for about 15-30 minutes, turning at least once halfway through.  The larger the shapes the more drying time you'll need.  Handle the larger shapes carefully as they do break (which is fun cause you HAVE to eat them for goodness sakes)   Make sure they are thoroughly dried out on both sides.

Melt the butter and add the other ingredients to the melted butter, stir.   Take your bread pieces and if making shapes I did one side in the butter and then brush on the other side.  You'll probably have to brush some of the toppings onto them.  Once you've used all the butter, place your croutons back on the cookie sheet and put back in the oven for 30 minutes to an hour.  Sometimes the butter still feels a little greasy but just be sure they feel toasted and crisp...then allow them to cool.  Once cooled, store in airtight containers or sandwich bags until ready to serve.

Now, let me get back to setting our Valentines Day table and the joy of breaking a few more hearts in the process!

 Have a blessed day everyone!


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thanksgiving Tablescape & A Surprise Birthday Party

While I am seeing Christmas decorations pop up in every store and all over blogland, my Halloween decor still sits by the back door waiting to go up to the attic. I haven't decorated much for Halloween the past couple of years, but I decided to go all out decorating this year because it was Ashton's 18th birthday and I was planning a big surprise party for her.   Little did she know that while she helped me decorate for Halloween, she was really helping me decorate for her 18th birthday party!  I'm not sure how, between her friends and family, we all kept it a secret but somehow we did and Ashton was completely taken by surprise.  About 50 people were here and it was a really special, fun night!

 Ashton is the baby, our youngest of six children, and a senior in high school.  I think I'm feeling a little sad that my children are legally adults and grown up and that my time with them being at home is drawing nearer to an end.  

Anyway,  while I am not ready for my kids to be grown up, I am also not quite ready for Thanksgiving.  Are you? 

 Last week I decided to play around with this set of Royal Staffordshire turkey plates and platter that came in a few months back.  It is so beautiful and pulls in all the traditional colors of Autumn.

I wound up just setting the whole table! 

I put the table together by first laying a loden green plaid throw draped over the center of the table.  It's just wide enough to allow the ends of the table to show, which I like.  Amber glasses, miniature acorn casseroles, antler handled knives, Majolica chargers and Spode's Woodland flatware combine for a festive, slightly rustic Thanksgiving table.  

These paisley napkins seem to go with so many of my favorite dishes, though I didn't realize it when I got them.

Rather than make a centerpiece, I just set out a few squirrel and chipmunk figurines amongst log shaped pillar candles and scattered pinecones and acorns the length of the table.

The colors of Autumn are so warm and inviting!

This set is listed in my shop but if it doesn't sell quickly I may have to do a mix and match table with these and some plain brown turkey plates for our actual Thanksgiving dinner table.  

By the way, all of my turkey plates and platters, as well as a few other hand picked pieces are 20% off. There is still time to get them by Thanksgiving!

Are you all set and ready for Thanksgiving?  How about Christmas?


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

SALE - All Thanksgiving Turkey Plates & Platters 20% Off

Can you believe it?  Thanksgiving is right around the corner!  

 I wanted to share this sale with my blog readers and followers.  I've put together a hand picked, specially curated collection of turkey plates and platters as well as some of my favorite Autumn dishes, and am offering them all at 20% off!
Use the code TURKEY at checkout.
Order Now and have by Thanksgiving
Sale ends soon! 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Nancy's Chicken, Pepperoni & Sausage Cacciatore

When you are laying in bed near midnight and hear the door alarm chime, the back door open and the sound of one of your sons returning home from work, then you hear the sound of the fridge door opening, rattling around the kitchen, the microwave door opening, shutting, opening again and then silverware clanging around, lips smacking and a statement to oneself saying "mmmmm, this is bomb", you know it must really must be, 'the bomb'.

 I sometimes have serious pasta cravings and recently conjured up a Chicken Cacciatore dish but with the addition of pepperoni and Italian sausage.   Cacciatore, (translated means hunter) is a rustic Italian dish, a wonderful comfort food consisting of chicken and vegetables in a red sauce, and sometimes made with wine.

My Cacciatore gets a little kick with pepperoni,  Italian sausage and sweet bell peppers in addition to most of the usual ingredients found in Chicken Cacciatore.  We actually call it it "Kind of Cacciatore" 
I hope you enjoy it!

Nancy's Cacciatore; Kind Of

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 lb sweet Italian sausage (remove casings if links)
appx 4 Tablespoons minced garlic
2 large yellow onions, chopped
2 handful, about 1 to 1 1/2 cup pepperoni slices
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 large red, yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped (I used
a combo of miniature peppers in all colors)
another plop of minced garlic (about 2-3 Tablespoons)
1 1b sliced mushrooms, (I like to cut them into pieces)
3 teaspoons oregano
3 teaspoons basil
salt and pepper to taste
2 28 oz can Hunts crushed tomatoes (seasoned with basil)
1 15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes (seasoned with garlic)
1 can Hunts tomato paste (basil, oregano, garlic seasoned)
1 tomato paste can full of water or white wine
Freshly grated parmesan
Freshly grated mozzarella
Sliced or grated provolone cheese (non smoked)

Combine first 3 ingredients and allow chicken to brown on each side.  Remove chicken from pan (it will still be raw in middle) and cut into chunks, strips or bite sized pieces.  Return chicken to pan and add onions and a handful of pepperoni slices.  Cook until onion is limp and translucent.  Add chopped bell peppers and remainder of garlic.  Cook for about 3-4 minutes and then add mushrooms, spices and the remainder of pepperoni.  Cook several minutes.  Add tomato products and water/wine.  Stir and simmer on low for a couple of hours or longer.  Serve over pasta of your choice (we prefer Ziti or Penne cooked al dente).  Top with a slice of Provolone and a sprinkle of mozzarella and parmesan (you may zap it in the microwave for a minute to melt cheese).  Serve hot and enjoy!


Green transferware pasta bowls are available HERE

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Amber, Blue & Pumpkins Too! Fall Tablescape with Rural Scenes

Here's my 2nd tablescape of Fall and I am anxious to create a few more.  I've gotten a few sets of dishes in that I'm looking forward to working with.  I am often asked about how to use blue dishes for a Fall or Thanksgiving table.  I like to mix blue with orange.  I've posted a few blue and orange tablescapes in the past and decided I'd use one of my favorite patterns today, Rural Scenes, in a festive Autumn table which could easily be for Thanksgiving dinner too.

Blues mixed with warm Autumn colors of amber, brown and orange make a welcoming table setting.  Layering plates and mixing patterns keeps it fresh, interesting and not so formal, which I like.  The Rural Scenes dishes have different scenes on them from harvesting hay to idyllic cottages in the woods, and a wonderful border of wheat and farm implements which bring to mind the Harvest season.

I laid a long burlap runner along the table for texture and as the centerpiece I simply scattered pine cones, acorns and log shaped candles down the center to keep it simple and natural looking.  I never tire of these candles!  I use them in so many table settings and around my house.

Tree slices make the perfect natural charger for this table.

Over the tree slices I laid dish cloths blue and white trim that reminded me of French ticking and knotted ends.  Amber pressed glass goblets add a touch of shine and blend perfectly with the rooster napkins.  Pumpkin shaped bowls are perfect for starting or finishing your meal.  These will hold a small salad, soup, or dessert.  

Blue Gingham flatware, Rooster napkins tie in all the colors and blue transferware napkin rings finish it off!

 At one end of the table I propped up a scarecrow who looks like he's seated at the head of the table.  At the opposite end I repurposed an antique wooden fruit crate lined with blue plaid fabric for a bread carrier.  It was so cute!  I hadn't seen one with a handle on it before.  Shawn and I got this while antiquing a few weeks back and it's in my shop now!

I'll be posting more Fall and Thanksgiving tablescapes soon!  

Sources:  Pumpkin bowls, flatware, napkins, napkin rings and blue and white plates can be found in my shop (click logo below)
Log Candles:  Zest Candles