Archive | drinks

FALL dessert {holiday hospitality 101}

holiday hospitality 101I hope everyone had a lovely THANKSGIVING holiday! There is so much to be grateful for in life! I hope you felt a taste of that and enjoyed the company of loved ones.

fall dessertI have talked about making delicious coffee & ice cream floats before HERE. I love this simple and rich sweet treat. It only requires 3 ingredients, a cute mug & a spoon. For this Fall version I simply used Pumpkin ice cream {it was rich and had a nice spice to it}. Start with a small scoop of the ice cream in a mug. Add strongly brewed coffee over the top of the ice cream {or try different combinations such as vanilla ice cream and hot chocolate for the kids}. Garnish with dark chocolate covered espresso beans {or chocolate shavings or caramel} and serve with a spoon. See pictures below and get creative with your favorite ingredients! The possibilities are endless!

{P.S. This is a great dessert option if you don’t like to bake {like me} or made a more complicated meal and need something simple to throw together for sweets. Also, this can be really easy to bring to a small gathering. Just be sure to brew the coffee at home and bring in a carafe that will keep it hot or ask your hostess if you can brew the coffee there. And make sure they have room in their freezer! Enjoy!}

DSC_0066 DSC_0070 DSC_0075


great catering advice & recipes {holiday hospitality 101}

holiday hospitality 101My friend Stephanie is amazing. She is our MOPS coordinator and she is fun, creative and beautiful {inside and out}. She is a total foodie and has done catering for years {oh yeah and she is a pastry chef & mom of two}. Somehow she manages to whip up amazing food & great decor for her home and for church events, she organize MOPS seamlessly and takes care of her family all while looking cute.

Here is the display and food she shared with our group last week and some great catering/party advice! Hope you appreciate her advice and recipes as much as I do!

{P.S. I took these pictures very quickly and apologize for their poor quality}

DSC_0061::Party Food Tips::


  • If you’re having just an evening function with no dinner, plan on at least 10 – 15 pieces per person. Round up, especially if it’s going to be served buffet style, as people tend to eat more than if a tray is passed.
  • If you’re serving pre-dinner appetizers, plan on 3 – 5 pieces per person, and choose lighter food options, as dinner will follow.


  • Plan on about 3 beverages per person for party, with coffee drinkers consuming on average one cup every 1 1/2 hours


  • People usually drink 2 beverages on average – either juice, coffee, tea, etc.
  • Plan on a main entrée per person, along with two sides, including bread. Fruit makes a great and healthy breakfast dessert. Estimate about 3 – 5 pieces of cut fruit per person, or one cup or less of fruit salad.
  • If you’re serving pastries only, plan on 2 pieces per person.


  • For hors d’oeuvres, plan on 2 – 4 per person.
  • Offer a main entrée with 2 – 3 sides, including a starch and a dessert.
  • Offer a selection of drinks, including soda, beer, lemon water, etc.
  • If you’re having sandwiches, allow for 1 -2 per person (cut in half).


  • Have 3 – 5 hors d’oeuvres per person, depending on the number of courses.
  • Plan on a main entrée and 2 – 3 sides, either veggies, beans, pasta, etc.
  • Offer small portions of bread, salad, or soup.
  • Always have water, along with other beverages.


  • Plan on 1 – 3 servings per person. (Depending on size)
  • Offer one slice of cake, tart or pastry, or small serving of a creamy dessert, i.e. mousse.
  • If you have a large variety, serve smaller portions. (2-3 per person if doing small portions)
  • Coffee consumption peeks after dessert is served.


Homemade Caramel Dip


Sweetened Condensed Milk

Small Mason Jars for Storing

Crock Pot


1. Pour the sweetened condensed milk into glass jars that will fit in your slow cooker. You can cook this right in the can, but I’m leery of the lining of the can. You’re going to store it in something after you cook it, anyway, so just pick some jars you like with tight-sealing lids.  Tighten them as much as possible, so nothing leaks in or out.

2. Place the jars in your slow cooker and cover with water. It’s important that they be covered with water, or they could explode. No, mine didn’t, but I didn’t want to test it! Put the slow cooker lid on, turn it on low, and let it cook 7 to 8 hours, until the caramel is, well, a caramel color. The water should be simmering, but not boiling.  I had to turn mine to high for a couple of hours at the beginning to get the water temp high enough.

3. Remove from the hot water and let cool, then enjoy with sliced apples. Store any extra in the refrigerator, since we didn’t really process these like you would in canning to make them shelf stable.

One can of sweetened condensed milk made one full jar and about 2/3 of the other 8 oz jar. It doesn’t expand or contract while cooking, so the amounts in the jars will be the same after cooking as before. This would make an AWESOME hostess gift!

Recipe from


Prosciutto Pinwheels


1 Box (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed

2/3 cup Dijon mustard

¾ lb. prosciutto, thinly sliced

Provolone cheese


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Working with one sheet of the puff pastry, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a 14-inch square. Brush with a thin layer of mustard (using 1/3 cup). Cover with half the prosciutto and half the Provolone, leaving ½” uncovered along all four edges.

2. Roll pastry tightly from one edge. Pinch seams to seal Cut into ½” pieces and place cut side down on baking sheet, 1” apart.

3. Repeat with remaining puff pastry sheet.

4. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes

Mini Brie en Croute with Cranberry Sauce


–        1 box (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed

–        1 –  8 oz Brie wheel

–        Cranberry Sauce (homemade or store-bought)

–        Mini Muffin Tin


  1. Spray muffin tin, and cut thawed puff pastry sheets in 3”x 3” squares.
  2. Place 1 square into each muffin tin, and fill with a piece of Brie and a spoonful of cranberry sauce.
  3. Bake in the oven according to package or until puff pastry is golden brown.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

“Triple Berry Sauce”

Recipe in MOPS cookbook page 25


–        1 cup frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, thawed

–        1/3 cup sugar, plus a little more depending on taste

–        12 oz. fresh cranberries, washed and drained

–        ½ cup dried cranberries

–        3 tbsp. orange marmalade

–        2 tbsp. fresh orange juice

–        2 tsp orange zest

–        ½ tsp. ground allspice

–        Dash of cinnamon


  1. Combine cranberry juice and sugar in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves.
  2. Add fresh and dried cranberries. Cook until dried berries soften and fresh berries pop. Stir often for approx. 7 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Cool Completely.
  4. Cover and chill until cold, about 2 hours.
  5. Can be made 3 days ahead. Enjoy!

Wine & Cheese Pairing:

 Brie – Chardonnay

 Gouda – Merlot

 Sharp White Cheddar – Cabernet Sauvignon

 Parmesan – Chianti

 Gruyere – Sauvignon Blanc

 Blue –  Riesling

 Ricotta – Pinot Grigio

 Mozzarella – Sauvignon Blanc

Fun Water Combinations:

Just add ingredients to water.  It adds flavor and looks pretty too!

–        All Citrus

–        Raspberry Lime

–        Watermelon Rosemary

–        Blackberry Sage

–        Pineapple Mint


DSC_0076{Compiled by Stephanie Mcdaniels, over 10 years of experience in the Hotel & Restaurant Industry}


making your own {SHIRLEY TEMPLE DRINK}

favortieTHINGS Friday
::The Gorman Sister’s Shirley Temple Drink::
What you need:
Gingerale Soda (I prefer Canada Dry)
Maraschino Cherries
Add ice to a small cup. Add a splash of Grenadine (less than one shot) and a few cherries. Pour chilled Gingerale over the top and stir. Sip to make sure the ratio seems right and add more soda if it is too sweet or more Grenadine if it is not sweet enough! Enjoy!
We simply LOVE to drink Shirley Temple drinks around here. They are sweet, non-alcoholic and pretty this time of year (any time really)!
When I was a little girl there were 3 little old ladies who lived down the street from us named Margaret, Helen and Genevieve Gorman.  They were sisters who had grown up in the same home their whole lives and never gotten married or moved away.  They were like sweet Grandma’s to us when we lived in Colorado and all of our relatives were so far away (mostly in California)! They played dress-up & beauty shop with us and taught us to do puzzles and play poker! They showed us how to do many practical things like sewing {we made our own mini aprons with them} along with gardening and baking! Occasionally they would host a movie night with “tickets” and popcorn…we would watch old slides from their trips to places like Hawaii. Their love of music introduced us to Elvis and Bing Crosby (on the record player of course) and we often played their piano or dance all over their beautiful home to whatever was playing! When they would host our family for dinner they were very traditional about it.  First we had “cocktail hour” and they truly made my parents cocktails while we sat around the “sitting room” and ate peanuts and snacks! During this magical little hour they would let my sister and I help in the small butler’s pantry off their tiny kitchen {a special honor for two little girls}. We got to mix the drinks, add olive picks {that they had collected during their travels} to cherries and serve the guests their cocktails of choice. For the kids they always made Shirley Temples drinks and this is the way they taught us to make them! Restaurants usually use Sprite or 7up (and they are just not the same)! Hope you try these out and love them as much as we do!
The Gorman Sisters are no longer with us and I miss them often!  I’m thankful for all their lessons…but mostly for the gift of abundant LOVE that they lavished upon me and my family! I hope you teach someone you love how to make the Gorman Sister’s Shirley Temple Drink this holiday season or for just about any special occasion!

The Blog Days of Summer {4TH OF JULY FUN}!

Here is how we spent our 4th this year!
It was lovely and lazy…my kind of holiday!
And of course I have to talk about the food! We had Summer Shirley’s*, Macho Salad*, Potatoes, Steaks and Herb Crusted Chicken*! Dessert was a mix of berries with angel food cake & whipped cream!

*For my SUMMER SHIRLEY TEMPLE DRINK I just added a splash of grenadine to ginger-ale, along with cherries, blueberries & star shaped ice cubes to make it festive!
*I’ll have to show you how I make my Herb Crusted Chicken sometime soon. As long as you have a BBQ it’s always in season!

*If you have never had this “Macho Salad” you must! I wish I could take credit for the recipe but it comes from the restaurant Bandera! A….MAZE….ING!


Happy Sweater Wearing, Boot Loving, Cider Sipping, Back to School, Pencils Sharpened, Apple Picking, Pumpkin Cooking SEPTEMBER!

I for one love Autumn! Every year in September I’m giddy with the delightful anticipation of all-things amber and pumpkin spiced!  I decorate for fall and start making comfort meals before the temperature says its time and pumpkin puree begins to make an appearance in just about everything I eat, from my lattes to my pancakes, pastas and more. So it is in that vain that I share a few of my favorite recipes with you! Get your Fall taste buds ready!
Amy’s FAMOUS Pumpkin Cookies
3/4cup brown sugar
3Tbsp. honey
1(15oz) can of pumpkin
3/4cup oil (you can use melted virgin coconut oil or sub w/ unsweetened applesauce)
2tsp. vanilla
3cups flour (you can use spelt flour or whole wheat or any combo)
11/2 tsp baking powder
11/2 tsp baking soda
3/4tsp salt
1tsp cinnamon
3/4tsp nutmeg
1/2tsp ginger (if you have pumpkin pie spice on hand you can use that instead)
1to 1 1/2  cups chocolate chips
Preheatoven to 350
Beat until blended sugar, honey, pumpkin, oil and vanilla. In another bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, and mix well. By hand, stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greases cookie sheets.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until they slightly firm up and bounce back after being touched.
Cool on wire racks.
Cake Mix Pumpkin Cookies
1 Box of Spice Cake Mix (or Carrot Cake Mix if Spice is unavailable)
1 – 15 oz can Pumpkin Puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
Chocolate Chips
Preheat oven to 350
Mix the can of pumpkin with the cake mix, if too dry add water about a tablespoon at a time until just wet all the way through. Add desired amount of chocolate chips (at least 1 Cup, but I usually do more). Drop by rounded teaspoonful’s onto slightly greased cookie sheet
Bake at 350 for 10 – 15 minutes
*This is great to make with kids because it is so easy!

PumpkinSausage Lasagna

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 1/2 pounds bulk sweet Italian sausage (pork, chicken or turkey, whatever you like), casings removed
1 large eggplant, peeled and chopped into small pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk (eyeball it)
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
Few dashes fresh nutmeg
1 box oven-ready lasagna noodles
1 1/4 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons EVOO, about two turns of the pan. Add the sausage and cook until golden brown, breaking them eat up as it cooks with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Push the meat to one side of the pan and add the eggplant, onion and garlic. Cook 7-8 minutes, until tender, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
While the veggies are cooking, place a medium-size sauté pan over medium-high heat and melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook the mixture for about 1minute. Whisk the milk into roux, breaking up any clumps. Bring the mixture to a bubble and add the pumpkin puree and nutmeg. Season the sauce with salt and freshly ground black pepper, reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for 2-3minutes, until slightly thickened.
Spread about 1 cup of the sauce into the bottom of a 13 x 9″ casserole dish.Layer three lasagna noodles over the sauce, then top them with about 1 cup of the meat mixture, a cup or so of the sauce and a palmful of cheese. Repeat these layers two times, topping the casserole with a layer of lasagna noodles.Spoon the remaining sauce over the noodles, sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake the lasagna until the sauce is bubbling and pasta is baked through, about 45 minutes.
During the last ten minutes of baking, remove the aluminum foil to brown the cheese.Once out of the oven, allow the dish to rest a few minutes before serving.
*I use butternut squash instead of the eggplant…and it’s AMAZING!  Also, if using pork sausage try to find the sage kind as sage tends to taste great with pumpkin…YUMMO!
Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Latte
(SOURCE:…adaptedfrom Taste of Home’s Halloween 2008 edition)
2 cups milk (I used 1%)
2T canned pumpkin
2T white sugar
2T vanilla (not a typo. it asks for tablespoons)
1/2tsp pumpkin pie spice
OR:1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp cloves, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, and a teeny tiny pinch of ground ginger
1/2cup brewed espresso or 3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
Add the coffee/espresso and milk to the crockpot. Whisk in the pumpkin, spices, sugar, and vanilla. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours if everything is cold. Whisk again. Ladle into mugs, and garnish with whipped cream and additional cinnamon. You can add a cinnamon stick to be fancy.
*Garnish with whipped cream (optional)
**This will make enough for 2 people to have a big mug with a bit leftover. If you are having friends over, adjust the recipe accordingly. I used a 4-quart crockpot,but as small as a 1.5 quart will work with these amounts.
{You can simply buy some pumpkin spice syrup and add that to a homemade latte as well!}


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