Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Apricot Nectar Cake Balls

Recently I hosted a brunch and three of my cousins were in attendance.  I've told you before about my precious Great Aunt Nona and her famous Apricot Nectar Cake.  My cousins and I grew up with this cake, and it's a family staple when we get together.  Since Gran Gran has passed, I've taken up the torch and now I make her cake.  I even have her cake pan and cake stand which are very dear to me.  I've had Oreo Cake Balls and Red Velvet Cake Balls.  But never Apricot Nectar Cake Balls.  Until now.  Not only were these delicious, but nostalgic as well.  I didn't tell anyone what they were, I just let them bite into it and figure it out for themselves.  It didn't take long before everyone was asking, "What's in these white things?  It tastes like Gran Gran's cake!"  It was a fun twist on an old family recipe and absolutely party perfect!

Gran Gran's Famous Apricot Nectar Cake
with a fun, new twist!

Friday, June 19, 2015

CHILE PEANUTS: Nuts About You Dad-Father's Day Treat

Father's Day is this Sunday and I can predict what all of the fathers in my family will be doing.  They'll be parked in front of the television watching the U.S. Open golf tournament.  Which is fine by me.  Dad deserves to do whatever he wants on his day.  And since he'll be watching TV all afternoon, then why not make him a snack?  Chile Peanuts are the perfect Father's Day snack food.  Savory and just a little bit spicy.  And if you're lucky enough to find a Coke with his name on it to wash the peanuts down, then even better!

We're all NUTS about DAD!
Show him how much with a delicious treat to eat!

Little Devil and I went through hundreds of
Cokes.  We finally found Bill (my dad),
Greg (Mr. DD), Larry (my father-in-law) and
Keith (my BFF's husband.)
What a chore that was but so fun.
Who doesn't love peanuts and Coke?
The perfect man food.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Cherry Vanilla Bean Donuts

I'm so excited about this post.  I've been waiting a long time to share it with you, and frankly it's hard for me to keep a secret.  But I did!  This is a recipe swap I did along with some of my blogger pals.  Each of us were assigned a blog to choose a recipe from, and today is the day everything gets revealed!  It's just as much of a surprise for all of us as it is for you.  Join me on this fun adventure:


I was tasked with choosing a recipe from my pal Jenny's blog, Honey and Birch.  Let me tell you, that was not an easy thing to do.  Her pictures are absolutely gorgeous and I was drooling over everything I looked at!  I was really torn between the Roasted Red Pepper and White Bean Hummus (because hummus is yummus) and the Homemade Buffalo Sauce for Wings because I love anything that has Buffalo Sauce.  I've never made my own, and after looking at Jenny's blog I will be soon!  Then I went to the grocery store and found the biggest, brightest, juiciest cherries.  I bought them for their beauty with no particular recipe in mind.  As I was browsing Honey and Birch, I found Jenny's recipe for Baked Cherry Vanilla Bean Doughnuts, and I knew immediately what I would be making for this post.  Fresh cherries baked into a yummy donut, flavored with vanilla bean?  There's no way you can go wrong with that.

One of the hardest parts of keeping my recipe choice a secret was National Donut Day.  The day I made this recipe, everyone was talking about National Donut Day on social media.  I wanted to share a picture so bad and tell everyone about the donuts that I was making!


This recipe went together in no time.  As Jenny suggested, I had all of the ingredients ready to go, including pitting and chopping the fresh cherries.  Do you have a cherry pitter?  I don't.  But don't fear, I found the perfect way to improvise:
If you've got a frosting tip from a pastry set, then that's all you need to quickly pit a pile of fresh cherries for these delicious donuts!

Here they are freshly baked and cooling in the donut pan.  It was so hard to wait on these.  I was dying to try one as soon as possible!

And cooling completely.  Aren't they a gorgeous golden brown?  I could have stopped here, but what's a donut without a glaze?  Jenny's Very Vanilla Bean Glaze was perfect atop these donuts!

Yum!  Three donuts for a serving isn't too much right?  I put these out on the platter to photograph but I decided they were missing a little something...
A cherry on top of course!  Everything is better with a cherry on top.  Now there is no mistaking what flavor these donuts are.

I'm so glad I found this recipe.  Not only was it a blast truly making donuts on National Donut Day, but that evening one of my best friends and her girls stopped by to drink a Coke.  I had these delicious donuts waiting on my counter for dessert.  The ideal way to celebrate National Donut Day.  With a cold drink and a good friend.


Baked Cherry Vanilla Bean Donuts

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 vanilla beans, cut down the middle, scraped of seeds (I used vanilla bean paste instead)
1 large egg
1 cup cherries, pitted, cut into 8 pieces

Glaze

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease the donut pan with extra butter or cooking spray and set aside.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  Combine the milk, butter, vinegar, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds and egg in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir constantly until the butter melts.  Add butter mixture to flour mixture and with a wooden spoon, stir to combine.  When the mixture is combined, fold in the cherries.  Spoon or pipe the mixture into the prepared donut pan.  Bake for 13-14 minutes until the finished donut edges come off the pan. Remove from oven and let cool for 1 minute, then finish cooling on rack.  If using the same pan again, wait 5 minutes before filling the pan a second time.

For the glaze, combine all ingredients in a small bowl with a wire whisk.  Wait 1-2 minutes for the glaze to thicken before dipping the donuts in the glaze. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Coca-Cola Summer Drink Station (Repurposed from a Sewing Machine Cabinet)

When my sweet great aunt passed away, the family members got together and divied up her treasures.  The things I brought home I adore and use daily.  They remind me of her and the things we had in common:  reading, cooking and entertaining.  By the time I came along, she didn't sew much, so I was surprised to find a couple of sewing machines when we cleaned out her house.  One was an older model, still in its cabinet, stashed in the utility room under a lot of stuff.  In fact, in all my visits to her house I never even knew that was a sewing machine cabinet under there.  So I was surprised when I received a text from my cousin that said, "Do you want Gran Gran's sewing machine cabinet?"  Honestly I didn't.  No one really did.  I already have a modern sewing machine and a sewing table.  That's why it was still in her house sitting in the laundry room.  But like the rest of the family, I couldn't stand for it to be discarded so I said, "Yes."  And I stuck it in the garage and forgot about it until I saw some ideas for repurposing old sewing cabinets on Pinterest, and I immediately set to work.  With a little help from my Dad, we turned an old cabinet into a fun station for serving drinks and entertaining.  I really enjoyed working on this with my Dad, and I'm super happy with the results.  My best friend loved it so much that she wants me to help her with one this summer.  She has her mother's old sewing machine cabinet.  She doesn't sew and it's just sitting in the garage.  I think she'll get more use out of it on her patio, just like me.  And I think Gran Gran would have approved.  She would have loved that I drug the old thing out of the utility room and gave it a purpose for entertaining.  Don't be afraid to get some dusty old heirloom out of the attic, garage or barn and give it some love.  Some people might not approve of altering the sewing cabinet but it would have never been used and enjoyed otherwise.  I hope this inspires you to take something old and breathe some new life into it.  Get creative and Get busy!   
I knew right away I would paint it red,
because that's my favorite color and also
the predominant color on our patio and deck. 
I've had that old Coca-Cola bottle opener for years. 
I bought it in an antique store and it hung in our first home.
I dug that thing and out settled on a Coca-Cola theme for my cabinet. 
I used exterior paint so it would hold up well sitting on the patio.  With my Dad's help, it got several coats of paint.
Here's the old cabinet in Gran Gran's utility room.
(Sorry for the blurry picture.  It was the one I received
via text asking if I wanted the cabinet.  I'm so glad
 I said yes!)

The knobs on the drawers were
just wooden knobs that were glued on. 
We sawed those off and added
adorable knobs that look like
Coca-Cola bottle caps.
I found those at Hobby Lobby.
The Coca-Cola bucket was a
Christmas gift from my brother. 
It took a little sawing to get it to fit,
but it worked out perfectly. 
The best part about using the sewing cabinet
is the mechanism that raises
and lowers the sewing machine.
It allows the bucket to lower for storage.
With the cabinet folded out,
it creates the perfect surface for
drink service and folds for easy storage. 
The drawers are perfect for holding napkins,
straws, corkscrews and other barware.
The Cokes and Diet Cokes in glass
bottles are just the cutest.  And
there's a little extra space for some
Mimosas too!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Caprese Skewers

I have these old Frankhoma pottery platters that came from my sweet Aunt Vondell.  They were part of the Soup & Sandwich set and include a bowls too.  I only have a couple, so we rarely use them for soup and sandwiches.  I love the striking black color and often use them for entertaining.  They make perfect platters and with the bowls, it's ideal for serving dip.  One of my favorite things to serve on them are my Caprese Skewers. I love the bright colors of the tomatoes and basil, and the white mozzarella balls against the black platter.  It makes a beautiful presentation and besides that, the skewers are tasty too.  And so easy to make.  I simply cook the tortellini ahead and refrigerate.  Then assembly right before serving is a breeze.  Whip these little skewers up for your next get together.  They make a great appetizer or brunch item.  Think of them as Caprese Salad on a Stick!
Caprese Skewers...Like Caprese Salad on a Stick
(I love the colors against the black platter)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Super Simple Fruit Salad

There are as many fruit salad recipes out there as there are types of fruit.  Don't get me wrong, I love almost any kind of fruit salad. (Except the kind with poppy seed dressing.  Yuck.)  But sometimes simple is best.  The fruit shines through and who doesn't love an easy recipe.  My mother has made this for years and served it at showers and brunches.  It's always well received and when I recently hosted a brunch, I knew exactly which version of fruit salad I'd be making.  Mom's old stand by. 

Mom's old stand by.
Simple but delicious!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

South of the Border Chicken Salad Sandwiches

The first time I heard about these sandwiches, the lady that made them called them "Chicken Salad and Guacamole Sandwiches."  Now when you think about the various types of chicken salad (from the kind containing pickles and eggs to the kind containing grapes and pecans) mixed with guacamole, well that sounds kinda gross.  Until you taste it and you wonder why you haven't been mixing chicken salad and guacamole your entire life.  This isn't your standard chicken salad, it's really just chicken, sour cream and green onions.  Nothing you wouldn't find on a plate of Mexican food.  Next to the guacamole.  See?  Now it all makes sense.  I just gave them a fun name, so chicken salad and guacamole wouldn't turn you off before you had a chance to try them.  I made them recently for a brunch, and while they aren't the prettiest sandwiches I've ever made, they were devoured the quickest.  Everyone loved them.  The combination may sound unusual but they flavors are perfect together.
Great for parties. 
Cut them into fourths for a great appetizer.
(Sorry for the poor picture quality.
We ate these so fast!)
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