Valentines Day – Dinner at Home

With Valentines Day just 15 days away, what have you planned?
When I was a kid it was great fun for the day: make your Valentines boxes for your classmates to drop off their card to you, and oh how cute where those cards? The little class party, homemade cupcakes from mom; punch, games, it was so much fun. When I got older there were fancy nights out, grilled steaks made at home, sometimes just Taco Bell.
I have put together a list of fun, easy, romantic, kid friendly and just because ideas.
We will start with kid friendly:
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So let’s have fun with that!
I am not sure kids can take in homemade items anymore, but I am going to show you some pretty awesome cupcake & cookie recipes

 

Dinner ideas

Heart Shaped Pizzas

Heart Shaped Hamburgers

Drink UP! (non alcoholic)

Cupid Floats

Mocktails

 

Here’s a great way to decorate your dinner table!

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Romantic Dinner for two!! Ooh la la

A great looking dinner table is so easy to make. I love mixing different plate patterns.

 

menu

Simple Baked Cheese

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Dark Cherry Sauce

Irish Cream Brownie Trifles

Kiss on the Lips Cocktail

Starbucks (Copycat) Pink Drink

I hope these helped you get a fun dinner planned.

Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.
Thomas Merton

 

DK

*these photos and recipes are not mine, no copy write infringement meant & are all linked back to the author**

 

 

 

 

 

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Try it Thursday: Gingerbread Loaf

One of the things I remember about my childhood was when my momma would make a gingerbread cake with fresh whipped cream, it was a treat for sure. Every year, I promise myself I would try to make a gingerbread house: that hasn’t happened yet. In fact, they intimidate me. So I decided I wanted to make some gingerbread. Didn’t want to do cookies, too much like the houses. A decorated cake, nah…too much work; not enough energy. A loaf!! That’s it! So off to Pinterest I went! They have to have at least one easy gingerbread loaf.
Found one! A gingerbread loaf with cream cheese frosting, OK I can live with that. Gathered and shopped for my ingredients then  found I had forgotten applesauce at the store. Not a fan of the less calorie thing anyway: so…back to Pinterest I went. New recipe should include; No applesauce, no long list of ingredients and some yummy frosting. I came up with a Spiced Gingerbread Loaf; it had a different frosting, but I think I will stick to the cream cheese frosting.
 done
yield: 1 LOAF prep time: 10 MINUTES total time: 1 HOUR, 10 MINUTES (PLUS COOLING)
Ingredients:
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3/4 cup (180ml) unsulphured or dark molasses
3/4 cup (180ml) hot water (about 100°F (38°C))
1/2 cup (115g; 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup (67g) packed light or dark brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Orange Icing (I didn’t use this one)
1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted 
2-3 Tablespoons (30-45ml) orange juice
Frosting
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla (I used fresh orange juice and a touch of orange peel)
  • 4-6 tablespoons milk
Directions:
1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper together until combined. Set aside. In a separate bowl or dish, whisk the molasses and hot water together.
3. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat on high speed for 1 minute until creamed together fairly well. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. On medium-high speed, beat in the egg and vanilla extract until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the hot water/molasses and mixing each addition just until incorporated.
Avoid over-mixing. Batter will be thin. Whisk out any big lumps. 
4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for around 50-60 minutes or until the gingerbread loaf is baked through. All ovens are different and your loaf could take a little more or less time. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the gingerbread loaf. If it comes out clean with only a couple moist (not wet) crumbs, it is done. Allow to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack before removing from pan.
5a. Make the icing: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice together. Drizzle over cooled loaf. 
5b. For the frosting, in a medium bowl cream together butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk until smooth and spreadable. Spread over cooled gingerbread loaf. Allow to set up for 1 hour (or if you can’t wait you can serve it immediately, but I like it best when the frosting has a chance to set up a bit!). Store in airtight container
Finished Gingerbread Loaf
6. Leftover loaf keeps well covered tightly in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The flavor gets even better after a day or two!
Make ahead tip: The loaf can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Loaf can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving
Recipe says it takes 10 minutes to prepare, it took me a bit longer. Didn’t help that I flung the water and molasses all over the kitchen floor. I really enjoyed baking this, really miss my baking days. The smell of this loaf is just amazing!! Little bit stuck to the bottom of the pan and I had three people fighting for the crumbs!
Well. That’s helpful. We’ll put an APB out on the Gingerbread Man. I’m not hopeful it’ll do us much good, though. Word on the street is you can’t catch him.
Joe Hill
DK
**this recipe is not all mine, no copy write infringement meant**

Merry Monday: December Bucket List

Have you heard of something called a “bucket list”? Man, I have and I have tons of things on it.
Travel the world
Swim with the dolphins
Travel first class
See the northern lights
But what if… you take your bucket list and tweak it to each month?
How fun would that be?
I came up with a December Bucket list, hope you enjoy!
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decemberGingerbread Houses for Kids
Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.
Dr. Seuss
DK

Thankful Thursday: Thanksgiving

I have to admit and sort of brag I’m truly blessed!
Things I’m Thankful for:
My hubby, son, daughter and grand kids
My mother, sister, nieces and nephews
Of course, Max
My sister and brother in laws
I have a roof over my head
Food on my table and the good Lord allows me to get up each day
For the sunshine, snow, rain and (not the wind, not the wind…not the wind)rainbows
For the sunrises and sunsets
For the moon and the stars
For the time I have been allowed to spend with my family
For pain..without pain, we don’t appreciate life’s joys
For hobbies and creativity
For travel
My cookbooks and coloring books
For music and silence
For coffee, chocolate, ice cream
My camera and you tube to help me figure out how to use it
The internet and wifi
My phone and computer
My new favorite slippers and sweatpants
and my hubby (yes, again. He is Amazing) who takes me Pokemon hunting each night
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year because it reminds us to give thanks and to count our blessings. Suddenly, so many things become so little when we realize how blessed and lucky we are.
Joyce Giraud
DK

Me Monday: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.
I love food. That’s all there is to it. I love the turkey, the stuffing, the green bean casserole, the corn, the mashed potatoes and gravy; maybe not so much the cranberry sauce. The rolls, the pecan pie (NOT the pumpkin pie), the appetizers and yes, I truly pay for it afterwards, just like most people. Oh yeah, can’t forget the sweet potatoes and rolls!
What about family and friends? A day to come together, eat, drink and watch football: or if you are like me, peruse the Black Friday Ads; making a strategic plan of if I have to get out of bed and actually go someplace at 5 am or can I just purchase it online: that’s the way I usually go, online!
So, in order to help you decide your Thanksgiving meal, I have scouted, collected, pinned (click here for my Pinterest Board)  and here I will post; What is on my table every year!
Appetizers
You can never have too many appetizers. Can you? How do you control your hunger?
Deviled eggs (one of my all time favorites)
eggs, mayo, mustard, salt/pepper, paprika and white vinegar.
Cheese ball with crackers
My favorite is a simple Bacon Cheddar Cheese Ball
cream cheese (I would even substitute a block of cream cheese for a block of cream cheese mixed with chives), cheddar cheese, bacon, green onion, Worcestershire sauce. Not a fan of the pecans on the outside, I would cook more bacon and use instead of the pecans.
Veggie Tray
You can include: grape tomatoes, carrots, celery, green, red or/and yellow peppers, olives (both green and black), radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, midget pickles (both dill and sweet), mushrooms, cucumbers and whatever else you want to add to it. Add some home made Ranch Dip and you are good to go!
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Dinner
Turkey
When I do mine, I use 2 lemons, 2 oranges & 1 white or yellow onion. I stuff the cavity with these after I have cut them into 1/4’s. I baste my bird with butter, onion & garlic powder, poultry seasoning, salt & pepper and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. Love how juicy it is and the hints of the citrus in the meat is YUMMO!
Gravy
I am no pro at gravy, unless it’s cream gravy. So, I use the jarred gravy (see, I HAVE to make real potatoes as everything else is pretty much canned, frozen, or jarred)
Mashed Potatoes
In my Thanksgiving (rule) book, one should never use instant potatoes for Turkey dinner. I know, I know, they are more convenient and easier, but I saw, if I have to make instant potatoes, I won’t make them at all. Just a personal preference.
salt & pepper, butter and cream, simple and easy. You could add cream cheese, cheddar cheese or even garlic.
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While I frown upon instant potatoes, I find I can’t compete with instant stuffing mix. I eat this as dinner on some nights, I love it that much!
**Ever tried Stuffin Muffins? Click here for the recipe
Corn
I use frozen corn. I find it has a better flavor than canned and it holds more of the “nutrients” (not sure how much nutrients corn has, but…) All I add is some butter, salt & pepper. I love to mix it up too, some yellow and some white corn!
Note: If I don’t have potatoes and corn, my boys aren’t happy. They will mix them together and they make a HUGE pile of it.
Sweet Potatoes
Here, I use the can version; I know… Sweet potatoes (in sauce from the can), some butter pats on top and then brown sugar and of course Marshmallows. Be careful here…marshmallows are highly flammable and I’m not saying there has ever been a dish of sweet potatoes that have ever caught fire on one or more occasions, I’m just sayin, be careful.
**Note, no firemen were involved in any of the alleged fires
Fried onions, green beans, cream of mushroom soup, (soy sauce ?) milk and pepper
Rolls
Your preference here. I would rather make them, but who has time anymore? I love the frozen ones more than I like the brown and serve ones. Don’t forget to get extras for the left over turkey sandwiches.
Dessert
Pecans, eggs, corn syrup, cinnamon, butter and vanilla. Heaven on a plate!
Don’t forget the freshly made whipped cream or maybe even vanilla ice cream!
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Pumpkin Pie….from a store (remember, I don’t like it so, I won’t make it… OK, that’s not really true. I will make one, IF I have time)
Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.
William Arthur Ward
DK
***This blog contains links to other’s Pinterest recipes, no infringement meant. If you would not like your link shared here, please message me and I will remove***

Try it Thursday: Quick Breads

One of the things I like to do most is bake. It’s been awhile, but I am getting back into the swing of things. This week we indulged in two separate breads; one savory, one sweet; both quick breads. (Not so sure why it’s called quick bread when it needs to bake for an hour)
The definition of quick bread according to Dictionary.com is
“quick bread
noun
bread, muffins, etc., made with a leavening agent, as baking powder or soda, that permits immediate baking”
First up
 Cheddar and Dill Buttermilk Quick Bread
        Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill (didn’t have fresh dill, so I used dried dill weed)

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350° degrees.
  • In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg.
  • Whisk the melted butter into the buttermilk mixture.
  • Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mix, and gently combine until just combined. Don’t over mix the batter.
  • Stir in the shredded cheese and dill.
  • Line a 9 x 5 baking tin with parchment paper and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.

I am the baker (cook) who needs to use every pot, pan, mixing bowl and spoons on every project. I have gotten better through time; However, I have 3 sets of measuring spoons and cups just so I can keep dry dry and wet wet.
Next up is Banana Bread. I have to say, I would love to eat Banana Bread every day! I just love it. I want to try a chocolate Banana Bread soon!
    Ingredients
  • 3 to 4 ripe bananas
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  •   (I used 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon rum extract)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°F. With a large spoon and bowl, mix butter into the mashed bananas. then mix the sugar egg and vanilla into the bananas. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last and mix. Pour batter into a buttered 4 X 8-inch loaf pan and bake for 1 hour.
Cool on a rack, slice and serve!
Best served hot with a slather of butter on it!
Well, it looks like I didn’t take a picture of the banana bread. Whoops
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Adjustment for 5000 feet:
  • Reduce baking powder: for each teaspoon, decrease 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon.
  • Reduce sugar: for each cup, decrease 0 to 2 tablespoons.
  • Increase liquid: for each cup, add 2 to 4 tablespoons.
  • Increase oven temperature by 25° degrees F.
On both recipes I should have adjusted for high altitude. The bread came out good, but not the big fluffy bread, more like a brick (but not too heavy we couldn’t eat it).
Cooking and baking is both physical and mental therapy.
Mary Berry
DK

Where in the World Wednesday: Cedaredge, CO

If you haven’t figured it out by now (as it’s taken me like 20 years to figure it all out), the western slope of Colorado, also known as the Grand Valley, is chock full of agriculture and recreation opportunities.
Olathe, CO: 
 Just an hour drive from Grand Junction on Hwy 50
 Named after Olathe, KS, the town is just outside the Grand Valley, still on the western slope.
 Home to the Olathe Sweet Sweet Corn
    Each August there is a HUGE festival honoring the veggie. The Olathe Sweet Corn Festival. Let me tell you, this corn is worth the wait, the drive and for some of us, the pain  of the eat (many conditions such as Crohn’s, Colitis, Gastroparesis shouldn’t partake in this wonderful veggie). I have yet to go to this festival, from what I hear, it’s a big fun time!
 Home to the Olathe BMX
Palisade, CO:
  A short hop of 20 minutes from Grand Junction, gets you to the home of The Peach Capitol of Colorado and many vineyards and wineries
  Apples, cherries and pears are also in grand supply!
    Another August festival started in the late 1880’s; is the Palisade Peach Festival
       Lots of vendors, wines, peaches, rides for kiddos and food is spread out over three days.
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The junction where the Gunnison and the Colorado Rivers meet
  great for rafting, fishing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding
crops of apples, peaches, cherries and honey are in great supply
Home to the Colorado National Monument and the Book Cliffs
Country Jam is four days of live country music, held just outside of Grand Junction in Mack
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Fruita, CO:
Just 21 minutes from Grand Junction on Hwy 50
Originally a farming community, it has since become known for its outdoor recreation
   mountain biking, hiking and rafting
Late September brings the three day Fruita Fall Festival
  As with all festivals, it includes: vendors, food and a carnival.
  It also includes; a parade, a talent show, a golf tournament, cooking contests, and even a night street dance
Cedaredge is one of the entrances to the Grand Mesa on CO – 65
a small agricultural town producing, of course, apples, peaches, and beef from cattle.
Home of the Little Britches Rodeo and Parade (the Western Slope chapter)
Don’t miss the Pioneer Town museum and village. Travel back in time to the early 20th century and visit the saloon, the marshall’s office, a bank, jail and much more! You can even hold your wedding there or see a summer concert there.
Out of the Grand Valley and just an hour down Hwy 50 is a great time in Cedaredge where we spent last weekend and their Apple Fest. I have been to the Canon City Apple Blossom festival, Old Colorado City’s Territory Days, Palisade Peach Festival and the Fruita Fall Festival and I have to say, the only thing that comes close to the Apple Fest is Territory Days and Apple Blossom.  The Apple Fest is a four day fest filled with such things as a chili cook off (my aunt says this is a huge event! They always run out of chili and all donations go to the fire department), pancake breakfasts, 5K run, music, arts and tons more! There were so many people, vendors, food and apples, it was impossible to see everything. We HAD to get some apples, one just doesn’t go to a fruit festival and not get the fruit. We started with an apple fritter…YUMMO! at the same booth were apples: I had heard someone in the crowd say, “we need to go to Red Mountain Ranch for our apples.” I looked at the sign on the tent and that’s exactly where we were. The people working the tent were (according to my intel/aunt) were 2-3 generations apple growers. They were very pleasant, friendly and the tent was very clean! I had a taste of the Honey Crisp and it was aMAZING, so we purchased just three.
apples
I don’t like big crowds and this was one of those, but we were able to look around at the vendor booths and saw so many creative people showing off their arts! Even got to see what happens when something gets stuck in a power line. Crowds at the festival are about 15,000,  I have to say, I think there were 15,000 just on the day we were there (although the pictures don’t really reflect that). There were cars parked in every parkable place for miles! I was very impressed with the whole experience and the best thing about it was, it’s FREE; unlike the Palisade Peach Festival or the Olathe Corn Festival!!
Thank you for traveling the Western Slope with me this past summer, we have a long list of ideas for next summer. Let’s see where winter takes us.
It is only the farmer who faithfully plants seeds in the Spring, who reaps a harvest in the Autumn. B. C. Forbes
DK