A Piece of Cake

“A party without cake is just a meeting.” – Julia Child

 

Mrs. Child and I wholeheartedly agree on the necessity of cake (or another sweet) at a party. My mother-in-law’s birthday was this past Saturday, and she, my brother-in-law and my nephew all came over to our house for a family party. We grilled hotdogs and hamburgers, and I make Paula Deen’s Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake. It lives up to its name. It’s simple to make, but it tastes wonderful (even if you fail to realize you don’t have McCormick Imitation Strawberry Extract).

Considering that I have four patterns of china (Lenox Vintage Jewel Platinum-Banded Bone China 5-Piece Place Setting, Service for 1, Lenox Autumn Gold-Banded Fine China 5-Piece Place Setting, Service for 1, Noritake Crestwood Cobalt Platinum 5-Piece Place Setting and Noritake Crestwood Platinum – 5 piece place setting) and two full sets of silver-plated flatware, you would think that somewhere along the way I’d use my silver-plated cake server. I just rarely think to go to my dining room, sadly, to get my utensils. My go-to is a much less expensive set I’ve picked up along the way. It doesn’t match my everyday flatware, which is Oneida Julliard 20-Piece Flatware Set, Service for 4, but that’s completely ok.

I enjoy using my serving utensils, and I love how decadent it feels slicing into a frosted cake. If you do not have a set that currently matches your pattern, here are two lower-cost options I recommend: Reed & Barton 04230800 Lyndon 2-Piece Dessert Set with 13-Inch Knife and 11-Inch Server and Wallace Hotel Pie Server and Cake Knife Set.

Reed & Barton Serving Set

Wallace Hotel Serving Set

Both options include the knife and server, which is my preference over a serated server. I think these options are both beautiful and are a perfect house warming or hostess gift, as it’s sure to get lots of use over the years.

Even if you don’t entertain often, it’s okay to want to enjoy to small things. Sometimes the kids and I will make a cake or pie, and we’ll serve it up on some of my china dessert plates on a random Tuesday.  These are the memories I hope last them for a lifetime. I hope you’re able to make memories like these, as well! Happy eating!

 

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An Elegant Experience – The Chophouse on Bankhead

On Saturday evening, two of our closest friends went to dinner with us sans kiddos! This rarely happens, so we were all excited for an opportunity to spend time together. We mulled over various dining options on Saturday afternoon, and we decided to try a place none of us had ever been to before – The Chophouse on Bankhead.

I was beyond blown away. From the moment the open the door to greet you to the time they say good night, everything was perfectly executed. At no point during the evening did I think, “I wish they knew or did that.” The restaurant is located in Mt. Vernon, Texas, which was about a 20 minute drive for the four of us. Mt. Vernon is a fun town where my best friend and her family lives, so I already enjoy visiting there. The Chophouse on Bankhead is incredibly unique and different from the other restaurants currently there, though. Our meal was a true experience, lasting well into three hours.

We started with a charcuterie board, which was just fantastic. The executive chef pays such close attention to the details and pairing of foods. A lot of love and time went into each course. The homemade pickles, though, were my top pick from our appetizer!One we had enjoy the platter, we all opted for wedge salads with perfect, tangy blue cheese dressing. Since we knew we would have multiple courses, we chose to have each couple split the wedge, which the restaurant was more than willing to do.

I’m not even normally a huge lover of blue cheese, but I couldn’t help but each every delicious bite. Our entrees took the longest time of all the courses for us to decide what to eat. While the menu was vastly more expansive than this, my picks were narrowed to choosing between the mussels (l0ve), the ribeye (love) and the crabcakes (love). Simply because everyone who has left a review has raved about the steaks, the ribeye won out, which my husband and Jonathan also got. Sally opted for the crabcakes, which looked absolutely wonderful!

The au jus was the tastiest I’d ever had, and my baked potato was dressed perfectly. Even as big of a steak eater as my husband is, none of us could finish our steaks. This may have been paritally due to the food consumed prior to this course, but did we let our full stomachs stop us from ordering dessert (no picture of it….sorry about that!)? No, we sure didn’t. We ate our sticky toffee pudding like they had just told us the place was on fire – that is to say, very quickly!

Something that really pushed this visit over the top in every way were the extras they brought. An amuse-bouche was brought over by the executive chef himself prior to our meal, and I wish I had thought to take a picture of it! It was a delicious mousse resting on top of a quarter of a cucumber slice. The flavorful bite impressed us all. After our entrees were eaten, the chef again brought us another delight – coconut macaroons, which were perfectly creamy with that toasted coconut flavor throughout. The attention to every last detail was unmatched.

I will say, I felt a little odd taking pictures of the food, as I know that isn’t truly in accordance to etiquette. However, I had spoken with the executive chef and let him know about my etiquette business, so he was very encouraging of my blog post, which needed pictures.

All around the restaurant there were frame photos and newspaper articles about Mt. Vernon. The pictures were so neat to look at, but the newspaper articles took the cake! We learned about one poor man who was “minus his right little toe” after a mishap with his gun that shot the toe “clean off even with his foot.” Most of the stories we read about were just as comically written.

If you have the opportunity, I hope you’ll visit The Chophouse on Bankhead. The experience is magical, and I know you won’t be disappointed!

Lenox Halloween Sale!! Expired

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If you are looking for a great deal to start or add to your china collection, Lenox has a wonderful Halloween sale right now! Get 30% off of your purchase using this link: Extra 30% Off Halloween. Just use code HALLOWEEN.

My mom started collecting the Christmas plates in the pattern Holiday, which I love! It’s always so special to use these plates each Christmas.However, if you’re looking for Thanksgiving instead, they have that, too!

If, though, you want something more classic that will work for any holiday, y’all likely know my top pattern is Autumn.Right now the 5-piece plus BONUS set of Holiday china is only $99.95 (reg. $200). With the 30% off, it’s only $69.96! However, to get 4 place settings, right now it’s reduced to $224.95 from $492.00. With the 30% off, you pay only $157.47 or $39.37 for each place setting. That is a phenomenal price for bone china.

Happy Halloween!

Dressing For Dinner

Wow! My husband and I went to dinner with a group of close friends tonight, and it was the most amazing experience! For those of you who aren’t local to me, we live in a small town, and fine dining experience are few and far between. Due to this, we don’t have many chances to get dressed up for dinner. Tonight, though, felt like a magical occasion, and I loved it.

The Oaks Bed & Breakfast is a recently refurbished home turned into a bed and breakfast. As if this wasn’t neat enough, every Thursday (starting today) they’re having Date Night. (Side note: It’s reservations only.) The meal is set, other than the main protein, which adds a unique element to it as well.

Tonight we had cold cucumber soup, ceviche on a bed of avocado, choice of salmon or stuffed flanked steak accompanied by mushroom risotto and pesto zoodles, melon and mozzarella salad and, finally, chocolate and caramel cheesecake. Every bit was outstanding. It took a while to get through all of the courses, which is exactly what I wanted. I LOVE when dinner is an experience. We also took this time to dress up a bit more than we normally do, and I didn’t realize how much I had missed that.

Additionally, we had great, quality time with friends sans kiddos. 🙂 To top off a perfect evening, we got to sit in the coveted private dining area, which reminded me of the private table in Commander’s Palace.

If you’re within driving distance of Sulphur Springs, Texas, I highly recommend getting reservations for this weekly treat!

Dinnerware Essentials

Hi, everyone! I’ve received a few emails asking about china vs. everyday dishes, extra pieces, etc. So, I thought I’d give you MY suggestions. Please remember to do what’s best for your family, your budget and your entertaining preferences.

I strongly encourage china. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to be new. I’ve found complete sets at antique stores for $100. (Note: I’m kicking myself for not getting them, BUT I hope it made its way to a home of someone who appreciates it). I just enjoy and appreciate the added “specialness” it brings to an ordinary occasion. As a child, I remember using it and feeling so grown up. As an adult, I love a pretty table. It’s your preference, though. I encourage 12 place settings of the dinnerware you will use at Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. If this is everyday dinnerware, that’s great. If it’s china, that’s great, too. For argument’s sake, let’s go with china. So, in short, 12 placesettings of china. What makes a place setting? At absolute minimum, a dinner plate and a dessert plate (can double as a salad plate). I prefer to also have a bread plate, coffee cup and saucer. It’s not mandatory, but for my personal collection, I have bowls, as well. We actually use these more than I ever expected to, particularly at the holidays. Aside from 12 place settings, I strongly encourage a large serving platter and a serving bowl. I have a lot of serving pieces for my wedding china (Lenox Vintage Jewel). However, for my “fun china” (shown in picture above – Lenox Autumn), I just have 8 place settings. No serving pieces. I found a good buy on ebay and just went with it! For that pattern, I’m comfortable mixing in glass bowls, crystal and white platters, etc. Do what makes the most sense for you.

I don’t find a need in completing a set all at once. For my everyday dinnerware (Pfaltzgraff  Yorktowne), I have collected pieces over the years after receiving our initial plates and bowls as wedding gifts. Pfaltzgraff (like many companies) keep patterns pretty much the same and just add and take away particular pieces each year. So, certain candlesticks I’ve found are from certain years, and the same goes for most of my additional pieces.

As you can tell from the photo above, our casual dinnerware is just that. Casual. This fits our lifestyle for most days.

I hope this post helped you if you had questions on what to get, how many pieces, etc. Thank you for asking the question! As always, thank you for reading. 🙂