An Easy Summer Side – Caprese Salad

Gardening is not one of my talents. Try as I might, most of my plants just go ahead and give up way before it’s time so as to not prolong the inevitable. The only exception I seem to have (at least until it’s scorching hot) is with my herb garden.

This year we planted basil, thyme, mint, rosemary (well, it’s the lone survivor from past years) and multiple tomato plants. As you can tell, it’s a small garden, but it’s full of items we use regularly.

One of my favorite dishes to serve as a side or an easy appetizer is caprese salad. My kids love it, so we make it often while my basil plants are still kickin’.One of my favorite things about this dish is that it’s so easy to make a little or a lot.

The Recipe:

Simply cut up ripe tomatoes and layer with torn mozzarella (not the slices or shredded…go for the real deal). I like to chiffionade the fresh basil leave to make it easier to eat. Drizzle quality olive oil and basalmic vinegar like Ariston Traditional Modena Balsamic Premium Vinegar Aged 250ml Product of Italy Sweet Taste on top. Sometimes I’ll add a smidgen of salt directly on top of the tomato slice. Fresh mozzarella isn’t overly salty, so you’ll need to see your preference on this.

A variation of this could be to skewer on toothpicks a cherry tomato and mozzarella ball with a basil leaf in between. You’ll still drizzle with olive oil and basalmic vinegar or you could combine the two for a vinegarette dip.

Do you have a favorite summer recipe?

 

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Long Live the Guest Book

A few years ago I took a history walk from a local historian and our current mayor, John Sellers. Now, while John knows just about everything there is to know about Hopkins County, he actually speaks all over Texas and the USA. We were touring an old home on College Street, and this home was once the hub for many parties. He said that prior to the tour he was looking through an old guest book, and he came across his mother’s signature, signed with her maiden name. For some reason, this story left a major impression on me.

I think back to all of the parties and gatherings we’ve had at our home, and, while we do a great job of taking a group picture at every event, I couldn’t help but wonder what piece of history we may have missed. So, I started looking for guest books. I found dozens in the $100+ range. Most were designed for weddings, but I found this Guest Book: Illustrated Nature Edition for less than $15.
I absolutely love it! I’m doing my best to find another one that allowed for menus of parties, etc., which I thought would be too fun to look back on. One day I have a feeling the pendulum will swing the other way, and our grandkids will enjoy the hardcopy items of things the internet just can’t replace. I’ve purchased this book and have it in our entryway. If you visit, plan to sign. 🙂

 

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Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding

Before my granny passed away, she had given me over a dozen chocolate pie recipes. One today that I’m sharing with you is a tried and true favorite for when I make chocolate pudding (think, inside part of the pie).

2/3 c. sugar

1/4 c. flour

1/4 c. cocoa powder

Mix those ingredients together. Add 1/4 c. milk to make a paste. Add in three egg yolks. Add additional 1 1/2 c. milk. Bring together over low heat, whisking constantly. Once fully thickened drop in 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Enjoy!

***Bonus*** Omit the chocolate and add additional teaspoon of vanilla for vanilla pudding!

The Best Way to Start Entertaining

I truly love having people over. I have an extroverted personality, and being around people refreshes me. My husband, though, is the exact opposite. He needs alone time to rejunvenate. I think for some introverts the planning and anticipation can often be as exhausting as the actual event.

Now that my kids are four and six and sleep through the night, I enjoy reading for a while before bed. One blogger I enjoy following, Money Saving Mom, has recently recommended the book Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation.

So often we build things up that we become overwhelmed with just the idea of it.

The best way to start entertaining is to simply open up your home.

I believe we are social creatures, which is why etiquette has such a big part in our lives. Etiquette, at its core, is about respect of others. While etiquette is so much more than knowing which fork to use, using the correct fork is respectful of your host. Knowing that it’s respectful is what etiquette is all about.

Now, you absolutely don’t need anything other than an open door to entertain.

Having an open heart and an open door leads to lasting relationships.

Use what you have, which is yourself. Offer a compassionate heart and open ear. Just take that first step to allow someone into your home and into your life. You’ll be so thankful you did.

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TWOsday Recipes

Hi, y’all! I hesitate to even call what I’m sharing today “recipes.” I wanted to share some easy go-to ideas for your events. Each recipe has only TWO ingredients!

First, my favorite sweet dip is what I call Marshmallow Fruit Dip. Simply combine a 7-ounce jar of marshmallow creme with an 8-ounce brick of cream cheese. Whip it together by hand or in a stand mixer. This is a hit with my kids! They love dipping grapes and strawberries into it.My next delicious duo is Chili-Cheese Dip. Combine an 8-ounce brick of cream cheese with a 10-ounce can of chili (no beans). Heat on the stove until the cheese has melted. Bake in a cast iron skillet in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve with Fritos or tortilla chips!

Another savory dip is the Classic Cheese Dip. For a 16-ounce brick of processed cheese (Velveeta), add two 10-ounce cans of tomatoes with chiles (Ro-Tel). I always just put mine in the crock pot. This is also perfect with Fritos or tortilla chips!

Finally, my last recipe is for making sugar molds! This is the easiest way to fancy up a tea party. Just add 1/2 teaspoon of water for every 1/2 cup of sugar. Blend both items in a food processor until all sugar is evenly wet. Spoon into mold, making sure to pack the sugar down well.

Invert onto a cookie sheet by placing the cookie sheet upside down on the mold and then turning both over. Gently remove the mold and let the sugar molds rest for at least 30 minutes.

Get these flower-shaped molds for only $1.99!


Or try the heart-shaped molds, if that’s more your style.
***Edited to add a new recipe!***

Lime-Sherbet Punch. Anyone else always pronounce it “sherbert?” I think it drives my husband crazy. Anyhow, I usually do a quart of slightly softened lime sherbet (but you can use raspberry or orange to change the color!) to a 2-liter of ginger ale. Now, we’re flexing on the two-ingredient rule, but if you’re having a 1950’s themed Christmas, add in some maraschino cheeries for color! Really, though, you only need the sherbet and the ginger ale.