Southern Good Friday

Submitted by Christi

Happy Good Friday to all!

Julia at

has a fun party this Friday, called Freaky House Photos Friday. I couldn’t resist this one. Okay, all my Realtor friends, watch out. I found some fun rooms in your MLS pics. Click on any of the pictures to see the show!

Truly, I know that real estate agents cannot help how their clients decorate. This is why I don’t think I could be a real estate agent. I don’t know that I could keep my mouth shut 🙂

It is also:

With Designs by Gollum

So, we need an easy Easter recipe.

Easy Easter Pie

2/3 c Boiling water
1 pk (4-serving size) Jell-o, any flavor
1/2 c Cold water
Ice cubes
8 oz Cool Whip whipped topping,
Thawed
1 Ready-made Graham Cracker
Pie Crust (6oz)

Stir boiling water into gelatin in a large bowl for 2 minutes or until completely dissolved. Mix cold water and ice to make 1 1/4 cups. Add to gelatin, stirring until slightly thickened. Remove any remaining ice.

Stir in whipped topping with wire whisk until smooth. Refrigerate 10 minutes until mixture will mound.

Spoon into crust. Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm.

Garnish with additional whipped topping. Add jelly beans, Hershey kisses, small chocolate Easter eggs, etc.

It is looking like Easter around our house:

On the front door

On the dining table

Even in the trees outside!

Love the colors of Easter. Enjoy seeing more Easter color with:

Pink Saturday with Beverly at How Sweet the Sound

Wishing you all a very blessed and
Happy Passover and Easter!


Today’s Lagniappe: Hershey’s Egg Wreath
I saw this great idea at the Hershey’s site and wanted to share it with you.

Supplies:

* Five 9 oz. bags of HERSHEY’S Solid Milk Chocolate Eggs (foil covered)
* 12″ diameter foam wreath
* 5 yards of white or pastel satin ribbon 2″ width
* Glue sticks or low temperature glue gun

Instructions:

Cover the foam wreath by wrapping the satin ribbon around the wreath, when completely covered, cut off excess length, and secure the end with a dab of glue. Save left over ribbon to make a bow to decorate the wreath.

Begin gluing the foil-covered eggs to the top center of the wreath; continue around the top and down both sides, alternating colors and angles of the eggs to add interest.

After wreath is completely covered with eggs, finish by attaching the sprigs of silk flowers and the bow made from the remaining ribbon.

Completed craft is for decorative purposes only. Candy used in craft should not be eaten.

Southern Projects – A Look Back

Submitted by Christi

It has been really cold here this week, as I understand it has been in most of the country. We had quite a bit of snow this past weekend.

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It is a good time to stay inside and take a look back at some of our favorite projects of 2009 for Rhoda’s Party!

Sunroom2-copy

Many of my favorite projects happen outdoors. I love to spend time outside whenever I can. It is so cold now, I am happy to look back at some of those outside projects, as well as a few inside projects.

Let’s start outside.

First we planted the garden.

Before:

christi-garden-2After:

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I also took some inspiration from a floral magazine for my cocktails on the porch party.

Inspiration:

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Of course, I wasn’t having a wedding and really wanted to use what I already had.

Before:IMG_4662

After:

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I was also inspired by a piece of furniture I already had to build a similar piece to hold our television:

Inspiration:

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And, the piece I designed from that inspiration and then built myself (yes, I’m quite proud)!

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I had a lot of fun at Thanksgiving. All the family was here.

Before:

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After:

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And then, as the weather got even colder, it was Christmas time. Time to change the look of the fireplace.

Before:

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After:

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Of course, now we are back to the before on that one. May have to make a few changes on that, however, I love the picture. My husband and I purchased the French Quarter scene on the New Orleans stop on our honeymoon.

I’m expecting a lot of changes this year and look forward to sharing them with you. I also look forward to seeing what everyone else is doing this year!

By the way, this is also Outdoor Wednesday!

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Hope you all find lots of inspiration this week!

Now a message from Soldiers’ Angels:

We have a situation where a veteran is in urgent need of financial assistance to help keep his family afloat.

This 12-year veteran who has made numerous sacrifices for our country, was wounded in Iraq and is now out of the Army.  He lives each day with a Traumatic Brain Injury, severe PTSD, and many other injuries that limit what he can do.  These injuries are so extensive that he can longer work and provide for his family.

Within the next few days, their car will be repossessed.  They are in need of a four wheel drive vehicle (there’s lots of snow in Colorado) so that they can get to and from doctor’s appointments, errands, as well as getting their three young children to and from school.

They also need assistance in paying their house heating,  lights, and phone bills.

If you can help this family, you can donate via the donation button at soldiersangels.org and mention the Stecklein family in the “Description” section or contact me at [email protected] and I can give you more contact information.

Today’s Lagniappe:  Michael Chiarello’s Winter Panzanella
I thought this recipe looked so wonderful. I love Panzanella and had never thought of a winter version. What a great idea. From foodnetwork.com.

For the croutons:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 6 cups day-old bread, crust removed, cubed
  • 6 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

  • 1 small red onion, sliced thinly lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • Gray salt
  • 4 cups peeled, seeded, and diced butternut squash (1/2-inch dice)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, then quartered
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over moderate heat and cook until it foams. Add the garlic and thyme, and immediately add the bread cubes. Toss to coat well. Add most of the grated cheese and stir. Transfer bread to a baking sheet and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and salt and pepper and gently toss again while still warm to melt the cheese. Bake stirring once or twice, until the croutons are crisp and lightly colored on the outside but still soft within, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

Soak the sliced onion in the sherry vinegar and a pinch of salt for about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Toss the squash with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil, sage, salt, and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until the squash is tender and lightly caramelized, about 15 to minutes. Let cool.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the quartered Brussels sprouts and cook until tender but retain a touch of crispness, about 1 1/2 minutes, and drain.

Into the reserved red onions and vinegar, whisk in remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Season with pepper.

In a large bowl combine the roasted squash, croutons, and Brussels sprouts. Add the vinaigrette and toss. Add the parsley leaves and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish with grated Parmesan and serve immediately.

Chef note: “Soaking the onion briefly in sherry vinegar–sometimes called blooming the onion–mellows the raw onion taste.”

Southern Trooper

Submitted by Christi

This one red rose bush is still hanging in there and producing some blooms. This is my knock-out rose bush. It is really a trooper. So glad I planted this one.

A sweet red rose bud.

A sweet red rose bud.

It has been dark and dreary here today, so that had to be taken with a flash. Hang on little roses, it is supposed to be sunny tomorrow!

A "mature" bloom

A "mature" bloom

Like so many things, this rose is so pretty as it matures 🙂

It is always inspiring to me to see those last blooms that tough it out until the very last. I do still have zinnias blooming that I showed you last week.

A few notes:

What you can do for the victims of the terrible shooting at Fort Hood:

Christmas donations for Fort Hood Victims

1) We are hoping to make Christmas a bit brighter for the families and injured heroes who were involved in the Fort Hood tragedy a few weeks back. For this Christmas initiative, we are collecting monetary donations, gift cards, new stuffed animals, and letters/notes of encouragement. These donations may be sent to:

Soldiers’ Angels
Fort Hood Support
4408 PanAm Expressway
San Antonio, TX 78218

Please make sure to make a note that your donation is marked for Fort Hood.

If you would like to make a monetary donation, you may also follow the “Donate” link on the Soldiers Angels homepage. To make sure that your donation goes specifically to this project, please type in ‘For Fort Hood’ in the comment box that pops up when entering your donation.

Also, another urgent need:

Support/encouragement for a soldier who is currently looking for work as he is having a tough time of it.  This soldier was deployed until February 2009 when he then returned home due to injuries he received in Iraq.  His injuries consist of TBI post-concussive syndrome, hearing loss, knee injuries, and back injuries.  To make his situation worse, he is also separated from his wife.

This soldier lives in Titus, Alabama, so if there are any Angels in that area that may be able to help this soldier out with some job leads that would be awesome. If you know of any job leads, please let me know and I will forward the information christi@asouthernlife.com.

Hope you are all having a WONDERFUL pre-Thanksgiving week!

Today’s Lagniappe: Easy Pumpkin Pie with Shortbread Crust and Crockpot Pumpkin Pie
This first recipe is a great one that was in the November issue of Martha Stewart Home. Check out the Martha Stewart web site for this and some other great Thanksgiving pie recipes

Easy Pumpkin Pie with Shortbread Crust

Makes one 9-inch pie.

  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Press-In Shortbread Pie Crust
  • Whipped cream, for serving (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together pumpkin, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and eggs in a large bowl. Pour filling into prepared piecrust.
  2. Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, rotating halfway through, until filling is just set and slightly puffed but still a bit wobbly, 65 to 70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 6 hours. (Pie can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.) Serve chilled, topped with whipped cream if desired.

Press in Shortbread Crust

Makes one 9-inch crust.

  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  1. Stir together butter and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in yolk. Add flour and salt, and stir until mixture is dry and crumbly. Press dough into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie dish. Freeze until firm, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Bake, rotating halfway through, just until crust turns golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool in dish on a wire rack.

And then something to add to Debbie’s Crockpot Wednesday

Crockpot Pumpkin Pie

  • 15 oz. can solid pack pumpkin
  • 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 pie crust (not placed in pie pan)
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar

Preparation:

In a large bowl place pumpkin and beat with spoon to soften. Gradually add 1/4 cup of the evaporated milk, stirring until well blended with the pumpkin. Then add remaining evaporated milk and the rest of the ingredients except for pie crust and 2 tablespoons sugar and beat until blended.Transfer to a 4-quart crockpot coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cover crockpot and cook on LOW for 6-7 hours, until pudding is set when lightly touched with finger.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Unfold refrigerated pie crust (or make your own crust1) and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Gently roll out crust on lightly floured surface until slightly thinner. Using cookie cutter (try turkeys, leaves, pumpkins!) cut out small cutouts. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake crust cutouts at 375 degrees F for 8-9 minutes, until cutouts are light golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on wire rack. Serve pudding warm or cool, garnished with a pie crust cutout to ‘fake’ pumpkin pie! Or you can crumble up purchased sugar cookies or shortbread and sprinkle those on top of the pudding, so each bite tastes just like real pumpkin pie. Oh, and whipped cream is necessary too. Serves 8

A little outdoor red for Outdoor Wednesday with A Southern Daydreamer and Rednesday! with It’s a Very Cherry and today’s lagniappe is a great idea for Crockpot Wedneday with Dining with Debbie.

Southern Hospitality

Submitted by Christi

Yes, it is time again for Foodie Friday with Designs by Gollum!

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Before I share a great recipe with you, I want to update you. As many of you have already read, I have joined an incredible group called Soldiers’ Angels. What is Soliders’ Angels?

Soldiers’ Angels is a volunteer-led 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing aid and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and their families. Founded by the mother of two American soldiers, we are an international, volunteer-led organization supporting America’s men and women in uniform. With over 30 different teams and projects, our nearly 200,000 volunteers assist veterans, wounded and deployed personnel and their families in a variety of unique and effective ways.

With the shootings at Fort Hood, the Soldiers’ Angels sprang into action. I’ll have to say, that is one of things you gotta love about them, they are women (and men) of action! So, what can you do?

SHOOTINGS AT FT. HOOD

Soldiers’ Angels is assessing the needs and with our founder currently residing in Texas, we will be standing by to offer physical and emotional support to our heroes and their families.

RIGHT NOW: Collecting encouraging cards and NEW stuffed animals for the families and children of the injured/killed.  Please send cards and stuffed animals (and anything NEW that may brighten the life of a child) to:
Soldiers’ Angels
4408 PanAm Expressway
San Antonio, TX 78218

Spread this information on your blog and keep checking back here for updates! Also, here is a link to Scott & White Hospital for more information about their needs there. Currently, they have an urgent need of all types of blood. All of my wonderful friends in Texas, you are the best, please help out!

After that, I think we could all use something chocolate to comfort us.

Brandy Alexander Cheesecake

* 18 sheets chocolate graham crackers
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
* 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temp
* 1 1/4 cups sugar
* 3 tablespoons cornstarch
* 4 large eggs
* 3 tablespoons brandy
* 3 tablespoons Creme de Cacao (or Kahlua)
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* 1/4 cup chocolate-covered coffee beans

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. In a food processor, pulse chocolate graham crackers until fine crumbs form.
3. Add sugar and butter-pulse to moisten.
4. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan.
5. Chill.
6. In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese for 1-2 minutes, or until smooth.
7. Add sugar and cornstarch.
8. Beat on medium speed until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes.
9. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
10. Add the Brandy and Creme de Cacao.
11. Beat until well incorporated and smooth.
12. Pour into chilled crust.
13. Bake for 60 minutes or until cheesecake is just set and center slightly jiggles.
14. Transfer to a wire rack-run a knife around the inside of pan.
15. Allow to cool completely at room temperature.
16. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
17. Center cheesecake on a serving plate, remove side of spring-form pan.
18. Whip the heavy cream and sugar until stiff peaks are reached.
19. Garnish cheesecake with whipped cream, scatter chocolate covered espresso beans.
20. Serve.

Enjoy this yummy dessert and keep all of the families and victims at Fort Hood in your prayers!

Today’s Lagniappe: White Russian
If you’ve got the Kahlua out, this is a great recipe for a dessert drink.

Vodka 1 1/2 oz
Kahlua 3/4 oz
Cream to top Preparation:
Pour the vodka and kahlua into an ice-filled rocks glass. Stir and top with cream. Serve


Southern Peace

Submitted by Christi

Sometimes we live in an anxious world. We live in a world with sickness, war, unemployment, bills, well, you get the picture. Sometimes it is just good to stop and see the beautiful world around us and be reminded of God’s blessings. Here are some of the  photos that I’ve taken that remind me that I am blessed.

This guy was eating the leaves of a tree. His horns are growing beautifully.

This guy was eating the leaves of a tree. His horns are growing beautifully.

Taking a snack to go.

Taking a snack to go.

A spider weaving a web.

A spider weaving a web.

Fog over the lake.

Fog over the lake.

Isn't he handsome?

Isn't he handsome?

Children playing.

Children playing.

A nice place to perch.

A nice place to perch.

The evening sky after a rainshower. I thought it looked like it was on fire.

The evening sky after a rainshower. I thought it looked like it was on fire.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understand, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Check out all the outdoor photos over at A Southern Daydreamer

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Today’s Lagniappe: Cha Cha Chicken Salad

From an old Southern Living cookbook. I’m not a big fan of curry so I would leave that out, but, that’s just me 🙂

Yield
Makes 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple
2/3 cup orange-flavored sweetened dried cranberries
1 cup chopped roasted, salted almonds
Garnishes: fresh herbs, blackberries, raspberries, sliced peaches
Preparation
1. Whisk together cream cheese and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in chicken, pineapple, and cranberries just until blended.

2. If desired, spoon mixture into a plastic wrap-lined 8-inch round cake pan; cover and chill at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Invert chicken salad onto a cake stand, and remove plastic wrap. Gently press chopped almonds onto sides of chicken salad. Garnish, if desired.

Southern Empty Nest

Submitted by Christi
It's time for Outdoor Wednesday with A Southern Daydreamer!

It's time for Outdoor Wednesday with A Southern Daydreamer!

As I reported on Monday’s post, the last of the robins has left the nest. The first baby robin left on Saturday morning. The remaining two robins thought about it all day on Saturday. Even thought the robin parents called to them, they didn’t get up the nerve on Saturday.

On Sunday morning, my husband got up around 6:30 a.m. and saw that one of the last two had left and now we were down to the final robin. The last robin left around 7 a.m.

The robins flew to a neighbor’s yard and we were able to keep an eye on them for a little while. I worried about them when I saw a neighborhood cat that had spotted them.

We no longer are sure where they are. Every time we see a robin, we wonder if it is one of ours. We feel so blessed to have gotten to follow this wonderful process from the building of the nest, the laying of the eggs, the hatching of the eggs, the fast growth of the babies to the final takeoff.

Here are the pics from the final two days.

Here are the last two

Here are the last two

Getting kind of crowded.

Getting kind of crowded.

All alone.

All alone.

Preparing for takeoff! title=

Preparing for takeoff!

Okay, one wing at a time.

Clear the runway!

Here I go!

Here I go!

I made it!

I made it!

Empty nest

Empty nest

I'm ready for the world!

I'm ready for the world!

The parents, particularly the dad will stay with the little ones for about two more week, showing them the ropes. After that, they are on their own. I’ve always loved robins, but, after this experience, I’ll never look at them the same again.

Today’s Lagniappe: Cold Buttered Rum
I’ve heard of hot buttered rum but when I saw this recipe in one of my old cookbooks, I thought it sounded really yummy! You can adjust the amount of rum to your heart’s desire.

* 1 quart butter pecan ice cream
* 2/3 cup dark rum

Combine ingredients in the container of an electric blender; cover and process until smooth, stopping once to scrape down the sides.

Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

Southern Reader

Submitted by Christi

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I now have 3 tabs!

I now have 3 tabs! Just in time for Three or More Tuesday with The Gypsy's Corner.

Have you noticed the new tab at the top of the page?  It is called Christi’s Reads. I am and always have been an avid reader. I wanted to share with you what I am reading now and what I have read in the past that I really enjoy. I would love to hear about what others are reading and what you enjoy.

If you are a reader, you are probably like me and always looking for a new good book to read. Let’s share our ideas and reviews! I hope you will enjoy this new feature and I would love to have you participate.

To let me know what you are reading or have read and would recommend, email me at christi@asouthernlife.com. I’ll work on getting the comments to work on that page but in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to send your reviews and recommendations to be by email!

Happy reading!

It's also 2nd Time Around Tuesday. Seen that picture at the top before? Yes, it is from a previous tablescape. Looks like a quiet spot for a good read.

It's also 2nd Time Around Tuesday. Seen that picture at the top before? Yes, it is from a previous tablescape. Looks like a quiet spot for a good read.

Today’s Lagniappe:  Oatmeal Carmelitas
This with a cup of coffee and a good book . . .

Preheat oven 350

2 C Flour
2 C oatmeal
1-1/2 C brown sugar
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1-1/2 cup butter, melted

Combine the above. Press 1/2 of the above mixture into greased 9×13 baking dish. Bake 10 minutes.

Top with 1 – 12 oz pkg chocolate chips
1 C chopped nuts

Top this layer with 1-1/2 C caramel ice cream topping combined with 6 T flour. Drizzle over the chocolate and nuts.

Crumble the remaining oat mixture over this layer and bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

A Southern Second Chance

Submitted by Christi

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It’s 2nd Time Around Tuesday!

My dog Bailey is my story today.

Isn't he the cutest?

Isn't he the cutest?

Bailey was 2 years old when we found him in a shelter in Paragould, Arkansas. It was his 2nd time in a shelter in his short 2 years. He was filthy dirty and a bit afraid. When we found him, we called immediately. He was available. We drove the three hours to meet him. We took a toy but he had no idea what to do with a toy. A treat was a better attention getter.

Poor Bailey had just come from the vet where he had been neutered and had his shots. He was not a happy camper. He slept in my lap for the entire drive back. When we got home, he was afraid he would get in trouble for going in the house. We put him on the bed with us and he looked at us like we were crazy.

That was four years ago. It took nearly a full year for little Bailey to get to really, really trust us. He had a lot of baggage. Now, as I write, he lays next to me on the floor. He sleeps at our feet on the bed at night. He loves to be next to us and is pretty demanding these days about treats. He chases squirrels from my bird feeder and is great about guarding the house.

Bailey just needed another chance. We are so glad he got it with us. He’s my little bundle of joy and a valued member of the family!

Today’s Lagniappe: Peanut Butter Bars
Sometimes you just gotta have ’em

1 cup butter, melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons peanut butter
Directions:
1.     In a medium bowl, mix together the butter or margarine, graham cracker crumbs, confectioners’ sugar, and 1 cup peanut butter until well blended. Press evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 inch pan.
2.     In a metal bowl over simmering water, or in the microwave, melt the chocolate chips with the peanut butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Spread over the prepared crust. Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting into squares.

Southern Arrival!

Submitted by Christi

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Talk about a metamorphosis! How about this:

We went from this . . .

We went from this . . .

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to this . . .

to this . . .

Then, back to three!! What happened. We're not sure but one is missing :(

Then, back to three!! What happened. We're not sure but one is missing 🙁

Then, finally this! Three little babies Sunday morning!

Then, finally this! Three little babies Sunday morning!

I want food!

I want food!

Check back on Wednesday for more pics. They are so sweet. Both Mama and Daddy birds are feeding the babies and, yes, I’ve got pics.

Join Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for more Metamorphosis Monday!

Today’s Lagniappe: Margarita
Now that warm weather is upon us, it is time for something frosty to sip on the porch after a long day.

* 1 1/4 cups fresh lime juice
* 1 cup Triple Sec or other orange liqueur
* 1 cup silver tequila
* 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 3 cups ice cubes

DIRECTIONS

1. Combine the lime juice, triple sec, tequila, lemon juice, and 2 cups ice in a blender; blend until smooth.
2. Place 1 cup ice cubes in a cocktail shaker; add desired amount of margarita; cover and shake well; serve.

Southern Porch Accessory

Submitted by Christi

I wanted to share with you a picture of a little garden bench that was given to me. It was unassembled and plain wood when I got it. I painted it and hung it on the wall of my porch.

I like the check and floral thing so that is how I painted it.

I like the check and floral thing so that is how I painted it.

It comes in really handy for my garden gloves and other things that I can just drop off on my way in the house.

It comes in really handy for my garden gloves and other things that I can just drop off on my way in the house.

I think this little bench was originally intended to be used to set plants on as an accent. I like finding a different way to use things. This makes a nice little shelf for my porch.

Isn’t it sometimes the small things that make us smile? This little bench is one of those things. Really, in times like these, it is good to notice little things like how the grass is now green and the birds singing and the flowers blooming. These things make the big things not seem quite so bad.

Stay tuned tomorrow for an update on the robin’s nest – new eggs with pics!

To see more 2nd time around posts, visit Diane for 2nd Time Around Tuesday.

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Today’s Lagniappe: Key Lime Bars
Something  refreshing to serve on the porch.

1 cup finely ground graham cracker crumbs
2 1/2 tablespoons finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
2/3 cup fresh Key lime juice , (about 23 Key limes total)
1 cup sweetened condensed milk, (14 ounces)
2 Key limes, thinly sliced into half-moons

Make crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a small bowl. Press evenly onto bottom of an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Bake until dry and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.(Leave oven on.)

Make filling: Put egg yolks and lime zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on high speed until very thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add condensed milk in a slow, steady stream, mixing constantly. Raise speed to high; mix until thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add lime juice; mix until just combined.

Spread filling evenly over crust using a spatula. Bake, rotating dish halfway through, until filling is just set, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or overnight).

Cut into 2-by-2-inch bars. Garnish bars with whipped cream and a slice of lime.

The Southern Garden is In!

Submitted by Christi
It's Metamorphosis Monday! Click on pic to see more on Between Naps on the Porch
It’s Metamorphosis Monday! Click on pic to see more on Between Naps on the Porch

Finally done! The rain finally stopped long enough for me to finish getting my garden in. It isn’t a really big garden but it is just right for my husband and me and a little extra to share. I’ve got lots of veggies and a few flowers. I’m so happy. It has been some back breaking work and dirty work but it has been a labor of love. I’m still looking for my scarecrow. I think he must be hiding!

To plant a garden is to believe in the future!

Here is the plot freshly tilled and turned.
Here is the plot freshly tilled and turned.

And here it is with soil amendments and mulched walking rows. Freshly planted and ready to grow!
And here it is with soil amendments and mulched walking rows. Freshly planted and ready to grow!

Who loves a garden still his Eden keeps,
Perennial pleasures plants, and wholesome harvest reaps.



Today’s Lagniappe: Strawberry Shortbread Cookies
Another great way to use those yummy strawberries.

1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 c. sifted flour
Dash of salt
1 med. jar strawberry jam
1/2 c. nuts
Powdered sugar

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat thoroughly. Add sifted flour and dash of salt; mix well. Spread 3/4 of the batter in oblong pan. Spread evenly. Then spread the jam; sprinkle nuts. Glob the remaining batter over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cut into squares and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Southern Fish Fry/Robin’s Nest

Submitted by Christi

outdoor-wednesday-logo5

It is Outdoor Wednesday and memories of fish fries! Click the pic above for more of Outdoor Wednesday!

I have to interrupt my Southern food series to show you what this pretty little robin has been doing on my porch. After you see the pics, read about my Grandpa’s fish fries – a Southern tradition!

This is how she started out. At first the wind kept blowing the twigs away but she stayed after it. If you look real close you can see where my husband tried to help secure it with some floral wire.

This is how she started out. At first the wind kept blowing the twigs away but she stayed after it. If you look real close you can see where my husband tried to help secure it with some floral wire.

Here she is, caught in the act of building. It was amazing to watch!

Here she is, caught in the act of building. It was amazing to watch!

Still at it!

Still at it!

She's really making progress. The female robin picks the spot for the nest and is the primary builder. Male robins help out by bringing materials for the nest.

She's really making progress. The female robin picks the spot for the nest and is the primary builder. Male robins help out by bringing materials for the nest.

See her building material in her mouth? She is using her right wing to build this nest. Amazing!

See her building material in her mouth? She is using her right wing to build this nest. Amazing!

Looks like a lot of work to me!

Looks like a lot of work to me!

So, she got her nest built and we started waiting for eggs. We have to hold the camera up to the nest and let it auto-focus to get the pics. We cannot see in the nest from the porch. We kept taking pictures of the empty nest and then, finally:

An egg! Isn't it pretty?

An egg! Isn't it pretty?

At last check, there were 2 eggs that we could see. You can just see the tops of them.

At last check, there were 2 eggs that we could see. You can just see the tops of them.

Robins will lay from 3-6 eggs and then they will incubate for around 15 days. We will be looking for more eggs and keeping you up to date on their progress in the coming weeks!

Now, back to that fish fry! I just want to tell you a quick story about my Grandpa’s fish fries. If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll remember that Grandpa is 93 years old this year. He used to hold the best fish fries. He used to go fishing in Canada every year and he would bring back fish and have great fish fries. Eventually, the limit that he could bring back got too small for his parties. He then had a friend that had a trot line on Lake Texoma. He said he would get around 100 pounds of fish from him for the fish fries.

After a while, so many of the local politicians were involved and vying for time that it started getting out of hand. One summer, Grandpa’s beautiful wife, Betty (who had done a lot of the fish fry work) tripped over their Great Dane, Patrick and broke her arm. That was the end of the fish fries. Everyone was really disappointed, but, it was great fun while it lasted!

Southerners have always loved to gather for food and friendship in the steamy hot days of summer. This is one of my memories of those times.

Today’s Lagniappe: Southern Fried Catfish
There are a million ways to do it. Here is how I do it.

4 catfish fillets
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 tablespoons flour
creole seasoning to taste (I use Emeril’s Essence or Tony Cherchere’s)
salt to taste (depending on what creole seasoning you use)
vegetable oil

Pour vegetable oil to a depth of about 1 inch in a large cast iron skillet.

Heat the oil to around 375.

While oil is heating, mix cornmeal, flour and seasoning.

Coat catfish fillets in flour.

Once the oil is hot, fry the fish until golden brown and it flakes easily with a fork.

Drain the fish on paper towels and serve hot with tarter sauce.

Southern Outdoor Wednesday

Submitted by Christi

It is Outdoor Wednesday at our friend A Southern Daydreamer’s blog. Here is our entry in the post. These are pics from where I used to live. Spring in the Ozarks.

A sunrise like this makes it worth it to get up really early!

A sunrise like this makes it worth it to get up really early!

Redbuds and tulip trees.

Redbuds and tulip trees.

This was the view from the deck. See the lake in the background?

This was the view from the deck. See the lake in the background?

Beautiful view!

Beautiful view!

More of the redbuds.

More of the redbuds.

One last shot.

One last shot.

I loved living in that house. The view was great and the sunrises were greater!

See the other Outdoor Wednesday posts.

See the other Outdoor Wednesday posts.

Today’s Lagniappe: Pasta Primavera

12 ounces pasta, bowtie noodles
2 yellow squash, thinly sliced
10 ounces asparagus spears, cut in 2″ pieces
8 ounces baby carrots, cut lengthwise, half
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups skim milk
1/4 cup sour cream, light
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Add pasta to a large pot of boiling water and cook 10 minutes. Add squash, asparagus and carrots and cook 8 minutes or until pasta and vegetables are tender. Drain and place in a large serving bowl.

Meanwhile put flour in a large skillet. Slowly whisk in milk until blended, taking care to get into corners of skillet. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to low and simmer 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat, whisk in sour cream, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Pour over pasta mixture and stir to mix and coat. Sprinkle with cheese.

Southern Spring Showers . . .

Submitted by Christi
Bull Shoals Lake

Sunset over Bull Shoals Lake

Yesterday, I wrote about how I enjoy being outside. After I wrote that post, I watched the news. Again, I was so grateful for the beauty of nature. The news was all about the swine flu. I looked out my window at the Spring rain (okay, sometimes storm), and everything was put back in perspective.

In these difficult times, I think it is a good thing for each of us to look for the beauty in our lives. One thing I have always loved about living in the South is the warmth. Not just of the weather, but, of the people. When I walk in my neighborhood, people wave. I know my neighbors names and enjoy sharing a wave and a smile when we see each other. There is beauty in a well set table with good home-cooked food that you share with someone you love.

I feel like Julie Andrews singing My Favorite Things :). Oh well, it worked for her, and, obviously it works for me.

I hope each of you finds beauty and a few of your favorite things in this day.

Today’s Lagniappe: Tabouli Primavera

When I was growing up, we spent many weekends at the lake. Occasionally, we would drive over to a restaurant called Neifi’s, where they had tabouli. It is a middle-eastern dish that is pretty exotic for a small town girl like me. I always enjoyed it.

2 cups bulgur
2 cups boiling water
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cucumber, chopped
1 small bunch green onions, chopped
1 (4 ounce) package crumbled feta cheese
2 (2.25 ounce) cans sliced ripe olives, drained
1/4 cup minced fresh basil

Dressing

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon pepper
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

DIRECTIONS

Place bulgur in a large bowl; stir in boiling water. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Drain and squeeze dry.
In another large bowl, combine remaining ingredients.
Mix together dressing ingredients and pour over veggies.
Add bulgur and toss to coat.

Southern Outdoors

Submitted by Christi
Photo by Jim Gaston of Gaston's Resort in Lakeview, Arkansas

Photo by Jim Gaston of Gaston's Resort in Lakeview, Arkansas

I spent my weekend outside working on the garden. I’m a little sore now but it was well worth it and nothing that a little ibuprofen won’t cure.

I  love spending time outdoors. Always have. When you are inside, you sometimes, forget that there is a whole other world going on outside. There are birds flying around, singing their songs. The robins loved the freshly turned ground in my garden for gathering worms. The squirrels are, as usual, trying to raid my bird feeder. There are bunny rabbits hopping around. It is a bustling, busy world out there!

As I was working, the wind was blowing quite a bit. Every now and then, I would get a whiff of something sweet. Something sweet that is blooming somewhere and the wind was carrying the scent to me in my garden. I was very thankful for the breeze to cool me off from my toiling in the soil as well as for the lovely scent of blooms.

All of this puts me in mind of Louis Armstrong singing What a Beautiful World. Even with all of the turmoil in the world, all the strife and conflict, it truly is a beautiful world. You just have to stop and see it.

Today’s Lagniappe: Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus
Great as an appetizer or a side dish, this is tasty little bundle.

  • 1/2 pound prosciutto, sliced
  • 1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened (try herb cream cheese or other flavors of cream cheese).
  • 12 spears fresh asparagus, trimmed
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Blanch asparagus spears in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Submerge in ice water.
  3. Spread prosciutto slices with cream cheese.
  4. Wrap slices around 2 or 3 asparagus spears.
  5. Arrange wrapped spears in a single layer on a medium baking sheet.
  6. Bake 7 – 10  minutes in the preheated oven, until asparagus is tender.