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Monday, April 1, 2013

Good Food, Good Company, Good Times


I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday weekend! We had a great weekend, celebrating Easter dinner twice. On Saturday with my husband's family on his parents farm and on Sunday we had my side of family over. I was really bummed not to be able to get pictures of the girls on the farm on Saturday, but as anyone in Wisconsin knows, the snow has been melting all week and the farm was very wet. Too wet to be out walking around taking pictures. So, another day will have to do. The kids are back to school today so I'm back to getting the house to myself... this will be my Spring Break!

One of my greatest joys is feeding people, so I do like to host family gatherings. This weekend we had my parents and my mother's only sibling, her brother Stan over for dinner. My mom and I hashed out who would make what and then I was off to decide what do to for my table.  The first thing that caught my eye was a really cute moss bunny I saw on my ex-hubby's wife's Facebook page (yeah, I know, but we're good like that!) She has a booth in an antique mall about 40 minutes away and so I asked if she could check to see if it was still available and if so, pick it up for me. Yay! Thanks to Monica, I got my moss bunny! 

isn't he cute?
I had yet to decide what I was going to put in his body since it was hollow, but I was kinda learning towards flowers.

Then, I came across the cutest stuffed birds at Spool and they give you a free pattern to make your own! I haven't quite figured out where my love of birds or owls has come from lately, but I'm going to run with it. The post had ideas for the birds used as decor on branches, in a baby mobile, etc. and I thought I wonder if I can somehow make these into individual name place birds for each plate. I have to admit though, when I see pictures of them all just lying there, it kind of creeps me out. Here is my collection I made (my 6 yr old helped by stuffing them all - did a great job!) - and I cranked these out in an hour.


This is a really good way to use up scraps as you don't need much fabric for these. And they whip up pretty quick, like in minutes. I have some fabric left over from making pillow covers for my couch, and I have this twiggy spray decorative thingy over my couch that I'm thinking of making some matching birds and gluing them in the branches of the spray. I tried to make each bird using fabric that reflected each person. My 3 girls I made to match their bedrooms... my hubby's I made to match the living room since that's where I want it to ultimately end up.

So then my challenge was how to make them into place cards. I tried to use small sticks as legs but that didn't really work either because I didn't know how I was going to show any names. Don't laugh....

those are buttons I glued on to try and stabilize lol
You laughed, didn't you? :) I did like the look of them glued to a branch but that wasn't going to help me out for place cards. But wouldn't they be cute if you had a couple stuck in a floral arrangement?


I tried to find some cheap napkin rings to glue them to but my local dollar store and party supply store didn't have any. So back to the drawing board and I was running out of time. Easter morning I was digging through my "table decor" cupboard for napkins when I came across an unopened package of frame style place card holders. A package of 8, which was exactly what I needed.... and decided to glue each bird to the frame....



 Not bad! So I did the rest.






 Easter is the perfect occasion to use my Fire King Jade-ite dishes since they are a pretty light springy green. So now my table was done. I had to use another small table as overflow and for the centerpiece I put some carrots with their greens in a tall vase, another thing I had seen on Pinterest. 

doesn't my bunny look nice?

personal salt & pepper shakers are a must at my table settings


One of my dishes to prepare was the potatoes. Instead of the usual mashed or cheesy potatoes, I found a recipe on a site while I was looking at a different recipe called Chantilly Potatoes. I didn't know what made them Chantilly so I Googled it and it's because it has whipped cream in them. Yeah, they are far from low fat (but what cheesy spud dish isn't?)  but I think they're an excellent treat as cheesy potatoes. Definitely save for special occasions and not weekly with your meatloaf! It calls for equal parts of Parmesan and Swiss cheese but I doubled the recipe and only had about 1/4 cup of Parmesan and the rest was Swiss. I would highly recommend at least trying them for a special treat. I didn't get a picture because the troops were anxious to eat. Hmm... maybe that means I will have to make another batch just for a photo shoot ;)

For dessert I made two of my recent favorite desserts. Option No. 1 was French Silk Pie. This version from Food.com is THE BEST pie recipe. Aside from tasting out of this world, it's safe for children, older adults and preggos because while most French Silk pie recipes have raw eggs, this one actually cooks the eggs. I like to add a few tablespoons of cocoa to my own pie crust recipe for this dish. I will provide the recipes at the end of this post. Doesn't it look dreamy?


Option No. 2 was No Bake Lemon Raspberry Cheesecake. This recipe I made for a baby shower I hosted a while back and at that time I had made it in small mason jars as individual desserts. This time I made it as a whole pie. Either way, it's a bite of pure summer!


All in all, it was good food, good company and a good time. From our family to yours, hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend!


In the evening, the birdies went to good homes. The 3 kids birdies went to their rooms.

And I went to the couch with a glass of wine to watch the Season 2 opener of Call The Midwife. Life is good!

Here are the recipes I mentioned:

My Mom's Pie Crust (makes 2 crusts)
2 cups of flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup oil your choice (I use grapeseed oil)
5 tbsp cold water

Put flour in a bowl & sift with a fork. Add salt. Measure the oil in a 1 cup measuring cup and add the water to the oil in the cup. Add to the flour and mix well. Divide dough in half and roll out between parchment paper on the bottom and wax paper on top. Set into pie pan, prick bottom and bake unfilled at 425 for 10-12 mins. If filling, bake according to recipe instructions.

* for making a chocolate crust, add 2 tbsp cocoa. 

Dreamy French Silk Pie (printable version)
adapted from food.com

1 cup heavy whipping cream
6 oz. semisweet chocolate pieces
5 tbsp butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks, beaten
3 tbsp heavy whipping cream
1 baked pie shell
whipped cream topping
chocolate shavings

In a 2 quart saucepan, combine the 1 cup whipping cream, chocolate, butter and sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until chocolate is melted.  Remove pan from heat and pour about 1/3 of the mixture into the beaten egg yolks. Stir, and pour back into the saucepan. Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is slightly thickened and almost bubbly, about 3-5 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

Stir in 3 tbsp whipping cream. Place saucepan in a bowl of ice water, stirring occasionally until mixture stiffens and becomes hard to stir (about 20 mins). (At this point, I've made this recipe about 5 times now and it's never become hard to stir. I let it sit in the cold water & change the water out about 3 times, then transfer to a medium mixing bowl and stick in the frig for about 15 minutes. I also stick my mixer beaters in the frig too because it helps when working with cream to have everything cold.)

Beat the cold chocolate mixture with an mixer on medium to high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Spread filling inside pastry shell. Cover and chill about 4 hours. Remove before serving and spread whipped topping on top and garnish with shaved chocolate.
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6 comments:

Alli Smith said...

What a fun Easter tablescape! The little birds are so cute and I'm saving your recipes to try later.

Thanks for linking up to Throwback Thursday!

Denyse @ Glitter, Glue, Paint said...

Jill! I'm deathly afraid of birds so it would freak me out. But, they are really cute place settings!!

Thanks for linking up to Throwback Thursday!

xoxo
Denyse

Jill P. said...

Thank you Alli, and thanks for hosting Throwback Thursday!

Jill P. said...

Denyse, you are too funny! Perfect way to face your fears is to make these because they are harmless! ;) Thanks for hosting the party!

Roberta said...

Hi,
I'm a guest of the Throwback Thursday, I love the birds you made, they're so nice!! I'm a your follower!
Greetings from Italy,
Roberta
La Sportina

Jill P. said...

Hi Roberta, thank you! Italy? That's awesome! Now I can live in Italy through you - it's a place I've always wanted to go, and I haven't given up yet! ;) Thanks so much for stopping by via Throwback Thursday & following! ~ Mama Ging

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