Food

Eat, Drink, and Be Witchy Giveaway!

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With Halloween on the horizon, are you feeling Witchy?

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Are you dusting off your broom? . . .

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Brushing up on your spells. . .

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Preparing to shake up a sinister Skeletini Cocktail. . .

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Or custom blending your potion stirring spoons?

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Ready to fuel up with some sweet treats for a long midnight ride. . .

Halloween Oreos

Maybe some Halloween Oreo Brownies. . .

Halloween Dipped & Sprinkled Apples

Or Halloween Dipped and Sprinkled Apples. . .

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Or Witch Hat Cupcakes

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Ravenous Witches may need to pack some Finger Sand-Witches. . .

Witches' Brew Stew and Finger Sand-Witches

Along with a cauldron of Witches’ Brew Stew. . .

 Hearty, satisfying, and tasty after a long flight!

Bread Dough Witch Fingers

Or Conjure Witch Fingers from Bread Dough

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In Celebration of Halloween,

I visited some of my favorite haunts to scare up some witchy treats!

Eat, Drink, and Be Witchy Giveaway

To help you Eat, Drink & Be Witchy this Halloween. . .

 One witch will receive a Cauldron,

a Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron 5-Quart Dutch Oven.

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A second witch will receive Drink Up Witches Cups, Cocktail Napkins & Picks, Straws, Bar Towel, and Labels for your Bubbling Brew.

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And a third witch will receive Baking Cups, Halloween Decorating or Potion Sprinkles, Cookie Cutters, Potion Stirring Spatulas, and some Eye of Newt, or Candy Eye Treat Toppers.

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To enter this giveaway and throw your name into the cauldron,

leave a comment telling me your favorite halloween candy or treat!

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Subscribers/followers automatically get a second entry.

Subscribe by email or follow on Facebook

and let me know by comment.

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For a third entry, share this giveaway on Facebook

and leave an additional comment telling me so.

Brains of Cawing Ravens

Giveaway is open to those witches :) living in the continental US only. 

 The winners will be chosen October 3rd,

in time for you to Eat, Drink and Be Witchy!

Eat, Drink and Be Witchy Tricks & Treats!

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Metamorphosis MondayThe Scoop,

Inspire Me TuesdayWow Us Wednesdays

Home Sweet Home, Feathered Nest Friday,

Foodie Friday

Follow Me on Pinterest

The Flavors of Fall Picnic

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers for Picnic Week!

The Novel Bakers have had a full & delicious week packing picnic baskets and cooking up recipes for picnic week!

Here’s a final picnic to wrap up the week and with a little fall flavor to end on!

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Fall is my favorite season and the perfect time to picnic or tailgate!

I found a vintage Redmon picnic basket from a favorite antique mall for $15 to pack up and take home with me. . .

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The brown woven plaid basket reminiscent of football, fall sweaters,

leaves and thermoses filled with steaming soup!

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Our leaves don’t typically change in North Carolina until October so I packed some fall photos from the archives to add for some additional seasonal color!

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My galvanized bottle tote (from Pottery Barn) makes a convenient picnic caddy. . .

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And makes it easy to tote jars of flatware, napkins, food, flowers/ leaves and bottles or glasses for a picnic. We’re picnicking with Shelton Vineyards Madison Lee, a Yadkin Valley North Carolina wine. You can enjoy a visit and sample some other Bottled Sunshine, here.

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My salad inspiration for our picnic came from Picnics & Tailgates: Good Food for the Great Outdoors (Williams-Sonoma Outdoors)

Spinach Salad with Pears, Gorgonzola, and Walnuts can be enjoyed year round, but would be especially good with pears in season in the fall.

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 No recipe required for this salad, just a combination of baby spinach, firm ripe pear, peeled and sliced, crumbled Gorgonzola cheese and walnuts.

I tossed my sliced pears in some canned pineapple juice, less tart than lemon juice, before assembling the salad to prevent them from oxidizing.

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Toast your walnuts on a baking sheet in the oven until lightly browned and fragrant at 350 degrees (about 7- 10 minutes) for maximum flavor and crunch! This recipe called for adding endive, cored and thinly sliced, to the spinach, which you can add or omit. It would be great with dried cranberries too for some extra sweetness and color.

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Bring along your favorite dressing in a jar to add before serving. If you’re looking for a wonderful salad dressing for fall, try Maple-Balsamic Vinaigrette, a mix of maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, shallot and Dijon mustard.

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We’re picnicking with our favorite fall soup, Roasted Pear and Butternut Squash. It’s flavorful, healthy, and easy, since you roast all the ingredients in the oven and then puree them with chicken stock!

Butternut Squash Soup

I prefer the flavor of chicken stock but you can substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian alternative. Use an immersion blender in your dutch oven or stock pot to blend the roasted vegetables with the hot stock for easy clean up and no risk of exploding soup in your blender.

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Garnish your soup before serving with a little crumbled blue cheese, chopped walnuts and a little bacon or crispy prosciutto to top it off is delicious too!

You can find the recipe, here.

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And ending on a sweet note, Easy Caramel Apple Bars!

They’re easy since they start with an oatmeal cookie mix that’s layered with apples and a caramel topping.

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This crowd-pleasing recipe comes together in 15 minutes and bakes in about 20.

The hardest part about these bars is waiting for them to cool long enough to cut!

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You can find the recipe, here.

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Flavors for Fall Picnic Details:

Plaid Throw / Target, several years ago

Brown coverlet/ Bed, Bath & Beyond, several years ago

Redmond Plaid Picnic Basket & Fruit Crate / antique mall

Plaid frame JanetBasket with cover / Amazon

Galvanized Bottle/Picnic Caddy & Flatware / Pottery Barn

Plates & Mugs / Johnson Brothers Fruit Sampler Old Granite

Napkins / Pier 1

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Bring your appetite and your virtual picnic basket and visit Jain and Michael Lee for Picnic Week, along with special guest bakers, Linda and Pam!

Novel Bakers Picnic Week

Jain, a quiet life

Michael Lee, Rattlebridge Farm

Linda, More Fun Less Laundry

Pam, Sidewalk Shoes

The Flavors of Fall Picnic

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Metamorphosis MondayThe Scoop,

Inspire Me TuesdayWow Us Wednesdays,

Home Sweet Home,

 Tablescape ThursdayFoodie Friday

Follow NB on Pinterest

A Rainstorm Picnic

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I’m joining the The Novel Bakers for Picnic Week!

The Novel Bakers been busy packing picnic baskets and cooking up recipes for a couple of months in anticipation of picnic week, from a host of books full of inspiration, delicious menus and theme picnics!

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My Rainstorm Picnic was inspired by a week of summer weather with pop up storms, a bottle of Rainstorm Pinot Gris. . .

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. . .and Picnics by Hilary Heminway & Alex Heminway. 

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Some shelter under the dock provided the cover and some colorful umbrellas set the stage.

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Picnics by Hilary Heminway & Alex Heminway: 

A picnic is classically defined as a meal eaten outdoors on an excursion. But why settle for that when you can experience a Sunset Romance Picnic, a Snowshoe Picnic, or even a Dinner Picnic in Bed?

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 Hilary Heminway and Alex Heminway share dozens of creative ways to take a meal outside, whether the sun is just coming up for the day or romantically dropping in the sky, in the heat of summer or during a winter’s chill. All-season picnics include: Sunset romance, boat on a lake, snowshoeing in the woods, rodeo tailgate, riverside barbecue, horseback riding, dog pack, picnic for children, and rainy day.

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A water-themed menu was provided for a rainy day picnic. . .

 Watercress Soup, Watermelon Salad and Water Crackers with Cheese.

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I filled some rain boots with some flowers for vases . . .

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And I packed some water related reading to enjoy. . .

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Waterside Cottages and Waterside Living.

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And packed my favorite Watermelon Salad, combined with feta cheese,

the creamy, salty cheese a perfect partner to the sweet, juicy melon!

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No recipe required, just the fresh and delicious combination of watermelon, feta cheese, chopped basil, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, salt and pepper!

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Water crackers and Brie, tied with some baker’s twine and some herbs, rosemary, blooming lavender and tarragon.

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A rain gauge ready and handy, tucked in a pot of lantana. . .

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I couldn’t find watercress for soup this time of year so I substituted arugula for a similar peppery flavor.

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Potato-Arugula Soup

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 leeks, white part only, cleaned and chopped

4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (or use 4 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, no need to peel)

3 cups reduced sodium chicken stock

1 cup arugula (or substitute watercress)

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoon lemon juice

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Directions

Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add potatoes and cook for 10 minutes.

Add stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Add the arugula. Cook for 1 -2 minutes, until wilted.

Place half of the broth mixture into a blender (or use an immersion blender for easier clean up and no danger of exploding soup). Cover and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl. Repeat the blending process with the remaining broth mixture. Return all the puréed mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is heated through. Season to taste. Stir in cream and lemon juice. Serve immediately or refrigerate at least 2 hours until well chilled.

You can find a printable recipe, here.

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Bring your appetite and your virtual picnic basket and visit Jain and Michael Lee for Picnic Week, along with special guest bakers, Linda and Pam!

Novel Bakers Picnic Week

Jain, a quiet life

Michael Lee, Rattlebridge Farm

Linda, More Fun Less Laundry

Pam, Sidewalk Shoes

Rainstorm Picnic

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Metamorphosis MondayThe Scoop,

Inspire Me TuesdayWow Us Wednesdays,

Home Sweet Home,

 Tablescape ThursdayFoodie Friday

Follow NB on Pinterest

A Perfect Day for a Provençal Picnic

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers for Picnic Week!

The Novel Bakers been busy packing picnic baskets, baking, and cooking up recipes for a couple of months now in anticipation of picnic week, from a host of books full of inspiration, delicious menus and theme picnics!

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I had some inspiration for a Provençal Picnic from

A Perfect Day for a Picnic by Tori Finch.

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“Chic country girl and gourmet Tori Finch understands the joy of a carefree picnic. There’s nothing like eating outdoors to capture your sense of adventure, and add flair to the food—whether you are entertaining a relaxed crowd of friends and family or preparing a romantic feast for two. Whatever the occasion, A Perfect Day for a Picnic is your guide to enjoying the outdoors life.”

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“Many times on a a dreary day, I find myself gazing out of the window and dreaming of Provence. The fields of lavender, the azure sea. . .”

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“However, you don’t need to be in the South of France to enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean. Summer’s harvest of produce and a warm sunny day are just what’s needed for a Provencal Picnic. Pack a checkered ground cloth, a baguette or two and some cheese. . .”

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Among the recipes included for a Provençal Picnic was one for Salade Niçoise, a picnic friendly & hearty salad. Keep the eggs, tuna and dressing chilled and assemble when ready to manger!

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I’ve been hoarding these galvanized déjeuner pails I found for $3.99 at Tuesday Morning or Mardi Matin a year ago. Fun for a packing or toting French picnic lunch!

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Ingredients

Haricots verts, green beans, trimmed and cooked until bright green and tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool water. I used a microwavable bag of cleaned and trimmed beans from the produce section.

Solid white tuna packed in oil, drained and broken into chunks

Bibb or Boston lettuce, leaves separated

Small new potatoes, boiled until tender

 Hard-cooked eggs, halved or quartered

Plum tomatoes, halved (roasted if desired, I used grape tomatoes)

 Nicoise or Kalamata olives

Anchovies if desired, I omitted

Simple French Vinaigrette

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Simple French Vinaigrette

 pinch of sea salt

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 generous teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)

To make the dressing add a generous pinch of sea salt to the vinegar and mix to dissolve. Add the olive oil, Dijon mustard and garlic if using, and mix well before sprinkling on this salad.DSC_3331-001

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I filled my picnic basket with some French treats from World Market or Marché Mondial. . .

French Soda

 French Soda and a Rosé. . .

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Along with Filet Bleu Galet de Quimper Biscuits, a buttery shortbread cookie

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Un Mondo Herbes de Provence Salami

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Pack some Brie and some confiture frambroise.

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Fresh figs

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And some cocktail cornichons

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Provençal Picnic Details:

Déjeuner Pails / Tuesday Morning, a year ago

Quilt/ Kohl’s

Napkin Rings & Confiture Jar/ Williams-Sonoma, several years ago

Napkins & Assorted Picnic Treats / World Market

Galvanized Bottle/Picnic Tote, Pottery Barn

White Dishes & Flatware / Mikasa French Countryside

Bistro Glasses/ Pottery Barn, several years ago

Blue & White Transferware / Antique Mall

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“Lastly, when you get to the destination and set up the feast, don’t forget to relax, take your shoes off, enjoy the moment and pour yourself a large glass–you deserve it.”

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“This book is a tribute to the picnic in all forms, be it a family day at the beach, a trip out in the car to your favorite wild spot with a flask of tea and a hunk of cake, or a cheerful children’s party. A picnic is one of life’s simple pleasures- they are about relaxing in the great outdoors. . .Mostly, they are a way of appreciating the good things in life. Live. Love. Picnic.”

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Bon Appétit!

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Bring your appetite and your virtual picnic basket and visit Jain and Michael Lee for Picnic Week, along with special guest bakers, Linda and Pam!

Novel Bakers Picnic Week

Jain, a quiet life

Michael Lee, Rattlebridge Farm

Linda, More Fun Less Laundry

Pam, Sidewalk Shoes

A Perfect Day for a Provençal Picnic

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Metamorphosis MondayThe Scoop,

Inspire Me TuesdayWow Us Wednesdays,

Home Sweet Home,

 Tablescape ThursdayFoodie Friday

Follow NB on Pinterest

A Caribbean {Floating} Island Picnic

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers for Picnic Week!

I had some end of summer fun on our Caribbean {Floating} Island,

our pontoon boat, docked instead of floating, for this Caribbean Picnic!

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A hula table skirt swag, tropical floral bunting, paper lanterns and

flamingos set the stage for a Caribbean Island Picnic.

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A picnic caddy holds the essentials including sunscreen and sunglasses. . .

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And some fruit infused water will keep you hydrated for your day in the sun.

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Colorful striped melamine plates and flatware are carefree and make for easy island picnicking. . .

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And we’re enjoying Caribbean Cold Rice Salad,

good chilled or served at room temperature,

recipe courtesy of Picnic by Dee Dee Stovel.

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Picnic by DeeDee Stovel:

 Picnics are fun, casual, and somehow the food just tastes better in a beautiful outdoor setting.

In PICNIC, DeeDee Stovel offers 29 picnic event ideas with more than 125 recipes – packable repasts from an informal Berry Picking Picnic to an elegant Music Festival Picnic. Although PICNIC includes all of the traditional fare, the recipes for the soups, entrées, salads, and desserts are all a cut above the ordinary.

And when lazy summer days turn chilly, enjoy a Sports Booster Picnic, a Fall Foliage in New England Picnic, and an Après-Ski Picnic. Wine and beer selections accompany each menu. Plus picnic lore, packing to go, the perfect picnic basket, rainy day alternatives, and much more. It’s an all-American feast!

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*Caribbean* Cold Rice Salad, Serves 8 (I made half a recipe)

Ingredients

6 cups cooked brown rice

¾ cup dried currants (I soaked in hot water to plump for 10 minutes, then drained)

½ cup toasted slivered almonds

1 Granny Smith apple, chopped (I soaked it in pineapple juice prior to assembling to prevent it from oxidizing)

1 medium purple onion, chopped (I used less)

1 medium green bell pepper seeded and chopped (I used half orange, half yellow bell pepper for color instead)

¼ cup capers

½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger

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Dressing

½ cup white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon dry mustard (I substituted Dijon mustard)

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

 ½ teaspoon ground mace (I omitted)

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Freshly ground black pepper

¾ cup vegetable oil (I used extra light olive oil)

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In a large bowl, mix together rice, currants, almonds, apple, onion, pepper, capers, and ginger.

 Place all ingredients except oil in *blender and to make dressing and blend. With machine running, slowly drizzle in the oil until mixture is creamy. *If using Dijon mustard instead of dry, you can add dressing ingredients to a jar and shake vigorously.

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You can find a printable recipe here.

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 Caribbean Island Shrimp Kabobs

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Caribbean Island Shrimp Kabobs

Ingredients

1 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 1/2 lb. peeled and deveined large raw shrimp

*Wooden or metal skewers

*If using wooden skewers, soak skewers in water for 30 minutes before assembling the kabobs.

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Whisk together all ingredients in a large shallow dish or zip-top plastic freezer bag; add shrimp. Cover  or seal, and chill 30 minutes. Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat. Remove shrimp from marinade, reserving marinade. Thread shrimp onto skewers.

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Grill shrimp, 2 minutes on each side or just until shrimp turn pink. Meanwhile, bring reserved marinade to a boil in a small saucepan, and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat; drizzle over grilled shrimp.

Printable recipe, here.

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Tropical Fruit Salad with Toasted Coconut inspiration is from

 Picnics & Tailgates: Good Food for the Great Outdoors

(Williams-Sonoma Outdoors)

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I didn’t use tropical fruit other than pineapple but the magic ingredient in the salad is the toasted coconut. Toast it on a baking sheet at 350 degrees F for about 5 minutes, watch carefully since happens quickly!

You can find a printable recipe from Williams-Sonoma, here.

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“A picnic is more than eating a meal, it’s a pleasurable state of mind.”

~ DeeDee Stovel, Picnic

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Caribbean {Floating} Island Picnic Details:

Melamine Plates, Tablecloth, Placemats / Kohl’s

Hula Leaf Placemats & Tray / Pottery Barn, several years ago

Napkins / Target

Embossed Fruit Beverage Dispenser/ Pfaltzgraff

Glasses / HomeGoods, several years ago

Galvanized Bottle/Picnic Caddy, Pottery Barn

Flatware / World Market/ a year ago

Flamingo, Hula Table Skirt Swag, Floral Bunting & Paper Lanterns / Hobby Lobby

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Disclaimer: The Captain of the Caribbean does not condone nor approve of

frolicking flamingos, tropical bunting or hula skirt swags on his vessel.

He did however approve of the menu :)

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Bring your appetite and your virtual picnic basket and visit Jain and Michael Lee for Picnic Week, along with special guest bakers, Linda and Pam!

Jain, a quiet life

Michael Lee, Rattlebridge Farm

Linda, More Fun Less Laundry

Pam, Sidewalk Shoes

Caribbean Pontoon Picnic

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Metamorphosis MondayThe Scoop,

Inspire Me TuesdayWow Us Wednesdays,

Home Sweet Home,

 Tablescape ThursdayFoodie Friday

Follow NB on Pinterest

Gone Fishin’ Picnic

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers for Picnic Week!

We’ve been busy packing picnic baskets, baking, and cooking up recipes for a couple of months in anticipation of picnic week, from a host of books full of inspiration, delicious menus and theme picnics!

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I had some inspiration for a Lakeside Fishing Picnic from

Picnics by Hilary Heminway & Alex Heminway 

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“A picnic is classically defined as a meal eaten outdoors on an excursion. But why settle for that when you can experience a Sunset Romance Picnic, a Snowshoe Picnic, or even a Dinner Picnic in Bed? Hilary Heminway and Alex Heminway share dozens of creative ways to take a meal outside, whether the sun is just coming up for the day or romantically dropping in the sky, in the heat of summer or during a winter’s chill. All-season picnics include: Sunset romance, boat on a lake, snowshoeing in the woods, rodeo tailgate, riverside barbecue, horseback riding, dog pack, picnic for children, and rainy day.”

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A minnow bucket is serving as centerpiece with Queen Anne’s Lace

 for a table on our dock at the lake for this Gone Fishin’ Picnic.

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 Aluminum fish plates, landed at Pottery Barn several years ago

join a fishing net I reeled in as a tablecloth.

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Freshwater Asian clam shells littering the dock and

left by resident muskrats dot the shoreline of the table.

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My husband’s grandfathers tackle box, complete with some vintage reels and lures

is joining the fun and ready for a little action.

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 And a Falls City Air Breather Minnow Bucket is toting the Catch of the Day,

a Fennel and Apple Tuna Salad with Pita Pockets.

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Gone Fishin’ Tuna Salad

Ingredients

15 ounces solid light canned tuna, drained

1/2 cup chopped fennel

1/2 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Pepper to taste

Directions

Mix mayo with next 8 ingredients. Combine tuna, fennel and apple and mayo, mixing well. Chill to allow flavors to meld.

You can find a printable recipe, here.

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A fish planter is angling to function as a wine chiller

for a bottle of Fish Eye Pinot Grigio. . .

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And I reeled in some Goldfish Crackers for snacking.

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Cucumber-Avocado Soup with Tomato Salsa caught my eye

for a cool summer soup to tote along for a picnic from

Picnics & Tailgates: Good Food for the Great Outdoors (Williams-Sonoma Outdoors)

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Creamy avocado and cool cucumber are pureed in a food processor with some chicken broth, lemon juice, sour cream (I substituted Greek yogurt), a little salsa and green onion.

Season with salt & pepper and chill for 2 to 8 hours for flavors to meld.

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Garnish with a little salsa, I added some cucumber and parsley to garnish with too, topped with a Goldfish Cracker.

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You can find a printable recipe from Williams-Sonoma, here.

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No picnic is complete without a sweet ending. . .

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 Pretzels make an edible fishing rod for cupcakes with baker’s twine, a sturdy line for landing a Goldfish Graham.

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Bring your appetite and your virtual picnic basket and visit Jain and Michael Lee for Picnic Week, along with special guest bakers, Linda and Pam!

Jain, a quiet life

Michael Lee, Rattlebridge Farm

Linda, More Fun Less Laundry

Pam, Sidewalk Shoes

Gone Fishin' Picnic

Thank you for your visit, I’m joining:

 Metamorphosis MondayThe Scoop,

Inspire Me TuesdayWow Us Wednesdays,

Home Sweet Home,

 Tablescape ThursdayFoodie Friday

Follow NB on Pinterest

A Vintage Garden Picnic in the Potting Shed

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I’m joining The Novel Bakers for Picnic Week!

The Novel Bakers been busy packing picnic baskets and cooking up recipes for a couple of months now in anticipation of picnic week, from a host of books full of inspiration, delicious menus and theme picnics!

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I had some inspiration for a Vintage Garden Picnic from

A Perfect Day for a Picnic by Tori Finch.

A Perfect Day for a Picnic

“Chic country girl and gourmet Tori Finch understands the joy of a carefree picnic. There’s nothing like eating outdoors to capture your sense of adventure, and add a flair to the food – whether you are entertaining a relaxed crowd of friends and family or preparing a romantic feast for two. Hop on your vintage bike to work up an appetite, hit the beach for a cook-out, or host a teddy bears picnic for little ones; these all feature within Tori’s 10 themed menus, each complete with recipes for savoury and sweet dishes, as well as drinks. On a balmy summers eve, hang paper lanterns from trees and serve Asian-inspired food in the Indochine picnic, or lay luxurious rugs and evoke a sense of the middle east with a meze platter and spiced citrus couscous for the Bohemian picnic. Warm up during an autumn walk in the woods with a thermos of spiced squash soup and slabs of zingy ginger cake, or dream of sunnier climes with a Provençal -inspired feast. Whatever the occasion, A Perfect Day for a Picnic is your guide to enjoying the outdoors life.”

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This is a photo heavy post for me even after much editing! For optimal viewing, WordPress blogs function and load best with Chrome or Firefox as your browser.

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Our weather has been unpredictable lately for picnicking, so I scratched my plans for an alfresco dining in a garden setting and moved inside the Potting Shed for a Vintage Garden Picnic.

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And where I could still find some flowers to picnic with.

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 I picked some Garden Bouquets for this indoor picnic and filled some Ball jars.

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Some Black-eyed Susan, Queen Anne’s Lace and Lespedeza with its wispy purple blooms.

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Blooming napkin rings & napkins were toted in a vintage picnic basket.

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Along with a floral flatware bouquet.

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I deviated from the menu provided for a Vintage Garden Picnic following some guidelines:

“The most wonderful thing about picnicking is there are few rules, you can go as wild or as tame as you like. Either way, just packing a hamper full of things you have made to share with the people whose company you most enjoy is delicious in itself and if you stick to a theme and use savvy ways to transport and present your picnic, it needn’t be a headache.”

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Help yourself to a wheelbarrow of veggies and dip!

(Note: the bell pepper and carrots are not radioactive, despite their color :)

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Dip is served in a hollowed out cabbage for a garden fresh bowl, filled with a Ranch Veggie Dip.

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Vintage-inspired seed packets, reproduced as post cards, are on display with their colorful graphics and a flower frog.

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Postcards are from Cavallini & Co. Farmer’s Market collection and Garden Variety Flowers, available here.

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Terra-cotta pots are lined with lettuce leaves for serving a summer chicken salad with peaches, basil, toasted pecans and a touch of honey.

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A few blackberries and basil leaves garnish the pots, served with a blooming fork!

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Sweet Summer Chicken Salad, recipe adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup minced sweet onion (or half a shallot for a milder flavor)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

4 cups chopped cooked chicken breast

4 small fresh, firm, ripe peaches, peeled and diced

2 tablespoons honey

Garnishes: fresh basil, fresh blackberries

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Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack (about 15 minutes).

Stir together mayonnaise and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Fold in pecans, chicken, and peaches; cover and chill 2 hours. Garnish, if desired.

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 You can find a printable recipe, here.

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For dessert help yourself to Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes! The addition of zucchini makes the cupcakes moist and gives you an excuse to eat your veggies :)

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Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes are garnished with zucchini strands and some violas that volunteered and were blooming to my surprise in a pot in the shade despite the summer heat.

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I found this fun Veggetti Spiral vegetable cutter at Bed, Bath & Beyond. It’s ideal for making quick zucchini and veggie noodles and is more compact and affordable than a fancy spiralizer.

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Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes,

adapted from Taste of Home

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients

1-1/4 cups butter, softened

1-1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 oz. container plain yogurt

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

2 cups grated zucchini

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In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with yogurt, beating well after each addition. Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips.

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Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

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Frost with your favorite chocolate or cream cheese frosting and garnish if desired with edible flowers and/or zucchini strands. If using zucchini strands, drain first on paper towels and add them to the cupcakes right before serving to prevent the moisture from the zucchini to weep onto the frosting.

You can find a printable recipe here.

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Floral ice cube inspiration came from Garden Week with The Novel Bakers and An Invitation to the Garden. Michael Lee made floral ice cubes for her Lanterns in the Garden Party.

Edible Flower Ice Cubes

 I picked my violas back at the beginning of June for this batch of floral ice cubes before they succumbed to the heat, along with some dianthus.

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To make floral ice cubes, use only edible flowers that are pesticide free.

For clearer ice cubes you can use distilled water. Add a thin layer of water in the bottom of your ice trays. Top with a rinsed, edible flower and freeze. When frozen, add more water, and top with another flower or petals if desired. Return to freezer.

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 I picked up some Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade, from World Market, a fermented botanical lemonade, infused with ginger and pure rose extract giving it a pink color and ideal for a garden picnic!

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“This book is a tribute to the picnic in all forms, be it a family day at the beach, a trip out in the car to your favorite wild spot with a flask of tea and a hunk of cake, or a cheerful children’s party. A picnic is one of life’s simple pleasures — they are about relaxing in the great outdoors. . .Mostly, they are a way of appreciating the good things in life.”

“Live. Love. Picnic.”

Vintage Garden Picnic

Bring your appetite and your virtual picnic basket and visit Jain and Michael Lee for Picnic Week, along with special guest bakers, Linda and Pam!

Novel Bakers Picnic Week

Jain, a quiet life

Michael Lee, Rattlebridge Farm

Linda, More Fun Less Laundry

Pam, Sidewalk Shoes

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Easy Caramel Apple Bars!

EASY CARAMEL APPLE BARS

Easy Caramel Apple Bars start with an oatmeal cookie mix and are layered with apples and caramel topping. They’re delicious anytime since Granny Smith apples are readily available, but especially good over Labor Day since they require very little work for a sweet & satisfying treat!

This crowd-pleasing bar recipe comes together in 15 minutes and bakes in about 20. The hardest part is waiting for them to cool long enough to cut!

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The original recipe called for baking them in a 9 x 13 pan. I made two batches of these bars in one week, they’re that good. After reading the reviews, I made the first batch in an 8 x 8 pan. This batch was baked in 11 x 7 pan which I think works best. For a thicker bar that oozes caramel, use an 8 x 8 pan.

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Easy Caramel Apple Bars, adapted from Betty Crocker

Ingredients

1 stick cold butter, cut into cubes

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker™ oatmeal cookie mix

1 egg

1 1/2 cups chopped peeled apple (I used Granny Smith)

3/4 cup caramel topping (I used Smucker’s Salted Caramel Topping)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup chopped pecans

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Directions

Heat oven to 350°F. Line entire 11 x 7-inch pan with parchment paper or foil, extending  parchment/foil over edge of pan. Coat with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, cut butter into cookie mix using a fork or pastry blender. Stir in egg until mixture is crumbly.

Easy Caramel Apple Bars

Reserve 1 1/2 cups of cookie mixture. Press remaining cookie mixture into bottom of pan and bake 15 minutes. Sprinkle apple evenly over crust. In a small bowl, mix caramel topping and flour; spoon/pour over apples. To reserved cookie mixture, stir in pecans and sprinkle mixture over apples.

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Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and then refrigerate several hours for easy cutting. When ready to cut lift parchment/foil by edges to remove from pan and cut into individual bars. Store in refrigerator using parchment to keep bar layers separated. For a decadent treat, microwave bars for a few seconds and top with vanilla ice cream!

You can find a printable recipe, here.

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You find a recipe to make your own easy Apple Cider Caramel Sauce, here.

Easy and oh so good, use fresh-pressed cider for maximum apple flavor!

Apple Cider Caramel Sauce

Or bookmark or pin for apple season, you won’t be disappointed in the flavor of your own easy-to-make caramel sauce!

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You can find more apple recipes and inspiration from

The Novel Bakers on Pinterest, here.

Easy Caramel Apple Bars8

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{Less} Labor Day Picnic

 {Less} Labor Day Picnic

As we sail into Labor Day weekend, I’m wrapping up a few projects and feeling a little lethargic, so here’s a labor-free post from me of our {Less} Labor Day Picnic. Pottery Barn shared my picnic on their blog last year, so here’s a timely & tasty repeat if you’re in need some inspiration for your end-of-summer celebration!

Wishing you a Safe & Happy {Less} Labor Day Weekend!

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We’re enjoying a lakeside picnic over the holiday weekend.

I’m testing the theory that everything tastes better out of a jar~ it certainly is convenient & more fun :)

A layered salad made in advance~ a minimum of 8 hours or up to 24~ chilling for the flavors to meld.

You can enjoy the fruits of your labor later,  since that’s  the point of this summer holiday.

Tasty & satisfying, and a salad that my husband enjoys.

You can make individual salad jars, so serving is less problematic & less labor is required.

Layered Cornbread-and-Turkey Salad, recipe courtesy of Southern Living, here

Ingredients

1 (6-ounce) package buttermilk cornbread mix (I used a box of Jiffy corn muffin mix)

1 (12-ounce) bottle Parmesan-peppercorn dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 (9-ounce) package romaine lettuce, shredded

2 1/2 cups chopped smoked turkey (about 3/4 pound)

*2 large yellow bell peppers, chopped

2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped (I used cherry tomatoes)

1 red onion, chopped

1 cup diced celery (about 3 celery ribs)

*2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese

10 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled

2 green onions, sliced

Preparation

Prepare cornbread according to package directions; cool and crumble. Set aside.

Stir together dressing, mayonnaise, and buttermilk until blended.

To make 1 large salad: Layer half each of crumbled cornbread, shredded lettuce, and next 7 ingredients in a large glass bowl; spoon half of dressing mixture evenly over top. Repeat layers ending with dressing mixture. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Sprinkle top with green onions just before serving. Prep: 45 min., Chill: 8 hrs.

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*I substituted some chickpeas for yellow bell peppers and used a blend of Monterey Jack & Cheddar cheese instead of Swiss since that’s what I had on hand.

You can bake your cornbread the night before and assemble your salad in bowl or jar in the morning so it’s ready for dinner. It’s great to take to a pot luck, barbeque, or reunion and a crowd pleaser!

Skewers of cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, prosciutto, cheese, olives, & cheese tortellini~

Citrus infused water with lemon & orange slices,

easy, refreshing & thirst quenching!

 Dessert in a jar with very little labor using fruits in season~ plums, peaches, berries of any kind or combination.

 Peach-and-Blueberry Parfait, recipe & inspiration courtesy Southern Living here.

Instead of making a custard, I mixed a jar of lemon curd with 8 ounces of  1/3 less fat cream cheese~ (less labor :)

Layer custard or lemon curd mixture with ready-made angel food cake or pound cake from the grocery store, peaches & blueberries.

 Assemble, chill & enjoy!

The Novel Bakers return September 8th for Picnic Week

with themed picnics, recipes, inspiration and guest bakers!

Wishing you some food and fun in your weekend~

Have a Safe & Labor-Free Holiday :)

 Plates/ Kohl’s

Flatware/ HomeGoods

Napkins/ World Market

Mason Jar Drink Dispenser/ Pottery Barn

Galvanized Bottle Caddy/ Pottery Barn

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A Farmers Market Table

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I’m taking a trip to the Farmers Market via the table for

Cuisine Kathleen’s Farewell to Summer Table Challenge!

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I had a little tabletop inspiration with a trip to one of our local Farmers Markets to enjoy some farm fresh summer veggies and peaches while they last, soon to be replaced by fall’s bounty of apples, pumpkins and winter squash.

Davidson Farmers Market

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I also had some inspiration from a Farmers Market tray,

fresh for the picking from World Market. . .

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. . . and some vintage-inspired Farmers Market seed cards to plant on the table.

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A berry basket holds a medley of vine-ripened tomatoes, okra and South Carolina peaches, topped with some flowering basil.

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And a zinc seed tray from my Potting Shed is offering this week’s Farmers Market harvest of zucchini, cukes, heirloom tomatoes, peppers, and fresh local eggs.

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Rooster glasses are AWA certified and pastured, found foraging at Tuesday Morning.

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And ears of fresh summer corn are *weighting* to be shucked ;)

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Help yourself to a Farmers Market Bloody Mary!

Puree some summer heirloom tomatoes in a blender, strain the seeds and pulp to make fresh-from-the-garden tomato juice. Season your tomato juice with celery seed or salt, horseradish and tabasco to taste, a squeeze of lemon or lime, Worcestershire sauce and add your vodka.

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Garnish and top with some garden fresh veggies: pickled okra, cucumber, heirloom cherry tomatoes, a sprig of parsley and basil and a celery stalk! You can find a recipe for Spicy Pickled Okra (which would also work for green beans) for a Bloody Mary garnish from Cottage at the Crossroads.

Farmers Market Pasta Salad

To savor the flavors of summer, help yourself to Farmers Market Pasta Salada bumper crop of delicious flavors in a pasta salad! Add some rotisserie chicken from the grocery store for a time saver and complete meal.

The Flavors of Summer Pizza

Corn, Tomato and Basil Pesto Pizza, a trio of summer flavors in every slice!

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And infuse the flavor of summer in your salt for your tomato recipes this winter with an easy recipe for Basil Salt.

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Farmers Market Table Details:

Chargers & Baskets / HomeGoods

Red Marble Enamelware, Crow Canyon Home/ Mast General Store

Flatware & Quilt / Pottery Barn

Rooster Glasses / Tuesday Morning

Plates / Mikasa French Countryside

  Rooster / Hobby Lobby

Farmers Market Tray / World Market

Berry Baskets & Napkins / Kohl’s

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Hope you’re savoring the flavors of summer!

Here’s a handy seasonal produce chart for North Carolina, courtesy of Davidson Farmers Market. When you eat ‘in season’ you’re enjoying the most fresh, flavorful and nutritious foods, while also helping support local agriculture and preserve regional farm land.

NC Seasonal Produce

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