Making Having Out of Town Guests Easier…

Summer is coming and for some of us that means an increase in overnight guest traffic. When Dear and I moved to Washington away from both of our families we were introduced to holiday visitors. You can stress out if you want or plan to make it less stressful. Learn from our good and bad experiences.

At first we thought we had to be there for every little experience sacrificing our sanity. Then we learned to give our guests some freedom. We also learned to give them some responsibility. If someone was great at making pies, we picked blackberries for them. If someone was celebrating a birthday we made reservations at a restaurant to celebrate. Our guests have helped with car repairs and home improvement projects.

Over the years we have had very mellow go with the flow guests and some more pamper me guests whose eating patterns changed from year to year. (No fat, some fat, no sugar, only Diet Coke, no meat, only chicken, no carbs,  etc. etc.) Here’s what we ended up doing. Before they ever arrived in Washington we asked them to research and decide what they’d really like to experience and what they were comfortable leaving up to us. Then we asked what their favorite breakfast cereal was and their favorite beverages. When they arrived they were shown the notes on the refrigerator.

#1 ~You are welcome to anything in my refrigerator and cupboards. Please check and see if I have the items you need to be happy. If you do not see the things here that will make you happy we will make a trip to the grocery store so you can purchase the items that will make you comfortable during your stay here.

#2 ~ I do not ask you over the course of the day if there is anything you need. You are very welcome to get whatever you need and want at any point during the day without my permission. I and my family will get a snack without asking you if you want one. If you want a snack please know that we want you to treat this like your home. Get up and get that snack you want without asking permission! If there is something you need please feel free to ask and we will hunt it down for you!

#3 ~ You can use the dishwasher, the stove, the oven, the microwave,the washing machine, the shower anytime during the day.

#4 ~ We encourage our company to participate in making at least one meal while they stay with us. While they are making the meal the rest of us will set the table and have fun creating an atmosphere to go with their menu. With my sister-in-law Letty who happens to be Hispanic we really go all out with the Mexican theme while she makes the Mexican rice, beans, salsa and Carnitas for all of us to enjoy!!

This may sound harsh to some of you but you need to know that we do make several meals and drive our company all around town to see the sights and we do enjoy all of these activities. It’s just good to have the comfort of knowing they don’t have to be cared for every minute of the day. That’s why we give them the freedom to get up and get whatever they need whenever they need it without our direction.

Being pro-active in spelling out things and squashing any unreasonable expectations will make it easier on everyone and make you welcome overnight guests over and over again…

We always look forward to out of town guests since we’ve set up guidelines for ourselves and them. There are always those who don’t need any guidelines, those who just fit in with the everyday flow.

Photobucket is holding all my photos that I stored on their site from 2007-2015 hostage replacing them with ugly grey and black boxes and asking for a large ransom to retrieve them. It is a slow process to go through all my posts deleting the ugly boxes.

Corned Beef & Cabbage

Kathleen at Cuisine Kathleen is hosting a bit of the Irish food fest. So I decided to join in by offering this simple Corned Beef & Cabbage how to. I’m looking forward to cooking this up tomorrow for our meal tomorrow night! An early Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!

When Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, ’tis like the morn in Spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter
You can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy,
All the world seems bright and gay.
And when Irish eyes are smiling,
Sure, they steal your heart away.

I’m combining this post with Three or More Tuesday that Tam at The Gypsy’s Corner hosts each week. I think the regular clover qualifies for 3 and the three vegetables I include in the Corned Beef and Cabbage qualify, too!

 

I bought the flat cut corned beef brisket seasoned in a package with an extra spice packet enclosed. I covered the brisket with water and brought to a boil with a couple onions quartered. After it came to a boil, I lowered the flame to simmer and let it simmer for a couple of hours. I pulled the meat out and added the cabbage, potatoes, and carrots and simmered the veggies until they were done. Put the meat back in the pot till I was ready to serve it. It has always turned out great but I really do notice the difference between the flat cut and the cheaper cut…

Don’t forget to click over to Kathleen’s to see all all the celebration posts around… and don’t forget the Guinness!

Photobucket is holding all my photos I stored with them from 2007-2015 hostage unless I pay them a lot of money. I’m slowly cleaning up many posts from this time period and deleting their ugly grey and black boxes with a ransom request. Such a time consuming bother.

 

Foodie Friday

One of my favorite signs of Spring is when the Local Strawberry stands open selling Strawberries straight from the fields.

 

This was a fun dessert I put together for my kids one evening. I bought the Belgium Chocolate cups from the local grocery store. Then I whipped up some instant vanilla pudding. I filled the cups with the pudding and flared a strawberry for the top of each cup. Fun, fast, easy dessert. Enjoy…

Oops! Just found out this is suppose to be an Irish Foodie Friday so I’m adding this last minute Irish.

 

To see lots of Foodie posts visit Gollum at Designs by Gollum by clicking the Foodie badge.

Photobucket is holding all my photos I stored with them from 2007-2015 hostage unless I pay them a lot of money. I’m slowly cleaning up many posts from this time period and deleting their ugly grey and black boxes with a ransom request. Such a time consuming bother.

Tea Recipes

These are the recipes that I thought worked well for my tea…

 

Mock Devonshire Cream from If Teacups Could Talk by Emilie Barnes ~

1/2 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup sour cream

In a chilled bowl, beat cream until medium-stiff peaks form, adding sugar during the last few minutes of beating. Fold in sour cream and blend. Makes 1-1/2 cups.

Cynthia’s Chicken Salad (from Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook & Kitchen Reader)

4 cups diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Combine the chicken, pecans, green onions, and celery in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Stir into the chicken mixture. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cucumber-Basil Tea Sandwiches (from Victoria ~ The Pleasures of Tea ~ Hearst Books)
1 – 8 oz. package softened cream cheese
2 Tablespoons half and half
2 Tablespoons snipped fresh chives
1 unsliced loaf or 12 slices rye or wholewheat bread
1 English (seedless) cucumber, cut into thin slices
24 fresh basil leaves

In a medium-size bowl, beat together the cream cheese and half and half until it is the consistency of soft butter. Stir in the chives.

Spread the cream cheese mixture on the bread and top with several slices of cucumber and a basil leaf. Serve the sandwiches immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes: 24 Sandwiches

 

Enjoy!

Photobucket is holding all my photos I stored with them from 2007-2015 hostage unless I pay them a lot of money. I’m slowly cleaning up many posts from this time period and deleting their ugly grey and black boxes with a ransom request. Such a time consuming bother.

Any Suggestions?

Does anyone out there have a suggestion as to what I should use to fix this cake plate?

 

I bought this today at the Thrift Store for $5 even though the base is separated from the plate. Nothing is cracked or broken. It’s a very clean separation. I have never tried glueing anything like this. The top is very heavy so I’d need something that will adhere really well. So…if you know what I should buy please leave me a comment. Thank you!

Photobucket is holding all my photos I stored with them from 2007-2015 hostage unless I pay them a lot of money. I’m slowly cleaning up many posts from this time period and deleting their ugly grey and black boxes with a ransom request. Such a time consuming bother.

Mount Rainier Chili ~

This recipe comes from one of my favorite cook books, Simply Classic – The Junior League of Seattle. Every recipe I’ve tried from this book is a success and is tasty.

Ingredients:

1 pound Great Northern white beans, rinsed and picked over
2 pounds boneless chicken breasts
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
2 cups onions, chopped
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 – 4oz. cans chopped mild green chiles
2 tsp. ground cumin
1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. cayenne
8 cups chicken stock
1 – 12 oz. beer
3 cups Monterey Jack cheese shredded and divided
sour cream
salsa
fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

* Place beans in a large, heavy pot. Add enough cold water to cover by at least 3 inches. Cover and soak overnight.

*Place chicken in a large, heavy saucepan. Add cold water to cover and bring to a simmer. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and cool. Remove skin and cut chicken into cubes.

* Drain beans into large colander. Heat oil in same pot. Add onions and saute over medium-low heat until translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, green chilies, cumin, oregano, cloves and cayenne. Saute 2 minutes. Add beans and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 3 to 4 hours. Add additional water if necessary. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and bring to a simmer before continuing.) Add chicken, beer and 1 cup of cheese. Stir until cheese melts. Ladle chili into bowls. Serve with remaining cheese, sour cream, salsa and cilantro leaves to sprinkle on top.

Serves twelve to fourteen…

Photobucket is holding all my photos from 2007-2015 hostage and demanding a ransom for me to access them. I’m slowly cleaning up many of my posts where PB have added ugly black and grey boxes where my photos used to be. So frustrating!

 

Pumpkin Praline Trifle

 

I found this great recipe in the Thanksgiving Special bon appetit November 2008. Bon appetit describes this dessert as a cross between a trifle and tiramisu. You should make the trifle at least one day ahead, 2 days preferably to let the flavors meld or as I say “moosh”.

 

The most time consuming part of the recipe is making the praline. The praline recipe yields enough to make 2 trifles. The creamy layers and pumpkin layers are very simple to make and the whole trifle once the praline is successfully completed is very easy to do.

Praline

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup packed golden brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup half and half
1-1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2/3 cups pecan halves (about 6 oz.) (I used pecan pieces because that’s what I had)

Mascarpone Cream

2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1 8 oz. container chilled mascarpone cheese (I found this at Trader Joe’s)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling

1 – 15 oz. can pure pumpkin
1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (I used already ground)
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. salt
1-1/2 – 3 oz. packages of soft ladyfingers. (I bought a 4.75 oz. box of soft lady fingers at Trader Joe’s and it was enough for 1 trifle)
4-1/2 tablespoons of dark rum, divided

Praline/ Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray. Bring both sugars and half and half to boil in heavy medium saucepan over medium high heat, whisking to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat ot medium-low and simmer 5 minutes, whisking constantly. Add butter, vanilla, and salt. Attach candy thermometer to pan. Simmer without stirring until temperature registers 260 degrees F, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately mix in pecans. Transfer to prepared sheet, spreading in a single layer. Cool completely. Chop into 1/4 inch pieces.

Mascarpone Cream/ Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients in large bowl until firm peaks form. Set aside 1/2 cup mascarpone cream for pumpkin filling.

Filling/ Whisk pumpkin, brown sugar, cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt in large bowl to blend. Whisk in reserved 1/2 cup mascarpone cream.

Spread 1/3 cup mascarpone cream over bottom of 8×5 inch trifle dish (12-14 cup capacity). Place layer of lady fingers over cream. Sprinkle 1-1/2 Tablespoons of rum over. Spread 1/2 cup pumpkin filling over ladyfingers, spreading to edges. Sprinkle 1/3 cup praline over. Spread 1 cup mascarpone cream over. Cover with another layer of lady fingers. Sprinkle with 1-1/2 tablespoons rum, then spread 1 cup pumpkin filling over. Sprinkle 1/2 cup praline over. Repeat 1 more time with 1 cup mascarpone cream, lady fingers, rum, 1 cup pumpkin filling and 1/2 cup praline. Spread remaining mascarpone cream on top. Cover and chill overnight. DO AHEAD. Can be made 2 days ahead.

Uncover trifle. Sprinkle 1 cup praline decoratively over top (reserving any remaining praline for another use)

My guests really enjoyed this trifle and I will make it again!

Photobucket is holding all my photos from 2007-2015 hostage and demanding a ransom for me to access them. I’m slowly cleaning up many of my posts where PB have added ugly black and grey boxes where my photos used to be. So frustrating!