The weather was in the triple digits, the humidity was just as high and our air conditioner broke. The flies were awful and everything was melting, sweating, falling over and overall not cooperating, including my camera. I came so very close to giving up and never blogging again... I was so frustrated.
As you can see, I eventually thought a little more clearly... so here it is, the 4th Of July post that almost did me in. I figure that for all that trouble it is worth another look!
A picnic to celebrate the 4th of July is a great family tradition! Packing up easy to make goodies and festive decorations- off we go to a nearby park or quiet spot by a stream and enjoy food and homemade fun.
I am not going too far with this picnic~ StoneGable's backyard~ so I was not concerned with packing perishables on ice. I do love to pack picnic yummies in mason jars. So easy to seal and transport, they are also attractive to serve from!
Pull out a tablecloth (HomeGoods) and use it as a picnic blanket. Pick a shady spot with a scenic view and set an inviting table!
Each place is set with a patriotic mix of dishes.
The Americana bowls and matching dishes are perfect for a 4th of July table (AC Moore)! They are a little too "cute" for me, so I toned down the cutsie appeal by stacking them with a blue and white floral transferware plate (HomeGoods), a solid red dish (K-Mart) and a large white dinner plate with a detailed rim (HomeGoods).
I prefer NOT to use paper products if I can help it.
To give the placesetting a little extra pizazz I tucked a pick of stars between the plates! Sorta looks like fireworks!
These beautiful and well made star napkins (Wm-Sonoma) are paired with napkins that match the tablecloth (HomeGoods). The napkin rings (Wm-Sonoma, on sale!) were a plain white wicker. I cut apart one of the star picks and hot glued 3 stars to each napkin ring. TaDa! New napkin rings!
Big ball jar mugs of homemade lemonade are garnished with lemons and mint! Lids can be screwed on to make them easy to transport and to keep spills off of the picnic area too!
A tray on a picnic blanket is a very good idea! Using it to keep the centerpiece and salsa from spilling and becoming a disaster, this white wicker tray (Pier I) is draped with a stars and stripes tea towel (Wm-Sonoma).
Flowers from my garden are gathered up and put into a large ball jar tied with a navy blue grosgrain ribbon.
The menu features... Flank Steak Sandwiches on baguettes. They are filled with delicious grilled flank steak, gruyere cheese, roasted red peppers, fresh garden butter crunch lettuce and a pesto mayonise.
Homemade pasta salad ...
A jar of garden fresh salsa and homemade baked tortilla crisps in a fun paper cone...
A big bowl of fresh cherries...
What a fun dessert~ pie in a jar. These little individual desserts are something special! So very easy to make and delicious, the mixed fruit pies travels well too. For a recipe and ho-to's for these WOW factor summer desserts, click HERE.
Keep flatware together in a napkin lined ball jar. So pretty, and the utensils don't roll around or out of the jar!
When you are finished eating, back in the jar they go!
Don't forget to show your patriotic colors with Old Glory!
When everone is full of food and good old-time fun pack up your picnic and head for the fireworks!
Have a happy, safe 4th of July! Don't forget to honor our brave military with a prayer!
Here at StoneGable I am still trying to put the finishing touches on my Kitchen Face Lift. Thankfully, my to-do list is getting smaller and smaller!
With the arrival of my rush seat double bench I was able to check one more thing off the list!
The bench is from Ballard Design. I had looked and looked for an antique bench but my search came up empty. I am still looking! If I ever find one I LOVE this bench will go into a bedroom. But, I am very pleased with the color, style and quality of this handsome Ballard bench.
Because it will be called into seating service when we have a crowd in the kitchen, I didn't want to clutter it with decor. A simple stack of much loved books and a french inspired hen lamp find a home at one side of the bench.
I added a faux frilly plant to give the area life and a little texture. I have a rascally cat Hobbes, so a real plant in that easy to reach spot is OUT of the question!
A tall basket sits next to the bench. When it is not Hobbes' hiding place, I use it to store cookbooks.
(I just happened to see Hobbes in the basket and got this picture! Doesn't it look like he is saying, OOOps, busted!)
The red oriental breakfast room carpet was replaced with a black edged sisal area rug. The look is much lighter and brighter. It plays well with the new colors and decor of the whole kitchen space.
The new style of our kitchen and breakfast room suites our farmhouse inspired home. The overall look I hope to achieve is an updated farmhouse that is welcoming, warm and clean!
The next thing on my to-do list... hemming the linen curtains. Hopefully, this weekend.
So many of you, dear readers, have been asking about the Kitchen Reveal. Soon! I am just very methodical about the decorating process! Thanks for being patient.
WELCOME TO THE FIRST "ON THE MENU MONDAY" AT STONEGABLE!
I am thrilled you stopped by! I hope you find great recipes, creative ideas and lots of inspiration!
Don't forget the Mikasa Giveaway is still going on here at StoneGable. One lucky StoneGable reader will win 5 placesetting of Mikasa Midnight Bloom dinnerware. To enter, clickHERE.
Smoked Salmon, Feta and Dill Phyllo Pillows
Garden Lettuce, Sweet Cherries And Toasted Pecans In A Cherry Champagne Vinaigrette
Recipe: Smoked Salmon, Feta And Dill Phyllo Pilows
2/3 cups feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup ricotta cheese
5 1/2 oz. smoked salmon, diced
2 TBS fresh dill, chopped
2 TBS fresh chives, snipped
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 shallots, finely minced
1 stick butter
4 TBS panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease it.
Put 2 TBS butter in a medium skillet and add minced shallots. Sautee' on medium heat until wilted and translucent, but not browned. Remove shallots with a slotted spoon and let cool. Melt remaining butter. Take off heat and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix feta, ricotta, salmon, dill, chives, parsley and shallots. Season with pepper.
On a work surface, lay out 1 sheet of phyllo. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with 2 tsps of Panko breadcrumbs. Cover with second phyllo sheet.
Spoon 1 heaping TBS of salmon mixture on one short end of phyllo. Roll up tucking in sides to make a neat pillow. Place on baking sheet.
Make 6 phyllo pillows in all. Brush all tops with melted butter
Bake the pillows for 25-30 minutes, until the phyllo is golden. Serve immediately.
I am always on the hunt for good and easy Mexican food. I just love it! I'd rather eat just a small portion than not have all my favorites from the Southwest! Cheesy Beef Enchilada Casserole is a great cozy recipe from Kitty's Kozyy Kitchen. Click HERE for this Mexican treat, OLE'!
Recipe: Mexican Explosion Salad
1 bag romaine salad
1/2 cup canned Mexican corn, drained
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed well and drained
1/2 sharp cheddar cheese
1 tomato, diced
Avocado slices, optional
Mexican ranch dressing, recipe follows
Tortilla Strips or Crushed Nachos
Place salad, corn, beans, cheese and tomato in a salad bowl. Dress salad and add tortilla stips orcrushed nachos.
Recipe: Tortilla Strips
Put 1 inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet. Cut flour tortilla into 2/3 inch strips. Put strips into skillet in batches. Cook until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel and salt. Use just a few strips over salad.
Southwest Ranch Dressing
In a small bowl, mix 1/4 bottle of ranch dressing, 2 tsp pkg. taco seasoning, and 2TBS salsa. Mix well.
Chicken Ceasar Salad
Recipe: Grilled Chicken Cesar Salad
This is a real summertime favorite at StoneGable. We grill up a bunch of chicken tenders that have been marinaded in Ceasar dressing. YUM! Put a few strips of chicken over your plate of Cesar salad and save come chicken for lunches.
Lettuce~2 heads of romaine, rinsed, dried and torn into pieces or 1 bag of romaine lettuce
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan Cheese
Homemade Croutons, recipe follows
Ceasar Dressing, recipe follows
Put lettuce in a large salad bowl.
Drizzle dressing over salad. Add shaved Parmesan Cheese. Toss well to cover all the lettuce. Don't overdress salad. It should not drip in dressing, but be lightly coated.
Toss. And plate.
These are so easy and economical. And they taste WONDERFUL! I always keep crusty bread in the freezer. When a loaf gets a little old, I make croutons. If you have a fresh loaf, leave it out to get a little stale. One or two day old bread from the grocer's is perfect!
1 loaf day old crusty bread (I had an Italian baguette in the freezer)
olive oil or butter
seasonings such as Tuscan herbs or herbs de provence
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cube bread and put it on a large rimmed baking sheet.
Drizzle olive oil (or melted butter, or both) over bread cubes. Sprinkle with garlic salt and herbs of your choice. I sprinkled on a very light dash of Tuscan herbs.
Bake for about 20 minutes, turning once until they are golden brown. Cooking time depends on the denseness and freshness of the bread. Watch your croutons closely, I always seem to burn mine!
Recipe: Ceasar Salad Dressing
2 large garlic cloves (use 1 if you like less garlic)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1-2 TBS Worcestershire Sauce (I have a heavy hand with Worcestershire)
4 anchovy fillets~ don't skip this!
juice of 1 lemon (I use 2- I like it lemmony)
1/2 ~2/3 cup LIGHT olive oil or vegetable oil
coddled egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute
Coddle egg and set aside. To coddle egg: Boil enough water in a small saucepan to cover an egg. Once the water is boiling, add an egg in it's shell. Turn off heat and let it sit for 1 minutes. Take it out of boiling water to
stop cooking. (When you crack the egg it will look raw. The white part of the egg will look just slightly opaque near the shell.) If you don't want to coddle an egg, use egg substitute. See note above.
Put the garlic, mustard, Worcestershire Sauce, anchovy fillets and lemon juice in the blender. Process until smooth.
While the blender is running add a continuous stream of oil, very slowly. Process until oil is incorporated.
Add coddled egg. Process until incorporated. If you add egg substitute the dressing will be a little thick, almost like a garlic lemon mayonnaise, but delicious.
Add pepper and process.
Pan Sauteed Tilapia With French Compound Butter And Wilted Spinach
Arugula, Shaved Parmesan and Pine Nuts In A Lemon Vinaigrette
Recipe: Pan Sauteed Tilapia With French Compound Butter And Wilted Spinach
6 tilapia fillets
salt and pepper
4-6 TBS French Compound Butter, recipe follows
1 TBS olive oil
1 bag fresh baby spinach, washed
1 tsp good white wine vinegar
Pat fish dry with a paper towel. Salt and pepper.
Dredge tilapia through flour. Set aside.
In a large skillet add 1 TBS compound butter and 1 TBS olive oil and heat over medium heat. When butter is melted add tilapia and sautee for 4 minutes on each side. Remove fish and keep warm.
To skillet add an additional 1-2 TBS compound butter and melt. Add spinach and toss with tongs until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Splash with wine vinegar.
Plate tilapia resting on top of spinach.
Add a small slice (1/2 tsp) of compound butter on top of tilapia.
This is a beautiful condiment to make when your herbs are growing in your garden. Or when you can get great fresh summer herbs at the grocers! It can be frozen and used all year long. Click HERE for a tutorial with lots of pictures.
Recipe: Arugula, Shaved Parmesan And Pine Nuts In A Lemon Vinaigrette
I could eat this salad everyday! I know we have it for lunch or dinner several times a week. It is that good!
1 bag of baby arugula
1/4 cup shaved good parmesan
3-4 TBS toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup good olive oil
juice of 1 juicy lemon
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
good dash of kosher salt
Put the bagged arugula in a large salad bowl.
In a small jar add oil, lemon juice, mustard and salt. Put lid on jar and shake to emulsify. Pour just enough dressing over arugula to coat. Refrigerate the rest.
Add Parmesan and pine nuts. Toss. Serve immediately!
I'm making a big slow full of Chili and freezing what I don't use in quart size containers. These will come in handy when the weather is too hot to cook!
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 TBS olive oil
1 large onions, peeled and chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced finely
1 large green or red pepper, chopped
1 large can of stewed tomatoes
1 can kidney beans or black beans, rinsed and drained (I combine the two)
2/3 - 1 cup of catsup
1/2 -2/3 cups chili sauce
2 TBS chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper
a sprinkle of taco seasonings from a packet (if I have it, I use it)
In a large dutch oven heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add onions and green peppers and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add ground beef and continue to cook until browned.
Add can of stewed tomatoes, ketchup, chili sauce, kidney beans, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper and a sprinkle of taco seasoning. Stir to mix.
Bring to a simmer and continue to cook for 40 minutes. Add a little water if the chili gets too thick.
To make the slow cooker version, brown meat, onions and peppers. Add the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook for 6-8 hours on low.
Southerner's know how to make fried chicken. And I love it. I don't fry chicken here at StoneGable. So I savor it when I go to Savannah. Sam, at My Carolina Kitchen, is a southerner that knows chicken! Her Unfried Chicken looks fabulous and very full of flavor (she uses Tabasco!). I'm all over this recipe! To get this scrumptious recipe, click HERE. Thanks, Sam!
Recipe: White Gravy
I am not a Southerner (boo-hoo) but my Daddy was from Missouri and he made white gravy. I LOVE it with chicken. I'm adding just a little over the mashed potatoes and chicken... heaven!
I make it without a recipe so I'll try to approximate the amounts:
2-3 TBS butter
2-3 TBS flour
1 1/2 cups milk
salt and pepper
Using the pan the chicken was cooked in, heat butter over medium heat and scrape up any brown bits in the pan . Add flour and incorporate. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring until just slightly brown. Whisk in milk. Cook, stirring until thick. Season with salt and a good dose of pepper.
Oh, now this is goodness on a plate! We make a meal of Caprese Salad! Delicious! Now that my basil and Early Girl tomatoes are ready to be picked, it is time for one of my very very favorite summer dishes!
1 lb fresh mozzarella
good tomatoes (If you can't get locally grown tomatoes in your area, use roma tomatoes)
good olive oil
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Slice fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. Alternate them, slightly overlapping, them on a plate. Salt and pepper. Cut basil into chiffonades. Sprinkle liberally over salad. Drizzle with good olive oil.
I have been making fresh mozzarella for years! It is easy and the taste is so much better than the store bought kind. It is delicate and tender and soft. YUMMY! With just a couple of ingredients that you can keep on hand, you can have fresh mozzarella in your refrigerator all summer! Click HERE for a tutorial.
Thank you for joining me for the first ON THE MENU MONDAY.
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