Ten Bloggers Present – The Fall Harvest Dinner!

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Dinner parties were once one of the most common forms of entertainment in this country.  Homemakers would set their tables with their finest dinnerware, make their favorite recipes, and invite some of their closest friends over for an evening of cocktails, delicious food, and great company.   

Some of my most favorite pictures are of my grandparents hosting dinner parties back in the day.  The women in the photo’s wore pretty dresses and heels, and the men donned dress slacks, dress shirts, and ties.  And as you can imagine, the photo’s depict adults having a great time dining and socializing.

With entertaining on my mind, I have invited some of my closest blogger friends to help me host a virtual Fall Harvest Dinner Party.  Each dish, including the table décor, signifies our beautiful fall season.  If you’re looking for Thanksgiving dinner ideas, you’ll likely find something from our dinner that you can put to good use later.  I am sharing just a tease (here at The Joy of Caking) of our dinner and the bloggers who helped make this all possible.  For loads more pictures, recipes, and to get to know each of these great blogger friends of mine better, please visit each of their sites.  I promise not to disappoint you!. 

Our dinner party begins with a beautiful Festive Fall Table created by Sandra of Sweet Sensations. Sandra has a real knack for coordinating and designing some of the most beautifully decorated tablescapes I’ve ever seen.  She claims it is nearly impossible for her to separate herself from the world of sweets and parties and I believe it! Have you ever seen the beautiful cakes she makes?  Sandra blogs to us from Michigan, and she tells me that her regular job as a fitness professional allows her to indulge moderately in all things sugar – lucky girl!  She say’s “it’s a good thing that I’m as passionate about working out as I am passionate about sweets!”  I only wish I could say the same Sandra.

I ask you, what’s a dinner party without a cocktail or two?  This scrumptious looking Apple Pie Cocktail with a Twist is brought to you by Terra of Café Terra Blog.  This cocktail looks like it would wet just about any whistle.  I know it would mine!  In my opinion, Terra is the ultimate cocktail queen – at least she is in North Carolina where she happily resides.  If you can think it; she can mix it!  Terra has been blogging for over three years.  By day she is a food safety/quality assurance specialist that checks on restaurants and hotels.  As a recipe developer, Terra say’s “I have discovered I love baking/cooking with booze.  So to add to my list of fun, I started creating cocktails with all the extra booze in my bar!”  Keep um coming Terra!

When Dionne from Try Anything Once Culinary graciously offered to make us one of her yummy appetizers for our dinner I couldn’t wait to see what she would bring.   This French recipe for Eggplant Caviar sounds so unique and delectable.  I love the creativity that flows from Dionne’s kitchen, and I drool over all of the belly filling food she shares.  Dionne say’s “I love writing, cooking, eating and photography. Strengthening my culinary skills was something that I found myself doing after my daughter was born. It was something that we could do together, no matter what our financial situation, and we could have that in common.”  Dionne operates their family by day and squeezes in time for food blogging when she can.  She’s a very busy girl especially since her and her “other-half” co-founded No More Hungry Nights in the state of Washington,  an organization dedicated to ending hungry nights one house at a time. They provide food donations, job connections and even training for local families in their community.  KUDO’S to both of them for taking on such a huge problem! 

I know that a new mom like Monet, from Anecdotes & Applecores, is probably more focused on feeding her sweet little Lucy than helping host a fall dinner party – but Monet is an amazing girl.  She always bakes delicious treats and writes from her heart  –  two of the things that I enjoy immensely about her.  Today, she brings an enticing Goat Cheese with Herbs de Provence to our dinner table.  While this recipe sounds like a fancy and time consuming appetizer, I’m sure she will tell you otherwise.  Monet writes and bakes in colorful Colorado.  She just recently finished her MFA in Creative Writing and she is currently working on a memoir about food and family.  Monet invites you to visit  Anecdotes and Apple Cores where she say’s,  “I share simple recipes that are meant to be shared.”  And while your there, be sure to ogle (like I do) over sweet little Lucy!

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Amy, aka “Ms. Toody Goo Shoes, has created a sapid Roasted Pear Salad with White Balsamic Vinaigrette for us to feast upon.  After a lengthy career in the TV industry,  Amy reports that she has ”hung up her dress-for-success clothes and pulled her domestic ‘genes’ out of storage.”  Now that she isn’t rushing off to catch the 7:52 every morning, she spends her time writing from her home in New Jersey about the things she always wished she had time to do when she was working; like baking, traveling and interior design. Amy’s great sense of humor and her creative writing skills make me laugh and keep me coming back for more.  And I haven’t even mentioned all of the other attractions she shares on her blog; like recipes, home decorating ideas, and her road trips! 

Jeanne is the author/blogger behind Inside NanaBread’s Head.  For our fall dinner she has prepared Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Pineapple with Almond & Honey Streusel – yummy!!  Jeanne compares her blog to her junk drawers – filled with tidbits, trash & treasures – so open with caution; you never know what might fall out.  I can completely relate to that!  She writes from the big state of Texas about the things that make her world brighter.  Jeanne’s blog is much like mine in that she offers a little of everything – food, family, travel, an occasional craft or sewing project.  On occasion you may even get an update on the mildly exotic fruit that they grow; including pineapples, bananas and a new papaya tree.  Jeanne say’s she’s “prone to bouts of sarcasm, and believes that a good sense of humor is one of life’s greatest gifts.”  She’s always made me feel very welcomed at her blog, and she once told me if she ever wins the lottery she’s inviting me to a “girl’s getaway” she’s planning.  Hey, you never know!  Drop by her blog for a visit, poke around for a while, and say hello. Her door is always open.  

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Pineapple - Ready to Eat - Inside NanaBread's Head

My contribution to our dinner is a Crusted Garlic Parmesan Roasted Chicken.  Since I’m the baker in our house, and my hubby is the cook, I asked him if he would mind helping with the entrée for our dinner. Since he loves to cook, he was more than willing to roll up his sleeves and help out.  I’m so fortunate because the two of us can work side by side in the kitchen and produce some pretty tasty meals together.   Since this is a super long post I am going to be sharing his recipe in a new post tomorrow – so be sure to stop back for it!

Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake brings a beautiful and flavorful Pumpkin Challah to our table all the way from Indiana.  Liz credits her mom as being an amazing cook, but not much of a baker. She say’s, “when my sisters and I yearned for a sweet treat, I turned to our trusty BH&G cookbook and zeroed in on the dessert tabs. My love of baking began in my childhood kitchen.”  She married a chocoholic and together they had 3 children with plenty of sweet teeth.  Liz began blogging in 2010 (the same year I did) to chronicle her baking journey. She amazes me because I don’t think there is a day that goes by that she doesn’t post something delicious on her blog.  I love reading all the great stories she shares with her great recipes.  Drop over and say hi, and ask her how many times she’s had a fire truck at her house.

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Sharon and Denise are the makers of these tender and buttery Onion Rolls. Did I mention I love Onion Rolls?  Both are sisters born a scant 17 months apart, best friends, and the brains behind BeBetsy.   BeBetsy is a place to find fabulous food, flirty fashion, beauty trends, creative artists and a lot of inspiration!  Both gal’s tell me that they “like the idea that a modern woman can have a career, then carry her baby or grandchild on her hip wearing a fabulous dress and heels (or flats if her feet are killing her) and all the while admitting that she loves to cook, sew and garden, and finds the greatest joy in friends and family.”  I enjoy dropping by and linking up to their linky party every Tuesday.  It’s called Brag About It.  Please feel free too do the same! Lucky for me, these two ladies from the Wild West (Utah and Nevada) have become great long distance friends of mine.

Anne, a baker and blogger From My Sweet Heart, resides in a suburb of Washington, D.C.  Her dish to pass is my favorite part of any meal – dessert!  I can almost smell Anne’s Cinnamon Applesauce Tart, can’t you?  Anne admits, “I grew up in a generation where you always had dessert; even if it was after a weeknight supper; and even if it was only Jell-o. And to this day, when I dine at a restaurant, I always glance at the dessert menu first! I began baking later in my life.”  I can completely relate to what Anne says about always having dessert – that’s the way I remember it too!  She and I both appreciate vintage kitchen items and you will likely see many of them in the beautiful photographs that she takes for her posts.  Ann amazes me because she has a job that keeps her very busy by day, and yet she still manages to produce some of the most perfect looking desserts that I’ve ever seen. Grab yourselves a cup of coffee and head over to From My Sweet Heart for a slice of this delicious tart.

Thank you for coming to our Fall Harvest Dinner.  We all hope you have enjoyed yourselves, but remember it’s not over yet!  Hop on over to each of my friends blogs and pick up their scrumptious recipes for this meal, along with Sandra’s tips on setting a winning table.  And if you forgot to bring a hostess gift don’t fret; just pin, tweet, or Facebook our party and we’ll forgive you!  

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You’re Invited To Join A Bunch of Great Bloggers for…

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On October 23rd, some of my favorite bloggers will be showcasing their awesome hard work here, and on their own blogs, as we host our first virtual fall harvest dinner party.  It’s going to be a fun filled and delicious dinner that you won’t want to miss.

During this virtual party we will show you how to set a winning table, mix the perfect fall cocktail, and we’ll share an array of scrumptious recipes that you’ll be proud to serve at any dinner you host.

Please consider this your official invitation to The Fall Harvest Dinner 2013.   We can’t wait to see you there!

 

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Cake and October

Today is the 1st of October and I’m excited.  September was a crazy month for me, I didn’t get to spend much time with my blog, and I plan to make up for that this month.

First, something new will be added to the Mercantile because the auction for the craft/sewing notion jar has officially ended.  Thanks for all your bids!  It’s been so much fun watching the bids come in and reading your comments.  I hope the lucky winner (who is being notified by email) will enjoy their jar of notions.

Also this month, I’ve conspired with a bunch of GREAT BLOGGERS and we will be hosting a virtual fall harvest dinner party that is bound to help jump start your Thanksgiving Day menu planning.

Sandra from Sweet Sensations will be setting our table for this event.  Terra from Café Terra will be mixing up one of her amazing cocktails for us.  Monet from Anecdotes and Applecores and Dionne from Try Anything Once Culinary will be whipping up tasty appetizers that anyone would gladly sample.  Amy from Ms. Toody Goo Shoes will be making us a beautiful and delicious fall inspired salad that sounds like a meal in itself.  Jeanne from Inside NanaBread’s Head will be sharing one of her scrumptious side dishes – and hint, she grows at least one of the ingredients  that she will be using in her dish.  Sharon and Denise from BeBetsy, and Liz from That Skinny Chick Can Bake,  will be surprising us with something yummy from their bread baskets.  And last but not least, Anne From My Sweet Heart will complete our meal with one of her insanely enticing desserts.  I don’t know about all of you, but I can’t wait!

So, let’s get this month started with a great recipe for Homemade Pumpkin Spice Cake.

This recipe was adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Pies and Cakes cookbook.  It’s super moist and perfectly spiced.  If you’re a raisin or nut fan, throw in a few of each.  They can only make the cake that much better.

1/2 c. margarine, softened

1 1/3 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 c. canned pumpkin

2/3 c. sour milk

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour

Generously grease a 10”x14” cake pan with margarine.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream margarine and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs; beat well.  Mix in pumpkin, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla.  Alternate adding flour with milk and beat thoroughly.   Pour batter into prepared pan and bake approximately 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes clean when inserted into the center.  Cool slightly and cover with plastic wrap.  Once cake has completely cooled, frost with your favorite cream cheese icing.

Happy October!

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A Must Read Guest Post by Denise of BeBetsy

Preserve Your Family History with Recipes

It’s funny how things that once seemed ordinary and taken for granted become so dear to the heart as we move along in our life’s journey.

I can picture our mother with her apron on hard at work in the kitchen of our home that my parents built brick by brick.

Our mother Barbara

The kitchen walls were lined with cedar wainscot. Closing my eyes I am transported back watching my father take pleasure in our mother’s cooking. Oh what meals she could whip up! Chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, freshly baked rolls slathered in butter and fresh plum jam made from the bounty of our grandmother’s tree.

It remains so vivid in my memory.

In winter the kitchen was the place to be with the warmth from the oven and wonderful smells that made your stomach churn in anticipation! I cherish those memories and right this minute I swear I can smell the chocolate, sugar and butter of the Saturday night fudge as it bubbled in that old, heavy saucepan.

Food memories are powerful and an important part of our family history. What a gift it would be to our children, and for generations to come, if through our recipes our family history would come to life!

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Shortly after our mother died my sister Sharon and her family put together a collection of our family recipes in a beautifully handcrafted scrapbook of my sister’s own design. Included were pictures of our mother’s handwritten recipes cards.

This precious memory book reminds me of how our mother’s home-cooked meals brought us together around our kitchen table. Thinking of that I smile and cry all at once.

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So scour your family’s cupboards and locate those old cookbooks and recipe cards. Spend time with the older women in your family and consider recording them talking of the foods they would prepare for their family.

What a great treasure that would be to pass on to your own children.

Please share your own precious memories!

“A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.”
— Tenneva Jordan

I’m so glad to share Denise’s post with you.  There are few things more precious to me than my mother’s and grandmother’s hand-written recipe cards.  The preservation of their recipes is important to me, and my memories of watching them stay busy in their kitchen’s will always make me smile.

Denise and her sister Sharon are the masterminds of BeBetsy.com, a  FREE on-line lifestyle magazine. 

BeBetsy features great articles on health, beauty, fashion, money, gardening, home décor, food and drink, DIY, tech savy tips, along with information on today’s hottest products. 

Oh,  I almost forgot to mention the printable coupons and great giveaways and contests they share with readers too.

My suggestion, subscribe to their site so you don’t miss a single thing.    And why stop there? They can also be found on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook

Now, a bit more about Denise, the author of this  post.  She is the editor and co-founder of BeBetsy.  She is a writer, self-proclaimed musician, food junkie and sometimes funny person, who enjoys spending as much time as possible with her husband and family.

She loves classic cinema and indie movies and most forms of musical expression.  She loves to hike, camp, fish canoe and howl at the moon.

When she’s not howling at the moon, she spends time working-out, swimming, singing, writing, sewing, reading and telling others her opinion on any subject.  She ignores age and pretends she is 27.  (Don’t we all?)

Originally from Salt Lake City, she now lives in Southern Nevada enjoying the daily sunshine and serenity of the dessert.  Lucky girl…

 

Where to find me today

If you are interested in learning one of my secrets then you will have to visit Mike and Molly’s House  where I have been invited to guest post today.   Thank you Mike and Molly!

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Not only will you hear my silly confession, but you will find a simple recipe for a non-fattening but seriously delicious chocoholic treat

And don’t forget to join SoupaPalooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by KitchenAid, Red Star Yeast and Le Creuset today.  Yes, great prizes are involved!

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I’ve entered my Creamy Chicken Asparagus Soup.   If you missed my original post go ahead and take a look, or find the recipe below.

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Ingredients:

1 pound thin fresh asparagus

3 small potatoes, peeled and diced

1 large onion, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes

2 garlic cloves, minced

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 32 oz. container of chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided

2 cups cooked boneless chicken breast, cubed

2 cups half-and-half cream

Instructions:

Cut tips from asparagus spears – approximately 1/4 of the way down the spear; cut tips in half again; set aside. Place stalks in a large stock pot and cover with water (you will need 3 1/2 cups of broth later so be generous with the water). Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for approximately 40 minutes. Remove from heat.

Strain 31/2 cups asparagus broth from the pot and set aside. Discard stalks; rinse pot for late use.

In large sauté pan, add 3 tbsp. of oil, potato, onion, celery, carrot, parsley and garlic. Cook until vegetables are tender; set aside

In a medium sauté pan, add 3 tbsp. oil and cubed chicken breast, cook until lightly browned; set aside.

In stock pot, add chicken, sautéed vegetables, asparagus tips, reserved asparagus broth, chicken broth, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes. Cool slightly.

Add cream and remaining 1/4 tsp. of pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.

Makes about 10 servings (about 2 quarts).

I’m also sharing a bowl of my soup over at Premeditated Leftovers Tuesday Hearth & Soul Blog Hop.  This blog hop features recipes made from wholesome, healthy ingredients that are made from scratch.

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And if all of that isn’t enough – whew! I’m sharing the color yellow at She Wears Many Hats Share the Shot today.  Amy has decided yellow  is the color for this week’s assignment.   Check out all the pretty yellow things everyone has posted over there, including my Elegant Lemon-i-cious Cake

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So go ahead.  Do a little blog hopping yourselves!