Monthly Archives: October 2016

Country Ham and Smoked Cheddar Quiche Tartlets

October 25, 2016, posted by Gina breakfast-tarts



A few side notes: I found the tart pans at Williams Sonoma. To avoid purchasing more ham than was needed, I went to the salad bar at my grocery and purchased the exact amount needed.

Cookbook Club Halloween Luncheon


October 6, 2016, posted by Gina – For our October Cookbook Club luncheon our hostess went all out with a Halloween theme. Her decorations were so fun and her place setting certainly set the mood.

We began outside where we were greeted with this cute candy corn floral arrangement filled with mums, roses dianthus and seeded eucalyptus.  candy-corn-flowers

Next to this was this wonderful drink table complete with Spanish moss, glasses with spiders on them and fun decorations. The large punch bowl held several nice bottles of wine after I snapped this shot. Close to this great setup was a table filled with individual bottles of “Witches Brew”.  As you can see from the label there is a warning on it as well it should have been.  It looked innocent but packed a punch!


This large pumpkin with beautiful flowers coming out of the mouth was on the kitchen table. I think we all know what that symbolized but we won’t mention that in this post! The place settings on the kitchen table were complete with a colorful leaf charger topped with black and white skeleton plates and a pumpkin bowl on top.



Moving into the dining room, we found the table complete with a lighted centerpiece and place settings that began with beautiful linen placemats, Annie Glass chargers and dessert bowls and black and white cob web plates.  The centerpiece was filled with not only flowers but also skeleton hands, an orange boa and skull head.


Along with all of these fabulous decorations that really put us in the Halloween spirit, we enjoyed a delicious lunch. Our hostess even asked us to dress up as you can see from this photo of a few of the members of our group.


We are currently cooking out of the cookbooks Southern Sideboards and Come on In both from the Junior League of Jackson, Mississippi.  Here was our menu:


Zucchini Cheese Spread from Come On In
Hot Chipped Beef Dip from Southern Sideboards

Cream of Carrot Soup from Come On In

Marinated Vegetable Salad from Southern Sideboards

Main Course

Chicken with Mushroom Madeira Sauce from Come On In
Brussels Sprouts with Hot Bacon Dressing from Southern Sideboards

Hot Milk Cake with Caramel Icing from Come On In
Devil’s Food Cake from Southern Sideboards

I would like to share my favorite recipe of the day with you which was the cream of carrot soup.

First, I do not like cooked carrots. I love them raw but something changes for me once they are cooked. So it was very surprising to me that I loved the carrot soup as much as I did. It has a wonderful creamy texture and a savory taste. Many times you find sugar added with carrots and that is not the case with this recipe which is why I think I liked it so much. I am sorry I don’t have a photo to share of this but, as you know, I get to talking and don’t photograph everything. This soup is a beautiful bright orange color and would be fabulous for any fall meal you are preparing.

Cream of Carrot Soup Come on In


½ cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley (2 tbs. dried)
1 pound carrots, finely chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 tbs. unsalted butter
1 tbs. all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock
3 large egg yolks
½ cup heavy cream
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish


Sauté the chopped cilantro and vegetables in butter until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.  Stir in flour and cook 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in chicken stock, cover, cook over medium heat until carrots are soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Strain cooked vegetables and return stock pan. Process vegetable mixture, 2 cups at a time, until smooth. Add puree to stock, stirring until smooth. Process egg yolks and cream until blended. With processor running, gradually add 1 cup hot soup. Stir in egg yolk mixture gradually into remaining hot soup.  Stir in pepper and simmer until slightly thickened and hot – do not boil. Just before serving, sprinkle with chopped cilantro or parsley.

Fall Centerpiece Tutorial

October 2016

As promised in the post “A Fresh Autumn Tablescape”, here is a step-by-step guide on how to create a fall arrangement for the table. In this tutorial, Gina shows you how to transform a run of the mill pre-mixed bouquet into a beautiful centerpiece.mark



1. Supplies needed: flowers, two packets of floral preservative, large clear vase, container for centerpiece, floral foam, a container for soaking the floral foam, floral knife and scissors.

2. For the container that will be used to soak the floral foam – pour in the contents of a packet of floral preservative and fill with water. I am often asked if the floral preservative actually works and if it is really necessary. The answers are yes and yes; the floral preservative will help the flowers stay fresher longer.

3. Place the foam in the water. When soaking floral foam, do not push the foam down or let water run on top of it. Simply drop the foam into water that is deep enough to cover it. Let the foam sink down. When you no longer see any bubbles and it is no longer sinking, it is ready. The foam can only take in a certain amount of water so soaking for a long time really does not add any more water to the foam.

4. Be sure that the container for the arrangement is something that is low so that once flowers are added it will not be so tall that your guests will have to talk over or around it. I used a birch container lined with plastic. If you can’t find something like this, you can line the exterior container with plastic, a baggie or a small trash bag. Be sure it is water tight so the moisture does not damage your table.


5. Cut the plastic wrap and rubber bands off of the flowers.

6. Give the flowers a fresh cut and place them in a vase or some type of temporary vessel with floral food and water. This fresh cut helps rejuvenate them and provides a longer life. It is best to let the flowers sit in this vase for several hours or even overnight if you have the time.

7. Put the soaked foam in the container.

8. For this arrangement I began arranging with the lilies. Lilies make really a big statement so although there are only three, they have quite an impact on the design. When placing flowers in floral foam, always give them a fresh cut and make sure the insertion is at least two inches to ensure the flowers are getting enough water. Next I added the alstromeria and then finished with the viburnum. That is all this arrangement needed. Small, round and happy!

I picked up the flowers for this arrangement at the grocery store for $19. I filled it in with some additional viburnum that I bought separately. Since these flowers had lots of leaves I did not need to use greenery but if you have empty space you could always fill in with some greenery from your yard.