Oktoberfest prep

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 | | 30 comments
The W********g Annual Oktoberfest

I look forward to this every year. It's grown in size over the years to welcome new friends and neighbors. There is nothing better than a crisp fall evening filled with great friends and good food.

These photos are from a few years ago. I cannot seem to locate the pictures I took last year. It must be the computer because we all know I'm a tech wizard! :)


I made the vine arbor for our front door and back patio french door a few years back. It is strung with white lights and as the season nears, I {read my husband} pulls them down from the garage attic and I decorate them with some of autumns natural beauty.

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One of the many appetizers I made.

These delicious bites are mini meatballs filled with herbed goat cheese and accompanied with a dipping sauce.

The baby jack pumpkins are hollowed out and filled with different mustards for the sausages we serve.

I begin searching for recipes and planning the menu in late August before the craziness of school and fall activities begin.

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Our home is filled both indoors and outdoors with dear friends. To be honest, it's like Christmas only better!

402761911_Nick and Mom in the kitchen

Do you remember when I told you how wonderful it is to have an assistant? Here he is taking over for me. The glass of wine in my hand sort of cancels out the effectiveness of my apron as I'm no longer actually cooking.

Thank again Nicholas!

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Spicy chicken filled wontons ~ very yummy.

402770650_sausages and sauerkraut

Hot off the grill.

Each year I make two different soups and my husband grills a variety of sausages. As "fillers" I make any where from 10 to 15 different appetizers. I always warn our guests not to eat a few days prior to the date.

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I really need to share this one with you. It's a caramelized onion, pear and blue cheese galette. Not only is it insanely good but it's oh so easy to put together.

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I love to turn gourds and squash into serving pieces. This is an acorn squash that I hollowed out, put in the oven to warm and used as a vessel for a warm dip.

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An Oktoberfest staple ~ bierrocks

402773795_with boz

Our guests wanted to meet Bozley {he was just a pup back then} so Nicholas brought him down to meet and greet. I guess it will be Bentley's turn this year.

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A quick shot of our patio as our guests were arriving.

I've been busy {hence the lack of real posts} working on all the details for this years Oktoberfest. I've been flying solo as my husband has been touring the West Coast.

As of date I've accomplished ...

*Made and sent the invitations
*Decided on our soups
*Appetizer menu created
*Grocery list for event completed
*Ordered the paper goods
*Package store {that's what we call liquor stores on the East Coast} order placed
*Making and freezing a few of the appetizers.

I'll show you a few of the other things I'm working on when they are completed.

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Sunday Salad

Saturday, September 25, 2010 | | 9 comments

I have been so hungry for mexican food the past few days. We don't have a really good mexican fiesta near us here in Connecticut. But if you're ever in Michigan, I can give you directions to the best little hole in the wall you've ever been. I assure you that I've tried many mexican restaurants on our tour of the US. This salad certainly took care of that craving. Just for the record, it's not one of *those* cravings ;)

Fajita Salad
lettuce of your choice
1 orange pepper cut into strips
1 yellow pepper cut into strips
1 red pepper cut into strips
1 medium red onion cut in half and then sliced
2tbs olive oil
1tbs fresh lime juice
1tbs soy sauce
1 large tomato cut in half and then sliced
1 cup grated cheese of your liking
1/2 can of black olives sliced in half
1/2 cup guacamole
1tbs sour cream
1/2 cup salsa verde
1 chicken breast grilled and sliced
1 small sirloin steak grilled and sliced

Combine all the peppers and onion in a zip lock bag. Add the oil, lime juice and soy sauce. Let this marinate for at least a half hour. I have a grill basket that I put the peppers and onions in so they won't fall through the grill. Grill the chicken and steak after the veggies are on. Remove when the peppers and onions are tender and the meat is done to your liking. Let the meat sit for a few minutes before slicing.

On each plate begin with lettuce. Add slices of meat followed by the peppers and onion. Sprinkle on grated cheese. Add a dollop of guacamole, tomatoes and top with black olives.

My secret dressing ~ it's very complicated. Ready?
Mix the sour cream and salsa together. Drizzle over salad.
Yep, it's that easy and super yummy!


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Sunday Salad

Sunday, September 19, 2010 | | 21 comments
I must admit that this is a major comfort food for me. Quite often when my husband is away on travel I'll make it for supper {or lunch} numerous times as I just can't seem to get enough.

This "recipe" can be as easy or as intricate as you like. In my family we've come to really enjoy pizza on the grill. The flavor is amazing and the options are endless. To be honest, I don't think we have ever made the same combination twice and we've been doing this for years! I've purchased frozen pizzas at Trader Joe's before and used them as my base when I was busy or in a rush. The Mediterranean pizzas are my favorite but that is a personal preference. Any would work nicely.

This is the recipe I used in the photos. Give it a try; I know you'll be hooked ;)


Pizza Salad

Pizza dough {I use Trader Joe's}
4 cloves of garlic pressed {use the amount you like}
5 tbsp. olive oil
*Combine the garlic and oil for the "sauce"
Handful of baby spinach
1 cup of fresh mozzarella cut into thin slices
2 medium tomatoes sliced
Roasted red and yellow peppers
1 grilled chicken breast sliced

Mixed greens {amount depends on how big of a salad you desire}
Chopped fresh yellow, orange and red peppers
Roughly chopped tomatoes
Dressing of choice
Toss together and add dressing. Let sit while pizza is cooking

Place tiles or stone on grill and heat to low temperature. I divided the dough into 3 small balls for three pizzas. Place dough on grill tiles and cook just until slightly done. Flip the dough and layer the ingrediants starting with the cheese, spinach, tomatoes, chicken, and finally roasted peppers. Remove from grill and let cool just slightly. Cut pizza into manageable slices so that it isn't too difficult to cut once served. Add tossed salad to top and again let it sit for a few minutes so that the lettuce begins to wilts.


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I've got the blues ...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 | | 30 comments
The Carolina Blues

My sweet boy {who really isn't a boy any longer} returned to North Carolina for fall session a few weeks ago. Is it wrong that I've been checking off the days until he returns for fall break? :)

He loves being there and all that it has to offer. I can see it in his face and hear it in his voice. I'm happy for that. Really I am.

That doesn't make my missing him any easier though.  

 {jokingly posing for his annual back to school shot}

He was born with a smile on his face {but not that scruffy beard that I don't care for :)} and even when he's upset, it isn't long before the corners begin to creep back up into their natural state.

There is an unwelcoming silence each time he leaves to go back to school. This year that silence is so loud, it's deafening! I'm really having a hard time with his absence. I miss the daily interactions in our home and the casual conversations that ensue.

Nicholas has the ability to change the disposition of a room just by entering. His personality is big and lively and all encompassing.


He is kind and generous. Over the past few years I've really enjoyed our conversations as he begins to form his own personal thoughts and feelings towards the "hot topics."  We may not always see eye to eye on every topic {and that's ok} but he is growing and finding his way in this very big world with so many challenging hurdles. I value his perspectives and am humbled at times by his wisdom at such a young age.  His fortitude is strong and will carry him well through his adventures in life.


Never to be the follower, even as a toddler, he is a leader and steps out of the way for those that choose a path he wouldn't consider. Before doing so, he takes the time to share with them the possibilities of where their choices may lead them and the consequences that could follow. I marvel at his strength and smile within knowing that he was listening to us during those formative years and tucked our words away for safe keeping.


 Nicholas is often my right hand man when we have parties or large gatherings.Willing to jump in and help without being asked. He knows exactly what to do and is on the spot even before I have a chance to form the directive words. He cooks, hosts, converses and the best ~ he helps clean up after the last guest has left! He has even been known to change his plans for the evening and take over the kitchen just so that I have the ability to enjoy my guests.


Nicholas, always remember that you are my greatest accomplishment. I expect great things from you as your life unfolds and you continue your journey through life. You are an amazing and talented young man.

I am SO proud of you!

I love you tons and tons,

I hope he knows just how much I love him. I tell him every chance I get but does he understand the depth of those simple words?

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Sunday Salad

Sunday, September 12, 2010 | | 11 comments

Italian Chopped Salad

2 large {or 3 small} romaine lettuce hearts chopped
1 cup {or more}fresh basil roughly cut
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
5 large radishes halved and sliced
1/2 pepperoncini  sliced
1/2 jar artichoke hearts {I prefer Trader Joe's}
1 cup roasted peppers roughly sliced {I use a mix of red and yellow}
1/2 kalamata olives halved
1 cup red onion thinly sliced
1 large {or 2 medium} tomatoes chopped
1 cup {or so} fresh mozzarella  cut into bite size pieces *
1 cup Genoa salami cut into thin slices
2 chicken roasted breasts sliced

Layer the ingredients in desired order. Make sure you have a large enough bowl or platter so that you can toss it table side.

* I wasn't paying attention and bought sheets of mozzarella at BJs. That's why the cheese on our salad is flat slices. It's a great product but not what I wanted for this recipe.

2/3 cup olive oil
6 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs Dijon mustard
4-6 cloves garlic pressed
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sugar

To accompany this salad, I made my rich {and warm} french onion soup. We enjoyed supper on our back patio with a nice warm fire blazing in the fire place.
I'm looking forward to many more cool autumn evenings on the patio here in New England. You're welcome to join us any time ;)

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In training

Saturday, September 11, 2010 | | 9 comments
It was one of those perfect kinda days here in New England.
The weather is starting to cool off during the day and the nights are crisp which makes for sweet slumber.

Late this afternoon, I had the ingenious idea of taking Bentley and Bozley for a walk. Mind you, Bentley has had a collar on all of twice {for a very short period of time} and never with a leash attached.

What was I thinking?

They are bulldogs ... as in stubborn ... like a bull.


I'll give Bentley the benefit that we do have the longest driveway in our cul-de-sac  but seriously, it shouldn't take 20 minutes to get the bottom.

I lost count as to how many times we had to stop to

chew on the leash 
chase an acorn
hop on a leaf
chew on a stick 
sniff and lick a blade of grass.


This certainly wasn't the caloric reducing walk I had envisioned.


You know it's bad when Bozley looks at you and rolls his eyes.

But on the flip side, it certainly was entertaining!

Hope you had a relaxing, enjoyable and entertaining Saturday.

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Poor little guy

Wednesday, September 8, 2010 | | 23 comments
This little guy threw our holiday weekend plans for a big loop. Our weekend was packed full of gatherings with friends, a big benefit dinner with a live auction and finishing up our powder room remodeling project.

Unbeknownst to us, Bentley had other plans ...

He slept a lot on Friday {not uncommon for a puppy} and became very lethargic into the late evening. A while later, he began running a fever. We were up all night checking on him. By 5:30 Saturday morning we knew we were in trouble. His temp was 104.7 and he wouldn't eat or drink. Within minutes we were on our way to the animal hospital. Following a battery of tests and chest x-rays, it was confirmed that our little guy had pneumonia. This is dangerous in all puppies but for a bulldog, it's even more extreme as their compromised {smooshed} faces affect their airways.

He was placed in intensive care {or as my husband referred to it as "expensive care"} and put on IVs for fluid and antibiotics. Due to his high fever, Bentley was put in an incubator to regulate his temperature and administer his nebulizer treatments. Can you say Cha Ching?!

At the site of this listless little guy and the possibilities of his illness, I was sobbing like a baby. My eyes were so swollen my own family members wouldn't have recognized me in a line up ~ I truly am pathetic!

Two days later he returned home with his bag of antibiotics and required daily steam baths.

Yes, you read that correctly, my husband or I must sit in our master bathroom with our little bullie steaming away. It's almost like a spa treatment only not as enjoyable!

The first morning {as in 5am} Bentley was home I was sitting in the chair holding him. He was a little punky and just wanted to be held. Out of nowhere from behind, Bozley bounded over the chair to join us.

Animals are not allowed on the furniture in our home but my husband was laughing so hard {he saw the whole thing unfold} at the event he grabbed the camera.

{It's 5am and I had just woken up ~ no comments; please}

Little by little Bentley is feeling better. Secretly, I think Bozley missed his little buddy and was happy to have him home. He follows him around the house and protects him. I must admit that it's rather cute and most comical to witness.


Thankfully we have an amazing neighbor and friend that has offered to peek in on Bentley during the day and tend to a few of his needs while I'm at school. What a relief knowing he is in good hands!

With a son in college, I honestly thought all baby mothering was behind me ... Ugh!

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Sunday Salad

Sunday, September 5, 2010 | | 9 comments

I had this salad years ago and loved it so much that I wrote the ingredients down before we left the restaurant. The beauty of this salad is that you can make it as big or small depending on the number of people you're serving and the taste doesn't change. I love salads that you can tweak and they don't lose their balance.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we all do!

Agapi Pasta Salad

Layer in the order ingredients appear

3 cups mixed greens
2 cups spinach
2 cups bowtie or penne pasta {I use Dreamfields}
2 grilled chicken breasts sliced

6 strips of bacon chopped {I use turkey bacon}
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions

1cup cherry tomatoes halved
1/3 cup gorgonzola or blue cheese

Balsamic vinaigrette {we like Paul Newman's light}

I don't dress the whole salad as I always make extra for lunch the next day. It holds up well in the frig over night.


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Introducing ...

Thursday, September 2, 2010 | | 31 comments


He is our sweet new English Bulldog puppy. We are thrilled {with the exception of the wee hour wake up calls} with our new little guy. He is 9 weeks old and is fitting into our family very nicely. Bozley is doing an amazing job of  protecting this guy and showing him the ropes :)

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