Fresh Fruits and Vegetables – Coop Day!

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We participate in the Community Helpings Coop in the St. Louis area and we truly enjoy the experience.  Every other week (or so) we pick up an assortment of fruits and vegetables.  The excitement builds as we consider what we are going to make with the items that come in the produce basket.  I guess you could say it is one of those whimsical events.

This experience has forced us to work with foods that we haven’t used before.  As an example, we had never cooked or eaten kohlrabi and we found that we actually like it a lot.  I find myself looking for it in the stores, and I never find it.  The only place I have found it outside of the Coop has been at Soulard Market.

This time we received apples, oranges, bananas, cantaloupe, strawberries, leeks, broccoli, carrots, turnips, spring mix, acorn squash, grapefruit and tomatoes.

It’s a fairly cool set up — the order for the produce basket is placed on-line by Friday at 8 p.m. and then we pick up from the site on Monday evening.  In addition to the produce basket we can purchase other items that are available, including chia seeds, flax meal, and other nutritious foods.

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Hooked on Produce………… DebraJ

I did not receive any compensation or receive any free items for this post.  The ideas and opinions are my own.


Easter Menu Decoration

Easter Menu Decoration

I found the template for this cute bunny at “Holiday with Matthew Mead” and I saw the template used in a variety of ways, one of which was a cut out with the menu printed on it and a pretty white carnation as the tail.  I thought I might replicate that for each place setting for our Easter dinner but I decided to frame my menu and I added a cotton ball to the outside of the frame for the bunny tail.  Take a look!

This year we had chicken breast baked in the oven with Cranberry Gravy.  On the side we had stuffing with onions and apples and pecans, roasted whole carrots with crushed pistachios, and green beans with sesame oil seasoning.  We also had deviled eggs, but I didn’t remember to bring them to the table until I was getting the cream for coffee out of the refrigerator.  I went ahead and put them out and the dinner guests didn’t seem to be bothered by their late arrival as they dug into them.

Dessert was a lemon meringue pie and a chocolate eclair cake with some freshly brewed coffee.

BB_Easter Menu.4Dinner was rather low key since it was all adults.  No kiddies pushing for Easter egg hunts or other such activities.  I enjoyed all my guests but always see the four empty chairs at the table from those who are too far away.
  I remember the days, not so very long ago, when I was preparing Easter Baskets, assembling a new set of spring clothes for each little one in the house, and putting shiny new shoes on tiny little feet.  Who knew it would all go so fast?

Bunny tracks..……….DebraJ

I have not received any compensation or free gifts to create this post.  The ideas and opinions are my own.

Fantasy Menu Planning – Easter Dinner # 3



Fantasy Easter Menu Planning - Easter Dinner #


Easter Dinner Menu # 3

 The third menu will satisfy some of our vegetarian readers beginning with a beautiful Garden Lasagna packed with spinach, mushrooms, roasted peppers and other good items, including a fair amount of luscious cheese.  This recipe was found at “The Curvy Carrot” and the description of the preparation is an enjoyable read.

A rich cheesy lasagna is just begging for some warm crusty bread, and I found some at “Roxana’s Home Baking” that looked perfect.   Visit the site to read the recipe for Chickpea Flour Bread.   There are some great photographs of the bread and it made me long for a knife and some butter.

I think this entrée and bread should be preceded by a lovely salad and I found one at “Garnish with Lemon” that will be spectacular.  It is titled Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese, Craisins and Balsalmic Vinaigrette.   What’s not to love here?!

I think this meal would be accompanied well with some chianti or cabernet.

To bring this lovely meal to a close we will sign off on the cutest dessert from Buttercream Blondie.  The Cadbury Mini Egg Cheesecake Dessert – is so cute!  But as cute as it appears, it has some serious rich goodness with all the fresh creamy butter, brown sugar and Cadbury Eggs!  Go take a look!

So, for one more time….
Let’s recap…………

Spinach salad with Goat Cheese, Craisins and Balsalmic Vinaigrette

Garden Lasagna

Chickpea Flour Bread

Red, red wine

Cadbury Mini Egg Cheesecake Dessert

and of course….hot coffee!


So this concludes our fun with the Fantasy Easter Menus.  I have found so many great blog sites during my research and I hope you enjoy visiting them.

We’ll do Fantasy Menu planning again – for sure!

Now it’s time to plan the REAL menu……………DebraJ

I have not received any compensation or free gifts to create this post.  The ideas and opinions are my own.

Check Fantasy Easter Dinner # 1 and Fantasy Easter Dinner # 2 for more ideas.

Fantasy Menu Planning — Easter Dinner # 2

Fantasy Menu Planning - Easter Dinner # 2


Easter Dinner Menu # 2

Holidays are the perfect time for friends and family to gather and enjoy each other.  An appetizer and cocktail period is a nice touch for catching up before the main dinner begins.

This Easter menu will have a different format.  As guests arrive they will be served a flute filled with Verdi Peach Sparkletini.  A couple of fresh sweet raspberries will float around in the wine.  This will be paired with a Spinach & Artichoke Dip served on a side table while guests are mingling.  This recipe can be found on “Cooking Tip of the Day.”

After your guests are seated they will be served a small bowl of Chilled Pea Soup with Crispy Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Croutons, which looks completely yummy and exotic and was found at “Farmgirl Gourmet.”

The main entree will be Cranberry Raspberry Pork Tenderloin. Head over to “Delicious Shots” to take in the beautiful photos and interesting story surrounding this great-looking entree.

A visually appealing main dish like that requires a worthy partner to serve on the side,  so I have chosen Roasted Asparagus found on “Key Ingredients” with some great photos to show just how beautiful a basic vegetable like asparagus can look on your plate.

A fine holiday dinner is never complete without the final course — dessert.   On “Crunchy Creamy Sweet” I found Lemon Bundt Cake based on a buttermilk batter with a delicate and drippy powder sugar glaze.  Served with piping hot coffee, of course.

So, let’s recap……..

Verdi Peach Sparkletini

Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Chilled Pea Soup with Crispy Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Croutons

Cranberry Raspberry Pork Tenderloin

Roasted Asparagus

Lemon Bundt Cake

Steaming Hot Coffee

Holidays are a wonderful time to entertain and experiment with some new recipes.  It’s a lot of fun to drag out the fancy dishes and utensils that don’t get used very often.

Still on the prowl for another menu..………...DebraJ

Check back later for Fantasy Easter Dinner # 3

Click here if you want to review Fantasy Easter Dinner # 1

I have not received any compensation or free gifts to create this post.  The ideas and opinions are my own.

Fantasy Menu Planning — Easter Dinner # 1

Fantasy Menu Planning - Easter Dinner # 1

Easter Dinner Menu # 1

It took quite some time to make my selections and  gather the links to all of these scrumptious menu items because I became so distracted during the search.  There are some amazing blogs out there and the variety of recipe creations are without limit.

For this menu I began with the main dish as roasted ham, which has been fairly standard for our home-cooked feasts during this holiday.  I found an intriguing version entitled “Sweet & Spicy Ham” found at “What’s Cookin’ Chicago?” and I decided this would be a perfect place to begin.  I thought a great accompaniment would be “Potato Galette” with thinly sliced Yukon gold potatoes and sweet onions.  Head over to “Yummy Supper” to check out the full recipe and beautiful photographs.  Going along with our more traditional theme, we’ll add “Green Beans with Walnuts” to go with the pink ham and the lovely golden potato galette.  (

Because everything else is traditional, we are going to zing our guests with a more non-traditional salad.  Check out “Recipe Girl” for the instructions for their version of “Marinated Kale Salad with Apples and Oranges.”  This salad looks magnificent and I would be excited to serve this to my guests.

After this delicious meal it is time to wind down and relax with some dessert and coffee.  Returning to my traditional boundaries I have decided on pie, found at “Cosmo Cookie.”  Beautiful “Raspberry Pie” sounds so sweet-tangy and spring-like.  When I perused the photographs of this pie on their website I was influenced by how simple and delicious this would be to set off a great meal.  It isn’t  too different, but it is a little more exotic than the more common fruit pies.  I would like to pair the pie with some delicious “Iced Coffee” and I found one I liked at “Sugar & Cloth” because it looked so creamy & refreshing.


Okay – let’s recap!

Sweet & Spicy Ham

Potato Galette

Green Beans with Walnuts

Marinated Kale Salad with Apples and Oranges


Raspberry Pie

Iced Coffee

Check out my fellow bloggers by following the links from the listed menu items. 

They have a lot to offer and I am sure you will enjoy reading.

Check back for Fantasy Menu Planning for Easter Dinner # 2….by DebraJ

Easter Sunday is early this year — Let Spring rush in!


Fantasy Menu Planning - Easter Dinner 2012


Easter is rushing in early this year.  This holiday holds a high and jubilant meaning for us, but it also signals the end of winter and the beginning of SPRING!  Spring –  when all things are new, all possibilities are renewed, and the great orb in the sky shines brightly.  Ah, the smell of the air, the dew in the mornings, the buds on the trees, the birds chattering, the texture of fresh earth as you turn it over in your garden.  God surely uses this season to remind us of His presence everywhere we turn.  Probably the only thing in nature that is more spiritual to me than the joy of Spring is watching the ocean.  But, since I am land-locked in the Midwest, I don’t get to see the great ocean very often. But I love spring – have I mentioned that yet?

Easter dinners have frequently been eaten in a restaurant but there have been times when I have prepared the meal at home.  This is a great opportunity to bring out the spring accessories and refresh your household just as God’s nature is renewed.

One of the most enjoyable phases of planning for Easter dinner (or any entertainment, for that matter) is deciding upon the menu.  I have collected cookbooks for many years, but with the prolific foodie talent on the internet, that is hardly necessary any longer.

With that in mind, I have a thought.  Fantasy football is certainly a successful and entertaining activity for many, so we are going to do some Fantasy menu planning.

I will search food blogs and create three Easter menus.  The menus will have links back to the blog where the original post can be found.  I don’t know if I will make all the recipes I use for these menus, but I plan to have a LOT of fun creating the possibilities.  Who knows, perhaps one of them will end up as the final cut for our own Easter Dinner here at home.

Fantasy Menu Planning begins………………..DebraJ

I have not received any compensation or free products to create this post.  The ideas and opinions are my own.

Reflections on Loss


We have all experienced it – profound loss.  It comes in many ways, but for me it came again with the loss of a well-loved family member.  She was a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, friend, and to me – she was an aunt.

We didn’t live in the same state, but I was lucky enough to see her frequently throughout my childhood and I always identified with her and loved her a lot.

I suspect she did not know that she had significant influence on me during those formative years.  As a child I observed her as a role model, and I always felt affirmation from her anytime I opened my mouth to speak.  When I approached those uncertain teen years, she never made me feel small or immature, no matter what I said.  Our discussions made me feel as though I was as much an adult as she – and that my contribution to the conversation had equal value.   My parents were active and supportive in my childhood, of course, but it was such a gift to me to gain confidence from someone outside the parental boundary.

She was famous for her quick and encouraging smile.  I think we all benefited from that – and it was her God given gift.  She never had to develop that asset.

So frequently we consider our relationship with a loved one after they have left this life.  That reflection is so pure, and it leaves us with the wish that we could talk to them one more time just to tell them what they meant to us.  While we may remember to show appreciation for our family & friends throughout their lives, it rarely has the depth of our own understanding that we seem to gain once they are gone.

Death is a cruel visitor for those of us left behind.

I hope and pray that sometime in my life I have the opportunity to positively influence someone – even just one person – the way she influenced me.


Reflect often………..DebraJ

6 ways to use plastic lunchmeat containers — repurpose

Today I offer a post from a guest writer – Dear Hubby — where he shares some ways to recycle, repurpose, and reorganize.


Do you have any of those plastic lunchmeat containers? You know, the “throw away” tubs. I know you have seen them, have some or have thrown out several. They can be very handy little tubs to have for a variety of things. I use them for many items around the house, hobbies and in the workshop.

They come in a few varieties; some with colorful lids that can be used to “color code” different items as well as the ones with clear lids. The clear ones I have found easy to label with a marker. Just thought I would share a few things with you where I find a handy use for them. This can be a great “repurpose” project. The landfills don’t need them:

Six ways to Re-Use Plastic Lunchmeat Containers

  • · Paint containers for small projects and touch-up.

These small lightweight tubs are very useful for a small amount to paint for baseboards, small projects, touch-up work, etc. I have found jostling around a large can or even a pint can be cumbersome. They also work well for storing small amounts of paint and can easily be labeled for touch ups later. I find it is best for use with latex paints without solvents.

  • · Small Parts Containers.

I once had several coffee cans of small parts in the workshop. You know how it’s hard to throw extra parts away. You may need those parts sometime later. When these parts are stored n a can, you have to open each one to see what is actually inside. These little tubs make it very simple to see the parts right through the container.

6 ways to use containers


  • · Assembly Projects.

I wish I had thought of this a few years ago when the kids were young and I was putting their Christmas gifts together. During those years, I would open a bag of parts, and there seemed to be hundreds, and I would look everywhere to find the one I needed only to find I was missing one and had to search high and low. The tubs solve the problem of keeping the parts together and within reach.

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  • · Tackle box.

The tubs make an excellent small tackle box. They are great to take the amount of lures, hooks, weights, etc., you need without hauling a large tackle box to your favorite fishing spot. They clean up easily and are durable. Of course, when they do wear out, they are easily replaced.


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  • · Golf Tees.

I keep a container with nothing but golf tees. The tubs are a good place to store them and keep them from being in every pocket of your golf bag. Also, the tubs are small enough to put it one of the larger zipper pockets.


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  • · Drawer Organizers.

I have a 2 drawer metal cabinet in my workshop and I use these handy containers to keep things in their correct place. You can use the lids if you wish and the clear ones can be marked. Most of my containers for this purpose do not have the lids on them, but they are a lot cheaper than buying drawer organizers at the store and keeps the drawers cleaner.

These are just a few of my ideas, I am certain there are many uses you can think of for these little pieces of “trash” as well.


Thanks to Dear Hubby for the organizational tips!