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

REVIEW — Time for Dinner

Time for Dinner

Meal assembly businesses have sprung up in cities everywhere, and we have one of the better ones here in the Midwest.  We have been visiting this establishment nearly every month for the past two years.  We started after a co-worker told the story about her experience and we wanted to go, too.   It’s a lot of fun to go there after work with friends, and Dear Hubby tries to get involved whenever he can.  Sometimes we take a bottle of wine and sip a little while we are assembling.  I guess you could say this experience is one of our “whimsical” moments.  It’s just plain fun!

Even better, it’s a huge timesaver.  Remember I’ve mentioned that I’m a working girl, so I like to find ways to serve meals “at home” that are healthful and quick!  It is so easy to pop one of these entrees into the oven and then add a salad and vegetable.

Each month there are about 14 dishes to choose from, and typically we make the standard 6 entrees.  The menu selections are different each month.  Each entrée creates 6 servings – sometimes more. 

This month we selected the following six choices:

1.) Big Daddy’s Shrimp –  a shrimp dish involving orzo pasta that can be can be made on top of the stove.

2.) Bourbon Steak – steak rubbed with a blend of spices and drizzled with Bourbon sauce and crunchy onions

3.) Chicken Dijonnaise – I wouldn’t have thought to blend this combination together to create a scrumptious sauce topping, but it really works and we love it.

4.)  Chicken Pot Pie – this is the first time we have made this so we are eager to see how it turns out, but it certainly looked impressive while we were making it.

5.) Chicken Roulade – Wow!  This involves blending cheeses and herbs and rolling boneless chicken breast around the cheese mixture and the asparagus.  The whole thing is wrapped in a slice of bacon and sauce is spooned over the top.

6.)  Party Pork Tenderloin – lean pork tenderloins rolled in a blend of mustard and herbs and then rolled in a cracker crumb blend.  After this is cooked the raspberry sauce is drizzled over.  This can be used as an entrée to a meal or sliced thinly and passed as a warm appetizer.

We have made all of the entrees before at some point over the past couple of years with the exception of the Chicken Pot Pie, which is new to us this month. 

I am not a persnickety housekeeper (by far), but I am a bit obsessive about cleanliness in food preparation areas.  I was pleasantly surprised (relieved) to see that the operation is clean and I believe they take the same care with the handling of food that I demand in my own kitchen.

If you are concerned about the cuts of meat offered for the entrees, you need not be concerned.  I am always impressed with how fresh everything is and how neatly trimmed the meat is that is prepared in advance. 

The entrees are labeled with cooking instructions and nutritional information, including calorie count and Points.

It is a joy to go to TIme for Dinner because of the people that we meet.  All of the employees are cheerful and friendly, and even the owners take time from their busy schedule to stop by and chat with us – even on the busiest nights.

If you are curious about this activity check out their website for more details and references to their monthly menus.  There is also a great video describing what to expect when you go to prepare your meals and a Time for Dinner Facebook page where you can find a lot of people who seem to love this place as much as I do.

Assembled for the month…………..DebraJ

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

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.

Outstanding Turkey Cheese Pie

Cheese Turkey Pie
Handle the dough as little as possible and keep it cold.

This is the concoction that Dear Hubby begins asking about as soon as he sees a turkey being prepped.  It takes about 2 cups of turkey, light or dark or a combination of meat.  You can also stuff some turkey in a freezer bag to have it on hand to make these later.

Cheese Turkey Pie
Place the dough in the pie plate and shape the edges.

The crust bakes into a golden color and develops a nutty flavor because of the cheese that bakes into the crust.  I have used left over ham or chicken as a replacement for the turkey, and both work out well.  Believe me, in this case it’s all about the crust, so don’t be tempted to pick up a store bought crust this time.  Some of those “ready mades” are great, and I use them frequently, but it will substantially altar the outcome on this particular recipe.

Cheese Turkey Pie
Allow the pie to sit for about 10 minutes before slicing to serve.
Outstanding Turkey Cheese Pie
Every time the holidays call for a turkey, Dear Hubby asks if we can have the turkey pie again.
Serves: 4
CRUST - This is one of the key elements of this pie
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup butter
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 cups turkey, chopped
  • ½ cup celery, chopped
  • ½ cup green pepper, chopped
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 oz jar of pimentos, optional (it is very pretty, but doesn't impact the flavor in a big way)
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded.
  1. Combine flour and salt.
  2. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  3. Stir in ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese.
  4. Add cold water (one tablespoon at a time) and until dry ingredients are moistened.
  5. Try to handle the dough as little as possible.
  6. Shape the dough into a ball.
  7. Roll dough to ⅛ thickness on a lightly floured surface.
  8. Place in a 9-inch pie plate.
  9. Trim off excess pastry along the edges.
  10. Fold edges under and shape as desired.
NOTE: This works best in a shallow pie pan.
  1. Prick the bottom and sides of the pastry generously with a fork.
  2. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes.
  1. Combine turkey and remaining ingredients (Except Cheese) stirring well.
  2. Spoon mixture into baked pastry shell.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
  4. When the pie is removed from the oven and still hot, sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the top.
  5. Garnish with green peppers, if desired.
  6. Let stand an additional 10-minutes before serving.
FREEZE ME – you cannot successfully freeze the finished pie because it deteriorates during the thawing process.  But you can easily freeze 2 cup portions of turkey, ham or chicken in freezer bags awaiting  use the next time you area ready to put this one together.
Crusty greetings…………..DebraJ
I did not receive any compensation or free gifts to create this post.  The ideas and opinions are my own.

An Anniversary Trip Down Memory Lane

A wedding anniversary is ‘kind of’ a big deal.  It isn’t necessarily a time for elaborate gifts or extravagant celebrations, but it deserves a pause from this hectic thing called life to take a trip down memory lane.

Things have been a little hectic for me lately,  I have a lot of irons in the fire and have a been  juggling a lot of responsibilities, so it was welcome relief and appreciation when I received a simple e-mail from Dear Hubby that invited me for a “date” on Saturday night to celebrate our Anniversary.  I usually take the lead on planning for these sorts of things, but I think this year he sensed that my resources were low, so he took charge.

I did not know what he had planned but he told me I could dress casually, so I did.  Of course, I did have some tiny concerns about whether I was dressed appropriately because it’s a bummer to show up at the prom dressed in your picnic clothes, but I decided to trust him and just went with it.  As it turns out, he was correct.

He took me to Cusanelli’s,, which is a restaurant in the area near where we grew up and began dating.  In fact, we had some of our very first dates here stopping in after a movie.

Cusanelli's Restaurant
A quick phone shot of one portion of the famous mural.

Tonight I had the cannelloni with 1/2 red and 1/2 white sauce and Curt had some kind of a steak.  The food was not fancy but tasted good.  The crowd gathered there was casual and it was clear that this place is still popular with the locals.  They have great pizza, and although we were stuffed like a Christmas turkey when we left, we could smell the pizza as we walked to our car and we both agreed that it smelled delicious, even though we were far from hungry.

I did not realize this place had such a rich heritage when we were younger and dropping in on a date.  Cusanelli’s has been in business for 55 years, but prior to the birth of this Italian/American eatery, the structure itself was an Inn that dates back to the Spanish occupation west of the Mississippi.  Much later, in 1939, it was determined by a survey done during road construction to be exactly 8 miles from the courthouse at Market & Broadway, so the name 8-mile house still sticks even today.  Read more about this establishment’s fascinating history on their website.  There were a number of famous people who visited, including one individual who still has an outstanding bar tab.  They also have a facebook page.

The structure’s history is all cool, but our self-absorbed memory of this place has more to do with two teenagers with stars in their eyes who eventually fell in love and raised a family.  Now that’s a historical memory that has some real value.

Nostalgically yours………….DebraJ

I did not receive any compensation or receive any free gifts when I created this post.  The ideas and opinions are my own.

REVIEW – Great Value Apricot Pineapple Preserves

Great Value Apricot Pineapple Preserves

I picked these up at the store because I had never seen this particular combination before.  I always pause around the aisle that contains the jelly & jam because my son-in-law really likes jelly, so I am always looking for something different to offer to him if he is at the house.  When I saw apricot pineapple, I was intrigued.

Yes — this is yummy on whole wheat toast.  I think anyone would be delighted with this product as a basic topping on toast.  I was wondering about a couple of other ways this combo might be used.

I have a basic chicken recipe that requires the boneless breasts be flattened, then they are sauteed in the pan before some chicken broth and wine is added.  I wonder if a couple of tablespoons of these preserves with a 1/2 teaspoon of soy would give the entree a bit of an Asian flair.  It could then be served on a rice pilaf with a sprinkling of sliced scallions.

Another idea would be to make up a sauce for grilled wings and include the preserves as the sweetener.  Drop the hot wings directly into the sauce from the grill and then remove and drain.  This is a variation on the numerous recipes for wing sauce.

I’ll probably pick up another jar of this product.  The combination of sweet pineapple with the more hearty apricot flavor was right on.

50 calories per serving.


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