Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Pre-Dinner Winner

Thanksgiving, America's Holiday! Whether it's your first rodeo or your fiftieth, the stress of the cooking the treasured Thanksgiving cuisine is generally pretty high. The idea of perfectly preparing recipes, tediously timing their delivery, and pleasing a plethora of palates would make any Iron Chef quiver in their Crocs! Although we may wish for the Norman Rockwell rendition of Thanksgiving dinner, the truth is many Americans are subjected to the limitations of time, money, and ingenuity when it comes to preparing this picturesque meal. In my Hallmark card world, I would spend the day before the sacred event  prepping and planning so we could enjoy a lunchtime feast the next day. Thanksgiving evening would be observed by drinking Uncle Jimmy's "special" cider, dancing the Polka, and maybe even a little karaoke by the firelight...Ahhh, the perfect Dostal-Thornton Thanksgiving...My reality is the prep work, the cooking, AND the cleaning will all be done on Thanksgiving day putting meal time closer to dusk. Goodness knows I don't want anyone to spoil their supper, but I always need something to keep these ravenous little piggies at bay! Sound faintly familiar? This year, let's all scrap the store-bought, pre cut, plastic preserved, veggie platters and impress your guests with this modern remake of a Charcuterie plate. The most wonderful thing about this assortment is that it's a NO COOKING REQUIRED appetizer! That's one less dish keeping you away from your favorite football game and those Macy's floats! Yippee! The items listed below are suggestions that can aid you in creating your own Charcuterie. Your guests will have a splendid time exploring their own custom flavor combinations and will be impressed by your gastronomic knowledge. In addition to this artisanal assortment, have a red and white wine available with water and/or tea to keep the thirst quenched and the spirits jolly. Again, the items listed below do not need to be cooked and are probably best served straight out of the can. The beauty of this bevy of eats is simplicity!

Create Your Own Charcuterie Components:

*Smoked Almonds or Mixed Party Nuts

*Whole Green Olives or Whole Kalamata Olives

*Baby Gherkins

*Caper Berries- A bit pricey but worth it for that gourmet touch

*Pearl Onions

*Artichoke Hearts- Available in cans and jars, be sure to drain thoroughly

*Roasted Red Peppers
*Arugula- The perfect edible garnish to "line" your tray

*Fresh Apple and Pear Slices- Don't forget to brush these with lemon juice to prevent browning

*Dried Fruit- Try dried Apricots, Cranberries, Raisins, or even Cherries

*Preserved Meats- Try Salami, Prosciutto or pre sliced Pepperoni

*Cheese- A variety of (3) is nice, Chevre for spreading, Brie for stacking, and Bleu Cheese for KICK

*Relish or Tapenade

*Jam or Preserves- Fig and Pig are a match made in hungry heaven

*Whole Grain Mustard

* Assortment Crackers- Bagel Chips and Pretzel Rod's are also great "vessels"
*Sliced Breads- Consider Rye Toast minis, French bread hunks, and Pita triangles

Start with a beautiful tray; perhaps the one Granny gave you at a bridal shower or a variety of fun and quirky bowls you found at last weekend's garage sale. Be sure to include serving utensils such a spreaders, toothpicks, pickle forks; no silverware necessary. Small paper plates and cocktail napkins make for easy clean up- why not color coordinate them to your autumnal table scape? Also remember to strategically place your plate. If you want company in the kitchen, even those back seat chefs, place this appetizing assortment close to the action. If you would rather fly solo, perhaps set up shop in the living room next to the tube.

Wherever you put this pre-dinner winner, take some time out of your culinary tasks to replenish and refurbish as necessary.

Enjoy Divas and here's to a full, fun, and fabulous Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Head Over Heels!

On October 23, 2010, my life was changed forever with the debut of my first niece, Miss Samantha Louise Dostal. I have heard others mentioned how much joy and happiness babies bring in their bundles but until you experience it first hand, I don't possibly think you could ever fathom the sincerity of that statement. I wanted more than anything to be there for her birth, but due to that dirty little four letter word (work), I could not be there the day she graced this earth with her presence. I was able to meet her (2) days after her birthday celebration and could not believe my weary eyes. Not only was my baby sister a mother, but there was this new ray of light and life that would impact our lives and the lives of others for many years to come. It's a mind baffling thing when you try to analyze the concept of human existence, a complicated and trying fact that is all simplified by taking one glance at those seraphim like features on this tiny, innocently beautiful baby looking up at you. In addition to wanting to spend every waking moment with her, I think there's an innate desire in every woman's core to decorate this new princess in clothes and accessories fit for baby royalty. The Dostal-Thornton women had such a wonderful time stocking the closet with pink, frilly things and dressing up this petite little "doll." As we all know, accessories can make or break an outfit, it's just a fact of life! Lately, the craze are these adorably over-sized floral head bands for baby girls, but with price tags of $15.00 and up, what's a budget conscious fashionsita to do? With some ingenuity, and a helping hand from our friend, George Washington, we cleverly devised our own Haute couture head band for Miss Samantha Louise, solely using materials found at our local dollar store! Take a peek below at the steps for making this necessary accessory for the little girl in your life.

Haute Couture Head Bands


Mesh Hand Bands

Floral Bushels of Your Choice

Felt in Coordinating Color

Piece of Pizazz (Example: Large Button, Jewel, Feather, etc.)

Hot Glue



Begin with one bloom from your bushel and remove any of the plastic pieces holding the flower together. Glue your flower back together if necessary. Cut out (2) small nickel size pieces of felt and glue them back to back on the mesh head band. The first felt piece will serve as a base for your bloom and the second felt piece will provide a soft backing for baby's head. Paste your posy on top of the felt base with hot glue. Allow to dry. Finish off the look by adding on your piece of pizazz to the of the bloom. Featured here, Miss Samantha Louise is donning a red button on this hipster head band. (For Christmas, I plan on making her one with a little jingle bell bling, but let your own imagination be your guide! ) After the glue has completely cooled and set, accessorize your angel and get out that camera!

Trust me when I say this project is easy, effortless, and cost effective. We hope you fall head over heels for this floral fashion just as I fell hard for Miss Samantha Louise!