Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How to Host the Rehearsal Dinner at Home

   The Biggest Challenge

How do I make dinner for an expected thirty people when I'm not here?  I'll be at the rehearsal with most of our family.

The first of our nine children to get married was Tyler.  Him and his bride, Alayna, were married last summer.  The bride's family is wonderful, we have become very good friends.  Not only would a restaurant be expensive, it would not have allowed time for fun and visiting.

When it was suggested we host it at our house, I was all for it.

The Answer

Good Planning & Great Friends

I have a great friend, Dawn.  And by great I mean GREAT, AMAZING, LIFE SAVING!  She immediately volunteered and volunteered her daughter too.  Thank you Nichole.  My future daughter-in-law Sarah also came to the rescue.

The Menu

Needs to be food that can be prepared ahead or cooked before leaving for the rehearsal and can be hot when we get back.

Dinner, Drinks & Dessert
Meat Lasagna
Veggie Lasagna
Rotisserie Chicken
Garlic Bread
Green Salad
Broccoli Salad
Pink Goop
Black Forest Cake
Planning was key. 
What can be done before the day of the rehearsal and what would have to be done by my wonderful friends.
2 Days Early
        Salad Dressing
        Pink Goop
Day Before
        Green Salad
        Broccoli Salad

Day of
Lemon Aide
Iced Tea
Sweet Tea
Rotisserie Chicken
Details, details, details.  This may be long but I hope it helps.  I'm trying to post the recipes for all of the items I made separately so look for those by their title on my blog.  If they aren't there yet keep checking back, I'm working on it.
2 Days Before
Desert.  The bride (and everyone else) loves the idea of mason jars.  So I decided to make a kindof black forest cake in a jar.  Saw it on Pinterest of course.  I made a large chocolate cake.  I cooked it on a cookie sheet (with edges).  It didn't matter what it looked like because I just cut it in squares.  My dear friend Dawn came and helped along with my girls.  I made the cake earlier in the day.  Then we cut it into squares and layered cake, cherry pie filling, and whipped cream.  I made my daughter a gluten free version using her cake, strawberries and homemade whipped cream.  I covered them with baggies and placed in the fridge.
So I thought mason jars were cute, but kindof a hassle.  SO WORTH IT!  It was so easy so serve.  Just grabbed them out of the fridge the work was already done.  Loved, loved, loved it and so did everyone else.
The Day Before

Broccoli Salad, Pink Goop, Green Salads, Watermelon
I also made a family recipe called Pink Goop.   That's the pink stuff in the bowl there.  I don't know where my Mom got the recipe but I can't give it to you.  It has become a family favorite, you only get it at family events or holidays.  It is more for fun than anything that we keep it a secret.
I gave the new bride the recipe with a hand painted pink bowl as a bridal gift.

I Love Broccoli Salad.  It is a nice salad that can be made gluten free.  You can make it a day or two ahead of time and cover and put in the fridge.  The green salads I just bought bags of fresh salad at the grocery store.  I make a couple of my own salad dressings.  I made Garlic French and Italian (both gluten free) and bought Ranch.

These types of salads you could pick up at the deli if you want to make it easier.
Day Of!
Whew Stressed to the Max.  I can handle making food.  But trying to clean the whole house, be ready for the rehearsal, make dinner, and still care for the 6 kids I'm raising and keep them fed all day.  Cutting it close.
Through the course of the day and with the help of Dawn.  We made a lemon aide, ice tea, and sweet tea.  We borrowed a clear server and put the pretty lemons under it.

After I left the house Dawn and the girls put the frozen lasagna in the oven and went to the local grocery store and bought the chickens.  When we were almost home they put the breads in the oven and set everything out on the tables.
Food was enjoyed by all!
Games and Fun
We definitely wanted to make this fun and memorable so we planned a couple of games with the bride and groom.  We played the HoneyMooners Game.   I made a list of questions like: Where did you meet?  What's "your" song?  Where are you going on your honeymoon?  What are you going to do on your honeymoon?  Who wears the pants in the relationship?  What did the other person want to be when they grew up? 
We scored them based on their answers.  And claimed one the winner.  We also played a trust game with them.  It was a lot of fun.


Other Notes
Everything turned out great.  I also made a gluten free lasagna and roasted a chicken for my two kids that need it.  It was a good decision and I would  do it again.  I don't think it really costs that much.  I bought the lasagna at about $10 each and I bought maybe 5.  I bought 4 chickens at about $6 each.   The bread and lasagna can be bought and kept frozen.   Definitely saved a lot of $ and had plenty of time to spend with each other.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Gluten Free Bread Pudding

Gluten Free can taste great!

I have been cooking gluten free foods for 22 years.  I have 2 children with gluten allergies.  While nursing I've had to take on a gluten free diet.  I tried and failed and tried and succeeded.

Here's a recipe I tried for the first time and it worked great.  The only thing I did different from a regular recipe, was replace the bread and eliminate the vanilla because I didn't have any.  I used Franz Gluten Free Raisin Bread.  I made this in the crockpot. Even Better.


8 Cups Cubed Gluten Free Bread about 1Loaf
2 Cups Milk
4 Eggs
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Optional:  If using plain bread add 1 C raisins.  Also add cinnamon if desired.

Step 1
Cut bread into bite size chunks. Place in crockpot.

Step 2

Mix the milk, egg, sugar, vanilla, & nutmeg (raisins and cinnamon if desired) in a bowl.  Pour over bread in crockpot.  Slice butter on put on top.  Place lid on.

Step 3

Low for 3 hours.  I stirred mine once just because I couldn't resist.

(Not the best lighting for this pic)

Step 4


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Delicious Homemade Cheese

This is a great recipe and you can use store bought milk or fresh milk, cow or goat milk.  I have done all!

It has a very mild taste and you can easily add herbs or spices to change up the flavor any way you like.

This is a really easy recipe.  I used it years ago when we had our own goats (story for a different day).  I obtained the recipe from a book called Udderly Simple Dairy Foods by Diane Dondero.

Panir Cheese (Gluten Free)

1 Gallon of Milk (Whole Milk that has been pasturized still works)
3/4 C Lemon Juice or Vinegar
1/2 tsp salt

Pour the milk in a large pan.  Place on MedHigh.  Just watch so you don't scorch.

Bring to 185 to 190 degrees.

Add between 1/2 and 3/4 cup lemon or vinegar.  I start with 1/2 cup, if it doesn't seem to be getting enough curds, I add a little more.  A like lemon but if I'm out of lemon I'll use vinegar.  When using the vinegar you might be able to taste it a little when done.  That's why I like lemon better.

Stir until curds form.  Remove from heat.  Add the salt.

The best way to strain is to lay cheesecloth (sold near canning supplies) across a strainer.  I did not have any when making this batch so I placed a small strainer inside a big one (to hold the smaller one up).  Then I poured.  Another option is to use a slotted spoon and scoop most of the curds into a strainer.  Then pour the leftover whey through to get the last of the curds.

Add caption
The kids will eat it right out of the strainer.

This is a very mild cheese.  You can eat it plain.  Add some herbs and spices for some variety.  You can replace the cottage cheese in a recipe with this.  I froze some  and plan on using it the next time I make lasagna.

An added bonus.  It's gluten free which in this house makes life easier since I have two children allergic to gluten.

Monday, February 10, 2014

DIY - Glitter Shoes


Have you ever just NEEDED shoes covered in GLITTER?

Well sometimes a girl just does.  I have two teenage daughters, one is participating in a local pageant that is part of the Miss America Program.  The other is in the Miss America's Outstanding Teen Program.

With pageants come the need for many things.  Including Glitter Shoes.  We saw some from Nordstrom's we could not afford.  So we did what any poor girl would do: 


Finding the right shoe is key.  We had an idea of what we were looking for.  We were going to buy a pair, paint them gold then glitter.  Then we found this great pair of Steve Madden's ALREADY GOLD!  Score!  Found them at Goodwill for $5.99.  But even better - Coupon on Facebook for Facebook Friday 20% OFF.   Which the cashier told us about and waited while we pulled it up on our phone.  : )  They wound up costing $4.79! 

Supply List

1 pair of GREAT SHOES
1 bottle of glitter
1 bottle of Elmers Glue
1 little disposable cup
1 paint brush
1 can of clear spray paint

1) Cover your surface area

2) Mix 1 TBSP glitter with 2 TBSP glue.  Mix in the disposable cup with the paint brush.

3)  Paint the areas of the shoe you want glittered.

4)  Pour plenty of glitter over the shoes while the glue glitter is still wet.  Shake shoe to allow loose glitter to fall off.

5)  Allow glue to dry to touch.  Maybe an hour.

6)  Go outside in a well ventilated area.  If you set them in a box you can carry the box in when you're done.  Spray with clear spray paint.   Allow to dry for a few hours to a day.

If there are any areas you feel need more glitter just repeat the process.  The glue will dry clear.

Some glitter will fall off.   Even on store bought glitter shoes some of the glitter falls off.

This technique can make a beautiful shoe for any pageant, prom, wedding (great bride shoe), or any special occasion.

Here's  couple of pairs we just glittered the heels on.

Wear your shoes everywhere and be beautiful!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Homemade Fruit Syrup

Love Syrup

Have you ever made your own syrup?  It's so easy.  I have been making syrup since I was a kid.  That's just how Mom taught me.  These syrups are gluten free which is great for my kids with allergies.  All the kids love our syrup.

The Basics

1 part sugar, 2parts water

For example 1 cup of sugar and 2 cups of water.

Bring to a boil.  Stir a little.  Boil till sugar is dissolved.  Turn the heat to low.

Fruit  Syrups

1 cup Fruit - fresh or frozen

My favorites are raspberry, strawberry, or blueberry.  Just put the fruit in and let it simmer till the fruit is soft and mush.

  I use my potato masher to mash up big fruit.


Coffee Syrup

Use the same recipe above.  When the fruit is nice and mush strain through a small mesh strainer.
Store it in the fridge.

Leftover Fruit Pulp

The leftover fruit from the strained syrup is great for putting in plain yogurts.  The kids love it.

Make a Latte

Like most of us, I love my Lattes.  As a stay at home mom that's busy homeschooling, I can't just run to the latte stand (or afford to).   This recipe makes a great cup of coffee.

1 Cup of Coffee
1/2 Cup of Warm Milk
3 TBSP of Syrup