Seven-Layer Salad

Seven-layer salad may be the perfect party food because it can be made a day in advance. The ingredient list is flexible for example you could add a layer of marinated artichoke hearts or tomato or shredded carrots or avocado or pickled beets or shredded meat, seafood, etc.  The basic ingredients are:

  • chopped lettuce
  • hard-boiled eggs (half-dozen)
  • thawed frozen peas (10 ounce bag)
  • shredded cheese
  • grated onions (red ones are nice)
  • mayonnaise (between 1-1/4 and 2 cups depends on the size of the top of the bowl)
  • crumbled bacon

Layer the lettuce on the bottom of a large glass bowl, a trifle dish is perfect because all the layers are visible. I was going to add a layer of avocado chunks which had been doused in lemon juice to preserve their color and freshness but every one of the dozen avocados I had were rotten.

Start with the lettuce, I used Romaine.

 Add hard-boiled egg slices around the inside for decoration and add the remaining chopped eggs.

Eggs on top of the lettuce.
 Add a layer of thawed frozen peas.
The peas make a beautiful layer.

Add a layer of grated cheese; I’m using a combination of Swiss and Gruyère.

This is very rich.

I spread a layer of very finely chopped (or grated) red onion. Half an onion was plenty since it seemed to be strong.

The onion layer.

Top it off with mayonnaise (to which 2 tablespoons of sugar have been added) to tightly seal the top of the bowl.  Make sure the mayonnaise is spread so no openings remain around the rim. I used about 1-1/2 cups for this bowl. This is the step which permits the salad to stay fresh overnight.

The mayonnaise seals the ingredients and keeps them fresh.

Crumble bacon over the whole thing. (That’s a pound of bacon, folks.)

Seven layer salad ready for the buffet.

At the party toss all the ingredients together.

What’s on your party menu? Do you experiment with ingredients or stay to the basic recipe?


10 Things I Can Live Without

I have been thinking in tens lately and trying to make lists that polarize my style. I listed 10 Luxuries We Can Afford which got me thinking about the things that I can just live without.

1. Cable TV – My true reason here is that I could get hooked and then I’d never get anything done.  When Charlie and I go on vacation we’re often treated to cable television and more than one set to watch.  We can spend up to half the time separated:  I watch Home and Garden channels and he watches NASCAR. That’s just not right so I would never want that intrusion in my own home.  Right, Charlie? Charlie?

We don't have cable TV!

 2. Texting – Don’t get it, don’t want it, another invasion.

We don't text.

 3. Fast food restaurants – My idea of fast food is steamed shrimp or tilapia on the grill; not a generic hamburger served up just like all the other ones.  I like my food personal, made just for me.  I don’t care if it’s fast but I would like it to be healthy and select. Is that asking a lot? I’m happy picking tomatoes off the vine and popping them into my mouth.  Could anything be quicker than that?

Pick it, eat it -- fast food

 4. Clutter – I am already rich in clutter and am looking to become, if not a pauper, a little more moderate. 

No clutter!

  5.  Falling leaves -We have an overabundance of leaves on the ground in our yard.  While I love the trees with the leaves on them I wouldn’t mind if they didn’t fall, ever.

Or better yet, recall the scene in Camelot where Guinevere says to Arthur: “And I suppose the autumn leaves fall into neat little piles.”

And Arthur replies: “Oh, no, milady. They blow away completely. At night, of course.”

The dubious Guinevere mocks him: “Of course.”

Autumn Leaves

Well, we’re not living in Camelot.

6. e-cards – The ones I’ve seen have been cute but please don’t send me one because it puts me on another unwanted e-mailing list.

E-mail-YES; E-card-NO, thanks.

 7. Stink bugs – I simply detest them; they creep me out. ‘Nuf said. If you don’t know what they are then count yourself blessed.

Ick! Oooo! Yuk!

  8. Pawn shops – I don’t personally use pawn shops for either buying or selling.  It seems to me they prey on the meanest element of society while they themselves skirt the issues of truth and due diligence and exact a tidy profit.   It appears I’m not the only person who doesn’t care for pawn shops.

9. Bank fees – I think it’s unreasonable for me to give my money to someone and pay them for their opportunity to use it.  I don’t like to pay banking fees and will close any account that charges them.

You're charging me for what!!??

 10. Squirrels – Rats with bushy tails.

Bury your nuts someplace else.

 I realize this is a highly opinionated (not militantly so, however) and very personalized list of “things I can do without”.

What’s on your list?

New Year’s Eve 2011: The Menu

I told you here that we were planning a New Year’s Eve Party which we have almost every year in one way or another.  Sometimes there’s only 1 guest and sometimes there are many. This year I’ve lost count of how many people are actually invited but at least ten of them are coming and so the menu planning and preparation are crucial.

I’ll be making everthing but the dessert for 2 reasons: 1.) we have some pies and cakes in the freezer which we could use and 2.) party guests will no doubt bring something along that line. When people ask me what they can bring I always say “you don’t have to bring anything” in a way that conveys “and I really mean it”. But my friends are a group of people who can’t arrive empty handed so I’m pretty much counting on them to provide the sweet treats of the party. I’ll have to let you know how that goes.

My seven layer salad looks remarkably like this one featured in Diane's Kitchen.

My intent is to make most of the food elements the day before the party so I can relax (and nap) on New Year’s Eve otherwise I might fall asleep before midnight.

Are you planning to “make it to midnight”? What are your odds?

Soup Swap 2012

At our New Year’s Party I’m planning to hand out invitations for our get-together in January: namely a “Soup Swap”.  Officially in 2012 “Soup Swap Day” is January 21 but our party will be the next weekend to allow us all time to get our soups together. (Click on the link above to fill in the details I may omit or change.)

How it works:

Everybody who wants soup must bring soup: Make a large pot of soup and divide it into 6 quart-size containers and FREEZE the soup. Allowing the soup to be frozen means you can’t really make it the day of the party; you must plan in advance. 

The frozen soup is vital on a couple of levels: 1.) it’s easier to transport, 2.) it survives being set out the party, and 3.)folks can take it home and return it immediately to the freezer knowing it will keep well until they’re ready to use it. The soup containers should be labeled with the type of soup and the ingredients. A recipe per se is not required but an ingredient list allows people with food allergies to select with caution. 

Soup Swap Invitation Cover

  Bring your frozen soup to the party and set it on the soup table.  One of the main elements of the occassion is being prepared for “The Telling of the Soup”. You must entice us to choose your soup by explaining where you got the recipe OR what the exotic ingredients are OR how many grueling hours it took to make.  The idea is to make a story of why you made the the soup you did.

Finally, each person in the soup swap picks a number from a hat thus determining the order in which each person gets to choose his/her soups.  How many containers does each person get? 6.  Bring 6, take 6 home.  The minimum number of people for this party to work is 6, but actually the more the merrier.  More people means more diverse choices when the soup swapping starts.

Can’t wait for the soup swap! A freezer loaded with cold-weather comfort food. YUM!

(Some photos above are from the Soup Swap website.)

Have you got a party planned for January? Does it have a theme?

2011 Before and After

Here are some of the DIY projects we’ve tackled this year and their before and after images along with links to the original post.  Enjoy!

1. Spice Bottles

6 spice jars in a rack

 Finished in December

Spice jars with labels and herbs

 2. Music Candles

3-wick pillar candle

 Finished in November

Music candles

3. Heirloom Ceramic Christmas Trees

3 green ceramic Christmas trees

Finished in November

Silver, pewter and metallic charcoal will define this year's palette.

4. Vanilla Labels

Bottles ready for labels

 Finished in November

Vanilla botles labeled and sealed

 5. Double Vanilla Extract

6 to 7 inch Madagascar Bourbon Planifolia Extract Grade B Vanilla Beans

 Finished in November

Homemade vanilla extract

6. Tea Tin Candles

Old candles

 Finished in November

Totally functional candles in a can

7. Slate Framed Postcards 

Green and brown frames are 11.5 inches square with 4 by 6 opening.

 Finished in November

Irish postcards framed.

8. Paris Map Clock

Brown and green clock about 12 inches diameter - Before

 Finished in October

Reassembled and ready to hang.- After

9. Ceiling Fan

A few more issues to address.

 Finished in August

Shell-covered lamp shade for the ceiling fan

10. Tile-top Cabinet

Tile-top cabinet made from paneling

Finished in August

Tile-top cabinet with copper details

11. Cottage Bed

Paint this bed! - Before

 Finished in July

Cottage Bed - After

12. 2 Drawer File Cabinet

File Cabinet getting a shower. - Before

 Finished in July

File Cabinet - After

13. 3 Tier Table

Sturdy 3-tier table - Before

Finished in July

Primed, painted, stained and decorated. - After

14. Child of God Bed

Child of God Bed - Before

 Finished in May

Child of God Bed – After
It’s been such a busy year for us at The Glade but many projects have gone unfinished and many even unstarted.  We look to 2012 to be a productive and creative continuation for us.
What’re your hopes and plans for the coming year?
I’m linked to 

Holiday Desserts

Charlie, son and I have the wonderful blessing of being invited to our friend’s home for Christmas which we share along with his extended family.

Table for ten set with Longaberger holiday plates

 Christmas dinner was exquisite:

  • filet of beef with green peppercorn or mushroom sauce
  • crab cakes
  • roasted Brussel spouts and sweet potatoes
  • baked macaroni and cheese
  • succotash
  • bean salad
  • sweet tea and or hot spiced cranberry cider
  • and popovers.

But any festival meal is not finished until it’s topped off with dessert.  We had 2 desserts and a sweet confection. 

Don't ask for a small piece.

 The first dessert was a massive latticed, sugared, mince pie.

Egg nog custard in pine tree ramekins

 My personal favorite was the egg nog custard.  This was smooth and delicious.

And finally, we had mice. More specifically chocolate Christmas mice.

Chocolate mice.

 The mice are made by dipping cherries with stems into chocolate and sticking a Hershey’s kiss onto the side away from the stem. Add a sliced almond behind each kiss and pipe little white eyes onto the kiss and voila, a mouse.

Can you see their long tails?

 We decided that mice made with white chocolate might have pink eyes.

Christmas Centerpiece
The meal was lovely as was the company.  Thanks, Friend.
Finally, I’m adding 2 photos of a beautiful buche de Noel that my friend was having trouble forwarding. This was fresh and delicious. Enjoy!
Buche de Noel made with meringue mushrooms

 Just the right proportion of homemade preserves, yellow cake and chocolate buttercream.

Buche de Noel with piped icing holly leaves and berries

 I’ve been truly blessed this Christmas season, so much so that the gym might be the only answer to my growing dilemma.

Have you overindulged recently? Who’s fault was it?  (I’m not taking all the blame for eating the truly delicious food that has been set before me.)