Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pre-Trick or Treat dinner...the plan...

For three years now I have selfishly invited my friends and their sweet babies over to my house for dinner before they head out to find treats.  I realize it is a win-win situation...I get to enjoy children who still like to dress up (since Tater & Tales don't anymore) and they don't have to plan or make dinner.  When you want to steal (not really physically...mommy moments that I don't get anymore) peoples kids you have to feed them first...funny how that works.

Every year I try to do something new and this year is no exception.  I will say this though...I don't feel as prepared as I do some years!!!  I haven't even done my shopping (lunch hour chore) and the desserts are going to have to be store bought items that I "dress up".  It is crazy how huge life changes can do that to you. 

The menu is always where I start.  I have to do something that both parents and kids will like.  It has to be something that I can throw together pretty quickly or prepare ahead.  Most importantly...it has to be something that I can name something seriously gross (cause it is Halloween and it is a requirement).

Here is my plan:

Dinner-
 
Crock Pot Chili Bar w/yummy fixings
(Fritos, sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado & onion)
 
Mini Corn Dog Muffins w/ketchup
aka-Dead Dog Muffins w/blood
 
Olives aka Witch Warts
 
Mini Dill Pickles aka Ogre Toes
 
Cheese Puff Curls aka Petrified Pig Tails
 
Dessert-
 
Brownie Bite Spiders
 
Marshmallow Pops
 
I'm not sure that all of the kids will love the Chili but it will be nice for adults to grab a bowl and fix it however they like.  It will also be nice to throw everything in the crock pot before I leave for work.  I find that the kids are so hyped up for trick or treating that they can't even think about dinner too much.  Hopefully they will eat a Dead Dog Muffin or two.

So there you have it.  Tune in Friday to see how it turns out.  Sweet dinner-


Monday, October 28, 2013

a HUGE thank you...

On the weekends I take a break from the computer.  I will occasionally get on to look for a recipe but other than that...NOPE.  So when I opened my computer early this morning I was a little taken back and emotional. 

I really just can't even thank all of you enough for all of the amazing support I have received since announcing that I was buying the Happy Horse Deli.  When you do something like this you hope that it will be accepted well...but you never know.

I had hoped that you would be happy for me...I had hoped that you would still want a Saucy Turkey (or whatever your Happy Horse vice might be) after I took over...I had hoped that you would be grateful that another Lakeview business would not be closing its doors but I am honestly so teared up by the reaction that all of you gave me.

I couldn't have asked for anything more and now I hope that I can make it as great (or even better) as Bill and Prairie have done for so long because I know that is a tall order.

I am seriously scared to go on this adventure but somehow all of your kind words have made some of that disappear and melt away.

I just wanted to pop in and tell you how grateful I am.  Every comment, conversation, text, phone call and message meant the world to me.  Thank you!!  Sweet community-

Friday, October 25, 2013

Exciting Announcement...

For a few months this has been in the works and because I'm not very patient, it has been REALLY hard to not spill the beans. 

I'm pregnant!!  Haha...just kidding!!  Seriously!!  No more babies for this gal...at least not in the form of a human.  Though I do have a new baby in a sense...

I am purchasing the Happy Horse (HH) Deli here in Lakeview.  I hope you are as "happy" as I am!!

It is a huge leap of faith for me, as I will be quitting my 8-5 job at the beginning of the year, to make this work (insert...scared happiness).  Leaving a job that you have been at for years, with people that have become like your family is a very difficult thing. 

I am not a risk taker...routine and stability are two things that I love. 

I also believe that you need to follow your dreams.  We only get one life on this earth, there are no second chances.

As a teenager I worked for Bill & Prairie at the Happy Horse every day at lunch and on Saturdays.  It has always held a special place in my heart.

That combined with fact that I love to cook...it just seemed like a perfect fit.

Here is my plan of action (so far)-

The HH will be closed the first few days of January and will officially be open for business on January 6th, 2014.
..............
I will not be making changes to the deli menu...why mess with a good thing.  In fact I will be using the same products, right down to the mustard.   
..............
I will not be changing the name...again...don't mess with a good thing.  I had thought about it (Sweet Taters and Tales has good ring to it) but lets face it...what would everyone call it anyway?  The Happy Horse.
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I will be making the inside my own.  I can't help it...decorating is too much fun!
..............
I will be adding desserts.  Did you hear my heart skip a beat?  Custom order cakes, cookies, cupcakes and other yummy desserts are only a phone call away.  I will also have fresh baked goodies to enjoy while you visit or to take home.
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The HH will be available at night and on weekends for private parties. 
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The HH will have two private rooms available during lunch, upon reservation.
.............
I will offer made to order Deli Trays.
.............
I will also be available for catering.
.............
Our hours will be 10-4 Monday-Friday, in the beginning.

I have a ton of other ideas but this is what I am starting with.  Tune in for other exciting details.

So what does this mean for Sweet Taters and Tales?  It might mean that my posts are fewer and farther between for a little while but I promise to try and keep up.

I am beyond excited to be doing this.  I look forward to seeing you soon.  Sweet adventure-

Monday, October 21, 2013

Broccoli and Mushroom Twice Baked Potatoes...

I will admit that making twice baked potatoes can be a little time consuming.  Let me also say this...it is worth it!!  These might not be feasible on a weeknight, but for Sunday dinner, I think...YES!  For some reason I don't cook potatoes very often.  The fact that I suffer from a huge case of "side dish brain freeze" doesn't make that seem very logical.  Potatoes=side dish...I need to remember that and add them to my shopping list...like ASAP.

Most of time I see twice baked potatoes with sour cream, cheese and bacon but I wanted to do something a little different.  I was serving them with a roast so I thought that veggies would be a great idea.  I happened to have broccoli and mushrooms on hand...so that is what I went with.

To make them you will need 4 baking potatoes, 4 oz. of softened cream cheese, 1 cup of chopped mushrooms, 1 cup of broccoli (cut in small florets), 1 clove of garlic and 1/2 cup of shredded cheese...


To make the process easier I baked my potatoes early in the day at 375° for 45-50 minutes but you could certainly bake them right before dinner.  Let them cool completely...


When it is dinner time you need to cut a small hole in the top of the potato...


It makes it so much easier to scoop the insides of the potatoes out...


I just put the inside of the potato in a bowl as I scrape them out with a small spoon...


I sautéed the mushrooms and broccoli over medium heat in about a tablespoon of olive oil until they were soft and added a clove of minced garlic to them the last minute of cooking...


Add the vegetable mixture and the rest of the ingredients to the potato in the bowl, add salt and pepper to taste...


Mix until the cream cheese is incorporated through out the potatoes...


Take the potato mixture and stuff it back into the empty potato skins, top with additional cheese and bake at 350° for about 25-30 minutes or until heated through...


I'm ready for Sunday to get here already...they were too good not to make again.  Sweet taters-







Friday, October 18, 2013

Rustic Wedding Cake...

This past weekend I had the privilege of baking, decorating, and displaying the wedding cake for the sweetest couple.  When the bride and I had first talked about the cake she knew that she wanted a rustic feel.  A year ago I had made cupcakes for a wedding that we both attended and she wanted something along the same line.  Here are a few photos of the cupcake display that was our inspiration...

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This time it was going to be a three tiered cake.  The bride had given me free rein to do whatever I wanted.  It is nice to have such a easy bride but it can be hard at the same time.  Her wedding day is one she will remember forever and you don't want to screw it up.  There can be a little pressure.

I will admit that it wasn't until the day of the wedding that I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  I had thought about having each layer be separate and then decided that wouldn't make the statement I wanted and I went ahead and stacked them.

I wish that I had taken photos of the actual reception area because the decorations were so simple and yet perfect.  Hay bales, deer antlers, old brown and purple bottles, wheat, white lights and flowers filled the room so sweetly. 

Here is what I did...
 

The cake topper and flowers were provided by the bride.  I loved the topper because it was different and fit the décor of the reception perfectly.  The little burlap banner was so cute and the band of burlap on the middle layer of cake really made it come together...
 

Instead of putting the cake directly on the table I decided to put it on top of a couple of old crates.  It really made the cake the focal point.  Mason jars filled with coordinating flowers, deer antlers, a grape vine wreath and another small crate completed the table...
 
 
 
I really love the way it turned out and so did the bride.  Congratulations Justin and Denise!!  Sweet couple-

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Blast from the past...Halloween Party Menu...

I'm still trying to figure out what I will be serving the little ghosts and goblins that I will be feeding on Halloween.  For me the planning is sometimes the most fun.  I love coming up with new ideas but here are a few easy and fun Halloween theme foods that would be perfect for any little sweetie on Halloween Eve...
 
Candy Corn Pizza-I used frozen pizza dough, jarred pizza sauce, diced pepperoni, cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese to make this pizza.  By putting the mozzarella cheese in the middle of the pizza, followed by the pepperoni and then the cheddar cheese you are making a yummy candy corn pizza once it is cut into wedges...
 
 
Halloween dinner is never complete with out some blood.  Red Jello and gummy worms work perfectly together for this crazy treat...
 
 
Sometimes even the most everyday food can be made "scary" just by adding a fun name...
 
 
Deviled Eggs with black olives that have been cut in half and then half of that cut into 8 wedges, make a yummy spider on top...
 
 
Witches Fingers (aka baby dill pickles) are always necessary...
 
 
Curly Puff Cheetos look just like Petrified Pig Tails, if you ask me...
 
 
Hot dogs wrapped in refrigerated crescent roll dough, look like mummies and wormy apples are both creepy and delicious...
 
 
I hope this gives you some dreadfully scary ideas for your Halloween dinner table or any day.
Sweet Halloween-

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pumpkin Pound Cake...

Fall is here.  The leaves are turning and the days are cooling off.  I talk a whole lot about how much I love summer but the truth is that fall is not far behind.  My only problem with fall is what comes after...Winter...and the fact that I never feel like it lasts long enough.  Fall does not include snow in my book...period!!  Around here you are almost guaranteed a snow in October (which sucks)!!

One of the reasons I do love fall is because of the flavors.  Pumpkin, apples, cinnamon, nutmeg...these flavors mean comfort to me.  I also love wearing a sweater on a cool night, starting a fire at home and of course baking.

I realize that it is just the middle of October but I just couldn't help but jump in with a awesome pumpkin treat.  This recipe is so moist and absolutely delicious.  I also love that it a little more figure friendly than other pound cakes and you will never know it.

To make it you will need 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/4 tsp. cloves, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, 1 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup fat free vanilla yogurt, 3 egg whites and 1 cup of canned pumpkin.
 
I just used regular Light Vanilla yogurt...
 

Begin by combining the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, cloves and nutmeg) in a bowl and set aside.
 

In a large bowl combine the sugar, yogurt and egg whites.  Whisk until it is completely blended and then stir in the pumpkin.  Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and stir until incorporated...
 

Pour into a greased loaf pan...
 

Bake in a 350° preheated oven for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes and remove from pan...
 

You could serve it just how it is or drizzle it with a glaze of butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and milk...
 

You can see how deliciously moist the cake is...
 

Baking with pumpkin is upon us...I am a happy girl.  Sweet pumpkin-

Friday, October 11, 2013

Monster Cookie Pazookies & the Give Away winner...

I was going to post the winner at the end of this post but decided that was just too long to wait.
The winner of the $50.00 gift certificate to A Country Home Floral is...

MARINA WEBSTER

Congratulations and thank you to everyone else for reading my craziness and making it successful.

--------------------------------------------

With Halloween around the corner it seemed like the perfect time to post a "Monster Cookie" recipe.  Maybe not a "Monster Cookie" in the sense that it is scary...just in the name of a delicious cookie. For those of you who don't know it...a pazookie is cookie that is baked in a jar or ramekin.  A thicker and softer version of a regular cookie, that you serve warm or heated up.  Bake it in a mason jar and you still have the perfect amount of room for a scoop of ice cream.  I really can't even explain my excitement about such a thing...a warm and thick cookie baked in a mason jar with a scoop of ice cream on top???  Seriously!!!  Were have you been my entire life??

To make them you will need 1/2 cup of softened butter, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 1/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter, 1 egg, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup quick cook oats, 3/4 cup M&M candies and 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips.
 
The dough comes together simply if your butter is at room temperature.  I didn't even use my mixer, I did it by hand in just a few minutes.  Cream the butter and both sugars together until it is combined.  Add the peanut butter and vanilla, mix well.  Add the egg and mix well again.  To that you are going to add the flour and oats and mix until the dry ingredients are completely absorbed.  Lastly, add the M&M's and chocolate chips.
 
Voila...cookie dough...

 
Take 1/4 cup of cookie dough and a small mason jar that has been sprayed with cooking spray...
 
 
Pat the dough into the bottom of the jar and bake on a cookie sheet in a preheated 350° oven for 10-12 minutes.  The whole idea of a pazookie is for the cookie to be soft...so don't over bake.  Remove from the oven when it is just starting to get brown on top...
 
 
Here it is, all baked up and ready to be devoured...
 
 
A little chocolate ice cream (or vanilla or any kind you love) scooped on top of the warm cookie...OMG...heaven...
 
 
Add a cute card and this would be a perfect gift for a teacher, neighbor, friend or me (hint, hint) this Halloween. 
 
Sample card:  Have a "Monster" good Halloween!!
-Serve cookie warmed in microwave for 20 seconds with a scoop of your favorite ice cream- 
 
 
The dough can also be made into cookies.  Scoop onto a cookie sheet and press the dough down.  Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 8-10 minutes or until slightly brown...
 
 
I'm telling you this...you may make these and keep them for yourself.  They are really that good!!  Sweet monster-





Thursday, October 10, 2013

Give Away reminder...

Good morning everyone!!  I just wanted to pop in and remind you to enter the give away going on right now at Sweet Taters and Tales.  Entries will not be accepted after midnight tonight...Thursday, October 10, 2013.  Enter...the prize is just too good to pass up.  Who wouldn't want $50.00 to spend at one of the most fun shops in town?  Lacey at A Country Home Floral has everything!!
 
 
Look at the fun things that could be yours...
 

 
The winner will be announced tomorrow, along with a "Monster" of a good recipe...perfect for Halloween or anytime.  Sweet entry-

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Crazy Awesome Give Away...

In the last month my blog has really grown.  Between all of you and Pinterest my average page views per day have nearly doubled.  It is so exciting to see something that you love doing flourish and grow.  It is also nice to be able to tell Darby and the kids that the photos I take EVERY time we eat may really be reaching someone.  I do think that they are getting used to it now...before they dig in to anything they all stop and ask to be sure that I don't need to snap a picture.  They also don't complain too much about having to wait for dinner (even when they are hungry) so that I can get a good shot.  Such troopers. :)

So because my little ol' blog is growing, because my little ol' blog is nearly 2 years old, because I have posted 325 + posts and mostly...because I love all of you for making this happen, I have decided to do a give away. 

Lacey at A Country Home Floral and I have teamed up so that one lucky winner will receive a $50.00 gift certificate to her store, just in time for the holiday season.  In order to win you need to either live in the Lakeview area or be visiting here soon.  Sorry out of town/state readers...I promise to do something soon.

If you have ever been to A Country Home Floral then you know that Lacey has her store stocked with amazing things for your home.  There is literally something for everyone.  I visited there yesterday and here are just a few of the festive things she has ready for you to take home...
 
Spooky things...
 
 
Arrangements & things...
 
 
Fall table things...
 
 
Fall, Fall & more Fall things...
 
 
Serving things...
 
 
Pumpkin things...
 
 
Thankful things...
 
 
Turkey Things...
 
 
Lacey will also be getting a new shipment of her AMAZING candles on Monday.  Each and every one of you would enjoy a trip there.  What are you waiting for...GO!
 
To enter you just need to like this post on Facebook, leave a comment on this post or go into A Country Home Floral and visit Lacey.  It's really that simple.  Good Luck and Thanks again.
 Sweet Lacey-

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Mummy's on a stick...a blast from the past

Each year I try to come up with a fun and festive idea for the sweet kids that join me for dinner on Halloween.  It can't just be a candy bar...it has to be something cute and yet easy.  Last year I made Mummy's on stick...using Twinkies, white chocolate melts and edible eye balls.  They were so simple and cute that I wanted to share them again.  So here is my little blast from the past for the week...
 
 
Insert a sucker stick into each Twinkie and them dip/cover in white chocolate...
 
 
Let the chocolate dry for few minutes and then using fork, dip the tines into the chocolate and drag over the Twinkie back and forth.  Add two eye balls and let dry completely. 
 
 
And there you have it.  A yummy mummy for someone sweet.
 
 
You can also get the same affect using Oreos...
 
 
Now I just have to come up with an equally precious idea for this year.  Hmmmm.
Sweet mummies-