Box Mix Brownies All Dressed Up With Strawberries and Syrup

Last week my girlfriend called to say she'd be on my side of town and would it be OK to drop by for a visit. We hadn't seen each other in a few weeks so of course I said yes!

I had time to whip up a treat for us but the pantry was a little bare. I did have a brownie mix in a box so I baked it up but it seemed a little plain. I decided to do a little brownie dress up. 

Hershey's Strawberry syrup and Chocolate syrup to the rescue!

I used the strawberry syrup to drizzle a few lines on a white plate, topped it with a brownie square and poured on some chocolate syrup. A sliced fresh strawberry fan was just the right garnish. 

I have to admit a little whipped cream and chopped pecans would have been perfect but sometimes you have to go with what you have. 

A plain brownie is certainly tasty but it only takes a minute to dress it up. Going to a little extra effort lets our friends and family know how important they are.

Do you have a favorite way to dress up a plain dessert?



Five Simple Things To Do So You Don't Panic When Unexpected Company Knocks

We've all been there. Unexpected company...

You're lounging around on your day off and the door bell rings.  What do you do? Hide in the back room or begrudgingly answer the door hoping it’s the UPS guy with a package. Would you visit with your guests on the front porch or grab your purse like you're just running out the door?

I could never bring myself to hide from unexpected company but I have been guilty of entertaining them on the front porch a time or two. If I did invite them I’d spend most of the visit apologizing for the messy room or the fact I had nothing to offer in the way of refreshments.

I was convicted that I couldn't leave guests outside on the porch no matter how comfy it was nor spend the time pointing out the reasons I didn't appreciate the unannounced visit. Hey, it wasn't their fault I was still in my pajama or last night pizza box was on the coffee table but apologizing for these things let's your guest know that they came at the wrong time. 

I wanted to graciously welcome people in to my home but I needed a plan. So I came up with five simple things to make it easier to open the door and invite people in. These might help you too!

  • Don't get caught with your panties down. In other words I always try to be at least semi presentable when I'm at home. A nice bathrobe comes in handy;)
  • Always have at least one clear spot in the house to bring guests. In a perfect world we'd all have formal living rooms that sit idle just waiting for company. We don't live in a perfect world so set aside an area, even just a corner of the couch, and try to keep it picked up. If the house is messy I usually bring my guests to the kitchen table. There may be dirty dishes in the sink (evidence we eat well) but the table is usually cleared and there's a nice view of the backyard

  • Keep a few treats tucked away in the freezer. Well wrapped (and hidden from husband and kids) cookies, pound cake and quick bread will keep for several weeks in the freezer. If the freezer's bare a little fruit or even microwave popcorn will do the trick.
A simple plate of apples, golden raisins and almond butter served with a cup of tea
makes a nice snack for your guests.

  • Offer coffee, tea or a cool drink. It takes less than five minutes to make coffee or boil water for tea. Homemade lemonade is great but don't discount the value of a cold glass of water. 
  • Keep thy mouth shut about the condition of thy house! At times my house is messy. Toys on the floor, magazines and books stacked by the couch, dirty dishes in the sink. These things are all proof that people live here! Real people who can be really messy at times. Believe it or not your unexpected company probably left a messy house to come visit you. Stop apologizing and pay attention and enjoy your guests. 

So next time unexpected guests show up at your door put on a smile, invite them in, offer a little refreshments and a listening ear. That's what they'll remember. Not that they had to step over the laundry basket on the way in the door. 

I'm setting another plate at my table and making a place in my heart!

If you stopped by I'd love to hear from you. Leave me a little comment:-)

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A Gift of Food and Time

Do you know anyone who is confined to their home due to age or illness?

These people are sometimes referred to as shut-ins and most neighborhoods probably have one or two at least. There may even be one on your street maybe right next door. 

I can't imagine not being able to jump in my car to go shopping or to visit friends. I can't imagine what it would be like to live the life of a shut in. To rely on others to bring me the daily necessities of life or the need to turn on the TV to hear a friendly voice. 

Do you know anyone like this? 

This is the perfect opportunity to practice a little hospitality...

Practice hospitality by sharing your time.

There's a elderly widow who lives near me and I try and drop by once a week for a little visit. She gets her meals from a program called "Meals on Wheels" and although they bring nutritious meals they aren't very inspiring.  I usually bring her a few pieces of fruit and a treat to give her a little something extra. 

Today I gathered bananas and apples, a few of the Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Scones that I made yesterday and a jar of honey. The honey is a special treat. The last time I visited her she talked about how her dad was a beekeeper and he'd let her eat a piece of the honeycomb if she got all her chores done. She said she'd chew it like gum. I knew when I came across this jar of honey with the comb that I had to pick it up for her. 

It doesn't take much to brighten someone's day. Less than $10 in treats and 30 minutes of my time.

Go here to see another time I visited with this same lady.

What can you do to brighten someone's day this week?

Living From Glory To Glory


Celebrating National Chocolate Chip Day with Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Scones

Did you know that May 15th is National Chocolate Chip day?

I didn't until I saw it online but it sounds like a good excuse to do a little baking! (and eating:-) 

I love to make scones because they're just so easy to mix up and bake and not too terribly sweet. Like a glorified biscuit...

The Easiest Ever Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Scones
I submitted this recipe to my church cook book a few years ago. We serve it every year at the Mother's Tea our Women's group hosts. 

2 cups all purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp. Baking powder
1/8 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
1/3-cup cold unsalted butter 
1 large egg, slightly beaten
½ cup Hazelnut liquid coffee creamer* (or you can use half and half)
1 and 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven 375 degrees F
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and blend in to the flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.
In a small bowl combine the creamer and beaten egg. Add this mixture to the dry mixture. Stir to just combine. Add the chocolate chips. 
Knead the dough gently on a floured surface. Roll or pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inch round and about 1½ inches thick. Cut this circle into 8 triangles or use a round cookie cutter and cut out like biscuits.
Bake for 15 – 18 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean.

*Variations: I used Nestles Hazelnut flavored Coffee Mate. You can use any flavor of  liquid creamer. It's especially fun to try the seasonal flavors. Pumpkin Pie Spice in the Fall or how about Eggnog or Peppermint Mocha for a Christmas treat? If you'd rather not use the flavored creamer plain half and half would work.

Will you make something special for National Chocolate 

Chip Day?


Blast From the Past - Banana Split Dessert For a Girls Get Together

Once a month I get together with seven other women for what is suppose to be a scrapbook crop. To be honest we do scrapbook a little, eat a lot and talk even more...It's a glorious day of girl time!

So that no one person is burdened with the responsibility for all the food we rotate turns. This month it's my turn to bring dessert. I knew I wanted something cool since we're already experiencing summer time temperatures. So I Googled 'summer desserts' and I was pleasantly surprised when Banana Split Dessert was among the many choices. This dessert was very popular when I was a newly wed and it seems everyone had their own variation. It's been years since I've had it but I remembered it was yummy! It is cool and refreshing. I knew I this would be the perfect dessert to share with the girls.

Everyone seems to have their own variation of this dish but it's so simple you might not even need a recipe. Take a graham cracker crust, add a creamy filling, top with pineapple, banana and strawberries and finished it off with whipped cream, a few drizzles of chocolate and chopped nuts. 

Simple and so good!


Recipe will make a 13 x 9 inch pan


2 cups crushed grahams crackers
1/4 cup melted butter
2 Tablespoons sugar

Mix all the ingredients and press in to the bottom of pan. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

(The Triple Sec adds a little something extra to the filling but you can easily omit it if you're serving children or you just don't want to use alcohol.)

12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar 
2 - 3 Tablespoons Triple Sec (Orange Liqueur) optional
2 teaspoons vanilla
8 ounce container whipped topping (Cool Whip)

With a mixer cream together the cream cheese, sugar, Triple Sec (if using) and vanilla until fluffy. Gently fold in the whipped topping. 

Spoon the filling over the graham cracker crust and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

5 - 6 bananas, sliced
20 ounce can crushed pineapple (in juice) drained
2 cups sliced strawberries
8 ounce container whipped topping (Cool Whip)
1 cup chopped pecans (or whatever is your favorite nut)
Chocolate syrup or Hershey's Shell Topping

Drain the pineapple. Slice the bananas into the pineapple juice. This will help them to not turn brown.
With a slotted spoon remove the bananas from the juice and place them in an even layer of the cream cheese filling.
 Cover the bananas with the pineapple and a layer of strawberries. Cover the fruit with the whipped topping, cover with chopped nuts and drizzle on the chocolate.

To serve add a little whipped topping and a cherry on top. Enjoy!

Something I always do when I make a dessert to take somewhere is to make a little extra for my family. So I increased the recipe a little bit and made a loaf pan to leave at home. They must have enjoyed it because this is what I found when I got back after my girls day out.

If you're looking for a no bake summery dessert you might want to give this a try.

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Practice Hospitality - #1 - Showing Gratitude

  1. The dictionary defines hospitality as:
    • the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guest, visitors, or strangers.
    Synonyms: friendliness, warm reception, welcome, helpfulness, neighborliness, warmth, kindness, congeniality.
For Christians it's command that we show hospitality to one another not an option. 
Be hospitable to one another without complaint.
1 Peter 4:9

Do not neglect to show hospitality...

Hebrew 13:2a
Even in the secular world it's just good old common sense to be kind to one another....

 OK, but how?

...practice hospitality...
Romans 12:13a

Yes, we have to practice. 
Hospitality is a skill and like learning any new skill it takes practice before it becomes natural and easy. 

Even though it's now easier for me to invite people over or to be helpful and kind it hasn't always been the case. I've had to do a lot of practicing over the years and I'm still practicing. Like any skill if we don't use it we'll lose it!

Once a week I'm going to post an idea to practice and hone those hospitality skills. Some tasks will be simple and others a little more time consuming. Some will require very little effort such as the task for today. Other tasks may require us to mustard up some courage and step out of our comfort zone.

Want to join me?

#1 Hospitality Skill to Practice 

Be kind by showing gratitude. 

We all have people in our lives who teach, help and encourage us. People who stick by us through thick and thin. The same people we often times take for granted. The assignment for this week is to make a list of at least five people that you want to thank. Write out a short note to each person saying thank you, address it and drop it in the mail. I guarantee that you'll make someone's day.

I've saved just about every thank you note and notes of encouragement that I've received. I keep them in a envelope in the back of my bible. When I'm feeling down or having myself a little pity party I pull them out and reread them. It never fails to lift my spirits to remember that someone took the time to thank me for something I did for them. I show you these not to say "I'm great look what I did" but to show you that a simple thing like a little note can bring joy to someone for many years to come.

I'm not sure if you can see it but the date on the top card is April 2004. I've held on to that for ten years! The lady who wrote that to me has since gone on to be with the Lord but when I read her words it brings back sweet memories. I'm glad that a simple thing I did brought joy to her life. And her note certainly has brought joy to mine.

 My first thank you note will be to my mom. If you have a mom take a minute and send her a thank you note. 

So have fun and practice a little hospitality!

I'm linking up with:
Living From Glory to Glory

Hope in Every Season

Grace at Home


Cinco De Mayo Dinner Party

Cinco De Mayo is Monday but we couldn't wait to celebrate. Saturday evening we had my sister and her family over for dinner. It was pretty easy because we did a potluck and everyone contributed to the meal.

The Table

Playing off the colors of the flag of Mexico I used a red tablecloth with a green runner. For a more festive look I added multi-colored woven place mats. The centerpieces were simple yellow and green flowers in my tall green glass candle holders. I added a few mini Maracas and donkeys to finish off the theme.

Hospitality Tip: Don't let a lack of space keep you from hosting a dinner party. We have a tiny dining room so when we have a big crowd we push the furniture aside and put a folding table up in our family room. Nobody seems to notice that or the fact that the chairs are mismatched and someone has to sit on the piano bench.

As far as the decorations go the only thing I spent money on was the flowers and they cost me $6 from the grocery store. Everything else was recycled from other parties we've had. (As my husband says I don't get rid of anything:-)

The Buffet

I find that serving the food from a buffet is the easiest way when you have a crowd. 
I like to set up a buffet on the island in my kitchen. A plastic tablecloth and colorful dishes along with a pinata set the mood. The food of course is the most important thing on the buffet.

A sampling of the food. Man dip, Cowboy Caviar and fresh fruit served in a hollowed out pineapple.

The menu

Green Chili Enchiladas
Tacos and all the fixings
Tossed salad
Fresh fruit
Man dip (named by my nephew but he said the girls could eat it too:-) just Velveeta cheese, spicy sausage and Rotel)
Cowboy Caviar (Black beans, corn, onions, peppers, lime juice and a little hot sauce-served with nacho chips)
Frozen Margaritas
Dessert - brownies with ice cream and toppings

Green Chili Enchiladas

This is one of my favorite dishes. My family loves it and it's a great dish for a potluck or to take to someone who might need a meal due to illness or during a time of need. It's very mild and most people really like it. 

1 pound ground beef
small onion, chopped
8 ounce package shredded cheese
16 ounce container sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can chopped green chilies (very mild-if you want a kick use chopped jalapenos)
8-10 large flour tortillas

Brown the beef along with a small onion. Drain the grease and add taco seasoning packet. Add water as directed on the packet. Stir in the beans and corn and set aside.

In a separate bowl combine the sour cream, soup and the green chilies. Place about 1/2 cup in the bottom of a 13 X 9 inch casserole dish. (This is to keep the tortillas from burning or sticking to the bottom of the dish.)  Add the cheese to the remaining soup mixture. 

Divide the meat, corn and bean mixture among the tortillas. This should fill 8 -10 tortillas. Roll each tortilla up and place in the casserole dish. Cover with the soup and cheese mixture. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-35 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and heated through. 

Does a lack a space keep you from hosting a party?

I am setting another plate at my table and making a place in my heart.

Making your home sing Mondays