DIY Trays In A Rustic Chic Style

If there is one thing that I could use a lot more of, it would be some decorative serving trays for entertaining.  Both the kind for carrying and displaying come in real handy during a gathering and the nicer looking they are the better.  It’s kind of like gift wrapping on a present!

For casual entertaining, I really like the wooden or more industrial trays for a rustic chic look.

So…I found several diy trays that are easy to make and will be worthy for serving any of your guests.

To start with, here is a real easy pedestal tray that I made for serving snacks:

pedestal snack tray by rustic-crafts.com

A tree burl was used for the base of this one but I have also made them with sections of birch or pine logs as the base.  Click on the photo for all of the details.

This next serving tray was made from a piece of wood that was given a weathering technique:

weathered wood tray
DIY weathered wood tray by The Woodgrain Cottage

I love how the weathered look turned out!  Check out the tutorial by The Woodgrain Cottage.

Pallet projects are very popular so it is no surprise that there is a diy pallet tray project out there:

diy trays
Pallet trays by Our Pinteresting Family

Our Pinteresting Family shows how to put together some fun rustic serving trays using pallets, belts and a couple different stains.

Sometimes a variety of materials can make up the cutest tray:

diy tray
Galvanized tray by Homeroad

This rustic chic tray by Homeroad is made up of old fence pieces, a sheet of galvanized steel, and a cabinet handle.

Funky Junk Interiors has a cool rustic tray as well using nothing but boards and branches:

diy tray
Board and branches tray by Funky Junk Interiors

I love the added wooden coasters as well!

Do you like to use trays in entertaining?  Would you use a rustic style tray?

Happy Crafting!

Tablescapes For Summer Entertaining

If you are like me, you might enjoy doing a lot of outdoor entertaining during the Summer.  Although it is usually especially beautiful already in an outdoor setting, having a gorgeous tablescape to enhance the surroundings is like icing on a cake.

It was fun to gather up some of my favorite tablescapes for Summer, that I found, that had the most creativity and visual interest.

Here is what I found:

tablescapes for summer
Lobster bake tablescape by How To Decorate

Take me to this party…please!  It looks so inviting!  I love all of the rustic touches.  The flowers can be simply gathered from your yard and placed in a jar and then covered in a white paper bag that is tied off with twine or raffia.  Click on the photo for all of the great details.

tablescapes for summer
Lobster bake tablescape by HGTV

I might be on a lobster bake kick but I really like this next tablescape as well.  It could also be used for a Summer fish fry.  I am loving the minnow bucket used as an ice bucket!  It’s also a great idea to simply use newspaper as a tablecloth.  Not only is it cost effective and recyclable but it looks great especially as a back drop to the blue and white place settings.

tablescapes for summer
Natural design using moss by Apartment Therapy

Here is a simple and fresh idea using moss and other greenery.  A scattering of white candles completes the perfect look for Summer.

tablescapes for summer
Daisies and vintage bottles by Design Botanica

A collection of vintage bottles, daisies, and pinwheels……what else do you need for a bright and cheery table to entertain your guests?  This combination will definitely draw the eye in.

tablescapes for summer
photo via Pinterest

I have seen several different patriotic tablescapes but I particularly liked this one which was also a nautical or beachy theme.  The colored starfish are a great way to signify the stars and I love the nautical rope tying the silverware together.

Happy Entertaining!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

In the Fall, I always get an appetite for anything pumpkin.  It’s probably the power of suggestion with all of the pumpkin decor that is found everywhere!  However, I love the taste and am always looking for new ways to enjoy a pumpkin sweet.

One of my favorite treats to make is cookies so I wanted to try a pumpkin cookie that would be especially tasty.  I’m not real fond of raisins, which is a typical ingredient found in pumpkin cookies, so I tweaked a recipe to include some of my favorite ingredients.  Since I love chocolate, I thought it would be great to substitute chocolate chips for the raisins.  I feel that the sweeter a cookie is the better!

As far as nuts go, I prefer the taste of pecans over walnuts so I figured why not make that switch as well?  I really like this version of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and hope you will too.  I did make some other changes to the original recipe so I will show you what I did but also tell you what the original recipe called for so you have some options with what you have on hand.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice 0r 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed (I used light but you can also use dark)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup Fleischmanns vegetable spread sticks, softened – this does work good in baking, with no cholesterol and low fat, but you can use salted real butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (or freshly cooked)
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (or raisins)
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (or walnuts)

Makes three dozen.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice.  Mix well with a wire whisk and set aside.

In a large bowl, blend the sugars together with an electric mixer set at medium speed.  Add the butter and beat until it forms a grainy paste.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and then add the egg, pumpkin and vanilla.  Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add the flour mixture and blend until combined and smooth without over mixing.  Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart.  I have a small cookie scoop that I bought from Pampered Chef.  I like to use this for scooping my dough and keeping the cookies somewhat small and uniform.  They sell a bigger scoop too but I like making my cookies small so that if I take more than one at a time, I’m not getting too much of an overload!

Bake for 22-24 minutes or until cookies are slightly brown along the edges.  Immediately transfer cookies, with a spatula, to a cool surface or cooling rack.

These pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are an extra special treat in the fall but are super good any time of the year.  I think I might like these better than regular chocolate chip cookies!

Happy baking!

Best Apple Crisp Recipe With Pecans

My most favorite dish to make in the Fall is apple crisp.  There is nothing better.  Especially when it is served warm and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice.

I started liking apple desserts back when I was a little girl and my grandpa would make apple pie.  His was the only apple pie I really liked though and he claimed it was because he only used Macintosh apples.  They are a little sweeter and juicier than some of the other varieties and so this is what I have continued using in all of my apple baking recipes.

Although I love apple pie too, the crispy crunch of the apple crisp topping and the easiness of making it has won me over to making this dessert more often than the pie.

I’m anxious to share this recipe with you but before I do, I need to introduce to you my very loyal assistant, Sir Kirby:

He is just so cute!  However, Kirby knows that he is not supposed to be in the kitchen at counter level – especially when I am getting ready to bake.  As soon as I snapped this picture, he bolted.  Busted!

Okay, now that I have a clean counter, let’s get baking!

Apple Crisp Recipe:

  • 5-7 apples (I like Macintosh)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 2/3 cup stick margarine or butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1.  Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 9×13 pan.

2.  Mix together all the ingredients except for the apples and pecans.  Use your hands to mix until the mixture is like moist coarse crumbs.

3.  Add the pecans and mix throughout.

4.  Peel, core and slice your apples.  If you have an apple peeler corer, like mine, the job is so much easier.  I bought this years ago from Pampered Chef and wouldn’t live without it!

This is what the apple looks like after going through the peeler, corer, slicer.  Now I just have to cut it in half to get all of my slices.

5.  Fill up your pan with all of your apple slices.

6.  Top with the crumb mixture and then bake for thirty minutes or until topping is golden and you can see the apple juices bubbling.

Serve warm and with ice cream for the ultimate taste!

Enjoy!

While I was typing this post, I looked down from my chair and who did I see?

Kirby was curled up and asleep right next to me!  He woke up when he heard my camera.  My buddy is never too far from me!

Happy baking!

Whole Wheat Penne With Meaty Tomato Sauce

With the temperatures just starting to cool and the kids busy with school and sports, it is the perfect time to start thinking about those hearty pasta dishes.  There is something so soothing and comfortable about a big plate of pasta.   Plus, pasta gives you energy and using whole wheat pasta adds fiber as well.  This recipe using whole wheat penne and fresh tomatoes is especially delicious and healthy.

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. box whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti or marinara sauce
  • four garlic cloves, minced
  • two tablespoons fresh basil
  • six fresh plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • one pound lean ground beef
  • Italian seasoning
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, cook the pasta in rapidly boiling water until tender.  Drain and return to pan.

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef.  Drain the fat and return to the pan.  Season with McCormick Italian Herb Seasoning Grinder according to taste.  Add garlic, tomatoes, spaghetti sauce and basil.  Simmer until heated through.

Add the penne pasta to the tomato sauce and top with Parmesan cheese.

Serve with garlic bread and tossed salad.

Yummy cheesy garlic bread recipe:

  • one long loaf of French or Italian bread
  • soft butter
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • minced garlic cloves

Split loaf of bread in half lengthwise.  Butter each half with soft butter or margarine spread.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and garlic cloves to taste.  Place bread halves on a cookie sheet and put under the broiler for a few minutes, watching carefully.

**I have also made this on plain slices of bread when that is all I have had in the house.  This works out real nice for making just the amount of bread needed for a meal.

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