10.16.2017

Join me for the Walk for UNC Children's Hospital at North Hills in Raleigh on November 4

As parents, we are blessed when our children are healthy. As parents, it's also good to know that we have UNC Children's Hospital in North Carolina if we ever need it. We are fortunate that this top-notch hospital is there for us. I feel even more fortunate that I have not had to call on them in a time of need with a sick child.

But, this hospital in Chapel Hill, N.C.  is there for us, whenever we need it. It does not care about our gender, race, or socio-economic status. It only cares about helping our children in need. I toured this facility this summer. I heard its' stories and saw what this hospital does daily for children. It is an amazing place. I am grateful to have this institution in my home state. 

UNC Children's Hospital is there for us. So,  let's join together as a community and be there for them. I plan to join them on November 4 in Raleigh for the Inaugural Walk for Children's UNC Health Care. The walk will be at North Hills. I would love for you to join me, be a virtual walker, or make a contribution in honor of someone, perhaps your own well children or grandchildren. Here is the link to sign-up, or donate.

Walk for Children's Hospital





Thank you for supporting this wonderful hospital.


10.15.2017

Create an Elegant, but Easy Cheese and Meat Board in Minutes

My neighbor loves Halloween so the other day, she wanted to coordinate a progressive fall-inspired dinner party for our street. I volunteered to host appetizers. My entertaining goal was to keep it simple and look to Italy and Spain for inspiration on an elegant, but easy cheese and meat board that could be put together in minutes. 

Three years ago this month, I was on a press trip to a winery in the Marche region of Italy. The event set-up was simple, elegant and perfect for tapas before a meal. I decided to do something similar with my own spin for this neighborhood get-together. 

Italian appetizer spread at Marche Winery


Liza loves Disney's Descendants movies.  Last year, she knew she wanted to be the character, Mal, for Halloween. In my house, the song, "Ways to Be Wicked" is played constantly.  I decided to have a little fun with a "Ways to be Wicked" song. The lyrics say, 
                                  

"Apple, apple dip, dip
Wanna try it?

Tick, tick
Take a bite, c'mon, be bold
Change the way the story's told"


Descendants. Apples. Villians. Evil Queen. It all fell into place.


Evil Queen Costume with apples as the star of the party.


I used fresh apples for my centerpiece decorations, and the fall fruit is in season right now. An apple, from tart to sweet, goes wonderfully with an Italian-inspired meat and cheese board.

Put together meat and cheese boards within minutes



I ordered my apples from my Papa Spud's produce box delivery. They were in abundance and cost-effective. I purchased everything else from Trader Joe's in less than an hour. 

Here's what I bought at Trader Joe's for my "Ways to Be Wicked" Inspired Party
Sparkling Apple Cider (non-alcoholic)
Draft Apple Cider
White wine
Bread Sticks
Several types of crackers
Goat Cheese with Herbs
A Spanish Cheese sampler with Manchego, Iberico, and Cabra Al Vino
Sliced Aged Cheddar Cheese
Two varieties of pears (One sweet and one normal pear)
Several cartons of the store's seasonal Greek Yogurt called, "Trader Joe's Apple-Caramel Whole Milk Greek Yogurt." 
Dried Apricots
Organic Trek Mix with Cashews, Almonds and dried Cranberries
Italian Hard Salami 
Two appetizer snack packs with Genoa salami cut like apple shapes and provolone slices 
Red Grapes

I have two cheeseboards that are simple and look like cutting boards. I also used three small glass dishes to hold olives, nuts in trek mix, and dried apricots. 

Add sweet and salty to your cheese boards


I placed the four kinds of cheese on the cheese first. I used the goat cheese on another platter separately with crackers, pears, and apples. For my hard cheese platter, I placed my nut bowl and my dried apricot bowl on the board. I put a few sliced apples on the tray, crackers, and red grapes for garnish. Presto. The cheese board was filled in no-time. 

On a round cheese board, I placed olives in a bowl in the middle. I then surrounded the olives with crackers, cheese, genoa salami, and hard salami slices. 

For my third platter, I took the olive oil appetizer breadsticks and wrapped Prosciutto around each one. I used apples and grapes for garnish. 

Italian prosciutto wrapped around breadsticks can be put together within minutes for party


I was amazed at how quickly I was able to create these elegant, but easy cheese and meat trays for this party in minutes. I think the total time may have been 15 minutes for all the three trays. 

I used the Apple-Caramel Grek yogurt dip with and apple slices. 

I really thought this was a no-fuss party idea and I will do it again. It did not take a lot of work, but yet, it looked like it did.  The hit of the night was the yogurt dip and the soft goat cheese. It all worked well because I had meat-eaters and vegetarians in attendance. 

Another neighbor served lasagna after my get-together and my other neighbor served a homemade limoncello cake. It was a great night.



Quick and Easy Meat and Cheese appetizer trays that can be put together within minutes. #Appetizers #Easy #Cheese #Antipasti

Pin for a future Halloween Party Idea 

Ways to be Wicked Inspired Halloween Party with apples as the star. Evil Queen is the host. #Halloween #apples #Easy #Appetizers

9.28.2017

For Dinner or a Football Tailgate: BBQ Pulled Chicken with Peach Salsa Recipe

I like recipes that are easy. I want an ingredient list in a recipe so short that I can remember what goes in it when I forget to take a list to the grocery store. And yes, that happens a lot. If I can throw things into a crockpot, forget about it for a good portion of the day, and the results are still good then I might just do a happy dance. These are all wins for me when it comes to testing recipes. Crockpot recipes are hit or miss for me. When I find a good one, I need to add it to my recipe section.

For this post, I'm sharing a recipe that I made from my Papa Spud's produce delivery when fresh peaches were in abundance. Of course, I finally sit down to write about this and farmer's market peaches are out of season for most of us.

fresh  north carolina peaches, perfect for salsa



Here in North Carolina, that farm fresh window is about six weeks in late summer. Luckily for us, we have canned peaches to help us year-round. I recommend Trader Joe's brand to use for the peach salsa. I would also rinse the canned peaches so they are no so sugary if in light syrup.

This easy recipe for pulled chicken and peach salsa recipe is great for a busy weeknight or to take to a tailgate this fall. My kids eat BBQ chicken, and they like hamburger buns so even if they don't eat the peach salsa, they have something to eat.

Peach Salsa with chips


The salsa also works well to serve with chips if you want to skip the chicken altogether for a football tailgate.  Also, this dish heats up great for leftovers for another busy school night or hot lunch.

Pulled BBQ Chicken and Peach Salsa: The Perfect Tailgate Meal




Pulled BBQ Chicken

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts (or combo)
1/2 onion, minced
1 cup plus 1/4 Brown Sugar Based BBQ sauce ( I use one from Trader Joes)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

**If you do not have a brown sugar based sauce then add 2 Tbsp brown sugar to the crock pot.

Add onion, BBQ, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and brown sugar (if needed) to crock pot. Make sure salt and sugar are dissolved. Add chicken, and mix to coat well. Cook on high 3 to 4 hours until you can tear chicken apart with a fork. When the chicken is tender enough to take apart with a fork, transfer chicken to bowl, add some cooking juices. Continue to pull chicken apart, and mix 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce. Stir until chicken is coated. Add salt or additional seasoning to taste. If you like heat, add a hint of red pepper.

Peach Salsa

2 peaches, chopped ( I used fresh when in season, but Trader Joe's makes great canned peaches)
1 roma tomato, chopped
1 Tbsp, lime juice
1 jalapeno, seeded, minced
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp salt.

Combine chopped peaches, roma tomato, lime juice, jalapeno, red onion, cilantro, and 1/4 tsp of salt in a bowl. Mix well. Add additional salt or lime juice as needed or to your taste.

Serve pulled chicken on hamburger buns with peach salsa.

Easy Recipe: Pulled BBQ Chicken  Sandwiches with Peach Salsa




Other sides or main dishes that are easy for Tailgating that have been featured by me
     Easy No-Mayo Pasta Salad
     Southern Baked Beans with a Twist
     Potatoes for a Crowd
     Deviled  Eggs from Bill Smith 
     Southern cornbread
     Cackalacky Game Day Dip
     Marinated Asparagus
     Shoe-Peg Corn Salad
     Hines Mac and Cheese 
     Caribbean Bean Salad 
     Creamy Pasta Salad 



Disclosure: I'm a paying customer of Papa Spud's, but I do have a referral link which I put in this post. If anyone signs up for the service, I get a referral credit. If you are in the Raleigh area, I really like the service. 






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