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June 26, 2014

BBQ & Onion Ring Sliders | Easy Summer Party Food

When I was catering, sliders were one of my go-to menus for casual (and sometimes fancy) parties.  They are easy to prep, can be made ahead of time (for the most part) and everyone loves sliders.  I've made countless versions over the years - bacon, tomato & avocado, and blue cheese & caramelized onion were some of our favorites.

This year I made one of Mike's favorite BBQ sandwiches into a slider.  The sandwich, a Z-Man is from Oklahoma Joe's here in KC.  They are world famous, and just up the street from our house... too bad the line is always out the door and around the corner.  Always.

A Z-Man is beef brisket topped with an onion ring, melted cheese, pickles and their BBQ sauce.  It is my favorite, too, but I get mine with pulled pork instead of brisket.

My helping hands : )  I made a spread of guacamole, sliders and watermelon tomato skewers.

In addition to the BBQ sliders, I made a classic cheese burger topped with cheddar jack, pickles and a mixture of ketchup and mayo.

makes 15 medium sliders

2 pounds of ground beef
1 tablespoon of sea salt
1/2 tablespoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of steak sauce or ketchup
1 egg
15 mini buns
monterrey jack
cheddar jack
BBQ sauce

In a mixer with paddle, combine beef, salt, pepper, mustard, steak sauce and egg.  Form 15 patties and place them on a baking sheet. Place in the oven under a high broiler for 5-7 minutes.  Remove and place the patties on buns on a clean baking sheet.  Cover with foil.  Keep them warm in a 250 degrees oven for up to 30 minutes.

I used to mix this together with a fork or my hands, but I have found that the mixer does a great job of mixing and keeping the mixture light.

I scoop with a 2 ounce scoop to make portions easy.

Meanwhile, go ahead and bake the onion rings according to package.

Form the patties - they should be flatter and bigger than you think.  They will shrink down when they cook.

 My broiler is set to about 450 degrees.

After just about 5 minutes they are cooked.

I topped half with cheddar jack, then ion rings on the other. 

Put slices of Monterrey Jack on the onion rings.

After a minute or two the cheese is melted.

I used yeast rolls from our bakery and made them more hamburger looking by adding sesame seeds.

I brushed a little water on first to get the seeds to stick.

 Classic Cheese Burger :  Mix of 1/2 ketchup and 1/2 mayo & pickles on Cheddar Jack slider.

For the BBQ burger : BBQ sauce & pickles on the onion ring with melted cheese.

And, of course I used these small bamboo pics to hold everything together.

June 24, 2014

4th of July Decorations & New Festive Products

I have some big news for some of you that have been anxiously awaiting... the Willow Gathering Baskets are now restocked in the store just in time for making this festive display for the 4th of July. 

**Update : The baskets sold out almost immediately.  I am expecting to receive more this week or next, but I'm not able to guarantee that they will be available by the 4th of July.  You can still place your order and they will be shipped out in the next week or so.

The Gathering Basket comes with large water tubes to keep the hydrangeas hydrated.  It requires no floral skill - just buy 6-8 hydrangeas (blue would look great, too) and add flags.

We are having Emma's friends over on the 4th for a decorating and donuts party before the neighborhood bicycle & wagon parade.  I'll be hanging it on our front door for a couple of hours that morning, because it is well-shaded.  If you make it in advance, just be sure to keep the water-tubes filled.  Hydrangeas love to be hydrated.

I only have a limited supply of these Gathering Baskets for now, until they're stocked again for the Fall. 

I usually plant only white and blue flowers during the summer, so the flags look great with them.  I got these at Lowes for about $2 each.

Don't judge my house that is in major need of a power-wash... they should be starting demo in in just a couple of months and I'm getting lazy : )

In the spirit of the festive season, every package that goes out between now and the 4th will have a small bag of these fun Red, White & Blue Star Sprinkles.  I can't wait to sprinkle them on the donuts for our party and on top of the yogurt parfaits. 

The Red Celebration Candles (with the help of the sprinkles) make any simple dessert look like a festive 4th of July firework.

Another product I've added for pure convenience sake - Bamboo Pics & Skewers.  I used to buy these by the thousand when I was catering, but they are hard to find in smaller packs.  It usually requires me to make a special stop the day of a party to find them.  I figured that you probably have the same problem, so now you can order them along with your other supplies for a party.  They are just one of those things that make simple food look better.

I've labeled these sliders with Privet Berry Blue Folded Cards - they make great food display signs.  I especially like to use them when I want my guests to know what is in each item, like these burgers.

One more big announcement... the Summer Nautical Copper Cookie Cutters (that sold out even before I had had a chance to post them on the blog) are going to be restocked in time for 4th of July delivery!  

I hope you all are planning a fun and simple 4th of July celebration.  I highly recommend an early morning party like we are hosting - I can get everything set up the night before, everything will be wrapped up by 11am and we can spend the day at the pool.  This little "Donuts and Decorating" party is an annual tradition for us - what are your annual 4th of July celebrations?  Recipe & menu ideas welcome : )

June 18, 2014

Our Seaside Vacation 2014

We just returned from our annual Seaside vacation... almost 2 months ago.  It has taken me a little while (to say the least...) to get through all of the photos and get them ready to share. 

We go to Seaside Florida just about every year - and have been since we got married there : )

I just loved our wedding - wish I could go back and relive it all.  To be with our closest 60 friends and family members, there in our favorite place for an entire weekend - it was completely magical.  You can see all of our wedding photos, here

This year, my sister and her family joined us for a mini wedding reunion.  Ok, maybe it was just a family vacation, but for us, anytime we're in Seaside we think of it as a wedding reunion. 

There are a lot of photos.  This blog, while normally filled with recipes and entertaining inspiration, is also a little time capsule for me and my family.  Lots of pictures.  Consider yourself warned. 

 Emma and Sam on the plane - all snuggled in for a 2 hour flight.  I was in charge of entertaining/controlling/distracting them.  Me and Frozen.

Approaching the ocean!  Best buddies.  They're looking for whales and mermaids ; )

Seaside is a little slice of small town America, right on the beach.  Picket fences, cobble streets and charming cottages.  I shared more of the architecture and town sites in my post about last year's trip there - Emma's first visit to Seaside.

Morning coffee stop before the beach.

And window shopping in my favorite store.  I got a candle there that I'm obsessed with.  It inspired my newest candle that is coming out in a couple of weeks.

Chocolate Milk breakfast and sandy toes.  

 Path to the beach.  The home on the left is where we stayed last year.

I decided that this "Bliss Blue" is the color my Seaside house would need to be.

Private, quiet, beautiful beach.

And a chair with my name on it.

Someone may have gone down to our spot early and hid some seashells for the girls to "find." 

Emma was a little scared of the waves.

She started warming up to it when she found the shells.

Where did she get those long legs?   When did she get so big!?

Here is a flashback to last year - same spot.  Same pink bucket.  Sweet sweet Emma.

Fabulous, darling.


We got the girls dolled up and went to dinner that night.  Cousin buddies.

It was the only night we actually made dinner plans - the rest of the time we just went with the flow and had picnics on the beach or in the town lawn.  


Dancing at dinner.

Even Baby Kate wants to get in on the action!

Entertainment for all.


Post-Dinner run to the beach.

We tried to get the girls together for a photo... instead we got lots of photos of the girls trying to get together : )

Jill and her babies.

Plus Emma!

Hilarious!   I think they were in their giddy/tired/vacation mode at this point.

Love this family.

And all of these girls.

Big smiles for Daddy.

With promises of...

Ice Cream.

Day 2

Lots of hugs to make up for the scary waves.  "Hold you, Mommy.  Squeeze!"


Annual Family Photo

2014 Above

2013 Left

The rest of our days were just a blur of fun in the sand, walks around town, fresh seafood dinners, sunset wine & ice cream, and lots of cousin fun.

 Lots of fun beach play with Emma & Kate.

Emma loved the sand.  Not the ocean.  Just the sand : )

Uncle Kevin & Sam.


Jill and Sam "frolicking."

Jill and Baby Kate.

Emma & Sam "sharing" the kite.  The girls were best buds and Emma had big tears when we said goodbye at the airport.  The sweetest.

See you next year, Seaside.  I'll be counting the days.
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