Sunday, April 10, 2016

Birthday Brunch!

Hey Down Home Friends,
I came across this great recipe when I was searching around for some inspiration for a make ahead birthday brunch recipe that I could make and take with me for a little celebration on the road. I am a huge fan of brunch and I always love a recipe that is easy to transport and can be made ahead because I am a night owl which probably has a lot to do with loving brunch so much.
Sausage and Veggie Casserole by Jimmy Dean sounded like a winner to me. I knew using the basic recipe I could modify it a little for my family and it could be easily prepared in advance and transported one of two ways. You can assemble it ahead of time and bake the next morning or you could make and bake it and heat it up as needed when you are on the run. And it would go perfectly with some fresh fruit that I can pick up anywhere.
The small pyrex dishes are perfect for dividing up the recipe and making one immediately and freezing one for later. Or in my case a small dish fits perfectly in a small oven in my little trailer. You can easily transport any of these dishes in the cooler bag or in an actual cooler. And I love the fact that they fit in my teeny, tiny trailer refrigerator.
With the food part of my birthday brunch taken care of I was ready to think about the decorations. Instead of paper party goods I always opt for things I can mix and match and use more than once. And as soon as I saw these Pioneer Woman linens at Walmart I just couldn't get them out of my mind. When I finally fell in love with teal...it was over for me.
And the best part about this combination is that I can combine it with my favorite color. I ordered these and a few other things from the Pioneer Woman Collection from Walmart because it is hard to find the exact pieces in the store because they sell out fast. The tablecloth was a great price at $14 and the napkins were $10 for 8 which anyone can tell you that is a fantastic price for 8 cloth napkins. I even picked up the teal napkin set...go figure. 


And it all matches with my camping dishes! So once it is time to go I will be looking forward to a day without an alarm and a brunch on my own time while feeling the spring breeze and listening to the sweet sounds of spring.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Caprock Canyon State Park!

Hey Down Home Friends,
We recently had the chance to get away to Caprock Canyon State Park in Texas. I had never been and I did not know really what to expect except for a few internet searches and pictures. I was excited to see a part of Texas that I have never seen before.
As we approached the campgrounds, I could see that this was a going to be a great experience. For miles all you could see was beautiful scenery. I didn't know if I should look to the left or to the right. All I knew was that beautiful scenery was beginning to surround us completely. It sure seemed like a great place to spend a long relaxing weekend after a stressful week.
I do not spend too much time looking at the reviews of the places that we travel to because usually we are looking for something different so the ratings do not work for us. I have my own way of rating a campground. It all boils down to this.
Is there good cell service?
Can I get a satellite signal?
Is the scenery interesting?
Is there something to do?
Is there a body of water?
Is the campsite semi private?
You can laugh but those are the important things to me. And Caprock Canyon has all that and more.
One of my favorite things in the campgrounds was the prairie dog town. There were plenty of prairie dogs to see and photograph and listen to. If you stick around for a few minutes you can capture quite a few pictures. I knew I had to get a few to show my class.
We had a chance to have some hearty early morning breakfasts before the sun came up and while we were waiting for the temperature to rise. Even in the middle of March in Texas it can be cold.
There are plenty of trails to hike and plenty of places to stop and get those breathtaking views. Lots of places to take pictures even if you are just driving through.
A small lake is located within the park and it looks like a perfect place to fish or kayak. There were quite a few picnic areas with nice views. And there is plenty of easy access to the water.
If you are lucky you can get that up close shot of one of the bison freely roaming in the park. The state park is the official home to the 80 descendants of the great southern plains bison. It is the perfect place to view a magnificent animal in a natural habitat.
I have been to many Texas state parks and this is on the list of the top five. It was beautiful, interesting and had a lot to offer. You can take a shuttle car and tour the park, visit the nature center, take amazing photography, see animals up close, hike, bike, kayak or enjoy peaceful quiet time at the many spacious campsites. The cell service was great so you can get that perfect shot and post it right away. The satellite signal was good too but we didn't want to watch a late night movie when we had clear skies to view the stars.
Caprock Canyon State Park provided the perfect backdrop for a peaceful weekend to recharge and energize for a busy week ahead!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Best Coca Cola Cake!

Welcome Down Home Friends,
 I have always loved anything I could make ahead and I especially love anything I can make and take with ease. A sheet cake is always a favorite and serves a lot and better yet, you do not have to have mad skills when frosting it. Transporting anything that is supposed to be pretty is always a challenge and finding the right size or shape of container is yet another. Sheet cakes are simple. Usually you make them in a pan that you can serve them in. Believe it or not, a sheet cake is one perfect dessert to take on a camping trip. Let me explain. It is perfect because you can make it ahead of time and it is easily transported in the pan you bake it in. For this recipe I also serve and store it in the same pan. I like to prep anything I can before we leave so that when I get to the campsite all I have to worry about is having some outdoor fun and spending time with my family. And considering we camp a lot, I have to think outside the box because nobody wants hot dogs and chips every other weekend. When we go camping for a special occasion like a birthday, anniversary or celebrating anything, I try to make it special. And I secretly love setting the table. I set the table at home and in the camper. I have always done it so doing it on the road makes me feel like I am home. Because of the ease of transporting, serving and storing this family favorite that is why it made it's debut on camping trips. This sure is a hit late night while sitting around the campfire!
This Coke cake recipe was contributed by Lee Avery Catts to "Atlanta Cooknotes" and was published by The Junior League of Atlanta. I take no credit for the recipe other than knowing it is good to eat and just perfect for celebrating just about anything around a campfire!

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Cup Coca-Cola
  • 1 ½ Cups small marshmallows
  • ½ Cups butter or margarine
  • ½ Cups vegetable oil
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 Teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ Cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ Cups butter
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 6 Tablespoons Coca-Cola
  • 1 box (16-ounces) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Cup chopped pecans

Preparation

  • Total Time:hr  15 min
  • Prep Time: 30 min
  • Cook Time: 45 min
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, sift the sugar and flour.
  3. Add marshmallows.
  4. In a saucepan, mix the butter, oil, cocoa and Coca-Cola. Bring to a boil and pour over dry ingredients; blend well.
  5. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk just before adding to batter along with eggs and vanilla extract, mixing well.
  6. Pour into a well-greased 9- by-13-inch pan and bake 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and frost immediately.

Coca-Cola Cake Frosting

To make frosting, combine the 1/2 cup butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa and 6 tablespoons of Coca-Cola in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and pour over confectioners' sugar, blending well. Add vanilla extract and pecans. Spread over hot cake. When cool, cut into squares and serve. 
 

 
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