You know how you have an idea in your head and you envision it to be fabulous without really thinking about logistics or other little issues such as weather? Perhaps you did think of rain but you didn’t count on excessive heat that normally occurs in August.
Sometimes you have to admit defeat and give in – make little concessions and realize what’s more important such as comfort and just being with family, instead of how pretty something would have looked under the oak trees during a summer evening in the south.
I was having a Martha Stewart (MS) moment. This happens occasionally and as I get older I’m learning to set my eyes on more realistic goals. But recently I had a MS slip up once again in preparation for a “Family Celebration”. We were celebrating my husband’s birthday, Father’s Day, and my parents’ 46th wedding anniversary in one big event. We were going to have a family BBQ on my parents’ farm underneath some stately oaks covered in spanish moss, but with temperatures reaching 96 and air so thick you could hardly breathe, comfort won out and we went with Plan B to have the BBQ inside.
So the mason jar tealight extravaganza we were going to hang from the oak trees was nixed and a two layered banner I spent hours on wasn’t used. Instead we had an indoor BBQ at my parents’ house and it turned out perfect anyway. We had a wonderful time and the food was amazing. We had grilled hamburgers and sausages from the guys, and baked beans, potato salad, fresh broccoli salad, deviled eggs, Strawberry Cheesecake Salad, and homemade cupcakes from the ladies. And more importantly, everyone was comfortable – no gnats or mosquitoes, and no sweltering heat.
If I had thought of it, I could have brought my banner over and hung it on Mom’s fireplace. Instead it sits hanging on my fireplace as if it were still waiting to be transported to the pasture to be hung between two pine trees. The mason jars are sitting in my Mom’s guest room. I guess I’ll save them for another event when it’s cooler – maybe in the Fall. My sister added ribbon to each jar and they turned out so pretty but for now we’ll just have to use our imagination on how it would have looked illuminating the old oak trees.
Here is a pic of the unused banner. Using a bbq/picnic theme, I went for the Kraft and gingham look.
The banner and its toppers are cut at 7.5 inches from Straight from the Nest and the letters spelling “Family Celebration” are cut from Storybook at 2.5 inches. The red gingham paper is from DCWV’s “Nana’s Kitchen” stack. The banner base is cut from 8.5 x 11 Kraft cardstock. I was able to fit two banner triangles on one sheet and used 9 sheets in total. I threaded short pieces of twine, knotting them at the back, to connect all the banner pieces together and then added two longer lengths of twine on the ends for hanging.
Now back to the MS moment that did work – I tried out a new recipe I found on Pinterest and it was a hit. Family members asked for the recipe and I would like to share the source and recipe here. It’s a perfect summer dessert and I will definitely be making it again. It’s called “Strawberry Cheesecake Salad” found on “Mommy’s Menu”. The only alteration I made was to leave out the bananas. You’re supposed to add in the bananas right before serving but I did a taste-test in between and fell in love with how it tasted just like Strawberry Cheesecake without them.
Strawberry Cheesecake Salad
Serves about 10
12 oz. whipped topping (I used Cool-Whip)
1 small package of cheesecake pudding powder
3 (6 oz) strawberry yogurts (I used Yoplait)
1 lb fresh strawberries, sliced
*3 bananas, sliced (add just before serving or they brown) – (I omitted this step)
miniature marshmallows (add just before serving)
In a large salad bowl stir together whipped topping, yogurts, and pudding powder. Let this set up in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. Wash and slice strawberries. You can add strawberries to salad or wait to add them with sliced bananas and marshmallows just before serving. Keep refrigerated.
Note – it doesn’t say how many marshmallows to add so I tried half a bag and stirred and then I just went for it and added the whole bag of miniature marshmallows. It turned out great and as it sat in the fridge an hour before the BBQ, the marshmallows got softer in the pudding mixture and got even better. This salad reminds me of Watergate Salad or what we call here in the south, Pistachio Fluff. It uses the same idea – cool whip, pudding mix, some kind of fruit, and miniature marshmallows.
I also made cupcakes in honor of my husband’s birthday and tried out a new cake mix - Betty Crocker Supermoist Cake Mix, Golden Vanilla. It made a wonderful cupcake and I will be using this brand again. I couldn’t lay my hands on my favorite buttercream icing recipe so I used the one listed on the back of Domino’s Confectioners Sugar but it turned out too sweet. I had my mother-in-law and sister taste it and we all thought another stick of butter would mellow it out. It did and it was delicious! I will now use this altered recipe for future cakes:
Icing Recipe (I doubled Domino’s Recipe and added an extra stick of butter)
Makes Plenty of Icing for Piping Swirls onto 24 cupcakes:
7 1/2 cups – (2) 1 lb. boxes of Domino® Confectioners Sugar
1 1/2 cups – butter (3 sticks), softened (Land O Lakes salted)
8 tablespoons – milk
2 teaspoons – vanilla extract
In a large bowl with electric mixer at low-speed, combine sugar, butter, milk and vanilla. Beat at medium speed 1 to 2 minutes until creamy. If desired, add more milk until frosting is spreading consistency.
Many thanks to my sister for adding some fun colors to the icing – neon green and blue using McCormick’s Neon! Food Coloring. She piped on swirls to all of the cupcakes while I made the Cheesecake salad. We had a great time cooking with only a few stressful moments in getting everything done in time to be carried over to our parents’ home. The cupcakes were tricky in transporting, but overall they fared well.