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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Holiday Slush

I've been blogging for a few years now and my daughter Megan has decided to start a blog of her own.

She keeps posting about things that I thought "Ooh, I need to share that too!" So here I've asked her to be my first guest blogger. 

This is a recipe that goes way back. My mother in law has made it for years and when we moved across the country I started making it too. It wouldn't be a be family gathering without this tart, sweet refreshing drink. We usually serve it before Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner as people are gathering. It's also great on the Fourth of July or at a bridal shower. Pick your event! Enjoy! 
(P.S. She halved the recipe, but trust me, you are going to want to make the full amount!)

Hi, I'm Megan from Excel at Home and I'm thrilled to be writing my first guest blog post! A big thank you to Karee (who happens to be my mother) for helping me as I join this world of blogging.

Have you ever had a family tradition that you thought was the same across all families? Like turkey at Thanksgiving; it's what everyone does, right?

I don't remember when I first discovered that not everyone has "slush" at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I do know that I'm still disappointed to find it missing when I visit other people's homes for the holidays.

With Thanksgiving at my house this year, I knew I had to once again teach my in-laws about holiday slush.

My grandmother keeps our slush recipe in her famous family cookbook (the one she gives to the grandchildren when they get married, meaning she refused to give me one until my wedding at age 29). I had a couple problems with this recipe.

First, it makes enough to serve my grandmother's entire family (consisting of 6 children and their spouses, 25 grandchildren and their spouses, and I don't know how many great-grandchildren). In other words, for my group of 10 adults, I really only needed half of the recipe. But the amounts were weird and not easily divided in two.

Also, once upon a time, when my grandmother wrote down this recipe, the grocery stores carried giant 46 ounce cans of pineapple grapefruit juice. At some point in the last 30 or so years, these special mixes became unavailable. So, in order to half the recipe, I needed 12.5 ounces each of pineapple and grapefruit juice. Not the easiest of measurements.

And so I just rounded it to 12 ounces, or 1.5 cups each of the juices. I rounded a couple of the other amounts to make things easier, and there you have it. I hope my in-laws love it as much as I do, but if not, I'll have no problem eating all the slush myself!

This is definitely a make ahead of time recipe, which is fine because it keeps very well in the freezer. Make a syrup of the sugar and water, and mix it all together in a large tupperware or pan. You want something wide enough that you can easily serve from, but tall enough that when you mix it, you won't wind up with more on the floor than in your pan.

I like to let it freeze overnight. Then, at least a day before you serve it, take it out and let it defrost for an hour or so.

Break it up into chunks with a large spoon, and then attack it with a hand mixer. This part is super messy, so wear an apron!

Once it's light and fluffy, return to the freezer. With it whipped, it's easy to serve with an ice cream scoop.

Serve as an appetizer with Sprite or your favorite lemon-lime soda. A wonderful holiday treat!

Holiday Slush

Makes: About 12 Servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Freeze Time: Overnight


  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 mashed bananas
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 cup grapefruit juice
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice


  1. Make a syrup with the sugar and water over medium heat. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. Mix all ingredients in a large tupperware or pan. Slowly add the syrup. Place in freezer until set, at least 5 hours or overnight.
  3. At least 2 hours before serving, remove from freezer and allow 1 hour to defrost. Break ice apart with a heavy spoon, then whip with handheld mixer until fluffy. Return to freezer.
  4. Serve straight from freezer as appetizer with lemon-lime soda.

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                   Seasonal Sundays @ The Tablescaper

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Transitional Holiday Tablescape

Oh my! Look what I found at the thrift store this week! Six dinner plates made by English potter Wood and Sons. The pottery Wood and Sons dates back to 1865 and ceased production in 1995. They were considered one of the largest and  best potteries of their day.

This pattern is called Ascot Village. I love the scalloped shape of the plate and the gilt edge. It features a charming country village scene in warm tones encircled by a deep green border. The villages vary from plate to plate.

 We are going out of town for Thanksgiving so I never felt the need to get out all of my pilgrims and turkeys. But it is bit early for a Christmas tablescape. I though these plates provided a nice transition, you could use them for either Thanksgiving OR Christmas!

I've laid them out on tartan fabric adding to the British flavor. I made this tablecloth from some Stewart plaid fabric that I've been hoarding for years. I simply took some extra wide printed burlap ribbon and stitched it around the edge to make a border.

 I love to pull out my monogrammed napkins for special occasions.

 And remember those giant sugar pine pinecones I found last summer? Here they are in a very casual, woodsy centerpiece.

 I've got several fox hunter figurines (they are actually napkin rings!). They seemed to fit the theme.

 Added to the mix are the Fostoria goblets I found at the Goodwill last spring.  
EVERYTHING on this tablescape (dishes, flatware, linens, goblets, basket) came from thrift stores. Except the pinecones - they were free!
I hope you all get to be with the ones you love this Thanksgiving!

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Please Pass the Gravy!

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and with it comes all our traditional food favorites, pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, turkey, mashed potatoes and GRAVY!

Last week I shared with you how I found a gravy boat to match my china at the local flea market. It's a rare pattern so I was thrilled! I do have other gravy boats so I decided to pull them all out.

Hmm, this is not something I intended to collect, 
how did I get so many?

 I found this lovely silver sauce boat a couple of years ago for only a few dollars. I love that it is monogrammed with "C" for Cannon. 

 I think silver gravy boats are classic and go with every china pattern. I love the symmetrical shape of this and it's connected underplate. That makes passing it very easy.

I have a couple of Blue Willow gravy boats as well as creamers that can also be used for serving salad dressings.

I recently bought a couple of ironstone gravy boats while antiquing in Pennsylvania.

This one seems especially old and well used.

 This charming little sauce boat belonged to my grandmother. Look at it's cute little feet!

 English ironstone is always a classic!

So how to make the perfect gravy? I made a pork roast roast on Sunday so let me show you my method.

After removing the roast from the pan you can see the fat and juices the roast has rendered. I add a cup of water and stir to loosen those flavorful brown bits.

Then I strain the broth to remove any meaty bits. Pour stock back into pan and turn up the heat.

I put about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch along with a gravy flavor packet into a jar and add another cup of water. Shake well to remove any lumps, then slowly add to the simmering stock.

Simmer until the gravy has thickened. You may need to use a whisk to keep it smooth.

Perfectly smooth rich gravy! 
I really don"t need so many gravy boats so some of these will be making their way to my antique store this week. If you need one for Thanksgiving drop on by!

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