Halloween Dinner Menu

Sweet Balls of Fire

Guacamoldy with Blue Corn Chips

Bug Salad

Slivered Scream Beans

Chicken Bog

Candy Corn Gelatin

Every year Farmboy and I host a family get together on or near Halloween wherein the kids can show off their costumes to their cousins, aunt, uncles and grandparents. It’s alot of fun. The adults have been known to get into it as well. It’s great fun to start off a dinner party in hysterics as people come through the door. Last year I was a Queen Bee and Farmboy was a Beekeeper. Too funny. I can’t reveal my costume yet for this year. Can you? Do tell!

Slow Food USA- Dig In

Hey, have you heard about Slow Food USA. I like what they stand for… making lunches in schools healthy for children and teaching people about the slow/whole food movement. This weekend they are encouraging folks to participate in a DIG IN. Here’s what it’s all about…

On Saturday, September 25th,  something groundbreaking is happening near you. In Berkeley they’re building a chicken coop, in Chattanooga they’re helping local farmers with their harvest, in Atlanta they’re planting fruit trees at two local schools.

It’s all part of “Dig In” – a day to break ground at gardens and community events, then break bread at the end of the day to celebrate.

Whether it’s building a garden in your local school, helping feed the hungry at a food bank, or pitching in at a backyard harvest, Dig In events will be a fun way to connect with like-minded people in your area – or an excuse for a great day out with your friends!
It could be as small as you and your kids weeding your own garden, or as large as building a school greenhouse (they’re doing it in Missouri!) – the important thing is to celebrate our community and food traditions, and then to sit down at the end of the day together for a great meal.

All over the country on September 25th people will be breaking ground then breaking bread.  It’s part of being a powerful grassroots movement that can bring about the change we want to our entire food system – and have a great time in the process, helping our communities!

So click here to find out what’s already happening in your town, or click here to create your own event.

Farmboy and I have a dinner club event on the 25th so we will not be participating in the Dig In this year but I will plan on it for next year. Check into what is going on in your area! All of the cool kids are doing it!

Southern Home Cookin Menu

Old Bay Deviled Eggs

Sweet Tea

Chicken Fried Steak with White Cream Sauce

Fried Okra

Sliced Heirloom Tomatoes

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

Black-eyed Peas

Corn Bread

Bourbon Pecan Pie

Update: Last nights dinner was scrumptious! I have a few notes regarding the recipes and changes that were made.

Old Bay Deviled Eggs: delish. Loved the touch of celery on the top. Thanks Mike & Ann!

Chicken Fried Steak: I used the top round that was suggested and prepared it two ways. At the grocery store I had the butcher “cube”  half of the steaks and the other half I tenderized as was shown in the recipe. Tip: use plastic wrap over the meat to keep all of those juices from splattering everywhere. I breaded and fried them just as the recipe recommended but I seasoned all of the meat with salt and pepper before they were breaded for some depth of flavor. The one that I tried without preseasoning just wasn’t as tasty. My observations about the two different styles of meat prep were that the tenderized, machine cubed steaks were just better. The hammered-by-hand steaks were tougher and they did not hold the breading as well. The white gravy was decadent.

Fried Okra: Oh, the fried okra. I was a bit panicked on Sat. morning. The grocery chain that had carried okra no longer had it available. I headed out early to the Regional Market in Syracuse and was so thrilled to find one farmer with tons of it. Nice and fresh… score!  Decided to fry the okra outside on the grill’s gas burner after cleaning up the chicken fried steak aftermath in the kitchen. (I am a messy cook when it comes to anything with flour.)  While frying my okra I noticed that Paula Deens’ breading recipe did not have any cornmeal in it as my grandmother used to make it so I added a handful… perfect. The last time I have had decent fried okra was in her kitchen in Mississippi about 8 years ago. Needless to say those tasty nuggets transported me back home. I snacked while I was frying and chatting with our company and sat down to dinner alittle, well…. full. Just like when I was little and got in trouble for snaking before dinner constantly tasting what was headed to the table.

I thought about the okra all morning in church today! Don’t tell the pastor. We had some pods left over and I’m cooking them for dinner tonight. I hope this kids like them… but if they don’t, more for me. I usually don’t fry anything. But when okra comes in season to Central New York, I think I must fry from now on. Moderation. Right?

Sliced Heirloom Tomatoes– nothing says summer like that. Perfection on a plate.

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes: my new favorite mashed potatoes. There is little that Ina Garten does that I don’t love. Thanks Rick & Joann!

Black-eyed Peas: My suggestions regarding the link to Emeril’s recipe… no ham hock- only a couple of slices of bacon, no celery, 1/2 the garlic and 1/2 the thyme that the recipe calls for. Add plenty of salt and pepper and hot sauce if serving over rice. We eat these every couple of weeks. A staple in our house.

Corn Bread: Well, I got a surprise when making the corn bread linked above. There was no flour listed in the recipe! Now, our friends were here and I was trying to listen to conversations, get the okra fried and stay on focus… not an easy challenge for me! This was a new cornbread recipe- I usually make the cornbread on the back of the little round Quaker box. I didn’t feel like I could take the chance so I added a cup of flour thinking that somehow it was omitted in the recipe. The cornbread came out fine but I will probably go back to the normal recipe I use considering cheddar cheese just doesn’t seem right unless there are jalapeno peppers in there. Call me crazy.

Bourbon Pecan Pie: SO good. The fresh whipped cream helped to cut the sweetness of the corn syrup. Usually when I eat pecan pie I feel like my teeth are going to fall right out of my head from the sugar. A lovely visual, I know- but its true. Thanks Mike & Rita!

We had a nice blues mix playing… some B.B. King and Muddy Waters. A fun evening with great friends. Every dinner we post a question and answer it around the room (4 couples). It has been a great way to get to know each other better. Farmboy asked “What brings out your Hillbilly Bone?” (referring to a popular country song). The answers were revealing and hysterical.

2010 Summer Kickoff Menu

Herbed Flatbread & Warm Robiola Cheese with Pine Nuts, Olives and Golden Raisins

Chopped Salad

Grilled Herb Potatoes

Fish Kabobs

Grilled Pork Skewers with Chile Sauce

Glazed Strawberry Pie

Thanks to Mike and Ann for letting me post the menu for our dinner club. Farmboy and I will be bringing the Glazed Strawberry Pie tonight. I am so excited to get to use my new food processor to make the pie crust. Yay! If you’ve read the entertaining/recipe posts before you know I have been borrowing my mother-in-laws for years. LaLa and I went this morning to buy fresh picked strawberries from Manley Farms in Elbridge, New York. The most delicious strawberries you have ever seen and tasted! I will post the strawberry pie recipe with photos once it is completed so please stay tuned and get your forks ready! Here’s a little strawberry sneak peak…

Spicy Indian Dinner Menu

Farmboy and I hosted our dinner club with this menu one snowy January evening. The flavors were meant to heat up a cold winter night and feature some new spices that I had never cooked with before. We served the appetizer with Indian beer and featured a nice mix of Indian/World music. The inexpensive glass hanging candle votive added a nice ambiance to our dinner as the evening went on.

Seekh Kebabs with Herb Yogurt Dip

Beet Curry Soup with Feta and Cumin Crackers

Spicy Chicken Coconut Curry

Mughlai Chicken

Basmati Rice with Indian Spices and Traditional Raita

Mango with Ginger Mint Syrup

The kebabs were delicious as was the beet curry soup. I couldn’t decide on the main course so I prepared two separate chicken dishes for us to try. I thought the Spicy Coconut Chicken Curry would win for heat but it wasn’t as spicy as I had expected. The Chicken Mughlai was scrumptious… very complex flavors! I’ve made it couple of times since the dinner. The Basmati Rice and Raita I have continued to make as well.

Dinner clubs are a great way to try new dishes and cook with spices you normally wouldn’t- not to mention creating lasting friendships. Many of the spices for these dishes I did not have in my kitchen so it is a bit of an investment in that regard, but they are great to have on hand. I encourage you to get out of your culinary comfort zone and try cooking with new spices, new flavors and new friends!

Easter Dinner Menu

Sundried Tomato, Basil Pesto and Goat Cheese Spirals

Kale and Pecorino Crostini

Traditional Southern Deviled Eggs

Cola & Brown Sugar Basted Ham with Jezebel Sauce

Mashed Potatoes

Spicy Corn Pudding

Green Beans Almondine

Seven Layer Fruit Compote

Marilyn’s Cherry Pie

Valentine’s Day Dinner Menu






Rosemary’s Pink Diamond Fizz Cocktail

Baked Brie with Dried Cherries & Thyme

Blood Orange and Radicchio Salad with Hazelnuts and Shaved Parmigiano

Creamy Potato Soup with Pancetta Croutons

Sauteed Asparagus and Snap Peas

Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary and Chocolate

Dark Chocolate Souffle’ Cakes with Espresso-Chocolate Sauce


Thanks to our friends Eric and Joanne Tills from our dinner club for letting me post the menu for our upcoming dinner. I’m certain it will be delish! Farmboy and I will be bringing the Chocolate Souffle Cakes so I will be certain to post about that later. I can’t wait to taste that Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary and Chocolate! Be sure to click on the titles above to view the recipes.

Latin/Localvore Dinner Menu

A number of years ago a good friend asked Farmboy and me to participate in a dinner club. I had never used a food processor before and I think one of our first recipes was for some kind of wacky blue cheese coleslaw (it was delish… I’ll post the recipe later if I can find it). There was cabbage flying all over the kitchen. I became friends with the food processor and can now thankfully profess that I am no longer afraid of kitchen gadgets or appliances. That being said I can now confess that I am a Foodnetwork and TopChef junkie.

The last time we hosted was in the Fall and shown below is the delicious menu. My intention was to do a totally local menu with locally raised beef and vegetables. I was side tracked by the Green Peppercorn Sauce which took me down the trail of a more Latin flavored meal, hence the black beans and chipotle peppers. The Salsa Verde, Garlic, Greens and Yukon Gold Potatoes came from our potager garden. In order to get Grass Fed Filet Mignon we had to buy what the grocer had from somewhere like Bolivia! Uggh. I should have prepared better. I did not realize that the local farms often do not carry “retail cuts”. A local butcher could have gotten the beef if he had more time but it would have come from Nevada since apparently it is difficult to finish beef in our climate on grass. I’m still a bit perplexed by the whole thing, but I’m learning.


Black Bean Pica with Garlic Bruschetta

Salsa Verde with Corn Chips

Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Green Chili Swirl

Grass Fed Filet Mignon with Green Peppercorn Sauce

Garlic and Cheese Chipotle Mashed Potatoes with Seared Greens

Sweet Wine and Honey Roasted Pears


Hi, I'm Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed illustrations for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, aka Farmboy, my two children affectionately known as "La La" and "the Bean" and a small petting zoo of other family members.


Blogs I Enjoy



Upcoming Shows

Philadelphia Flower Show
PA Convention Center
March 5th-13th
Booth #Z-1002

Copy Protected

This blog and all of the creative elements ie., written content, illustrations and photographs are the sole property of Michelle Masters Studio and cannot be reproduced in any form without the artist's permission.