Kentucky Derby Dinner Club

derby shot

Oh, The Kentucky Derby! This month Farmboy and I hosted Dinner Club on Derby Day! Excitement, good food and great friends all rolled into one. What fun!

In our dinner club the hosting couple selects the menu and sends out the appetizer, soup/salad and dessert recipes to the three other couples. The host couple provides the entree, perhaps other sides and beverages. It makes for a relaxing time to try new foods, family recipes and traditions.


Speaking of traditions… the Derby has always been a tradition in our home. Everyone present picks a horses name out of a hat and puts in a dollar. Whoever wins the race gets the kitty. I remember rooting for Seattle Slew and Affirmed when they won the Triple Crown in the 70’s with a room full of hysterical, screaming people! As an 9-ish year old… it left quite an impression.


Aren’t these napkins fun! They will be used for years to come the first Saturday in May… and the third (Preakness) and the first in June (Belmont). Gotta follow American Pharoah through to the Triple Crown! Let’s hope! They are from Pomegranate Inc and I couldn’t resist.

Now, there is something that you need to know about me. I forget to take tags off of things… my clothes, throw pillows, shoes and apparently napkins. I once told the pastor at our church about the time that I wore the tags on my new dress to Easter Sunday Service. I thought the man was going to have a convulsion on the floor from laughing (he’s a very smart dresser). Ahhh…  the little details that allude us. If you see me at the grocery store discreetly check me for dangling price tags and give me the wink and nod in the direction of the offending bar code if need be. I can take it. Before I divulge anymore secrets, on with the Kentucky themed menu…



Mini Hot Browns

Benedictine Sandwiches


Spring Panzanella with Fresh Peas and Fennel


 Kentucky Burgoo

Prosciutto and Cheese Biscuits


Ice Cream Sundaes with Bourbon Coffee Sauce



And a special thank you to my stylish friend Lisa Porter from The Lisa Porter Collection for her Bourbon Ball recipe. A box of goodies went home with each couple. : )

Overwintering Rosemary Topiaries

Rosemary Topiary

After selling topiaries at my shows for a number of years I’ve learned something… people are nervous about purchasing Rosemary plants for indoor use. And I’ve also learned… there is no reason to be! With a south facing exposure and a little attention you can have fresh rosemary on your windowsill all year long even in colder growing zones. I kid you not. It’s -12 wind chill here today. Eegads.

Shown above is one of a pair of rosemary standards that I brought home after the Devon Horse Show in May of 2013. The pair spent the summer planted in the potager providing garden structure as well as culinary deliciousness. This photo was taken soon after they were dug and potted up to bring indoors for the winter. I would recommend polyfoam or ceramic containers… terra cotta drys out much too quickly in a heated environment.

I LOVE the shape of these filled-out standards! They are gorgeous on either side of the fireplace. Generally they are kept in a south facing window with lots of natural light.

So, after some trial and error and a little “dried” rosemary over the years- here is my secret to overwintering Rosemary topiary.

  • Wait.
  • Soak with warm water.
  • Soak again.
  • Drain thoroughly.
  • Full sun.



I know, right!? Wait to water them until their new growth starts to show signs of wilting. They are a Mediterranean herb and the soil will need to dry out but they WILL give you a sign of when to water. When you perceive the new growth start to droop take them and soak them with WARM water. They need to be watered deeply, twice, drained and then given full sun.

I will admit- Rosemary is not terribly forgiving and you DO have to pay attention to them. But it is so worth it. The only time that I have ever killed (gasp!) a plant (I think) was when I put it in a place that I was not constantly buzzing in and out of. They all tell you when they are ready to be watered.

RIP my sweet bonzi ficus- though you looked so Zen by the bath tub I could not support your daily watering needs. If only you could have fit on the window sill in the kitchen- because we all know those dishes are a never-ending daily nirvana.


Do you have a south facing window in a place that you frequent? A perfect place for a Rosemary topiary! Looking for a yummy recipe to put those trimmings to use? Look no further! Tuscan Herb Seasoning one of my FAVORITE ways to use fresh Rosemary- perfect for meats and soups.

Do you have a favorite recipe that includes fresh Rosemary? Please share!


Everyday Vegetarian Omelette


Everyday. Seriously everyday. Okay, maybe 5 days a week. When I haven’t had one… I crave it. It jump starts my morning and I know that I’m getting a healthy portion of those vitamin loaded leafy greens. Often I will have vegetables in the refrigerator that are chopped and ready to go for the week but I do love to run out to the garden in my cowboy boots and robe to pick the chard for that morning’s omelette.

Now, I’m sure this recipe is floating around out there somewhere, but I swear I came up with it myself due to what I had on hand. As I mentioned in a previous post, my garden and I have been out of step most of the season… except for the Swiss Chard.

Holy Swiss moly. It is still going strong out there!

IMGP5718Pull together your ingredients…

IMGP5724Saute your raw vegetables in a small amount of oil.

IMGP5730Once they have softened, add your greens and seasonings; salt, nutmeg and thyme.

IMGP5734Pour in your scrambled egg and wait for it to set. Then sprinkle on your cheese.

IMGP5736Once the egg has set, gently fold your omelette in half to melt the cheese.

IMGP5743Plate that little darling up and ENJOY!


  • couple drops of olive oil
  • 1/4 sliced small onion
  • 1/4 red pepper chopped ~and/or~ whatever is in the frig… green peas, sauteed leeks, cooked asparagus, mushrooms
  • 5 or 6 or 10 Chard leaves… washed, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • Pinch of dried or fresh thyme
  • 3 or 4 swipes on the grater of fresh nutmeg- or a dash of dried
  • 1 or 2 eggs…  1 whole egg scrambled with a splash of milk or water
  • sprinkle of crumbled goat cheese, feta or whatever you like
  • Red Hot sauce, Sriracha or salsa garnish


Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil into 8 in. nonstick skillet and heat to medium. Add onions and any other raw vegetables to the pan. Saute lightly until vegetables are soft. Add washed and chopped Swiss Chard (stems removed) to pan and let it wilt while stirring. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and thyme folding all of the vegetables together. Cook over medium heat for approx. 3 to 4 minutes.

Once your Chard has soften and cooked, add your beaten egg(s) and gently swirl it around picking up the edges of the omelette to let the liquid meet the pan. After the egg has set up, sprinkle on your cheese of choice and fold the omelette in half. Allow to sit a couple of minutes for flavors to meld.

Garnish with Sriracha Sauce and fresh herbs. The creamy goat cheese compliments the spice nicely.

** If you find that there is too much liquid in the center of your omelette you can put it under the broiler in your oven on high for 2 or 3 minutes to set. Be sure to use an oven safe skillet and DON’T forget the handle will be/stay hot. I speak from experience!



A French Inspired Dinner Menu

I love setting the table for a special occasion. This dinner club evening was one of my favorites.





Kir with crackers, olives and nuts

Soup Course
French Spring Soup

Fish Course
Marinated Shrimp in Champagne Burne Blance

Pork Tenderloin with Apple and Brandy Cream Sauce
Wild Rice Pilaf
Asparagus with lemon and Butter

Salad Course
Frisee Salad with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Syrup

Cheese Course
Artisinal Cheese Plate

Grand Fruit Salad

Our dining room table is very special. It is made from an old plank door from the house where my grandfather was born. My dad drove it all the way from Mississippi to Upstate New York along with a mantel that we installed around our fireplace. I remember playing in “The Old House” when I was little. The house is gone now. I love that there are pieces of that place here and cherished in our home.

There is a key hole in the table often covered by a place mat or a napkin. Whoever finds himself seated at the keyhole is the honored guest for the evening. : )




Oh, Happy Happy New Year!

What a wonderful holiday it has been! Christmas Eve was a highlight for me. Three generations sitting around the candlelit dinner table talking about their Christmas memories. It was such a treat to have both sets of grandparents and their aunt there for the children to hear. We laughed over Farmer Russ always wanting a bicycle when he was a boy and never getting one. He took matters into his own hands and bought himself a motorcycle when he was just 15! Whaaat? What is wrong with THAT picture.

Junebug’s (my mom) favorite present was an Indian outfit complete with a bow and arrow. To everyone surprise Poppa Frank’s favorite present was his Roy Rogers outfit complete with holsters and chaps! What a pair they would make and make now!

I had been obsessing over the menu for a week or two because… I just love to! Here’s what was served:

Asparagus Soup
(a family tradition)

Pear and Gorgonzola Green Salad with Walnuts
(my sister-in-law sent us the most wonderful pears from Harry & David)

Grilled Whole Beef Tenderloin with Green Peppercorn Cream Sauce
(Junebug and Poppa bring one every year… yum!)

Wild Rice Pilaf

Roasted Brussel Sprouts
(fresh from the garden!!! who knew!)

Pennies From Heaven ( a great carrot side)

 After basking in the warm candlelight glow from the table we all said our goodbyes and headed to the candlelight service at church. A beautiful service. So glad that my sister was there. My heart was touched as LaLa asked Ryder if she could put her head in his lap and he played with her hair and scratched her back as she rested. So sweet. Their gentle hands passed the flame from one candle carefully to the other. The sanctuary was aglow as we sang Silent Night.

Christmas morning was fun, EARLY and full of yummy goodness. Here’s what was on the menu:

Quiche Lorraine
(a family tradition: recipe from River Road Recipes- Baton Rouge Jr League cookbook)

Crustless Spinach Quiche
(a new recipe that I wanted to try… I think I prefer Quiche with a crust)

Fruit Salad

Lunch at my sister-in-laws with the extended family was fun and scrumptious. I managed to “win” a roll of toilet paper in the Bad Santa game.  I was hoping for a five dollar bill rolled up in there. No such luck.

The past week has been relaxing, pretty quiet besides the “school is out” sleepovers and “that’s not a word” Scrabble shouting matches. Farmboy even made a delicious Chicken Marsala dinner one night. He is such a Rennissance man! I have been in my pajamas much too much to admit to you. It’s 4:30… we have a party to attend at 7pm. Think I’d better go get changed… NOT that I could possibly still be in my pjs at this hour!

The smell of Black-eyed Peas is in the air. We are taking a DUO (I watch too much Ironchef) of Blackeyed Pea appetizers to the party tonight for double the prosperity for the coming year. Texas Caviar… a great alternative to salsa for chips and a warm BEP dip. Here are the recipes:

Texas Caviar

Zannie’s Black Eyed Pea Dip

When Ryder was getting his hair cut yesterday the stylist asked him what we were doing for New Years and his answer was simply “Eating black-eyed peas”. Made me laugh… we are such an exciting bunch. ; )

Next week Michelle Masters Studio will be back open for business and we will be gearing up for the 2012 Philadelphia Flower Show. There are new greeting card designs on the way as well as some fun new products. Fifteen pounds of french lavender buds is on its way for heavenly scented sachets and I will soon be ordering framing for some new paintings. Yay!

Thank you for stopping by- for reading, for your comments over the last year and for your encouragement and support of my little niche in the world. I am so honored. I wish you JOY, PEACE, PROSPERITY & GRACE for the coming year. May it shine in your lives and illuminate all those around you. : )

Christmas Dinner Menu

~   Appetizers   ~

Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip

Shrimp Cocktail

~   Main Course  ~

Baked Ham with Bourbon and Coke Glaze & Jezebel Sauce

Brined Roasted Turkey with Traditional Cornbread Dressing & Gravy

~   Sides  ~

Cheese Souffle

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

Pennies from Heaven

Sauteed Green Beans

~   Dessert   ~

New Orleans Style Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce

Marilyn’s Flan

Christmas Eve Dinner Menu

Caesar Salad

Beef Tenderloin with Gorgonzola Sauce

Wild Rice Pilaf

Steamed Broccoli

Apple Pie

Cheesecake Petites

Pennies from Heaven- Glazed Carrots

Adapted from “The New Basics Cookbook” by Julee Rosso & Shelia Lukins

  • 5 carrots- peeled and sliced 1/4 thick
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Place the carrots in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Then rinse under cold water and drain.

2. Stir the sugar and cinnamon together until well mixed. Set aside.

3. Melt the butter in a skillet. Stir in the cooked carrots and the orange juice. Sprinkle with the sugar-cinnamon mixture and cook over medium heat until the carrots are glazed and the sauce is slightly thickened, 5 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

4 to 6 portions

**  Original recipe calls for the following additional ingredients added at the end. Cook until heated through:

  • 10 dried pitted apricots, slivered
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Fresh Spicy Salsa

Yesterday I made the most fantastic salsa with fresh tomatoes and peppers from the garden. It will light your fire. I LOVE spicy food and this recipe is a keeper. I was running low on jalapenos so I chopped up and threw in a few green cayenne peppers with the seeds. Yowza! Sha-Zam! The seeds are where the heat comes in so adjust accordingly for your taste. And don’t rub your eyes while you are chopping your peppers if you don’t wear gloves like me! See important note below.

  • 8 Beefsteak type vine ripened tomatoes
  • 1 Jalapeno peppers chopped fine- add seeds for heat
  • 1 green cayenne pepper chopped fine
  • 1 large onion chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste.

Peel, seed and chop tomatoes. Add the rest of the ingredients and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Grab some corn chips and hang on to your hat!

If you accidently get oil from the peppers in your eyes or heaven forbid your nose…give yourself a yogurt facial. Seriously! I have rubbed it in my eyes before and it was the ONLY thing that worked. Farmboy had to do an emergency search online because I couldn’t open my eyes to see the computer. Moral of the story… don’t chop peppers and inadvertenly get distracted on the phone. You COULD just do what you are supposed to and wear gloves. But tell me, do YOU have latex gloves in your kitchen?

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…


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.


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

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