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. : )




Dinner Club Mexican Menu

~ Appetizers ~
Crab Tostadas
Mango and Brie Quesadillas

~ Entree ~
Beef Hot Tamales with Red Chili Sauce

~ Sides ~
Creamy Coleslaw
Mexican Black Beans

~ Dessert ~
Citrus Parfait with Pineapple and Mango


Farmboy and I are hosting dinner club this weekend and I thought it would be fun to post the menu. Tonight we will undertake the making/assembly of the tamales! I’ve never made them before but we have a couple of extra sets of hands and I have promised sombreros to wear, Margaritas to sip on while listening to some Texas Tornados and Freddy Fender music. How can you go wrong!?

I wish you could smell the warm spice of the red chili sauce in cooking in the kitchen. So fragrant.

The first time Hubby had tamales was during a visit to Mississippi to see my grandmother and sister. The four of us drove over to Natchez (so beautiful when the azaleas are blooming), did some site seeing and had a tasty treat from Fat Mama’s.  You might not associate Missisippi and Mexican food… but tamales have quite a history in the Mississippi Delta. I remember large pots of them cooking next to the bonfire at our Outdoor Club get togethers in high school.

If you are in the area and wearing an apron… stop in and we will put you to work. Now, do tell- what is your favorite Mexican dish?




Have you planned a birthday with/for a 6 soon to be 7 year old lately? If you haven’t you don’t know what you are missing!  At our house it is customary to celebrate the kids birthday’s with a family cookout including: grandparents, great aunts, regular aunts, uncles, cousins and all of their dogs followed by a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday in the overly decorated dining room with presents, cake and ice cream.

My chandelier will never be the same. It’s had streamers, ribbons, little swirly plastic-y things, lego guys, Indiana Jones figures, spiders, bats… you name it… hanging from the crystals.  I have been known to go a bit overboard for the kids birthdays. There was the one year when we all met under the festival tent with tiki torches at the entrance wherein the kids were given passports, a compass and a list and then sent on a scavenger hunt. The evening culminated in the hay barn where they had to pass through an obstacle course complete with a pit with rubber snakes. It would have been a challenge even for the real Indiana Jones.

This year was the first time that we had a “party” off of the farm for one of the kids. Ryder (10 yr old no longer wanting to be referred to as “the Bean”) wanted a laser tag party for himself and 3 of his buddies. At our family party he didn’t want the chandelier decorated with anything. WHAAATT?!!! It was a bit shocking for me. I went along with it… the “no theme” party. Uggh. The humanity of it. A mother with the gift of hospitality… and no coordinating colors or plates. I know. The child has to grow up. It’s okay. I’ve really gotten over it. Truely. I CAN let go.

So today Lala and I went on her birthday party decorating spree.  A tiny bit of the licensed stuff and a whole lot of colors and bling. She is such a delight. Our party favors for the cousins include: bouncy balls, tiny rubics cubes, friendship bracelets and sticky hands… which I had to give the proper warning against. “No sticky hands stuck on the ceiling! They stain when they are stuck there too long!”. Not that I have ever had a sticky hand stuck to the ceiling for beyond its proper time. Its just that those ones from the dentist office are especially sticky, stainy or something.

We have pretty pink paper lanterns hanging from the chandelier this year. Yay! As an artist it’s not easy when your design background wants to overrule a Birthday Girl’s sensibilites. I mean we want to stay away from tacky, right. Self expression vs. tacky… a fine, adorable line for a 6 year old but visual chaos as they get older.

This leads me to the conclusion that my days decorating the chandelier for birthday parties are cherished and limited. However, if you are in the same boat or even if your children are grown… celebrate. Celebrate life’s simple moments and rites of passages however it makes your heart sing. Wear the red dress. Wear the tacky purple hat. I promise that I will continue to hang wacky things from my chandelier if you will.


The Cookout Menu

Southern Baked Beans

Steamed green beans

Herb Roasted Baby Potatoes

Cucumber Salad


Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs

Sauteed Snow Peas

And… Birthday Cake and Ice Cream  : )

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


Hi, I’m Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed art for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, two children and a small petting zoo of other family members. #shapeyoursweetestlife



Follow Me!

Email Sign Up

* = required field

powered by MailChimp!

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.