April 7th

Ready to play?

Since everyone’s staying home, let’s pretend we’re off on an International trip.  My books are set in places I’ve visited, and I’m sharing some of my photos this month.

Identify the location of the picture below.  Remember to register your answer by clicking “Leave a comment” at the top of this page and then write your reply (I’ll approve comments at the end of each day and reveal the locale in the following blog). 

Correct answer receives a point.  If you’re not certain, go ahead and guess! I’ll be posting a different photo, along with a hint, every day this month.  Whoever has the most points on April 30th will receive a prize (you’re not winning the lotto, dear people, but I will mail you a small gift which will include a modest Amazon card).  In the event of a tie, a randomly generated number will decide the winner. So, be sure to check back here each day, & let’s see who can . . .

Name That Location!

Hint: Long before London’s Eye, this was one of the world’s first Ferris wheels and the world’s tallest until 1985.  It was featured in The Thin Man, Scorpio, & The Living Daylights (it scared the living daylights out of me!). You’ll get a point if you can name the city where it’s found.

~Yesterday’s photo was taken at Leeds Castle in Kent, England.  Sharon K. Connell, Cynthia Raleigh, Lisa Maliga, Amy Reade, & Laura Roberts recognized the location.~

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Copyright 2020. Victoria Benchley all rights reserved.

April 6th

Ready to play?

Since everyone’s staying home, let’s pretend we’re off on an International trip.  My books are set in places I’ve visited, and I’m sharing some of my photos this month.

Identify the location of the picture below.  Remember to register your answer by clicking “Leave a comment” at the top of this page and then write your reply (I’ll approve comments at the end of each day and reveal the locale in the following blog). 

Correct answer receives a point.  If you’re not certain, go ahead and guess! I’ll be posting a different photo, along with a hint, every day this month.  Whoever has the most points on April 30th will receive a prize (you’re not winning the lotto, dear people, but I will mail you a small gift which will include a modest Amazon card).  In the event of a tie, a randomly generated number will decide the winner. So, be sure to check back here each day, & let’s see who can . . .

Name That Location!

Hint: This castle was once owned by Henry VIII.  It’s also famous for its black swans.

A castle surrounded by a body of water

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~Yesterday’s photo was taken at Pointe Du Hoc, France.  Sharon K. Connell, Amy Reade, & Cynthia Raleigh nailed it!~

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Copyright 2020. Victoria Benchley all rights reserved.

April 5th

Ready to play?

Since everyone’s staying home, let’s pretend we’re off on an International trip.  My books are set in places I’ve visited, and I’m sharing some of my photos this month.

Identify the location of the picture below.  Remember to register your answer by clicking “Leave a comment” at the top of this page and then write your reply (I’ll approve comments at the end of each day and reveal the locale in the following blog). 

Correct answer receives a point.  If you’re not certain, go ahead and guess! I’ll be posting a different photo, along with a hint, every day this month.  Whoever has the most points on April 30th will receive a prize (you’re not winning the lotto, dear people, but I will mail you a small gift which will include a modest Amazon card).  In the event of a tie, a randomly generated number will decide the winner. So, be sure to check back here each day, & let’s see who can . . .

Name That Location!

Hint: U.S. Rangers took this promontory in daring raid during pivotal WWII battle. It was also featured in a book by Cornelius Ryan & the classic film of the same name, The Longest Day. Please be specific in your answer.

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~Yesterday’s photo was taken atop Notre Dame in Paris. Our winners were Anthropologist, Catherine Conn, Carol Graves, K Nichols, Amy Reade, Lisa Maliga, Laura Roberts, & Sharon K Connell.~

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Copyright 2020. Victoria Benchley all rights reserved.

April 4th

Ready to play?

Since everyone’s staying home, let’s pretend we’re off on an International trip.  My books are set in places I’ve visited, and I’m sharing some of my photos this month.

Identify the location of the picture below.  Remember to register your answer by clicking “Leave a comment” at the top of this page and then write your reply (I’ll approve comments at the end of each day and reveal the locale in the following blog). 

Correct answer receives a point.  If you’re not certain, go ahead and guess! I’ll be posting a different photo, along with a hint, every day this month.  Whoever has the most points on April 30th will receive a prize (you’re not winning the lotto, dear people, but I will mail you a small gift which will include a modest Amazon card).  In the event of a tie, a randomly generated number will decide the winner. So, be sure to check back here each day, & let’s see who can . . .

Name That Location!

Hint:  Does this ring a bell? The site plays a role in a famous Victor Hugo novel & Disney film.

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~Yesterday’s photo was taken in Venice, Italy. Martha DeMeo, Sharon K. Connell, Lisa Maliga, Cynthia Raleigh, Amy Reade, & Laura Roberts all got the correct answer. Congratulations!~

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Copyright 2020. Victoria Benchley all rights reserved.

April 3rd

Ready to play?

Since everyone’s staying home, let’s pretend we’re off on an International trip.  My books are set in places I’ve visited, and I’m sharing some of my photos this month.

Identify the location of the picture below.  Remember to register your answer by clicking “Leave a comment” at the top of this page and then write your reply (I’ll approve comments at the end of each day and reveal the locale in the following blog). 

Correct answer receives a point.  If you’re not certain, go ahead and guess! I’ll be posting a new photo, along with a hint, every day this month.  Whoever has the most points on April 30th will receive a prize (you’re not winning the lotto, dear people, but I will mail you a small gift which will include a modest Amazon card).  In the event of a tie, a randomly generated number will decide the winner. So, be sure to check back here each day, & let’s see who can . . .

Name That Location!

Hint:  Shakespeare set another one of his best-known plays here.

A large white building

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~Yesterday’s photo was taken at Verona, Italy. Sharon K. Connell & Lisa Maliga got the correct answer.~

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Copyright 2020. Victoria Benchley all rights reserved.

April 2nd

Ready to play?

Since everyone’s staying home, let’s pretend we’re off on an International trip.  My books are set in places I’ve visited, and I’m sharing some of my photos this month.

Identify the location of the picture below.  Remember to register your answer by clicking “Leave a comment” at the top of this page and then write your reply (I’ll approve comments at the end of each day and reveal the locale in the following blog). 

Correct answer receives a point.  If you’re not certain, go ahead and guess! I’ll be posting a different photo, along with a hint, every day this month.  Whoever has the most points on April 30th will receive a prize (you’re not winning the lotto, dear people, but I will mail you a small gift which will include a modest Amazon card).  In the event of a tie, a randomly generated number will decide the winner. So, be sure to check back here each day, & let’s see who can . . .

Name That Location!

Hint:  This city is known as the setting of one of Shakespeare’s best-known plays.

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~Yesterday’s photo was taken at Castle Combe, England. Sharon Connell & Cynthia Raleigh recognized the place and a couple of others came close!~

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Copyright 2020. Victoria Benchley all rights reserved.

April 1st

Ready to play?

Identify the location of the photo below.  Remember to register your answer by clicking on “Leave a comment” at the top of this page and then write your reply (I’ll approve comments at end of each day and reveal the locale in the following blog). 

Correct answer receives a point.  I’ll be posting a different photo, along with a hint, every day this month.  Whoever has the most points on April 30th will receive a prize (you’re not winning the lotto, dear people, but I will mail you a small gift which will include a modest Amazon card).  In the event of a tie, a randomly generated number will decide the winner.  So, be sure to check back here each day, and let’s see who can . . .

Name That Location!

Hint:  This spot is considered one of the prettiest villages in this country.  It’s not far from a place Jane Austen once called home.

Happy April Fool’s Day!

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Copyright 2020. Victoria Benchley all rights reserved.

The Glories of an Autumn Tea

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Fall greetings!  Do come in and warm up with some tea.  Recognize the music?  It’s mountain dulcimer to go with our rustic cabin theme.  I’ve already poured your cup, so please settle in, get cozy, and enjoy yourself.

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One of my grandmother’s entertaining mottos was, Use your best china, even if you only have bread and butter to serve your guest.  I’ve taken that to heart and brought out my Bernardaud Limoges pattern known as Louvre.  Based upon designs found on ancient tiles displayed in the famous museum, the dishes prove elegant in any setting.  Oversized latte cups are perfect for steaming hot India Spice Chai.

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Unavailable for many years, Celestial Seasonings has recently reissued this tea. I’ve stocked up on what was one of my mother’s favorite blends.  I will no longer need to ration the box I’ve kept in the pantry for almost a decade!  Yippee!  As a bonus, it’s a fabulous treat during these cooler months.  Even my kids love the taste.  It’s not found in a froo-froo catalogue or shop, but on your grocer’s shelf.

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Fall is my favorite season and I embrace its every aspect.  I appreciate the beauty, shift in temperatures, and the lack of activity that will soon be required for the upcoming holidays.  I welcome its peace, but also find the scent of chimney smoke, vibrant colors trembling in autumn breezes, sweaters, scarves, boots, and college football exhilarating.  There’s a remarkable dichotomy going on this time of year.  What do you enjoy most?

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Sing To Me, Autumn

Sing to me, Autumn, with the rustle of your leaves.
Breathe on me your spicy scents that flow within your breeze.

Dance with me, Autumn, your waltz that bends the boughs of trees.
Now tell me all the secrets you’ve whispered to the seas.

Sleep with me, Autumn, beneath your starlit skies.
Let your yellow harvest moon shimmer in our eyes.

Kiss me, Autumn, with your enchanting spellbound ways
That changes all you touch into crimson golden days.

Love me, Autumn, and behold this love so true
That I’ll be waiting faithfully each year to be with you.

© Patricia L. Cisco via  https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/sing-to-me-autumn

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I throw a few fall decorations out each year.  Here’s photos of my kitchen dressed for Autumn.  Look closely and you’ll see Old Faithful, my copper kettle, in the background.  A wired leafy garland wraps perfectly around a two-tiered serving stand.

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I’ve gone to a little more effort than bread and butter for you today.  Check out my acorn and oak leaf-shaped tea sandwiches.  They are easy to make and fun to serve.  Guests appreciate the extra effort, and they taste wonderful, too.  I’ve also made sirloin roulades with rosemary spears—yummy.

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In accordance with our theme, I’m serving sweet potato pie for the dessert course.  Made from a Krusteaz mix, it incorporates marshmallow crème and a cookie crust.  Delicious!

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For an extra touch, I’ve incorporated honey spoons. Have you ever seen these?  They are available in various catalogues, but I discovered these in a specialty store.  The stirrers tend to be extra sweet, so warn your guests that they might not need the entire spoon to dissolve before their tea is perfect.  Also, have plenty of lemon at the ready.

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Recipes:

Acorn Tea Sandwiches

1 slice of bread per sandwich
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup pecans halves, toasted and chopped
1/2 teaspoon sundried tomato pesto

Freeze as many bread slices as needed.  Cut with cookie cutters to desired shapes.  Thaw.  Mix other ingredients together, withholding 1 tablespoon of chopped nuts for garnish.  Spread mixture on one piece of cut out bread and top with matching shape.  Spread a small amount of filling on top of “acorn” – just enough to hold small nut segments.  Add segments as decoration from set aside pecans.  Serve.  Note:  Amounts shown for filling ingredients are for 4-6 sandwiches.  Adjust as necessary when making larger batches.

Oak Leaf Tea Sandwiches

1 slice of bread per sandwich
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon sundried tomato pesto
1/4 teaspoon chopped, fresh basil leaves
Basil leaves for garnish

Freeze as many bread slices as needed.  Cut with cookie cutters to desired shapes.  Thaw. Mix next three ingredient together and use as filling for sandwiches.  Cut 1 long strip for each sandwich from remaining basil leaves to create “veins” for leaves.  Top each sandwich with basil strip.  Serve.  Note:  Amounts shown for filling ingredients are for 4-6 sandwiches.  Adjust as necessary when making larger batches.

Sirloin Roulades

6 thinly-sliced pieces of sirloin, cooked medium rare
1/4 cup goat cheese
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon well-drained crushed pineapple
6 pieces of sour dough mini toast (I used Boudines, but you can make your own)
Fresh rosemary spears

Mix cheese and cream together until homogenous.  Add parsley and pineapple.  Spread mixture on steak slices.  Roll and pierce with rosemary spears.  Serve on mini toasts.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed our autumn tea as much as I.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and do pop by again soon!

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COPYRIGHT 2017. VICTORIA BENCHLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

A Last Fruits of Summer Tea

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Come in!  Our summer travels are over, my oldest is safely ensconced in college, and I’m ready to celebrate this slower season with an Indian Summer Tea.  TeaCanSizedPlease, help yourself and tell me what you think of the berry trifle flavor.  Do you like Spode’s Blue Chintz pattern?  Unfortunately, it’s no longer in production.  To find old discontinued china patterns, check out Replacements Limited at http://www.replacements.com .  I especially enjoy perusing their Vintage Finds pages.

 

 

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My summer seems a blur and I cannot believe October is in full swing.  One of our sons graduated from high school, and from that point on, I cannot remember much!  Oh, the trip to the Midwest when we caravanned in three cars — that I recall.  If you’ve read my bio, you know I enjoy a good road trip.

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Keeping everyone together over hundreds of miles proved no easy task.  We had one speedster (my-soon-to-be college freshman), a moderate driver (my husband), and a slow moving lover of Route 66 (my brother).  The Mother Road fan took us on a detour through an ugly, industrial section of Flagstaff, Arizona.  Yes, Flagstaff has at least one unappealing area.  We were hungry and short tempered, but everything turned out all right in the end.

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Speaking of hunger, please sample the fresh herb tea sandwiches, strawberry rhubarb pie and chocolate dipped strawberries.  I grow my own herbs in pots just outside my kitchen, so these were a breeze to put together.  Have a seat and enjoy!

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We stayed a few days at the Grand Canyon.  Miraculously, a cabin at the Bright Angel Lodge became available.  I’ve visited the Canyon many times and it’s always spectacular.  Both my boys hiked down to Indian Gardens with my brother while my husband and I played on the rim.  Did you do anything special this summer?

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My tea stash has grown to epic proportions.  Part of the reason is that kind people keep giving me tea!  Not a bad problem to have, right?  I’ve discovered many ways to store these gifts.  Aside from stacking boxes in my pantry, I often utilize pretty ceramics — as long as they have an airtight rubber ring attached to the lid, like the ginger jars featured here.  These work well for loose leaf teas.

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If you’ve got a cool dry spot, a pretty glass chest like the one I found at World Market makes a lovely display case.  By the way, these items sold out quickly from my local store!

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Of course, the wooden chest (a present from a sweet friend) is still a wonderful solution for sealed bags such as these and also provides a smart way to offer your guests their choice of brew.  Pretty airtight tins also make a colorful storage option for your stash.  What do you think of this unique cabinet I spotted on the Facebook page of Tea with Charlotte & Lucy?  Is it a doll house or a place to keep tea accoutrement?  Either way, it’s adorable!

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Recipe:

Herb Tea Sandwiches

Several slices of bread, frozen
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
2 Tablespoons Fresh Herb of choice (I chose basil), chopped.  Watercress is also a great option.

Cut frozen bread into desired shapes with sharp knife or cookie cutter.  Set aside & allow to defrost in Ziploc bag.  Beat together cheese and cream.  Gently stir in herbs.  Spread on one side of bread shape.  Form sandwiches.  Serve.  Makes 12 tea sandwiches.  NOTE:  bread shapes can be prepared in advance as can herb spread, if refrigerated.  Assemble before your guests arrive.blogscan050REsized

 

Thank you for joining me.  May your transition from summer to fall be peaceful and glorious!

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COPYRIGHT 2017. VICTORIA BENCHLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Making the Perfect Tea Sandwich

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Come in, dear friend.  I’ve arranged a special corner where we’ll have our tea, and the seat of honor is reserved for you!

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I’m using a tea set with special meaning.  I purchased the pattern years ago while visiting my parents.  Made of porcelain, the pot, cups, and tray resemble old time enamelware.  Charming!

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I found the set on a day trip to wonderful Spring Mill State Park in Indiana (see details of the park here: http://www.stateparks.com/spring_mill_state_park_in_indiana.html), where you can view a restored pioneer village and grist mill.   Watch corn being ground beneath the enormous, turning stone as the mill wheel spins, and then buy a bag of freshly made cornmeal.  See weavers painstakingly working a large loom and explore the tiny general store.  Examine the stump of a behemoth tree and scratch your head at its size!  There’s so much to experience.  Once a thriving community, the town was eventually abandoned.  To maintain an authentic atmosphere, parking is not permitted near the hamlet, so come prepared to do a little walking.  I have to admit, there’s something haunting about the place.

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My folks and I had been to the site before, but on this occasion my husband and children joined us, and it proved an especially sweet time.  Adjacent to the park is a worthwhile and moving memorial/visitor center dedicated to local hero, astronaut Gus Grissom (see http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/5580.htm).  You can see everything in one day or spend the night in the lodge and enjoy a leisurely visit.  Be sure to take it in if you are ever traveling through The Middle, a.k.a. Indiana.  You can get to Spring Mill easily from the central or southern parts of the state.

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Do you have any hidden gems that make wonderful day trips in your area?  Please share the details!  How about a special family time that evokes sweet memories?

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Why don’t we sit and have a sip of smooth, mellow pear tea.  It seems the ideal match for our savories.  Today, I’ve made Stacked Thai Bites and cucumber sandwiches (recipes & tips below).  I think they’re perfect!  Taking the time to create a special effect, like diagonal stripes, pays big dividends.

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I’ve always harbored a soft spot for Shabby Chic and vintage décor.  Since my husband isn’t quite on board with an ultra-feminine style (nor does he see the attraction in peeling paint), I have settled for a few touches here and there – nothing too overpowering.  For our tea, I’ve utilized an antique as a table.  My mother bought the trunk at a country auction back when I was in high school and refinished it with Laura Ashley paints.  She wallpapered the inside, too — a great touch!  Over the years, some of the paint has chipped, but I like the effect.  A family member recently claimed that Mom purchased it at a relative’s sale, and that it did, in fact, belong to one of my ancestors.  If true, that would be fun, wouldn’t it?

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My great aunts hand painted these lovely plates.  I think Rachel Ashwell would approve.
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For sweets, let’s indulge in mini angel food cakes with strawberries and Snickerdoodle banana napoleons with mint cream.  The cakes are store bought and the napoleons easy to make with packaged cookies.  Both look and taste divine.

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Tips:

  • For the perfect tea sandwich, freeze the bread before cutting into shapes.  This will allow you to have clean lines without damaging the bread.  Bread will thaw within minutes of removing from freezer, so work fast.  Use cookie cutters to make layers that fit your theme.
  • After cutting frozen bread, store in Ziploc or plastic wrap in refrigerator until needed.
  • Be sure to soften whatever spread you use in sandwiches.  This will keep your bread from tearing and provide a smooth layer.
  • When making tea sandwiches, remember appearance is as important as taste.  Keep sandwiches small and appealing to the eye.
  • Consider an unusual spot for serving tea.  Tea for two is perfect for this since you are only accommodating a small group.  Your guest will appreciate your creativity!

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Recipes:

Stacked Thai Bites for 2

2 large pieces sour dough bread, frozen
1 large slice good quality deli roast beef
3 medium to large radishes, cut into paper-thin slices
2 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened
Cilantro
Wooden skewers or toothpicks

Cut frozen bread into ten identical small squares, making sure crust is removed.  Set aside to thaw.  Set aside 5 radish slices & 5 cilantro leaves.  Spread roast beef with thin layer of cream cheese.  Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and add enough radish slices to cover in single layer.  Roll and use sharp knife to cut into 1″ slices.  Place slice between two bread squares.  Top with a reserved radish slice and hold together with skewer.  Tuck a reserved cilantro leaf beneath radish & serve.  Makes 5 mini tea sandwiches.

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1 English Cucumber, washed
2 Tablespoons Cream Cheese
2 slices firm bread, frozen
Wax paper

Cut 4 identical rectangles from bread, making sure crust is removed. Spread each rectangle with cream cheese.  Set aside.  Cut cucumber on the diagonal into paper-thin slices.  Layer slices across each bread rectangle in desired pattern (I chose diagonal).  Cucumber slices should overhang the edges of the bread.  Flip sandwich face down onto wax paper and carefully trim excess cucumber with sharp knife.  Turn sandwich over and remove wax paper.  Serve.  Makes 4 sandwiches.

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12 Hannah Max Cinnamon Sugar Cookie Chips or
other small cookies
1 large banana
Whipping Cream
Fresh Mint

Cut banana in half, lengthwise. Cut each length into 4 pieces (8 chunks total) – adjusting size according to the diameter of your cookies – and take a shallow slice off rounded side to provide a flat surface.  Assemble napoleons with three cookies.  Begin with a cookie & alternate between cookie and banana chunk, ending with a cookie.  Top with whipped cream and small mint leaves.  Serve immediately.  Makes 4 napoleons.

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Thank you for joining me.  I hope you enjoyed our time together.  Drop by any time!

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COPYRIGHT 2017. VICTORIA BENCHLEY ALL RIGHTS RESERVED