Planning weddings, showers and events in 2020

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

K-i-s-s-i-n-g! First comes love. Next comes marriage. Then comes baby in the baby carriage. It’s true. What we learned on the playground has come second circle. Paul and I are in that seasoned time of life when weddings and babies are coming fast and furious. It’s a good thing I love to plan and host parties for these life celebrations.

Next comes marriage…

Weddings and showers are a HUGE part of today’s marriage culture and COVID has put a damper on these events. Smaller gatherings, postponements and two-step weddings are being planned. Son 1, semi-escaped the COVID wrath with a February “destination wedding” in South Dakota. Hallelujah there was no blizzard! Paul and I wanted to host a Buckeye Bash celebration back in Ohio. We decided on an end of August date for the “I do BBQ,” anticipating that the mandates by the State would let up. As you know, they did not. We decided to press on. Large quantities of hand sanitizer were purchased for every table and a hand washing station was made available. We socially distanced tables and seating. Servers with gloves and masks assisted with the brisket meal and pies. Appetizers were cute little veggie and cheese with dip in mini-red solo cups. My signature berry pepper jam over cream cheese was served on mini plates from Dollar Tree. Dollar Tree has a fantastic selection of mini serving ware from mini solos, appetizer forks/spoons, dessert shooter cups, etc. I love Dollar Tree!!! By the way, I have some extra hand sanitizer if you need any.

Then comes baby in a baby carriage…

Welcoming new life is nothing new. The way we celebrate has come a long way. Early times when infant mortality was high, the focus was more on the baby and later baptisms, while moms recuperated in the background. In colonial America, women would celebrate with “birthing parties” while enjoying “groaning cakes and beer” with a second celebratory dinner after a healthy birth. Emily Post in 1937 referred to “stork showers” where everything a baby needed was given. Post-WWII pre-birth baby showers gained popularity as we know them today. A grand girl will be here around the New Year! Do not tell Paul but some boho bows may have already appeared on my credit card. This time around I really had to put my creative hat on. A shower-by-mail is being planned with the mom-to-be in Wisconsin. A box of “special delivery” treats along with an invitation will be delivered to local guests’ doorstep. Mission to shower love on both guests and mom-to-be accomplished!

The response to COVID over the past 9 months has brought about a lot of changes in our lives. Graduations, weddings, babies, birthdays, and anniversaries have no regard for a virus and have continued to go on. The need to celebrate the joy and good times in our lives is a must. Showers of today take on many forms from simple to extravagant, ladies to couples but they all have one thing in common: coming together to shower loved ones with gifts while enjoying good food and beverage. Virtual, drive-by and shower by mail are just a few creative ways to celebrate these life celebrations. If you are choosing for a socially distanced celebration, just be sure to load up on sanitizer, paper towels and plan some single serve treats. Celebrate with fun, food, friends, and family!

Eat well and healthy!


Chicken Salad Puffs

1 sheet Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry

2 tablespoons butter

1 tsp. kosher salt

3 chicken breasts (3 cups chopped)

salt and pepper

½ cup celery, finely chopped

½ cup red grapes, quartered

1 tablespoon onion, minced

½ – ¾ cup mayonnaise

½ tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning

 Unfold the pastry sheet. With a pizza slicer, cut the sheets along the fold lines into 3 strips. Cut each strip in half horizontally. Then, cut the strips to make 12 squares. One pastry sheet will yield 36 squares.

 Place on a silpat-lined baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-14 minutes. Once cooled, cut each square in half.

Season 3 chicken breasts with salt and pepper and grill. Allow to cool and chop. In a mixing bowl, combine the cooked chicken, celery, grapes, onion, mayo, salt and Tony’s. Spoon chicken salad onto the bottom half of the cooked pastry square and assemble to make a sandwich. Secure with a fancy toothpick and arrange on a platter.

Raspberry pepper jam over cream cheese w crackers

Raspberry pepper jam

3 cups raspberries

1 ½ c sugar

1 jalapeno sliced along the sides

1 ½ Tbsp. lemon

 In a saucepan combine raspberries and sugar. Stir sugar into the fruit, slightly mashing.

 Once it starts to get juicy add the jalapeno.

 Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring regularly, until berries breakdown and syrup thickens. You should smell both the sweetness of the sugar and the heat of the chili.

 Simmer until it’s the desired consistency, add the lemon juice

 Remove pan from the heat and fish out the wilted jalapeno.

 This makes 2 jars of jam. Can per water bath method if desired or store in fridge.

Shelly’s note: Try using balsamic vinegar in place of lemon juice and using a mix of berries. Also, if you want to add more heat, chop up jalapenos and put them back into the jam.

To serve you’ll need

12 oz. pkg. lite cream cheese

Small crackers like pita crackers, wheat thins, etc.

 Option 1: Put package of cream cheese on a serving platter. Slowly pour cooled jam over the cream cheese.

 Option 2: Individual servings Using 1 Tbsp. scoop, scoop cream cheese on tiny plates. Pour about 2 tsp. jam over the top and add a few crackers.

Buckeye Brownies

2-18 oz. brownie mix + ingredients

1 cup chocolate chips

Parchment paper

Mini buckeyes

1 c peanut butter

5 Tbsp. butter, room temp

1 tsp. vanilla

3-4 c powdered sugar

4-5 Tbsp. milk

 Preheat oven to 350° Line a 10 x 15 pan with parchment paper. Mix 2 box brownies per instructions adding 1 cup chocolate chips and bake for 27-33 minutes. Cool completely. Lift brownies out of the pan.

 Whip butter and peanut butter until well mixed. Add vanilla. Alternate milk and powdered sugar until consistency you like.

 Frost the brownies and cut into large squares or another option is to use a 1.5 inch cookie cutter and cut the brownies. Using a pastry bag top the brownies with icing. Add a mini buckeye to complete the awesomeness!

Blackberry Fauxjito

*Per glass

3 blackberries

3 mint leaves

2 lime wedges

1/2 tbsp raw honey

4 ounces 7-Up or other lemon lime soda


 In a low ball glass combine blackberries, mint, lime & honey & muddle until fully mashed & it’s a thick dark liquid

 Fill the glass with ice. Top with 7-Up

 Gently stir with a spoon but not too much- you want that ombre look (dark on bottom & gradually lighter to the top)

 Garnish with mint sprig (& additional blackberries/lime if desired). Enjoy!

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