Croque Madame

My husband saw the female version of the Croque Monsieur!  I woke up to him in a great mood and love pouring out announcing that we would be eating Croque Madame for breakfast! What a joy!

Croque Madame/Martha Stewart

We wanted to make this recipe but did not have all the ingredients. We had only a little bit of ham so we added thinly sliced dry Italian salami. We grated the Gruyere because we only had a small block left.  We made three sandwiches instead of 8. 


  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 16 slices thin white sandwich bread
  • 1/4 pound Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced deli ham
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 large eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread 1/2 teaspoon butter on each bread slice and place 8 slices, butter side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Divide cheese and ham evenly among slices, season with salt and pepper, and top with remaining bread slices, butter side up. Bake until bread is golden brown and cheese is melted, about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. (our recipe only took six-eight minutes so check it often)


  2. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, melt 2 teaspoons butter over medium. Cook 4 eggs until whites are set and yolks are still runny, about 4 minutes; transfer to a plate and keep warm. Repeat with remaining butter and eggs. Top each sandwich with 1 egg. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.



Croque Monsieur

Another wonderful recipe from Martha Stewart! Boar’s Head meats and cheeses came through once again for us!  I could not find the right cheese and Matt was there to help! If you have trouble pronouncing some of the French words in the recipe, please watch a video at the end of this post. 🙂


Matt with Boar’s Head



Croque Monsieur (click on recipe to get to Martha Stewart’s recipe!


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk, heated
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese, divided
  • 8 slices toasted or grilled country bread, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 pound sliced baked ham, such as prosciutto cotto or jamon royale
  • Pinch herbes de Provence
  • Cornichons, for serving


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, and slowly add hot milk. Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and add salt, pepper, nutmeg, and 1/2 cup Gruyere. Set bechamel sauce aside.


3. Lightly brush 4 slices bread with mustard.

4. Divide ham evenly between bread, and sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons Gruyere. Top with 4 more slices toasted bread. Slather tops with the bechamel sauce, and sprinkle with remaining Gruyere and herbes de Provence.

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5. Bake sandwiches until topping is lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve hot with cornichons.



Here is a video of my husband trying to teach me the French language and will help you to pronounce some of the ingredients in this recipe!

Enjoy the video!

My Nook

Someone sent a Facebook message introducing “She Sheds”.  It’s the female alternative to the “Man Cave”.  You take something like this:

And turn it into an office/she shed for the queen of the house!

Wow! That’s beautiful!  I want one!

In an effort to minimize, reduce, and take care of what we have, we are utilizing a narrow space in our home that has become the “throw-anything-you-don’t-want, and I- don’t-know-what-to-do-with-it spot”.

Slowly but surely we are turning this narrow space into my “she shed”–my spot to be creative, research, learn, and dream.

I have tons of books to go through and I need to decide what to keep.



My girls went through so many videos and, yes, VHS tapes and narrowed them down to two plastic tubs.  We found some sweet memories on that shelf and laughed hysterically!

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My husband took two old doors from my grandmother’s house, painted them, and hinged them together to make me a divider for privacy.  This is a busy part of the house for going outside, and the pathway to grandma’s and papa’s house.  It’s also on the way to the laundry room.  I’m not sure how the traffic is going to do, and we may actually build a more secluded spot utilizing a wall.

I love the room with my children’s art work.


It’s so amazing what you find when cleaning and truly going through items one-by-one! I have laughed and cried and reminisced. It’s actually caused me to slow down and enjoy my girls.  Oddly enough, the memories I discovered made me sit down and play, dream, and reflect with them. I have found resources I’ve needed for work, ministry, and for personal growth! I also have been saving items for a friend moving into his first home!

Today my little girl wanted to make a video of Cinderella and the prince. Maybe this seems simple, but for me the simplicity of the moment made me joyful. I teared up. Life is filled with beautiful moments if we stop to enjoy them and count them as a treasure.

I would like to take the wallpaper down and paint. I’m not sure. I need to think of a better, more creative, decorative chair for my desk.  We are removing the hope chest for more space. That was done today, and sweet Vivian wanted this for her room. My children were rating me on my hoarding tendencies.

Mom, why would you want to keep THIS?

I always had a great reason that related to a very special memory! HA!  On a scale of 1 – 10, I was a 5 on the hoarding scale.  I’m improving. So, when I would run across a little toy (those are my favorite), I would put them in this small box. One day, my little grandchild will visit, and we can play with these special toys! My husband is actually playing with them right now.  He is lining them up and taking pictures.  I’ll be sure to close with his photography/play session.


The sweetest thing I found was a wall pocket. Parish went outside and picked fresh flowers for me to enjoy.


While the queen and king were busy about the house (this time my husband cooked while I fixed and cleaned), my little girl was creating her own castle out of Lego’s.  I had to laugh–how timely and appropriate!

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I guess from a very young age we dream of our future home, or castle to call our own and fix up with the one we love.

A future post will be my husband’s wonderful recipe while I was fixing and cleaning–

Thai Chicken Coconut Soup (Tom Kha Gai)

Fresh Spring Rolls with his own special sauce!

My husband’s play session:

Dorothy, along with her friends the Scarecrow and Tin Man (Picture One), face their fears (Picture Two)..

Lions & tigers & bears …….OH MY!!!! (Picture Three)




Muffaletta Sandwich

Another great sandwich recipe cooked by the wife while the hubby fixed the dishwasher! In fact, I’ll always remember this sandwich as the Dave Ramsey turn around. We took some things to Goodwill, and we were so hungry and tired, we were tempted to go out to eat and purchase a new dishwasher (this will be the fourth time we’ve fixed this dishwasher). Literally at the light, we turned around. “I’ll cook the sandwich + You fix the dishwasher.” = approximately 800 dollars in savings.


Grocery shopping adventure prior: After picking up a plumbing part in Richmond city we went to the amazing Kroger on Cary Street (3507 W Cary St, Richmond, VA 23221). I took my recipe list and the folks in the deli department helped me to pronounce the unique ingredients and to offer alternate solutions if they did not have the exact ingredient needed.


Peppadew Peppers


Wonderful and knowledgeable young man in the deli who allowed me to taste a meat sample before the purchase!


Remember asking your mom or dad for a pickle from the pickle barrel?


I highly recommend Boar’s Head Premium Deli Meats and Cheeses for an authentic, quality taste! The color, texture, and flavor were delectable.

Muffaletta Sandwich recipe is from Martha Stewart! (click on link!)


A little creative thought with the extra olives! 🙂



  • 1 large bread boule, halved
  • Olive Salad (recipe after this one)
  • 4 ounces sliced mortadella
  • 2 1/2 ounces sliced hot soppressata
  • 2 ounces sliced finocchiona salami
  • 2 ounces sliced coppa
  • 4 ounces sliced provolone or fontina cheese
  • 1/2 cup halved Peppadew peppers
  • 2 cups arugula


Remove insides of bread boule and reserve for another use. Spread olive salad over cut side of bottom half of bread. (We used the extra to dip in the Olive Salad!)

On the bottom half of the bread, layer mortadella, soppressata, salami, coppa, cheese, Peppadews, and arugula. Sandwich top half of bread over meats and cheese. Wrap the sandwich in plastic wrap and weigh down with a cast-iron skillet or two large cans of tomatoes and place in the refrigerator overnight.


Remove sandwich from refrigerator, cut into wedges, and serve.We could not wait for the “overnight”.  I did put the Olive Salad in the refrigeratorfor a while until needed. We put the cast iron pan on the sandwich for about 15 minutes, and then enjoyed!

Olive Salad


  • 2 ounces oil-cured black olives, pitted and chopped
  • 6 ounces green olives, preferably Lucques, pitted and chopped
  • 1 salt-packed anchovy fillet, rinsed and chopped (optional)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons picked fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • Hot sauce, such as Tabasco
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. In a medium bowl, mix together both olive varieties, anchovy, and lemon juice. In a small bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar. Pour over olive mixture and add oregano, thyme, and parsley; toss to combine. Season with Tabasco, salt, and pepper. Cover and transfer to refrigerator; chill overnight before using.


We put the leftovers in the refrigerator and enjoyed the next morning as a brunch item with homemade hummus on the patio. We found two little chipmunks playing.  One was peeking his head out of a flower-pot.  My husband reminded me that his favorite food is the sandwich.  I was speaking his love language!  There will be more interesting sandwich recipes to come in the future of this blog post!  : )


Little chipmunk!


By the way, the dishwasher is fixed!

Ezra Chapters 9 and 10: Changing the Cycle

We often reflect back on our life story and see the hand of God.  We worship and celebrate all that He has done for us. Ezra chapter 9 and 10 come as a great shock after you read about the awesome power of God, the generosity of the king, and the faith of the people. There is a cycle that is repeated with God’s people since the beginning of humanity: Idolatry, bondage, repentance, deliverance, and rest and then the cycle repeats itself.

It did not take long for the people of God to fall into idol worship. When Ezra heard this he “tore his clothing, pulled his hair and beard, and sat down utterly baffled” (verse 3). They were defiled by “horrible practices”.

It’s difficult to read these chapters because you may focus on the marriages. You have to consider the historical background of the text, and the behaviors (Idolatry) of God’s people. Ezra begins to take into account all the wonderful things that God had done for them and admits his embarrassment:

O my God, I am ashamed; I blush to lift up my face to you, for our sins are piled higher than our heads and our guilt is as boundless as the heavens. (verse 6)

The intimacy Ezra had with God was powerful. Ezra reflected on the cycle of sin:

Our whole history has been one of sin; that is why we and our kings and our priests were slain by the heathen kings-we were captured, robbed, and disgraced, just as we are today.  But now we have been given a moment of peace for you have permitted a few of us to return to Jerusalem from our exile.  You have given us a moment of joy and new life in our slavery.  For we were slaves, but in your love and mercy you did not abandon us to slavery. (verses 7-9)

What is it about rest, or a time of joy and blessings that have a tendency to create a period of turning away from God? Over and over again, mercy upon mercy, God is faithful and never abandons us.  We may drift from Him in the good times, but He never leaves. I think reflecting on this pattern we can do some things to prevent a drifting from God’s Word.

Ezra Chapter 10 gives insight on how we can stay focused on God’s love for us:

Remain faithful to a body of believers. Although the church was in an uproar, the people showed up to confess, cry with Ezra, and receive direction.  (verse 1)

Acknowledge your sin.  I’ve lived long enough to experience different generations. I’m fascinated at the emphasis on individualism and a sense of defensiveness when corrected.  When you feel a drifting away, ask yourself, “Why?” Call it what it is–pride, bitterness, anger, or unforgiveness.  Yes, we are individuals but we live in a world, a community, and a family.  Our sin impacts others. It’s okay to weep as Ezra wept. I find his weeping refreshing and convicting in a world that often celebrates and giggles at sin. What if we cared enough to remove pride and complacency and acknowledged? Take notice, and instead of being defensive, rejoice in the knowledge. Good things are about to happen!

Cooperate with God’s leading and Christian counsel. After acknowledging their drifting away from God, they asked Ezra to “take courage and tell us how to proceed in setting things straight, and we will fully cooperate.” (verse 4)  We often know what to do, but don’t do it.  Paul in the new testament confessed this problem.  You take small steps to small victories over time. I struggle deeply with perfectionism and have high expectations for myself and others.  It’s an inward struggle.  I can get into a battlefield of the mind of “not good enough” or “you’ll never conquer this” or “what’s wrong with me”. The enemy wants you to feel wrong.  Jesus wants you to know His righteousness and begin your path of healing! Joyce Meyer has an excellent sermon to cheer you on in the journey: (click on link highlighted)

Psalm 23 – Part 5 – Weekly Broadcast (January 18, 2015)

Even if you’re on the right path, you’ll discover it winds through some valleys. Discover how to stick with God during those hard times.

Separate yourself from the sin (verse 11). God wants you to experience an intimacy with Him-to know Him and His Word.  We do not need religion and rules; we need the love of Jesus. Once you know the love of Jesus the checklist goes away.  You desire to please Him because of His love for you.  As parents we know the difference when our children obey out of duty verses out of love for us as their parents, and respect for our home. Serving Jesus is filled with love, blessings, and joy, not condemnation. In order to begin to know this love we must challenge ourselves to move toward Jesus and away from the sin that is drawing us away from Him.  This can be a tangible thing like a relationship, an addiction, or place.  It also can be a mind pattern or thought process like jealousy and bitterness, or self-loathing.  God’s Word is your protection and guide-book.  His love will cover you.  Choose to walk away or shift your thinking.  Physically act on it.  Take action knowing your feelings will catch up later. If we waited until the feeling was right, we would be waiting for a very long time.

Accountability. The people requested to arrange trials with the leaders.  Each case was heard, counseled, and cleared up. (verse 14)  We can daily be in counsel with those we trust through Bible study, a phone call, prayer, and reaching out to support each other. Isolation breeds a battlefield and a pulling away from God.  The more isolated we become, we are at great risk.  We begin to rationalize behaviors and our mind becomes open to negativity and depression.

The next book of God’s Holy Word is Nehemiah. As Ezra’s story abruptly ends for us, Nehemiah begins another adventure in courageously living for God! Both books tell the story of Israel returning to Jerusalem from Babylonian exile. Ezra’s story was rebuilding the Temple, while Nehemiah’s story was rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. After this praise and worship  song, Amazing Grace by Chris Tomlin, recommendations for further study in Nehemiah are listed.

A few years ago my husband facilitated a Bible study for young men based on Nehemiah.  If you would like to continue this adventure and learn more, I highly recommend this study for men:

  • Hope Under Construction: Nehemiah, by Dr. Gene Getz, introduces men to one of the greatest leaders of all time! Nehemiah had every reason on earth to lose hope and give up, yet he had access to every resource in heaven to combat his earthly crises. Whether you want to be a stronger and more effective leader in your home, business, church, or community, Nehemiah can teach you the leadership principles in this 12-session study that work in every situation. His balance between wholeheartedly trusting God and fiercely exerting his own initiative provides us all a model of how to demolish discouragement and emerge victorious no matter what we face!
  • Also Kelly Minter has a Nehemiah video and Bible Study series on Nehemiah:
Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break – Member Book by Kelly Minter is a 7-session Bible study for women. Nehemiah’s heart was so broken for those in need that he left the comfort of his Persian palace to help them. Like Kelly’s other studies in the Living Room Series, you’ll find authentic Bible teaching, recipes, and a relational approach. Nehemiah also includes 7 video sessions and real-life ways to put feet to your faith. Are you ready to let God break your heart for a hurting, lost world and move you in compassion to be the hands and feet of Jesus?
  • Another great study that combines Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther:

Overcoming Fear and Discouragement: Ezra/Nehemiah/Esther, Kay (Author) ,   Lawson, David (Joint Author) ,   Vereen, Bob (Joint Author)Description

This exciting study explores the lives of ordinary men and women who faced overwhelming situations and won. Readers go directly to God’s Word to learn the precepts that will help them conquer fear and discouragement.

Vintage or Modern? Life lessons in the decisions

(Lots of resources and links in this post highlighted in the title–just click on it!)

We purchased a home from 1972. As you can imagine, the plumbing, electricity, and anything you can think of are outdated when it comes to repair.  We purchased the home in 2006, when my youngest was two years old.  She is now 11 years old. So that’s over 9 years in our home of charm and surprises. What this old house is teaching us has many life applications.  I’ll let you find them in the story:


1. You can’t fix everything all at once. You have to learn to live with one thing, while working on an issue of priority. Other issues will have to wait.

2. Be content. You may have to turn off the main for the water after each shower, but until we can find the plumbing part needed (because Lowe’s and Home Depot do not carry it), the money, and the time, keep it rolling and be content with the blessings that abound. Stressed about it? No worries. Keep it rolling.  This too shall pass.

3. Listen to your heart. Service people will come and go with their advice and opinions, but what do you want?  We had one quote that included remodeling to be more modern.  We hear things like, “Oh! That’s interesting!” He had a lot to say about our “out dated” stuff.  Modern is not our thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I like a fancy, modern dishwasher, cabinet, or appliances, but my home is colonial style and, well, I quite fancy myself a pilgrim!  I’m okay with what I have, just fix the leak in the shower.

3. Your home is your castle and you are the king and queen–embrace the beauty of what God has given you. After applying for a home equity loan, we began to add even the smallest of things on the list of “to do” because we were overwhelmed.  We were dreaming of condos, apartments, and #tentliving. We even considered selling.  After a “discussion” between king and queen, we began to take control of our castle, our stuff (Well, God’s stuff given to us to take care of).  No thank you for the 9,000 quote to remodel the entire kitchen counter tops for a simple leak in a 1972 fiesta bowl with an antiquated faucet. Granite counters will have to wait.  We spent hours researching the 1972 fiesta bowl (which by the way the name of such items is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy under the sink, and you need a flashlight to find it) and stumbled upon a website that was into renovations of old homes. (click the link  for more!) We read the Q and A and found a situation just like ours.  In the answer was a shop in California that had our old faucet!  We called them, had a lovely conversation, and we are currently awaiting our old, but new faucet to install and KEEP our beautiful fiesta sink!

You can get replacement faucets for this. Try calling Conleffs plumbing in San Jose CA . They are a bunch of old school guys who knew EXACTLY what my sink was when I brought in pics & told me exactly what I needed. That is where i bought mine. It was $250 a few years ago. Vikki

My husband calls the fiesta kitchen sink, “A party in three bowls!”

Our sink is a lovely earthy brown!  I’m sorry we missed out on the cool green color! Loving my 70s.

We were on the phone with Samantha Lou in California sending her pictures back and forth until the order was complete! Friendly, incredible, and full of positive energy that reminded us that vintage is awesome!  Who needs modern?!

I also recommend Richmond Plumbing Specialties for plumbing parts for older homes. (click on link embedded in the title)

No one had this part for the older model Kohler shower:


They did, and they were very helpful! My husband came home, and after 30 minutes, fixed the shower for only 25.00 dollars. The queen was making Po’ Boy Fried Oyster Sandwiches, and the King was fixing the shower.  Which leads me to my last point:

In marriage, we NEED each other.  We often divide and conquer in our relationships, but there are some times that encouragement, a skill set, an organizational task, and a “we can do this!” have to take place, even if it’s through a “discussion”.  : )  Discuss, change, motivate, and move on!  Make it work and enjoy the journey. I’m a highly driven person with a creative mind, and I don’t mind pretending that I know what a faucet valve is and making a call.  I knew our faucet was out there somewhere awaiting to be adopted!  My husband needed that.  My husband is skilled with his hands. Our home and budget needs that.

We even talked about a previous Bible study and post we wrote on this blog about needing each other. (  I encourage you to read with your spouse and re-focus.  I needed the reminder.

I’ve discovered a new love for plumbing.  I’m amazed at how all the parts go together. Each part has it’s purpose, and each part is needed to produce the service required.

This is what I’m dreaming of and is soon to show up on my front door.

These are all the parts that will make my kitchen faucet functional.

Every washer, hose, and lever is needed.  Truthfully, it reminds me of how we all function together at church, home, and our jobs to create something beautiful and useful!

More posts to come as we spend the next few years fixing up “our old house”.

Update 9/5/2015

Our new kitchen faucet came in!  We ended up getting the plumber who is doing work on our bathroom to also install the kitchen faucet and fix the leak.  All is well!


Po’ Boy Fried Oyster Sandwich

Martha Stewart has great cooking shows on PBS.  Actually, many good chefs have their special niche within cooking on PBS, and I enjoy watching the variety. From Vietnamese, Norwegian, Italian, Southern, and an emphasis on cooking fresh you can learn about different cultures and appreciate the beautiful foods God has given us to enjoy.

I will be honest.  The Fried Oyster Sandwich from Martha Stewart piqued my interest because of the homemade tartar sauce.  The tartar sauce had one of my favorite ingredients–capers!  I love capers.  The first time I had them was years ago at the Chamberlin Hotel in Hampton, VA with my oldest daughter Victoria.  They served them with a pasta dish.  I fell in love!  Pictured below is the Chamberlin in its heyday. It’s now a retirement facility on a military base. As an older hotel, I can still conjure up the combination smell of the ocean, rustic hotel, pool, and the breakfast buffet.  You had real keys to open your big wooden doors and older antique furniture.  The hotel was not elaborate because of wealth.  It was elaborate because of history and style. I’d give anything to stay the night there and remember the joy of the Chamberlin.  My brothers would fish on the pier, and the game room and bikes provided great fun for the family. I was curious to know if there was any video footage taken of the hotel. The YouTube video after the picture is a historical account of the hotel.  No wonder I loved it so much as a child!  I did not realize that it was a hotel during the early 1900’s– a time period, that even as a child, I enjoyed learning about and imagined myself in long dresses with petticoats and parasols.


Po’ Boy Fried Oyster Sandwich by Martha Stewart (with adaptations!)


  • 1 cup buttermilk ( I did not have so used whole milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus pinch cayenne pepper, divided ( I did not have so used crushed red pepper)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 48 freshly shucked oysters, drained (We could not afford 48 oysters.  We purchased the usual jar of oysters already shucked for you.  One jar was about 14.00 dollars. Hence the reason we only made four sandwiches!)
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups safflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 top-split hot dog buns
  • Tartar Sauce, for serving (See recipe for this following the sandwich recipe)


  • Mix together buttermilk, cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Add oysters and turn to coat; let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a shallow dish, mix together cornmeal, flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and a pinch of cayenne; set aside.


  • In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan with high sides, heat oil to 350 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer.


  • Dredge oysters in cornmeal mixture, shaking off any excess. Working in batches, quickly and carefully add oysters to hot oil and cook, turning, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer oysters to a plate lined with paper towels; season with salt.


  • Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Spread butter on both sides of hot dog buns and place in the skillet on their sides, turning, until evenly browned.


  • Spread tartar sauce in the bottom of each bun. Top with fried oysters, and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Too funny! I did not see the word “bottom”. We put the tartar sauce on top and it was just as good. I guess having it on the bottom would make for a better presentation of the fried oysters!



  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cornichons
  • 1 shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper



  1. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, cornichons, shallot, capers, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve, for up to 2 days. Stir again just before serving.