Banana Pudding Made Easy

Bluffton artist Murray Sease captures the perfect place for outdoor entertaining, titled Seven Oaks.

This post will feature exclusively the works of artist Murray Sease.

Making your own scrumptious, mouth-watering Southern Banana Pudding just got easier than ever before.  Now that restaurants are just partially open and reservations are difficult to come by, cooking at home has become more popular than ever before.

Resetting the Table

Making adjustments on the fly is all part of a chef’s life, but when the rules of dining changed suddenly in early March, restaurant owners found themselves forced to make changes they never imagined. “Carry Out and Carry On” became the model for those who wished to continue to serve their customers and keep their business alive. Some are having to change almost daily.  They’re planning for the future, but it’s really just day-to-day.

Now is a good time to start entertaining at home in the backyard, patio or porch. Staying connected to those we care about relieves stress, brings joy into our lives and uplifts our spirits. Let’s learn ways to social distance comfortably keeping everyone’s safety in mind.

       Painting by Murray Sease-

flower guy


Saltwater seasons inspire hearty appetites and unrelenting cravings for cooling salads and drinks. There’s nothing quite like feasting alfresco in the shade of a live oak tree to stir up a little romance or just some good fun. Traditionally summertime is the season for impromptu get-togethers with neighbors and friends.  Having everything on-hand and ready is key to deciding on planning a gathering even at the last minute.  Have dishes, paper plates, flatware, placemats, glassware, linens, and serving staples where you can easily get to them. Keep guests a proper distance apart and decorate with bunches of blooms from your garden nestled in clear glass vases – just any size and shape you have on hand. 

If you have a pretty floral tablecloth, pull it out of the closet and spread it out with ice-cold sweet tea, signature cocktails, cool summer salads and luscious desserts for an evening in joyous company.


Keep it casual and carefree by offering a batch of drinks like Sangria upon guests’ arrival.  They can serve themselves. Offer decorative drink tubs filled with local craft beers. Don’t discriminate.  Non-alcoholic drinks should be treated with a nice presentation just as alcoholic drinks. A pitcher filled with ice water and fresh citrus slices is always a nice touch.

Add a touch of pizzaz!

Don’t forget that peach season is upon us! Bowls of fresh peaches make beautiful decorations.

Paintings by Murray Sease

Peachesslice of summer improvedsite

Give a little thought to the presentation.  Items look best when displayed at different heights and not just all flat on the table. Keep it simple but at the same time get creative.  Tuck the risers underneath the tablecloth.  Risers can be something as basic as an upturned terra-cotta pot, a wine crate, or even a stack of books. Get creative with serving pieces. I had a garden party once where I served a mixed green salad out of a child’s toy wheelbarrow.


Incorporate edible decor like fruits and vegetables in your table decor. This time of year fill bowls with these gorgeous peaches, then add some bowls with cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs in terracotta pots.

You may decide to retreat to a quiet porch hideaway, a dock, or seek shade beneath a canopy of luxuriant oak trees with lovely touches that will recharge everyone’s spirits and revitalize the soul.

Consider a side table, perhaps a simple card table with a bright-colored cloth just for the desserts and coffee.

Who doesn’t love a good, cool, refreshing Sangria!

This recipe for Sangria will become a summertime favorite, light and refreshing.  Best of all guests can serve themselves. As guests arrive, fill glasses halfway with ice.  Pour the sangria over the ice, and spoon some of the macerated fruit into each glass. Serve very cold.



Rose Sangria

 1 bottle of good rose wine

juice of 2 lemons

1 cup Pom pomegranate juice

¼ cup sugar

1 cup hulled and sliced fresh strawberries

¼ cup blueberries

3 tablespoons Grand Marnier

Combine the ingredients into a large glass pitcher and stir gently.  Refrigerate overnight until completely chilled.


Simple Salads may be prepared in advance.  Serve with some crunchy bread for a delicious entree. Right now shrimp are fresh and plentiful throughout the Lowcountry. Enjoy!




Exotic Shrimp Salad with Dill

Shrimp season is here – a time to treat your guests to this amazing salad.

Serves 4

1 pound small shrimp

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

1/2 cup good mayonnaise such as Dukes

1 tablespoon orange zest

2 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons sweet red onion, diced small

                                                                                                                        1/4 cup fresh dill, minced

2 tablespoons capers

Mixed greens for serving

Garnish plate with seasonal fresh cucumbers and tomatoes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Peel and devein the shrimp. Place them on a baking sheet with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss.  Spread the shrimp in one layer and roast until they turn pink, about 8 minutes.  Allow to cool before adding the dressing.

Whisk together the remaining ingredients to make the sauce.  Stir in the shrimp, chill, and serve on lettuce with a few orange wedges.





I like to have the dessert table separate and bring desserts out at the last minute in order to keep them cool in the refrigerator. This Banana Pudding is an all-time favorite and created by Savannah’s talented Minette Rushing.

                                                                                     Set design by Savannah’s Sebrell Smith

0011 Minette 2020.jpg

Deep South Banana Pudding

What could be more authentically Southern than eating banana pudding in a Mason jar?  Its popularity is in part attributed to the fact that Nabisco published the recipe on its box of Vanilla Wafers. It’s been a Southern icon ever since. Make this in a pyrex dish or fill small Mason jars decorated with colorful ribbons.

1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thaw

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (9-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

2 cups milk

1 (5.1 ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding mix

6-8 sliced bananas

2 bags vanilla wafers, crumbled

Line the bottom of a 13-9 inch pyrex baking dish with a thin layer of crumbled cookies then add a layer of bananas over the cookies.  If using little Mason jars, crumble the cookies and put them in the bottom and add crumbled wafers on top. 

Combine cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.

Combine milk and pudding mix in a separate bowl then whisk for one minute or until smooth.  Stir pudding mixture into cream cheese mixture then mix until completely incorporated.

Add whipped topping to the mixture then fold together until incorporated.

Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas then top with the remaining crumbled cookies.  Cover and refrigerate before serving.

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