Sunday, December 21, 2014

Recipe: Gingerbread Men

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It has become a family tradition  
each year that I bake gingerbread men and women to use as place cards on the table Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day. These can be baked ahead and frozen without decoration and are quite tasty.
 I use Betty Crocker tubes of red and green frosting to pipe names and minimal decorations on each gingerbread person: collars and ties for the men and holly for the women.
(printable recipe)
2/3 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco which now comes in bars)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup boiling water
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
3 1/2 cups flour

Cream the vegetable shortening and sugar until smooth.

Stir in the rest of the ingredients while continuing to mix. Batter gets very thick so a stand mixer works best.

Knead mixture on a board until it forms a ball.

Roll dough out, dusting the surface with flour to prevent sticking. You can  roll between two pieces of extra wide plastic wrap, flipping it over during the process and dusting lightly with flour.  I invested in a silicone pastry mat from the Williams Sonoma Outlet Store and it works beautifully.

Cut with cookie cutters and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 7-10 minutes at 375'.

To hang on tree, make a hole in head of gingerbread man before baking. Re-roll leftover dough to cut more cookies.

Recipe can be doubled and cookies freeze well.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Needlework: Crocheted Bottle Hats & Scarfs

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These adorable crocheted hats and scarfs for your holiday gifts of wine 
work up quickly and are a festive addition to any bottle. 
Plus they would be a fine addition to the wardrobe of  a small doll 
after the bottle is opened.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Recipe: Vanilla and Chocolate Spritz Cookies

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Here are this year's Vanilla and Chocolate Spritz Cookies. These are among various cookies I make  every year for holiday events.  These cookies are always tasty and they freeze well so can be made in advance.   
Click here for more recipes and here for a few pages of  past holiday entries. Enjoy!

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Needlework: Knitted Holiday Hats

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These hats are cute for the holidays with or without the pompon.
Just alternate any two colors of yarn to knit these in one night.  
be found on the Lion Brand website.
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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Recipe: Enjoy Some Turkey Soup

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Thanksgiving means turkey 
and turkey means leftovers.  I have trouble just tossing out the turkey carcass which is ideal for making turkey soup sooooo, soup it is !  This can also be frozen to enjoy at a later date. 
Making Stock
1. Remove all the usable turkey meat from the turkey carcass to save for adding to the soup later.
2. Break up the leftover bones of the carcass a bit, so they don't take up as much room in the pot. Put the leftover bones and skin into a large stock pot and cover with cold water by an inch. Add any drippings that weren't used to make gravy, and any giblets (except liver) that haven't been used already.  Add a yellow onion that has been quartered, some chopped carrots, parsley, thyme, a bay leaf, celery tops, Bell's seasoning to taste and some peppercorns.
3. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to bring the stock to a bare simmer or just below a simmer. ( If you would like to have a clear stock, do not bring the stock to a boil, but keep the stock below a simmer, as the more you simmer, the more cloudy the stock will be.) Skim off any foam that may float to the surface of the stock.
4. Add salt and pepper, about 1 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper depending on how large your turkey is. You can always add salt to the soup later.
5. Cook for at least 4 hours, uncovered or partially uncovered (so the stock reduces), occasionally skimming off any foam that comes to the surface. 
6. Remove the bones and veggies and strain the stock, ideally through a very fine mesh strainer.
7. If making stock for future use in soup you may want to reduce the stock by cooking it longer, uncovered, at a bare simmer or just below a simmer, to make it more concentrated and easier to store.  You can also refrigerate the stock at this point and the fat will rise to the surface and can be removed before making the soup.

Making the Turkey Soup
With your stock already made, add chopped carrots, onions, and celery in equal parts. Add some parsley, a couple cloves of garlic. Add seasoning - poultry seasoning, sage, thyme, marjoram and/or a bouillon cube. Cook at a bare simmer until the vegetables are cooked through.  You can add rice, pasta or noodles . Take some of the remaining turkey meat you reserved earlier, shred it into bite sized pieces and add to the soup.
For another version of a turkey soup recipe click here.
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Thursday, November 27, 2014


Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Recipe: Apple Pie

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Checking apple pie off the list of things to do for Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Travel: A Week in Charleston, SC

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~A Trip to Charleston, SC in photos ~

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Recipe: Parmesan Upside Down Baked Potatoes

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I found this recipe on Facebook and tried it out tonight.  It is delicious!  I will definitely be making these again in the future.  I did not use red potatoes but Maine potatoes and they came out great.  I also poured a bit of olive oil over the top of the potatoes in addition to the melted butter.  
This is how they looked before going into the oven.
Parmesan Upside Down Baked Potatoes 

7 red potatoes, washed and cut in half
2-3 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
garlic powder
sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400'.  Melt butter in bottom of 9x13 glass (pyrex) pan

2. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and seasonings over the butter.  Place potatoes, cut side down, and 
sprinkle more seasonings on top of potatoes.

3.  Bake 40-45 mins. or until cooked through.  Allow to cool in pan for 5 mins. before serving.  
Coming out of the oven after 45 minutes, the potatoes were bubbly and after resting for about 10 minutes they looked like this.  The Parmesan cheese had firmed up a bit and formed somewhat of a crust on top of the halved potatoes.  
I served them along with a butterflied, boneless leg of lamb and roasted carrots and onions and it all made for a tasty dinner!
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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Remodeling: Updated Computer/Sitting Room

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Our room over the garage serves as a computer/sitting room off the master bedroom and, as you can see, it was in need of an update after  20+ years!
The professionals removed the wallpaper and wall to wall carpet before I chose the paint,  flooring and decorative elements  for the newly fashioned room.
Having the stained woodwork painted white to match the rest of the house made the most dramatic difference in the room along with installing  pre finished hardwood floors.  The walls were painted with Benjamin Moore "Steel Blue".
The Kenton loveseat and storage ottoman was purchased at Macy's.  I found the navy and white chest, the 100% wool rug in navy and white as well as numerous accessories at Homegoods.  The pillows,  pictures hung on the walls and the stools under the built in ironing board are from TJMaxx. I recovered the stools in navy vinyl from Jo Ann Fabrics to match the room's color scheme.  
Repositioning the desk at the other end of the room and eliminating the bookshelf along the wall, opened up the room considerably.  
The metal end tables were old finds from TJMaxx and the Chevron rug was purchased at Target.  The lampshade was a Pottery Barn find.  I made the afghan some years ago and it fits in well.
I dressed up the front of the desk with black and white photos taken on various trips.  They are simply printed on the computer and attached with 
removable gummy "Handi Tak".  The navy and white floral Swoop Back chair was found at Target and is a perfect match for this room.
 I consolidated our multiple Christmas Cactus plants in the bay window.
Along with an unfinished oil painting I really should complete!
Lastly, to add interest to the lamp, I added three stripes of navy grosgrain ribbon to mimic the chest.  
All in all, we are quite pleased with the finished look of this multi purpose room!

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