Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Our favorite dish to have on New Year's Eve is gumbo, especially shrimp and sausage gumbo. We will not be home tonight for our gumbo (I will make in the next few weeks) but thought I would share my favorite recipe.  Even though I live in the west I have been fortunate to visit the south and specifically Louisiana several times in the last few years.  I like to say that visiting New Orleans is the closest thing to going to a foreign country and still be at home. The combination of the different cultures and access to such good and fresh seafood have combined to make culinary heaven with their Creole cuisine. Gumbo, red beans and rice, crawfish etouffee, jambalaya, and so many other wonderful dishes may all be a little different at each restaurant or each home but they are all good. Here is my favorite recipe for shrimp & sausage gumbo.

A note about file powder for file gumbo. File is dried & ground sassafras leaves. It can be found in specialty stores and online and it was my intent to add a link to Uncle Bill's File Powder which is the real deal. A gentlemen from Baton Rouge was selling his file powder at the Red Stick Farmer's Market in Baton Rouge (making his product as taught him by his blind Uncle Bill) and then he had a website and I purchased some file powder from him sometime ago.  I guess he is not longer in business (not online anyway) as the link no longer works. If anyone has information about this, please email me. If you can find this item, use sparingly. Please note that real file is green and most of the commercial that you see is a grey color and probably contains things like ground bay leaves and other herbs and probably not any sassafras. This recipe does not call for file so if you want to use, adjust the spices accordingly and add just a little of the file.


1 1/2 cups chopped frozen okra
2 small red onions, sliced
4 inner celery ribs, sliced
3/4 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
3/4 cup minced fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 pound cooked andouille, sliced lengthwise and then sliced across 1/2" thick (if andouille too hot for you, OK to use kielbasa)
Vegetable oil
1/2 cup AP flour
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup of tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
5 plum tomatoes, seeded & chopped
1 pound medium shrimp(FRESH not cooked), shelled and deveined
1/2 cup minced scallion greens
2T distilled white vinegar
Hot cooked rice for serving, we prefer brown rice but this is normally served with fluffy white rice, personal preference

1. In a large bowl, stir together the okra, onions, celery, bell peppers, 1/4 cup of the parsley, the garlic, bay leaf, salt, pepper, red pepper, thyme, and allspice, stir to combine.  Set aside.

2. In a large dutch oven or large heavy pot, cook the sausage until lightly browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl. Pour the fat from the pan into a glass measure and add enough vegetable oil to equal 1/2 cup.  Return the oil to the pot and over medium heat, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Gradually add the flour and cook stirring frequently, for about 30 minutes, or until this roux is very dark and rich brown.  Taking the time for the roux is what is the difference between an OK gumbo and a great gumbo - take the time, do it right.

3. Immediately add the broth and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom. Blend the tomato paste and water, add to the pot along with the vegetable mixture, the sausage and tomatoes.  Heat the mixture to boiling over high heat; reduce the heat to low and simmer for one hour, or until thick. 

4. Stir in the shrimp, scallions, the remaining 1/2 cup parsley, and the vinegar.  Remove the dutch oven from the heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes. The heat from the mixture will cook the shrimp you do not want to overcook the shrimp or it will be tough. Remove the bay leaf. Serve the gumbo in bowls with rice and as they say in New Orleans..Laissez les bons temps rouler, let the good times roll.

Recipe resource, ME, Tis The Season Holiday Cookbook, 2000

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, December 30, 2013


Today I made a cheese ball to take as a hostess gift tomorrow night and with a little effort I think I elevated it just a bit - don't you??
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese grated
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 T mayo
1 T (heaping) of either diced pimientos or roasted red peppers
2 t diced white onion, or if you do not want the raw onion use some onion powder
1 1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 T sweet Thai chili sauce
1 t chopped chives, fresh or dried
1 T diced celery (heaping)
White pepper and sea salt to taste
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds

Put the softened cream cheese, then the cheddar in a mixer or food processor and mix, then add the rest of the ingredients until well mixed.  Adjust salt and pepper if needed.
 Remove from the mixer and form a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (preferably overnight to let the flavors meld).

 Now the fun part, the wrapping.  You will need some clear cellophane, ribbon, a pipe-cleaner and wire garland.  Simply cut a length of ribbon and tie a large bow and then cut lengths of the wire garland (I chose stars and music notes) and tie them together, then attach them to the back of the large bow with the pipe-cleaner and you will still  have enough of the pipe cleaner to tie around the cellophane when you put this all together. I found the Bonne Annee graphic over at the Graphic's Fairy. Just brought it into my draw program, added a little border and signed.
Once the cheese ball has chilled you can then roll in the toasted almonds and wrap again with fresh plastic wrap.  I had saved a little black plastic container and it turned out to be the perfect container for the cheese ball.

The finished product!  I found the charger for $1, the ribbon was after Christmas sale too, enclosed are two sleeves of Ritz crackers  and a flat knife to serve as a spreader.  I will leave it all for my hostess. Pulling out the crackers now and putting it back in the fridge until tomorrow night.

Thanks for stopping by.


Wire garlands, craft stores and $ store
Charger, Tuesday Morning
Harlequin ribbon by White Pine, Marshalls
Gingham Ribbon, Archiver's
Cellophane, craft and hobby stores and online
Recipe source, jojo
Graphic, Graphic's Fairy  
Draw Program link,CorelDRAW Home and Student Suite X6 - 3 Users

Sunday, December 29, 2013


This is one of those quick sewing (you could use iron on tape) projects with a rather elegant outcome.  I am doing a group of these as a gift for someone who likes to take wine as a gift so I am making an assortment of bags.

I started off with choosing what I wanted to say on the bag, choosing the fonts and colors and then printing a sheet on Avery #3271 light fabric transfer paper for ink jet printers. Make sure you flip your words because you will be ironing them on the fabric.  If you do not have a draw program, no problem, go into Windows Paint and flip the words. I will not use all of these on my project but I did not want to waste the rest of the label so I fit as many as I could on the sheet for use at a later time.
 I then selected my fabric - linen and an assortment of ribbons to coordinate with the color of the name, like the burgundy and black with the French font to go with Merci Beaucoup! Please note the pinking shears - if you use linen it frays so you will need to pink the edges.

 Cut out your bag 7.5 x 30", then press the fabric with a steam iron and turn the tops back about 1/4" press, then turn back again 1/4" to make a finished edge.
Next (after sewing the seam on both ends) mark approximately 4 1/2 " down for the ribbon (cut two lengths of ribbon 12"). Pin the ribbon inside on both sides (be careful to NOT sew on the ribbon) and sew the seam on both sides, pull the bag right side out and steam press again.  Once you have done this you can then TURN THE STEAM OFF and using the linen setting iron on your iron, iron on your saying - in this case "Cheers". Cut around the word(s) closely and press according to the instructions on the labels. Please note that the ribbon is long enough so that when I tie up the bag I bring the ribbon around to the back and cross and back to the front as this makes a much neater looking bag, then just tie your bow.

I like to keep these bags around and do not press the words until I am ready to use as not all wine bottles are created equal and what may be on the perfect spot on one bottle may be way too high on another.  Because I am making these for a gift I am ironing the words on them.

Linen fabric, Hobby Lobby (in the upholstery section) 
Ribbon, Hobby Lobby & Michael's
Label link, Avery #3271
Cheers Font, Exotc350, BD BT
Happy Holidays Font, Century751 SeBD BT
Thank You! Font, Embassy BT
Merci Beaucoup, French Script BT

Thank you for stopping by.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


If you follow this blog you will know that I love all things Annie Sloan.  Having said that I have to pay to have it shipped to me because sadly the only place to purchase in Idaho is at the top of the state, many hours from me.  I was delighted and intrigued to see that Home Depot is carrying this line of chalk paint and waxes.  As of now they do not have in their stores but it ships free to the store.  It is a different wax product as Annie Sloan is paste wax and this is liquid.

Each year I manage to drag myself out of bed on the 26th to find those last bargains for next year.  I was in Marshall's and looked down under a cabinet and saw the top of this large lantern, it was dusty and I think still there because of it's size (over 25" tall) and because it was not easy to see.  I knew instantly I had just the place for this cutie but I also knew that the stark white would not work for me.  My kitchen cupboards are white but have a lovely glaze that gives an antique look.
  Aha, I know what I can do!  I can test the waxes.  I turned it over (as you can see a real bargain plus it has (3) flame-less candles!) and tested the wax on the bottom.  Woohoo, it worked!  Very easy to use and if you put too much of the color on you can just go over it with a little of the clear and rub and off it comes.  This was quick and I achieved just the result I was looking for on this project. I did not tape the glass and when I was finished I just took glass cleaner and cleaned the glass and any wax on the glass was removed.
 Here is the finished product!  It matches the cabinets to a tee and looks so much better than the stark white and is perfect on my counter.  I have a couple of tables to try the chalk paint on and of course finish with the waxes.  I will post those when I have completed them and let you know what I think about using all three products.  As for the waxes, I see them as just another product in my craft arsenal, and apples to oranges to Annie Sloan - two different products.  I do give this an A+ as far as usability is concerned, another A+ for the result and it was very easy to use and clean up was a snap.

Waxes, Home Depot
Lantern, Marshall's
Brush, Annie Sloan

Thank you for stopping by.

Friday, December 27, 2013


This is oh so delicious and so easy to make.  It will keep for sometime in the fridge as the sugar acts as a preservative. 
Easy as pie directions and you might want to give with a bottle of rum or just put in a basket (or wrap with cellophane) with a couple of the little airline bottles available at liquor stores. If alcohol is not wanted add a little rum extract or apple juice, very soothing drink.
 Here is the recipe.  At our house we call this "the cure for the common cold."  Enjoy!

Circle graphic and Union Jack, The Graphic's Fairy
Label on kraft Mactac Starliner crack n' peel, available online and at business type paper stores or print them out on an Avery 8 1/2x11 full sheet label
Ingredients, grocery store, Vanilla - Costco
Cotton kitchen twine, craft and kitchen stores
Canning Jar, Weck Jars, kitchen stores
Weck Jar link,  Weck 744 Tulip Jar; .5L, SET of 6
Recipe source, Anna Vosburg
Font, Century 751 seBd Bt (normal italic)   

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
-   Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The tables are set, almost time to eat .............

Merry Christmas to all....blessings to you and your family and thank you for stopping by.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013


I went around our house and took random photos to say Merry   Christmas from our house to yours.  These two from the front door.

The entry.....

The living room.....

The Denise Calla House of Hatten tree in the dining area...

The dining area, guest bath and master bedroom and a tree for my sweetie...and the Radko tree...

The guest room...

Thank you for stopping by!

Monday, December 23, 2013


After having a blog post everyday in December I decided that today's post would be SIMPLE.  I am hosting Christmas for my family (not all my son who lives out-of-state and his family will not be with us...color me sad) and I am trying to get as many things as possible done ahead of time.  This little gingerbread cutie will be the center of the dessert table.
 This is it folks, a King Arthur gingerbread mix, some oil, an egg, some water (not shown) and the NordicWare gingerbread house pan. A word about King Arthur Flour products (BTW, I am NOT one of their minions) I love their products.  I always bake with their flour in fact I think that Wondra (talk about tools of the trade, gravy, perfect every time) is the only non-King Arthur flour I use.  I love their website and a couple of times a year, free shipping and just a week or two ago they had $3.98 shipping and I ordered a box of wonderfulness.  I don't know why more stores don't carry their mixes as this gingerbread mix is so good for bread and cookies, so superior to other boxed products. This really does make a good cake.
I will tell you that one box of mix does not fill up this cake pan but it is enough to make a cute house.  Using the Wilton Bake Easy, I let the cake cool a bit and then turned it over to the plate and let it finish cooling.  I put together some candies that I thought would work and ended up only using the gummy trees (my candy store had sold out of spearmint leaves) a couple of mini-candy canes and some of the jellies with sprinkles and a few reindeer corn. Then dusted with some powdered sugar and done.  I just mixed some powdered sugar with milk to make a stiff frosting that I put on the back (or bottom) of the candies to attach to the house. This is going into the freezer till Christmas Day. I will serve this with some real whipped cream and for my sweet grandson Heath, a cherry on top!

Gingerbread Mix, King Arthur Flour
Nordic Ware pan link, Amazon
Cake Plate, Pier One
Plate by Holiday Home
Candies, grocery store & specialty candy stores

Thanks for stopping by.


Sunday, December 22, 2013


Enough already with the stir sticks, that's what I was thinking, no more.  But then I started thinking about coffee, I am a coffee drinker.  Don't get me wrong I like hot chocolate (what's not to like?) but during the holidays when I want a treat from Starbucks it's not hot chocolate it's a Skinny Peppermint Mocha.  Got me thinking about the hot chocolate blocks and why not use the same recipe but put two blocks on a peppermint stick and roll the block in crushed peppermint?  Why not indeed, so that's what I did.  Then to make the mocha I just added steaming milk to very strong coffee (in a big mug, need one large enough for coffee and milk) and stirred until the chocolate melted and yum.  Now this is NOT the skinny variety but all things in moderation, right???

 Here is the ingredient tray and I am going to link you back to the post with the instructions
 Once the chocolate has set-up then you are ready to cut into cubes.  Mine was a little too cold so I put it in the oven with only the LIGHT on for about 30 minutes and it was easy to work with.  I found the best way to do this is so take the two pieces and put the bottoms together and press to form the one block out of the two and then roll all sides and the ends in the peppermint.  I kept a pasty brush and some water near as sometimes I needed to put just a touch of moisture on the block so the crushed peppermint would stick.
This is what the look like after you have rolled them in the crushed peppermint and put into the little bags. Next just tie them with a pretty ribbon (just over hand, you want the user to be able to easily open).

The finished product, ready for your coffee bar or just a cup of hot peppermint mocha! Or.....fudge on a stick, teehee.

Peppermint sticks, grocery
Mug, Vintage Rothwoman pottery, Ebay, etc.
Plate, Holiday Home
Cake Stand, Pier One
Ribbon, Storehouse, Marshall's
Little Plastic Bags, Wilton