Friday, November 28, 2014

LITTLE HANDS FOR CHRISTMAS

I love doing little "secret" projects with my three young (7 year old twins and one who just turned 9) grand-babies. Last time we did a "secret" project - the beans were spilled - this time I pulled the old "if you tell, Grammie Santa might not be so good this year."  I am happy to report the secret was kept! These were for their mommy, other grandmother and their great-grand-mother to take home in a little take home basket after Thanksgiving dinner.
I think I saw these on Christmas Countdown Facebook page. Others I have seen have been one little hand per Christmas ball but I wanted to do all three so I found these large balls and there was plenty of room.  All you do is take a sponge and very generously cover their hands (no thumb) and place the palm on the bottom and they just fold up their hands to make the print - (easy wash up with soap and water).
I used a white chalk pen to write their names and Sharpies for the snowmen and Merry Christmas - no right or wrong - they all come out cute.
I Goggled "Royalty free snowman graphic" and found this little cutie-pie.  I also had to re-work the poem as the poem you see out there is for one child and we were doing the three.

Here is a sample of one of the poems (note they used the thumb):

 These aren't just five snowmen
As anyone can see.
I made them with my hand
Which is a part of me.
Now each year when you trim the tree
You'll look back and recall
Christmas of (fill in the blank)
When my hand was just this small! 

 TO PRINT: If you have a draw program just copy and paste the sheet into your program. If you do not have a draw program an easy way to print out a sheet of these labels is to "right click" on the image and "save to your desktop", then "right click" on the file on the desktop and you get the option to "open in Picasa" (if you do not have Picasa it is free and an easy download) once in Picasa select the "print" option, then "full page", if it does not fit the page then select the" fit to page" option and it will print out perfectly.  If you are not using a lami-label then print it out on a full 8 1/2 x 11 full sheet label and then cut around the labels as you need them. I know this sounds complicated but it is really easy and once you have done it you will see it is that. Right click, save to desktop, right click, open in Picasa and print. Here is the link for Picasa: Link 

Last thing to do wrap them - used a cellophane bag and tied with this adorable ribbon (not really ribbon is cord and string and tied with beads and wooden snowmen).

Resource

Large red Christmas ball, Dollar Tree
Craft paint, chalk pen and Sharpie's, Hobby Lobby
Snowman "ribbon," Hobby Lobby
Cellophane bags, Ebay seller

Thank you for stopping by.



Thursday, November 27, 2014

THANKSGIVING BLESSINGS FROM OUR HOUSE TO YOURS

From the adults table....
And the kids table....

I think this will be the end of an era as the three that are still using the table are one nine and twins almost eight. The little table has been loved by my grandchildren.  It started life as a red kids size folding table and chairs from Target when the oldest (he is 15) was about four.  I so loved having it for the wee ones and wanted to use for other holidays (besides Christmas & Valentine's Day) so I made tablecloths and covers for the chair backs for Easter and Thanksgiving (used light weight oil cloth).  The dishes are from Pottery Barn Kids (long ago).  Decorated with a couple of turkeys and a little woodsy looking train who's caboose was an acorn with a squirrel on top.  I am not the only one sad.....the eight year old and I discussed the end of the table and his eyes welled up with tears - made Grammie cry too.

When all the leaves are off the boughs,
And nuts and apples gathered in,
And cornstalks waiting for the cows,
And pumpkins safe in barn and bin,
Then Mother says, "My children dear,
The fields are brown, and autumn flies;
Thanksgiving Day is very near,
And we must make thanksgiving pies!"
Unknown author 
Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Our Menu





Thanks for stopping by.............

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

DOUBLE CRANBERRY-ORANGE BREAD

One of the things that my hubby looks forward to this time of year is cranberry-orange bread and this is a favorite around here - it has both fresh and dried cranberries.
Gather your ingredients (well, some of them).....
 The walnuts and both of the cranberries will need to be chopped.  Put the walnuts in a freezer zip lock and easy-peasy you can use your rolling pin to "chop" the nuts (then easy to measure), when chopping dried fruit if you spray  your knife with non-stick cooking spray the fruit will not stick to your knife.  I have found that first slicing the fresh cranberries in half before doing the chop pays off in the end as these little suckers are like ball bearings and if you don't corral them they fly off your surface like marbles!
Everything mixed together except the chopped items...
Then a gentle fold of the chopped items....
This recipe makes a beautiful large loaf (using 9x5 loaf pan) but I prefer to make one or two small ones - I like to slice this bread and put on the cookie tray, makes it finger food that way.  No matter how you bake this it's just good. This recipe also comes out great in those little pans that make it perfect for gift-giving.

Recipe



Ingredients

  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups cranberries, fresh or frozen, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup toasted walnut halves, chopped
  • cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

Instructions



1. Preheat to 350° F. Prepare your preferred pans, using   non-stick spray or the oil/flour method.


2. Either sift or whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

3. Combine the buttermilk, orange juice, zest and melted butter in a small bowl add the egg and stir until all combined.

4. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and whisk gently just until combined. Gently fold in cranberries and nuts, using a rubber spatula.

5. Scrape batter into your pans and bake for about 50-55 minutes – if you are using a large loaf pan, if using smaller pans the time will be much less, I start checking at about 20 minutes, depending on the depth of the pan. A toothpick should come out clean and the edges of this bread will have started to brown and pull away from the sides of the pan.

6. Let the bread cool for about 15 minutes and then turn out onto a rack and let it completely cool, wrap in plastic wrap and let it sit overnight.

Enjoy!

 Resource


Paper baking loaf trays - I keep these around as they are great for gift giving or just great to use to keep clean-up at a minimum.  They can be found at all kinds of stores, the last ones I bought were at HomeGoods - like many items they tend to have these especially around the holidays.  Here is a link to Amazon where these are available (much less expensive at a discount store). Kitchen Supply 4 x 2 x 2 Inch Paper Loaf Pan, Set of 25

Thank you for stopping by.





 

Monday, November 24, 2014

TOASTED WALNUT SPICE CAKE

If you follow this blog you might know that I am a volunteer for Alzheimer's Idaho (local grassroots organization) and one of the things that I do is make the dessert for their monthly support group meeting. They normally meet the last Friday of the month but because of the holiday they met last Friday.
 A few simple ingredients to put together a moist, spicy cake.

The only real "prep" work is to toast the walnuts (you could omit the toasting but the flavor is so much better with the nuts toasted). 350 ° 8-10 minutes - keep an eye on them don't want them to burn - I open the oven every few minutes and give them a shake.  I think the easiest way to "chop" the nuts is to put them in a freezer bag and roll over them with a rolling pin - no mess and you can simply pour them into your measuring cup.
Two cakes ready for the oven.

Recipe - for one cake

preheat oven 350°
1 package yellow cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines)
1 cube butter, melted
3 eggs, room temp
1 1/2 cups applesauce (I prefer Santa Cruz brand Apple Apricot Sauce)
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup toasted, chopped California walnuts

Pour the cake mix and the spices into your mixing bowl and gently mix (on lowest setting so the mix does not come flying out of the bowl) until the spices are distributed into the mix.

Pour the applesauce into a medium size bowl and add the butter - that way if the butter is still warm the applesauce will cool the butter.

Add this mixture to your dry ingredients and then add the eggs one at a time, add the walnuts & run the mixer to mix your cake, 2-3 minutes, batter will be thick.

Pour into your prepared Bundt pan (I use a spray like Baker's Joy) and put into the pre-heated oven.

Bake for 35-40 minutes then cool on a rack before inverting onto your plate.

Frosted with buttercream frosting using a large decorating tip.  When frosting like this the main thing to do is to NOT stop once you have started the row of frosting.

Buttercream Frosting

Enough frosting for a regular two layer cake or two of these Bundt cakes.

1 cup butter, softened
4 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tablespoon Vanilla (I use Vanilla Bean Paste)
Approx 3 T of cream, may need more, or less

Place the softened butter in your mixer using the paddle attachment and beat until light and fluffy, on low speed gradually add all the sugar (must be low or you will get a sugar cloud all over your kitchen) once incorporated add the salt and the vanilla and then turn up the mixer and let it just whirl away - go do something else for a bit - you want this frosting to be well incorporated and beautifully fluffy.

A note about resources.  I have always found it VERY frustrating to see something online or in a magazine spread that I LOVED and just had to have but there is no information about that item available -  that is why I always do my best to add a resource.  Unfortunately I may have purchased the item long ago but I still add where the item came from so those resourceful folks who like to scour the internet and hunt on Ebay will at least have an origin source.  In a perfect world I would have items to ship but hey, my world like yours, not so perfect! j. 

Resource

Bundt pans, Walmart
Cake Stand, Tuesday Morning
Yellow Plates, 222 5th.
Script on card, Freebooter Script

Thank you for stopping by.








Friday, November 21, 2014

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS JAR

I never do two posts in one day but I was so taken by a posting on The Graphic's Fairy that I stopped what I was doing (getting ready to bake for my volunteer group) to make this jar and do this post.
 This is the message on the graphic - what a great teaching moment for the wee ones and what a great idea for a moment of reflection for the rest of us.
About as simple as it gets - I went to my jar stash and found this little cookie jar - wide enough mouth to put the 4x6 file cards inside.  Any jar will do.  I printed out the graphic (added a second turkey on the print out 'cause I love the turkey) then I used a lami-label.  You could print out on a full sheet label or cut it out and paste on the jar.
 I just used some plain 4x6 cards and tied up with a little red raffia.  I will add a little jar of pens/pencils on Turkey Day.
Decorate your jar or not - since I had added another turkey I just added a little red raffia - thought something organic would be best with this.  Ribbons, whatever  you want - all would be great.

 Recource

Graphic, The Graphic's Fairy, Link
Jar, Walmart
Red Raffia, Michael's
File Cards, Staples

Thank you for stopping by.

TORTELLINI SOUP

I love to make soup - all kinds of soup, veggie, chicken, chowders, onion, cream soups. All year round, not just in winter. Yesterday I was going to bake some special holiday bread for my post today but a friend had a very sad day and needed her dinner delivered so I made "hope you feel better soon" soup.  Another dear friend and I did a little Christmas cookbook years ago and this recipe was in that book.  I think she was the contributor of the recipe but I have made this same soup or a many a variation of this soup over the years. The soup is simple to make and a very hardy dish best served with a salad and some crusty bread.
 A few simple ingredients...
Brown sweet Italian sausage in a little EVOO then drain them on paper towels....
The finished product - the tortellini rises to the top - plenty of broth underneath.

Recipe



TORTELLINI SOUP
1 package mild Italian sausage, casing removed, made into small balls
2 C sliced zucchini
1 chopped yellow onion
1 large clove garlic, chopped
¼ t oregano leaves, crushed
2 14oz cans chicken broth
2 cans water
1 14oz can diced tomatoes (you can choose seasoned)
1 12oz package tortellini

Saute onion, vegetables, garlic, oregano and sausage until cooked.  Add broth, water and tomatoes.  Bring to boil, then simmer 45 minutes.  Add tortellini, simmer 15-20 minutes until tortellini is tender.


Serve garnished with Parmesan cheese.  Serves 6-8

This is the recipe as given to me and here are my notes:

When sauteing the veggies make sure to scrap all those little 
bits of goodness off the bottom of the pan.  I used two jars of 
my tomatoes that I put up last summer but you can use what
canned tomatoes of your choice.  You layer the flavors of this
soup as you would any other soup, once the veggies are done 
you start putting back into the pot the other ingredients, 
you may need more liquid or you may need more flavor from
the chicken broth - if it tastes flat add a little chicken soup
base or bouillon or square of chicken stock. Taste and add 
salt and pepper.  A word about tortellini.  I used fresh
and it only takes three minutes to cook if the soup is boiling.  
I think the best to use is the frozen kind as it is not as fragile
as the fresh.

Another thing about this soup is that you can keep everything
but the sweet Italian sausage  in your pantry ready to make
homemade soup in a snap.  You can find dry cheese tortellini
at most grocery stores and it has a pretty long shelf life, Del
Monte makes canned zucchini in tomato sauce - not as good
as fresh but still makes a good pot of soup. 

Once the soup was done into a little basket with some grated 
Italian cheese, butter, a French baguette, bagged complete
salad and a little bag of cookies.  Time to deliver.

For my friend........

The Last Battle

If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then will you do what must be done,
For this — the last battle — can't be won.
You will be sad I understand,
But don't let grief then stay your hand,
For on this day, more than the rest,
Your love and friendship must stand the test.
We have had so many happy years,
You wouldn't want me to suffer so.
When the time comes, please, let me go.
Take me to where to my needs they'll tend,
Only, stay with me till the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.
I know in time you will agree
It is a kindness you do to me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I have been saved.
Don't grieve that it must be you
Who has to decide this thing to do;
We've been so close — we two — these years,
Don't let your heart hold any tears.
— Unknown

Thank you for stopping by.

 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

THANKSGIVING TABLESCAPE, PLACE CARD PRINT OUT, #TablescapeTag

It must be a sign of my age but Christmas used to be my favorite holiday but Thanksgiving is certainly running a very close second these days. Thanksgiving is not about gifts, it's about giving thanks. I love the ritual of setting the table - I start to think about our dinner and how nice it will be to have family all together. The photos above are a collage of the finished tablescape.
When thinking about my table this year I decided to not do the usual, more formal white linen cloth and napkins, but to go for a more casual, woodsy table.  With that in mind I went out and found these tablescapes that I found inspiring
 The first thing that I did was to clear my dining room table and add one leaf. If you’re looking for a new dining table, I just discovered Modani and they have a great selection to chose from. They sell contemporary and modern furniture. Here is a link for a virtual tour to take a look through their modern furniture stores.

This rustic table just lends itself to a more rustic tablescape. This year there will be (6) adults and (3) children - I will have a special children's table too.
Next I gathered together all the fall and woodsy things that I hand on hand, then started layering the tablescape - the runner, the antler candles, small hurricanes in a rattan base, rattan place mats, etc.  I centered a rattan cake stand in the middle of the table to give a  deer soup tureen some height (treasured find from Tuesday Morning's sale table long ago), now the table has balance and I can keep adding foliage, leaves, pine cones, etc.
 Left side...
Right side....Now time to start layering the table one step at a time.
Place mat, charger, dinner, salad and bread & butter, individual tureen. Water, wine, sparkling drink glasses.
I have some turkey and some acorn tureens and like to mix them.
Place cards.
Here is a template for place cards that are one sided - this sheet will yield 12. I used "Freebooter Script" font, size 36.
TO PRINT: If you have a draw program just copy and paste the sheet into your program. If you do not have a draw program an easy way to print out a sheet of these labels is to "right click" on the image and "save to your desktop", then "right click" on the file on the desktop and you get the option to "open in Picasa" (if you do not have Picasa it is free and an easy download) once in Picasa select the "print" option, then "full page", if it does not fit the page then select the" fit to page" option and it will print out perfectly.  If you are not using a lami-label then print it out on a full 8 1/2 x 11 full sheet label and then cut around the labels as you need them. I know this sounds complicated but it is really easy and once you have done it you will see it is that. Right click, save to desktop, right click, open in Picasa and print. Here is the link for Picasa: Link
The different colors give more interest to the table.
The final touch - acorn napkin holders.


Resource

Acorn napkin rings, Williams-Sonoma
Turkey tureens, World Market
China, Danish Fern by Burleigh, England
Flatware, World Market
Napkins, HomeGoods
Crystal, Villeroy & Boch, pattern, Bernadotte
Table runner, HomeGoods
Acorn tureens, Williams-Sonoma
Rattan cake stand, Williams-Sonoma
Pine Cones, picked them up in Oregon
Leaves, some of them were pressed from my maple tree
Faux foliage, Hobby Lobby & Michael's
Acorn place card holders, Big Lots
Rattan hurricanes, Marshall's
Large ceramic acorns, art show
Fat candles in hurricanes, Pier One
Antler candle holders, gift shop
Place Mats, Pier One 
Golden brown chargers, Hobby Lobby

Thank you for stopping by.