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Posts from — December 2012

New Year’s Eve tablescape

This is the final tablescape of 2012.
Heck, it’s the final post of 2012!

It’s New Year’s Eve! TIME to Party!

RL clock plates

We are going to a neighbor’s home for New Year’s Eve cocktails and dinner this evening.

Prior to my fall from the ladder, I was planning on having a little New Year’s Eve gathering of my own, but we were very grateful when we got the invite to another party. Especially one that we don’t have to drive to!

BP dinner and small plates

In all honestly, the main reason I wanted to host a celebration of my own, was so I could set a pretty table.

pottery barn 2009

Crazy, I know!

2010 PB clock plates

I have seen clock face plates all over for the web recently and have been so sad that I missed out before Pottery Barn and Ralph Lauren sold out of them, the past couple of years. If you ever see anything similar to any of these, please let me know! I’m dying to get my paws on some!

mod podge

Back in October, I tried to make some knockoffs – using a clock patterned fabric and Mod Podge.

Umm, they didn’t turn out so great.

Then I saw a photo on Pinterest using a paper clock-face image, set between a large charger and a clear glass plate …

paper clock

Bingo!

head placesetting

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December 31, 2012   8 Comments

more cookbooks

This past Wednesday, the day that the article about collecting recipes came out in the Arizona Republic, I received a call from a elderly gentleman in Mesa. He left me a message saying he’d read the article and thought I might like to have his deceased wife’s collection of cookbooks.

books books books

                                               Image via Pinterest

With the hundreds of cookbooks I already own, it may not seem as though I am picky about what cookbooks I have, but honestly, I am quite selective.

I called back and after I listened to the man’s story of losing his beloved wife and the bookshelves of cookbooks that he wanted to empty and be rid of – I said, “Yes, I will be happy and honored to come over and take the books off your hands.”

car full of books

Connor, my dad, and I, drove to his home in Mesa and piled all the books into the back of my car. Once we got home I went through them, hoping to find a treasure or two.

Guess what? I found my treasure – the kind of gift that just keeps on giving.

how to entertain at home

It’s called “How to Entertain at Home” by Sylvia K. Mager with the editors of Today’s Woman. Published in 1952 by Fawcett Book. Its 142 glorious pages sold for a mere 75¢.

And yes, that bottom photo on the cover is of children trying to bite at hot dogs dangling on strings from the ceiling!

Please allow me to share some of the important requirements for entertaining in 1952.

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December 30, 2012   8 Comments

open face

the saucier

After making a cheese sauce for the chowder recipe I posted yesterday, I was in the mood to make cheese sauce again the next day.

I had a huge hunk of fabulous Manchego cheese in the fridge so I created this saucy open-face sandwich, which would be equally delicious without the bread and served as a chicken main course dish.

Besides making the classic sauce for a humble mac & cheese, I seldom make cheese sauce. Maybe I should listen to Julia Child and do it more often.

“Sauces are the splendor and the glory of French cooking” ~ Julia Child 

How about a quick lesson in the classic French sauces?

Let’s begin with the queen of the mother sauces of French cuisine ~ Béchamel sauce – also known as white sauce is made with a white roux of butter and flour that is then cooked in milk. Béchamel is used as the base for other sauces, such as Mornay sauce, which is what I’ve been making, it is Béchamel with cheese.

In the late 19th century, famed French chef Auguste Escoffier created the list of the five mother sauces.  They are:

  • Sauce Béchamel, milk-based sauce, thickened with a white roux.
  • Sauce Espagnole, a fortified brown veal stock sauce.
  • Sauce Velouté, white stock-based sauce, thickened with a roux or a liaison, a mixture of egg yolks and cream.
  • Sauce Hollandaise, an emulsion of egg yolk, butter and lemon or vinegar.
  • Sauce Tomate, tomato-based

That is quite a bit more information than you need to make this simple sauce and dish, but it’s good basic stuff to know.

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December 29, 2012   2 Comments

chowder

IMG_4800

On the second day after Christmas, we had no food left in the house.  OK, we had food, but nothing much to make for dinner. All I could scrounge up was the ham bone from HoneyBaked left from Christmas Eve. It had less than a cup of meat left on it.

ham bone

What to do?

I dug around and found a package of diced pancetta with an expiration date of 12/29/12. Score!

I had a few potatoes, a bell pepper, a chunk of cheddar cheese, and some leftover mushrooms that would soon be going south. Hey, this might constitute a meal, after all!

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December 28, 2012   1 Comment

2012 Christmas tablescape

funny kids

Being laid up this Christmas forced me to slow down, take it easy, and back off on the usual excess.

I’m sure you are now expecting me to say something along the lines of, “Man, slowing down and taking it easy sure did feel great! I’m going to try and do that next year and in all the years to come!”

Um, No!  In fact, it didn’t feel all that good. I love going crazy at Christmas! I thrive in the excess, the excitement and the commotion. I am in my element in the hustle and the bustle.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still thoroughly enjoyed this Christmas.

huggers

How could I not? My injury is minor compared to what it could have been! Both of my kids are home, which is, and will always be, the best present of all! We still went to Christmas Eve mass and had my mom and sister over for Christmas Eve dinner.  We still relaxed and hung out on Christmas day with my dad.

But, I’d planned to do so much more. Create, grocery shop for, and execute two big meals. Decorate more! Be creative and make more crafty Pinterest-worthy homemade stuff.

That’s OK. Next year!

showoffs

So, this year, instead of the usual crown pork roast on Christmas Eve, we had a HoneyBaked Ham. (Thank you, sweet Amy, for picking that up for me!) We served the ham on King’s Hawaiian rolls with my homemade mustards and horseradish.

Marissa and Connor worked together to make our favorite Brussels Sprout Salad plus a Haricot Verts Salad.

Sloane brought over a bread pudding and I made a simple rum sauce for it. We served that along with the Freezer Eggnog Pie for dessert.

All of it was simple, festive, easy, and delicious.

MLH makes the rolls

Sadly, we did not have our traditional potato rolls and they were sorely missed.  Thankfully, I did have enough of the dough leftover from Thanksgiving, that I had frozen, so we still had our traditional Cinnamon Rolls and Brown Sugar Bacon on Christmas morning.  Only difference – Marissa made the sweet rolls this year ~ and they were perfect!

Above you can see her mixing the cinnamon and sugar together before sprinkling onto the dough she rolled out into the perfect 10-inch by 16-inch rectangle.  There on the island, in the background, is the bacon, ready for the oven.

MLH makes the fondue

And instead of the usual beef tenderloin for Christmas dinner, we had fondue! Blue Cheese Fondue, and it was delicious and fun! Marissa made the fondue and Connor helped with the dippers, the prep, and clean up.

I have the best kids in the world!

reenact

Yes, I adore them, today and everyday! They even posed, trying to reenact a portrait that they sat for some 19 years ago. At 21, Connor doesn’t quite have that 2-year-old pout down anymore, but they’re still cute!

eve table

OK, enough about how fabulous my kids are and what we ate!

Time to get down to business – the tablescapes!

Since I wasn’t able to help much with clean-up, I went low-key on that too. None of the usual hand-washing of dishes on Christmas Eve, everything was dishwasher-safe.

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December 27, 2012   6 Comments

press

I hope your Christmas was merry and bright. Ours was absolutely wonderful! Although, I did overdo it a bit (trying to move about without the walker) and I’m paying the price today!

I’d planned on posting photos of my Christmas Eve and Christmas Day tablescapes, but I haven’t even begun to format those photos yet. Coincidentally, I was featured on the front page of the Arizona Republic today, so I’ll share that article with you instead and save the tablescapes for tomorrow.

You may recall that I told you the photographer from the Republic was coming, only two days after my release from the hospital, to take the photo of me with my cookbooks for an article about Millennials and recipes… well, here it is.

in front of bookcase

Here I stand, on my own power, painfully clutching my first edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the walker was pushed away. Anything for a bit of good press! :-)

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December 26, 2012   5 Comments

Merry Christmas

December 25, 2012   No Comments

a Sprinkle Bakes cake!

cakecloseup

If you’ve read from this blog before, you most likely already know that I am NOT a baker. If I bake something, and it turns out, and I post it here, and I call it “my own” – you can rest assured that it is a fluke, a miracle, or a lie!

The exception, the fluke, if you will, is my carrot cake. I did “create” that. After making carrot cake after carrot cake over many years (and many years ago) I finally got a perfect carrot cake that I truly believe is the best you will ever have.

I do make a pretty mean cheesecake, but not because I’ve created anything new. But because I’ve discovered, while making many cheesecakes and by reading many other people’s opinions about cheesecake, and then stealing the best of their various ideas and putting them together, how to make a fool-proof cheesecake. My cheesecakes always turn out perfectly! For my three “must do” steps/tricks, go HERE.

Aside from that one cake and cheesecakes in general… I would no more be able to create a new and wonderful baked dessert than I would be able to take apart a car engine!

All that being said, I’ve found a woman, a blog, and a cookbook with pretty fantastic desserts! It’s called Sprinkle Bakes and I made the following Very Impressive, Very Beautifully Photographed, and Very Delicious cake from her very lovely blog for my cooking series last month.

In all honesty, I should just stop now and send you directly there. I’ve pared down her recipe to make it a bit more manageable, but I haven’t really changed it at all. Also, I should not post my photos, as they were taken with my iPhone at Les Gourmettes, in the rush of a cooking class for 16 students. Photos of food are not top priority in those moments. Cutting the cake and serving it to the lovely paying students, is!  But I made the gorgeous decadent cake, so you shall suffer through my photos, then go over and see Sprinkle Bakes’ very professional photos and her very helpful step by step photos and be inspired and amazed!

Now, be prepared, not only is this cake a mouthful, so is the name of the cake!

On a quick side note: Congratulations to my friend, Larry Fitzgerald, who received a Man of the Year award yesterday. It is beyond well deserved. Now I wait for him to receive the overall NFL Man of the Year award when it is announced Super Bowl week. Fingers crossed.  Larry lives up to his press, he truly is a wonderful man!

Oh, I almost forgot – Merry Christmas Eve! xoxo

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December 24, 2012   1 Comment

She Cooks!

She Cooks She Made Something!

Yeah, I was going to say that I cooked, but then as I was typing up the recipe, I realized I didn’t really cook at all, but I did put together a freezer pie! No true cooking involved, but I did stand at the kitchen counter, use the walker to maneuver around the kitchen and pantry and I made something from scratch! That’s saying something after two full weeks of kitchen nothingness!

eggnog slice gone

I made a quick and easy Eggnog Pie. The recipe makes two pies, so one went to our Annual Lorts’ Christmas Party last night, and the other will be served either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, here at home.

Lorts is my mom’s maiden name, she is the oldest of eight, so it’s quite the bash! My Uncle Mike (#6 of the 8) and Aunt Sylvia always host in their beautiful Paradise Valley home. There were three generations represented. My mom’s generation, mine, and my kids’. We do the “white elephant gift stealing thing” which, as you might imagine, gets a bit out of hand. Good Times!

oink cafe

Then this morning, Marissa, Connor, and my daughter-from-another-mother, Alyse, went to Oink Café for breakfast. There, the four of us split two bacon doughnuts. Yes, you heard that right, Maple Glazed Bacon Doughnuts! So rich and decadent that half if more than enough! OH, SO Good!!!

bacon doughnut

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December 23, 2012   1 Comment

mushrooms for the Mayans

grilled mushroom and citrus salad with goat cheese

How about a fun salad to celebrate that the world didn’t end yesterday?

Wild mushrooms and citrus may seem like a odd pairing, but they are delicious together, especially in this light and lovely salad where the mushrooms are grilled and the salad is garnished with a touch of goat cheese and toasted hazelnuts.

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December 22, 2012   No Comments