Saturday, January 23, 2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016!


JANUARY 2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I can't remember getting snow so late in the season. As much as I wanted snow for Christmas it was a nice change to be able to plan all of our holiday festivities without worrying about the weather.

But it all had to come to an end and here we are on a weekend watching the snow fall.


Over the Christmas break we were in Lexington, MA.  Lexington is one of those wonderful little towns in MA that reminds me of Peyton Place.   



They never lose their charm because you just can't make them modern.  They still belong to the old New England tradition of brick and white pillars.


Chris took us to a really good restaurant in Lexington called il Casale Cucina Campana & Bar on Massachusetts Avenue.  Susan got a cocktail called cranberry cider.  It was so delicious I asked the bartender how they infused the cranberries in the rum and made the drink.



Here's the recipe!  We started by buying a bag of cranberries and a bottle of vanilla beans (in the baking aisle of the grocery store).  I used half the bag of cranberries and 2 vanilla beans.  After the cranberries are washed put them in a mason jar.  Then open the vanilla beans and scrape out the inside and then put that and the pods in the mason jar with the cranberries.  Pour the rum over the cranberries and vanilla.  I used Captain Morgan Spiced Rum because I thought it would be delicious.  Let that sit on your counter for 4 or 5 days or until the rum takes on the red color of the berries.
When you're ready to make the drinks you can use either hard apple cider which will make it a little stronger or sparkling cider.  We tried it both ways and couldn't really tell the difference. Strain the cranberries and vanilla and pour the rum in a pitcher and add the cider.  Use your judgment with the amount of cider to use by tasting as you're adding.  Then add a pinch of cinnamon and a squeeze of lemon and stir!


Reserve the cranberries and use one or two for a garnish.  Add ice and drink up!!  This is a wonderful holiday drink.  I will be serving this many times next year around the holidays when cranberries are plentiful.


So we served this drink on New Year's Day and decided to use the rum infused cranberries in the Cranberry Glaced Ham recipe we were planning to make.


Here's the recipe.  It's delicious!


SimplyRecipes - Cranberry Glazed Ham Recipe

Ingredients

Glaze:
  • 1/2 of a 14-ounce can of jellied cranberry sauce
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 strips of orange zest
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp whole grain mustard

Ham:
  • 1/2 spiral-cut ham (about 9 pounds, plus or minus), bone-in, natural juices or no added water

Method

1 Let ham sit at room temp: Let the ham sit at room temp for a couple of hours before cooking. This will help the ham heat more evenly in the oven with less risk of the outside edges drying out.
2 Heat the ham: Wrap the ham tightly in aluminum foil, place in a roasting pan, and heat in a 275°F oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours (depending on the size of the ham, could be less or more time), until the internal temperature is 100°F. (It's already cooked, you're just heating it.)
3 Make the glaze: Place the jellied cranberry sauce in a small saucepan on low heat. Whisk in the orange juice and brown sugar until the brown sugar is dissolved. Add the strips of orange zest. Heat until bubbly and whisk until smooth. Then remove from heat, take out the orange strips, and stir in the mustard.*
4 Glaze the ham: When the ham is ready, remove from oven. Open up the foil and paint the ham with half of the glaze. Keep the ham uncovered and return to the oven, bake at 425°F for 10 minutes.

5 Glaze again and broil: Remove from oven and baste with the remaining glaze. Return to the oven on the lowest rack, and broil for 5 to 10 minutes (at least 6 inches away from the heating element) until the glaze is lightly browned and caramelized.

*Add the rum infused cranberries to number 3 in the Method section.  


This glaze/gravy was out of this world with the addition of the cranberries.


I was looking forward to visiting The Quilted Crow this winter because it moved.  They are one exit closer to us now in Bolton, MA.


I loved the old house they were in before but this space is so much bigger and a lot more organized.  This shop has EVERYTHING!!  There's a shop hop in April that our quilt group needs to talk about because I'd love to get everyone to take a trip up there.  I bought some amazing Japanese fabric that I'll share next month.


When I got home my wallet was lighter BUT I was full of inspiration and decided to get busy on some of the many projects that are calling my name.  This is a small little quilt kit I picked up there last year at this time.  I finally made it and I love it!


I love felt candle mats and when I saw this one at The Quilted Crow a few weeks ago it called my name.  While I was watching TV I made it.


Everything Christmas is put away but everything winter is still up so I'm happy I finally finished something in time to use it the same year!


My family knows I LOVE Dowton Abbey so they're always on the lookout for something I would like.  This Christmas this was my Dowton "fix".


Over Christmas break I started my Downton Abbey quilt.

Downton Abbey:

These are some of the blocks I made.  The quilt calls for 50 so I suspect It'll take me until the movie comes out to finish them.


Over the holidays and when it snows we make homemade pizza.  Homemade pizza in our house is so special we would eat it every day of the week for life if we could.  It's just that good.

These are some of the pizzas we made one night.  It took all night and few Smashed Pumpkins to make them all but they were to die for and even better left over the next day.




I have to share my recipe with you because it's so easy.  If we didn't make so many it wouldn't be such a "job" but when everyone has a favorite one the whole production just gets out of hand.  It's kinda like when you try and narrow down your Christmas cookie list but end up making them all every year anyway.


Fleischmann's Yeast Food Processor RapidRise Pizza Dough

3              cups flour
1              package Fleischmann's RapidRise Yeast
3/4           teaspoon salt
2              tablespoons olive oil
3/4 to 1    cup warm water (105-115 degrees)

With metal blade in place, combine flour, undissolved yeast and salt in processor bowl  Process 5-10 seconds to combine.  Pour olive oil through feed tube.  Begin processing; gradually pour water through feed tube just until ball forms (all water may not be needed).  Continue processing for 60 seconds to knead dough.  Carefully remove dough from processing bowl.  Cover; let rest on lightly floured surface 10 minutes  Shape, top and bake as directed.

Thanks for visiting and if the cold and snow get too much for you just do as I'm going to do-


See you in February!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Merry Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2015

One week and a few days before Christmas and I'm in a mad rush.  The years when Thanksgiving falls on the last Thursday in December are getting harder and harder to manage.  Adding to that I'm not sure if I'm glad or sad the temperature outside is so warm.  I'm kind of looking forward to some cold weather so I can wear my new winter coat and scarf and make hot cocoa with marshmallows!

But no matter what, the decorating has to get done.



Over Thanksgiving we visited the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA.  It was a fun, memorable day trip.  I was told to go there during the first weekend in December when the Christmas tree is lit and the holiday festivities begin. It was really crowded there when we visited as it was, so visiting the weekend before worked out well for us!


When we arrived, we caught a short library talk and tour of the museum.  It was interesting to find out that most of the people in the paintings lived in town and posed for Rockwell while he lived there.  The very famous work below is of the actual town of Stockbridge.  If you look down the street, you can still see the shops most of which still have the same names.  On the first weekend of festivities, a part of that strip is re-created to look exactly like the painting.  It must look magnificent especially if there's snow on the ground.


When I told my friend Mary Ellen from quilt group that we were going she suggested lunching at The Red Lion Inn.  It was wonderful!


After lunch, we did some shopping and took in the beautiful homes on the main street.  This is a Bed and Breakfast.


OK, back home Santa is waiting to pop down the chimney!


This is the only project I made this Christmas.  I'm sad to say life got in the way AGAIN!  It's a felt candle mat from a book I bought at Camille's store in Barrington, NH in the Fall.


...but I'm using it as a Christmas tree mat!


This dolly got a bit of a make-over for Christmas. 


 Do these two pixies look familiar?  Yes, their Maileg!  I love these dolls.  This pair was an early Christmas present to myself.


YES I got a little carried away and bought this lovely trio too!!  I haven't bought a doll in years so these beautiful treasures are a big treat for me!


So true!!


But we all hear it over and over - IN MODERATION!  Not sure if I've ever been able to moderate Christmas!  I'm always hopeful but always fall into the same old pattern of excess!



I was so happy when Jessi gave us this peppermint bark candy!  Little did we know she made it in her dorm!!  So no excuses for those of us who have kitchens!  Best of all she saw this recipe on one of my Facebook posts!  We'll be making this too Jessi because we ate all of yours already!!  It was so delicious!!


From: 12 Tomatoes

EASY PEPPERMINT BARK RECIPE

(makes one 9×13 pan of bark)
Ingredients
  • 1 bag chocolate chips
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips
  • 24 mini candy canes
Directions
  1. Put the candy canes in a resealable plastic bag. Use a rolling pin or tenderizing mallet to crush the candy canes. Don’t use a blender or food processor, because we want those nice uneven bits that look great right on top.
  2. Line a 9″x13″ pan with parchment paper, including the sides, leaving enough extra so you will be able to lift the peppermint bark right out of the pan.
  3. Pour the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave for 30-second increments (stirring the chips between each microwave session) until the chocolate has melted, and the mixture is smooth.
  4. Spread the chocolate evenly into the lined pan.
  5. Place the pan into the freezer for 20 minutes.
  6. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave just as you did with the previous chocolate chips. If the white chocolate chips to not melt smooth, stir in 2 tablespoons of shortening.
  7. While the white chocolate is still smooth, stir in half the crushed candy canes into the mixture.
  8. Allow the white chocolate to cool for about a minute, then remove the pan from the freezer and spread the white chocolate mixture on top of the chocolate layer, making it as smooth as possible.
  9. Top with remaining crushed candy canes, and press them in the the back of a spatula.
  10. Return the pan to the freezer for another 20 minutes.
  11. To serve, remove the parchment paper from the pan and break into pieces (or cut with a butter knife).
  12. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

 Thanks so much for visiting and always letting me know you're still there!




See you in 2016!!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

This is the embroidered wall hanging that I display on the inside of my front door every November.  I look at it all the time and wonder how I had the patience and time to do this detailed work.


Thanks to certain members of my family I have beautiful seasonal bouquets of flowers in my kitchen all year long. I love the deep maroons and rusty colors of Autumn.  Now the foliage is gone and the days are getting shorter and the weather feels kind of ominous.  I love this time of year when we're waiting for Thanksgiving and Christmas to come.  


A few weeks ago Chris and I went to NYC for a long weekend to celebrate our 26th anniversary.  We had a wonderful time and I got to play Moonstruck again.  I look forward to going to the opera all year long.  This year we saw Rigoletto.   It was beautiful, especially the last scene because all of the music was so familiar.  To hear it sung live is one of the wonderful experiences I will always remember.  
 

I always have to have something to look forward to otherwise the week days seem too long and the weekends way too short.  Just thinking about the next time I go to the opera will get me through the long winter ahead.



We hit just about all of my favorite haunts.  We popped into City Quilter and I bought this felt candle mat pattern.  Stay tuned we'll see if I ever make it.  


The weather was beautiful and Bryant Park was hopping.  There are some wonderful unique shops by the skating rink. I bought some lovely Christmas gifts.  In the past we've walked by these shops and I wasn't impressed but this year I'm really glad we strolled by.


Sunday afternoon we saw an Off-Broadway play called Perfect Crime.  It was very good and something different.  All during the show I told Chris the actor who plays the detective looked very familiar.  I knew I had seen him many times on TV.  Later I looked at my Play Bill and saw he is Richard Shoberg.  He played Tom Cudahy on All My Children from 1977 - 1995.  No wonder he looked familiar I watched him for twenty years!  He's 70 now but you'd never know it.  He's still handsome.


After the play we strolled past Radio City while we tried to hail a taxi.


We finally got one and met Kristen and her friends in Little Italy for dinner.


As usual it was packed.  It has always been a tradition in our family to go to NYC over the Christmas break but last year and now this year we've decided to put that to rest.  As much as we love the City at Christmas time it's just too crowded.  

When we were in London several years ago we had Pimm's cocktails.  When we travel we always try to eat and drink what is native to where we are.  When we were in Paris we drank Kir Royale's.  When we were in Italy we drank Spritz's, etc.  When we got home we tried to recreate them but somehow they never tasted the same.  But when Chris made this Pimm's Cocktail it was perfect.  So if we're home for dinner on Thanksgiving and Christmas it's our tradition to sit in the living room and relax with a Pimm's cocktail before we start our feast. 



Here's the recipe and promise you'll love it.  It hits all the spice notes of the season.


Our Thanksgiving feast consists of all the traditional foods and a bit more.  We make homemade cornbread to add to the bread in the stuffing.  I buy an extra package of cranberries for cranberry bread and we always have pumpkin bread.  I've tried a lot of recipes over the years but I always go back to the tried and true.  I have no idea how old this recipe is and I have no idea which Sue owned this book.  I know and have known so many Sue's it could be anyone!  But regardless which Sue this is, this recipe is wonderful.  I don't have a photo yet because we'll make the breads Wednesday when we make our pies.  They have to taste fresh when they're warmed up Thanksgiving Day.

 

From my family to yours...


Have the best Thanksgiving!


Please come back and visit next month!  I've got a great Christmas blog coming!!