Sunday, January 18, 2015

Happy New Year 2015!


We had a really busy holiday break filled with loads of good food and drink.  Now it's time to settle down and get back into the routine which for me means healthy eating and exercising.  BUT as usual I can't let a fantastic recipe go by without sharing.  Here's the star of the season.  It's so delicious my personal chef Kristen agreed to make it twice!  Below is before Christmas.  Recipe follows!

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 This was our first Christmas in Boston.  It was wonderful.  We love New York and spend as much time there as we can but nothing beats Boston at Christmas.  It's a lot calmer and less traffic than other times of the year.  Quincy Market is all decked out.

Every night there's a fabulous light show in Faneuil Hall Marketplace complete with the sound of every Christmas Carol you can think of.  If you've never been there at this time of the year it's a trip worth considering.  

This enormous Christmas tree is the largest tree in the Northeast.

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A few years ago, Nancy at Yankee Cloth helped me find a runner pattern that was quick and easy.  I've used this pattern over and over with loads of different fabric and I never tire of it.  I have runners for every season.  This is called Turning Twenty.  

A Turning Twenty quilt can typically have large blocks.  Nancy calculated a smaller block size so it made a perfect runner.  My dining room table is 9' X 45" and this runner is 14" wide.  It's the perfect width for my table.  I made a shorter one for my window seat which is a display area.  Here are the block measurements for this runner: 5" square, 3X5" rectangle, and 3X8" rectangle.  See placement of block pattern above.  I would recommend tying this quilt.  It's a lot quicker and I think it compliments the pattern.

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Yes, this is the best part of the post!  The second time we served this appetizer we decided to make it even easier.  We put the unbaked rolls in a big round freezer-to-oven baking dish.  Then when it was done all we had to do was take it out of the oven and place it on the table.

  The second time we made it we varied the recipe a little.  We didn't have cream cheese so we just used extra mozzarella and grated cheese.  Kristen added more spices to the cheese mixture and sprinkled a little oil and grated cheese over the top instead of butter.  Next time we'll experiment more.  For the sauce we used a small can of Hunt's Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic & Oregano.  After you put the tomatoes in a saucepan add a little olive oil and pepper.  Let the sauce simmer a little while until it thickens and you've got a chunky tomato sauce great for dipping that tastes much better than the store brands.  Also, we couldn't find Artisan pizza crust anywhere so we used regular Pillsbury pizza crust and it was fine.

Christmas Tree Pull-Apart

Christmas is almost here, and I’ve got one more treat that I just had to share. This adorable Christmas tree is a quick and easy appetizer that everyone will love and takes just minutes to make. I used Pillsbury pizza crust, cut in equal squares to make the bread. For my tree, I used the Pillsbury’s artisan crust to make it a little more healthy. But you can also just use the regular pizza dough, or even homemade pizza dough.
I also stuffed the little dough balls with cheese before forming the dough into the shape of a Christmas tree. My son was a big help with this tree too. After I spooned the cheese filling onto each piece of dough, he helped me form the balls and arrange the dough on the cookie sheet. After baking it, I brushed my tree with melted butter and minced garlic and then sprinkled it with freshly chopped basil and rosemary. It was so easy!


Christmas Tree Pull-Apart


1 can (13.8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated artisan pizza crust with whole grain or Pillsbury® refrigerated regular pizza crust
4 oz, or half brick, cream cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella or Italian blend shredded cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced very fine
3 tablespoons freshly chopped basil and rosemary
1 cup warmed marinara sauce for dipping


Heat oven to 400°. Lay pizza dough on a work surface and stretch to a 10 x 15 inch size. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 36 equal squares. In a small bow, combine cream cheese and shredded cheese. Mix well.
Add one tablespoon of the cheese mixture to each dough square. Make a ball with the dough, sealing the edges. Place on a cookie sheet in a Christmas tree form as shown in the photos above. Bake for 15 - 17 minutes, or until golden brown.
After removing pull-apart from the oven, brush with butter and sprinkle with chopped herbs. Serve pull apart with marinara sauce.

This post sponsored by Pillsbury. 
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No snow yet!  I love snow but this holiday was one of the very few I can remember that we got through the whole break without one cancellation or postponement.  
Now it' OK to snow - a little.  Right about now everyone needs a snow day to be able to stay home!

Thanks for visiting!  See you soon!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Holidays 2014

Happy Holidays 2014

Another season and yet another decorated hutch!  As always my hutch (aka Madelyn's Hutch) is the first thing in my house I tackle when the seasons change.  If I get that right the rest of the decorating usually goes well.

 Second is my sun room.  It's always a challenge to transform this beachy room into a winter wonderland.

This is the first year I started working on Christmas projects early.  It's a good thing I did because since mid-November I haven't had a chance to do very much!  This is a small ornament quilt.

These two elves are the first dolls I made when I was in the first or second grade.  A few years ago I tried to recreate a more sophisticated pair and guess what...  I couldn't!  I had to scrap the project. Some things are better left alone!

 I love making mice.  Here is my 2014 mouse.

 I worked on this red work pillow (pattern from Yankee Cloth in Wallingford) while on the plane to and from Alaska this past August.  Even if I don't stuff it I'm so happy it's done!  At this point it will store better for next year minus the stuffing.

 This is my favorite finished project so far this season.  I LOVE this Santa pillow!!

This is my tied flannel quilt.  The top pattern and red backing are from Amish Country and the border and binding is from the Quilted Crow in MA.

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If you have left-over turkey from Christmas and want to taste the best turkey sandwich listen to these ingredients.  Start with 2 slices of thick toasted white bread.  Spread with a thin layer of real mayo and pile on slices of turkey.  Add cranberry/orange relish, arugula, tomatoes, avocado and persimmon!  Yes, persimmon is so delicious-give it a try! 

Our circle of friends always make this delicious Swedish almond cake every year for Christmas.  Jennifer made it for our quilt/craft Christmas party last week.  

Here's the recipe and it's a keeper.  I make this recipe at least a few times a year.  It's so unbelievably good and super easy.  The best part is it's really foolproof.  It always seems to come out just perfect.  The only tricky thing in this recipe is you have to remember to put the toasted almonds in the pan first before you put the batter in.  The only reason I remembered this year is because Jennifer forgot!!  Thank you Jen!!  She did remember to put them on the bottom though!!  You also have to buy the pan but it's so worth it.  Look below for website:

This very popular cake, most often prepared in a special almond cake pan, can be found at Toasting the almonds adds a buttery richness to the standard recipe.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
·         1/8 cup sliced almonds
·         1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened to room temperature
·         1 1/4 cup sugar
·         1 egg
·         1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
·         2/3 cup milk
·         1 1/4 cup flour
·         1/2 tsp. baking powder
·         powdered sugar for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 350ยบ. When oven has come to heat, place almonds in shallow pan and roast in oven for 8 to 10 minutes, just until lightly browned.
Cream together margarine and sugar. Stir in egg, almond extract, and milk. Sift together flour and baking powder; stir into batter until well-blended and no lumps remain.
Lightly coat an almond cake pan or loaf pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle toasted almonds in bottom of pan, and then pour batter on top.
Bake in oven until golden-brown, about 40 minutes. Cool thoroughly in pan to prevent cake from breaking when removed; sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired, before serving. Cake freezes beautifully.
Yield: 18 slices Scandinavian Almond Cake.
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Last year we couldn't put our Christmas tree in the family room because it was under renovation.  The only place left to put it was in the archway to the sun room.  It looks so festive there I can't picture it anywhere else now.


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 I hope you enjoyed this little Christmas visit to my world.  Thank you for visiting.  I hope you have a wonderful holiday can relax and mellow out over the break like Prince Flip!!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  See you in January!!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Moonstruck in November (and Happy Thanksgiving!)

 Moonstruck in November!

25 years ago my husband and I spent the month of November in Italy on our honeymoon.  We spent a good amount of time in Venice, Florence, Rome and Milan.  We took our children back in April to Venice and Florence for our 20th anniversary.  This November we couldn't make that trip happen. The major reason being November isn't the best time of year to vacation in Europe because the weather is often rainy, cold and damp.  So we decided to spend a long weekend in our favorite city - New York.

Friday we had a beautiful lunch at Maialino, one of acclaimed Chef Danny Meyer's award winning restaurants.  It's located in the Gramercy Park Hotel.


That evening we took a black car to the Met to see the opera La Boheme.  I loved the movie Moonstruck and I've always wanted to feel like Cher did the night she got all dressed up to go to the opera.  Well, I did!  It was such a memorable evening I don't know if anything could ever top it!

Lincoln Center is grand and elegant. 


The story of La Boheme is beautiful and tragic.  There are screens on the back of the seats which translate the opera in English.  It makes it so much more enjoyable.

Intermission was a fabulous tall glass of cold champagne.

Midnight dinner after the opera was at Telepan Restaurant which is a few blocks away from Lincoln Center.  Chef Bill Telepan is also an award wining chef and the food was amazing.  This was the first course.

Next morning after shopping and lunch at our favorite little restaurant in Chelsea, Chris suggested we go to MarieBelle Chocolates in SoHo on Broome Street.  This little chocolate bistro is as close to Paris as you can get in New York City.

The cocoa was so delicious and sooo hot.  On a cold afternnon with a beautiful dessert is was just perfect!!

 That evening we had drinks at the Brandy Library in Tribeca.  

Image result for brandy library photo

After that a late dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant in Tribeca called Tamarind.

Image result for tamarind tribeca photo

Sunday morning we met our children at the train station and did a little shopping.  We had lunch at another favorite restaurant and then headed to the Off Broadway show called Avenue Q.  It was wonderful.  I can't wait to see what else is playing Off-Broadway.

After dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Little Italy Il Palazzo we had pastry at Ferrara's and then headed home exhausted.   Normally after a weekend like that I would feel down because I never want to come home when I'm having a really good time away but...
we were hit smack in the face with Thanksgiving right around the corner.

I was going to post one of my Thanksgiving recipes but then I realized that everyone has their own recipes so maybe it would be more interesting to post some recipes for the left-overs.  Martha Stewart's November magazine was really good.  Now I'm looking forward to turkey sandwiches after reading these two recipes. 

I'm sorry this is a little cut off but it's the ingredients she uses in her sandwich I wanted to share with you.  I'm making hard boiled eggs because I'm eating that sandwich this weekend!

Finally, my daughter Kristen's art work appears in all different forms in her college newspaper.  The other day when I picked up the paper I said OK a mom knows her kids and I sure know Kristen created this cartoon!  I guess it says it all!!
Thank you for visiting my blog and taking another wonderful adventure with me.  I hope I've given you some ideas of different things to do in New York City.  We always wanted to see an opera but went to see Broadway plays instead.  I always wanted to see an Off-Broadway play but never did.  Now we have more options as if we need them in such an amazing city.  But it feels good to try something different and have the outcome be just perfect!

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I have some fabulous posts for Christmas so please stay tuned!