Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Morning Tablescape

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!
Christmas morning is so special.  What a day to celebrate God's love and blessings.  For us, Christmas morning is a time for a very special tradition.  Not only do we make the kids' favorite meal of the year, we spend a lazy morning opening gifts, but a time to reflect on God's gift to us, His Son, Jesus Christ. 

Today I am setting the table for Christmas morning breakfast.  Before we get started, I wanted to show you the garland that my 14 year old son put up as one of his Christmas decorating projects this year.  He gave this garland a lot of thought and it took him forever...but it was so worth the wait.  I am so impressed...maybe I am biased, but I can't help it.  Man, I love that boy.  {There is no way I could have done this at his age.} 

So back to the table.  I gathered up a few things to get started and don't forget to get rid of those chairs while you are setting the table.  A clear path makes it so much easier to set the table.  I also have to bribe the dog to take her nap somewhere else.

I am using a simple tray for my centerpiece.  A piece of garland went in next and then a pile of colorful, glass balls went on top. 

I made sure to pull a few evergreen sprigs through the sides of the tray to give it a more natural look.  Also, I tucked a few pine cones and glass balls down a bit lower so there was some interest when you were looking at the tray from the side.   

The tablecloth is another homemade special {Thanks Mom!} from fabric that I found at JoAnn Fabric.  I love the polka dots.


Red Chargers...

Everyday Plates...

Our Fun Christmas Dishes {A closer shot of them is coming up!}...

Everyday Silverware...


And Glasses. 

I love the polka dot napkins layered over solid green napkins.  {Thanks for the napkins too, Mom! :-) I LOVE them.}

Don't be afraid to drink wine for breakfast.  Just kidding!  Don't be afraid to let your wine glasses do a little multi-tasking to bring a little fun or elegance to your table.  Hubby and I are using wine glasses for orange juice.  It's just a special touch to a special meal on a special day.   

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!

I am linking to Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday. Check it out to see tons of great tablescapes by talented bloggers.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I have bad news.  My camera is having some problems.  I have my fingers crossed that the Camera Doctor can fix her up.  If you want to cross your fingers with me, I would be okay with that.

I had planned on showing you some of my favorite holiday party recipes like my Shrimp Cocktail Recipe and Mini Rubens.  Also I wanted to show you all the pretty lights we strung outside.

I promise to be back as soon I can be. I hope you are enjoying a beautiful Christmas season.  Here is my only picture from outside before my camera bit it.  

 I strung a piece of garland around the rocker and added fresh greens to give it a bit of added dimension.  Then I wired the red ornaments onto the garland and finally strung the ice skates on so they would not blow away.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Visions of Sugar Plums Danced In My Head

I have a cherished nutcracker collection.  I though it would be fun to decorate the library based on ETA Hoffman's Nutcracker.  I started with a generic list of items or themes from the story.  It was a short list.  Sugar Plum fairies, Clara, Drosslmier - the clock maker, tin soliders, nutcrackers and of course a prince and princess.  Great list, but not exactly something that easily translates into a decorated Christmas tree.

I decided that a sugar plum fairy would be a great project, but I don't have time to make her right now.  I cut it down to making sugar plums, which I thought I could handle.   

So, I have never had a sugar plum.  I have never even seen a sugar plum in real life. I did a search on sugar plums and decided I could recreate a pretty good imitation with a Styrofoam ball, a couple coats of brown acrylic paint and a few spritzes of spray glitter.  I also cut up some shrink wrap to wrap the sugarplums in. 

Start with a Glue Dot on the sugar plum.  The glue dot is going to hold the shrink wrap in place.  Shrink wrap is slippery.

Attach the glue dot to the center of one side of the shrink wrap. 

Roll the 'sugar plum' up in the shrink wrap.  And add another glue dot to keep the shrink wrap in place. 


I used a couple of pieces of ribbon to tie the end shut. 

Tie the other end and trim the excess shrink wrap.  I am so pleased with the way this turned out.  This will be perfect on my Nutcracker Christmas tree.  Stay tuned to see how that turns out.  If anyone that has seen or eaten a real sugar plum happens upon this would you please let me know how this compares to a real sugar plum?  I really want to know, so you can be honest.    


Monday, November 28, 2011

My Favorite Sandwich of the Year

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend this year.  We enjoyed fires in the fireplace, visiting with family, good food, a few laughs, a family tradition of bowling, hiking, some late night shopping and leftovers!    I do count leftovers as a blessing, especially when I can turn them into an amazing sandwich in the midst of decorating for Christmas.

Board of Ingredients:
  • Buns, Rolls or Bread
  • Leftover Turkey, Sliced
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Dressing
  • Mayo and or Leftover Gravy

I am completely serious about this sandwich. 

Start with a layer of mayo.

Cranberry sauce goes on the other side.  If you had gravy you could add it right on top of the mayo.  It's good! 

Layer on some of that yummy turkey.

And I know this sounds weird, but add some dressing.  It's sort of like an extra layer of bread in your sandwich, but this layer has ton of great Thanksgiving flavors in it. 

Now, I am off to enjoy two things.  The sandwich I wait for all year and making sugar plum ornaments.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Baked {Make Ahead} Mashed Poatoes

Thanksgiving is the busiest holiday there is in the kitchen.  This is one big meal to put on the table.  Besides the meal, we usually like to play a few games during the Macy's parade in the morning.  The football game is a little more closely watched by my football fellas so Alyssa and I spread a puzzle out on the coffee table right in the middle of everything.  I do not want to miss out on all the fun, so I make sure I am not stuck in the kitchen.  I do as much as I can ahead of time.

These potatoes are the boys' favorite item on the table.  The recipe is an oldy but a goody and it would not be Thanksgiving for my boys if they did not have massive amounts of these potatoes.  They are already talking about them.  My plan is to make a double batch.  One batch for Thanksgiving.  The second batch I will throw in the oven for them to eat with leftover sandwiches on Friday.  {I can't wait for leftover sandwiches!}

        Board of Ingredients:
  • 5 Pounds of Potatoes Peeled and Diced
  • Paprika
  • Milk
  • Sour Cream
  • White Pepper
  • Salt
  •   Chives
  • Cream Cheese
  • Butter

My chives are still beautiful outside so I used fresh, but you could use freeze dried chives as well.

You want your potatoes to be chopped so they are all roughly the same size.  This is important so they cook evenly.  You don't want some chunks to be overcooked and falling apart in the cooking water while other larger chunks are still crunchy. 

Add the diced potatoes to a large pan, cover them with water and add a generous pinch of salt.  Bring the pot up to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  If you cover the pot while the water comes up a boil, it can boil over so keep an eye on it.  While the potatoes are simmering, it is easiest to leave the pot uncovered.  Simmer the potatoes until they are tender and they easily fall of a fork when you pierce a chunk of potato with fork tines. 

When the potatoes are done, drain the potatoes.  Make sure you let all the water drain out so you do not wind up with watery taters. 

Mash your taters up.  I actually break them up a bit this way, then I put mine through the food mill.  You could use a potato ricer or just use a potato masher. 

This is what the potatoes looked like after they went through the food mill.  They look so good.

Now, lets add a few things to make these the most decadent potatoes on the planet. 

Stir.  I licked the spoon and I can tell you that they were really good. 

Now add a pat of butter to the top and stick these in the fridge.  Fogetaboutit!  I don't know where that came from.  Anyway, when you bake these guys, they puff up a bit.  So leave room in your casserole dish for them to expand.  When you are ready to bake them, take them out of the fridge and bring them to room temp.  Bake them for about 45 to 50 minutes or until the center is hot.  I stick a butter knife blade down the middle of the potatoes and leave it for a few seconds.  Pull the knife out and feel the knife to see if the potatoes have heated through. 

Snowy Mashed Potatoes


5 Pounds of Potatoes, Peeled and Diced
8 Ounces Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
1 Cup Sour Cream
1/2 Stick Butter, Room Temperature
Hot Milk
1/4 Cup Chives
1 Teaspoon Paprika
2 Teaspoons Salt
1/2 Teaspoon White Pepper


1. Boil the potatoes until they fall off a fork easily. Drain well.

2. Mash, rice or mill the cooked potatoes.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

4. Put the potatoes in a baking dish. Add one pat of butter to the top of the potatoes and cover. Refrigerate.

Baking Instructions:

1. Remove potatoes from refrigerator and leave on counter for one hour.

2. Bake potatoes in a 350°F oven for one hour or until center of potatoes are hot. Enjoy!

For a printer friendly version of this recipe click here.

Cranberry Sauce

This cranberry sauce recipe has been a family tradition for me ever since I can remember.  As a youngster I got to make it for Thanksgiving.  These days my daughter is making it for our Thanksgiving. I will never forget teaching her how to make this recipe a few years ago.   At 12 years old, she is now a cranberry sauce expert and she is going to show you how she does it today.

The Board of Ingredients:
  • Fresh Cranberries
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Grand Marnier (Optional)
  • Mandarin Oranges (Optional)
  • Orange

Pour the cranberries into a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Add a bit of water to the pan. You only need about a third of a cup of water.

Cover the cranberries and let them go.  Pretty soon you will hear them begin to pop.  It will sound very similar to popcorn, only not as loud. 

When the popping slows down, remove the lid and let the water cook out a bit.  

While the cranberries are cooking, you can zest the orange.

Set the food mill up over a bowl if you have one.  Otherwise you could strain the cranberries through a sieve pushing the pulp through with a spatula.

Pour the cranberries into the food mill.

Straining or milling gets rid of the skins and some of the seeds.

Look at that beautiful pulp!

Add the orange zest. 

Add the sugar.  Now would be the time to add a teaspoon or two of the Grand Marnier if you were adding it.  We do not add since the kids will be eating the sauce. 

Stir the sugar in so the heat of the cranberries melts the sugar. 

Juice the orange.

Stir the orange juice in and you have a perfectly awesome cranberry sauce. 

We always use these pretty glass bowls to serve the cranberry sauce.  The bowls are from my grandmother and the cranberry sauce is so beautiful.

The kids like a little extra kick of orange in their cranberry sauce.  So we are mixing in some mandarin oranges so everyone is happy.

Alyssa is garnishing the sauce bowls with a slice of mandarin orange and cranberries. 

Aren't they pretty?  I can't wait to eat it.  Alyssa let me lick the bowl.  ;-)   

Press 'n Seal gets me through the holidays.  Just wrap it up and store it in the fridge until you are ready to put it on your table.   Cranberry Sauce - Done!

Cranberry Sauce


12 Ounce Bag Fresh Cranberries
1/3 Cup Water
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Orange Zest
2 Tablespoons Orange Juice
Mandarin Oranges - Optional


1. Add cranberries and water to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cover and cook til cranberries have burst open. Remove lid and cook water away stirring occasionally.

2. Strain to remove skins and some seeds.

3. Stir in the sugar, orange zest, orange juice and mandarin oranges if desired.

4. Pour into the serving bowl and chill in fridge until time to serve. Enjoy!

For a printer friendly version of this recipe click here.