Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Good morning my little chickadees. How are you doing this morning? I am frozen to the bone. It’s only a whopping 36 degrees here and my hands feel like a block of ice. But its much worse I heard in other parts of the world, so I am not going to complain. I am a bit worried that a few of my normal readers are ok. I haven’t heard from them lately. If you are there, and you know who you are… I hope you are ok.

Today, for me, will be filled with a lot of brainstorming. I had a customer knock on my door yesterday and want to get some flower arrangements/centerpieces for Mother’s Day… which also happens to be HER mother’s 99th birthday! WOW… 99… that’s awesome! I gotta do a good job on these! Not sure what I will come up with yet, but I will try to think of something pretty. Wish me luck! I also need to brainstorm some ideas for menus and the parties for this upcoming year. I know we have Madison’s Musical Sweet 16, and of course all the normal holidays- 4th of July, Easter, Halloween, Christmas, etc. I am thinking besides the holidays and birthdays, I want to have an Italian night and maybe a poker night for sure. Then I have to brainstorm foods, etc. for each of those parties. Gonna give the ol’ noggin a workout that’s for sure! Good thing is, I can do all this no matter where I am at… and I will be all over today! Waiting for kids, waiting on hubby while he is in court (remember that dang seat belt ticket? Yea that’s today!), sitting watching TV (new Criminal Minds is on tonight! YAY!)… ya know ANYWHERE! I also need to think about what I want to make for Saturday’s marathon cooking. See, I try once a month to cook a ton of food in one day. With all that food, I feed tons of hungry people AND get some freezer cooking done. I set out a bunch of various meats and then clean out the fridge of anything that needs to be used before it has to be tossed… veggies, etc. Then I make meals from that. So I guess I need to see what I have huh? LOL… I put some chickens, steaks, sausage, ground meat and ground sausage, some cutlets, and a few other things in the fridge to be thawed by the weekend for use. These marathon cooking days are like “Pantry challenges” for me… you CANNOT go out and buy anything. You HAVE to use what you have! I find it quite fun and this weekend will be interesting because I have all kinds of things I can use like breads, meats, veggies, you name it!

My race against clutter is still going… and I am still losing LOL! I am about to set some serious deadlines for myself and if I can’t make them, maybe I will ground myself or something LOL! Maybe no criminal minds for a week or something… I don’t know. All I do know is that it never seems to end and I get so overwhelmed that I just say “forget it”. You got any ideas that can help me win this battle?

Crafts… well I’m in the mood to craft but I’m not sure what. I was doing some searching and I found these really great craft ideas… check them out!

Pretty Wall Cubes
Decorate your wall with customized cubes. Select three same-size square sturdy cardboard boxes or use wood cubes. Trace a box side onto decorative paper; repeat the tracing five times for each box for a total of 15; cut out. Using a paintbrush, spread a thin layer of adhesive on five sides of each box. Adhere the paper to the box sides, using your hand and a brayer to smooth each side. Finish with a coat of polyurethane if desired

Heart Garland
String a heart garland on a headboard or mantel. To create the garland, cut similarly sized hearts from decorative paper. Cut another set slightly smaller than the first. Glue each small heart on top of a large heart. With a hole punch, punch a hole on either side of each heart. Thread string through the holes in the hearts.

Window Frame Art
Use an old window frame (found in antiques stores) as a frame to show off love ones. Gather pieces of chipboard the size of each pane to use as "pages." Cover the chipboard with patterned paper, then add pictures and embellishments. Attach your completed chipboard "pages" to the back of the window panes with a staple gun. For a finishing touch, add rub-on words or phrases to the glass panes.

Wildflower Preserved In Oil
Small wildflowers stored in mini glass corked bottles filled with oil. These were the last flowers in my yard this year. With the ground now snow covered, it's nice to have little reminders of sunny days around the house! Hold flower beside your bottle to size it and clip off excess stem to make it fit. Fill up the bottle with clear oil. (I used baby oil in some and lavender baby wash in others.)
Attach a small screw-eye into the cork to use as a charm for necklace or bracelet or to hang in a window or other place.

Magazine Gift Bow

magazine page
ink pen
stapler and staples
glue dots or hot glue gun and glue sticks


Cut a magazine page lengthwise into 9 strips that are 3/4 and wide. Leave 3 of the strips full length. Cut one inch off 3 of the strips. Cut two inches off 2 of the strips. Cut the last strip down to 3 1/2 and long. Twist each strip to form a loop at both ends and staple it in the center (see photo).
Shape the last, short strip into a circle and secure it with a glue dot or hot glue. Layer the 3 longest pieces on top of each other, spacing them evenly and securing each with a glue dot or hot glue. Add the next two groups of pieces, doing the same. And finally, glue the loop into the center.

Make Your Own Gift Bags


Decorative papers
Bone folder
Double-sided tape
Hole punch


Cut out template and trace onto decorative paper. Make folds and score with a bone folder. To assemble bottom, fold short flaps, then the long flaps. Apply tape or glue to secure the bottom. Punch 2 holes to front and on the back top center of bag. To make handles, thread the bag with a length of ribbon approximately 9 inches, then finish the ends with a knot. Note: Wrap the gift in tissue paper before tucking it inside. Attach a gift tag. Click Here for the Gift Bag Template.

Now, today on the food circuit, I want to talk about ideas for that romantic dinner for your loved one. More and more couples are going to be actually using the idea of cooking that homemade romantic dinner instead of going out. I personally think that’s awesome. Of course you can make these anytime of the year, but why not spruce up that special evening with these tasty recipes…

French Onion Soup

1/3 cup butter
10 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer
1 quart beef broth
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
6 slices French bread, toasted
3 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir and cook onions in butter until golden brown, 15 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute. Pour in the beer and beef broth and season with mustard, thyme, black pepper and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

Remove bay leaf from soup and ladle soup into a large casserole or individual ovenproof bowls, leaving about 1 inch of room at the top of the dish or dishes. Float slices of toasted bread on the soup and pile generously with Gruyere.

Bake in preheated oven 10 minutes, until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly.

Heavenly Mashed Potatoes


3-1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, cut up and softened
1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 slices bacon, crisp-cooked, drained, and crumbled
Snipped chives (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Cook potatoes in boiling water for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender. Drain and mash. Add cream cheese, stirring until combined. Gently stir in sour cream, mustard, salt, and pepper.

2. Lightly grease a 2-quart casserole or 2-quart square baking dish; spoon potato mixture into prepared dish.

3. Bake casserole, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until heated through. Top with bacon and, if desired, chives.

Strawberry Sweetheart Tart


1/2 of a 17-1/4-ounce package frozen puff pastry, thawed (1 sheet)
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/3 cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
2 3-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons amaretto or orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 cups sliced strawberries
1/4 cup current jelly, melted


1. On a lightly floured surface roll pastry sheet to a 12-inch square. Cut out an 11-inch heart. Transfer heart to an ungreased baking sheet. Cut excess pastry into 3/4-inch-wide strips. In a small cup, beat egg and water. Brush egg mixture in a3/4-inch border around top of heart. Twist pastry strips and arrange around top edge of heart to make a border, brushing ends with egg mixture and overlapping strips slightly. Brush pastry with egg mixture. Prick center of pastry with a fork. Sprinkle pastry with almonds and the 2 tablespoons sugar.

2. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until pastry is browned, pricking bottom once with fork if necessary to make it puff evenly. Let tart cool on baking sheet on a wire rack.

3. In a medium mixing bowl beat cream cheese and the 3 tablespoons sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed about 1 minute or until fluffy. Add amaretto or orange juice and vanilla. Beat until thoroughly combined; set aside. In a chilled mixing bowl beat whipping cream with chilled beaters of an electric mixer or medium speed until soft peaks form. Fold into cream cheese mixture. Spoon filling into cooled pastry shell and spread evenly.

4. Arrange sliced strawberries over filling, overlapping to cover filling completely. Brush with melted jelly. Cover; chill in the refrigerator up to 2 hours before serving. Makes 6 servings.

Banana Toffee Tart


1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk (preferably Eagle Brand)
6 ounces (1-1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 3/8-inch dice and chilled well
1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ripe bananas
1/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules


1. Fill the base pan of a double boiler (or a medium saucepan) halfway with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium for an active simmer (just shy of a boil). Pour the sweetened condensed milk into the double boiler's top insert (or into a stainless-steel bowl that fits snugly on top of the saucepan) and set over the simmering water. Every 45 minutes, check the water level in the pot and give the milk a stir. Replenish with more hot water as needed. Once the milk has thickened to the consistency of pudding and has turned a rich, dark caramel color, 2-1/2 to 3 hours, remove from the heat, cool, and cover.

2. Meanwhile, combine the flour, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter pieces and gently toss to lightly coat with flour. Blend the butter and flour mixture with about five 1-second pulses (count "one one-thousand" with each pulse) or until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal with some of the butter pieces the size of peas. In a small bowl, whisk together 2-1/2 tablespoons of the cream and the egg yolk and pour this over the flour mixture. Process continuously until the mixture turns golden in color and thickens in texture yet is still crumbly, about 10 seconds.

3. Transfer the mixture to a medium-large bowl and press the mixture together with your hand until it comes together into a ball. Shape the dough into an 8-inch-wide disk and put it in the center of an 8-1/2- to 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Beginning in the center of the dough and working out toward the edges, use your fingertips to gently press the dough evenly into the bottom and up the pan sides. The edges should be flush with the top edge of the pan. If you find a spot that's especially thick, pinch away some of the dough and use it to bulk up a thin spot. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 1 hour.

4. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Right before baking, line the dough with aluminum foil and cover with pie weights or dried beans. Bake on the lower oven rack for 20 minutes. Carefully lift the foil (along with the weights) out of the tart pan, lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F, and bake until the crust is deep golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer the tart pan to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

5. Spread the caramel over the crust using a rubber spatula or offset spatula. If the caramel has cooled and is too firm to spread easily, reheat it over simmering water in the double boiler until loosened but not hot. Slice each banana in half lengthwise and arrange the halves on top of the caramel in a circular pattern. To fit the banana halves snugly in the center of the pan, cut them into smaller lengths.

6. Put the coffee granules in a small zip-top bag. Press a rolling pin back and forth over the granules to crush them into a powder.

7. In a chilled medium stainless-steel mixing bowl, beat the remaining heavy cream, the vanilla, and the remaining 2 tsp. sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until it holds soft peaks when the beaters are lifted. Spoon the whipped cream over the bananas, sprinkle with the coffee powder, remove the pan sides, and serve.

OK guys and gals… its time for me to get off here, take a nice hot shower to warm these old bones, and get ready for a busy day. I hope you all are well and I will see you tomorrow! HUGS!


  1. i've been trying to post comments and it usually won't let me but let me try again....i've enjoyed reading EVERYTHING and LOVE some of your recipes!

    Do you have a good recipe for a great basic cabbage soup (kinda like grandmas)? I don't need all the extra veggies and stuff like they do in the 'diet soup' but looking for something with a tomato based beef broth with i think just cabbage, beef of some sort and maybe carrots? Thought I would ask with your marathon cooking coming up on saturday!



  2. hey Renee' not sure if you mean me in the blog, but have been down with a stomach virus... still going on too.. darn it..
    we got several full days of snow and I love to go out in it feed the birds etc...
    but dont feel good enough to .,
    i did make chicken veggie soupl yesterday.. takes no time at all... and the other day before all this started, I made potato crock pot soup that was sooooooooo good.
    today, maybe lentil soup if I can get the energy.... soup is all i feel like eating with a tender stomach...
    no crafting but will when I feel better.
    i am loving all this snow.. finally.!