Saturday, December 27, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light

From now on,
Our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on,
Our troubles will be miles away.


Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.

Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.


Through the years we all will be together
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now


Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane 1943
From the film 'Meet Me In St. Louis', sung by the incomparable Judy Garland.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Linking to
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Wow Us Wednesdays #201 at Savvy Southern Style
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
The Scoop #151 at Cedar Hill Farmhouse

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas is Coming

When I was growing up, my mom had an album of Christmas carols sung by Harry Belafonte which we listened to every Christmas.  This one was one of my favorites....

Christmas is coming,
The goose is getting fat,

Please put a penny
In the old man's hat.

If you haven't got a penny,
A ha'penny will do,

If you haven't got a ha'penny,
Then God bless you


Author of this Christmas carol and nursery rhyme is unknown.  Edith Nesbit Bland, British author of numerous children's books (many of which I happily read over and over again as a child) composed the music to this in the late 19th century according to this carol website.

Linking to

Christmas Tour of Homes 2014 at the Nesting Place
Wow Us Wednesdays #200 at Savvy Southern Style
The Scoop #149 at Cedar Hill Farmhouse
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
White Christmas-Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home

Sunday, December 14, 2014

I'll Be Home For Christmas

Nothing like turning on a little Christmas music to fill you with the spirit of the season as you deck the halls......


I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me....

Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree


Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light gleams......

I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams


Kim Gannon, Walter Kent, 1943

Imagine Frank Sinatra or Andrea Bocelli singing this.......

Linking to:
The Scoop #149 at Cedar Hill Farmhouse
Christmas Tour of Homes 2014 at the Nesting Place
Wow Us Wednesdays #200 at Savvy Southern Style

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Chocolate pecan tart- recipe

I had ambitious plans to finish decorating the Christmas tree last weekend.  But it never happened.  Instead I took a break after an exhausting Thanksgiving week... and enjoyed a few slices of the chocolate pecan tart that I made for our little family get-together. 

I decided to needed to stop..........sit down, and do nothing... or read a book or magazine....

.... or watch a movie (I ended up watching 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid')....

....and take the time to really enjoy this simple but luscious dessert, with its layers of pecans, caramel, and chocolate ganache set in a yummy shortbread crust.....

....looking so pretty on this pink and white Royal Staffordshire plate (another Clarice Cliff design, for more of her wonderful designs, see this post).

This is an easy, straightforward recipe that can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for several days.

Shortbread Crust

1 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Pecan Filling

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon size
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Chocolate Ganache Topping

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips ( I like to use Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  You will need a 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.

Make the Shortbread Crust

1. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl.
2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy using a hand mixer or stand mixer.  Add the egg and the vanilla and mix at low speed until combined. While continuing to mix at low speed, add the flour mixture in three batches, mixing just until the dough starts to come together.  Don't over-mix the dough, or the crust will be tough.

3. Scrape the dough into the tart pan and use your fingers to to press the dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Set the crust aside.

Make the Pecan Filling

1.  Place the butter, honey, and sugars in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil.  Initially, the mixture will be dark in color, as shown below.  

Continue to boil the mixture for 3 minutes; the mixture should be lighter in color by the time you are done-- see below.   Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pecans.  Stir in the cream.  

Pour the pecan mixture into the prepared crust and bake for 30 minutes.  Cool the tart on a wire rack for 1 hour. 

Make the Chocolate Ganache Topping

1. Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl and set aside.  In a small saucepan, combine the heavy whipping cream and sugar.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil.  Pour the hot cream mixture into the bowl with the chocolate chips and let sit for 1 minute.  Whisk the mixture until smooth and glossy.

Garnish the Pecan Tart

1. Pour the warm ganache over the cooled tart and spread evenly with a spatula (offset spatula if you have one).  Tilting the tart pan back and forth helps to achieve an even, smooth coating.

2. Place the tart uncovered in the refrigerator for a few minutes to set the topping.  You can store the tart in the refrigerator for several days.  It does just fine sitting out at room temperature too, and, in my opinion, tastes better this way.  

For the tart shown in this post, I doubled the recipe for the ganache topping, chocolate fiend that I am.  You can go with the recipe as is, double the chocolate ganache, double the pecan/caramel mixture, or double everything.... depending on what you fancy. Although if you double the pecan/caramel mixture you will likely need a deeper tart pan and will need to bake it longer.

A note about that blob of whipped cream sitting on top of the tart. It IS real whipped cream; I made it by whipping heavy whipping cream and adding a few tablespoons of sugar...... 

 .....I just over beat it, which is why it looks like a chunk of Styrofoam.  So.... the take away on this is that for a soft, pretty looking dollop of whipped cream on your desserts, beat the cream (hand mixer or stand mixer) just until soft peaks form and stop short of the stage where the peaks are so stiff you can stand your pretty little vintage silver fork upright in it.  It's just a matter of aesthetics-- it still tastes good either way.

Linking to:

Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
The Scoop #148 at Cedar Hill Farmhouse
Wow us Wednesdays #199 at Savvy Southern Style
Holiday Recipe Link-Up Party at Thistlewood Farms
The Foodie Friday and Everything Else Link Party at Rattlebridge Farm

Friday, November 28, 2014

Quick Christmas wreath how-to

Once we've moved beyond Thanksgiving, I'm ready for Christmas. Ready for the fun, the magic, and that excited, anticipatory feeling that I still get on Christmas Eve and when I hear Christmas music, even after all these years (remember what it was like when you were 6 and Christmas morning couldn't come too soon?).  Most of all, I'm ready for the bright, festive colors, especially my favorite accent color-- red.

I've thrown together a wreath to kick off Christmas 2014 using a red-checked ribbon and red berries, and what is fast becoming my favorite seasonal decorating staple-- the grape-vine wreath.......

......and really, 'throwing it together' is how it is with these handy things that you can pick up at craft stores such as Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts or Michaels-- if you don't want to get too elaborate, it literally only takes a few minutes to put together something that looks pretty fabulous... and fits quite nicely with a more casual, rustic approach to Christmas decorating (can't wait to try these things out at our cabin, once it's done).   

I like the rustic, viney-ness of grape-vine wreaths.  Because the sturdy, twisting texture and the warm brown colors stand on their own as a decorative element, I like to keep it simple and use seasonal embellishments sparingly and as a complement to the wreath itself. I also like the practicality of these things-- if you don't use hot glue, you can use them over and over again.....  

Here is the process I use to create Christmas wreaths each year as I start off the season throughout my house.

First order of business is to set up a wreath-making station on a drop cloth on my dining room table.... a sort of one-woman, wreath-making assembly line (is it an assembly line if there is only one person assembling?).

I've created a Christmas wreath here, but by switching the red berries and the red-check ribbon for something else, you could have an entirely different sort of wreath in just a few minutes.  You can throw together a wreath for any holiday or for every day pretty quickly by using greenery collected from your garden.  I like to use rosemary and bay leaves because I have a lot of it, it lasts a long time and still looks good, and it goes so nicely with the French country theme that I love so much.

I find that the the right tools make any kind of project go so much easier... for this kind of project, heavy-duty wire snips are needed to easily cut heavy gauge wire with minimum effort.

I've used a small grape-vine wreath in this post...these come in a medium- and large-size as well.

First wreath of the season all done!  This probably took less than five minutes to create.  

Linking to...

Wow Us Wednesdays #197 at Savvy Southern Style
Feathered Nest Fridays at French Country Cottage
Best of the Weekend at Little Miss Celebration
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
The Scoop #147 at Cedar Hill Farmhouse
Wreath Ideas to DIY at the Nesting Place