Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Years Eve!

Where does the time go?

image take by me

 Just yesterday it seemed as if it was summer and now winter has set in. Christmas has come and gone and soon it will be summer again!

Be safe, don't drink and drive! Have fun! And I will see you next year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Dinosaurs, Angry Birds and Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread

The kids and I are having lots of fun, this morning I was allowed to be a flying dinosaur and not just a T-Rex, and I had the pleasure of watching Angry Birds videos( who ever thought pigs and birds were riveting movie/game material), Max and Ruby( which I secretly like) and a pony movie. I have to tell you, 5:00 is not my usual wake up time, and so far I have not been successful in convincing them we need naps. Any helpful hints are greatly appreciated.

 We did have plans to go to the park but it is raining cats and dogs here so instead we are back to baking. We just made a Chocolate Swirled Banana Bread, the recipe is from Cooking Light Magazine and I have been making it since I first saw it in 2003. It is healthy and easy two things that I like. I do use this recipe even when I do not have the healthy ingredients, I just adapt it to suit my needs and the ingredients that I have on hand, so do not feel as if you have to run out and get a bunch of stuff.




2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add banana, egg substitute, and yogurt; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist.
Place chocolate chips in a medium microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring until smooth. Cool slightly. Add 1 cup batter to chocolate, stirring until well combined. Spoon chocolate batter alternately with plain batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Swirl batters together using a knife. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

I hope you have a great day, I know that I will! We are baking chocolate chip cookies later, and I do love cookie dough! I just hope that I can keep them away from the videos, the first 10 times they are funny, or amusing, after that...well, I do not think I will be able to stand anymore.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pear White Cheddar Quick Bread

Let me first begin by saying Thank You so very much for all of your comments and condolences, I am touched and so is my brother in law. Loosing a family member is always difficult and at the holidays it just seems like the pain is magnified, to know that people that do not even know Donna are praying for her and my family is just overwhelmingly touching. Thank you so very, very much my friends.

I am still in Milwaukee and having lots of fun with my two nieces, and nephew. Today I put my foot down and said that I needed an hour doing something other than being a T-Rex or an Angry Bird, so I thought I would teach the kids how to bake, and for the last few hours we have been baking bread, and soon we are making brownies.

This recipe is easy, and yummy. It is also a great way to use up all of the fruit that you received for Christmas! There are so many variations;you can make apple, walnut, blue cheese, or cheddar apple, or brie and walnut with apples, or chocolate and pear. We chose to do the aged cheddar and pears, in fact they ate the first loaf so fast that I did not get a photo, the photo shown is from Better Homes and Gardens where I found the recipe a few years ago.

Cheddar Pear Bread from BHG


11/3 all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup flax seed meal
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups shredded pears
1/2 cup of sugar
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/3 cup of  vegetable oil
1/4 cup of buttermilk
1tsp honey
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup of white cheddar cheese shredded


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of one 9x5x3-inch loaf pan or two 7 x 3 1/2x2-inch loaf pans; set aside. In a large bowl, stir together all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, flax seed meal, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine pears, sugar, egg product, oil, buttermilk, honey, and vanilla. Add pear mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in cheese. Spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes (45 to 50 minutes for the smaller pans) or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing.

I hope you are enjoying your time off and the time with your families. I have stayed behind to watch the kids and dogs, and let me tell you this is quite an experience. As a person that does not have children it is a bit of a challenge not having one minute of the day to oneself!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Random musings from the Midwest

I hope that you are having a great holiday. I have been traveling all over the Midwest by car; first to see my husbands family, parents, his children, and to meet the first grandson. Now I am in Wisconsin visiting my family and things are crazy here. My family is quite large with all the kids, parents, and grandchildren; currently staying at my moms are 14 people, and four dogs. The schedules are crazy, people coming in and out. Unfortunately we did have a tragedy, my brother in laws mother fell ill on Christmas and passed away(the cycle of life: a birth and a death),  many members of the family are leaving to travel to today,  to attend the mass and funeral and some of us have to say behind to watch the children and the dogs.

 If things are quite for a few days here you will know why. I am still following all of your blogs and thinking about you as we near the new year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Photo Notre Dame by Pine Cones

I hope that in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, that you manage to find a little time to stop and enjoy a few moments to yourself, either by candlelight or by the light of the stars. I am still enjoying my holidays with family and this is my favorite way to unwind at the end of the day, by the light of candles or the lights of just the Christmas tree, with a cup of cocoa and perhaps the pups.

Have a fabulous day! Happy 2nd Day of Christmas!

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Christmas Moment...THE DAY AFTER

I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas holiday! I did and am enjoying my time with family, eating many sugar laden treats, and relaxing. Did you rush out to the stores? Were there lots of bargains? I am staying in, I think I just need to relax, reflect and do some reading. Whatever you are doing, enjoy, be safe and have fun!

By the way, happy first day of Christmas. Today is the start of the 12 Days of Christmas, they end on the 6th of January, the Epiphany, when the Feast of the 3 Kings is celebrated. If you would like to know more about this and the religious meaning behind the song the 12 Days of Christmas, visit this Site.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twas the Night Before Christmas The Spiritual Version

Twas the Night Before Christmas
By: Sister St. Thomas, B.N.D. de N
Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the town,
St. Joseph was searching, walking up roads and down;
Our Lady was waiting, so meek and so mild,
While Joseph was seeking a place for the Child.
The children were nestles, each snug in their beds,
The grown-ups wouldn't bother, there's no room they said;
When even the innkeeper sent them away,
Joseph was wondering, where they would stay.
He thought of the caves in the side of the hills,
Lets go there said Mary, it's silent and still;
Made pathways of light for their tired feet to go.
And there in a cave, in a cradle of hay,
Our Savior was born on the first Christmas Day!
The Father was watching in heaven above,
He sent angels, His couriers of love.
More rapid than eagles God's bright angels came;
Rejoicing and eager as each hear his name;
Come Power, Come Cherubs, Come Virtues, Come Raphael,
Come Thrones and Dominions, come Michael and Gabriel.
Now fly to the Earth, where My poor people live,
Announce the glad tiding My Son comes to give;
The Shepherds were watching their flocks on this night,
And saw in the heavens and unearthly light.
The Angels assured them, they'd nothing to fear,
It's Christmas they said, the Savior is here!
They hastened to find Him, and stood at the door,
Til Mary invited them in to adore.
He was swaddled in bands from His head to His feet,
Never did the Shepherd's see a baby so sweet.
He spoke not a word, but the Shepherd's all knew,
He was telling them secrets and blessing them too.
Then softly they left Him, The Babe in the hay,
And rejoiced with great joy on that first Christmas Day;
Mary heard them exclaim and they walked up the hill,
Glory to God in the Highest, Peace to men of good will!

Happy Christmas Eve my friends and family! I am sending you love and blessing for a wonderful Christmas. Thank you for blessing my life with your friendships and your wonderful blogs!

A Visit From St. Nicholas

A Visit from St. Nicholas
Clement C. Moore

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Happy Christmas Eve! I hope that you are surrounded by love, have your stockings hung and that you are ready for the Magic of Christmas!

Don't forget to track Santa at NORAD, your little ones will love knowing where Santa is, and how near he is to their house!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sugar and Spice Almonds and Some Christmas Thoughts

Luke 2:1-7

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. ( and this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was the governor of Syria.) and all went to be taxed, everyone into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem;( because he was of the house and lineage of David)To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her first born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them at the inn.

Sugar and Spice Nuts

This is the last of my Christmas treats! Oh my goodness I am tired, as I said I think my plans were a little ambitious this year. But I managed to make almost everything that I wanted to. I made three and a half pounds of these nuts last night. They are easy and DELICIOUS!!! 


  • 3/4 cup corn syrup
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 1/2 pounds pecan or almonds


Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or Silphat.

In a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine corn syrup, sugar, and water. Stir mixture only until sugar is completely moist. Let cook until mixture reaches 242 degrees F on a candy thermometer.

At that point, without stirring, immediately remove from heat and add cinnamon.  Then stir until mixture settles or stops boiling. Stir pecans or almonds into mixture all at once. Stir until all pecans are coated completely. Pour out onto a cookie sheet and allow to cool. Break into pieces and serve.

I packaged up almost all of these to give to my vet, dentist, friends, etc. I re- purposed a few of my old Christmas cards to make the decoration on the top.

Is everyone ready for Christmas? Are you nearing the finish line with your preparations? I am looking forward to Christmas and also the day after! I cannot wait to relax.

Have a happy day!

Linking to:

Stone Gable

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pecan Praline Pull Apart Bread

What do you serve for Christmas breakfast? Do you plan a big meal with eggs, pancakes, and all of the fixings? Or do you plan for little bites to eat, like bagels, monkey bread, rolls, etc, between the gift opening? Christmas breakfast is hard to plan especially if you jump out of bed, open gifts, run to mass, come home and then have a big Christmas lunch or dinner planned.

Here is something that I will be having! It is a Pecan Praline Pull Apart Bread. It is fast, easy and delicious! I think I may say that about everything but that is sort of my motto lately. In any case, enjoy!


2/3 of 1 package of Rhodes frozen dinner rolls
1 stick of melted butter
1 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of cinnamon (more to taste)
2 cups pecans chopped

1 Cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup Brown sugar
2 tablespoons of cinnamon


Step one: Do this Step the night BEFORE:
Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray, set aside. Melt butter in shallow bowl. In a separate bowl mix cinnamon and sugar. Roll each FROZEN dough ball in the butter and then in the cinnamon sugar mixture, place dough balls in pan, after each layer sprinkle with pecans. When all the dough  is used up sprinkle left over cinnamon and butter mixture over the dough. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight. Should look like the photo above.

Step 2: Take the pan from the refrigerator and set aside. Mix heavy whipping cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, add brown sugar and cinnamon. Pour over the top of the dough. Place bundt pan on a foil lined cookie sheet, this is important because the pans will most probably spill over. Bake for 1 hour or until brown. Let sit for 5 minutes then invert on a plate and serve. Your guests with love these.

Notes: I modified the original recipe. I added more pecans and more brown sugar and cinnamon simply because I wanted more of the syrupy stuff and more pecans. If you do not I have provided the link for the original recipe.

Also, when I made this the first time I used the entire package of rolls, I made a 9 inch bundt pan of rolls and a 5 inch pan. Everything went well until the pans went into the oven. The little pan rose so much that the top rolls kept falling off onto the cookie sheet below and I had to stick them back on top of the bundt pan.

What will you be making for Christmas breakfast? Do you have some great recipes? I would love to hear them! Enjoy your holiday my friends, in the blink of an eye it will be over..too soon!

Linking to:
Designs bt Gollum

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas in the Heart! Christmas Reading!

'It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air."

I do not know about you but with all the other things goings on this month my reading has slowed a bit.

 I have however managed to squeeze in the Christmas classics, The Christmas Carol, along with several other stories written by Charles Dickens. The Christmas Chronicles by Jeff Guinn which I love, three books about Santa Claus written from the perspective of the man himself. Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies and two feel good books. Christmas Joy by Susan Branch filled with recipes, memories and illustrations it is a nice little book to get you into the Christmas Spirit. Speaking of which, Getting into the Christmas Spirit by Tian Dayton was the last book which I just finished last night, inspiring affirmations and quotes to help one manage the holidays!

Why not make yourself a little cocoa, and relax in a comfy chair  while you take in one of the Christmas classics.

 Are you reading anything great? If you are looking for something to read other than Christmas classics there have been some great suggestions made by Sunday at Ciao Domenica and by Jeanne at Collage of Life. I have made a list of many of their suggestions and will be reading them next year(that sounds weird to say it, where does the time go?).

Happy Winter, tomorrow(thank you Di at Yonks) is the first day! Are you going to have a white Christmas?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fairy Food

The baking and candy making continues. Today I want to show you my fairy food, or as some know it, sponge candy. This is a regional candy, I know it from the Mid-west and I have eaten it in England. Do you know it? Have you tried it? If not you should, it is delicious and if you use this recipe it is easy to make!

The recipe comes from Chocolates and Confections by the Culinary Institute of America, written by Peter P. Grewling . I have had this book for awhile and it is a candy making bible. What I love it that each recipe is explained in great detail, and they tell you why each ingredient and each step is used. That way if you have any problems you can figure out why. Candy making is a science, you must follow the directions exactly or you will have problems.

Sponge Candy Recipe
1/4 tsp gelatin
1 tsp cold water
3 cups of sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup of water
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp baking soda sifted
212/ cups melted, tempered, chocolate

1. Brush a 13 x 9 baking pan with  melted butter and dust with flour. Share out excess flour.
2. Mix the gelatin into cold water in a small bowl or cup. Set aside.
3. Combine sugar, corn syrup, and water in a 4 qt saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil.
4. Boil covered for 4 minutes, uncover, insert a thermometer and continue cooking WITHOUT stirring until mixture reaches 280.F
5. Add the honey and continue cooking until syrup reaches 310F. Remove from the heat and let mixture sit for 2 minutes or until the mixture stops bubbling.
6. Whisk gelatin into mixture and mix well!
7.Whisk baking soda into mixture. Whisk vigorously and thoroughly incorporate the baking soda.
8. Return the mixture to heat for 30 seconds. BE CAREFUL the mixture will rise up in the pan and if the pan is not large enough will go over.
9. Pour immediately into the pan, distribute evenly but do not spread with your spoon. This will deflate the mixture. Leave undisturbed to cool at room temperature for at least 2 hours or overnight.
10. Invert the pan on a piece of parchment paper and tap out the candy.
11. Break into pieces.
12. Dip the candy into the chocolate and let sit at room temperature on wax paper or Silphat.

Store candy in an airtight container.

My fairy food came out fabulous, as I said make sure that you follow the directions and be careful, you do not want to get burned on the hot sugar mixture while it is cooking or when you add the baking soda. Keep your little ones in another room, hot sugar is extremely dangerous.

The days are dwindling down to Christmas, I hope that you are relaxed and happy and are making memories with family, friends and loved ones.

Linking to:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fantasy Gifts and Neiman Marcus Catalog Gifts

What do you get for the people in your life that have it all or that you want to splurge on? There are many fabulous gifts out there, these are a few ideas that I have seen in the past few months for Fantasy Gifts. Something for everyone, a mini house, a Ferrari, a luxury boat and many more.  

Or you could get an interesting Yurt for your loved one from Neiman Marcus, the furnishings are one of a kind, from the crystal chandelier, to the linen covered walls,  to the hand crafted and embroidered down pillows. For every fantasy gift purchased Neiman Marcus will donate $5000.00 to charity, in the case of this yurt the money will be donated to find breast cancer research.

Image from Neiman MArcus

Image from Neiman Marcus

I am not giving or getting either of the above gifts but they are fun to look at. Would my dream/ fantasy gift  be a pied a terre in Paris, or a cottage in Scotland nestled by a loch? No, I think as I get older and life happens I realize that my fantasy/dream gift is the gift of time...I want as much as I can squeeze out of life to spend with my family and friends.

We all have to have dreams. What is your fantasy gift? Let me know I would love to hear all about them!

Are you finished shopping, did you start wrapping? There is still time to shop and get rush shipping if you want your gifts to arrive on time for the big day!

Enjoy my friends, enjoy the spirit of the season!

Guest posting at The Enchanted Home

Happy Sunday! Only one week left until Christmas! I cannot wait! I am so excited to be with my family and friends, it's what makes the holidays and for that matter everyday special. The holidays are a perfect time to celebrate and host a party. Today I am at The Enchanted Home guest posting for Tina and sharing ideas for an easy weekday party!

Why not join me there to celebrate?

We can share a cocktail and toast to Christmas and the New Year!

Nibble a few desserts!

All recipes from The Enchanted Home post are HERE

And enjoy the Spirit of the holidays.

Happy Sunday! Happy Christmas!

If you would like to have the recipes from the "Chocolate Bar" visit my other blog, Once Upon a Chocolate Life they are all posted there.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sugar Cookies and Meringue Gingerbread People

Did I mention that I have been baking? I am starting to feel like I might be a little sick from all the dough, the sugar and the chocolate. Oh well, these are the sacrifices one has to make all in the name of Christmas. In the last few days I have made 5 different kinds of cookies, 1 gallon tin of caramel corn, 2 praline pull apart breads, 4 loafs of pear, cheddar bread, a batch of chocolate covered cherry,cranberry,cashew,and pistachio nut clusters and one batch of chocolate covered fairy food! I still have a stack of recipes to go...

Both of these recipes are delicious. One is my standard sugar cookie recipe with a little twist, and the other is completely new to me, and is now a favorite.

Deluxe Sugar Cookies
by Betty Crocker

1 cup butter softened
11/2 cups of powdered sugar sifted
1 egg
1 tsp of vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
21/2 cups of flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cream tartar

Mix together butter and sugar. Add egg, vanilla, and almond extract, mix well. Blend in flour, baking powder and cream of tartar. Cover and chill 2 to 3 hours. Heat over to 375. Divide dough in half and roll each piece to 3/16 inch think. Cut into desired shape, sprinkle with sugar( unless frosting). Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until light brown on the edges.

Zimt Sternen

2 cups powdered sugar
3 large egg whites
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
2 cups of almond flour/almond meal

Directions: Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl. Add egg whites, lemon zest and cinnamon. Mix at high speed using an electric mixer until the mixture is thick and shiny about 5 minutes. Transfer 3/4 cup of this mixture to a bowl, cover tightly and set aside. Add the almond flour to the remaining meringue and stir to make a soft dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until the mixture is stiff enough to roll out, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into shapes(usually stars) then spread some meringue onto the center of each cookie and spread to the edges.

Bake until the glaze is set and the tips of the cookies are barely brown about 1 minutes. Cool on sheet for 1 minute, transfer to wire rack. Continue until dough is used up, you can re roll the scraps.

I would love to hear about what you are baking and making! If you have a must try recipe then email or comment and let me know. I really like trying new things. If you try any of my holiday recipes let me know.

Tomorrow I am guest posting at The Enchanted Home, I am very excited because it is my first guest post. If you do not know The Enchanted Home, you are in for a treat! The blog is a diary of the building of Tina's dream home and frankly it is a work of art. Come over and check it out! 

Linking to:

Friday, December 16, 2011

Amish Caramel Corn

As I said yesterday I am baking up a storm, in addition to that I am making candies and chocolates; caramel corn sort of falls in the middle. This is a great little gift to include with your cookie trays, send to kids at college or anyone that likes popcorn or caramel corn.

This recipe comes from a fun book, The All American Christmas Cookbook by Georgia Orcutt and John Margolis. The book has one recipe from each state and is filled with vintage post cards and advertisements from the same states. I think you will enjoy the recipes and the images.

Amish Christmas Caramel Corn

12/3 cups popcorn kernels (12 oz)
2 cups toasted almonds
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 tsp salt
1 cup(2 sticks) butter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pop the kernels according to the directions on the package. I use an air popper. Put popped kernels in 2 greased deep baking pans, add the almonds or any other nuts that you like and set aside.

Heat the oven to 250. In a pan combine brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, and butter. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir until combined, continue cooking for 5 minutes. Stir constantly or this will burn.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla and the baking soda. Stir until light and foamy, be careful because this will rise up in the pan and you do not want to get hurt.

Immediately pour over the popcorn and stir to coat.

Bake pans for 1 hour, removing and stirring popcorn every 15 minutes.

Line counter with waxed paper and dump popcorn on waxed paper and separate with a spatula. After cooled place in tins to keep fresh.

Enjoy! Happy holidays, happy baking and have a happy day! I also have lots of chocolate recipes this week on my other blog Once Upon A Chocolate, come over and check it out!

One more thing, as you could tell by the last few post, I love Hermes, go to How About Orange and you will find a really great link to wallpaper your desktop in HERMES! I love it. Of course there is no time for things like that until after the holidays, way to many things going on. But file that for fun at a later date.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lemon Sugar Cookies and More Hermes Windows!

Wow! The holidays are coming fast, I am starting to feel as if perhaps my baking aspirations were a little too ambitious this year. Oh well, if everything doesn't get finished, just more things to try next year. This is a fabulous, easy recipe for the holidays. You can make the dough ahead, put in the freezer or the refrigerator and use as you need. Fresh cookies at hand!

Lemon Slice and Bakes
Recipe from Bon Appetit 12/11

21/2 cups of flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter
3/4 cup of sugar
2 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks

Icing: Optional
11/4 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice


Whisk salt and flour in a medium bowl.  Cream butter, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla in a bowl using electric mixer on high, until light and fluffy. About 3 minutes. Add egg yolks and mix just to blend. Reduce speed, add flour mixture, again just to blend. Do not over mix. Divide dough into two pieces and roll into a log shape. Wrap in plastic and chill, at least an hour.
Bake at 350 on racks lined with a Silphat or parchment paper. Cut logs into 1/4" slices and bake until cookies are brown around the edges, for 16-18 minutes.

Once cookies are cooled you can drizzle with icing and perhaps some sprinkles. (I skipped this step as I am shipping the cookies).

These cookies are similar to sugar cookies but with a hint of lemon. If you drizzle with the icing you get a little more of a lemon flavor. They are easy and delicious. If you are looking for something fast and easy you should try these.

If you are looking for other great recipes check out Keeping the Christmas Spirit Alive 365, there are all sorts of great recipes and ideas.

These are a few more photos of the 2011 Hermes Christmas Windows! Enjoy!

This Kelly Bag is unbelievable, all hand tooled! Love it!

All photos taken by my husband

If you need some chocolate baking ideas, visit my other blog Once Upon a Chocolate this week for all sorts of delicious treats. Today I am featuring a scrumptious Double Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberries!

Linking to:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hermes Paris Windows for Christmas 2011

In addition to the museums, churches, cups of chocolate chaud and kir royals, and of course eating everything from eclairs, crepes, sandwich fromage and any other thing that took to my fancy we did manage to do a little shopping both window and otherwise.

The windows in Paris run the gamut from really fabulous, to weird, to down right ugly and head scratching. These photos show the Hermes windows, and although they are pretty I liked the ones from last year better...perhaps it had something to do with all of the macaroons last year. In any case I love the Birkin bag and I love the craftsmanship of Hermes.

What do you think? A little too much gold?
 I hope that you are having a great week. Only 9 more days until Christmas Eve! Are you running behind? Or are you finished with everything and sitting back and enjoying the season? I am finished shopping, wrapping and shipping. Now I am baking. I will be finshed by the weekend! Yippee.

More recipes and Paris this week! If you are weary of the Paris photos sorry, I am trying not to overshare.
Don't forget to go here to track Santa with your kids or your grandchildren. It is actually a pretty cool site. NORAD has done a great job.