“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand - and melting like a snowflake.”
- Francis Bacon

Thursday, December 31, 2009

♥Easy as pie Savory Yogurt Cheesecake with Carmelized Onions♥

As fussy and fancy as it looks, this is basically a low-cost ricotta cheesecake nestled in a pie crust (store-bought works fine) and topped with sautéed onions. Bake the cheesecake in advance and caramelize onions on the day of the party. I ♥ this recipe because it isn't the same-old-same-old that you see on a buffet surrounded with crackers. This will not only gain you compliments it will be gone in a heartbeat so you'd better make a couple to serve your hungry guests.

Serve with crackers or toasted baguette slices. Prepare the onions while the crust bakes.

Yield: about 10 servings (serving size: 1 cheesecake wedge and about 2 tablespoons onions)

1 (32-ounce) carton plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg yolk

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water
Cooking spray


1 teaspoon butter
8 cups sliced onion (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme


To prepare filling, place colander in a 2-quart glass measure or medium bowl. Line colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth, allowing cheesecloth to extend over outside edges. Spoon yogurt into colander. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; refrigerate 12 hours. Spoon 1 3/4 cups yogurt cheese into a bowl; discard liquid. Place cream cheese in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add the yogurt cheese, ricotta cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and egg yolk. Beat at low speed just until blended.

Preheat oven to 350º.

To prepare crust, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Place flour, cornmeal, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and dash of pepper in a food processor; pulse 3 times or until combined. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons butter; pulse 4 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. With processor on, add ice water through food chute, processing just until moist (do not form a ball). Press cornmeal mixture into bottom of an 8-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350º for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

To prepare onions, while crust bakes melt 1 teaspoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion; cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook 25 minutes or until browned and tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in thyme.

Spread the yogurt mixture into prepared crust. Bake at 350º for 35 minutes or until almost set. Cool on a wire rack. (Cheesecake will continue to set as it cools.) Serve at room temperature. Cut cheesecake into wedges, and serve with onions.

Have a great time tonight, everyone but remember NEVER, EVER DRINK AND DRIVE!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

♥Sparkling New Year's Eve Cupcakes♥ Start 2010 with a touch of class!

Champagne frosted cupcakes bring in the New Year with sparkle! Dress up your favorite flavor of cupcakes adding a little bit of sparkle to end the old year and to bring in the new. Display on your buffet or dining table with a few of these cutie pies sitting atop a few of your martini or wine glasses. Use edible glitter to bring out their best side as you ring in 2010. (Non-alcoholic champagne can be purchased at Walmart, Sam's Club and a variety of other well known stores.)

Champagne Frosting

3/4 cup shortening (Crisco vegetable shortening works the best)
3/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons champagne (non-alcoholic champagne is easily found at a variety of stores)
4 1/2 cups XXX powdered sugar

In a bowl beat shortening and butter until combined. Beat in champagne. Beat in sifted powdered sugar.

If necessary, beat in additional champagne to make frosting spreading consistency. Add strawberry, orange, or vanilla flavoring if you wish. Top frosted cupcakes with edible glitter! What a great way to usher out a decade that, by all accounts, really fell flat!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Enjoy only 240 calories in a slice of Blood Orange Cake

Sure, this takes a little time but you've just spent the past two months running around and working in the kitchen and planning with paper and pen for EVERYONE BUT YOURSELF. Make this for YOU. You deseve something not only absolutely delicious but beautiful all at the same time. Share it if you must - but keep most of it for yourself!☺After all, you've just made a resolution to lose weight next year, right? This cake will help you keep on goal.

Blood oranges are used three ways in this dessert: syrup made with fresh juice is brushed onto the cake's layers; chopped sections are tossed with mint as a filling; and whole sections garnish the top of the cake. You can make the layers ahead and keep them frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature and then assemble. This cake is best served within 2 hours of assembling.


Cooking spray
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

1 (16-ounce) carton plain yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
5 cups blood orange sections (about 3 blood oranges)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

1 cup blood orange juice (about 2 blood oranges)
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Mint sprigs (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°.

To prepare cake, coat an 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray; line bottom of pan with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray.

Combine eggs, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and salt in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at high speed 2 minutes. Gradually add 1/2 cup granulated sugar, beating until egg mixture is thick and pale (about 3 minutes). Gently fold flour into egg mixture, 1/4 cup at a time. Spoon batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare filling, place a colander in a 2-quart glass measure or medium bowl. Line colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth, allowing cheesecloth to extend over outside edges. Spoon yogurt into colander. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; refrigerate 12 hours.

Spoon yogurt cheese into a large bowl; discard liquid. Add honey and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla to yogurt, stirring well with a whisk.

Combine cream and powdered sugar in a medium bowl, and beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Gently stir one-fourth of the cream mixture into yogurt mixture; gently fold in remaining cream mixture. Cover and chill 15 minutes.

Arrange blood orange sections in a single layer on several layers of paper towels, and let stand 5 minutes. Reserve half of the sections; roughly chop remaining sections. Combine chopped orange sections and chopped mint. Cover and chill.

To prepare syrup, combine juice and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a whisk. Reduce heat; simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat; cool.

Split cake in half horizontally using a serrated knife; place bottom layer, cut side up, on a plate. Brush with 2 tablespoons syrup. Spread with half of yogurt mixture, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Sprinkle chopped blood orange mixture.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

From my home to yours ~ Wishing you a very Merry Christmas...

Each and every one of you, whether you left a comment or not, has contributed to this blog. You have inspired me, brought beauty to my life and cultivated the creative side of my nature. I wish you and those you love a most happy of holidays and a very Merry and Blessed Christmas Day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

♥Black and White Peppermint Bark♥

This doesn't last long so be sure to have the ingredients on hand to make a second - maybe a third - batch!

14 ounces bittersweet chocolate
14 ounces white chocolate
½ cup candy canes, crushed
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Melt and temper the bittersweet chocolate. YouTube is loaded with videos to help you with this. Not a biggie.
  • Pour the bittersweet chocolate onto the baking sheet and spread it to about ¼ inch thick. Let it set, about 30 minutes. Temper the white chocolate white the bittersweet is hardening.
  • Pour the white chocolate layer over the bittersweet chocolate layer and spread it evenly.
  • Sprinkle crushed candy cane pieces over the white chocolate. Press them lightly so they stick. Let the white chocolate set, about 30 minutes.
  • Break into small, irregular (I did a great job with the irregular part) pieces.
Makes about 24 pieces.
Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Decadent Cashew Thumbprint Cookie with Dulce de Leche Stars

Beautiful to look at - better to eat - these may appear as though you took all day to make them but that is only an optical illusion. Just a few different ingredients than the traditional thumb-print cookie, these will surely have you taking bows long after the last cookie has been consumed by happy guests.

½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
1 1/3 cups all-purpose
1 egg white
1 tsp water
1 ½ cups salted cashews, chopped
1 ½-2 cups dulce de leche (depending on how much you fill, see recipe below)
  • Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  • Add egg, vanilla extract, and salt to creamed mixture. Beat on low speed until fully combined.
  • Add in flour, beat on low until fully combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Using a fork, beat together egg white and water in a small bowl. Place cashews in a separate bowl.
  • Remove dough from fridge and shape into 1-inch balls. Dip balls in egg white, allowing excess to drip off. Roll dough balls in cashews to coat.
  • Transfer cookies to the prepared baking sheets, spacing cookies 2-inches apart. Using a 1-tsp measure, or your thumb, make an indentation in each cookie.
Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, until the edges are set, 12-13 minutes. I like to at this time repress my thumb or tsp measure to make the indentation really big in the cookie when the cookies come out of the oven. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.

When cookies are cool, pipe dulce de leche into the indentations. I like to make little stars for the holidays.

Dulce de Leche

14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Fill a large stockpot with cold water. Remove the label from the can of milk, and do not open the can. Place the can in the center of the pot; be sure that the water completely covers the can.

CAUTION: The can becomes pressurized when cooking, so for safety reasons, don't allow the water to boil vigorously. Simmer gently for about 1 1/2-2 hours for runny dulce de leche, or up to 4 hours for more solid consistency, adding more water, as necessary, when the water level decreases.

Remove the can with tongs, and cool 15-20 minutes. Carefully pierce the top with a can opener. The tan or brown caramel will ooze slightly from the can when opening. Transfer to an air-tight container, with the lid off, to cool completely. Store refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Monday, December 21, 2009

♥Not for the dairy shy Buttery Coconut Chex Mix♥

Not for the dairy food challenged or the calorie challenged but BOY, IS THIS GOOD! A once a year treat that can't be beat, honest. I ♥ this stuff so much but can't make it often or I'd be so round I'd give Santa a run for his money in the bowl full of jelly department!

* 12.8 oz. box of Rice Chex
* 12 oz. box of Golden Grahams
* 1 (7 oz.) bag of shredded coconut
* 1 (4 oz.) package slivered almonds
* 1 1/2 cup butter (Yes that is right! 3 sticks at 1/2 cup each)
* 2 cups sugar
* 2 cups corn syrup

1. Combine Rice Chex, Golden Grahams, coconut, and almonds in a large pot.
2. In sauce pan, cook butter, corn syrup, and sugar to soft ball stage.
3. Pour over cereal mixture and stir until well coated.
4. Pour mixture out on to 2 cookie sheets to cool. Stir occasionally as cooling to prevent clumping.
5. Store in an air tight container.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

♥Pink Saturday had to take a back-seat to three, little boys♥

I must apologize to all who came here to see a Pink Saturday post. At the last minute I was called upon by my son and his wife to have my three grandsons for a sleepover so mom and dad could finish up holiday shopping and wrapping without little eyes peeking into packages. Of course, I agreed. There was no doubt!

Sadly, as a result, my Pink Saturday post was not completed. I had such cute goodies to show all of you but when I am called upon to have little boys overnight - well, there is NO contest!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Winter in the city...my neighborhood wrapped in snow

I live in the city, about a mile from the Canadian border. My neighborhood, recently designated historical, is filled with homes 100+ years in age. Mine is an Edwardian - others are highly ornate Victorians - painted ladies - craftsman. A few homes, just around the corner from mine, sold as a kit in the old Sears & Roebuck Catalog at the turn of the century for about $750.00 complete!

Winter in the city is much different than in the country. In some ways it is more magical. On evening walks with my dog, lights twinkle off newly fallen snow - multi-colored reflecting pools of holiday cheer. During the day, you can take a short walk and see little chickadees flitting back and forth grabbing sunflower seeds from generous feeders - a fluffy black squirrel running up the side of a tree with a peanut (an offering from a kindly resident) all set to have a holiday snack. When the wind blows gently, all around you snowflakes will softly make their way to earth - you feel as though you are on the inside of a winter-wonderland snow globe. The tiny flakes land on your eyelashes and mittens and nose and hair. The dog you are walking begins to change color from red to white.

When snow falls quietly - without wind to disturb its assent to earth from the heavens -  it will perch itself on every object forming a cold, soft pillow - a pillow that can be disturbed with the slightest movement of air. Millions of perfect, one-of-a-kind buddies stack on each other until a little dusting of snow becomes a mound of white perfection. The old Adirondack chair left outdoors takes on new life appearing as though it is cushioned with down, soft and white - it looks inviting and comfortable - a place to rest a tired and weary soul. The corner fire hydrant sports a soldier's helmet - standing straight and tall - at the ready - waiting for a call to service at a moment's notice.

That's my house in the middle photo
Winter in the city doesn't provide vast expanses of trees with not a sound to be heard. You won't find the undisturbed tracks of deer or bear. You won't be able to lay down right where you are to make a snow angel as you did when you were a child (you'll need to go home for that). But, at the right time and under the right circumstances, it has a magic all its own - a magic that comforts the heart and beckons you to visit a neighbor or wave at a stranger as you pass by or take your long-suffering dog for a walk or just stroll through your neighborhood as the natural light fades and the holiday lights on the surrounding homes paint the evening taking you back to your childhood and the wonder you felt waiting for Christmas to arrive.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

♥Holiday Sun-dried Tomato, Herb and Cheese Spread♥

This is good - really good - finger lickin' good☺ I've been loading all of you up with sweets so I thought it was about time I took you down from your sugar high. Not only is this pretty - it is absolutely DELICIOUS!


2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/3 cups sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
2 (3-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened and divided
1/3 cup tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 cups firmly packed fresh basil
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Vegetable cooking spray
Garnishes: fresh rosemary sprigs, sun-dried tomatoes
Crackers or baguette slices


Beat 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Set aside.

Process dried tomatoes in a food processor until chopped. Add 1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, tomato paste, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; process until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Spoon into a bowl, and set aside. Wipe container of food processor clean.

Process garlic and next 4 ingredients in food processor until chopped. Add Parmesan cheese, remaining 3-ounce package cream cheese, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; pulse just until blended, stopping to scrape down sides.

Spray a 6-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup butter mixture evenly on bottom of springform pan. Layer with half of tomato mixture, 1/2 cup butter mixture, and half of basil mixture; top with 1/2 cup butter mixture. Repeat layers with remaining tomato mixture, 1/2 cup butter mixture, and remaining basil mixture. Top with remaining butter mixture. Cover with plastic wrap; chill at least 8 hours.

Run a knife gently around edge of pan to loosen sides. Remove sides of pan; carefully remove bottom of pan, and place layered spread on a serving tray. Garnish, if desired. Serve with crackers or baguette slices.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Peppermint Patty's Candy Cane Cheesecake

Let's face it - candy canes are cute and sweet and adorable and fun but by the time Christmas is over and the tree is looking a little worn and sad - we look at those little candy canes and wonder what in the world we're going to do with them. Instead of making the kids eat them or tossing them in the trash or - horrors - keeping them until next year - how about a recycle and reuse recipe made specifically for using up the little orphan canes of Christmas.

This cheesecake is a great dessert with coffee or tea when guests arrive for the New Year or, heck, for YOU, because after all of the work that you've done these past weeks, well, you deserve a special treat!

2 cups oreo cookie crumbs
1/2 cup crushed candy canes
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 lb. cream cheese
1 1/2 tbsp. peppermint schnapps
1/2 tbsp. orange juice
1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 tbsp. sour cream
1/4 cup half and half
1 cup crushed candy canes


Combine all ingredients and mix well.
Butter two 8 inch cake pans.
Divide crumb mixture between the two pans, making 1/2 inch crust.

Beat cream cheese, schnapps, concentrate, vanilla, cream, and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
Add remaining ingredients and beat well until blended.
Fill both prepared pans with cheesecake batter. Place pans in water bath of boiling water and bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

Cool on rack and chill overnight.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

♥Stunning Chocolate Tassies with Peppermint Filling♥

Not into chocolate or want to cut some of the work? I've used ready made Mini Fillo Shells from my grocery freezer. Quick as a bunny you'll have a delicious holiday treat that will surely impress your family and guests.


1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup cold butter
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons cold water
Peppermint Cream Filling
Crushed peppermint candies


1. In a medium bowl, sir together flour, sugar, and cocoa powder. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. In a small bowl, combine egg yolk and the cold water. Gradually stir egg yolk mixture into flour mixture. Gently knead the dough just until a ball forms. If necessary, cover dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes or until dough is easy to handle.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Divide dough into 36 pieces. Press dough pieces onto bottoms and up sides of 1-3/4-inch muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until shells are firm. Cool in muffin cups for 5 minutes. Remove shells from muffin cups. Cool completely.

3. To fill shells, prepare Peppermint Cream Filling. Using a pastry bag fitted with an open star tip, pipe Peppermint Cream Filling into shells. Sprinkle filling with crushed peppermint candies. Makes 36.

Peppermint Cream Filling: In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup butter, softened; one 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme; and 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar. Beat in 1 tablespoon milk. Beat in 1 cup powdered sugar. Using a wooden spoon, stir in 1 cup powdered sugar. If necessary, stir in enough additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to make a filling of piping consistency.

TO STORE: Layer unfilled shells between pieces of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw shells, if frozen. Fill as directed in Step 3.

Monday, December 14, 2009

♥Salty Ghirardelli Chocolate Pecan Bark♥

These are GOOD and I mean REALLY GOOD! Generally I will make a double batch - one to keep and one to gift. But, sometimes I keep both of them - shhhh, don't tell anyone


1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
3 (4-oz.) bars bittersweet chocolate baking bars
3 (4-oz.) white chocolate baking bars
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt*


1. Place pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet.

2. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted.

3. Line a 17- x 12-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper. Break each chocolate bar into 8 equal pieces. (You will have 48 pieces total.) Arrange in a checkerboard pattern in jelly-roll pan, alternating white and dark chocolate. (Pieces will touch.)

4. Bake at 225° for 5 minutes or just until chocolate is melted. Remove pan to a wire rack. Swirl chocolates into a marble pattern using a wooden pick. Sprinkle evenly with toasted pecans and salt.

5. Chill 1 hour or until firm. Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 month.

*3/4 tsp. kosher salt may be substituted.

Note: I used Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bars and Ghirardelli White Chocolate Baking Bars; however, others may be substituted.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

♥Rudolph 'n friends reindeer cookies♥

No time? Need to keep little hands busy? These little cutie pies will take care of both - and MORE. My grandsons will be here for a sleepover soon and guess what we're gonna do☺ BUT, you don't have to be a child to make these - all you have to be is a child at ♥.


* 1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated sugar cookies
* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 cup vanilla ready-to-spread frosting
* 64 small pretzel twists
* 64 semisweet chocolate chips (about 1/4 cup)
* 16 gumdrops, cut in half


1. Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, break up cookie dough; work flour into dough until well blended. Shape roll of cookie dough into triangle-shaped log. (If dough is too soft to cut, place in freezer 30 minutes.)

2. With thin sharp knife, cut dough into 32 (1/4-inch-thick) triangular slices; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake 7 to 11 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

4. Frost cookies with frosting. Place 2 pretzel twists on each triangle near corners for antlers. Lightly press 2 chocolate chips into each cookie for eyes and 1 halved gumdrop for nose. Store between sheets of waxed paper in tightly covered container.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Elvis might want a blue one - but - I'll have a PINK CHRISTMAS, please☺

Pink Saturday again! I've participated in nearly all of the Pink Saturdays this year, that's a LOT of pink goodies, even for moi! I honestly think I'll be able to do another year with no problem. Isn't that amazing? This week I am sharing with you portions of my Christmas tree. Did you expect a tradtional tree from Mimi - NOT! It's PINK, of course, and just the sweetest and most darling and utterly precious tree - EVER.

Over the years as a young bride I had trees that reflected the slim budget of the newly married. Trees that were Disney-like appealing to my little sons and to the whimsey in my heart. As time flew by (it always flies, doesn't it?) and the boys grew older, my trees became more traditional - very pretty, really pretty, in  fact, but that changed, too. When I moved into my current home (Edwardian) my tree became Victorian - gilt, heavily ornate - beads, jewels, vintage ornaments.

Then something happened. I went pink! I finally gave in to the ME in me! My boys grew up and I became a kid again! I got my game on and gave myself the tree of my dreams - all pink and white and girly! Ooooo, do I love it. I'll share more of my ornaments and PINK Christmas decorations from now until the new year but thought I'd begin with my tree - my precious tree.

Beverly asked us to show a holiday decoration from the past this week and to tell why it is special. The wreath you see below -  this old, wired, tinseled, not-so-fancy wreath that is about twelve inches in diameter is priceless to me. I don't think there is enough money in anyone's pocket to have me part with this little, kinda-orphan-like wreath. I am the proud owner of a pair of these with original boxes included. The original price was 49 cents from Kresgee's (anyone remember them?) Where did they come from and why are they special to me?

When my father built the sweet brick bungalow for his new bride, true to 1950s style, there was a large picture window in the living room. On each side of that large window there were two smaller windows. Hanging in each of those smaller windows every Christmas until both of my parents passed away were two wreaths, one of which you see now. After both of my parents had passed away those wreaths became mine. If I had nothing, absolutely nothing, to make my home festive during the holidays - all I would need is the set of old, wired, tinseled wreaths that hung in the windows of my childhood home. They represent to me my family and my parents and my roots and my heritage and the love that is passed on from season to season until the end of time.

Someday my wreaths will belong to my sons. I hope that they treasure them as I have and will pass them down to the eldest of their sons. That - dear friends - is what makes Christmas memories special. Not money. Not expensive gifts. Not so much food you can't eat it all. Family and the birth of a little baby - that is Christmas.

If you found my blog today, you may already know about Beverly's Pink Saturday. If you don't, then you are in for a special treat. Take a stroll over to HOW SWEET THE SOUND. There you will find a list of some of the sweetest and most precious people to ever create a blog. They are celebrating with me - and I hope - with you.

And now - a little something fun for you to do this weekend! I guarantee you  - they are fun to make, cute as a button and as sweet as a little girl's kiss.

Cherries in the Snow Vanilla Wafers

16 maraschino cherries with stems
1/3 cup marshmallow creme
1 tablespoon finely chopped maraschino cherries
32 vanilla wafer cookies
4 ounces vanilla-flavor candy coating
*If you want to make a couple varieties, substitute the cherries with crushed candy canes for a hint of peppermint goodness. Instead of topping with a cherry - sprinkle a little of the crushed candy canes that you used for the filling on the tops of your darling creations.


1. Place maraschino cherries with stems on paper towels; drain well. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper; set aside. In a small bowl, stir together marshmallow creme and chopped maraschino cherries. Spread about 1 teaspoon of the maraschino cherry mixture on the bottom of one cookie. Top with another cookie, bottom side down. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cookies and maraschino cherry mixture.

2. In a small saucepan, heat and stir candy coating over medium-low heat until melted and smooth. Cool slightly.

3. Dip cookies halfway into the melted candy coating. Return to baking sheet. Holding a cherry by the stem, dip bottom of cherry into the melted candy coating. Place cherry on top of candy-coated side of one cookie. Hold for several seconds or just until set. Repeat with remaining cherries and cookies. Let cookies stand until candy coating sets. Makes 16 sandwich cookies.

Friday, December 11, 2009

♥Raspberry Red Velvet Triffle♥

Easy and quick to make but my goodness - oh, so impressive! I don't care what time of year it is there is always room for ♥raspberries♥ the queen of the berry! Beautiful dessert to take to a holiday party if you would like to win friends and influence people☺


1 (18.25-oz.) package DUNCAN HINES Moist Deluxe Red Velvet Cake Mix
2 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 pt. fresh raspberries You can also use thawed, frozen; however, that them in a colander so you will have berries and no juice.
Garnish: fresh mint sprigs


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare cake batter as directed. Pour batter into a greased and floured 13- x 9-inch pan.
2. Bake at 350° for 28 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
3. Meanwhile, beat cream cheese at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer 1 minute or until creamy. Add yogurt, powdered sugar, and lemon zest. Beat 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Cover and chill.
4. Remove cake from oven. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 1 hour).
5. Invert cake onto a cutting board. Cut rounded top off of cake. Trim and discard edges of cake. Cut cake into 32 pieces.
6. Arrange about one-third of cake pieces in a 3-qt. trifle dish. Carefully spread one-third of chilled cream cheese mixture over cake. Repeat layers 2 times, smoothing top layer of cream cheese mixture over cake pieces. Top with raspberries. Cover and chill 1 hour before serving. Garnish, if desired.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ribbons 'n punches 'n plates, oh my! Festive holiday gifting☺

During the Holiday Season, our neighbors and friends tend to be gifted with of our baking and candy making efforts. This is a fun and personal way to share your treats. Nothing says, I care, more than delicious offerings made with your own hands. There is no reason you can't go all the way - presenting your delicious cookies or candies on a plate embellished with l♥ve.

Supplies for Holiday Ribbon Plates
  • paper plates, any color or size (you can use plastic plates, but they’re MUCH  harder to punch)
  • craft or hole punch
  • ribbon, craft ribbon or curling ribbon
  • treats
  • children
  • smiles
  • a great imagination
Punch holes about every inch all the way around. Then pick a spot to start and thread the ribbon through each hole. There are a few ways you can thread the ribbon. It can be up and down or around and around. Both look pretty, so it just depends on your preference. It was easier for the grandkids to thread the ribbon around and around.

Once the ribbon has been through each hole, make sure both ends are even to tie it together in a bow

Now fill them with some of your favorite treats and they’re ready for family and neighbors and teachers and mailmen  and friends!I usually have a little supply on hand to fill with goodies when someone drops by. We sit down for tea and I fill a little plate of cookies for them to carry home.

If you would like to get really fancy you can fill with cookies or treats place one plate on top of the other and thread them closed. When you are set to tie your bow add a gift tag laced through and you are all set! This is a great method when little guys are carrying a holiday gift to school for their teacher. The goodies stay inside and clean!

PS: Yesterday as I was leaving comment on T's Daily Treasures (if you haven't met her, you should visit. A sweeter gal there isn't on this planet) I told her that these plates were cute as a button. That got me thinking - I'm going through my button box for some cute ones to add to the plates - or how about checking out JoAnn's for some Christmas buttons to add to the ribbon edges? Oh heck, just let your imagination run wild! It's good for the brain - keeps it limber and young☺

PS: Don't forget, if you need any hints or terribly delicious recipes for the holidays or for any day of the week, always check out my sidebar. DELICIOUS DECIONS. All of the recipes that I share on my food blog, Standing at the Kitchen Door, are updated here daily. 

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Santa's favorite Red, White and Green Christmas Tortellini

The Night Before Christmas Santa loads up on this filling but light and airy meal that won't leave you hungry in half an hour. So quick to make, festive and delicious, you will have plenty of time to gather around the tree to sing your favorite carols with family and friends! This dish is so pretty and festive - all wrapped up in one easy to do package☺ Just be sure to leave Santa a serving - he ♥'s it!


1 bag Barilla Tortellini (or other familiar brand) - your favorite filling
1 jar Classico Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo
1 Green or Sweet Red Pepper in thin slices or minced
1 Sweet Grape Tomatoes halved - to taste
Shallots minced
Fresh minced garlic to taste
Fresh basil for garnish
Olive oil in spray container

Prepare pasta according to directions. Add green peppers to a separate pan and spray with olive oil. Sauté till tender. Then add in halved grape tomatoes. Sauté until tomato edges have barely began to yellow. Add to pasta once it has been drained. Add Alfredo sauce and fresh garlic to taste. Serve with minced shallots and basil leaf as garnish.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A teaching tool to Celebrate Hanukkah. Make a Handprint Menorah with Children

I am Christian but I am acutely aware of  Hannukkah during the Christmas Season. The teachings and traditions and history are sobering and beautiful and humbling, to say the very least. Even if you are not Jewish, making this darling Menorah would be an excellent teaching tool for you to talk with the little ones in your life about the importance of Jewish history to all of mankind. After all, Jesus was Jewish - all of His life and until the day He died.

If you're wanting to celebrate Hanukkah with little children, but you don't want them around candles or fire (who does), this is a fun craft to include them in your Hannukah celebration. They can glue on a little fuzzy pom pom each night for eight days of Hanukkah. When this year's eight days are complete, why not tuck this adorable craft away - some day you will be able to pull it out of a box and talk with your grandchildren about the importance and significance of the traditions associated with Hanukkah.

If you are a little rusty when it comes to Jewish history, let your cursor take a walk here. History.com has a lovely presentation titled The History of Hannukkah.

Supplies needed for Handprint Menorah

- cardstock paper
- craft paint or acrylic paint
- paint brush
- paper plate
- fuzzy pom poms
- yellow triangles, mine are craft foam stickers
- hole punch & ribbon

1. Pour a little blue paint onto the paper plate. Using the sponge brush, paint your child or grandchild's hand. I like to paint their hands so it coats all of those chubby, adorable little crevices. You can have them press their hand into the paint on the plate if you would like, but it's a little more messy.

2. One hand at a time, guide and press each child's hand on the paper. Being very careful with the first hand (so as not to get paint on anything), do the same thing again with the second hand: paint, guide, press. You'll want to make the thumbs overlap, so it's only 9 places for candles, not 10. The thumb candle in the middle represents the "shamash" or the worker candle that lights the other candles during Hanukkah.

3. Decorate your paper with Jewish stars forming two yellow triangles on top and opposite of each other (see illustration).

4. To light the menorah for each day of Hanukkah, glue on a fuzzy pom pom. Instead of pom poms, you could also get out some yellow paint and use the child's thumbprint for the flame or they could put on a triangle sticker or simply draw a candle's flame for each night.

5. Add letters to spell Hanukkah on the paper at the bottom. Punch two holes at the top and tie ribbon to make it a hanging banner.

I'm including a suggestion for a fun book to read to children to teach them about Hanukkah: Hanukkah a Counting Book by Emily Sper. Enjoy teaching and celebrating Hanukkah with your children. They'll love being able to help with the process.

PS: Why don't you prepare a batch of Spiced Milk Punch before you sit down the the kiddos. I guarantee - you will ♥ this stuff!

Monday, December 07, 2009

♥Warm up Santa and your friends with Layers of Peppermint & Hot Chocolate Cones♥

Chocolate, conversation, and good friends is a perfect recipe for success. Give the gift of all three this season by making easy Layered Peppermint Cocoa Cones. Truly there is nothing more delightful than sitting with a friend sipping hot cocoa and laughing by the fire while waiting for St. Nick. These are a perfect gift for friends, neighbors, teachers, pastors, mailman, paper-boy - you name it and it will fit the bill!

1/2 cup cocoa mix
2 (6- by 12-inch) cone-shaped cellophane bags
1/4 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup mini marshmallows or white chocolate chips
Crushed candy cane chunks

1. Pour cocoa mix into one of the bags. Close the bag with a clear rubber band, then trim the end of the bag one inch above the band.
2. Place the cocoa-filled bag into the second bag and flatten its top so the end doesn’t stick up. This will prevent the cocoa from mixing with the other layers.
3. Layer the chocolate chips and/or marshmallows, then top with crushed peppermint candy canes. Secure the bag with a holiday ribbon and tag. Quick, fun, easy. Do this with the kids for an evening filled with laughter - making good memories for those times when the world is a little chilly to the soul.

Other fun ingredient layers:
Butterscotch Chips
Mint Chips
Holiday Non-pareils
Cinnamon Sticks
Holiday shaped marshmallows
Reeses bits
Caramel bits

The cone papers? Any pastry shop will have them. I got mine at Walmart in the cake decorating department! Also, call your local JoAnns - they are a good bet, too!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

♥Snow-Capped Gingerbread Chimneys♥

These cakes are spicy and dense (in a good way) with just a tad of lemon cream cheese frosting to complement them. They have the consistency of a cake-y brownie but the flavor of gingerbread cookies. The petite cakes are about the size of cupcakes, but with a touch more style. I baked these as 8×8 sheet cakes and then used a biscuit cutter to punch out small rounds after the cake had baked and cooled.

Makes 9 small Gingerbread Chimneys

2 Cups Flour
2 tsp Ginger
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 Cup Molasses (unsulphured, like Grandma’s brand)
2/3 Cup Hot Water
1/2 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Egg, optional

*Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz Cream Cheese
1/4 Cup Butter
1 lb Confectioner’s Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Zest from 1 Lemon
*I've been known to cheat and use Cool Whip at the last minute. They turn out yummy for the tummy!

Preheat oven to 350º F.
  • Mix the flour, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl until well combined.
  • Prepare two 8×8 baking pans as follows: grease the pans with butter. Lay a square of parchment paper down in the inside of the pans, cut to fit the bottoms. Butter the paper as well. Use some of the gingerbread dry ingredients you just mixed to flour the pans, shaking/tapping out any extra.
  • Whisk molasses and hot water together.
  • Cream the butter and sugar. Whip the mixture with the egg until light and fluffy.
  • Add part of the molasses mixture and part of the butter and sugar mixture to the dry ingredients. Begin to combine. As the ingredients come together, add more of the butter mixture and more of the molasses mixture until everything has been incorporated. Whisk to remove lumps, but to not over-mix.
  • Pour the batter evenly into the two prepared pans. Bake at 350º F for 30-40 minutes until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean, or the top of the cake, when touched, springs back.
Let cakes cool completely, then remove from the pan. You may need to use a knife to loosen the edges, but the parchment paper should keep the bottoms from sticking.

Once the cakes have cooled and have been removed from the pans, use a small biscuit cutter to cut 9 rounds from each cake. I have also used small cookie cutters in the shape of a star which is absolutely adorable!

Prepare frosting by beating all of the frosting ingredients until well combined and fluffy. Place a small amount of frosting on 9 rounds. Stack the rounds. Place the rest of the frosting in a piping bag and frost the top of each cake.

I garnished the ones you see here with green and red nonpareils, but maraschino cherries would be awesome or chocolate jimmies or a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg! Store in an airtight container until ready to serve. HINT: the gingerbread freezes really well so it isn't a problem for you to make several batches, freeze them, and then decorate when guests arrive!

Now, I know what you're thinking, "What in the world am I going to do with the gingerbread cake that if left after cutting my rounds." Here's what you do: Let the cake sit out for the rest of the day and then crumble with your hands and store in an air-tight container. The next time you sit down with a bowl of vanilla ice cream sprinkle some of your gingerbread crumbs on top or your ice cream mountian and then plop a great, big splot of whipping cream right on the summit. YUM!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

♥My PINK SATURDAY bedroom sampler♥

Before I begin to share little tidbits about the items I have for you this week, I'll address Beverly's request for this week. She asked that we share a favorite childhood holiday memory. Given the fact that this is the Christmas Season I'll share a memory that goes back to my early childhood - something that I can conjure up and relive easily - with little to no effort at all.

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I  can close my eyes and smell my mother's kitchen filled with the aroma of baking cookies - butter, nuts, spices, dates, raisins, cherries.  Varieties so numerous that when the cookies were arranged on a huge, round plate that she used exclusively for the holidays, it reminded me of a patchwork quilt. It was gorgeous. So pretty and colorful that you almost - and I say almost - didn't want to touch that beautiful array of delicacies. But, heck, dig in we did, and with gusto. During the holidays my mother's kitchen was always warm and always busy and always producing some of the most remarkable meals and pastries in all of Saginaw, Michigan.

Back when my hands were more nimble and my eyes a little better I would spend hours and hours devoted to counted cross stitch. It was so relaxing for me to get lost in what I was doing when the boys were napping or had been put down for the night. The above piece I completed in 1983. My gosh, has it been that long? Seems like a lifetime ago...

This little sign rests on an antique chest of drawers in my bedroom because I just haven't found the perfect place for it - at least not yet. I adore the sentiment. No matter how old my grandchildren are they are still babies in my heart and I will always and forever have milk, cookies, hugs and kisses ready for each and every one of them when they come through the door of my home.

This plaque was painted for me by a good friend back in 1995. The story behind it is a little unsettling and isn't all that important for today. This sign was painted to remind me of the fact that unless we can promise something to ourselves and produce it by ourselves - everything else someone promises to us is a PROBABLY. We are the only ones that can guarantee anything in any amount of certainty to ourselves. We cannot rely on anyone - ever - to make us happy. That is our responsibility because everything else is a PROBABLY.

Isn't this little basket of blossoms adorable? This is a Goodwill Store find from years ago. Delicate and sweet, it sits on the dresser in my bedroom. It really doesn't have any purpose other than to make me happy and to make me smile and to make me feel good. It does all of those things easily and gets an A+ for effort☺

If you are a lover of pink and someone who enjoys lovely blog photos and great places to visit then you must travel over to Beverly's HOW SWEET THE SOUND today and check out all of the other wonderful people who participate in this special day - PINK SATURDAY. I promise, you won't be disappointed.