Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Years Open House!

Like many, Hubby and I both have been commiserating about this past year...we should have realized that we weren't off to a good start when we came home from spending last years New Years Eve at the symphony (which was very nice, I might add) only to arrive home after midnight to a huge flood in the basement. It appeared the toilet in our bathroom, which is on the second level of the house was leaking! What made matters worse, was that it was not even our basement but the basement of my in-laws! I tried to convince Hubby that he needed to tell his parents immediately about the situation and that there was no way that he could ever cover it up without them knowing! But I suppose childhood memories of spilling his milk, breaking their lawnmower, wrecking their car etc.etc...kicked in! So in order to kick off our new year this year, I've decide to have a small impromptu New Years Day open house and I just decided to do this last week. I'm just now writing out my menu and it's definitely going to be, you've guessed it... Southern Style!

Black Eyed peas
- Lord knows, we all need the good luck! I may try this one from Paula (click here)
Collard Greens - I love collard greens and my first attempt to make them was last year while Hubby was trying to clean up the flood mess! This year, I'm going to try Virginia Willis's recipe author of Bon Appetit Y'All which Santa forgot to give me!
Potato dish of some sort?- Because the picky hubby does not do black eye peas nor collard greens!
Roasted Shrimp - From Back to Basics from Ina - for all my vegetarian friends.
Dip - Ina's sun-dried or spinach dip?
Dessert - Chocolate Chip Cake - Sylvia, our volunteer here at the museum just dropped by all the ingredients for her world famous Chocolate Chip Cake for hubby to make! She is so sweet, and she is definitely getting an invite! So that problem is solved. I would like to do monogrammed sugar cookies, but that's looking a little iffy about now!
Gift bags - Small bottles of champagne, chocolate gold coins, and it looks like I need to hurry up and come up with a few other things...Hmmmm!
Decor - Yellow roses a must!

Well this is about as far as I've gotten on my menu which is two days away. If you have any suggestions by all means...please let me know!

As far as New Years eve is concerned, Hubby and I may go to the symphony again, but the nice thing is if we arrive home to a flood it will not be at my in laws ...Yea!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Status Continued...Hubby's Dinner Party!

Hubby's dinner party for his Mother's Birthday!

Sometimes in life you just have to roll with letting your husband get ready for a dinner party while you're at work...which was my case last night!

All in all, he did a swell job of whipping up my famous lasagna, picking up a nice desert, setting the table with what he could find around our house (which is not easy) and tying a pretty tartan ribbon (that you can't see but a lady from Talbot's was nice enough to give it to me) around Ellie. They only thing I don't like are the flowers, that I'm afraid I was in charge of!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Status Report!

This past Sunday morning, while waiting for Hubby to get out of bed, I finally decided that by God we were going to be festive this year (Hubby has been a little bit of a Scrooge insofar this year) and I've been extremely busy with work. I told him that as soon as I got back from my jog that we would go fetch our tree, and we may want to take separate cars to save time. That way, I could head to Publix for our cooking supplies while he took the tree home, put it in some water and untangle all the lights! Then once I got home from the store, I would finish off a little decorating while he whipped up the candy cane bark. And, later on in the evening while we were listening to Charlie Brown Christmas (my favorite), I would put my candy cane bark bags together with the little jingle bells that I found from two Christmas's ago. Finally, we would top off our evening making out Christmas cards to let our friends know that we were still alive! Because, by God, we're going to be festive...even if it killed us!

As soon as we were walking out the door to get our tree, I received a phone call from a police office. A fire Marshall had plucked my stolen purse from a creek! You see, things were already starting to pick up with our new festive holiday attitude!

Needless to say, while at Publix fetching my Candy Cane Bark supplies, they appeared to be out of one of the key ingredients that I needed! As I'm standing there in the baking aisle trying to decide what to do--I needed seven to ten gift bags by Monday morning and time was ticking away! So as I'm standing there being bombarded by other festive shoppers carts,thinking to myself "how do I get myself in these messes"! I slowly push my cart down the aile, pondering what do before I had a huge melt down right there in the baking aile! I then quickly remembered last Friday's blog which had a recipe to chocolate nut bark. I called hubby to see if he could look up the ingredients and we would go to plan B.

Yesterday, Monday morning, hubby and I went a got my purse and thanked they officers profusely for calling us. I Headed to our office Christmas lunch at Stoney River and passed out chocolate bark goodies bags. After work, that evening hubby and I zoomed over to Gwen's (co-worker) holiday party and lucky for me I picked up my Hostess gift this past Sat...Wheee!

Hubby got the tree up, it has water, lights and an angle! We got one Christmas card made out. Today being Tuesday I'm Currently at work and walking Hubby through our dinner party that's tonight! How I get myself into these things I don't know...But come or h 'll... or high water we're going to be festive this year!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Southern Inspirations: Gift Guide For The Foodies Like Me!

As I said earlier this week, I'm defiantly attempting to make candy cane bark (see Experimenting With Candy Bark) to pass out at our office party this coming Monday. I've also been eyeing this chocolate nut bark from Real Simple...Yumm! Which looks mighty good as well! Click here for the recipe from Real Simple.

Earlier this years, I wrote Recession Proof Chees Straws - recipe was from Julia Reed's Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns & other Southern Specialties. Basically it was me complaining how expensive cheese straws can be when you buy them in nice tins which I'm always tempted to do! Hubby and I will be having a few people over, and I love to to serve cheese straws with wine, but they make great food gifts as well...just a thought. I Just found this recipe from the Lee Bros. via Southern Living (click here for their recipe for cheese Straws Lee Bros. Cheese Straws).

I'm currently finishing up Garlic and Sapphires , which I would highly recommend as a stocking stuffer for your favorite foodie! I'm dying to try her Gougeres!

Lastly, just a few weeks ago a reader reminded me of Bon Appetit, Y'all. I've reviewed it while hanging out at the book store (which is where I mostly am while not at work) and I love it. It's on my wish list...Do you here that Santa? Love the cover too!

Next week, I'm exploring my first attempt at Standing Rib Roast from Julia's Joy of Cooking!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Southern Inspirations: Hostess Gift Guide...

... and wish list! Yesterday, while at work I finally had a few minutes to make out my Christmas list. It seems like Christmas has just crept up on us...that is for me anyway! Here are a few of my thoughts for some of the hostess gifts that I'm picking up this week. A few are even Southern inspired... Image that?

For the Hostess:

Hubby and I have a few small parties to attend & one thing that I'm going with are really nice paper napkins from either Boston International or Caspari. Tied with organza ribbon with a nice spreader tucked in. A nice look for less then twenty dollars and the napkins can be picked up at a nice paper store or market. Another possibility depending on budget (for you) would be nice white linen napkins (monogrammed perhaps) with mother of pearl spreaders. I saw a pair a few months ago and could kick myself for not buying them!

Here are my soaps that I love (see Powder Room Dilemma). For a couple of other gift ideals, I'm going to to do four or five package (women at work) of three soaps with nice white tip towel. I'm going to Josephine Fine Linens here in the Atlanta area this Saturday. They'll wrap!Pecans... can't go wrong here. Can easily pick them up at a nice market even on my way to one of my parties!
Mint Julep cups - I'm actually going to get a set of four for myself for Mother-in-law's birthday party that I'm they're really for her (Ha). I'm going to serve mint chocolate ice cream in them. Mint Julep cups make great hostess gifts...possibilities are endless for the hostess. Flowers, mint chocolate chip ice cream (my case), cotton balls or Q-tips for your bathroom. Or how about an actual mint julep?

Also, Southern Cocktails , thrown in with the mint julep cups would make a great hostess gift package!

Well, I'm out of Hostess gift ideals for now...about you, any great hostess gift ideals?

For the Food and Book lovers tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It Smells Like Christmas!

OK, I'll admit it, I bought this the week before Thanksgiving... breaking my own rule, mind you! But what can I say, I love the smell of pine. I currently have the dish soap and after work today I'm going back to Williams-Sonoma to pick up a few candles and the soap and lotion for my powder room.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Decorating: Southern Style!

Trying to cheer me up a couple of Sundays ago, my mother-in-law took me to her neighborhood's holiday home tour. There were five homes on the Christmas home tour. One particular home that was on the tour was one that I've been dying to see the inside for years. The lady of the house and her husband have lived in the same subdivision as long as my in-laws, so I was quite familiar with the house. The owner is quite notorious for her holiday decorating, no matter what the holiday is. She has actually toned it down some over the years...especially on the plastic Christmas ornaments and Easter eggs that she decorates with outside. But before getting to this highly decorated house, Mother-in-law warned me head of time what to expect and to be prepared. Of course, I was looking for really overall decorating schemes, but the decor of the house seemed to be stuck back in the eighties.

As Mother-in-law warned me, every room, every nook and cranny, was Christmas galore. Even her big whole room dedicated to Christmas and only Christmas. The bar area was no exception...not even room to mix a holiday cocktail! Mother-in-law had been told the year before, when she saw the house that the owner keeps all her Christmas things up in her basement year round. Could you imagine?

By all accounts, my favorite home that we saw that day was a home (like the one above) done very simple with fresh magnolia leaves, granny smith apples, pine cones...Very Southern!

Check out this link from Southern Living full of inspiration for holiday decorating. I may just attempt to make a magnolia wreath... I finally have a tree!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Experimenting with Candy Cane Bark!

Have you've ever noticed just how expensive peppermint bark can be? You know the bark that I'm talking about. The kind that comes in the nice decorative tins! I'm always very tempted to buy it myself, but, somehow, I always think that hubby and I will plow into it before it gets to the actual person I intended to give it to. Now, I love to bake around the holidays, and last year I was not able to do much of that. However, the year before, while in Nashville the hubby made me do a bill of sale just for all of our baking needs. We went through two mixers during that baking event. Maybe, one day, I'll have the Kitchen Aid one. Who knows? But anyway, this year, I want to do some different things other then my old standby cookies. I have several small gifts to give at work, and to me the homemade kind are the best. So this year one of the things that I'm going to attempt is this Candy cane bark. I found the recipe from Publix and it does not call for a lot of fancy ingredients.

Candy Cane Bark (recipe from Publix)

6 Ounces chocolate - flavor candy coating, chopped

1 3-ounce milk chocolate bar chopped

6 Ounces vanilla-flavor candy coating

3 ounces white baking chocolate, chopped

1/4 cup crushed peppermint candy canes

Line a large baking sheet with foil. In a small heavy saucepan melt chocolate-flavor candy coating and milk chocolate bar, stirring over low heat until smooth. Pour onto prepared baking sheet and spread into a 10X8 - inch rectangle: set aside.

In another small heavy saucepan, melt vanilla-flavor candy coating and white baking chocolate, stirring over low heat until smooth.

Slowly pour white mixture over chocolate mixture on baking sheet. With a thin spatula, swirl white mixture into chocolate mixture. Shake baking sheet gently for even thickness.

Sprinkle with crushed candy canes. Chill about 30 minutes or until firm. Use foil to lift candy from baking sheet - break candy into pieces. Makes 1 1/4 pounds

To package - I'm leaning towards either white or silver rounds tins which can be found at The Container Store with either pink or white tissue