St Patricks Day – Potato Soup

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

With an Irish name like Hickey, people kind of expect us to celebrate good ole St. Patty’s Day.

After discovering that the ‘traditional’ St. Patrick’s Day dinner of Corned Beef and Cabbage may NOT even be a traditional Irish dish, we decided to explore the alternatives.

Continue reading “St Patricks Day – Potato Soup”

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Spinach


Fun Fact: If you saute’ spinach with Olive Oil, Popeye will show up at your front door! It’s a Fact! (just cooking spinach alone won’t do it – it’s Olive Oil that brings his two great loves together)

So, let’s saute’ some spinach!


Why? Because it is yummy and healthy and easy to make! Step by step guide below.

Plus, even if you eat the entire bag of spinach yourself, it’s only 50 calories! – for the WHOLE bag!

Personally I prefer steamed Kale, and actually love it so much I feel the guilt of having binged on something sinful when I eat it!

If you prefer spinach to kale, try it this way. Peggo swears that this is one of the tastiest ways to cook it – second only to cooking hamburgers in a pan, removing the cooked hamburgers and then tossing the spinach into the pan and sauteing in the hamburger juices instead of olive oil.

Step 1:Buy some yummy fresh spinach. We bought this bag at Aldi for only $1.79.

Step 2: Heat up some Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a pan, just enough to cover the bottom so that the leaves don’t stick.

Step 3: Toss the spinach in the pan and quickly get it moving around – it cooks FAST.

Step 4: Keep it moving until it looks like this, and serve immediately. YUM! 

Even if you eat it slathered in butter, it’s still a low calorie and healthy treat!

Here it is plated and ready to eat. Yum! 

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Valentines Day Celebration

 

Wow, these winter holidays seem to be one after another with very little time between!

We get to enjoy the Valentines decorations until the 14th but then Mardi Gras and Chinese New Year are right after – only days apart on February 17th and 19th!

So little time to plan, prepare and decorate!

Anyway, back to Valentines Day – the decorations are up and the house is looking a bit like a cupid sanctuary.



We went with a white Battenburg lace tablecloth over a red tablecloth, so the red peeks through all the openwork in the lace.

There are red roses and various other sparkling red baubles scattered through the center of the table. 





We chose white China and red cloth napkins with silver charger plates and flatware.

Hearts and roses are all standard Valentine’s decor, but in honor of this blustery winter that just won’t quit, we’ve incorporated some frosty accents. It is a February holiday after all. It lands squarely in the middle of winter, despite what any groundhogs say!

My love for snowflakes is no secret, so I am happy to pull them into any design. This one really tickles me pink.



Sure, Valentines decorations can easily go from elegant and romantic, to gaudy and garish, but – it’s Valentines Day! 

It is supposed to be over the top and flashy and as far as it can go without crossing the line into hopelessly and irrevocably tacky.

So bring on the fancy froo-froo design and let your Valentine’s Day spirit show with sparkly shiny heart, flowers and cupids! 

Especially in a cold and snowy winter, the bright cheery red and sparkle of Valentine decorations really warms the heart.





We haven’t figured out what to serve for the perfect Valentines Day dinner yet, so that plan is still being worked out, (will update blog when we figure it out) but we’ve got breakfast covered with our super-simple heart shaped strawberry’s for breakfast.

Check out how to make them HERE.

We’ve also got some PINK chocolate chip pancakes planned – YUM!





And lets not forget Dessert. Though I certainly wish I had baked these myself, we actually found these delicious cookies at Aldi.  
Shortbread Cookies with Strawberry Fruit Filling and a milk chocolate Base. 

The Strawberry and Cherry versions of this cookie both somehow ended up in our cart and we don’t even have a toddler with grabby hands to blame!







In my dreams, I also have one of these gorgeous baroque silver heart candy dishes at each place setting filled with chocolates and those little pastel candy conversation hearts.

For now that fantasy only exists in my mind and my amazon wish list.




Let’s not forget the tradition of watching the Charlie Brown Holiday Specials. This year, Valentine’s Day Eve, we’ve got a movie date with Snoopy!

Hot buttered popcorn, hot cocoa with whipped cream on top, Hershey’s Kisses in Valentine red foil and the big comfy couch with the fluffy warm blankets! Cuddle party!!



Until next time, Happy Valentines Day! 

May your day be filled with Love and Abundance!




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Groundhog Day Celebration

Happy Groundhog day!
 

This year is the first time we are attempting to ‘celebrate’ Groundhog day.

So here we go!

To start with, we made Coco Krispy Groundhogs!

It’s just the standard Rice Krispy Treat recipe only we swapped out Rice Krispies for Coco Krispies so that our groundhogs would be brown.



Here’s the recipe:
——————————————
INGREDIENTS
3 tablespoons butter
1 package (10 oz., about 40) Marshmallows
OR
4 cups Miniature Marshmallows
6 cups Coco Krispy Rice cereal

DIRECTIONS
1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. 

2. Add Coco Krispy Rice cereal. Stir until well coated.

3. Release your creative side and start forming groundhog shapes!
——————————–

We had some candy eyes left over from Halloween baking, and the teeth are made from mini marshmallows cut to shape and size with cooking sheers.

As you can see in the picture, we tried several approaches to the overall design of the groundhog. Let me tell you, when you look up at this motley crew of slightly deranged looking weather forecasting rodents, it makes you giggle.

We used a piece of a green plastic tablecloth for the ‘grass’ and some dry Coco Krispies around the base to simulate a dirt mound around the groundhog burrow hole.

Clearly Coco Krispies and marshmallow do not create the most cooperative sculpting medium, but this is not meant to be fine art.

Creating them was a fun and silly break from reality and they taste dee-lish!

On the absolute MUST-DO list for today is to watch Groundhog day! 

Unfortunately it’s not available for streaming on Netflix. If you don’t have the DVD, Blu Ray or digital copy, it’s on AMC several times on Groundhog Day so fire up those DVRs!

Here is the schedule:

Monday February 1st at 10:00 AM
Monday February 1st at 12:30 PM
Monday February 1st at  3:00 PM
Monday February 1st at  5:30 PM

Enjoy!

UPDATE:
I added links below for The Groundhog Day Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital Download, respectively. 

I also added a link for the CUTEST stuffed groundhog! I want to buy him and put him right in the middle of our dining room table as a centerpiece next year!


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Superbowl Party!

So, here’s an embarrassing confession. Up until a year or so ago, I had NO idea that people celebrate Superbowl Sunday! 

I have made it my mission to celebrate every moment, so to discover a new ‘holiday’ was a jackpot for me!

Last year was our first Superbowl Party. All we knew was that guacamole was the official snack of the Superbowl, so we bought guacamole and seven layer dip and called it a day.

This year I amped it up a little bit. I decorated! 


I imagine that the way I decorated is unusual and odd to most – probably because I know NOTHING about football, or Superbowl parties, or any of the teams playing. 

I just looked at all of it from an artist and decorators point of view. A nice green color astro-turf, a nice brown color for the football. Then I assumed there must be some sort of trophies involved so I brought out the silver and twinkle lights for some razzle dazzle.

This is probably the girliest football party ever, but I don’t mind.

I know the standard fare for these parties is usually things like chicken wings and beer and other manly options that involve meat and alcohol, but again I went a different direction.


To start with, we made COOKIES shaped like footballs!


..and Coco Krispy Treats shaped like footballs!

..and Chicken salad with Montreal Chicken Seasoning on Croissant sandwiches …that vaguely in the shape of footballs!

For dinner we feasted on Hot Dogs, Steakhouse seasoned baked beans, and our traditional family recipe for Macaroni Salad and Potato Salad – always a crowd pleaser (all of which was gobbled up before I could even think of pulling out the camera).


We watched the half time show, on the couch with warm cuddly blankets while munching on hot buttered popcorn and drinking hot coco with mini marshmallows left over from the coco krispy treat ingredients. 

We even tried watching some of the game, and Peggo cried during the ‘like a girl’ commercial. What a girl! hee hee


There are about a million Superbowl Party ideas that floated around my head that I just never got around to completing in time.

My avocados did not ripen in time so my guacamole dreams were dashed! I was going to spread the guacamole in a sheet pan and pipe on the yard-lines and numbers in sour cream. 

The obstinate avocados also put an end to any hopes of a respectable seven layer dip.

Oh well, there is always next year!

As much as I’d like to say we spent the whole day celebrating Superbowl Sunday, I have to admit that we spent a good part of the day laughing hysterically as we worked on a project for tomorrow’s big event, Groundhog Day! Check back tomorrow to see what sort of mischief we got into!

Here is a sneak peek  at what we were working on that gave us a serious case of the Groundhog Day giggles.

 

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Holiday Home Tour 2014 – Better Late than never!

As I mentioned in a previous post, home renovations and stressful events had delayed the start of our holiday decorating until mid-to-late December.

We’ve got our Evie Bird home now after a nearly 4 month hospital stay. 


Though most people have taken down their Christmas decorations by now, we’ve extended the season a bit so that she can enjoy that home-for-the-holidays feel a bit before we move on to the next holiday.

So, though it’s late for a holiday home tour, we’re on our own holiday schedule this year and it’s still Christmas at our house!

With the snow coming down for Winter Storm Juno, I am definitely enjoying the extra cozy feel of still having Christmas decorations. 

Come on in from the cold and blowing snow and stay a while!



Pictured above is our Dining Room Table and Sideboard set with deep red brocade table cloth and napkins. 
The centerpiece is a white china cake pedestal with dried pomegranates and vintage silver salt and pepper shakers shaped like ornaments on an oval silver tray. The centerpiece is flanked by mistletoe kissing balls mounted on silver candlestick holders.

The sideboard is covered in deep red poinsettia patterned brocade fabric with sheer white draped fabric, and pine boughs adorned with sparkling snowflakes and white twinkle lights.


Each place setting is a pure white china set atop silver baroque charger plates. 

Matching baroque silver nut dish added on top for some extra sparkle along with cloth napkins that match the table cloth, wrapped in silver napkin rings with crystal accents.


Our dining room french doors are decked with pine boughs covered in pine cones and little white twinkle lights. 

On the french doors you’ll find two matching pine wreaths covered in deep red poinsettias, over-sized snowflakes and a single white candle in the center of each wreath with a flickering flame bulbs.









Our tea cart is set with our freshly polished silver tea set resting on cheery Christmas tartan tea towels, and the most adorably whimsical plush gingerbread men that look like they are related to the Fraggle Rock Doozers!


Our silverware caddy has been re-purposed for the season as a candy cane caddy. So that we are always ready with a fresh candy cane for every cup of eggnog or peppermint chocolate milk.

A small gingerbread creation station has been set up with some candies in small clear bowls on a silver tray, and a small decoration station has been set up with spare Christmas ornaments on a silver tray.
Here is a blurry picture of most of the above items all together in one shot, along with our Christmas tree.
Want to find out how I created this entire opulent Christmas look with practically no decorating budget? Check here!(article and link coming soon)
China pattern: Alsace by Farberware
Silverware Pattern: Baroque by Godinger
Silver Chargers and Nut Dishes: silver plate baroque style – unknown discontinued line.

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Peppermint Eggnog — Candy Crushing it for Christmas

It’s officially the Christmas Season — time for fun and festive food and drink. 

I don’t know about you, but I am just too busy to go out gathering eggs and nogs to make eggnog from scratch. We buy a jug of it at the supermarket  — but just because it isn’t home-made doesn’t mean it can’t look and taste like it is!

We topped it with a swirl of whipped cream and a bit of crushed candy cane — then tossed in a whole candy cane as a festive swirly stick. 

It’s not all about looks though, ( It’s all about that bass, ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble ) we want it to taste great too! Adding a candy cane really adds a pop of peppermint that tastes, smells and looks like Christmastime. 

This same whipped cream and candy cane treatment is amaze-balls on hot coco as well. Go the extra step of adding some peppermint schnapps if you really want to be full of the holiday spirit — and spirits.

If you are wondering how one might go about crushing the candy cane, I am sure there are lots of ways to do this — none of which involve playing the insidiously addictive Facebook game Candy Crush

We used a mortar and pestle. It worked well and made me feel like I was concocting a magical holiday potion — maybe one that cures mistle-toe in elves.

I am sure a hammer and a ziplock bag would work just as well though in a pinch (for crushing candy canes — not treating elves with mistle-toe. That would be cruel).

Now when a candy cane breaks as I pull it out of the box I don’t feel so bad  — all the more for beverage garnish!

UPDATE! Some of you have written in sharing that you are crushing your candy canes in a food processor set to ‘pulverize.’ What a great idea, especially if you are making a lot of it for a holiday party! Thank you all for sharing your tips!

UPDATE AGAIN!: Some of you have asked where I got these gorgeous clear glass pedestal mugs. If you’d like some of these mugs to grace your holiday table, or a lovely mortar and pestle similar to the ones pictured above, I found some on Amazon. Links added below. Enjoy!



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