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31.12.12

Pecan Cinnamon Rolls from Frozen Bread Dough | Brunch Recipe


Sorry for being away so long! Emma's been out on Christmas break, which limits my computer time.  Substantially.  I have been taking photos of our dinners and holiday to share in the next couple of weeks, though, so stay tuned.  As soon as we get back to our regular schedule, I'll be able to get them on the blog.

PHOTO : Christmas Eve finery 

In the meantime, I thought I'd share a last minute idea for a New Years Day Brunch... as I'm searching my own files planning our menu for tomorrow morning.
 





As I re-posted last week, one of my all time favorite things to do is to make "homemade" cinnamon rolls from frozen bread dough.  We had friends over for brunch this week and, in addition to the classic cinnamon rolls, also made Pecan Cinnamon Rolls.  With just one extra step, you can create these sticky, pecan glazed cinnamon rolls.

Pecan Cinnamon Rolls
from frozen Bread Dough 
6-8 rolls

1 loaf of frozen bread dough, thawed (it comes 3 to a bag)
3 tablespoons of butter, softened
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
1/4 cup of sugar
..........

Pecan Schmear :
4 tablespoons of butter, softened
1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of pecans


Thaw the loaf of frozen bread dough in the refrigerator or on the counter (there are directions for thawing on the bag).  Allow the thaw dough to rise for 1-2 hours in a warm area covered with a damp cloth.  Roll the dough out into a rectangle onto a floured surface.  Spread softened butter on the rolled out dough.



Sprinkle sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon over the dough.  Roll up the dough into a log.  Slice into 2-inch thick rolls.





Create the schmear by creaming together 4 tablespoons of butter, salt and 1/2 cup of brown sugar.  Scoop the mixture into the bottom of a round pie dish or baking pan.  


Put pecans on top of the schmear mixture.


Place the rolls, spiral side up in the baking pan.


Cover with a warm damp towel and allow to rise 2-4 hours (or overnight) in a warm area.  When the rolls have doubled in size, bake them at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes until they begin to brown.  Let them cool for 5 minutes, then invert them onto a plate or serving platter.


24.12.12

A Peek Around our House the Night (okay, two nights...) Before Christmas


Here is a peek around our house just before Christmas!  Last night Santa (a.k.a. Mike's parents!) made a stop at our house and left this antique sleigh complete with red and robins egg blue paint - isn't it perfect?

I filled our urns with sprigs of cedar and piles of ornaments (non glass, but glass-looking).  The glittered ones look so great and sparkly at night.



Our tree, a Frasier Fir, is decked with upholstery strapping and ornaments, as always.


All of the gifts (but one from Mike to Emma) are wrapped in brown paper and satin ribbon.  I know brown kraft paper is really popular right now, but I've loved it for as long as I can remember.  For the last 30 years my Aunt Lisa has wrapped gifts in her signature craft paper and plaid ribbon.  At some point, maybe 15 years ago, I adopted her wrapping style.



Emma loves to unstack and re-stack the presents.   She particularly loves the packages with the red satin ribbons, which happen to be hers... smart girl!  Maybe she can read her name written on the packages in gold sharpie.


I love this pillow featuring a vintage woody wagon that I picked up at Pottery Barn.


The mantle has fake (gasp!) white pine sprigs with real magnolia leaves inserted in it.


I love the combo of the two AND the real magnolia leaves seem to make the fake pine look real.  Bonus.


A bay leaf wreath in the kitchen.



Potted paperwhites in the kitchen.


Packaged snowflake cookies ready for delivery.


A Bay Leaf Wreath in the dinning room.


A tree in our bedroom dormer.


Merry Christmas, Everyone!

22.12.12

Photos from Weeknight Holiday Dinner Party


Last week we hosted three parties.  Wheew.   Three years ago, I would have said that I'd catered 3+ parties this week.  The holidays used to be sooo much different then - I spent every night cooking and everyday shopping for ingredients.  Then, the weekends were back-to-back parties.  Loading and unloading my car and making my way to clients' homes in the ice and snow. 

I loved my job during the holidays - everyone was so gracious and their guests were usually very kind.  I was fortunate to spend festive evenings in bustling homes that were filled with holiday cheer.  The only problem was that those home weren't filled with my festive friends and family (except when Mike was my happy helper).

This year we packed our holiday entertaining schedule to the max and hosted a family party (Emma's Birthday), an open house for everyone on our new street and a small dinner party.  Tonight, I'm sharing photos from our small dinner party for 5 - us, our 2 guests and Emma.

As you can see, I reworked the floral arrangement from Emma's birthday party by adding clove studded oranges and red/orange amaryllis to the pink amaryllis, magnolia and cedar.


A photo of the simply set table just before dinner.


Light snacks with wine before dinner.



  The evening's entertainment...
 

Goat Cheese & Roasted Beet Salad over greens with a Lemon Vinaigrette



A new dessert created from my old creme brulee recipe...


Milk Chocolate Creme Brulee (pre-caramelized top!)

Stay tuned for recipes and more photos from our holiday parties!

20.12.12

Easy, Easy Snowflake Sugar Cookies | Just in time for the snow!



Is my timing great, or what?



Here are the cookies all stacked up ready for our neighborhood open house tonight... just in time for the snow!  I guess it is a good thing that everyone can just walk home...



These snowflakes are soooo easy to decorate.  If you can make a straight line and sprinkle sprinkles, you're golden.  All you need is a plastic piping bag (you can get one from your bakery at the grocery store) and clear sprinkles... or white, or whatever you can find.






Here is my recipe for the sugar cookies and icing, and here is the step-by-step for decorating these snowflakes :


1) Bake the cookies
2) Put a layer of white icing all over the cookie.
3) Let it dry and harden for 1+ hours.



Here is the first layer, dried.  


Here is the design I made one most of the cookies.  If you have trouble with straight lines, then you can do dots, which look really cute, too.


Pour sprinkles over...


Shake off.  


 Done.  Look, it is snowing inside, too!


The paperwhites in my kitchen looking out to the snow.


 Emma got in on the fun, too...


With colored sprinkles for her friends at schools and the teachers.  Next up, bath time.


Here is the easy-to-pin strip!

 

My Stress-Free Holiday Entertaining Tips on MyWell-Being.com


As most of you know, I write a monthly blog for MyWell-Being.com, a site that serves as a "guide to getting started on the path to complete well-being in every aspect of your life—health and money, people and play."  On their site they explain Well-Being as :
Well-being. It’s about so much more than simply being well.
While your health—physical and mental—is a big part of your well-being, it’s only one piece of a much bigger picture.
 Think about the sense of contentment you get from feeling close and connected to family, friends, and your broader community. That’s well-being.
And remember how good it feels to be financially confident? When your career’s in good shape and you’re on top of your savings—that’s well-being, too.
And let’s not forget the lift you get from the time you spend at play, traveling the world, or exploring new—and old—interests. Well-being, again. 
Isn't that great?  Their philosophy of "well-being" is very much in line with my beliefs of "living well" on a daily basis and what I try to inspire you, my readers, to do through entertaining friends and family, creating a warm home or traveling to a relaxing destination.


This month, my MyWell-Being.com post is all about Stress-Free Entertaining for the Holidays.  Here is a small excerpt.  You can read the rest at MyWell-Being.com :
At the beginning of each Holiday season, many of us make the resolution to spend less, rush around less, stress less and give more.  However, even with our good intentions, there are still Holiday dinners to be prepared, gifts to be purchased and parties to attend that seem to fill up our month of joyful celebrations with a list endless obligations.  Even now, as I write this I'm feeling very behind on my own Holiday checklist!
One way to make our Holiday "to-do's" less stressful is to simplify our Holiday Entertaining.  Hosting the perfect family dinner or festive cocktail party this time of year can sometimes seem like a big burden.  Too often, we feel like our homes have to look perfect and the food has to be expensive and elaborate so we can impress our friends and family.  With these high expectations come a lot of stress and not a whole lot of fun...
 Read the rest of the post and my 3 Solutions for Stress-Free Parties at MyWell-Being.com

*Do you remember this tablesetting?  I created it last year!  I think it is the perfect Christmas Morning Brunch table... complete with cookies at each place setting.  Read about the details, here.

17.12.12

Easy DIY Holiday Centerpiece : Pale Pink Amaryllis, Magnolia Leaf & Cedar Flower Arrangement




For Emma's party I wanted the create a very soft and feminine flower arrangement that would be fitting my soft and feminine little lady.

Just as I designed her invitation (here's the post about the invitation) to just have a glimpse of Christmas, I didn't want the arrangement to be overly "holiday," but I wanted it to be appropriate for the season.  I think it is important to always decorate seasonally - arrangements seem to "fit" better when the seasonality is considered... not to mention flowers that are in season are easier to find and of a higher quality.

I selected these soft pink amaryllis along with magnolia leaf and cedar sprigs.  The arrangement came together very easily.


Here you can see the shiny green and velvety brown magnolia leafs - my favorite.  They are so easy to use and seem to "make" any arrangement I use them in.


Here is the arrangement on the night of the party with the cakes in the center of the table.


Here are the Easy DIY steps.  You can certainly use red amaryllis for a more traditional holiday centerpiece for Christmas.  I think you'll see how easy it is!


Start by placing the cedar sprigs in the vase that is filled with water.  Trim the stems before you put them in so they just drape over the sides.  


Next, insert the amaryllis - I used three stalks that had 3 blooms each.  



Finally, insert the magnolia leaves around the base of the flowers.


Here is the easy-to-pin step-by-step!


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