Tuesday, December 24, 2013

[ it's that time ]

WISHING you all a very warm and happy holiday full of love and laughter. I'm so grateful for all your comments and support this year. Big hugs! 

See you next year!


[via katiesbliss.tumblr]

Thursday, December 19, 2013

[ peanut butter kisses ]

ONE OF my guy's all-time favourite holiday cookies are Peanut Butter Kisses. This recipe has been around a long time ~ I first made them back in the early 90's (!) and they've always remained a go-to holiday cookie. With only 4 ingredients and no flour, they're super easy and make a cute gift too…

peanut butter kisses

what you need:
1 18oz (500g) jar peanut butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 bag Hershey's Kisses

how to:
Preheat oven to 350F. 
Mix together peanut butter, sugar and eggs with hand mixer until well combined. Using a large rounded tablespoon and floured hands or a cookie scoop, drop cookie balls onto an ungreased cookie sheet approximately 1 1/2" apart. Bake 12-14 minutes until tops appear dry and a little crackled.
Remove from oven and press a Hershey's Kiss into each one. Let cool slightly then transfer to rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Makes approximately 32 cookies.



Saturday, December 14, 2013

[ clay ornaments ]

I'VE BEEN doing a bit of decorating around here and decided to create a few new ornaments for our little table-top tree...

Rather than making salt dough ornaments, I found some inexpensive FIMO air drying clay and decided to use that instead ~ no baking required ~ and it dries to a pretty matte white…

A few basic tools like cookie cutters, a rolling pin, parchment or waxed paper for rolling onto and whatever stamps, tools, etc you'd like to use to create pattern and off you go…

I played around with doilies, the round head of a sewing pin, the cap of a marker and some rubber letter stamps to create pattern and words on mine…

A stamp pad can be used to add colour to the letter stamps too…

Although they looked quite grey while I was making them, they dried to a pretty white. They can also be painted if you don't want an all-white look…

I love the way these turned out and they're so much fun to make. I only used 1/3 of the package of clay for these ornaments so far so I can still create quite a few more before the big day.

Have you made any ornaments for your tree this year?


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

[ beef filets in red wine sauce ]

IF YOU'RE looking for an elegant dinner for a special occasion, the holidays or New Year's Eve, this is it. It sounds fancy but it's really very easy. I first made it about 12 years ago for my guy's birthday and it's always a hit ~ I don't know why I don't make it more often! Delicious with mashed potatoes and green beans.

beef filets in red wine sauce

what you need:
2 beef filets, approximately 1" thick
2 tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves, chopped or 1 tsp minced garlic in a jar
2 small shallots, chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tbsp flour
1 cup canned beef broth or beef bouillon cube dissolved in water
1 cup dry red wine

how to:
Season beef filets lightly with salt and pepper.

Melt 1 tbsp butter in a heavy skillet over med-high heat. Sear beef on both sides until brown outside but still pink in centre, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove beef from skillet and transfer to plate to rest.

Add remaining butter to skillet. Add garlic, shallots and thyme and sauté about 3 minutes. Add flour and stir for about 1 minute.

Add broth and wine. Boil sauce until it thickens and reduces to about 3/4 cup, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Return beef to skillet with any collected juices on plate and heat through for a minute or so in the sauce. Check filets for doneness and continue cooking for a couple minutes if too pink for your liking. Transfer to plates and serve with sauce.

{This makes enough sauce for 4 filets so if you are serving 4 people, just add a couple of beef filets}.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

[ someone's having a birthday! ]

HAPPY birthday to my guy today! Still as cute as ever ;)


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

[ removing sap from pinecones ]

IT'S THAT time of year when pinecones take centre stage in holiday decorating. Buying pinecones can be expensive but if you're lucky enough to live somewhere where you can gather them on a walk near the woods, you can easily prepare them for crafting. I had some that I brought back from Canada since finding them in Dubai isn't an easy thing.

But first: remove the sap…

There are a couple of ways you can remove the sticky sap from pinecones: washing them or baking them. I decided to bake them since I figured it would be quicker and much less messy. It worked like a charm.

Line a baking sheet with foil and lay out the pinecones…

Bake in a 200F oven for about 30 minutes or so. Check on them every so often to make sure they're doing ok. Turn them if you like. The sap will drip off onto the foil as the pinecones dry and open up. Your whole house will smell like pine trees while they bake…

Remove from oven and lift them from the foil. Notice how they've opened up and the melted sap has created a lovely hard shine on the tips…

Now they're ready for your decor either au natural or you can add paint or glitter…

Are you decorating with pinecones this Christmas? 

[first pic: via marloes oosterhuis; remaining: mine]


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