My 19 year old niece and I prepared this meal for her when she was at my house. The only thing I did was make and freeze the flower shaped pizza crusts. She did everything else.
Flower Pizza – I used Martha Stewart Pizza Dough recipe, rolled out dough with plenty of flour, cut with a cookie cutter and followed these directions to pre-bake the crusts to make it easy on day of the dinner. My niece added tomato sauce, mozzarella, black olives, mushrooms and baked until brown and crispy.
Awhile ago, I completed decorating my new craft room. The theme is fairy tale forest during the day. I am finally getting around to sharing the room here. Of all the various craft rooms I have had, this is my favorite. The wallpaper mural is perfect for the space. My parents installed it and made a frame for it. I love that I have a lot of closet space and a hidden room which has even more storage. In the main room I set up various crafting stations (wrapping / mailing, Cricut, Sewing, general crafting). Most of the storage I used in my other craft rooms.
Dropleaf Table: I had this in my last two craft rooms. It was my grandparents and they loaned it to a friend for 60 years. That friend gave it back to my parents. In my last two craft rooms, it was green. This time, I painted it white.
Wrapping / Mailing Station: I am not sure where I bought this. I used it in the kitchen of the apartment I lived in before buying this house.
Fairy light pull: I bought this on Etsy but link and shop is no longer active.
My parents came to my house for Mother’s Day weekend. I finally made a meal my Mom loves but had not made it in a long time.
Vegetable Gyoza – I made my own with store bought dumpling wrappers. I shredded cabbage, carrots, snow peas, scallions, and fresh ginger separately in my food processor. I added sesame oil and soy sauce.
Gyoza Dipping Sauce: Trader Joes
Flower Shaped Rice – I used a flower Japanese rice mold with cooked Nishiki rice.
Vegetables – Sauteed onion, red bell pepper, broccoli, asparagus with sesame oil, soy sauce, cashews
My critique of the meal: We all enjoyed! I have shared vegetable gyoza on this blog many times but it had been awhile. The cookies were adorable! I made the gyoza and sugar cookies a week ago and put in my freezer. I decorated the cookies a few hours before serving.
I have a laundry room on the main floor (the same floor as my bedroom). This makes doing laundry easier than any other place I have ever lived. When I started to plan my redesign, two things were important: cabinets instead of open shelves, wave wallpaper instead of plain white walls. I am amused by having waves of water on the walls in my laundry room. My parents installed the wallpaper. They said that the design made them seasick but they enjoy the end result.
Ceiling Light: Home Depot. We had to install a new ceiling light since the old one was too big for the cabinet doors to open.
Outlet Plate: My parents covered it with wallpaper.
Switch Plate: this is part of my continued quest to change all of the boring cream outlet plates in my house.
Door Hooks: Command hooks
This is the “Before” photo of my laundry room.
My parents are amazing. I was impressed at how fast they hung the cabinets and wallpaper while I worked at my job.
I like the fun, function, and convenience of this laundry room. It is a little bold compared to the rest of the design in my house but I can keep the doors closed when desired. I enjoy my laundry room with waves.
I am guessing that I will reveal most of the rooms as they are mostly “completed”. This is my second reveal. The first was my cookie cutter closet.
I made this simple lunch for my Mom on a day in March when my parents helped me get settled into my new house. I moved in January, it is taking longer than I want to make this my home but it is coming along. I am thankful for my parents help.
We had a wonderful Easter. It was my first major holiday in my new home. My parents and 19 year old niece came to my house for the weekend. My friend Carol joined us for the Easter main meal. My niece and I planned and prepared the meal. She made the soup and desserts! Carol brought the beautiful flowers. The tulips were lovely. I did not know about peony tulips before. The daffodils at each place were from Carol’s garden. My niece made the favor baskets. At breakfast we enjoyed Easter baskets. In my family adults enjoy Christmas stockings and Easter baskets. We are not too old for the magic of a holiday.
Egg shaped butter (spread softened butter into small egg molds)
Easter ravioli – I used my favorite pasta dough, and added some butterfly pea powder to the dough, I made a small batch with turmeric added to the dough (for the dots) filling – Ricotta, Asiago, salt and pepper
Pesto Cream sauce – homemade pesto mixed with sour cream
Sift the flour. In a saucepan, bring the milk, water, sugar, salt and butter to a boil. Remove from heat, incorporate the sifted flour into the hot liquid, mixing energetically with a spatula until homogenous.
Return the saucepan to low heat and stir vigorously for 1 minute to pull out the moisture from the batter, so that it forms a mass and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Transfer batter to a large bowl and allow to cool. Add the eggs one at a time, carefully incorporating each into the batter with a spatula.
When homogenous, on a parchment lined baking sheet. pipe into cream puff shape.
Bake at 375 degrees for at least 30 minutes without opening the oven.
Before serving prepare cocoa cream to fill the cream puffs.
Whip whipping cream with some cocoa powder and powdered sugar to taste.
Use metal pastry tip and piping bag to fill cream puffs from the bottom.
Microwave starbursts for about 5 seconds until pliable. Stretch into bunny ears. Use knife to make slits into cream puff for the ears. Add starburst ears to cream puff. Pipe small dots of cocoa cream for the eyes.
Nutella or Strawberry Jam Macarons
275 g finely ground almond flour
250 g confectioners’ sugar
6 1/2 egg whites
210 g granulated sugar
a few drops food coloring
Combine the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor and pulse to obtain a fine powder. Sift or strain through a sieve to remove any lumps.
In a clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites to a foam. Once they are frothy, add a third of the granulated sugar and whip until sugar is dissolved. Add another third of the granulated sugar, whip for another minute, finally add the remaining granulated sugar and whip for 1 more minute. Using a clean rubber spatula, delicately fold the sifted mixture of ground almonds and confectioners’ sugar into the whipped egg whites. Add a few drops of food coloring to obtain desired color (split the batter if you want more than 1 color). In a separate bowl, beat the remaining 1/2 egg white until just frothy. Then add to the final mixture, folding gently to slightly loosen the batter.
Transfer mixture to a piping bag fitted with a plain tip. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, pipe small macaron rounds. Dip finger in bowl of water to gently smooth out pipped round. Lightly tap the sheet so the macarons spread fully.
Preheat oven to 300 F. Allow macarons to sit uncovered for 10 minutes, then place in the oven.
Bake for approximately 15 minutes until they form a slight crust.
Remove baking sheet from the oven, and with a small glass, carefully pour a tiny amount of water in between the sheet and the parchment paper (lift the paper ever so slightly corner by corner). The moisture and steam that result from the water on the hot baking sheet will allow the macarons to peel off more easily once they are cool. Do not pour too much water as this could cause the macarons to become soggy. Allow to cool completly.
Spread Nutella or strawberry jam between 2 macaron rounds. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
My critique of the meal: We all enjoyed the food, the roasted carrots were a surprise hit. I expect to make them again. It was my first time making cocoa cream. It was delicious in the cream puffs. I definitely want to make it again. We were fortunate to have spent this holiday together. A memorable first holiday in my new home!
Left Side: Lace chips – tortilla chips cut with a cookie cutter, holes punches with a straw, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with garlic – bake in 375 over for about 10 minutes, Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad
Happy March! I hosted a Lamb or Lion themed dinner with my parents and friend Carol. Carol made the flower arrangement. I love that some of the flowers look like lion manes! March weather described as a lion or lamb is a theme I have revisited many times over the years (see links at the end of this post).
Lion Dessert – plain Green yogurt, chocolate chips, Cracker Jack popcorn
My critique of the meal: I think it all came out delicious and adorable. One surprise for me were the desserts, plain Greek yogurt with fixings were delicious. The combinations were an experiment and it worked! My guests were given a choice of a lamb or lion dessert. I think that everyone enjoyed.
I am working on organizing and making the rooms in my new house beautiful. I have my first room ready to show the world! It is actually a closet under the stairs. My dream for my house was to make my cookie cutter collection easier to use. I accomplished that goal. I am very happy with the look and function of this room (closet). Previously I had my entire collection in 4 large plastic totes.
This is the “before” photo of my cookie cutter closet.
Cube Shelves – I used one ClosetMaid 9 cube, two 6 cubes, and one One-Space 4 cube shelf. I bought them from Lowes and Amazon. My Dad put them together. He also installed a battery operated motion sensor light.
I used my old Brother P-Touch labeler to create labels for the cubes. I made a guide for myself and posted it in the closet. I also have a spreadsheet with all the different separate categories in each cube. For example, Spring Holiday has Hearts, Cupid, Leprechaun, Pot of Gold, Shamrock, Easter / Eggs and Crosses.
Not all of the cubes are filled (more room to grow my collection) and some of them contain other supplies to create cute food.
I packaged up cookies for the number of people I expected in the house (some neighbors helped me). I attached a card I printed with my information. It was snowy and cold (13 degrees F) but I now have the names and numbers for the neighbors in the 5 houses closest to me. One neighbor told me about a neighborhood email distribution list and they will get me added.
I enjoyed baking in my new kitchen. It has a lot of space. Cutting out the cookies and frosting them was relaxing. Ringing doorbells of people I don’t know made me a little nervous but I am glad I made the effort to meet my neighbors.
On January 4, I closed on a house. I moved in on January 21. It has been a whirlwind of stress, planning, and hard work. The house needed a large amount of somewhat cosmetic work that does not seem minor when there was a huge volume of it. My parents are extremely supportive and hardworking to help me get comfortable and settled in this house.
My parents and I enjoyed this House themed ravioli meal! 3 Cheese Ravioli (cut with a house cookie cutter) that I made and put in my freezer weeks before my move. I used my favorite pasta dough, the filling was Ricotta, Parmesan, Asiago, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Wegmans fresh tomato sauce, roasted zucchini (cut with a key cookie cutter)
Some of our activities during the past month:
Removed carpet in 4 rooms to reveal beautiful hardwood floors. (involved removing tack boards, tacks, added wood door transition boards, and cut the carpet in pieces for disposal).
Removed a huge amount of paint splatters / spills from the hardwood floors. (My Mom has done the brunt of this work.)
Replaced and standardized light bulbs throughout the house. This became complicated by the many dimmer switches and odd fixtures. (My Dad took on this task).
Deep cleaning just about everywhere.
We painted my bedroom.
I painted the plywood floor in my hidden room.
I painted the laundry room white and my Mom refreshed the trim. We will eventually put up wallpaper on 2 walls when it arrives.
My parents installed beautiful cabinets in the laundry room. There were wire shelves before. (They replaced the existing light to make room for the large cabinets.)
My parents renovated my kitchen pantry to transform the existing wire shelves to beautiful wooden shelves with leaf trim. They mostly followed this.
The closets barely had systems. My parents painted and Dad installed new wooden closet systems in my closets and the guest room closet. They used existing closet systems to renovate closets in my craft room and office. (I painted my office closet).
Of course this is just a start. Soon I will paint and decorate my office. I expect the craft room will follow. I ordered mural wallpaper for one wall.
I am working with a designer to design two rooms – my library which will take the place of a traditional living room, and my formal dining room. Eventually she will help design my kitchen refresh.
I am not ready for final reveals of any project yet but here are some sneak peak photos.
During my life, my Dad did not do a lot of cooking but he is known for making a few dishes: Onion Rings, Easter Bread, Blueberry Blintzes. Now I am finally getting around to posting about his thin crust pizza. He makes it more times a year than his other known specialties.
He does not have an exact recipe.
Mix about 1 1/2 cups white flour, a little olive oil, salt and pepper in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Heat about 1 cup of water to 120 degrees. Add 1 tsp yeast and a pinch of sugar.
Pour the water / yeast mixture into the flour mixture.
Use dough hook to knead it a little.
Proof the dough in a warm oven for 1.5 hours.
Push dough into pizza pan.
My Mom makes the tomato sauce. Often they have some in the freezer.
He adds sauce, garlic and onion powder, mozzarella cheese and whatever toppings they want (usually mushrooms and pepperoni). Sometimes he adds fresh chopped herbs or dried herbs.
Bake at 425 for 20-30 minutes. We like the pizza crispy.
My Mom made the centerpiece. She found different items to represent the 12 days. They were added for each course.
Menu cards – I printed them and folded for a tri-sided place card. We turned them for each set of 4 courses.
I planned the menu to include some make ahead and freeze and make ahead and refrigerate items. I prepared a lot of items the day before. I tried to keep the courses small since there were 12 courses! We had a set of 4 courses and took a break. I planned it to be a slow meal and it took the place of 2 meals. I was inspired by many of the 12 Days of Christmas themed posts available but I put my own spin on them.
On the 1st day of Christmas my true love sent to me, a partridge in a pear tree.
Mini Poached Pear with Partridge Crisp– I made my own pie crust for the partridges. Their eyes are mini chocolate sprinkles. I served them with Mascarpone instead of whipped cream. We poached the pears a day ahead and stored overnight in the refrigerator in the liquid. These had a wonderful flavor. I reduced the sauce a few hours before serving. I reduced it too much since I was concerned about it being too liquidly.
On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love sent to me, two turtle doves.
Chocolate Turtles– I used Werther’s Chewy Caramels and Wegmans Cyprus Sea Salt flakes. Delicious! We made them a day ahead. They stuck to the parchment so we put them in the freezer. I thought that they were difficult to eat but my guests had no problem with them.
On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love sent to me, three French hens.
French Onion Soup – I mostly followed this but used Vermouth instead of the Red Wine. I made the soup a day ahead.
Cheese Bread Hens – I made this focaccia without the topping (the day before). My Mom cut the hens with a cookie cutter and then sliced in half. Shortly before serving, I broiled some shredded Wegmans Le Gruyere cheese on top of the Hens and put into bowls filled with the heated soup.
On the 4th day of Christmas my true love sent to me, four calling birds.
Vegetable Food Art – Daikon birds cut with a cookie cutter, zucchini musical notes cut with a mini cutter, carrot sticks. Served on homemade pesto that I made a week before and put in my freezer. This was a refreshing and delicious course!
On the 5th day of Christmas my true love sent to me, five golden rings.
Onion Rings – my Dad made his onion rings. Served with Ranch dip made with Hidden Valley Ranch packet and sour cream.
On the 6th day of Christmas my true love sent to me, six geese a laying.
Romaine Macadamia Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette– (click on print to see the entire recipe). I couldn’t find frozen cranberry concentrate. I used unsweetened cranberry juice with maple syrup in the vinaigrette. I used whole macadamia nuts for the “eggs”. I shredded Irish Cheddar for the salads.
Kohlrabi Geese cut with a cookie cutter.
On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, seven swans a swimming.
Swans – Homemade Ravioli cut with a cookie cutter. I used this dough and filled with a mixture of Ricotta, Parmesan, and Asiago cheeses. I made the swans a week ahead and put in my freezer.
Savory Blueberry Sauce – I didn’t use the thyme. This was my first time making a savory blueberry sauce. I would make it again.
On the 8th day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, eight maids a milking.
Mini Milkshakes – talenti Peppermint Bark ice cream with whole milk, sprinkled crushed candy canes on top. This was delicious and the candy cane gave it a special touch!
On the 9th day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, nine ladies dancing.
Ladies Dancing Tortilla Chips – cut flour tortillas with a cookie cutter, place on cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray, spray with cooking spray and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. I planned on making Salty Ladies but I forgot to salt them.
Cheese – I did a cheese consult at Wegmans.
Wegmans Marcel Petite Comte
Balderson 6 Year Extra Sharp Cheddar
Fromager d’Affinois Ail & Fines Herbes Brie
On the 10th day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, ten lords a-leaping.
Lords Sugar Cookies – I made my own cream cheese frosting (cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, little heavy cream) with some cocoa powder added for the hats and boots. Eyes – blue sprinkles. I made the cutouts with ninja (did cookie surgery for the second arm) and snowman hat cookie cutters and put them in my freezer a week ahead. On the day of the meal, I frosted them.
On the 11th day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, 11 pipers piping.
Cheats Eclairs with decorations to look like pipes. I made these shortly before serving.
On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, 12 drummers drumming.
Pound Cake Drums frosted with Strawberry Frosting, pretzel sticks. I used strawberry frosting since we loved it at my Tea Party. I struggled with frosting these. They looked like shag carpet. My Mom saved the day with a tip from her Mom (she died years ago). After setting the butter frosting in the refrigerator, she used a knife dipped in warm water to smooth the frosting.
I served the last 3 courses as a dessert trio since I am fond of making dessert trios.
My critique of the party: I think that everyone enjoyed the food. I am impressed that I pulled off a 12 course meal! I had a spreadsheet with courses and the plates I planned to use. Also, my Mom was an awesome help.
Left Side: Candy Cane – use the dough from this recipe. Break off desired portion of dough and make two equal sized balls. Knead tomato paste into one portion. Make two ropes. Twist the two ropes together to form a candy cane, romaine
For the 5th year in a row, I made gingerbread for the Eastman Museum’sSweet Creations gingerbread show. Just like last year, all of the creations have covers. The auction to benefit the museum is now online. Go here to see all of the creations and to place a bid. To see the gingerbread in person, visit the Eastman Museum by January 2. Reservations are required.
Here is a sample of my favorite creations this year.
This year was my 5th consecutive year making gingerbread for Sweet Creations at the Eastman Museum. This is a concept I have considered since 2016. I am glad that I finally made it. It will be on display at the museum until January 2, 2022. Reservations are required. For the second year, the auction to benefit the museum is now online. Go here to see all of the creations and to place a bid.
This year I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my friend Carol. It was supposed to be 3 of us but a co-worker had to cancel that morning because of side effects from his 3rd booster shot. Carol and I had a wonderful meal and visit.
Table: I borrowed my Mom’s harvest plates that she bought at Wegmans many years ago. Carol made the beautiful flower arrangement. I used the cornucopia napkin rings that I bought in NYC in 1999. I made simple place cards with this leaf pattern. I used my Great-Grandmother’s sterling silver flatware. Brown table cloth.
1st Course:Pumpkin Apple Soup with pumpkin seeds garnish, Cream Cheese Chive Rolls from Martha Stewart Baking (I prepared the rolls few days before and put in my freezer. I baked them right before serving.