Friday, October 29, 2010

Ghosts, Goblins and Gouls

Early in September I put out all my Fall decor and now have added some of my fun Halloween decor that I want to share. This being Halloween weekend I thought what better time to do this. Over the years I have collected some fun pieces.

I have collected Dept. 56 Halloween Village for a while now but because of space both storing and a place to have it out, I carefully limited myself. It is so easy to get carried away with some of these cute scary houses. A couple of weeks ago my four year old grand daughter and I had such fun setting it up for Halloween.

This is the Ghostly Theatre and makes some pretty scary noise.

All of my four grand children have enjoyed this Halloween Village.

Around the house I have several Halloween pieces that are just "fun".

To greet all my trick or treater's on Halloween night at my front entrance. On Halloween night this scary Pumpkin will hold all my treats.

A gift handmade by a very talented dear friend several years ago.

Our bar certainly needed some Halloween decor.

This Pumpkin Head Girl sits atop my husband's at home office to keep him company.

These scary pair of cats greet my back door guests.

The front door decor. The black stems in the planters light up with orange lights.

to all of you in blogger land.

I am linking this post to The Tablescaper's Seasonal Sunday party. There are some adorable Halloween posts to see so click here to see other participants.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Beef Lasagna

Today is Foodie Friday hosted by Michael Lee West at Designs by Gollum and I am joining in on this fun party. To see other participants of Foodie Friday you can click here. There are so many wonderful recipes shared.

Today I am sharing a family favorite. This has been a family recipe for many years and one that was given to me by my sister in law's Italian mother in law. Until now it has only been in my head and I have tried to get it written down. A request made by one of my sons.

 When we begin to have cooler weather I always turn to heartier foods and I dearly love to cook Italian foods. Many Italian cookbook authors tell you that it is not necessary to simmer a sauce for hours but unfortunately I am a believer in simmering my sauce for a couple of hours. It reaches a depth of flavor that won't happen if you just simmer it for 30 minutes. I wondered about this so I asked an Italian friend who was raised in NYC and she told me that her mother and grandmother always simmered their red sauce for at least a couple of hours. If nothing else it made me feel better.

This is comfort food at it's best.

Beef Lasagna

1 ½ pounds ground round

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 large cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup good Italian red wine such as a Chianti

2 28-ounce cans imported Italian tomatoes

1 35-ounce can tomato puree

1 12-ounce tomato paste

1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon sugar

8-ounce buffalo mozzarella (you can also use sliced mozzarella but this definitely gives the lasagna extra flavor)

½ pound provolone, sliced

Extra Parmesan

Lasagna noodles

In a large heavy 5-quart Dutch oven pour in 2 tablespoons olive. Heat oil on medium/low heat and add onions, sauté onions until soft, add ground round and brown, add garlic and cook for 1 minute. After meat has completely browned remove from heat and take out any liquid. Place it back on the heat and add the red wine and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add in the tomato puree and tomato paste and mix well. In a blender blend both cans Italian tomatoes and add in to the mixture and mix well. Add the oregano, basil, thyme, bay leaf, Parmesan cheese, kosher salt, pepper and sugar and mix well. When the mixture comes to a boil then turn down the heat to low or simmer. Place a lid on the Dutch oven slightly ajar and simmer for about an hour and a half to two hours. Check often stirring each time.

Cook lasagna according to package directions. You will need at least nine and I usually cook extra in case some come apart.

Before assembling the lasagna check your seasonings. Slice the buffalo mozzarella.

Pre-heat oven to 350*

To assemble the lasagna place a layer of pasta in a 9X13-inch baking dish, a thin layer of sauce, a layer of provolone covering all of the pasta, another layer of pasta, another thin layer of sauce, a layer of mozzarella, another layer of pasta and top with sauce. Sprinkle more parmesan to your liking on top of the last layer of sauce.

Bake in a pre-heated 350* oven for 30 minutes until heated through. You can tell when it begins to bubble. Take it out of the oven and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut individual portions and Enjoy.

I usually serve this with a Mixed Green Salad, crusty bread and always with a good bottle of Italian red wine.

Note: This recipe makes enough to make two pans of lasagna. I always freeze what’s leftover for another day.

Note #2: I also added some salt and a little more Parmasan cheese to the sauce.

The sauce is on and ready to simmer.

When I put on my water for the pasta I always add in a French Herbed Sea Salt and some olive oil. This Herbed Sea Salt I use in all my pasta water.

Ready to go in the oven.

This is comfort food at it's best.

I am also joining Kim for her Saturday Swap party at Quit Eating Out.

I hope you have enjoyed me sharing one of my family favorites, Beef Lasagna. Thank you for visiting my blog and please do come again.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Casual Family Dinner

On this evening my twin grandsons and my oldest son joined us for dinner. Our menu was the twins favorite.

Spaghetti and Meatballs with Hot Italian Sausage in Marinara over Angel Hair Pasta
Mixed Green Salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette
Crusty Bread
and a good bottle of Chianti
Iced Tea for the little guys

For this Italian menu I set my table with my Vietri Contrada pattern.

A Fall tablesetting for sure. Placemats are a deep hunter green, stemware is recycled glass and a lighter green, napkins are from WS.

I love this little salad bowl.

My everyday flatware is Horchow's hotel silver.

My Fitz and Floyd soup tureen is always on my table in the Fall and I couldn't forget about my little S&P that I found at a Cracker Barrell restaurant many years ago. I love these amber candle holders that I use often in the Fall.

This Vietri Contrada pattern is a favorite of mine most especially when I am serving an Italian themed dinner which I do very often. Italian foods are favorites of my family.

A wonderful evening catching up with the twin grandsons serving them their favorite dinner, it was a "Good Thing".

Today I am linking to Between Naps on the Porch for Susan's Tablescape Thursday party. To see other participants of Tablescape Thursday you can click here.

Thank you for visiting my blog and please come again.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall Tabletops

Today I am sharing some of my Fall decorations and will join Marty for Tabletop Tuesday. To see other participants of Tabletop Tuesday you may click here.

We call this "The Morning Room" since we use it most often in the morning but we also use it in the evening as well since we have a bar closest to our patio door. It comes in handy when we are entertaining on the patio. I have several photos of this room to share. This of course, is the mantle. I fell in love with this wreath, the pumpkins on the mantle are some I have collected over the years as well as the Vietri pheasant and the silver pheasants. The candle holders are from Mary Carol Garrity and bought recently.

In this view you can see our bar on the far wall.

A closer view of the mantle.

My husband's comfortable leather recliner and next to it is an antique piece, an English Pub table. Sitting on the Pub table is one of my more glitzy pumpkins.

I recently brought in one of my orchids to sit on this table. It's just beginning to open.

A closer look at the English Pub table.

On the opposite side of this room is our breakfast room table which is another reason we call this the "Morning Room". Behind this table is the kitchen which gives us great access.

On this table I have a Pumpkin Soup Tureen by Fitz and Floyd and I also have covered soups that match it. I love these candle holders that are amber and use them until after Thanksgiving. My little S&P, why I bought those at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant many years ago.

We do enjoy this room in the evening as well when there is just the two of us for dinner or just a few family members.

I recently bought this French table cloth.

Across from the mantle. The kitchen you can see behind the couch.

Even the kitchen has a little Fall decor. My island with another of my orchids brought in when blooming and the cook top which has my beautiful Staub pumpkin.

I love this little cookie jar and one of many in a collection of cookie jars.

This is a favorite Fall piece that I use. I first saw the antique Black Forest carved vase in Charles Faudree's book French Country Signature. I fell in love with the piece and Charles Faudree does own the antique vase. I happened to find a reproduction and knew I had to have it.

Isn't it stunning.

Here is the Fall decor by our front door entrance.

The bird is a Vietri Guinea Hen and these clear glass pumpkins were a local purchase many years ago.

Wellllllllll, it seems I have gotten carried away with some of my Fall decor and there is more to come. I hope you have enjoyed my Fall decor and please do come again. Don't forget to go by and visit Marty at A Stroll Through Life, she has a lovely blog.