Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Tables

Christmas is past but I wanted to share my Christmas table settings. Christmas Eve by candle light however our dinner was served around 2 ish the next day. I always think by candle light it is at it's most beautiful.

The Spode Christmas Tree pattern I use after Thanksgiving to Christmas day. The wine glasses are Waterford. Red clear glass chargers and my hotel silver flatware.

Most always on this table I use the gold Christmas tree napkin holders.

This year I made a new purchase, a plaid tablecloth with red and green. I have definitely been looking at too many blogs using all the plaids. I have always loved them but in my more formal dining room have never used them until this year. I LOVED the casual look with the more formal look of my dining room.

Daughter Nicole did our flower arrangement for the table. She is an interior decorator by education but works with a business that was named wedding flower arranger of the year in a national publication, they actually are awesome. This years arrangement was done in an antique porcelain pedestal piece edged in gold that was a recent buy for me, I loved this piece.

Loved, loved, loved the casual elegance of the red tartan plaid with the elegance of this room. This is me stepping outside of the box and being influenced by some of my most favorite blogs.
We also had a children's table which Grand Dad and GiGi also always sit at and I try to make it special as well.
For the younger children they have their very own place settings.
This is always a special table for us and we enjoy having our Christmas dinner with all the grands. The grown kidlets enjoy their time together as well.
Our Menu
Smoked Turkey
Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Gorgonzola Sauce
Cornbread Dressing
Potato Gratin
Hericot Vert with Portobello Mushroom Casserole
Mustard Greens
Mixed Green Salad
Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce
Pecan Pie
A tradition in our home is serving Martha Stewart's Egg Nog. It is without a doubt a very stout egg nog but oh my so very good. I never got a photo of the egg nog but will share the recipe here if you don't have it.
Yield Serves 26 
 12 eggs, separated                                      
 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar                                      
 1 quart whole milk
 1 1/2 quarts heavy                                        
 3 cups bourbon, (I use Maker Mark)                                      
1/2 cup dark rum
  2 cups cognac
Freshly grated nutmeg (very important to use fresh nutmeg)                               
 In a very large bowl, beat egg yolks until thick and pale yellow. Gradually add sugar to yolks. With a wire whisk, beat in milk and 1 quart cream. Add bourbon, rum, and cognac, stirring constantly.
 Just before serving, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold into mixture. Whip remaining 1/2 quart heavy cream until stiff, and fold in. Sprinkle with nutmeg.
My Note: This is the most amazing Egg Nog you will ever have.
I am linking this post to Tablescape Thursday and also Foodie Friday.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to all of my blogging friends. May the Peace and Joy be with each of you during this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Dinner for four

Sometimes last minute ideas of having friends over for dinner  works the best. I have had my table ready and decorated for Christmas since last week so an impromptu dinner for four was easy. This is the everyday look in my breakfast/reading room decked out for Christmas and I enjoy having smaller dinner gatherings here.

I have had this Christmas cactus for several years and it was almost in full bloom when I had friends over for dinner so I decided to use it as my centerpiece. This was taken today and it is beginning to really open up. I love the apricot color of this Christmas cactus. I am focusing on using fresh plant material rather than faux so bringing plants in or cutting from my garden, it is a "Good Thing".
An impromptu dinner party for four was  especially easy since I have had my Christmas China out and using it everyday since the day after Thanksgiving.
I set the table early in the day so I could spend the rest of the afternoon in the kitchen whipping up something DIVINE. My Christmas China is Spode's Christmas Tree and I have had it for years. I would like to add to the creamed soups but haven't been able to find them recently.
No matter if it is dinner for twelve or four it becomes much more of a celebration with a festive glass of champagne.
When the lights were dimmed and the candles lit it became a special and enchanting dinner party.
I am linking this post to Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps on the Porch.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tis The Season

I have been very slow to decorate my home for Christmas but was able to get my Beyer's Choice carolers set up today. This collection is my Dickens carolers and this is the first time I have set them up in my dining room. I think the grands will enjoy them when we have everyone over and together for Christmas dinner.

These carollers always put a smile on my face and are just fun to enjoy. This is only one of several collections of Beyer's Choice carollers but this is the only group I will set up this year. I have been trying to scale way back on some of my Christmas decorating. I am focusing on my most treasured decorations and concentrating on the main living areas instead of all over the house. My new thinking, "less is better".
And in the back who has decided to join us but none other than Scrooge himself and I think that may be Tiny Tim on his father's back.
Carolling in the faux snow.
They always look so happy and joyful.
In the evening I turn on the black lantern, it flickers like a gas lantern would during the time of Dickens.
As the week progresses I will continue to get our home decorated for Christmas focusing on using more fresh greenery, some purchased and some cut from my own garden.
I am linking this  post to Tabletop Tuesday at A Stroll Through Life.
Enjoy the remainder of the week.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Baked Potato and Leek Soup

I have had this recipe for a very long time but have never prepared it until this past week. I believe it was originally published in Fine Cooking magazine many years ago.

 When making a Potato Soup I have always prepared my mother's Potato Soup recipe that is excellent but I wanted to try something different and this recipe sounded very good. We have had some overcast, chilly and dreary weather last week so I thought a stick to your ribs soup that would warm you all over was in order.

Baked Potato and Leek Soup with Cheddar and Bacon

4 medium russet potatoes (about 1/2 lb. each)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups sliced leeks ( about 2 medium; white and light green parts), rinsed well
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar (about 1/4 lb.)
2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Scrub the potatoes in water, pat dry, and pierce in several places with a fork. Set them directly on an oven rack and bake until very tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the broth and 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the leeks are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the bacon in a skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the bacon bits with a slotted spoon to a saucer lined with paper towels to drain and cool.

When the potatoes are cool, cut one of them in half lengthwise. Use a large spoon to scoop the flesh in one piece from each half. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside. Coarsely chop the potato skin and the entire remaining potato and add to the pot with the leeks. Puree the contents of the pot in a blender until very smooth (you'll need to work in two batches). Return the pureed soup to a clean soup pot and reheat over medium low. Whisk together the milk and sour cream until smooth and then whisk this into the soup, along with 1/2 cup of the Cheddar. Stir in the diced potato. The soup should be fairly thick, but if it seems too thick, thin it with a little water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with the remaining Cheddar, the bacon bits, and the scallions or chives.

My Notes: When I make this soup again I will use Yukon Gold potatoes for two reasons, I like a creamy potato soup and the Yukon Golds would work better if the entire potato is pureed. This soup as it reads does get very thick and I had to add a good bit of water to get it to the consistency I wanted.

I did not do the bacon for a garnish but if I did I would use that as my liquid to saute' my vegetables instead of the butter.


I thought this was an excellent soup, better than the one I have always prepared with the exception of my notes. This is a recipe that I will prepare over and over again.

I love cooking with leeks and can't you just smell them cooking here. Oh my what a fragrance.

Pared with a Mixed Green Salad and crusty bread it made for soup that warmed you up on a chilly, dank evening.

It made a lot of soup and this will be my dinner this evening, YUM.

Thank you for visiting my blog and please do come again.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanksgiving Tables

Before I get knee deep in decorating for Christmas I realized I had not shared my tables for Thanksgiving. This year we had the whole family celebrating Thanksgiving and we do have so very much to be thankful. With so many of us we needed two tables.

Watching over all my kitchen activities were Mildred and Milton.


Having a red dining room I am often carefull about colors of tablecloths. This year I stepped outside the box, for me anyway and decided to use an orange tablecloth mixed with some napkins with pumpkins and bordered in the red on the walls, who knew it would work?

Always using my Spode dinnerware for Thanksgiving. The stemware is also Spode and I use them often in the Fall.

My acorn napkin rings I found in an antique shop while on a trip to Blowing Rock, NC with a dear friend.

These adorable little salad bowls were a purchase last year at Pottery Barn while in Atlanta.
I always use seasonal pumpkins, squash and assorted gourds for my table arrangement in an antique dough bowl.

The dining room opens to our screened porch and this year even after having some very chilly weather I was able to set up the children's table. With the French doors open the children, the grands with the exception of the high chair crowd, they feel like they are right next to the grown ups. Fortunately it was a warm enough day to do that.

Special placemats for the grands that were purchased last year from Pottery Barn Kids.
These Turkey napkin rings are very special to me, my mother made them for me many years ago. When I take them out from my sideboard every year it brings back some fond memories.
We truly have so much to be thankful for in view of all of the sadness around the world. What more does one need but family and those precious grands. A good time was had by all.

I am linking this post to Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fall and Halloween Decorations

Over the past few weeks I have been busily trying to get out all my Fall decorations and a few Halloween decorations. I now limit my Halloween decorations but I have a collection of some really special pieces that I have collected over the years that I feel need to be enjoyed. My Fall decorations remain out until after Thanksgiving.

This is at my front entrance, this scary pumpkin I use to put my trick o treat candy in on Halloween evening. It is part of a collection I have that are made of paper mache'.

This scary guy is another of the paper mache' collection and sits at the end of my island in the kitchen. He sets the mood in the room that I spend most of my day.
This witch is very special to me since she was handmade by a very dear lady and friend. She is also in my kitchen sitting right next to my favorite tea set, a handmade set by an American potter, Frances Palmer. My witch that I named Glynda watches over all of my kitchen activities.

In the Reading Room/Breakfast Room I have a newly acquired piece, I went to my Garden Circle meeting last week and our guest speaker made this for demonstration purposes. As she talked about how she put it together I signaled to her that I wanted to buy that piece. I didn't want anyone else to walk away with it since I had a perfect spot for it.

The wreath hung on the mirror I have had for a long time and it has held up well. It is made from corn husks and dyed. Below is the new piece that I bought and worked so well in the center of my mantle.
I just loved the little birds coming out of the gourd and the loosely woven natural ribbon worked so well with this whole piece. I also finessed my French Guinea Hens on the mantle too, they tied in the color of the candle holders that I recently ordered from Pottery Barn.
My Breakfast Room table, a Fitz and Floyd soup tureen.

A few others all through the house.

Another pumpkin sitting on my antique French Pastry Table at the end of my kitchen.
At my back entrance where guests are best and I always try to have a welcoming entrance.
These on this table are part of a Lizzie High collection.
A few more in our Family Room.

This is another piece from my Lizzie High collection.

And most often this time of year there is a soup or stew bubbling away on my stove. I like to think they taste better when made in my Pumpkin Staub pot.

I hope you have enjoyed some of my Fall and Halloween decorations. I am sharing this post at Marty's blogging party, Tabletop Tuesday at A Stroll thru Life. For more decorating inspiration you can click HERE.