IMG_2167{Winter Poinsettias}

When the twelfth and final month of the year arrives so, does the greatest concentration of holiday observances. Beginning with Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and do not forget those who will assemble at Stonehenge for the winter solstice to celebrate the shortest day {light} of the year. December definitely has a festive air which makes it easy to snuggle down and feel gloriously comfortable.

I have already begun compiling a series of “Jazzy Holiday” playlists so; music will be permeating the house while decorating, cooking or just ending a long day after shopping and/or work. Several boxes of tasteful cards have been chosen to send to friends and family that do not impose idealistic views and I have picked up several large poinsettias to decorate a few rooms. I am not into a great deal of glitz and flash, mind you I am drawn to all that glitters, but preferably not in home that will be eventually overrun with family and pets over the next few weeks.

And it is crucial for me to start the holiday season by purchasing several boxes of “chocolate covered cherries” to share immediately, and since work takes precedence it is hard to whip-up homemade candy recipes until a weekend presents a bit of time. But, I can never resist this classic recipe of delicious dark chocolate and juicy cherries in a fabulously sweet fondant.

I have been collecting and receiving recipes from friends, storing them on my computer and in files all year long. Now comes the fun part of sorting through the various ingredients to make the most scrumptious meal of the holiday season.

Stay festive!!!!

Cookbook Reviews


I had an opportunity to scour the shelves of the cooking section (641.54) in the library yesterday, searching for holiday recipe ideas through the stacked shelves of cookbooks. Every year I write copious notes to myself in search of light confectionary treats that can be incorporated into my repertoire with the hope that family and friends will enjoy a wonderfully concocted dessert during the festive party season!

I focused on three of the books that seemed to capture the essence of what I was researching in the way of ease of preparation; a dessert that would be pleasing to the family and the items were miniature or small enough to prep several desserts with considerable ease.

First on the list is the Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller, which was a wonderful collection of French and American baked goods that most of us enjoyed as children such as marcarons, tartes aux fruits, and believe it or not Oreos and Hostess Ho-Hos. I think the French version of a Hostess Ho-Ho is an elegant cream puff, and cannot wait to try this elegant recipe on page 40-41 for the Chocolate Shortbread without the filling. I love the simplicity of baking shortbreads, and to pack them into cookie tins for guest who may drop in or for family who are would a teat with after dinner coffee or tea.

Second on the list is Dolci: Italys Sweets by Francine Segan. Ms. Segan takes the reader on a virtual tour of Italy through 125 recipes for cookies, cakes, frozen confections, and more. She has instructions for Tiramisu that does not include raw egg, from the recipe ‘Updated Tiramisu” on page 132, which I am anxious to try soon!!!


And, last on the list is the title Petite Sweets: Bite-Size Desserts to Satisfy Every Sweet Tooth by Beatrice Ojakangas. Beatrice is a James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame author and I have enjoyed watching her many times on Julia Child’s show on PBS. From this book she makes a velvety chocolate mousse in small glasses, ginger carrot cakelets and a two-bite whoopee pies, which are perfect examples of miniature desserts.

Cook Stylishly!!!!

Winter Storm Saturn

IMG_3441The mid-Atlantic region had its first significant snow storm of the season today. Government offices and schools closed in Northern Virginia as we had six to eight inches of snow. For me the storm presented an opportunity to slow down and focus on a few tasks, one was baking a few items before the possibility of our electricity going out.

IMG_0816{Pot of coffee, a plate of cranberry-orange scones and apricot raspberry preserves}

This recipe for cranberry-orange scones are from my good friend Cynthia, who is a fabulous culinary chef by trade. I did not do well the first few times I attempted to bake the scones, but have improved upon the recipe with a bit of practice. Enjoy!!!

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Line sheet pan with parchment paper.
  3. Sift 3 cups of flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, 2-½ baking powder, 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp baking soda into large bowl. Mix in orange zest.
  4. Add 6 oz (cold) butter and cut in with fingertips or biscuit cutter until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  5. Mix in ¾ cup dried cranberries. Gradually add 8 oz of buttermilk, tossing with fork until moist clumps form.
  6. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead briefly to bind dough, about 4 turns. Form dough into 1-inch-thick round. Cut into 8 wedges.
  7. Transfer wedges to prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Brush tops of scones with milk and sprinkle generously with sugar.
  8. Bake until tops of scones are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let stand on baking sheet 10 minutes. Serve scones warm or at room temperature.

IMG_3445{Storm picking up intensity around 11:30 am}


Stay safe and warm,