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Happy New Year, Some Favorites And 2015 in review

Taken from Pinterest

Taken from Pinterest

I wish each and everyone of you an amazing, healthy, happy, joyous and prosperous 2016. I want to thank you all for being such great friends, for leaving such uplifting and kind comments and for being my source of inspiration. Below is the report compiled by the WordPress helper monkey’s. I don’t really keep track of the stats, but do appreciate the work that WordPress puts into these reports, thank you to the good people at WordPress!! Both 2014 and 2015 were hard years for me, harder than I can even express. The start of a new year brings with it hope and we also reflect on the past year, the good and the bad, the sad and the happy, triumphs and failures. Life can sometimes be like a rollercoaster ride.

Going into my 4th year of blogging in January is quite momentous for me. I can’t believe I am still doing this,  have made such great friends and learned so much. Hope you all have a wonderful time on New Years Eve and joyously welcome 2016, peace, love and joy to all. Below are some photo’s I compliled with some of my favorite dishes both sweet and savory.

Savory favorites

Savory favorites

Baked, desserts and the epic biscuit!

Baked, desserts and the epic biscuit!


The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 37,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Triple Layer Black Forest Cake For Fiesta Friday #100


This is really a simple cake to both make and assemble. My favorite chocolate cake recipe from Hershey’s is so easy to make and quick to prepare, whipped cream frosting and cherry preserves. It’s the Holidays so go festive with the garnish, I shaved some chocolate on top and coated some fruit (apricots, cherries,kumquats,grapes and cranberries) with sugar by simply brushing with lightly beaten egg white and dusting with granulated sugar except the sugared cranberries which get a good soak in a sugar syrup then a roll in granulated sugar.

As I mentioned in my last post this is the 100th Fiesta Friday Party, it’s a milestone and I am honored to be a co host for this 2 week, (YES, the party lasts 2 weeks) bash. Our host as always is the effervescent and steadfast Angie, thank you for making this possible Angie, and my wonderful and lovely co-hosts are Judi, Mollie, Steffi, we are waiting to welcome you all to the party. EVERYONE is welcome to join in the festivities, the link to join is at the end of this post. Merry Christmas to all have a joyous day with friends and family and enjoy copious amounts of delicious food!!

Chocolate Cake

From Hershey’s

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup milk at room temperature

2 eggs at room temperature

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degree’s. Prepare three 8 inch round cake pans, grease or butter or spray, line with parchment round, grease again and dust with flour.

In large mixing bowl whisk or sift together the dry ingredients, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the wet ingredients, milk, egg, oil, vanilla but NOT the boiling water. Beat with electric mixer for 2 minutes. Add the boiling water and mix only until combined. Distribute evenly in baking pans and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes depending on your oven or until cake tester comes out clean.

Whipped Cream Frosting:

From James Mcnair’s Cakes

1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 cups Heavy whipping cream Divided
1 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract
Place metal bowl and wire whisk beater or beaters in freezer to chill.
In a small saucepan combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch whisk until mixed. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup heavy cream whisk until smooth. Place on medium heat and stir constantly to prevent scorching at the bottom stir constantly until mixture thickens and almost comes to a boil. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and set aside stirring occasionally until it reaches room temperature.
In the chilled bowl combine the remaining 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream and the vanilla beat with the chilled whisk of your stand mixer or your hand held mixer until the cream begins to hold shape. While still beating add the powdered sugar mixture a little at a time. Beat just until the mixture forms stiff peaks when the beater is raised and is spreadable, be careful not to over beat. Use immediately.

Assembling the Cake

Place bottom layer on cake stand, spread some cherry preserves on and top with some whipped cream frosting, place the second layer on and do the same finishing with the top layer flat side on the top. Top with more whipped cream frosting and refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving arrange the sugared fruit on top or whatever garnish you choose.


To make sugared fruit click here and see a video tutorial from Martha Stewart. It’s so simple.


I hope you all will want to come to the party and all are welcome!! To link your recipe simply click the button. See you at the party!!


Happy Holidays To All!!

Borrowed from Justine Eclectic Odds N Sods

Borrowed from Justine Eclectic Odds N Sods Love this photo!!

Tomorrow will be very busy cooking and cleaning, well today is also but I wanted to take this opportunity, before I go into overdrive, to wish you all a Happy Holiday, Merry Christmas whatever you choose to celebrate or not celebrate. I hope you all have a wonderful day!

I am thankful for all of you, your friendship and understanding and support over what has been a very tough year for me. Thank you so much!

It’s always good to reflect on how much we have to be thankful for, especially during the holidays. I have my job which I love (most of the time), my family, my friends and this blog which started 4 years ago in January (yep my annivarsary is coming up), it is a source of great joy for me and has introduced me to some of the most amazing people, cooks, authors, DIY and crafters that I consider friends.

I have a very special blog post scheduled for my anniversary and am very excited about it. Also, I am co hosting (with 3 other lovely ladies) a very special Fiesta Friday, it’s #100 and I look forward to the party and recipes.

Have a wondeful Holiday one and all!!

He loved to sit on my lap while I worked

Nando loved to sit on my lap while I worked

Her cupcake leash- Izzy

My little cupcake- Izzy

Happy Holidays!!

Happy Holidays!!

Fruitcake For Fiesta Friday #99



I have had these fruit cake photo bombing just about every post lately. I felt they deserve a solo spot. I wanted to publish the recipe because basically I changed much of it after finding a few flaws. I have to say though, it is probably the best fruit cake I have ever made or eaten. The recipe makes one 9 inch loaf or 3 mini loaves, since I give as gifts I make mini’s.  I got the recipe last year from Pure Wow, they call it “The Best Damn Fruitcake” and with a few changes they are right about that. I made 3 more today and am bringing with me to Fiesta Friday, I hope they let me in with fruit cake, it gets a really bad rap and mostly for good reason because some of the commercially prepared fruitcakes are vile.

Next week will be the 100th party post and it happens to fall on Christmas Day, a celebration is in order. This week Angie’s co hosts are Caroline @ Caroline’s Cooking and Linda @ La Petite Paniere. Thank you ladies for hosting this week and Angie for all of her hard work.

Best Damn Fruitcake Redux

Makes one 9 inch loaf or 3 mini loaves

1 1/2 cups dried fruit of your choice- I used cherries, cranberries, apricots, pears and golden raisins. Use however much you like of each so that you have a total of 1 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups nuts chopped- I used pecans, hazelnuts, pistachio’s and almonds. Use whatever you like, however much of each so that it equals 1 1/2 cups

1 cup booze or fruit juice like apple cider- (I have used cognac, bourbon, port, also have thrown in some Poire William), heated on stove top or in microwave until hot not boiling . (This time I used Port and it’s great)

12 tbs unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 eggs at room temperature

2 tsp vanilla

1 tbs orange zest

1 1/2 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

pinch of cinnamon

1 tbs retained liquid from fruit

Demerara or turbinado sugar for sprinkling


Pre heat oven to 325 and prepare your loaf pan or pans. Butter or spray with cooking spray.

Pour the hot booze over the fruit and let sit for at least 30 minutes. (You can do this the night before and let the fruit sit all night in the booze)

Drain the fruit but retain the liquid, you will need it later so don’t discard.

Place the drained fruit and chopped nuts in a bowl and set aside.

In your mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar for about 4-5 minutes. It should be light and fluffy, scrape sides as needed. Add the eggs one at a time beating well between additions and scraping the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla, orange zest and cinnamon.

Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. Add to the butter mixture and beat only until combined adding the 1 tbs of retained liquid from the fruit. Remove the bowl from your mixer and add the fruit and nuts and fold in until combined. Add the batter to the pan or pans, smooth the top and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake with the rack in the middle of the oven. If you are making one loaf for about 90 minutes or until tester comes out clean. If mini loaves approximately 45 minutes. They will be golden brown.  Remove from the oven and spoon some of the liquid on the loaf or loaves and let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and finish cooling on rack. To finish them spoon some more liquid on them and wrap in plastic or cheese cloth and store in air tight tin, These are best served 48 hours after baking. You can feed them again with the liquid the next day, re wrap and keep in the tin until ready to serve.

There are no photo’s of it sliced but here is one from last year.






Crinkle Cookies, Decorating And More Stuff

I have no idea where time is going, it’s already the end of the week, Christmas is a week from today. I haven’t really done anything except make a few gift baskets, I still have so much to do, I am way behind schedule.  Honestly, this year is very hard, I am trying, but my heart is not in it. I did sign up for Secret Santa/Wino on a wine blog I follow, The Drunken Cycalist and got a lovely gift.  Jeff organzes this every year and this time I decided to participate. It was fun and I get to try some great wine. Thank you to Allison who sent me this wonderful gift. I have not opened the wine yet, waiting to make the right meal to pair with. That prickly pear jelly is so good, must find it.

Secret Santa gift

Secret Santa gift, wine, sausage, candy, jelly

I have been baking, I made some gift baskets, have a few more to make, had our block association Holiday party and baked for that also. Last year I made fruit cakes and loved the recipe so I made them again this year, I really soaked them with the reserved cognac syrup. So delicious.

fruit cakes

fruit cakes

Made some thumbprints, again same recipe as last year. They are delicious.

Chocolate thumbprint

Chocolate thumbprint


I am adding some cookies to my holiday repertoire I mentioned the biscotti in a previous post along with Pecan Chewiess and Vanilice. I also decided to make chocolate crinkle cookies. I think they look so beautiful and I love anything chocolate. They turned out so good, it’s another recipe from Fida at Sweet and Savory Pursuits. The cookies are as light as a feather and so delicious, I have linked to the site so you can try the recipe, It’s wonderful. I also made my cardamom, orange and chocolate ribbon cookies.

Packing the cookies

Packing the cookies

Last but not least I started to decorate, I dragged multiple boxes of decorations upstairs and started unpacking and one of the first things I came across were Izzy and Nando’s Holiday Stockings. It made me so sad,  I hung them on the mantle like I do every year. My sweet little dogs will always be with me in spirit.

decorated mantle

decorated mantle.

I hope you all have a great weekend and get all of your holiday shopping, baking and decorating done.  Are you the very definition of organization and efficiency? Have you done all of your shopping and decorating or do you make a mad rush to finish it all just in the knick of time?

A Guest Post, Mannele- Alsace Christmas Cookies


I have mentioned before (on more than one occasion) that I am a Air bnb host. One of the great things about doing this is the people I meet. One of my guests who lives in France happens to be a food blogger and EXTREMELY talented animator.  Ariana and her partner/friend Lucie have the beautiful blog Cosmic Tomatoes between these two very talented ladies we are presented with delicious recipes and brilliant animated art work. I was so happy to meet and get to know her while she stayed with me, she said that their collaboration is a happy marriage of art and food, Ariana is the artist and Lucie the recipe developer. The yeasted Holiday cookie is a Christmas tradition in the Alsace region of France, Mannele/Mannala is probably much like the cut out sugar cookies here in the US or the ever popular gingerbread people.  I hope you enjoy this guest post from our friends and neighbors in France. I follow Ariana’s blog she is also on Pinterest, FacebookInstagram and I am loving the Advent calendar they are working on. Show Ariana some love and give both Ariana and Lucie a warm welcome. Take it away Ariana….


In Alsace starting from December 6th this brioche-man is offered to children by men disguised as Saint Nicholas. This is in fact a simplified representation of Saint Nicolas that can be found in all Alsatian bakeries during the holidays …


. 1 kg flour
. 20 g salt
. 150g sugar
. 40 g yeast
. 2 eggs
. 45 cl milk
. 250 g butter

. 2 egg yolk
. chocolate chips or raisins

1/ Mix flour, salt, sugar, yeast, milk and eggs.

2/ Beat for 5 minutes at low speed, then the second speed for 6-8 minutes until you get an elastic dough.

3/ Add the butter and start kneading until it is incorporated.

4 / Let the dough rest for 1 hour in ambient air, covered with a plastic film.

5/ Separate pieces of 70g from the dough and shape little men (or any other creature you wish to). Let them rest for another hour.

6 / Cover the Manneles with eggs yolks and decorate them with chocolate chips or raisins.

7 / Bake at 180 ° C for about 15 minutes.
















Holiday Gift Baskets And Some Biscotti For Fiesta Friday #98

cranberry pistachio biscotti

cranberry pistachio biscotti

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, the first line and title of Andy Williams great Holiday song. It’s also the busiest time of the year. As a general rule I don’t really buy gifts for most friends or relatives, I am not a grinch really I just prefer to make my gifts at least for the adults, clients and friends.

I make the same cookies pretty much every year along with mini loaves of banana or other fruit loaves, including fruit cake. I always add a new cookie recipe or two to the line up, last year was a chocolate thumbprint with a hershey’s white striped kiss on it. This year I am adding biscotti, a wonderful recipe from Fida and her lovely blog  Sweet and Savory Pursuits. I love biscotti, they are crunchy and I am a sucker for anything that can be dipped.

Ready for 2nd bake

Ready for 2nd bake

Gift boxes for clients

Gift baskets for clients

Since I am in the throes of Holiday baking I decided to bring some biscotti to Fiesta Friday this week. Angie decked the halls making for a beautiful and festive party. We have two brand new co-hosts this week  Sadhna @ Herbs, Spices, and Traditions and Natalie @ Kitchen, uncorked


Brussels Sprout And Bacon Frittata For Fiesta Friday #97



I bought the Huckleberry cookbook months ago and never got around to making anything from it, life got in the way and the book sat on my shelf with the other cookbooks I’ve meant to use. I do have a method to my madness I mark the recipes with a bookmark and place them on the top of my book case not in the shelves so I see them constantly and am reminded that this book has a recipe I need to make. Huckleberry has multiple book marks, the food looks gorgeous and sounds delicious and I am tempted to cook my way through the entire book but honestly don’t have time and I certainly can’t eat my way through the book. How many of you have cookbooks you bought (because you love them) but have not made anything from them? I would venture to guess at least of few of you fall into this category along with me.


This recipe for a bacon and brussels sprout frittata immediately jumped out at me. I am a huge fan of eggs and frittata’s in general but adding the sprouts and bacon and cheese just made me happy.

I normally would not publish a recipe in a cookbook unless it has already been widely published online, thats the case with this recipe. It is wonderful, but then all the recipes in Huckleberry Cookbook are great, drool worthy, beautifully written and photographed.

I am bringing this delicious frittata to Fiesta Friday this week, Angie, get some rest you have been burning the candle at both ends, thank goodness she has some help this week with two amazing co hosts Johanne@French Gardener Dishes (who is co-hosting for the first time) and Liz@spades, spatulas & spoons. Thank you Ladies!!

Brussels sprouts and bacon frittata

From Huckleberry Cookbook, serves 6


8 slices thick bacon, chopped

1 tbs olive oil

1 tbs unsalted butter

1 onion chopped

1 tsp kosher salt

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 cups brussels sprouts thinly sliced plus 1 cup leaves from the sprouts

1/2 tsp black pepper


10 eggs

2 tbs creme fraiche

2 tbs grated parmesan

1 tbs chopped fresh parsley

2 tbs unsalted butter

2 tbs grated gruyere

Pre heat oven to 475

In large saute pan over medium high heat saute the bacon in 2 tsp of olive oil and the butter until browned. Add the onions 1/2 tsp salt and the thyme and saute until soft, should take about 1o minutes. Add the sliced brussels sprouts and saute for another 5 minutes longer until soft. Transfer the vegetable mixgture to a bowl and set aside.

Toss the brussels sprout leaves in the remaining 1 tsp of olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs. creme fruit, parmesan and parsley and set aside.

In a 10 inch cast iron or oven proof saute pan melt 2 tbs butter over medium high heat. Pour the custard into the pan and stir, lightly scrambling the eggs. Slowly add the vegetables to the custard and continue to scramble. When the eggs are about 30% set sprinkle the brussels sprout leaves and sprinkle the gruyere on top. Transfer to the oven for 8-10 minutes. If it is not browned on top place under the broiler for 2 minutes but watch it like a hawk.

Immediately transfer to plate or serving piece by running a spatula around the edges and underneath to free the frittata from the pan. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Mine did not brown on top for some reason, even under the broiler, probably too far from the heat source but it doesn’t matter, the frittata is perfect and delicious albeit a bit pale.




Bread Poha



This is the recipe for Bread Poha that I saw on Sonal’s site Simply Vegetarian777  and  fell in love with. Bread, spices, pea’s, simple comfort food and a delicious Indian dish. I saw the photo’s and immediately saved the recipe and then sweet Sonal sent me the  spice packet so I have everything I need to put this dish together quickly. I decided to serve it with a 5 minute egg, a little runny, that golden yolk flowing on that delicious bread, well my friends it doesn’t get much better than this. Make this dish, you will be glad you did, really  you have to try it, the recipe is linked above!

Step by step instructions and spice mix

Step by step instructions and spice mix

Bread Poha literally takes minutes to make and is the very definition of Indian comfort food it can be used as a side dish, snack or main dish. I did a little research and saw many variations one showed the Poha with paneer (that looked delicious) among other things. Sonal masterfully mixes the spices,  she sent me a packet that contained everything you need to properly spice the dish, It could not have been easier and I feel totally spoiled.

The Poha was breakfast with a medium soft egg (5 minute egg), I had some leftover cubed brioche that I had used in my Thanksgiving dressing the bread was oven dried and held up nicely during the cooking process but you can use any stale bread torn into bite size pieces.  Thank you Sonal for sending me the spices you are so sweet and it opened up a new breakfast avenue for me, I think I could eat this every day!


I have had several people ask about the egg, how to do it. It is in between soft and hard boiled. I call it a medium soft egg. It is boiled for exactly 5 minutes. The egg has to be warmed first, not straight from the refrigerator, a room temperature egg is perfect. Bring lightly salted water to a rolling boil, gently lower the egg into the water and time it, at 5 minutes remove the egg and place in a pot or bowl of cold water. Let sit for 1 minute in the cold water then gently peel. The yolk will still be runny but the white of the egg will be firmly set. It works every time and yields a perfectly cooked medium soft egg.




The Winner Of The Holiday Giveaway

Farmers board

Farmers board

Thank you all for the sweet comments and entering this contest. Full Disclosure, I put the wrong photo up on my post, this is the board Michael made. It is a beautiful board, I have one and use it all the time to serve my rectangular tarts and for cheese and bread. It’s just gorgeous, thank you Michael for sharing your time and talent with us.

The winner of the giveaway is Lynn who has a wonderful and inspiring blog, Lynz Real Cooking, there are fantastic recipes and her stories of raising 9 children in the Middle East is absolutely amazing. Lynn, I am so happy that you won the board. I will send you an email.

But wait, the number 2 slot went to Teagan an incredible author and her blog Teagan’s Books is one of my favorite reads, although she will not get a cutting board from Michael in the spirit of the season I would like to send Teagan a gift basket from me, homemade goodies for her to enjoy.

Thank you all for participating in this giveaway and for being such wonderful readers and friends. Happy Holidays to all!!