Slow + Simple :: How to Make Homemade Butter in 3 Easy Steps

In advance I would like to apologize for the quality - or lack thereof - of the photos. The following started as fun projects to entertain myself and the children... they turned out to be so much more. Over the past couple of weeks my children and I have been enjoying a perfectly quintessential summer... swims in the pool, afternoons at the beach with friends, gardening, strawberry picking, making homemade jam, bread and butter... 

The latter three happened almost by accident. I have always wanted to make jam but the process always terrified me. After hearing from so many how easy it is to make I decided to give it a try. With about 10 pounds of freshly picked berries we needed a means to use them all up. The jam was such a success that we then decided to try our hand at bread. Something else I have always wanted to do - sans bread machine - and yet too scared to... and logically what goes best with homemade bread? Butter, naturally. Oh it wasn't that we had no butter in the house. Butter is a staple that we almost never run out of but I thought that while we were making our own bread and jam which we ought to make our own butter. And really, there's absolutely nothing in the world that is easier to make. All you need is some heavy whipping cream and some sea salt... and maybe some herbs... 

Today I will tell you how to make butter, tomorrow the jam and Thursday the bread and by the weekend you will have everything for a perfectly slow + simple homemade petite dejeuner!

1 pint of heavy whipping cream
3/4 tsp sea salt - optional
1/2-3/4 tsp Herbes de Provence or Italian Seasonings - optional

What you will need:
2 - 3 airtight jars (We used canning jars. Baby food jars work well too.)
Ceramic dishes or ramekins

How to make butter:

1. Pour cream into jars, distributing evenly, filling about 3/4 to the top. Securely add lid to the top of the jars.

2. Shake jars with vigor for 7 - 15 minutes depending on the size of the jars. (Less time for smaller jars and more for the larger jars.) 
As you shake you can feel and hear the cream start to solidify. When the jar feels as though nothing is shaking inside any longer, open it up and take a look. You should see a light, pale yellow mixture to the sides of the jar with a hollow center. (See photo below)

3. When the mixture is no longer runny, but semi firm and airy, you can transfer the butter to a ceramic bowl and add your sea salt. Then, if desired, remove some of the salted butter and place it into another bowl adding the herbs, even garlic or garlic powder if you like. Season to taste.

1. How butter will look in the jar when it's done

2. Transfer butter to a bowl and add sea salt, if desired

3. Then add other seasonings such as Herbes de Provence, if desired.

And then, voila et bon appetit!

Note: This butter is great on bread, but not great for cooking.

Stylish notes from the Kitchen :: The Graceful Shallot

image via Smitten Kitchen

In my humble opinion the shallot is the darling of the bulb family. She is under-appreciated and under-utilized. And I'm here to try and change that. I adore shallots and I think you will too. She's almost a cross between an onion and garlic. The shallot, though closely related to the onion grows in bunches like garlic - she's almost a twixt of the two. When sliced you can see that there are layers like an onion, but each shallot has two to 4 bulbs, like garlic. A shallot has a delicate, distinctive flavor taste that is milder yet deeper than that of an onion's with garlic undertones. Her flavors mellow when cooked. Try substituting these complex little bulbs for onions in your next recipe - why not start with your Thanksgiving (or Christmas) side dishes?

Mashed Potatoes with Sauteed Shallots

via The Entertaining House

I prefer to use red potatoes and I always leave my skins on, but you are welcome to use any potato you prefer and to peel the skin.

3-4 lbs of red potatoes, washed, skins on
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 tbs butter
4 tbs olive oil (eyeballed)
1/2 - 1 cup of lowfat milk
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

The lowfat milk and the olive oil makes this version a bit healthier than those versions calling for massive amounts of cream and butter. Trust me, you won't miss either in this version! 

Add potatoes to boiling water and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium saute pan, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil and bring to medium high heat, toss in shallots bring heat down to medium, until they've caramelized to a golden brown, then remove from heat. When potatoes are done remove from heat and drain. In the pan, start mashing them with a potato masher. Add the remaining 2 tbs of olive oil, butter and shallots, working them well into the potato mixture. Slowly add milk and continue mashing. Add more milk until you achieve your desired consistency. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. 

This dish can be made a day ahead of time. Reheat either via microwave or stove-top. Sometimes potatoes thicken over night. If desired, add 1/4 cup of low fat milk. Stir well, heat and serve!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Shallots and Crispy Onion Bits

via The Entertaining House

We all love brussel sprouts here at The Entertaining House. This is one of our favorite recipes. I use sliced brussel sprouts for this recipe. If you can't find them sliced you can certainly slice them on your own. But for the sake of the holidays and spending less time in the kitchen and more time with friends and family, I'm going to suggest you get the sliced ones if you can find them. 

Serves 6-8
3 packages sliced brussels sprouts (2 packages if not sliced)
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
1 cup crispy onion pieces. If possible get a fresh variety.
2+ tbs olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

In a large saute pan heat up the olive oil, toss in the shallots and cook until they are golden brown and caramelized. Remove from pan. If possible, leave the oil infused with the shallots in the pan. When the shallots have been removed toss in the brussels sprouts and coat all with the oil. If needed drizzle a little more oil into the pan. Cook over low to medium heat for about 15 minutes until they start to caramelize, when they do, add the shallots and mix well. Keep warm over low heat until ready to serve. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving add the onion pieces. 

These too can be made a day ahead of schedule and can be reheated via microwave or stove-top. Do not add the crispy onions until you are ready to serve.

Shallots are wonderful with asparagus and green beans and they can be substituted for onions in any dish.


Summer Sandwich for a Saturday or Sunday Afternoon

This could very well be the easiest and best tasting sandwich you have ever had. Think of it as a salad in really great bread. But there are a few things you must do to make this sandwich a success. Otherwise it will be an ordinary sandwich. And that's not what I'm striving for here.

First. You must get yourself to your local farm or farmer's market. They're everywhere this summer - The farmer's markets, that is! You'll find grocery store produce practically inedible once you get your veggies from the farm. This is how our tomatoes and lettuce and cucumbers and all the other deliciousness is supposed to taste!

After you've gotten all the veggies that your heart desires you'll need some really good bread. With the emphasis on really good. I am a bread snob. I make no apologies for this. Many local bakers sell their wonderful breads at farmer's markets. Really, farmer's markets are one stop shopping... you should be able to find everything you need from meat and fish, eggs, cheeses, breads, veggies, soups, and some of the best desserts ever.... But I digress... If you can't get a good bread at your farmer's market, then head to a bakery. But please please please do not go to the grocery store for this unless your grocery store sells local breads... and many of them do.

You'll want a fat, flat crusty bread like a ciabatta or eve a softer focaccia. Cut the bread in half through the middle and lay both halves on your work surface, crust sides down. On one half drizzle a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, infused or plain. Now start layering all your veggies... anything and everything you wish! We used mixed lettuces, thinly sliced fresh red tomatoes, thinly sliced fresh cucumbers, crushed and chopped Greek olives, thinly sliced pepadews and fresh mozzarella. We added some more olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and pepper to taste. We placed the other half of the bread on top of the sandwich and pressed it down. You can use something heavy to hold it into place if you wish. When you're ready, cut the sandwich into as many pieces as you'd like. Serves 4-5 large sandwiches or more as mini sandwiches. You can add anything you would like - fresh basil, onions, peppers... The options are endless. Use an infused olive oil or add some pesto to the bread. Swap out the mozzarella for goat cheese or a spreadable herb cheese like Boursin.

Go ahead and make this. You'll thank me when you do!



Chilled Gazpacho

Property of The Entertaining House/Jessica Gordon Ryan

It's tomato season in my part of the world - and vines are bursting with all sorts of these fresh and vibrant fruits in almost as many colors as are found in the rainbow. I can't seem to get enough tomatoes these days. I love them in salads and sandwiches, on a fresh baguette and drizzled with olive oil, and even on their own with a good sprinkling of sea salt! In a matter of days my tomato supply has dried up and tomorrow I am off to my local farms to stock up on all the amazing produce that's out there now. When I get tire of eating them alone I whip up a batch of gazpacho. This Andalusian dish is one of my all-time summer favorites and, at any given day, there's always a container of it in my fridge. I've made yellow varieties and green varieties and they are all simply fabulous. What I love most about this cold treat is that it's totally bathing-suit friendly! You can snack on it any time of the day or turn it into a lunch or dinnertime meal with a crusty loaf of bread and a nice thick wedge of Manchego cheese. 

There are so many versions out there and almost all of them are fabulous. This recipe was my grandmother's and is the one I use all of the time. Sometimes I play around with the ingredients based on what I have in my fridge. This recipe can be followed or altered to your preferred tastes.


2 Seedless cucumbers, peeled, cut into large chunks
1 red bell pepper, cut into large chunks
1 orange or yellow pepper, cut into chunks
3 medium to large fresh tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 – 1 ½ cup of V-8 juice (Be daring and use Mr. T’s or Stirring’s Bloody Mary Mix for an extra kick!)
¼ cup of red wine vinegar
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional - I love cilantro and sometimes I toss a handful into the blender and a few leaves on top

Place your ingredients, chopped, into the blender or food processor and pulse to the desired consistency. Taste as you go to adjust the seasonings and chill for at least one hour before serving. This is even better the next day... and the day after that, if there's any left!

I had my hand at drawing this morning. It's been decades but I was inspired by the tomatoes that and the soup I've been devouring lately. I need to learn how to use my scanner... this iPhone upload didn't quite cut it!



Delicious Decadence :: Eggnog Pound Cake

Photo propterty of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

Your mouth will thank me... your lips will sing... your tastebuds will do the tango
This is THE best pound cake I have ever had. HANDS DOWN.
I wasn't going to post two recipes back to back but I've several requests for this recipe and it really is too good not to share.

This is a crowd pleasure.
Want a raise? Make this for your boss.
Want to get married? Make this for your boyfriend.
This makes a lovely hostess gift, teacher gift, and it absolutely, unequivocally, without a shadow of a doubt must be served on your holiday dessert table. 
There is nothing like it.


I promise you...
Leave this for Santa... You'll be sure to get some extra presents!
It's like magic... pure magic...
And, if you don't believe, this will make a believer out of you!


Stand mixer with paddle attachment (or hand mixer and large bowl)
12-cup Bundt pan or tube pan or two large loaf pans, 6 small loaf pans greased and floured

2 sticks unsalted butter
3 cups (525 g) granulated sugar
6 eggs
3 cups (339 g) cake flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup (240 ml) eggnog (I always use light eggnog)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoon golden rum or rum extract (But you could add more!!)

1. Preheat oven to 325° F/165° C.
2. Cut butter into chunks and cream. Gradually add sugar. Add eggs one at a time.
3. Stir together flour and nutmeg. Alternate flour and eggnog: one cup flour, 1/2 cup eggnog, one cup flour, the rest of the eggnog, and then the rest of the flour. Keep the mixer going slowly, scraping down the edges as necessary.
4. Stir in the vanilla and the rum, 
5. Pour into prepared pan(s) and place on the cookie sheet in the preheated oven. Bake for 90 minutes (in bundt pan, 50-60 minutes, loaf pan, 30 minutes cake pan.)
6. Allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
7. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve. Also good with a scoop of ice cream on the side.

If using mini loaf pans check for doneness after 30 minutes, and then every 5 minutes or so, depending on how high you have filled them and whether you have used them (as I did) in conjunction with a regular sized loaf pan.

You can thank me for this later!



Eggnog French Toast :: Delectably Divine!

Property of The Entertaining House

Sometimes my daughter asks why I just can't leave anything alone - probably in the same vein that if it ain't broke then don't fix it. But I'm a tinkerer... I love to try new things, come up with new creations and adaptations, especially in the kitchen. So when I suggested that we try some eggnog French toast she looked at me quizzically, skeptically, doubtfully. She was ready for me to fail. She was ready to tell me, I told you so! But then she wanted control of the kitchen. She wanted to get behind the wheel, to wear the captain's hat... She wanted to make the French toast. She wanted to partake in this bad idea!

So I gave her the sliced, stale raisin challah and all the ingredients and tools and put her to work.

I stepped back and watched as she cracked eggs, poured the eggnog, added some cinnamon and nutmeg, whisked it all up, dipped the pieces of bread and placed them on the searing pan... I sat back and poured my wine as the kitchen started to smell like a holiday breakfast. Not to worry, we were having breakfast for dinner!

After a couple of minutes she flipped the bread over, noticing the pretty grill marks, smiling to herself ... thinking that this was indeed a fabulous idea... Ok, she hadn't quite gotten there yet. She was still at the stage where she was certain I was off my rocker and about to ruin dinner.

And then, one by one, she started to removed the pieces of egg and nog-soaked bread from the grill pan...
And she had to admit that it looked fantastic... and smelled divine!
So we decided to share a piece... I sprinkled a bit of cinnamon sugar over the top and cut it into two pieces.
And she so badly wanted to have the last word... and she so badly wanted to say "I told you so!" But her eyes rolled to the back of her head. 'Nuff said.

It is rich... it is eggnoggy ... so if you're not all that wild on eggnog, this may not be for you. If you're like my family, then you absolutely need to make this!

Feeds 4 - 6


1 loaf of stale (2-3 days) challah - I prefer raisin
1 1/2 cups of Light Eggnog - There's no need for the heavy stuff!
3 eggs
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Heat pan with butter or non-stick spray on high.
Whisk together the egg mixure until well blended and pour into a flat dish with sides.
Dip 1 piece of bread at a time into the mixture, immerse well, wipe off excess.
Place in pan or griddle.
Turn heat down to medium high.
Repeat as needed.
After about 3 minutes, flip over to see if ready. If ready flip, if not cook another minute or two.
Place on a large plate or platter and keep warm in oven until ready to serve.
Repeat steps above until all the bread and the mixture has been used.

Serve with powedered sugar, cinnamon sugar or maple syrup.

This can be served alone or, as we did, with eggs, bacon and fruit.

Bon Appetit!



The Naptime Chef to sign her new cookbook at JmcLaughlin's Westport, Connecticut store!


Friends, I am happy to say that my friend Kelsey Banfield will be at JmcLaughlin in Westport on Thursday (March 29th) evening signing copies of her new cookbook, The Naptime Chef. The book is filled with mouth-watering recipes for meals that can be created in a short amount of time. Kelsey doesn't cut corners and uses natural, healthy products. Whether your children are young and napping, or older with busy and chaotic schedules, this book offers solutions to the home cook with a limited means of time to prepare healthy and delicious family meals. With recipes like Pesto Goat Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Meatballs for Choir Boys, Pizza with Artichokes, Caramelized Shallots and Ricotta, Caprese Salad with Balsamic Syrup and Asparagus with Feta Vinaigrette I assure you your family dinners will bear no resemblance to fast food and yet you will spend minimal time in your kitchen and more time at the table! Please visit The Daily Basics for my full review.

And while you're at the store why don't you take some time to poke around...

Do you see it?
on the table below!
that's the bag I'm positively DYING for!

Isn't she a vision?

And she suits me so well!
It's like we're meant to be?
Aren't we?
Don't you think?
Hey, my Birthday's coming up... June 1st!

Meanwhile... you can peruse all the other wonderful goodies!

all photos courtesy The Entertaining House

Please stop by on Thursday. 

I'll be there for sure!



eat your rainbow?

I'm the type of person who, when told that I cannot have or do something that I want, wants that forbidden item more simply because I know I am not allowed it. I'm trying to be good and cut back on the calorie intake that seemed to escalate to new heights over the holidays. Fortunately I have been able to hit the gym several times a week, but I really must cut back on the amount of food that passes my lips... especially the sugary stuff. I am trying to fill up on healthy things.  I have yogurt and granola, apples, clementines and other healthy items near me at all times. I also have delicious homemade cookies staring me down at work all day long... I am trying to eat the rainbow... the problem is, I want this rainbow!

Happy Monday Everyone! XOXO

Good Morning!

I woke up starving this morning! And the more I try not to think about it the hungrier I get!

I'm off to grab a Greek yogurt, drizzle some honey over it and perhaps grab a handful of granola ... Good thing we don't really have anything tempting and dangerous in the Entertaining House!

Be sure to check out The Entertaining Kitchen (on the sidebar) from time to time as I am focusing on healthier recipes for the New Year!)

Great cakes!

I've a crazybusy day ahead that leaves not much room for breathing let alone creating a funny, witty, touching or inspiring blog post but I wanted to leave you all with something just for stopping by...

Image Courtesy Effortless Style Blog

Isn't this the greatest? Oh gosh I just love it and want to have a party just to recreate this! I love how the hostess offered her guests both milk and champagne. Happy New Year! Happy New Day and I all hope you have fabulous ones!


Play with your food!

Even a serious foodie likes to bring out his or her inner-child... I just love these plates. I think Santa will be bringing them for Christmas!

And I would hate to leave Rebecca out, so now there is one for girls!

I think these placemats are nothing less than brilliant. I mean VanGogh, would have seriously cut off part of his ear for one of these!

Instead of discouraging, next time, you might very well encourage your child to go pick their nose!

Nose-picking isn't just for kids anymore!

Your daughter wants Pinkalicious Birthday party. These darling tea cup cupcake wrappers will be sure to be crowd-pleasers!

King of the World? Perhaps serve your guests a Gin & Titonic!

We all know a few people who could use one of these...

Just hate when this happens to me...

Because sometimes you want to have your cake and eat it too!

All of these wonderful products, and so many more, can be found at Fred & Friends.

Note: I was not endorsed by anyone over at Fred & Friends... but if anyone over at Fred & Friends sees this and would like to offer up an item for a give-away, you can contact me through my profile! ;)

Decorating for the change of Seasons, Organically

When the seasons changed my great grandmother promptly got her house ready. She had summer drapes and winter drapes. Summer bedding and winter bedding. Each room underwent a seasonal makeover of sorts. While I would love to swap my linen for velvet, pastels for burgundies and swap out my bone china for heartier, earthier tones I cannot do this. I have neither the funds nor the desire or inclination to do all this work! Your home can transition seamlessly from summer to fall by using a few simple items collected from the garden, backyard or orchard!

I'm a huge fan of bringing the outdoors in. I am a huge fan of decorating with nature and using items that can be recycled. I adore decorating with fruit. I love the bright and vibrant colors and I especially love the fact that, unlike freshly cut flowers, fruit can be eaten and enjoyed. When it starts to wilt it can get recycled into pancakes or muffins or breads or even as an oven-top potpourri. Fruit is inexpensive to decorate with and can be as aromatic as freshly cut flowers.

It is apple and pear picking season here in New England. Most of us pick much more than we can consume. Of course we can bake them, but why hide their beauty. The fall fruits have such wonderful colors -- warm reds, yellows and greens. These fruits should be displayed... and then enjoyed!

Some ideas ...
Nothing could be more simple than placing some apples in a bowl or arranging them on a large platter... or floating them in water. Don't limit them to your kitchen. Display your season fruit bouquets proudly in dining rooms as center pieces, living rooms, family rooms and bedrooms. Really, fresh fruit can be placed anywhere you would place a vase of fresh flowers.

Nothing says cozy and warmth and romance and autumn like these apples that have been turned into luminaries. Again, place these in any room of the house. The same can be done with certain gourds and mini pumpkins. Place a couple in a bathroom when company is expected, or line your walkway with them to light up the path at night. Is your mantel to bare? Too boring? Place these apple luminaries on your mantel for a simple, elegant and festive look. Perhaps red does not go with your decor. Don't be afraid to use red, yellow or orangy apples.

I have always adored these golden pears by Martha Stewart. Lightly brushed with gold powder, these ordinary pears receive a festive sheen perfect for any elegant holiday dinner party.

Look no further than your backyard for inspiration. A vase filled with acorns is so simple and yet so exquisite.

Add some acorns and nuts to a hurricane vase with a white pillar candle and you have something simple, stunning, autumnal, affordable and eco-friendly!

A simple boxwood wreath, a few nuts and a candle. Simple, elegant, festive and pure genius!

I simply adore pine cones. Though usually associated with Christmas and the colder months, simple brown pine cones, of all shapes and sizes look smashing in these apothecary jars... or arrange them casually in a nice off-white serving bowl.

String a few together and you have a festive garland that can last you throughout the holiday season. Simply change the color of the ribbon... start with an orange ribbon for fall and Thanksgiving and swap it out for a red or green one for Christmas.

We love to paint our pine cones. Mix the pine cones on a large platter with acorns and apples, real or plastic for a smashing centerpiece. Some of the pine cones are silver, others are gold, and others are white. The acorns were give a once-over in gold paint as were the plastic apples. I tossed in a few extra ornaments that were lying around with nothing else to do for the final touch. No need to toss the items when the season is over. They will all store nicely in a box or plastic bag.

Image, courtesy Martha Stewart

Perhaps you live in the South where pine cones and acorns are hard to come by. No worries, for this clever idea you have to look no further than your pantry for bags of dried beans and lentils to dress your pillar candles and pumpkins. For this you will need some wide double-stick adhesive tape and an assortment of mixed beans. Carefully roll the candles and pumpkins into the beans. You will need to fill in the holes by hand.
The same can be done with coffee beans, as seen below.

Coffee and candles make a lovely pairing as well!

If you like these ideas, be sure to visit my post on Cranberries. One of my absolute favorite and versatile seasonal fruits ever!

Getting your home ready for the holidays need not cost much and can be done in such a manner than we can all reap the beauty from our backyards!

Visual Chocolate... What Can Brown do For You?

What inspires you when you decorate? Is it a picture? A trip? A photograph? The change of seasons?

I have always loved bright, colorful walls and demure, soothing furniture. The walls animate the room with whimsy or sincerity or tranquility or charm. The walls set off the tone. Will your room be modern, classic, edgy or a twixt? Do you like plush and soft or are you more of a modern minimalist? Classic at heart? Do you love to decorate with color? Are you bold or are you more demure? Today's rooms have a bit of each element... something sure to please everyone.

Today's post was inspired by the Mallomar. Yes, as in the cookie. As in the S'more-like chocolate, marshmallow and vanilla cookie. The cookie that is round with a big dome... The cookie that has the hard crisp chocolate, then the soft smooth airy marshmallow center that would not be complete without the crunchy cookie bottom. Crispy, crunchy, soft and smooth... This cookie is like a well designed room. The walls hold everything together, the furniture is soft, comfortable and welcoming. The accessories blend the flavors together. Without them there would be just chocolate and marshmallow and a plain unceremonious cookie. Together there is something sensational!

Chocolate walls are fabulous. They are strong, masculine and bold without being overwhelming. They are warm and comforting which is perfect for the cold months to come. Do not be afraid of brown. It will not make your room appear too small. It will not swallow you up. Instead it will cradle you you in it's warm arms. A brown room can still have plenty of light, especially if you accessorize with light colored furniture and big mirrors placed strategically across from large windows. Chocolate walls are simply fabulous. Just like the chocolate covered Mallomar cookie.

I love the cookies. I don't eat them these days, but they remind me of my youth. My mother kept them in the refrigerator. I thought the bright yellow box was delightful -- a tease staring at me every time I opened up the refrigerator door!

Why was I inspired by the Mallomar?

I am writing about them because they are seasonal. Like Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Beaujolais Nouveau.

I was inspired because the Mallomars were released today. Yet another sign that the weather is cooling and fall is in the air.

In each of the well designed rooms below you will see crisp, clean, soft... You will see classic with a bit of modern. You will see bold and demure. You will see warmth... you will see the Mallomar.

Fall is in the Air!

Outside the rain is falling. It hasn't stopped all day. It's lovely. Not only do we desperately need this rain, but it's nice to have a day to take a time out... or a time in. With no need to be outside I can hunker down in my home and stay in my pajamas and clean the house from top to bottom and cook and do all those things one cannot do when it is too gorgeous to be inside! Even though it's still quite warm outside and the air conditioning is still required to keep us cool and comfortable, one can tell that fall is right around the corner! There's a certain wonderful feeling in the air. I adore the change of seasons and autumn is my favorite.

I love the smells of the crisp cool air. I love the wonderful palate of colors as the grand trees in my neighborhood begin to adorn their wonderfully exquisite autumn wardrobes in rich yellows and oranges and deep majestic reds. I love the smell of burning leaves... I love to watch my children jump into the large piles with huge grins and squeals of laughter. I love the cooler temperatures... they allow us to hang onto our white summer jeans a little bit longer as we slip into warm cashmere sweaters. I love that the days get a little shorter. I love nothing more than to come home at the end of the day and slip into some warm flannel pajamas as the sun sets to the west. Perhaps I'll cook up a hearty meal such as a stew, some chili or a roast. We'll sip on fresh apple cider or perhaps a nice warm glass of mulled wine. The apples that we have picked will be simmering in the oven between layers of a flaky crust. Is there any smell as wonderful as that of a freshly baked apple pie? We'll line our pumpkins in a row by the front door from smallest to largest. Even though I am married perhaps I will cheat a little...on my diet that is!!!! Instead of my cappuccino I will treat myself to a Pumpkin Spice Latte... I admit it, I have no will power... no restraint. I am helpless in the face of a beautiful Pumpkin Spice Latte! In fact I do adore all things pumpkin. I am powerless and weak in the knees when it comes to pumpkin bread. Pumpkin muffins. And pumpkin cookies. I think this year I will try my hand at some pumpkin biscotti! I will get my home ready for fall too. I'll bring out the warm blankets and darker colored throw pillows. I'll fill my hurricane candle holders with acorns and pine cones. We'll light a fire. I'll grab a blanket and my red wine and sit in front of it with a good book. I'll be in my pajamas. The Coq au Vin will be simmering along... I might even have to shut the windows to keep the chill out... I just adore fall!

Is there anything quite so beautiful?

Nothing says fall and home like warm apple pie, apple crisp, apple cobbler, apple Brown Betty...
The apple could quite possibly be the perfect fruit!

The perfect fall accoutrement... decorate or bake... I love pumpkins!

Pumpkin bread (muffins, cookies, lattes, etc) is my passion!

Curl up with a cup of fresh apple cider cool and crisp or warm and soothing.

Mulled wine a soothing yet sophisticated beverage. I had my first glass when I was 13... I was at my grandmother's house in Oxford... it was Christmastime...
and a beautiful boy kissed me...
Ah, fond memories of mulled wine!

My Dear PSL, when I see you my heart goes pitter-patter
and my knees grow weak!

When the temperatures drop the heat goes on in the kitchen...
there is nothing as soul soothing as a hearty soothing of Boeuf Bourguignon!

It's time to pack up the flip flops and Jack Rogers.
According to Vogue Magazine the simple, classic and stylish kitten heel is back in style!

Celebrate your inner School Girl and pick up a new satchel from the Cambridge Satchel Company.
(About $105)

Not quite ready to pack up those skinny white jeans? That's OK, you don't have to. Pair them with a pair of boots and long cardi and a perfectly stylish and transitional fall outfit is born!

I think this chair is calling my name... Ah, you've poured me a drink I see...
I'll just snuggle up under the blanket...

The house needs to put on her stylish wardrobe too...

Just in case I have nothing in the oven or on the stove... this should do the trick!

What do you like best about fall?

A Canadian Visits Maine:A Gastronomic Journey by Lily Lemontree

The Lovely Lilly Lemontree has graciously offered to be a guest today. She thought it fitting to write a post about an idyllic Maine vacation seeing as that is where I am with my children. (I like her version much better. Chasing after after three kids all day long is neither idyllic nor a vacation!)  Come along her wonderful journey which is sure to titillate all of your senses! And because you won't have had enough, you must absolutely stop by her blog after this wonderful New England feast!

Thank you so much my dear friend!
XOXO, Jessica

Everyone’s favourite hostess, Entertaining Mom, is off to Maine for a couple of weeks, that lucky girl! She always posts such great pictures of her excursions, makes you feel like you are there with her. Which got me thinking about what it would be like to actually spend the weekend in Maine with her as her guest, and in particular, what culinary delights would the hostess with the mostest entertain us with??

We’ve all been on her foodie blog, The Entertaining Kitchen and had our eyes and mouths water with all the deliciousness she has going on there, so I figure we would be in for a treat. Of course, when speaking of Maine, lobster (or should I say ‘lobstah’) is the first thing that pops into my mind. (The honest truth is lobster pops into my mind all the time, no prodding needed, it is one of my absolute favourites!)

So let’s pack our bags and jump in the car! I think our visit would go something like this.

Lunch of course would be a casual affair, maybe a picnic in a great spot she’s familiar with. Her picnic basket would be packed full of these delicious sandwiches, the recipe courtesy of the doyenne of New England living herself, Martha Stewart.

Mini Lobster Rolls
(courtesy of Martha Stewart)

3 1/2 cups cooked lobster meat (from 4 boiled 1-pound lobsters), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) salted butter
8 top-split hot dog buns (1 package), halved crosswise

Combine lobster, mayonnaise, lemon juice, chives, salt, and Old Bay, and cayenne if desired, in a small bowl.
Heat butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, toast buns until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side, transferring to a plate lined with paper towel, as you work. Fill each bun with 1/4 cup lobster salad.

After a fun, rigorous day spent outdoors enjoying all that Maine has to offer, our evening would be spent releasing the day’s “stresses.” For some of us, stress release usually involves a little alcohol (can I hear  Entertaining Mom giggling a little bit??) and in this case the alcohol of choice is beer.

Lobster Tails Steamed in Beer
(courtesy of

2 whole lobster tails
1/2 (12 fluid ounce) can beer

In a medium saucepan, over medium to high heat, bring the beer to a boil.
If lobster tails are still in the shell, split the shell lengthwise first.
Place a steamer basket on top of the saucepan. Place thawed lobster tails in basket and cover. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes.

What kind of a send-off would it be if  Entertaining Mom didn’t host a traditional clam bake party on our last night with her? Nothing says summer in New England like this!

Firehouse Clam Bake New England Style
(courtesy of

20 small (1 pound) lobsters
20 pounds clams in shell, scrubbed
10 pounds mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
10 pounds cod
20 white potatoes
20 sweet potatoes
20 ears fresh corn
5 pounds bratwurst
5 pounds hot dogs
5 pounds pork sausage
3 pounds sweet onions

At the beach dig a hole in the sand with the approximate proportions: width = 2 feet, length = 4 feet, depth = 1-1/2 feet. Line the hole with stones from the beach. Build a fire inside of the hole and cover with rocks from the beach. Heat the stones for 2 to 3 hours.
Remove coals and/or embers from the hole. Arrange hot stones evenly across the bottom of the hole. Place fresh 1/2 bushel seaweed (wet) on top of the hot stones.
Working quickly layer the food on top of the seaweed, the food should be layered evenly on top of each other in the following order: clams, mussels, fish, sausage, hot dogs (wrapped in cheesecloth), onions, potatoes (white and sweet), corn, and finally lobsters.
Cover food with a clean, wet cloth. Place remaining seaweed on top of cloth.
Cover entire hole of food with a wet tarpaulin, sealing the steam created by the hot stones and seaweed in. Allow a very small amount of steam to escape to relieve pressure. Let bake cook for 1 or more hours. The bake is completed when the potatoes are soft. Serve bake with melted butter to dip the seafood in and lobster crackers. Don't forget napkins -- you'll need 'em!

A very special thank you to Entertaining Mom for having me guest post while she is away and of course, for virtually hosting us!

Have a great trip!!

The Color Purple

Watch this Mom!

What Dorothy would wear all grown up...

I love these!

I've been thinking of purple, but truthfully I'm not terribly fond of the color purple. At least I wasn't until I spotted the images for this post. While I own no purple clothes or accessories, I love the watch and the Manolos! I could easily find something to pair these with.

In our Upper East Side apartment our dining room had a purple ceiling. Well, truthfully it was lavender. And the walls were a lovely heathered, masculine gray. The trim was all in white and it was very elegant. But other than that I have never been a purple girl. I was not the kind of girl to dream about fairies and princesses either. My bedroom is periwinkle. It is the most soothing and relaxing color. my bedroom is my haven... a least until the kids come barging in! But I consider periwinkle to be more a blue color than a purple color.

I think I am changing my mind about purple. The images I have come up with are stunning, classic, fun and elegant.

This "purple" bedroom is relaxing in light periwinkle hues...

Martha Stewart plays up the purple wall and dresses up the mantel with these lovely hyacinths...

A modern kitchen with purple cabinetry...

I love this more suburban feel. The purple ceiling adds character and warmth to the crisp, clean walls...

The pale purple and the crisp white cabinetry in this kitchen have a calming feel...

I adore the dramatic flair of the deep purple offset by the brilliant white...

A romantic and tranquil eating spot...

The energy of the walls is balanced by the calm of the furniture...

I do love the combination of the regal, rich purple as it is juxtaposed by the bright, almost ochre-colored, beige...

I love the pop of color generated by the sofa...

I never imagined purple to be a soothing color before...

I wanted to learn about this rich and mysterious color. And this is what I learned:

Purple is the color of royalty. A mysterious color, purple is associated with both nobility and spirituality. The opposites of hot red and cool blue combine to create this intriguing color.Purple has a special, almost sacred place in nature: lavender, orchid, lilac, and violet flowers are often delicate and considered precious. Because purple is derived from the mixing of a strong warm and strong cool color it has both warm and cool properties. A purple room can boost a child's imagination or an artist's creativity. Too much purple, like blue, could result in moodiness. (I have never heard of such a thing as too much blue! Have you?)

According to nutritionists purple is a very important color to incorporate into our diets. Purple foods are also good for lowering the risk of heart disease, some cancers, preventing age-related memory loss, keeping the eyes and urinary tract healthy and lowering the risk of gum disease and stomach ulcers.

Beautiful purple foods are so good for you!

But every now and then you need this kind of purple. It's OK, unleash your inner kid and enjoy!

Or put on your stunning purple Manolos and have a more grown up treat!

And you'll know you've finally gown up when you own a bottle of Chambord that you'll pour into a glass of champagne of a lovely Kir Royale!

Nothing soothes and calms as the scent of lavender...

Are you rested and relaxed?
What do you now think of the color purple?

Political Ketchup

This condiment kicks some serious Donkey butt!

A long long time ago two men were battling it out for presidency. One was a son of a former President of the United States and the other was a wealthy senator from Massachusetts who married an even wealthier woman of a certain Ketchup Family Fame.

I try not to get too involved with politics. I know what I like and I like what I know. I am a conservative with some liberal tendencies. But, for the most part, I keep my mouth shut. I do not like to get in heated debates. I always take these way too personally... I don't like this "I am right and you are not" nonsense. Mostly because I am always right :)

At some point during that campaign I learned about W Ketchup. I just had to try some. So we ordered a small case... and let me tell you... This Republican Ketchup kicked some serious donkey butt. (Remember I am always right.) We gave it out to friends as gifts -- well, to those who would appreciate it -- and we served it at barbecues.  But, not wanting to get too politically charged and not wanting to offend anyone we also served The Other Ketchup as well... the one I had grown up on.

In our backyard the Republican Ketchup was the winner across the house, lawn and floor!

For more information on W Ketchup visit their website, order a few bottles and fire up the grill. After your BBQ you can leave me a comment telling me that, hands down, this is the single-most best darned ketchup you have ever had!

I'm not getting paid to endorse these guys. Grill season is upon us and you'll all need some condiments at some point!

You Are What You Eat! Fun With Food and Fashion!

When I was little I loved to play with my food. Well, I guess I haven't grown up much because I still like to play with my food... I still have an active imagination and I still like to play dress up! So I thought what fun it would be to be the fashion equivalent of what you eat! After all, haute couture and haute cuisine often go hand in hand!

Imagine if someone called you a Turkey?
Would you mind terribly if you looked like this Carolina Herrera dress?

Would you believe your eyes,
if you ate a chocolate chip cookie
and this Carolina Herrera number so gracefully skimmed your thighs!

Don't think twice
about that Red Velvet Cake,
in fact go ahead and have another slice!
Badgley Mishka 2009

Sugary sweet Fudge Stripe ice cream,
a heaping scoop sure would be nice!
Chanel Couture 2009-2010

Blueberry Pie!
How can I deny?
Cherie Dinner Dress, Vintage Dior 1945, Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Nothing Vanilla about this
Givenchy as worn by Natalie Portman!

Feeling all Bubbly in this Romona Keveza Champagne dress, Kleinfelds!

 Une autre cafe au lait, s'il vous plait!
Robert Rodriguez Mocha Dress

My freezer would be stocked with Orange Creamsicles
by Carlos Miele

If minty Shamrock Shakes were Valentino vintage...

or as sublime
as this vintage Oleg Cassini for Jacqueline Kennedy,
I would have them all the time!

And I would say there is nothing fishy whatsoever about this salmon colored dress!
by Hubert de Givenchy (1968)
Gifted by the Von Bulow family to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Feeling like a Chocolate Kiss in this JCrew Bridesmaid Dress!

Eggplant Parmesan never looked so good!
Nina Ricci Costume Institute gown as worn by Bee Shaffer, daughter of Anna Wintour

With Six You get Eggroll!
Well, I'll take six for this darling Asian inspired mother-daughter wedding outfits
by Couture Shock, Australia

Sugar cubes and spice, this Calvin Klein dress is awfully nice!

Can I take your order?

I Pick Pink!

The other day I kept Alexander home from school. He had had a low grade fever the day before and was suffering from a terrible cold. 4 year olds are not terribly good about blowing their icky noses throughout the day. And they tend to be a little too generous with their bad germs. So like any good mother would do, I opted not to send him in. (Although I really, really, really needed a day to myself to get some stuff done.)

I somehow got him to agree, after getting him all hopped up on Motrin, to come to the grocery store with me. Normally he will do no such thing. Normally I am loathe to take any of my children to the grocery store. But my fridge was bare. And, I told Alexander I would let him pick some stuff out. What a silly idea that was!

Here's a good lesson in parenting: Don't let your Four Year Old Take Over Your Shopping Cart!
Or you too will end up with:

A pistachio muffin from the bakery, mostly uneaten
1 Pound of "pink stuff" from the deli (hint it goes really well with cheese!)
Toy Story Cheese Its
Toy Story Fruit Chews
Scooby Doo Go-Gurts
1 Pez Toy Candy -- a Disney Dalmation

I somehow managed to get some of my own, healthier items in there to balance out the bad.I did forget eggs, Windex and paper towels.

Then I got to thinking what if I shopped just for the things that I wanted, disregarding what we needed... disregarding diets... choosing simply those items that would make me happy?

I choose Pink. Pink foods make me happy!

Here are my favorite Pink Foods!

Like Alexander, I too would stop by the bakery fist. But I would choose a frosted pink donut with pastel rainbow sprinkles!


And I might need a little bit of sparkling (spiked?) pink lemonade to wash it down with!
(Image, Southern Living)


I've been craving these guys... never better than eaten in Maine, freshly caught!


Let me tell you, I could really go for these right about now! (Yes, even at 3:15 in the morning!!)


But it might need some of this, Pink Himalayan salt, (I get mine at Trader Joes!)


I love grapefruit and all things grapefruit!


PerhapsI'll pick up a few of these guys, bake them and serve them with a spicy remoulade!

I'll celebrate with some pink champagne!


Snack on some pretty pink heart shaped French macaroons.


Finish the day with my most favorite kind of ice cream, peppermint stick!
But not until I add a few pink Sprinkles!

I'll need to wash my sticky hands with the grapefruit scented hand soap.
(Williams Sonoma)

And finally, try as I may, in the end I simply would not be able to pass by this perfectly pink mixer without tossing it into my cart!

Boy, it sure is fun to shop like a Four Year Old! What would you put in your grocery cart if you could have anything at all that you wanted?