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October 16, 2017

This Week's Menu | Finally Fall Recipe Weather

This week marks the first real week of Fall weather for us.  Finally!  Here is what is on our menu, to celebrate : )









And my weekly batch of soup going in the freezer for lunches/dinner :

Chicken Noodle : )

Browse all of my Fall Recipes, here >


October 12, 2017

Spooky Bat Sugar Cookies | Halloween Sugar Cookies + Decorating Tips Video


These cookies may look difficult to make, but they are really simple.  You just need to follow the steps - starting with the body, covering it with sprinkles, and then making the wings and eyes.  It is really as simple as outlining and filling in.  The sprinkles add great texture on the body - giving the cookies one more element to make them look special, but actually make them really easy to decorate.

You can buy the Bat Cookie Cutter here .  I have had them made in Copper, so they are something you can keep and use year after year as a tradition.

I've included a video tutorial that shows the decorating, step-by-step... complete with spooky sound effects that Emma help me pick out.



I used my favorite sugar cookie dough - here is the recipe for the cookies and the royal icing.  I recommend making them ahead of time, then refrigerating them before you bake - it helps them hold their shape.

I've added some fun and simple Halloween packaging to my store - you can see the photos at the bottom of this post.
 

Emma is really getting into making sugar cookies.  She loves picking out the cutters.


And singing.


And eating the dough.


Love those lashes.  She loves all jewelry, but mostly her "canny" necklace.



Sprinkling the "snow" - by the way, I have know idea how she remembers snow! 

Now the baking is done - time to decorate (aka, nap time). 



You'll need :
-Royal Icing
-Black Sprinkles
-Black Food Coloring
-2 Pastry Bags
-Scissors
-Parchment Paper Sheets (used for the baking)


Put a small amount of the white royal icing in a pastry bag.  Cut off a tiny bit of the tip - you'll use this for the eyes.


Use the remaining royal icing to make the dark grey.  Dark icing colors darken as they sit - so mix a little lighter than you'd like it to be.


Put it into a second pastry bag and cut a small part of the tip off.


Everything is ready to go!






Here is a video tutorial on how to decorate them.  If you can outline and fill in you're half way there.  How do you like those spooky sound effects?  Nerdy, I know, but that is what Halloween is all about - right?!


Step 1 is to do the body - then cover the still wet icing with black sprinkles. 



Step 2 : Make the wings with the same black/grey icing.


Step 3 : Do eyes with white icing, then black/grey dots.


 Done - really simple, but they look great.


I love anything that looks like it was a lot of work - but really wasn't.


I packaged them in medium cellophane bags (20 for $7) tied with natural cotton ribbon and a "Trick or Treat" tag (20 for $6).


Definitely a treat.

Stay tuned for more Spooky Halloween Cookie tutorials.

For more Halloween Cookie Cutters and Treat Packaging ideas, visit the Halloween section in my store.

Here is the pin strip :

October 11, 2017

Pretty Chicken Pot Pie | Easy Weeknight Dinner



The biggest change at home we've experienced since Emma has started Kindergarten is that she was so exhausted when she got home that she wasn't interested in helping with dinner.  For the first couple of weeks, I was okay with it - she needed quiet downtime just playing (or watching a show...).  However, our time in the kitchen together is my favorite time, so I've been thinking of more ways to get her excited about cooking again.

I know when you are 5 that new friends, learning to read, soccer, ballet, etc. all of a sudden seems much cooler and more important than helping your Mom, but I wanted to be careful that we didn't lose this special time we spend together.  So, we've been doing more fun things in the kitchen like adding mini leaf cut-outs (using the new Mini Leaf Cutters, $8 for 6 in my store) to our Chicken Pie Pies, and we've also been working on decorating cakes.  These activities have lit a new fire for her and she is eager to join me in the kitchen again.


This is my basic Chicken Pot Pie recipe, only dressed up with some cut outs on the top : ). For some shortcuts, buy a rotisserie chicken, use frozen carrots and store bought pie dough - I do these all of the time and it is just as delicious.   Our entire family loves this dinner.  I make a double batch and one goes in the freezer for an easy dinner after soccer : )



The Mini Leaf Cutters are new to my Harvest Collection and will make so many things cute this fall : )



Chicken Pot Pie
(makes 1 pie, I usually double the recipe)

2 chicken breasts, split with bone and skin on
4 carrots, 1-inch dice
8 small red potatoes, 1-inch dice
2 tbs of olive oil
1 tsp of sea salt
1/2 tsp of pepper
4 tbs of butter
4 tbs of flour
1/2 cup of chicken stock
1/2 cup of half-and-half
1 cup of frozen peas
....
Pie Crust Ingredients needed (for making 2 tops) : 
18 tablespoons cold butter (2 sticks + 2 tablespoons)
3 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon salt 
2 tablespoons sugar 
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water


I made the filling, while Emma worked on the pie crust.

For the filling :

Step 1 : Roast the Chicken & Vegetables

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Start by placing the chicken breasts on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, then salt & pepper.  On another sheet pan, place the carrots and potatoes and also drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, then toss to coat.  Roast them in the oven for 20-25 minutes.  The cooking time may vary depending on thickness of the chicken breast.


Step 2 : Make the Cream Sauce

In a saucepan, melt butter on medium-low heat stir in flour, whisking until smooth.  Let the flour and butter cook for about 1 minute.  Whisk in chicken stock and continue to whisk over low heat until smooth.

Add in the half-and-half.  Whisk until smooth.  Cook over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes until thick and bubbly - whisk constantly, or at lease every minute to keep it from burning on the bottom.  When it is thick, turn off the heat.


Step 3 : Combine

When the vegetables and chicken have finished roasting, let them cool for 3-5 minutes.  Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and chop it up into 1-inch cubes.  Add the chicken, carrots and potatoes into the cream sauce.  Add the peas.  Pour the mixture into a pie plate or other oven proof dish.




The pie crust is made in the food processor and comes together so quickly.  Pie Crust Recipe, here >

Store Bought Dough works really great, too, especially or the cutouts.  It seems to be more sturdy.





Roll the cut out dough onto a rolling pin, being careful not letting it stretch too much and lose its shape.


 

Brush them with beaten egg to give them a really pretty shine, then bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes until golden and bubbly.

 

Here are other ways I've used the Mini Leaf Cutters :


Pecan Tart with Maple Leaf border >


I have so many ideas for these : ). Hope this makes it on your list for the week!

 Mini Leaf Cutters, $8




October 10, 2017

Autumn Harvest Collection | Live!


Autumn is like no other season.  It seems like the fall frenzy is bigger than ever this year.  While everyone likes to focus on the out and about, I am excited to focus on really observing the changing, slowing of the season.  Earlier evenings perfect for sitting around on comfy sofas, and after school piddling in the yard that seems to have changed overnight with new shadows, barren sticks and seed pods where flowers once were.  Daily walks to observe the subtle changing colors and to take deep breathes of that chilly fresh air.  Gathering acorns, branches and leaves that we'll display in random bowls, platters, windows and on wreathes.  Of course, when there is lounging, there is baking and giving.  

And Halloween.  There is a certain magic that Halloween night carries, when the neighborhood is completely abuzz with kids, shuffling parents chatting as they go, and shrills of delight.  It might be one of my favorite holidays (and that's saying something!).  

Enjoy browsing around our home and seeing how the new collection has helped me transition to the glorious season of Autumn.



Comfortable.  Always on the top of my list for "home."




Pewter Hand-Dipped Taper Candle, $10.50
Block Print Pillows, $28-38
Velvet Pillows, $28-32
Throws, $104
Classic Creamers (used as vases for berries), $84
Thin Gold Frames & Mats
Botanical Prints












Green Hydrangea Block Print Pillows, $28-38

The perfect Autumn mossy green that will look great through the Holidays.  In fact, I'm planning to go very Green and Brown for the Holidays (pinecones, acorns, brown paper packages...) this year, so these will be center-stage in our home.






Velvet Pillows

I decided to go entirely velvet in our Living Room this season.  This is our more 'formal room' so the velvet makes it seem that much more sophisticated and luxurious.



I've started to keep seasonal linens in this hutch and large platters and bowls.  And candles.  And pumpkins, obviously.







Napkins, Tablecloths & Large Table Runners  

I plan to create a table with orange pumpkins and gourds going down the center of the table with sprigs of bittersweet woven through.  




Napkins, Tablecloths & Large Table Runners  

I can't wait to set a table with dark green and brown pumpkins and tie these napkins up with brown velvet ribbon.





These drawers are starting to get rather full : )



The Ultimate Autumn Essential, The Harvest Plaid Blanket Wrap, $30.

I wear it as a wrap with a chambray or white shirt, or a black dress and brown leather boots.  I also use it as a throw as pictured above in our hearth room.



This Navy Wrap is new this year.  It is made in the same fashion as the Autumnal Plaid Wrap, but is is a luxurious solid navy.  I can't wait to wear this over a light sweater with cords and boots.

Both of these wraps are the perfect one-size-fits-all gift.


I've been working on Mike's office more lately - doing some handsome details.  These new Deer Game Prints are a favorite.  I have them matted in the French Cream and it is the perfect compliment with the Thin Gold Frames.


Below the handsome deer prints, a lego castle, of course.  And a bar : )




  


Ahhh.  Can you smell the pumpkin bread baking?!  It just doesn't get better than fall baking.  I've stocked up on all of my seasonal baking favorites (copper & mini cookie cutters...) and essentials that I need all year long.
 

I LOVE these minis.  I have so many things planned for them.  They are just so cute.
 

This is a Pecan Tart that I made a couple of years ago.  Making a crust with the leaves requires zero skill, and it looks beautiful.




Last week, Emma and I made cut outs in the top of my Chicken Pot Pie (recipe coming tomorrow).  Seriously, Tuesday night dinner turned into something special so easily.  Emma LOVED it.





Each season, I line my Copper Cookie Cutters up on the window sill... even if I don't get around to using them, I love the warm charm they add.


Copper Acorn & Pumpkin Cookie Cutters


Piles of Donuts : )   I make mine (baked) in a Donut Pan.



And box them up and give them away!

Kraft Window Boxes






Pumpkin Tags




Black & White Stripe Ribbon


S'mores kit wrapped up for Halloween Party Treats.


My all-time favorite Halloween Cookies : )






I also use the Copper Cutters to make Halloween Pancakes.  Recipe and tips, here >











Thank you for browsing around with me today.  Now, I'm completely exhausted.  My brain is done for the day.   I'm ready for a big bowl of soup on the sofa and a toasty fire.  Happy Fall : )

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