Phew, what a crazy two weeks. The Home Tour yesterday was a huge success but it was a CRAZY day. We were blessed with incredible weather and the homes looked fabulous! Chris was out of town a lot the last week so I didn’t cook much while he was away.
Last weekend I made a bread pudding from one of my go to cookbooks, The Joy of Cooking. Actually, I usually do a combo of that recipe (which I linked to a place I found it on the internet) and the the ones from the big yellow gourmet cookbook but my result pretty much comes from the above link. Excuse my (lack of) photography skills. I took this photo as an afterthought…..and had been sitting at the counter enjoying wine, reading magazines and watching my husband cook for a while at this point! (My favorite way to spend a Saturday night!)
And I made my tried and true caramel sauce to drizzle over. This sauce is to die for and so easy to make! Scroll to the bottom of the recipe in the link for the toffee sauce (although, I will tell you the sticky date is my husband’s birthday cake of choice and this is a great recipe.)
I really only managed to cook weeknight meals two nights last week. Each was simple and pretty good. Nothing to scream praises about but solid and relatively healthy. First I made a Tomato soup that has fennel and uses whole wheat baguette to thicken it. It is a solid soup recipe from the cookbook “Cook Yourself Thin.” We had ours with a grilled cheese which probably defeated the purpose but sure was good.
The other recipe I made was a pasta and chicken sausage recipe from the blog Skinnytaste. I find most of her recipes to be pretty good. This one is a Pasta with Butternut Sauce, Spinach and Spicy (Chicken) sausage. The only modifications I made to the recipe were to add a few toasted walnuts, used mild sausage because of the kids, and cut the sausage out of the casing before I cooked it.
And now that home tour deadlines are behind me I can start to focus on finishing up our Christmas decorating. I started to add little touches last week but have a ways to go. I’ve got four of these little guys on our kitchen table…..but took one up to the foyer to try to get better light….
My current obsession is finding magnolia garland for over our fireplaces. So, finding that, getting presents wrapped and mailed to our Australia family and getting my Christmas cards out are on my list for this weekend.
One of the reasons I’ve been so crazy busy lately is that I am the treasurer for our preschool association’s holiday home tour. This group, for parents of children who will enter one of our town’s two elementary schools, has one major fundraiser each year with all proceeds going to the Kindergarten and First grade classes for instructional materials, books, technology, math manipulatives & teacher workshops. Last year, each school received $39,000 as a direct result of this fundraiser.
The tour is a week from today from 9:30 – 1:00. We have five great houses on the tour this year, including the home of one of the owners of a favorite design shop, BluePrint. Another home has been in a family for generations. We are so excited about all of our homes this year and are so grateful to our generous homeowners for opening their homes for this cause.
Tickets are available presale and are $20. The day of the tour they are $25. You can purchase them one of several ways. First, contact me as I’ve got a ton. They are being sold at area Tom Thumbs or you can puchase online and pick up at Will Call the morning of the tour.
If you go, let me know.
We got home yesterday afternoon from a glorious week in Lake Toxaway, NC. This is where I spent nearly every summer growing up, Chris and I were married, and more recently we had my Mom’s memorial service. It was bittersweet to be up there….and brought back many memories but in all, I am so glad we decided to move the Thanksgiving tradition back to the mountains.
Our days were filled with a lot of nothing….like boating, attempting to fish and enjoying rocking on the back patio with a fire. We meant to do our family Christmas photo while we were up there but never got around to it. Oh well…..
We had no internet access up there, other than our phones and a lone iPad that was on a data plan and it was really nice to disconnect, read, play cards, sleep and generally just enjoy each other. I feel completely rested which is good since the rat race starts back up tomorrow AM, right? Hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving as well.
I also forgot to post my new weeknight recipes before I left town last weekend so I thought I’d just make this a huge post and do so today. First was a Beef and Broccoli Bowl recipe I pulled from the Cooking Light Website. It was so easy to pull together and my husband declared it better than the local Chinese joint. I can assure you it was a lot healthier. I served with brown rice as you can see below.
Cooking Light Beef and Broccoli Bowl Recipe, photo via moi.
The week before we left I also made a Greek Salsa Chicken with Roasted Potatoes. I initially pinned this recipe from my friend Tiffany’s blog and it has been a repeater ever since. The only thing I do differently than the recipe is to use a bit less olive oil in the salad/salsa. And, at Tiffany’s recommendation I use Alexia potatoes….super easy and so yummy.
We did a hearty Autumn Salad as a main dish one night and this one was ok, but probably not a repeater in our house. Nothing wrong with it…just nothing wow about it either.
Finally, I made this hearty Chicken and Wild Rice Soup last week in the mountains. I love to make it when we have Honey Baked Ham leftovers to use. It was perfect to come home to after cocktails at friends. We got the kids down to bed and enjoyed this outside in front of the fire. I’ve been making this soup for years and my main change is I use whatever milk we have (skim or 2%) instead of the half-and-half. If you think it is too thick…ramp-up the broth or the sherry (just don’t overdo it!). I usually use a Rotisserie chicken to cut down on prep time. This time my husband added in some cut up scallions as we were dishing this and it was a nice addition. Fresh cracked pepper is a must….
So, there you have it….that’s what I’ve been up to. Today, we are going to start pulling out Christmas decorations (we had our outside lights put up before we left for vacation but we have wreaths to hang, etc.) Oh yes, and lots of raking to to do!
Have a great day and hope to see you back here tomorrow.
I am completely disconnecting for the week to enjoy the time with my family and friends. I wish my American friends a Happy Thanksgiving.
I will be back next week rested and rejuvenated!