Monday, November 29, 2010

Lemon Cranberry Cake by K.C. Quaretti-Lee

I am honored to indroduce KC Quaretti-Lee to my blog readers, some of you already know her since she was chosen by Paula Deen and Kraft Foods as the first dessert host in the Real Women of Philadelphia casting call.   KC was picked from thousands of talented cooks and has been making videos and writing a cookbook with the other 3 hosts for Philadelpia cream cheese.  KC is a true artist when it comes to desserts so I knew you would enjoy a holiday dessert recipe from her. Thank you so much KC!  You can find more on KC and her wonderful recipes at her blog  http://www.kcinthekitchen.com/
Enjoy, Shannon

 Being chosen by Paula Deen and Kraft Foods to be the very first dessert host for the Real Women of Philadelphia was certainly a life changing event.  At the VERY TOP of the list of great changes I have experienced in the past five months is getting to know and become friends with so many amazing home cooks in the RWOP Community; friendships that will continue on forever!
Now, during this holiday season I have been given another top honor;  the opportunity to be a guest blogger on Shannon’s incredible blog.   Shannon’s tablescapes, floral arrangements and creative party planning ideas are absolute tops and to be included here with Shannon is a total delight!   When Shannon first asked me to share a holiday dessert with you I instantly thought of this Lemon Cranberry Cake!  It certainly is a family favorite here in the Quaretti-Lee household!
I’ve been making this cranberry sauce for more years than I care to admit and it just seemed natural to play the sauce forward into something really exciting to serve and share during the holiday season.  Whenever I serve this cake, it  consistently brings out oooohs and awwwes because of the surprise filling between the layers! The combination of sweet and tart from both the cranberries and lemons keep this cake from being overly sweet while the cream cheese and cranberry filling adds intense moisture that makes this cake really quite unique!

First you’ll need to start off with fresh cranberry sauce: 

2 Packages Fresh cranberries
2 Apples
2 Pears
1 Lemon
1 Cup Sugar
½ Cup Orange Juice
1.      Rinse and pick over the cranberries to make sure you don’t have any bad ones.
2.      Peel, core and chop the apples and pears.
3.      Finely grate the lemon peel and then juice the lemon.
4.      Place all the ingredients in a large enamel pot and cook over low/medium heat for about 45 minutes stirring every few minutes.  The berries will pop and the sauce will thicken slightly.
5.      Remove from the heat and chill.  The sauce will be very thick when chilled.
That’s it, that’s all you have to do to make a super delicious homemade cranberry sauce!
                                                 Cranberry Cake Filling

Now, let’s talk about the cake.  A while ago I was asked to re-create a lemon cake recipe that had been lost for about 40 years.  All I had to go on was the description of a cake my friend’s grandmother used to make when she was very young!  After researching old recipes and more experimenting than I care to admit; in other words my family didn’t want to see a lemon cake for many months, the final result is a moist simply yummy lemon cake.  BUT, with all that we have to do during the holiday season, feel free to use a box lemon cake.  Add the juice of ½ lemon per box (reduce the water amount by how much lemon juice you have) and ¼ cup Philadelphia Pineapple Cream Cheese (reduce the oil by ½ cup) per box.
I always make this a large four layer cake, so I double the cake recipe or use 2 box cake mixes. You certainly can make a two layer cake if you don’t have too many to feed!
Yellow Lemon Cake Ingredients:
     2 cups sifted cake flour
     3/4 teaspoon baking soda
     1/2 teaspoon salt
     1/3 cup shortening
     1/3 cup butter
     1 cup sugar
    3 eggs, separated

    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

    1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
    ½ teaspoon lemon rind finely grated
    1/2 cup buttermilk
    2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
                                             Cranberry Cake Half Filled

1.      Sift flour, baking soda and salt together.
2.      In mixing bowl, cream butter and shortening; add sugar gradually, creaming until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks; beat until very light. Add vanilla and lemon extract; blend well.
3.      Combine buttermilk and vinegar. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture. Beat until batter is smooth. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.
4.      Pour buttermilk cake batter into greased 7 x 10 x 2-inch baking pan or 2 8-inch layer cake pans.
5.      Bake single at 350°. 35 to 45 minutes; layers at 375°. 25 to 30 minutes.
Cranberry Filling Ingredients:
1.      1 (8 ounce) package Philadelphia cream Cheese
2.      ¾ cup powdered sugar
3.      ¾ cup cranberry sauce
1.      Mix all ingredients well
2.      Spread 1/3 of mixture on top of layer one
3.      Repeat for layers 2 and 3
4.      Top with layer four
5.      Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours or up to 24 before frosting
6.      Frost cake with simple whipped white frosting
7.      Pipe frosting around the top of the cake to create a place for cranberry sauce
8.      Spread about ¾ cup cranberry sauce on top of cake
Frosting Ingredients:
1.      1 (8 ounce) package Philadelphia Cream Cheese softened
2.      ½ cup butter softened
3.      About 10-12 ounces marshmallow fluff
4.      About 6 cups powdered sugar
1.      Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy
2.      Add the marshmallow fluff and mix well
3.      Add about 4 cups powdered sugar and mix well; keep adding additional sugar until you get the desired consistency.

·         Thank you Shannon for taking the time to share your talents with all of us!  Again, I am honored to be featured on your blog and incredibly proud to be able to call you my RWOP Friend!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Garden Inspired Christmas Decorating

I hope you all had a Joyful, bountiful, and delicious Thanksgiving:))
We are officially in the Christmas season, the season of miracles, and magic.
The season when we all become children in our hearts and believe in a jolly
Saint that brings us toys:))
A season where we reflect on God's greatest gift to us, a baby in a manger.
I remember when my daughter was born.  I was sure that for a tiny moment
I heard the heavens open up and the Angels singing and rejoicing.
I knew how the Angels felt on that most holy of nights.
I love Christmas!
I love gardening, and I love flowers, so I couldn't resist a post on garden
inspired Christmas decorations.
I hope you enjoy this first Christmas post.

This garden inspired tea is so simple but so pretty.  I love the simple ornaments hanging from the tree and the gold frame against the rustic barn wood.

If you live in a warm climate or have a sun room, consider wrapping grapevine balls and poles in lights like you see here. You may also want to consider buying silver floral glitter spray from your crafts store, it really adds a special sparkle during the holiday season:))

Bring the garden indoors with fragrant evergreen branches hung on a chandelier and placed in a small birdcage. They are even placed on the back of each chair along with flowers and ribbon. I love this garden inspired decorated room:))

These potted ceder plants are both fragrant and pretty placed on this staircase. I might even say it brings it some joy:)))
Pots of  wheat grass (or chives) a clay urn with potted herbs and garden cloches really bring a garden feel  to this fireplace mantle.
This side board with a Bay leaf wreath flanked by two bay leaf topiaries and filled with evergreen branches and white candles is all decked out in garden greenery for the season:))  I give it an A+
White roses set in river rocks, trailing ivy and the porcelain birds all make for a winter white garden fantasy tablescape
This floral arrangement with white Kale (ornamental cabbage) lemon leaf  (Salal) and berries looks like it was just picked from the garden:))
Two topiaries joined by a holiday banner and gold ribbon give the aire of an English Country Garden, tea anyone:)))
I Love this urn filled with trailing ivy and wrapped in plaid ribbon. Wouldn't you love getting a present wrapped with moss colored ribbon and fresh amyrillis like the one on the table?

If you live in a mild climate consider a live plant herb wreath, (or you can keep it in a window indoors). Wouldn't it be great to have a wreath that allowed you to clip fresh herbs for cooking, just don't forget to water. The instuctions on how to make this are at

If you live in a cooler climate but still love the idea of a fragrant herb wreath you can order this wreath for $25.00 from stokesfarm.com  in New Jersey, and still have fresh herbs on hand, they also herb swags

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Give-Away That Gives Back

I'm so excited to bring you this new give-away by Bridgewater Candles.
I love fragrance, but I really love elegant quality fragrance so I asked Bridgewater if they would sponsor a give-away with my FAVORITE  home fragrance, Silent Night, and they not only said yes,
they are going to feed one hungry child for one week for each giveaway:))
Bridgewater Candles had a wonderful program called "Light a Jar, Feed a Child for a Day".
This is a company you can feel great about buying from, every time you buy a candle they feed a hungry child for one day.  I thought in the spirit of the season this would be a way that benefits everyone.  You get beautiful home fragrances, and you feed a hungry child.  If you would like to see what other fragrances Bridgewater carries go to

I have 3 give-aways and each lucky person will get a beautiful Reed Diffuser

A Large 17.6 ounce Soy Jar Candle that burns cleanly and evenly for 140-160 hours
A sachet packet, that is made from recycled paper and is biodegradable. and two votive candles. Basically, everything  you see in this photo :))

The Silent Night fragrance is a soft Jasmine and Lily adorned with Vanilla, Amber and a powdery smooth Sandalwood.  It's a soft, elegant fragrance that will not overwhelm you, but fill your room  with  just the right amount of gentle perfume.  Even though it's sold as a Christmas fragrance, I use this scent in my home all year.  I only wish this fragrance came in a bath and body line, because I would definitely wear it:))
Now for the rules.
1). You have to be a follower
Just click the google follow tab in the right column and follow the directions.
2). You need to go to the Bridgewater facebook sight
and "Like them"
3). You get extra entries for posting this on your facebook or twitter
4). Leave a comment, and make sure you let me know if you liked Bridgewater
on facebook, or if you put this on your facebook or twitter.
The drawing for this giveaway will be held on November 30th
The prizes will be shipped directly from Bridgewater Candles

Congratulations to Mangiabella, Lady Nann, & Homemade Hoosier for winning the Vintage Linens. The Bonus went to 2BigWomenOnaCouch who referred 3 followers to me. Thank you so much ladies and I hope you enjoy:))

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Vintage Thanksgiving Artwork

There are few things that tug at my heartstrings more than images of Americans celebrating.
Maybe it's why I love my profession so much.
Who can resist smiling when you look at a Norman Rockwell painting, or sighing at a Currier & Ives.
I thought it would be fun to share some images of Thanksgiving pasts with you.  You may want to print them out and place them on your Thanksgiving table or use them as favor cards.   I just hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Happy Thanksgiving America!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Making Butter Beautiful

Butter molds are an easy way to add some wow factor to your table. They're so easy and can be done ahead of time so you don't have any last minute stress.
I've been using butter molds for some time and I've learned one secret that's never in the instructions.
Butter Molds need WATER!  I know it may sound funny, after all, what's more moist than butter?
But take my word, making sure your butter is surrounded by water makes releasing the butter MUCH
easier.  What I've found, is that if the butter doesn't have enough water, it gets crumbly and doesn't want to come out in one piece.

Follow the directions for the specific Mold that your using. You can use the suggestions I'm giving for
adding (moisture) water around the mold. By the way my turkey mold holds two sticks of butter which
is perfect for a holiday dinner party:))

If you don't have any butter molds, a lovely way to dress up your butter dish is to place a sprig of
thyme or parsley on top of your butter and place several cranberries around it. It's a small touch
that packs big visual impact:)))

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Our New Give-Away Vintage Linens

I'm very happy to announce that the winner of our first give-away is Debby Jinks-Andrews, congratulations Debby, I hope you enjoy and please let us know what you think of your cinnamon buns.
We have a fun new give-away this week.
Four, yes that's right, four sets of vintage hand towels with a special bonus of French Vanilla Linen Water Concentrate (more on that later).

I don't think it comes as a surprise to anyone who follows this blog that I love vintage :))
I think nothing says welcome to my home (and powder room) like the warmth of vintage linens.
I had fun shopping and  found four beautiful sets of hand towels that are almost painful to
 part with:))
So, here's the rules.  You have to be a follower (I need to see your square in the right column under followers) in order to qualify.  You automatically qualify for one entry by just following my blog.
You can earn extra entries by posting this contest on Facebook, or Twitter.

Please let me know if you've posted by leaving a comment here so I can give you your extra entries.
You can only win once every six months unless there's a bonus give-away (and this give-away has a bonus :))  Now here's how you get the bonus (and your pick of vintage linens:))
Now here's a fun twist for this give-away. The person who refers the most followers gets to choose their favorite hand towel set and gets the bonus of
French Vanilla Linen Water Concentrate.  This is wonderful for using while your ironing, or just spraying on your sheets, pillowcases, and towels to make them smell fresh.  I love using Linen Water and I wanted one
special reader to try it.  This is a concentrate and makes  A LOT of linen water. You could even
share with friends, or put some in pretty bottles for Christmas presents.

I love giving lovely things away to my wonderful readers :)))
Please let me know if you've referred someone, or have them mention it. The drawing for the 3 sets (and deadline for the bonus) is November 15th.  Best of luck everyone.