Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Autumn Anticipation

It's that time of year!  The time of year when I get Autumn Fever.  Yes, you heard it right,  Autumn Fever.
Autumn is my favorite time of year and believe me, I'm more than ready for it.  We've had record breaking heat here in Colorado and I'm ready for the cool crisp days and activities that Autumn brings.
I love picking apples at a local apple farm, which in turn leads to apple pies, Hot apple cider, and Caramel-Chocolate dipped Apples. I planted apple trees in my backyard but it will probably be a few years before I can have an "Apple Picking Party" .
Taking a hayride in the fresh crisp autumn air, and hopefully getting to wear that new sweater I just bought :)
 Going Pumpkin Picking, which in turn leads to Pumpkin pies, pumpkin mousse, pumpkin bread and .......
A steaming bowl of pumpkin soup.  I love making all different kinds of soup when the weather turns chilly, it makes the house smell so good, and warms the body and the soul.
 Curling up with a hot cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or hot cider in front of a warm crackling fire.  I suppose it's a bit primal, but I just love sitting next to a crackling fire.
Going on a picnic to enjoy the crisp sunny air and  go leaf peeping.  If  I'm really lucky,  I'll get red and gold leaves falling over me like a rain-shower of Autumn gems.  
One of my favorite things to do on the first Cold Sunday of Autumn is to roast a turkey (with all the trimmings).  It make the house smell so good and takes the chill out of the air. To me Turkey is the ultimate comfort food, but if turkey is not your thing, try a beef, or pork roast.
 So go ahead and anticipate your favorite Autumn activities.  Plan that first celebration of the season and share these traditions with family and friends (or start some new ones).  I know I will, so here's to an awesome Autumn season.


Monday, August 22, 2011

My Love Affair With Coffee

Today I'm going to tell you about a love of mine that I've had for a long time. He's French, strong, and hot!  That's right, it's coffee  ;)  
I must confess, I'm a bit of a coffee snob.  I know how I like my coffee, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I love a good strong french roast with a bite to it.
It's funny, I started out as anything but a coffee snob.  When I was a young, poor, student and I would go out with my friends, coffee seemed to be  the perfect answer to my problems. Free refills, and it kept me awake :)  Well, it grew on me, and what started out as a convenient friendship has turned into a full blown passionate affair.
I can remember where I had my first cup of dark french roast coffee.  It was at a lovely Victorian bed and breakfast Inn on the way to San Francisco.  The innkeeper served the coffee with homemade bread and jam for breakfast, I was in love :)  I'm sure my fondness for the coffee had as much to do with the fresh baked bread and the crisp delicious Autumn air of Northern California, but I was hooked.

I really do have a romantic and sensual relationship with coffee, like any great love, the fragrance and smell of the coffee draws me in, then I like to languish over it, and take my time.  I do not like to rush a cup of coffee and I've been known to microwave my coffee more times than I care to admit :)   I like it with a little agave syrup and  a good helping of real cream. My mom and I have very different ideas about "cream".   When I ask her to buy cream (or when I buy cream) I think it should say "cream" on the container, and I want "real" cream..... from a real cow!   My mom  can use canned milk, powdered cream, and at best, half and half.  Like I said, I'm a coffee snob, cream means cream, lol

I'm probably going to age myself by saying I remember the smell of fresh perculated coffee wafting through our house in the mornings.  Turns out it's a lousy thing to do to coffee from a culinary standpoint, but it sure made the house smell good :)
My Coffee Station
At home I've turned a sideboard into a coffee station.  I did this by covering the top with tumbled marble tiles (from the home improvement store)  to protect the wood from heat and moisture, and made sure it was near an electrical outlet.  I like this because anyone can get coffee (even when I'm cooking) without worrying about getting in the way :)  As you can see, the cups and saucers are stored under the cabinet (and a few above the antique mirror).  I have a standard (drip) coffee maker, a coffee grinder, and an espresso/cappuccino maker all ready for the perfect cup of coffee :) 
 Since this is a blog on entertaining :)  I'm going to give you some suggestions on serving coffee to guests.

1).  Always keep a good quality coffee around so  you're ready whenever guests show up.

2). Keep a selection of sweeteners in your pantry so you'll be ready for different guests           needs and desires.  Sugar, Splenda, Stevia,  Agave Syrup, and honey are good ones to have around.

3).  Don't pretend that skim milk is the same thing as cream :)  Keep a container of whole cream in your refrigerator, it will last a long time (be sure to check the date when purchasing) it's great to cook with too :) Ask Paula Deen and Ina Garten :)

4). If you know guests will be coming over and you'll be serving coffee, have some pastries or cookies to serve with coffee, they don't have to be homemade, just delicious :)

5). Sit, enjoy, and languish over coffee with your guests, coffee should be enjoyed and maybe even let in on some wonderful and decadent conversations :)   
Did you know that coffee intensifies the flavor of chocolate, so a chocolate molten cake like this would be the perfect pairing (of course this is coming from a chocoholic ) lol
 Or how about pairing coffee with chocolate mousse cake, YUM!
 OK, so maybe it doesn't HAVE to be chocolate :) Like I said, it just needs to be delicious.

So here's to my love, come on over and enjoy him, the welcome mat is out sweet friend.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Captivating Cameo's

Some of you may have noticed that I have been gone for a while.  I took a month to go visit my family in California and really had a great time.  I missed my blog and I missed all of you. I'm  so happy to be back and let's face it, there's no place like home.

I thought it would be fun to feature one of my favorite things. Cameo's.  I love the elegant, romantic, and vintage feel of Cameo's.  I've always loved Cameo's,  When I got married, I gave each of my bridesmaids a cameo brooch to wear.

I'm really looking forward to incorporating Cameo's into tables-capes and party decor.  I hope you enjoy some of these fun and beautiful ideas when you think of romantic decor.
A cameo and ribbon placed on a small box takes this place setting from plain, to elegant
These lovely chocolates are made from a mold available from Wilton, what a great way to serve up romance at your next party.
I just adore Cameo's added to bows and tassels, they really say vintage romance to me.