Food for Friday

Recipe time again, and I spotted a new cook book in the gift gallery.  Favorite Brand Name Holiday, a collection of recipes that are perfect for parties, open houses, cookie exchanges, and all your holiday eating opportunities!

The food photographs in this book are amazing – I’m looking at a picture of cheese “balls” made in the shape of a Christmas tree, a football (covered in almonds to look like leather) and a pine cone (covered in sliced almonds resembling the petals of a cone).  Virtually every recipe is illustrated by a closely-detailed photo – I’m now looking at a one-bite burger, with the buns cleverly crafted out of pre-made breadstick dough that is easily shaped into the miniature buns.

It’s much too close to dinner time to keep turning these pages!  I’m going straight to Cookies, and this quick and tasty recipe made with chocolate bars.

Snowball Surprises

Ingredients
1 C (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 C powdered sugar, divided
1 t vanilla
1-3/4 C all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt
1 C pecan halves, toasted* & finely chopped
1 bar (3 oz) chocolate candy with almonds, broken into 36 (1/2-inch) pieces

Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.  Beat butter & 1/2 C powdered sugar in large bowl until well blended.  Add vanilla; beat until blended.  Gradually add flour & salt, beating after each addition.  Stir in pecans.

Shape dough by tablespoonfuls into 36 balls.  Press chocolate pieces into each ball, working dough around chocolate to cover.  Place balls 1-1/2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.  Refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour or until dough is firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake cookies 13 to 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Remove to wire racks; cool slightly.  Sprinkle remaining 1/4 C powdered sugar over warm cookies.

*To toast pecans, spread in single layer on cookie sheet.  Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently.

Your guests will not expect the surprise of the lovely chocolate center to these delicious snowball cookies!

This cook book is an absolute feast for the eyes, not to mention the guests – it’s one that will draw you into every page, and I know you’ll find many new favorites in every category.  You’ll have to finish the meal with Bubbling Raspberry Coolers and Cranberry Snow Punch!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

I found some really beautiful things to show this week – more items than I can do at one time!

I’m still in a fall frame of mind, and these real leaf ornaments practically jumped off the display at me (and out popped my wallet at the same time, coincidentally!).  The 24K gold and iridescent copper finishes on these leaves are beautiful and eye-catching.  No need to use these ornaments only on your woodland Christmas tree; they will add a real touch of class to your décor year round.

“Christmas Tree Lane” is filling up with new trees for the season, including one that looks like a peppermint tree – my photos didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped, so I’ll try again next week.  In the mean time, enjoy these cute 3′ flocked trees in pink, green, and gold.  They are really charming – perfect for an alcove or a child’s room.

 When I linked the photo to our site, I noticed the color is sherbet, and it’s on special!  Here’s a picture without the flash.

Here are the green and gold versions.

And without flash:

And with some ornaments – these can take a 3- or 4-inch ball:

Finally, do you love the old-fashioned look of popcorn garland on the tree, but find it hard to keep the pets – and the people – from nibbling during the holidays?  We have a new garland made from real popcorn but coated to preserve it from season to season!  I handled this, and believe me, it’s not something that tempts one to nibble – though it has no odor at all.  You just need to store it securely in an airtight container to keep the varmints out – they recommend in a freezer between holidays.  Sturdy hooks on each end make it super easy to string through the tree or on a banister or mantle.

Real Popcorn Garland

The only thing missing is the unpopped kernels in the bottom of the bag!

Look for more decorated tree pictures in the weeks to come, as we’ve been completing our 2010 designs and I’ve been taking pictures.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Letters to Santa

“May you please let me marry Kathryn when I grow up and never devorse (sic).”

            James

“Dear Santa,         
Am I really going to get a chunk of coal?”         
Zachary         

Who says these kids don’t plan for the future?

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Two for Tuesday

….shhhhh….no one will notice that it’s really Friday….just focus on the pretty pictures….

Sorry I’ve been away so long!  I’m using the old broken leg & restaurant opening excuse again .. and I promise to have a cookbook and a recipe on Monday.  I’m on a slow catch-up loop, but I’ll get there!

Here are a random selection of new items I’ve seen around the store this week.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season Ornament

 The beautiful decoration you see is repeated on the other side of the ornament.

Wedgewood Blue Ornament

We have a collection of several ornaments in this attractive blue color, perfect for a frosty tree theme.

Here’s another frosty ornament from the same tree – it is a little more sparkly than this picture shows, but not flashy.  I love the feeling this invokes of snowfall on a winter’s night.

Not quite ready to dive into winter?  Fall is my favorite season of the year, and this handsome wreath puts me right into it – a cool evening around the campfire, a morning when the leaves are touched with frost.  This wreath, a one-of-a-kind decoration, is lit with small white lights (yes, I erased the electrical cord for the sake of the photo!).  Call the store if you’d like to purchase this special piece.

It’s definitely time to think about cooler days!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Food for Friday

I found a new cook book in the Gift Gallery today.  New, but offering recipes for one of the most basic kitchen implements ~ The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook, by the mother-daughter culinary team of Sharon Kramis & Julie Kramis Hearne.  The 90 recipes inside will inspire you to put this versatile tool to use, creating dishes for every meal of the day, as well as taking it on the road with you for your favorite campsite flavors.  Naturally, they include instructions on caring for your pan to get the maximum life out of it.

Here’s a quick and delicious dessert idea for fresh fruit season, though it calls for frozen cherries ~ you can substitute fresh apricots if you like.

Bing Cherry Clafouti

Ingredients
2 C (one 10-oz package) frozen Bing cherries, thawed in a colander
1-1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/3 C granulated sugar
2-1/4 C whole milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 t vanilla extract
2 t Kirsch (cherry liqueur, optional)
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
Zest of 1 orange
1 T butter, cut into small pieces
Powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, with a rack positioned in the center.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 12-inch cast iron skillet.  Place the cherries in the bottom of the pan, distributing evenly.  In a medium bowl, mix the flour and sugar.  Whisk in the milk, mixing until combined.  Add the eggs, vanilla, Kirsch (if using), nutmeg and orange zest.  Whisk until well combined.  Pour all of the batter over the top of the cherries in the skillet.  Dot the top with butter.

Place the skillet in the oven and bake until puffed and golden, 25 to 30 minutes.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Wow, that sounds so simple and delicious!  Serve it for dessert – or as a special brunch treat?

 Wishing everyone a delightful weekend ~ and happy eating!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Summer Specials at The Inn

With the kids diving back into school, there’s not much summer left ~ but The Inn at Christmas Place is still offering up savings to those with a little time to enjoy these dog days.  And we have those great, cool pools, too!  Check out these hot summer deals.

Back-to-School Special – stay three or more nights August 12th through September 8th, and receive 20% off Sunday-Thursday and 10% off Friday-Saturday.  (I’m pretty sure this is the best deal we have ever offered!)

The Partridge & Pear Packages – one- or two-night package specials.  Stay August 12th through September 2nd, request this special, and your rate will include a $50 gift certificate to dine at The Partridge & Pear Restaurant

If you’ve been waiting for the end of summer to make a quick get-away, we have a special just for the holiday, too.

Labor Day Weekend Special – Arrive September 1st through the 5th, stay 3 or more nights, and receive $20 off each night of your stay, through September 7th.  Where better are you going to spend the long weekend than with a thorough pampering at The Inn at Christmas Place?  You’ve heard about our amazing Sleep In Heavenly Peace mattresses, right??

Call 888-465-9644 or go online now to make your reservations!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Food for Friday

I know, you thought I was never going to share a recipe again!  But no, recipe Friday is back, after a short hiatus.  Maybe a little explanation would be in order.

First, in case you haven’t heard, we opened a restaurant about three weeks ago.  That kinda started interfering with my schedule for a while.  Then, one crazy Wednesday in June, I sorta fell and sprained both my ankles and even managed to break one of them.  What an inconvenience.  Did I plan to spend the hottest summer thus far this century in a cast and a wheel chair and a walker and on a cane?  No, I did not!

Of course, I realize I have a bit of a reputation for finding ways to avoid mowing the wretched lawn (that manages to survive despite my least efforts).  Having been gifted with a fabulous riding mower earlier in the spring, I promise this fall was not a lawn-work-avoidance ploy.  Nor was it a shower-avoidance ploy, though I didn’t get to stand in one for about a month.  Not fun.

Being much on the mend, and with things well under way on our many business fronts, I can finally think about food again on a Friday!

Do they have good farmer’s markets where you are?  We have not only Saturday markets but a bounty of roadside stands in this area, offering great fresh vegetables and fruits grown a few fields over.  Gooseberry Patch has published a marvelous collection titles Farmers’ Market Favorites, filled with proven favorites from around the country.  Chapters feature selections for everything from Sunny Starters for the Day to A Bushel Basket of Main Dishes, Sprouting Salads, and Fresh Baked Desserts ~ all begging for fresh, locally-grown ingredients for a summer feast.

I always enjoy the illustrated covers on Gooseberry Patch publications ~ they have such charm and imagination!

Browsing the chapter A Medley of Sides, I came across an intriguing recipe for “Apple Orchard Strudel.”  The first ingredient is cabbage!  I’m really curious about the blend of flavors among these ingredients – you’ll see what I mean (like that chocolate fudge you make with Velveeta cheese – I have never yet tasted it, but people swear it’s great).  I think this strudel would be quite tasty.

Apple Orchard Strudel

Ingredients
4 C cabbage, finely chopped
1/4 C onion, chopped
1-1/2 C apples, cored, peeled, and chopped
1/3 C raisins
1/4 C sour cream
1 t mustard (it doesn’t say, but I would guess this is prepared mustard)
1 C shredded Cheddar cheese
8 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
1/2 C butter, melted and divided

Add cabbage and onion to a skillet coated with non-stick vegetable spray.  Cook, covered, over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Combine cabbage mixture with apples and raisins in a large bowl.  Stir together sour cream and mustard; add to cabbage mixture.

Brush one sheet dough with butter; layer on a second sheet.  Continue to brush each sheet of dough with butter and arrange one on top of the other.

Spoon cabbage mixture down 1/3 of long side of dough.  Top mixture with cheese.  Beginning with the long side, roll up jelly-roll style.  Place on a 15″ x 10″ jelly-roll pan lightly coated with non-stick vegetable spray.  Brush dough with remaining butter.  Make 1/4-inch deep cuts about 2 inches apart along the length of the dough.

Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.  Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before slicing to serve.  Makes about 6 servings.

Now isn’t that an interesting combination?  I sure hope someone will give this a try and report back to me – it sounds just strange enough to be really, really delicious!

C = Cup; t = teaspoon

Have a wonderful weekend, and be sure to check out the farmer’s market near you – you may be surprised by what is growing in your neighborhood!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Tax Holiday Weekend in Tennessee

I remember Augusts past, when I so looked forward to having that brand new, big, pink eraser, a fresh box of No. 2 pencils to sharpen, and a handful of blue Bic pens with un-chewed caps to take to school on that first day in a new grade level.

Yes, it’s time already to prepare for the return to school days!  Here in Tennessee, it’s a tax-free weekend for select items, and we actually carry lots of things at the store that qualify. 

This is the best time to pick out your new backpack or laptop bag from Vera Bradley ~ not only do we have the newest colors in stock in the latest bag designs, we also have a few retired patterns and styles on sale.  Here are several examples of backpacks, computer bags, and lunch bags that qualify for tax exemption ~ but we have even more than I can show here.  First, the newest colors:

Very Berry Paisley, Barcelona, Hello Dahlia, & Slate Blooms

Slate Blooms Laptop Backpack

Very Berry Paisley Metropolitan Laptop Bag
Small Backpack in Barcelona ~ & lots of other patterns!
Vera Bradley has a collection called Frill, produced in laminated fabric for easy care and durability.  Seems like a great idea to me, especially for a lunch bag!  Here are two styles, the new Cooler and Lunch Bunch bags.
Cooler Lunch Bag in Hello Dahlia & Night and Day

Lunch Bunch Bag in Barcelona, Hello Dahlia, & Very Berry Paisley (they reinterpreted the colors for these bags)

Frill Lylas Backpack

 This one looks like it would be virtually indestructible, and so easy to clean after being dragged around school all day.

We are also carrying a whole collection of coordinated binders, folders, notebooks, pens & pencils, and other supplies from the Vera Bradley line.

In our stores, we also offer plenty of fun t-shirts, cool shoes with interchangeable decorations that Velcro or snap into place, and more pens & pencils for back-to-school use.

While you’re out shopping for school this weekend, be sure to come by and add a little color to your fall!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  Yes, I had to use that word fall!  Just saying it makes me think it will be cooler again one day ..

Need a Cool-Down?

It’s going to be a steamy day here in the foothills, how about a cool-down ~ take a look at our newest addition, a beautiful bronze cherub fountain!

Just the sight of that splashing blue water makes me feel a little bit cooler on a day like today .. and makes me wonder who’ll be the first to jump in!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Snowbaby Giveaway!

Are you a Snowbabies fan?  This charming colletion of porcelain bisque figurines representing the innocence of childhood fun in a gentle, wintery style has been around for almost 20 years.  In themes from Animals, Christmas and Hobbies to Love & Friendship and more,  they are perfect for sharing memories of special times, whether given as gifts or collected for yourself.

We’re giving away a grand Snowbaby figurine on August 15th!  Click here to enter our sweepstakes.  You may enter once a day during the sweepstakes period, and the winner will be notified by e-mail.

Good luck!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place