Saturday, January 26, 2013

Casual and Relaxed Dining

Hello everyone.  I hope you are all enjoying your weekend.  It has been bitterly cold here in the Northeast.  Too cold for me to be outdoors so I have been catching up with things that I normally put aside and enjoying a few girlie movies under my nice warm blankets.  I have also enjoyed putting a few posts together.  Including this table setting I put together this morning using neutral and earthy tones.

Last weekend I headed over to one of my favorite shops, Home Goods.  You can always count on HG to have the best selections and beautiful decor items at affordable prices.  Such I candy...  Each time I'm there I come home with great inspiration, not to mention wanting to buy out the store. And so as a true dish addict, I came home with more dishes.  Please don't judge,  it is the only guilty pleasure that I have...  This time, a set of dinner plates in a perfect shade of cream.  The versatility of these neutral dishes is a beautiful thing.  They go with just about anything.

I knew exactly how I was going to put it all together for this post.  I was inspired by a set of brand new placemats and napkins purchased from Pottery Barn during the holidays that I've been meaning to use and my beautiful Cambria dinnerware in the shade of Mocha which is also from Pottery Barn...I guess you can say I love this shop too..  All bringing together a variety of textures and earth tones to create a relaxed and casual table setting.  Please enjoy!!


Friday, January 25, 2013

French Toast Stuffed With Strawberries and Guava

This is a regular Sunday breakfast at our home.  Yummy strawberry and guava stuffed French Toast.  Believe me, they are delicious.  This will be our breakfast this Sunday again...Oh the sacrifice.. Um, just look at that strawberry and guava cream cheese filling and the that sauce dripping on the side.  YUMMY!

I know many of you will not have access to this tropical fruit called guava so just use strawberries.  It is still just as yummy.

  • 12 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 Tbsp seedless strawberry jam
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1-1/4 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1 cup of guava (in can)
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 10 slices your bread of preference, sliced ¾” thick
  • Butter, for cooking

Strawberry Sauce:
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp seedless strawberry jam
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp orange zest
  • 1 Tbsp orange juice
  1. To prepare the sauce, combine the strawberries, sugar, orange zest, and juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the strawberries are soft and the syrup is slightly thickened, 10-12 minutes. Set aside and allow the mixture to cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, orange juice, and sugar. Place the mixture in shallow dish.
  3. Melt the butter on a skillet or griddle over medium heat. Dip the slices of bread in the egg mixture and allow the bread to soak for a few seconds on each side. Cook the bread until light golden brown, 3-4 minutes per side. 
  4. To prepare the French toast, combine the cream cheese, strawberry jam, vanilla, strawberries and guava until fully incorporated. Spread the cream cheese mixture on the inner side of all the bread slices then put the remaining bread slices on top to create a sandwich.  Drizzle a little bit of powder sugar on top of the French Toast, add a spoon full of whip cream and the strawberry sauce on top to finish.  Serve warm.


Delicious Broccoli Soup



Oh delicious and yummy broccoli soup.  There’s something about it that triggers a happy and warm feeling.

I just love to have a cup of this delicious soup on a cold and wintery evening, just like the one we are having here in the East Coast today.  It has been snowing since early afternoon.  It looks very beautiful outside and the perfect time to cook up this yummy soup.

Here’s how I make it!


  • 1 whole Onion, Diced
  • 1 stick 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 1/3 cup Flour
  • 4 cups Whole Milk
  • 2 cups Half-and-half
  • 4 heads Broccoli Cut Into Florets
  • 1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese  (Sprinkle a bit more when serving )
  • Salt to Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Chicken Broth If Needed For Thinning



Preparation Instructions

Melt butter in a pot over medium heat, then add the onions. Cook the onions for 3 to 4 minutes, then sprinkle the flour over the top. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute or so, then pour in milk and half-and-half. Add broccoli, salt, and plenty of black pepper.  Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender. Stir in cheese and allow to melt.

Taste seasonings and adjust if needed. Then either serve as is, or puree with a hand blender or transfer to a blender in two batches. (If you puree it in a blender, return it to the heat and allow to heat up. Splash in chicken broth if needed for thinning.)


Setting The Table

I often hear from friends and family that they would love to entertain but that they shy away from it because they are just too overwhelmed by the rules or too intimated by the thought because they just don't know how to set a table properly.  Friends, they are no rules when entertaining family and friends.  Just some basic etiquette that is all.  And when in doubt, start with the basic white plate, simple flatware and glassware.  

It is just about having fun and enjoying each other's company while savoring a great meal. You can be as creative as your imagination allows.. We are so full of amazing ideas..  With that in mind, I thought this would be a relevant post for those wanting to learn to dress the table.

There are two types of table settings: informal and formal. Whether dining out at a restaurant or another's home, here is what you can expect as well as what you'll need to know as it pertains to table settings. Below I am sharing two diagrams that I found in the Internet for each type of setting, beginning with the more casual affair which are very helpful.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Morning in Provence

Hello all.  I hope it is a great weekend for all of you.  We were expecting great weather here in the East Coast but we woke up to a cloudy and gloomy morning.  Although I am thankful for the amazing temperatures we've had since yesterday, I could use a little bit of sunshine.  Not one to let something like mother nature hold me back, I decided to bring a bit of the sunshine to my table this morning. 

With my imagination on full gear, I decided to bring a little of France to my home this morning by putting together a Provencal inspired breakfast and table.  Not that I have ever been to Provence, it is on my wish list for sure, but I have seen many spectacular photographs displaying all its natural beauty, its sunshine, wines, picturesque hill towns and delicious food to give me all the inspiration that I need.  And with my large collection of cookbooks from the region, I have discovered its many authentic, simple and delicious recipes.

Since the food of Provence is best described as the "cuisines of the sun", I took that inspiration to put together today's tablescape.   It is full of beautiful yellow and red tones, sunflowers and a breakfast inspired by the well-known "Herbs De Provence" which is a blend of savory rosemary, thyme, marjoram, basil and lavender.  I also used a few  touches of a produce market as a center piece.  

The main dish here is what I call "Eggs Provence".  It is a recipe of eggs cooked on top of a sauce made up of heavy cream, a little butter, garlic, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese and of course, Herbs de Provence.  A few sides such as potatoes, breakfast sausage and french bread complete the meal.



Monday, January 7, 2013

A Table Set for Downton Abbey

Hello everyone. I hope you are all having a wonderful and restful weekend. My husband and I finished putting all the Christmas decorations away. We even took time to organize it all. It was a very productive day for sure. And now, I am getting ready for Season 3 of Downton Abbey. I am going to be glued to the television for sure.  Are any of you fans?  I just can't get enough of this masterpiece.. It is a most for all romantics at heart.  It it beautifully written and just exquisite.

The series is set in the fictional Yorkshire county estate of Downton Abbey and depicts the lives of an aristocratic family, The Crawley's and their servants, in the Edwardian and post-Edwardian Era with great events in history having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy.  The costumes and settings are stunning...It is like reading a great historical and romantic novel. We get to, at least for an hour, go back in time and re-visit such a lovely and genteel society.

So today, I paid a little tribute to this series by putting together my version of return to loveliness by putting together this most lovely and elegant table setting.  I wanted to keep all the tones soft and delicate.  Nothing too loud so I decided to keep my color palette clean and neutral.  I started with a cream table cloth, cream placemats and napkins.  For plates, I decided to use my gorgeous Homer Laughlin "Georgian" Eggshell China in a very soft and creamy color with a delicate floral pattern.  I kept the stemware simple and added silver plate candle sticks, flatware and of course, fresh flowers.

Thank you for visiting and have a wonderful week.