Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Side Dish

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Bella Brussels
Need an idea for a new side dish for your holiday dinner? Try this version of Brussels sprouts. It is tangy because of the lemon and mustard, but the addition of the nuts and Craisins makes it festive.


1 lb. of Brussels sprouts

4 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces

2/3 cup pecans, pan toasted (you can also use walnuts or almonds)

2-3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1 small lemon)

Zest of 1 small lemon

2/3 cup Ocean Spray Craisins

2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard

1 Tablespoon butter

2 Tablespoons olive oil


Trim ends of Brussels sprouts and peel away outer leaves. Wash and quarter the sprouts. Set aside. Fry bacon pieces; you want them mildly crispy. Use an ovenproof pan because you will move from the stovetop to the oven. While bacon is cooking, whisk lemon juice, lemon zest, and Dijon mustard in a small bowl. Remove bacon from pan and add olive oil to bacon grease. Add Brussels sprouts, and sauté for a few minutes, but don’t over cook. Add bacon, nuts, Craisins, lemon mixture, and butter to Brussels sprouts. Stir and place in oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees to heat thoroughly and roast slightly.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Christmas Cookies

This recipe came to me from my friend Heather who touted it on Facebook. They are tasty and a bit cake-like. I made them with chocolate chips and without, and I prefer them without chocolate chips. You can add raisins if you prefer.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Bites


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup butter

1 ½ cups packed brown sugar

2 eggs

¾ cup canned pumpkin

3 cups quick cooking rolled oats

1 cup raisins or chocolate chips (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Stir together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

In separate bowl beat butter until softened, add brown sugar and beat until fluffy, add eggs and beat well.

Beat in pumpkin.

Add flour mixture and mix well.

Stir in oats and raisins or chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoons on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 12 minutes. Makes 120 bite sized cookies.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Christmas Cookies

I will be posting cookie recipes as I make and photograph them. I don't post anything I don't make and swear by, so here is a delicious chocolate chip cookie that everyone will love. The unique ingredient is sea salt. I had never used sea salt in a dessert, but I am now a believer. The sea salt gives the cookie an extra little crunch. This recipe comes from

Alice’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Check out step by step photos at the website below:

Makes approx. 45-48 cookies using a sm-med 2tbl. cookie scoop


1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 cups (12 oz) all-purpose flour *If at all possible, please weigh the flour

1 tsp. smallish-medium coarse sea salt *please do not use table salt, the sea salt gives the cookies a nice flavor and hints of texture. If you only have table salt, use 1/2 tsp. *When using sea salt, you will get small crunchy flecks of salt when you bite into the cookie. If you do not like this taste, go with 1/2 teaspoon of table salt.

1 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 cups/16 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips *I use Nestle Toll-House


Preheat oven to 360 degrees. Cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar until it is nice and fluffy (approx. 5 minutes on medium speed on a K-5). Add both eggs and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour until cookie batter is fully incorporated. Finally add chocolate chips until well distributed. The cookie batter should be somewhat thick. Drop about 2 tablespoons of dough or use a medium cookie scoop and plop the batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the edges are nice and golden brown. Remove from heat and allow the cookies to stay on the cookie sheet for an additional 2 minutes. Pick up the parchment paper with the cookies still on top and transfer to a cool non-porous surface. Allow the cookies to cool on the paper for at least 3 minutes before serving. Enjoy!


-If you’re cookies are coming out flat and not like the pictures there are probably 3 reasons for this.

#1) Baking powder and Baking soda is old. If your baking powder and soda is older than 1 year and has not been in a sealed (preferably air tight) container, it has lost some of it rising qualities.

#2) Creaming. It is not enough to just cream the butter and sugars until it has come together. This recipe requires you to beat it with a mixer for at least 5 minutes until the texture of the butter and sugar turns to light and fluffy-just like the picture.

#3) Flour. Flour should be weighed. This can make or break the recipe because just scooping flour into a measuring cup will never yield ideal or consistent results.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Day 1

Yes, day 1, and yes, I know it is still November, but I thought some of you might be decorating your trees over the Thanksgiving weekend and need some inspiration. These are the trees of Hall's of Kansas City. I hope you find them as dazzling in this blog as I found them in person. The displays just make you want to be festive.

Hyacinth's Tip: Use lots of ribbon and big ornaments. Large balls can be found for a budget price at Dollar General. I use pipe cleaner to wire the balls onto the tree very close to the limb.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Twelve Days of Christmas

This is the fabulous Hyacinth (sometimes known as Yia Yia)--notice the chic shades! She loves Christmas and has quite the knack for creating the perfect holiday. She also taught me everything I know. Hyacinth will be co-sponsoring The Twelve Days of Christmas, bringing you festive tips and ideas to brighten your holiday. From now until Christmas, look for 12 posts of decorating, shopping, cooking, and holiday joy. This might or might not include a cocktail!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Willow Brook Home
Atchison, Kansas

My favorite store in Atchison has to be Willow Brook Home. It is such a neat little store, and the owner Brett is so gracious when you visit. He even makes some of the items he sales, but he has a wide variety of merchandise. Also, Snowball Ice Cream Shoppe is attached to Willow Brook Home, so if you get the hankering for a sweet treat, it is just a few steps to snackville.

Visit Willow Brook Home and Snowball Ice Cream Shoppe at:

Hope to see you in Atchison! Be sure to check out some of the fantastic holiday finds at Willow Brook Home in the photographs below.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Nell Hill's Christmas Home Tour
Atchison, Kansas

Mary Carol Garrity hosted her annual Christmas Home Tour, but she revealed at the beginning of the tour this would be the last Christmas Tour. GASP!!!!!!! However, she said the fall tour would be bigger next year and the tent with merchandise was coming back. Her hints for the holidays: loop ribbon instead of making bows, red is the "in" color, and plaids are big.

She also shared historical facts about the house. At one time it was a hospital and the master bedroom was the surgery room. Plus, the house was formerly located in the middle of the block, and one of the previous owners had it moved to the corner of the block. It cannot be listed on the historical registry because when they made it a hospital they removed much of the molding and gingerbread work in the house.

Look for a new Mary Carol book in 2013.