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Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Wreath Update

Fall arrived last week and I thought it was time for a new wreath on the front door. Or at least an upgrade to the existing wreath. Read on to see how I upgraded the front door for fall.

During the summer months, I posted that I found a very pretty wreath for the front door. Simple. Understated. It was this wreath done in artificial fern. I thought I could do something with this for fall rather than buy a new wreath. So I went exploring and I found just what I was looking for.

I ran in to TJ Maxx/HomeGoods one evening and found this small wisp of a wreath with fall colors. Left on its own, it is rather sparse. It doesn't make a statement. But I thought it would work well combined with the fern wreath.

I removed the fern wreath from the front door and laid the smaller wreath with the fall colors on top. It looked like it would fit inside the fern wreath with ease. All I would need was a little hot glue to hold it in place.

I fired up the smaller of the hot glue guns in preparation for this project. This was the first glue gun I ever purchased. That was several years and many projects ago and it continues to be the one I use most often.

I turned the two wreaths over to determine where the hot glue should be applied. Upon closer inspection, it looked like I might not need the hot glue after all. The diameters of the each wreath was such that I could just fit the smaller fall wreath snugly inside the larger fern wreath by just bending it and using my thumbs to assemble the two together into one.

After a little manipulation of the two, look what I put together using only the strength of my thumbs. They fit together very snugly, so there was no need for the glue. A little twisting and tucking and we had a beautiful new decoration for the front door.

When it is time to change over to the winter wreath, we will start anew with a whole new wreath which I picked up at Crate & Barrel Outlet some months ago. That is still some time away. So for now. we will enjoy this nice addition to the front entrance of Crest Avenue.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Spooky Witch Fingers

We are continuing our Halloween themed posts this week. Today we are making witch fingers.These are always fun to make and present to your friends. And they are easy to make. So here we go.

Combine one cup of water, one stick of salted butter, one-half teaspoon of sugar and one-half teaspoon salt in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer.

To help the butter melt completely, give the mixture a stir with a large plastic spoon if using a non-stick pot. When it looks like the picture above, you are ready to add the flour.

Add one cup of all-purpose flour.

Stir to combine until dough forms a ball.

You will need four large eggs at room temperature to continue. I prefer brown eggs. These are Egglands Best. I have not received an email from my egg lady recently, so I have been forced to buy eggs from the supermarket. I need to get in touch with her this week and see how her laying hens are doing.

Transfer dough to a stainless steel bowl and beat in four large eggs, one at a time.

Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pipe six-inch crooked fingers onto the parchment. Press a coconut praline pecan in the end of each finger and sprinkle each finger with a hard grated cheese and some paprika.

We used Robusto Uniekaas, but you could use gruyere or grated parmesan just as easily.

We found the coconut praline pecans at CVS in the snack aisle.

Place your baking sheet with the fingers into a preheated 400 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes or until puffed. A little while later you will have terrible looking witch fingers. These are quite delicious served with honey butter.

For the serving tray, I placed a good amount of barbecue flavored potato chips in a Ziploc bag and crushed them using the palms of my hands. They do not need to be pulverized. Just coarsely crushed. Line your serving dish with the crushed barbecue chips and place the witches fingers atop.This will make for a dramatic presentation.

I would like to try a couple variations of this recipe over the coming weeks leading up to Halloween. Be sure to come back and see what I come up with.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Make-at-Home Breakfast Sanwiches

I have a quick and easy recipe for delicious breakfast sandwiches which I think you will love. Without further adieu, here we go.

First, set the oven to 350 degrees.  I used two four inch diameter ramekins, liberally sprayed with Pam Butter Flavored spray, then placed inside a larger ceramic baking dish.

Of all the brands of cooking spray, I prefer Pam.  I have used them most frequently and I have never had a bad result.  Pam Butter Flavored for everyday use and Pam Baking with flour for baked goods.

Preparation is super simple.  One large egg cracked in a bowl with a splash of water and a little truffle salt.

Each ramekin holds one egg mixed with a splash of water.  We placed the ramekins inside the larger ceramic bakeware to make it easier to transport to and remove from the oven.  Place the eggs into the preheated oven and set the timer for 10 minutes.  Check at 10 minutes and continue to cook for up to an additional 10 minutes or until fully cooked and firm.  It could take up to 25 minutes.

While the eggs are cooking, prepare your croissants.  These are mini-croissants which were purchased and not made in our kitchen.

Slice each croissant and toast.

A generous serving of fresh cream butter on each side.

This is how your eggs will look when they are fully done.  Firmly set and ready to be removed from the oven.  Use a toothpick to check for doneness.  Insert toothpick in the center and if it comes out clean, the eggs are done.

Just a quick side note - These are the ramekins after the eggs have been removed.  Clean as a whistle. We love Pam cooking spray.

The four-inch diameter ramekins made the perfect sized eggs for our mini croissants.

A slice of tomato atop the egg and another light sprinkling of truffle salt.

And look at our beautiful breakfast sandwiches.  Don't those look delicious?

And they truly are.  I hope you will give these a try.  I think you will be quite pleased.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

It's Time to start talking about Halloween!

Yes, dear readers, it is that time again. Next week is the last week of September which means we will soon be filling little bags with candy and handing them out to the ghosts and goblins - rap, rap, rapping - on our front door. I picked up a few Halloween "things" recently. Take a look.

First, these super cute treats for Baxter. How could I resist? Don't they look too delicious? Of course they are not coated with sugar. I think they use vegetable oil and some other ingredients to make it look like sugar cream frosting. He will love these. He likes to celebrate Halloween too.

Can one ever have too many holiday specific hand towels? I don't think so. And these are by far the cutest I have ever seen. I do not actually use the decorative hand towels in the kitchen. They are more for decoration. I use standard, everyday hand towels when I am cooking or for clean up. I would use these to wrap a bottle of champagne, but not for anything which might permanently stain them.

Finally the most perfect wine bags. There was no way I was leaving without these. They are very nice canvas bags and were a steal at $3.99 each. A fun way to hand a bottle of cheer to friends.

Every year I pick up a few more items for Halloween. I hope we get lots of Trick-or-Treaters this year.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

New Peepers from PeeperSpecs!

I was sitting at my desk one day recently and reached to remove my glasses to find the frame was cracked. It was cracked on the right side and as I removed my glasses the right lens fell out. Ugh!! My glasses get a workout each and every day. Of that you can be assured. I do not wear contact lenses. I find them very uncomfortable and I never mastered the process of putting them in and taking them out. I just never had time for all the fuss with contacts. So I'm a glasses kind of guy.

Obviously I needed a new pair so I checked out my favorite eyeglass website, They have the best selection and the best prices for reading glasses. I currently need +1.50 strength and, as usual, there were many choices.

My box arrived by UPS and I was anxious to get inside and check out my selection.

First of all I was glad to see there were two eyeglass cases because I ordered two pair of glasses.  So this was encouraging.
Modeling my new eyeglasses with the mighty Potomac River in the background.
Here I am, modeling the black pair.  And no, my right eye is not permanently closed like that.  I was feeling a little theatrical this morning.

This style is called "Main Event" and I ordered a pair in brown and a pair in gray/black.  The matching cases are nice.  So, on the days I wear brown shoes and a brown belt, I will wear brown glasses.  Gray or black shoes and belt, gray/black glasses.

I have placed several orders with Peepers over the years and have always been extremely pleased with their products and customer service.  They enclose a return label with your order and you have up to 90 days to return your glasses if you are not happy.  They will exchange them for another pair or issue a refund.  If you are looking for a new pair of stylish readers, click on the link above and check out their line.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Side Salad taken to Dinner Salad in a Flash!

We ordered take-out from a local Italian restaurant last Friday. Along with our dinners we received two side salads. There was too much food and I ended up not waiting my salad with dinner. So I put it into the refrigerator with the idea I would have it the next day for lunch, or even dinner. I ended up having it for dinner, with a few additions. Read on to see how I made a rather bland side salad into a delicious dinner salad with a a little ingenuity.

This was the salad that came with my dinner last Friday. A good base upon which to build. So on Saturday evening, I started experimenting and turned this into a delicious dinner salad.

First thing to do was to transfer the entire contents to a large salad bowl. Carrots and wilted lettuce were removed. Well, I see one small slice of carrot.

I grabbed this bag of mini cucumbers from the refrigerator. These are so delicious. The flavor is wonderful and they are the perfect size for salads and for dipping. I sometimes eat them right from the bag with a ramekin of Ranch Dip. These are not only 100% mom approved, but 100% blogger approved too!

I sliced two of the mini cucumbers.

And added them to the lettuce.

Then, it was time to add a little protein. I picked up this roasted turkey at Giant on Saturday morning while Baxter and I were running errands.

These small containers of turkey are wonderful to keep in the refrigerator to add to salads. Or, if you are so inclined, you could dice it and make a wonderful turkey salad with golden raisins.

Next, I found a tomato in the refrigerator that needed to be used. I cut it rather in a julienne style and added it to the mix.

While at Giant on Saturday morning, I picked up a container of mini croissants. These are nice to have for quick sandwiches or to serve, buttered, for a weekend breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon.

A sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes to punch up the flavors.

My favorite salad dressing, Wish Bone Deluxe French, and I was ready to sit down to dinner.

I added one extra ingredient to the mix before sitting down and that was some coarsely diced white onion.

And there you have it.  A most delicious salad with the dressing of your choice.  A toasted mini croissant with fresh cream butter. A dinner fit for a king. And one that will likely make your doctor happy the next time he or she has you step on the scales. Satisfying and healthy.