Things That Make Me Smile

Chocolate Kahlua Cheesecake

Makes about 12 Servings

Chocolate Crust (recipe follows)

1 3/4 semi-sweet chocolate chunks, divided

1 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. Kahlua, divided

24 oz cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup, cocoa

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Tbsp. powdered sugar

Prepare Chocolate Crust.

In microwave-safe bowl, place 3/4 cup chocolate chunks. Microwave on HIGH 1 minute or until chunks are melted, stir. Add 1/4 cup whipping cream and 1/4 cup Kahlua, stir until blended. In mixer bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Add cocoa; beat until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in vanilla and reserved chocolate mixture. Pour over prepared crust. Bake 10 minutes at 400 degrees F. Decrease to 275 degrees F and bake 45 minutes. Remove from oven to cool; loosen cake from rim of pan and remove. In microwave-safe bowl, place remaining chocolate chunks. Microwave on HIGH 1 minute or until chunks are melted, stir. Stir in 1/4 cup whipping cream and 2 Tbsp. Kahlua; blend well. Spread on top of cake. Refrigerate 6 hours. At serving time, beat remaining whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff; garnish cake with small rosettes of whipped cream. Refrigerate leftover cake. Decadent and delicious.

CHOCOLATE CRUST: Mix 1 1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs, 1/4 cup melted butter and 2 Tbsp. sugar. Press onto bottom and part way up sides of 9-inch springform pan. Freeze 5 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees F, 10 minutes.

The above Cheesecake is from an old recipe that I have and it is really, really decadent. Just as much fun as “The Golden Girls” used to have on their TV show when they would all gather around the table for Cheesecake and coffee when they needed to discuss anything.

Staub has a new French Style dutch oven that is as awesome as a Le Creuset. I love the design and color. Just looking at it with the blue and white French style dish towel beside it makes me smile.

Because blue and white just looks so French style, I love the looks of the above dish pattern.

I like the style of the above Spring jacket. It’s just right for the Spring weather that is just around the corner.

I also like the above jacket that is found on the Nordstrom website.

I saw the above wreath and just liked it. Lavender is so beautiful and that wreath is sold out on line at Michaels Crafts, but there are a limited number of them available at their stores.

And those are the things that are worthy of a smile for today.

Last Week of February

It’s time for comfort food. What could be more of an example of comfort food then Macaroni and Cheese. I found a recipe for “Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese”. It was fast and easy to make by just combining flour and butter and then a little milk to make a rue and adding the shredded cheese and cooked elbow macaroni and stirring. Add little Smoked Paprika over the top. Yum. Even better is to add some chopped up cooked bacon to the mix.

I love poached eggs and when you get them cooked just right, they are really a comfort food. I got some farm fresh Jumbo Eggs and put a little salt and a splash of Vinegar in the boiling water. Then when I gently dropped the eggs in, I made a swirl in the water with a spoon and it makes the eggs stay together.

Soup made in the Instant Pot is also a comfort food this time of year. I tried Split Pea with Ham and it was hearty and filling and just right for a nice lunch. I put a ton of soup recipes on my Instant Pot board on my Pinterest.

Yesterday I completely organized my desk and my files. My stapler was empty of staples and had been for months. Lo and behold I found a box of staples that I didn’t even know I had. Plus I found recipes that I forgot that I saved and I sorted out my mail basket. I even found some seasoning recipes like for Chili, Tacos and Italian Seasoning.

Now to organize my pantry. Some of it is organized. I just love my Pioneer Woman jars. They are just the right size and work really nice for holding Walnuts, California Mix, Sunflower Seeds and Pumpkin Seeds. Plus the little Lazy Susan that turns works nice for holding the jars. Then the big jar for holding flour works really nice. All from Walmart and works for my budget.

I love the above OXO container for the fridge. I got it a couple of years ago when I got a gift certificate from Kohls. I love salads and this container keeps the greens really fresh for much longer then if I didn’t use it.

I love the above container that would be cute to hold Jelly Beans. Jelly Belly are the best Jelly Beans in my opinion. I saw the container on Amazon.

King Arthur Flour has a mix to make Maple Oat Bread. What a nice Spring recipe. The mix is on their website.

This is what Vermont looks like right now. Last night it was so windy that I could hardly believe it. It’s chilly one day, in the 30’s the next and then the day after that snowing or freezing rain.

And over and out from Vermont on the last week of February.

This and That

March is just about a week away and Spring is just around the corner from there. The above photo reminds me of my Irish Grandmother who loved to bake. I like the maple dining room chair that is classic New England style. The napkin lined basket is just a special touch and who doesn’t like home made muffins. The white flowers with the green accents, just says there is hope for some Spring sometime soon.

L L Bean has a green sweater that is perfect for this time of year. I love the color and the style of it. It’s perfect for this time of year for the weather around here.

I have been having fun with the Instant Pot pressure cooker that I got for Christmas. I have several recipes that I have tried and I made notes on them after trying a few times to get them just right. I love the Cabbage Soup recipe that I found and also the Lentil Soup. I pinned a ton of Instant Pot recipes on my Pinterest Instant Pot board and I printed out a lot of recipes that I want to try. I love how there is a saute button and all kinds of features on the Instant Pot.

There are all kinds of ideas for a Cottage Garden in the seed catalogs. I love to just look at the catalogs and dream of what I would put in my flower gardens.

Heavenly Blue Morning Glories are an old fashioned flower that blooms come out on the plant every morning. Lots of them and they climb up a string. Just beautiful to have and to enjoy.

Nasturtiums are just beautiful. My Dad always planted them in front of the Chicken Coop that was near the garden. They just bloom all summer.

Dahlias are just beautiful and I’ve never seen any like the above colors. I used to have some red Dahlias that my sister gave me. You dig them up with the bulbs intact in the Fall and store them in the cellar. Then you plant them every Spring.

Foxgloves are so old fashioned and a must have in a cottage garden.

Marigolds are a must have and I love the colors in the above Marigolds.

The pink Cosmos are just so pretty to have in a garden to accent some color.

I love a nice kitchen that you can actually cook in. The above cottage kitchen with an island and a double oven with the white cabinets is just right. To get that kitchen is just a dream that would have to be custom built.

The above is the old fashioned look that I love. The Cedar shingles stained a Nantucket grey and the climbing roses on a picket fence. It’s very New England style.

My Grandmother always had hand embroidered pillow cases and crocheted added touches. My other Grandmother was a seamstress and could look at a dress in a store window and go home and make it with her own pattern. I think that skills like that skip generations or something because I have to really read every help book there is and follow directions to the T and then try and learn from mistakes.

Blue Hydrangas are so beautiful. The above look over a white fence is just a dream.

Then the Spring bulbs. Just so easy to grow and they come up every year.

A bay window with a round table and window seats is my dream breakfast nook. Everyone has different tastes, but that is what I love.

And then high ceilings and French doors that open to a deck. That is how I would design a house. All on one floor, easy to heat and easy to keep cool. Low taxes, yet close to a nice area. Location is everything in Real Estate.

So this time of year always is like you think winter will just go on forever. We have another storm coming in on Sunday that is going to be a mixture of freezing rain and snow. Just great. Yuk. But at least we can think of fun things to brighten dull days.

Tea Ideas

Tea in the afternoon is such a fun idea. I have saved a ton of recipes for tea sandwiches, scones and fancy pastries. The above photo is so inviting next to a roaring fire in the fireplace. Also cosy for tea in the winter.

The Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont has tea every afternoon in their Lodge. There are cross country ski trails there that are just beautiful. How fun it sounds to come in from the cold after enjoying cross country skiing and enjoy a cup of hot tea and cookies.

I always dreamed of having tea in the summer outside in the midst of a secret garden.

On my bucket list is to visit “The Tuckbox” that is in Carmel by the Sea California. It’s a teahouse and they have outdoor tables, also. I first saw it years ago when Rachel Ray visited it on her “$40.00 a Day” show that used to be on the Food Network.

At the Tuckbox, they have Scottish Scones that are sort of like cornbread and Orange Marmelaid and Olallieberry jam as well as Clotted Cream to go with their tea. They also have awesome salads.

The Tuckbox is like all the Storybook cottages that they have at Carmel by the Sea. That entrance to the right is to their outdoor patio. Then there is a gift shop to the far right.

You can buy their Scone Mix online from their website.

They also have their Olallieberry Jam that you can buy on their website.

You can even buy one of their teapots. So awesome.

Above are the tables where you can enjoy tea on the Tuckbox patio.

They also have their Orange Marmalaid on their website that you can buy.

The above photo is looking outside to the patio from the inside of the teahouse.

The above photo is the inside of The Tuckbox. So awesome.

There are some beautiful tea sets and the above pattern is just classic.

Fancy teacups are just elegant.

Peppermint tea is always a favorite. Also Earl Grey tea.

I don’t think that I will ever get to California to the Tuckbox. But I can make up for it by making the scones and also the actual jams from there are easily available.

We have been up to the Trapp Family Lodge a couple of times and that is really fun. The views are just awesome and we hiked on the cross country ski trails. We went there in the summer and had tea on the deck with some awesome pastries at their Kaffee House.

So that is my ideas on tea.

Blue

Does anyone like the color blue? I think that it is an earth color and has always been my favorite color. When blue is accented with white, it just looks nice.

Quilts are just so beautiful anyways, and the above pattern and colors with the blue accent just make a peaceful and comfortable look.

The above blue and white dishes just look beautiful for a tablescape. Then the blue goblets are just the right touch. Add the white quilted tablecloth and white napkins with the red rose on them and it just pops.

Colbolt blue looks beautiful with sunflower colors. And then the blue bottles just look artistic to put in windows.

And that is my favorite of all favorites color. Blue.

February Musings

It’s cold in Vermont right now and I would like to be in Southern Florida. Be one of the “snowbirds” as they call them that have the best of both worlds. Summer in Vermont and winter months in Florida. That, to me, would be the ultimate fun. The above is the livingroom of a house that I saw recently on line for sale right on the coast and near the beach. The place was affordable and the owner had it fixed up just to the taste that is my dream place.

It was fixed up like a beach cottage which I have always dreamed of having.

Can you imagine being within walking distance of the above Florida beach? The ultimate dream place to escape cold winters. Be able to get all tanned up and then come back up to Vermont in the late Spring when all the tree blossoms are out and the Spring bulbs. Sigh……..

I saw the above idea that is totally over the top to store pockebooks. The pocketbooks are all designer and quite a collection. I have a few nice pocketbooks and could put one of those cabinets in my walk-in closet and have half for pocketbooks and the lower half for shoes. The cabinet with the glass doors, lighting bought separately and glass, adjustable shelves bought separately can all be bought on Ikea on line. That cabinet is one of their best selling. The crystal knobs on the cabinets can be bought at Walmart.

The above are the crystal knobs for the cabinet. I love them. They look elegant and expensive, but they are not expensive.

Above is the price and articles to buy if you want 3 cabinets. I would only need one for $159.00. I just love the looks of it. I read that Ikea sells about a thousand of the Billy/Oxberg cabinets every minute all over the world.

What a nice project to have and create a really fun cabinet.

I can’t afford designer bags, but if you know what to look for, you can get really nice pocketbooks that are classic and look very stylish at T J Max for a fraction of the price of designer. Sometimes you can get the real thing for a fraction of the price.

I had a vanity table that was white and the same idea as the above when I was a kid. It was a vanity table that my Grandmother gave to my Mom and my Mom gave it to me. It’s in storage right now and needs to be restored and is another project that I would like to do.

Yankee Barn Homes builds houses with open beams. I love the design of the above kitchen from Yankee Barn Homes. The wall double oven, the island, the skylights and kitchen nook.

So beautiful and you can see the French doors on the end of the kitchen where the kitchen nook for a table is. There is a deck on the other side of the doors.

It’s my idea of fun to see the ideas out there. But also take ideas here and there and combine them into something exactly to your own taste.

I have unlimited Craftsy which the name has been changed to “Blueprint”, but it is so much fun to take their online classes. My latest interest has been for journaling, calligraphy and they even have a class for how to write a book. The instructor for writing a novel is an author that has a best seller novel. So fun.

I love anything French. So French Onion Soup is something that I would like to make. It looks like something out of a fancy restaurant, but it’s really easy to make. There are all kinds of recipes that sound really good. I pinned a couple of recipes on my Pinterest that I want to try. The recipes are either on my “All Things French” board or my “Soups” board.

“Beef Bourgiugnon” is the next French recipe that I want to try. It has red wine in it and would be fun to have in any favorite recipes. I pinned the recipe on my “Instant Pot” board on my Pinterest.

My Mom used to make a Boston Cream Pie like the above that was soooo delicious. It was a yellow cake with a vanilla pudding in the middle and then the chocolate frosting on top. She used to make it from a mix that she bought at the grocery store. King Arthur Flour has a mix that you can buy that would be fun to try for the Boston Cream Pie. Yum!

And that is what I love for today.

Valentines Day Ideas

Molten Chocolate cake makes a memorable treat for Valentines day. I pinned the recipe on my Valentines board on my Pinterest.

I love pretty table settings. So many ideas out there.

Tablescapes with pretty dishes and linens are awesome.

A butter-basted, pan-seared steak, winter green salad, Oyster Rockefeller and the Molten Chocolate cake make a really nice Valentines day dinner. I pinned all the recipes on my Valentines ideas board on my Pinterest.

I found some recipes for chocolate covered strawberries that I pinned on my Pinterest Valentines board.

Also, a cute idea is heart shaped Macarons. I always thought that Macarons are complicated and not easy to make. Then I saw a ten year old kid on the Food network whipping up a batch of Macarons and decided that it can’t be that complicated. The heart shape is made by using a pastry bag and two swipes to make the heart. I pinned the recipe on my Valentines board on my Pinterest.

Valentines has to be celebrated with some bubbly.

How about a glass of wine and the fireplace going. The white tablecloth with the red roses look elegant.

Valentines day has mixed memories for me. There have been good ones and bad ones. I can remember when it seemed everyone in the office where I worked got roses sent to them and I got none. And someone felt sorry for me and sent a rose to my desk from “a secret admirer”.

But I have gotten a dozen roses lots of times to make up for it.

There was the year I was divorced and overwhelmed with being alone and the whole world on my shoulders. A time that is best forgotten and moved on from.

So another Valentines day here. Wishing everyone a nice day.