Friday, October 24, 2008

Handmade Gifts

I hope to give more handmade gifts for Christmas this year. They are often more economical and more personal. This blog contains several great craft tutorials. My mom’s birthday is coming up, and last week I made two felted pomanders for her. Instead of using felted wool, I just used regular felt sold at craft stores. They turned out beautifully! The pearl pins transform the felt into something elegant.

[Picture form Belz White’s blog]

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cheddar Corn Chowder

If you are looking for a good fall recipe, you must try Barefoot Contessa’s Cheddar Corn Chowder. It is so delicious! My mom often made this soup for my family growing up, and now my husband and I frequently enjoy it. I was surprised to find the recipe available online. The recipe makes an enormous amount of soup, so unless you have a big stock-pot, you might want to cut it in half. The soup can be frozen and saved for last-minute occasions. More on that idea here.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Planning a Party: Fall Brunch

I enjoy brainstorming about planning a tea party or a ladies luncheon, imagining how the food, décor, and ambiance would help create a lovely occasion. I understand that sometimes finances and schedules don’t permit parties like these very often, but they are still fun to imagine! “Planning a Party” is a new feature that will explore these ideas. Today we will imagine hosting a fall brunch.

For this fall brunch, I imagine a festive, warm, and inviting atmosphere. The décor utilizes colors commonly associated with fall, with an added punch of pink. The table is covered with vintage fabric found on Etsy, and it’s set with Mikasa Italian Countryside dishes. The centerpieces would be glittered pumpkins. The napkins are from Ikea. Martha’s paper lanterns are strung over the table. Norah Jones is playing softly in the background. There is lots of tasty food, but the guests say that their favorites are the mini ham and egg casseroles (because they are darling!) and the glazed orange scones (because they are delicious!).

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cooking a Chicken in the Crock-Pot

After reading this post, a reader asked me to describe how I cook a whole chicken in my crock-pot. Here is my recipe:

Crock-Pot Whole Chicken
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp onion powder

Additional Items
½ cup water
Tinfoil (optional)
  1. Sprinkle the spices on the chicken. [I am quite liberal with them, and I probably use more of each ingredient than this recipe officially calls for. I peel back some of the skin so that the spices get underneath it, then I fold the skin back into place.]
  2. Pour ½ cup water into the bottom of the crock-pot.
  3. Place the chicken in the crock-pot, making sure it is slightly elevated. [The chicken needs to be elevated on something inside the crock-pot, or else it becomes too greasy. I have a small, metal cooking rack that fits inside my crock-pot. So I place the rack on the bottom of the crock-pot and place the chicken on top of it. An alternate option is to create three balls (2-3 inches in diameter) from tinfoil. You can put these balls on the bottom of the crock-pot and place the chicken upon them.]
  4. Cook the chicken on low for 8-9 hours, depending on the size of the chicken.
  5. Serve the chicken as is, or make a gravy from the juices in the crock-pot.


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