Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Victorian Valentine's Day Tablescape


Jewell and I are both blessed to have a wonderful group of close friends. And the neat thing about it is, her friends' moms are my friends! We recently hosted them all for a Galantine's brunch. I set two tables; one for the girls, one for the moms. Today I'm sharing the girls' table!

You all know I have an obsession with china, right? Well, I'm doing my best to pass that love along to Jewell. I have a china hutch in the living room full of beautiful dishes I'm collecting just for her! I had never used them, but I thought this day was the perfect time to pull them out. The pattern I'm sharing today is extra special, but more of that in a minute.


I wanted a super feminine tablescape for Galantine's Day. I think I hit the nail on the head! Shades of pink and gold are on display today. Add flowers and lace and it was perfect!


Jewell is named for her 2nd greatgrandmother, Jewell Ruth (Dowling) Copeland (1897-1996). She was an amazing woman, and I loved her very much! I visited her for a couple of weeks each summer with my grandmother (her daughter), and my family spent just about every Thanksgiving at her home in Dasher, Georgia. She taught me to bait a hook and to appreciate a pretty hat on Sunday morning. She had a wonderful sense of humor and was lots of fun to be around! I have wonderful memories of her, and I wanted to honor her by naming my daughter after her.


Well - imagine my surprise when I was at a local flea market one day, just walking around looking, when I saw this beautiful pattern. It was a fairly large set on sale for $125. I turned it over to learn the maker and pattern, and guess what? It's called Spode's Jewel Copeland "Heath and Rose". What? That blew my mind. I called my mother to tell her about it. She told me to get it, and it could be my Christmas present! I immediately grabbed it up. 

These dishes were made from 1926-1964. That makes them at least 56 years old, and possibly as old as 94. As you can tell by the crazing on the back, I have a very early edition. They are perfect on top, though. This pattern is so beautiful and lacy. Jewell loves them and calls these her "wedding china"...she just needs the groom! I am continuing to add more pieces to the set. (I have also found an antique flatware pattern called "Jewel" that I'm collecting for her.)


My light was so good the morning I took these pictures, that it washed out my gold flatware. This pattern is called "Golden American Chippendale" by FB Rogers. The Battenberg-edged napkins have been in my collection for a long time. The gold chargers came from Dollar Tree last year, but they still have them.


The tea cup and saucer may be my favorite things about this set! The saucer is plain white, but very ornate and lacy. The cup has the rose pattern inside and on the handle. So dainty and beautiful!

The beautiful pink stemmed glasses are by Fostoria. The pattern name is "Heritage" in light pink.


I used a beautiful Battenberg lace tablecloth that was gifted to me when a precious lady at our church downsized to move into a retirement home. It's oval, but it still worked on my table when I removed the leaf. I plan to do a post soon on how to fold and store round (and oval) tablecloths.


I knew this table setting needed a big, full, and floppy floral arrangement, but I knew that February was a hard time to find that. Plus, Possum (my kitty) loves to eat fresh cut flowers, so I went on Amazon and did some research on silk flowers. This brand came highly rated. I think it's beautiful and works perfectly with the dishes. Exactly the look I was going for. I'm including a link to the flowers. I got two bouquets of the pink and one in a dusty lavender for Jewell's bedroom. Y'all, they were $9.99 each, and come in over a dozen colors. Definitely worth the price! I know I'll use these all the time.


I had created a beautiful and classic Victorian tablescape, but I did want to add a little touch to reflect the fact that it was Valentine's Day. I scattered a few red and pink hearts that I got last Year at Dollar Tree. Then I placed three vintage looking valentines around the floral arrangement. They're so sweet! I got them half off at Hobby Lobby this season.


I finished things off with ornate brass candlesticks, long white tapers, and the gold votive holders I got several years ago at Dollar Tree. The glow of candles is always so elegant! I'm also planning a post soon on how I store my candles and candleholders. 

The table was perfect for Galantine's Day, and the young ladies loved how girlie it was! Check back in later this week for a look at the mothers' table. It was just as elegant and lovely!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Tiramisu


We finished our Italian Valentine's Day meal this year with a simple, but classic dessert - tiramisu. It was amazing. And so simple!

Tiramisu

6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup white sugar
2/3 cup half and half
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
16 oz mascarpone cheese, softened
1/2 cup very strong brewed coffee, at room temp
2 packages lady finger cookies
chocolate syrup
shaved chocolate 


Begin by mixing your egg yolks, sugar and half and half in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.


Whisk well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. When it comes to a gentle boil, cook one minute, still stirring, then remove from heat. Allow to cool about 10 minutes, then place plastic wrap down onto the custard (to keep from developing a skin) and refrigerate at least one hour.


Once custard has cooled for an hour, beat very cold heavy cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Do not over beat.


I found these at Publix.


I used at 9" x 9" dish. No need to grease. I had to break a little off the ends of three of the lady fingers. Chef's reward!


I put my coffee in a small measuring cup with a spout and gently poured half of my coffee over the lady fingers. Make sure you coat them evenly, but don't add so much coffee that it stands in the bottom.


I had laid out my mascarpone when I got up that morning, so it had been out three or four hours and was really soft.


I removed the custard from the fridge and stirred it a little.


I added about a third of one of the tubs of mascarpone.


I mixed it through with a whisk by hand to loosen up the custard. Then I added the rest of the mascarpone in about three batches. It was easier to incorporate it that way.


I took half of my custard mixture and put it on the lady fingers.


I used a small offset spatula to spread it evenly. Then I added half my whipped cream.


I took the rest of my lady fingers and placed them on a clean plate. I then gently poured coffee over them. Doing this on a plate keeps your custard from getting dirty looking or soggy.


I took the lady fingers from the plate and gently placed them on top of the custard layer.


I added the last of the custard to top the cookies. I spread that and then spread the whipped cream. I covered it with plastic wrap and hid it in the fridge! I had about a cup of whipped cream left over. I placed it in the fridge in case I wanted to top off the tiramisu and smooth it out when I took off the plastic wrap. I actually didn't need to. The plastic wrap smoothed it out. Brack ended up eating the whipped cream the next day!  


I allowed this a good seven or eight hours in the fridge to set. Gerald made a pot of decaf while the kids cleaned off the table and I plated dessert. I used a squeeze bottle of chocolate syrup to make squiggles on the plate before placing a slice of tiramisu on top. Then I had some dark chocolate that I used my  micro-plane to grate on top. It was as pretty as it was delicious. It was really quiet when we sat back down. Everyone was too busy enjoying this to talk! It's a great balance of sweet and rich, smooth and texture. No wonder it's been around so long! A lot of people like it better the second day. I tried it for breakfast (don't judge), but thought it was too wet tasting. 

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Rosemary Bread


Rosemary is one of my top three favorite herbs. I used to have two huge rosemary bushes planted in my flower bed as you reached my front door, but alas, my daddy shot them to death. Wait, what? Yep, you heard right. Gerald has been called home from work many times to kill a snake. It's a 45 minute drive each way. So, when my daddy retired, he became the resident snake killer. (They live basically next door.) We had a snake to come across the front yard and wrap itself around one of my rosemary bushes. We use a shell that sprays pellets to make the most impact on the snake, so it took a few shots to make sure he was dead. He was, but so was my rosemary bush. I literally lifted it up - the shot had severed the stem! It smelled a lot like roasted chicken...Anyway - I use rosemary a lot. I keep dried rosemary all the time, but our Italian Valentine's Day meal required fresh.

Here's a link where you can see my beautiful rosemary bush before it bit the dust, and also how I use rosemary and other herbs in floral arrangements.

And here's a link to rosemary foccasia bread. It's super easy and soooo good.

This bread was so popular at Macaroni Grill. They'd bring it to you and pour you a dish of good EVOO and Balsamic vinegar for dipping. It kept you busy while your food was prepared! I doubled the recipe. I mean, I'm  making fresh bread...let's enjoy it!

Rosemary Bread

1 tbsp rapid rise yeast
1 tbsp white sugar
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour (I use White Lily)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, divided
2 tbsp melted butter 


I started by mixing my warm water, yeast, and sugar. I let it sit a couple of minutes to activate. I use Rapid Rise yeast, but it still doesn't hurt to give it a little time while you do other things.


Next I pulled the leaves off the rosemary stems and chopped them.


I added my about a third of my flour and all of the salt.


Using my dough hook, I turned my mixer on low and slowly added the rest of the flour and half of the rosemary.


Once it was all incorporated, I turned it up to about 3 and let it knead for five minutes. I placed it in an oiled bowl and covered it with plastic wrap. I placed it on my stovetop and turned on the light. I allowed it to rise about an hour and a half. It doubled.


I removed the plastic wrap and poked it with my finger to release any air. I then removed it to a cutting board, formed it in a large smooth circle and cut it in half.


I took each half and smoothed it, tucking the extra underneath. Parchment paper will keep it from sticking and also make for easy cleanup. 


I brushed it with two tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkled it with fresh rosemary. I sprayed more plastic wrap, covered it and then replaced it under the light on my stove. One hour later, it had again doubled in size.


I removed the plastic wrap, sprinkled it liberally with kosher salt, and baked it for about 20 minutes at 375. I turned on the broiler at the end for a couple of minutes to add some color. I timed it so it would be ready about 10 minutes before we ate. There's nothing better than warm bread!


My sweet friend, Melannie, gave me this oil and vinegar set for my birthday this year. It's from a lovely specialty food shop in Montgomery. (She knows me so well!) This was the perfect meal to use it! I will save the Chipotle oil for a Mexican recipe, but the Neapolitan Herb Balsamic was perfect for adding to my EVOO!


This warm, salty bread was so good! It was hard (as usual) not to just fill up on the bread! But it was so good, and definitely something Gerald and I both enjoyed because it reminded us so much of the times we enjoyed as we were dating. Dessert is tomorrow, so be sure to save room!

I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Penne Rustica (Romano's Macaroni Grill Copy Cat Recipe)


Money shot! Seriously - tell me you don't want to eat this. Right.Now. It was always one of my favorites at Romano's Macaroni Grill and mine tasted just as good. Maybe better since I made it! Before we had kids, Gerald and I used to go to Macaroni Grill for dinner and then head next door to Barnes and Noble for a Cafe Mocha and some book browsing. Alas, neither establishment is there anymore. Once I had decided on an Italian theme for Valentine's Day, I quickly thought of this delicious dish. I own two of Todd Wilbur's Top Secret Recipes cookbooks. I use them all the time! Now you can just go to his website to find just about everything you could ever want to (re)create! I'm including a link to the recipe at the end, so for now, I'll just highlight the steps with some pictures.


The recipe calls for grilling your chicken and shrimp before adding it to the pasta. I didn't do that. I sauteed my shrimp (I had thawed 20 small shrimp) and thawed some of the chicken you see above. I keep this on hand for Jewell and me. We eat a lot of salads for lunch, and this precooked chicken can be thrown into a hot skillet and ready to eat in less than 10 minutes!


I used Walmart's grocery pickup for the first time last week. I've held off on that for a long time...as a homeschool mom, that's often my only "me time", and I wasn't ready to give it up! But I had so much going on last week, that I couldn't fit it in. Plus - I used to run to Walmart at 6:30 am or 9:30 pm...but no more. The world's a little too mean these days. Anyway - the recipe calls for deli-sliced prosciutto - about a quarter inch thick. This is paper thin. But that's OK. The dish already has plenty of texture. I really just wanted the smokey flavor, especially since I didn't grill my chicken and shrimp. In everything else, I followed the recipe.


Here's my chicken and shrimp. I didn't take the shrimp too far. It gets added to the pasta and then baked for about 10 minutes or until bubbly, so I didn't want it to get rubbery.


Butter and garlic are the base for the gratinata sauce. Be careful not to let the garlic burn.


I had to turn my heat down to low and stir it constantly to keep it from burning.


The idea is that your butter gently browns and the water cooks out of your butter. A little Marsala wine is added here and allowed to reduce. I really suggest not skipping this. The alcohol is cooked out, but the flavor of Marsala is a highlight of this dish.


Then you just dump your other ingredients!


Whisk it well to completely incorporate all the ingredients.


Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about ten minutes to thicken. Stir constantly. Cover and remove from heat when its ready. Meanwhile, be cooking your pasta.


I sprayed my little casserole dishes, and then filled them with the pasta, chicken, and prosciutto. I had mixed these together in a large bowl.


I used a measuring cup to add the sauce. Each dish got about 3/4 cup of the sauce. I arranged the shrimp on top and popped it into the oven.


When it came out, I used a jar of fire-roasted bell peppers to garnish. I just added them to mine and Jewell's dishes. The men abstained! We actually really like these, so I added more than was called for. The dish goes in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until bubbly. Garnish with fresh rosemary before serving. This recipe is not difficult at all. The sauce takes a little babysitting, but the payoff is well worth it! This is a rich and satisfying meal. Macaroni Grill may be gone, but we will always be able to enjoy this favorite! 


I'm so glad you stopped by my neck of the woods!
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I wouldn't want you to miss one crazy thing!