Hot Cocoa Treats

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This year I’m making these cute hot cocoa kits!
Gather all the ingredients and assemble, it takes about 15 minutes! Stocking stuffers, hostess gifts, teacher gifts…Super easy!

Hot Cocoa Christmas Treats (makes one)
1 8oz. Mason Jar with Lid
2 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder.
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 tablespoon Christmas Nonpareils (optional)
2 tablespoons Chocolate Buttons
1/4 to 1/2 cup Mini Marshmallows

Assemble in layers: Cocoa Powder, Sugar, Nonpareils, Chocolate Buttons, Marshmallows (I used Vegetarian Marshmallows)
Try to cram as many marshmallows into the top as you can, they stabilize the ingredients and keep the layers separate.
Twist on the lid firmly and tie on a decorative bow.

Instructions for Hot Cocoa: Heat 1 1/2 cups milk until steamy. Add Cocoa mix. Stir well. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Happy Holidays!

Note: WFH is going on vacation until the New Year.
So, to all my readers: Have a very happy holiday and a wonderful new year!
See you in 2018!

December Bookworm

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If you’re like me winter days call for a cup of tea, warm cozies and and big old stack of books, in your TBR pile!
At the top of my stack are all the new Holiday Anthologies! Go check out these suggestions at Goodreads & Amazon. If you’re in the mood for stories set during winter then click –>here<–

Another great place I get book recommendations is Smart Bitches Trashy Books (SBTB) Their Books on Sale Friday newsletter has brought to my attention some great new (to me) authors, Lucy Parker, Maya Banks, Shayla Black & Lexi Blake to name just a few! If you’re a fan of romance then do check them out it is the source!

Because I shy away from reading the genre in which I am writing, (I’m working on a fantasy series right now) I’ve discovered some really great authors in the contemporary genre! See above, but also I’ve become reacquainted with spy/action thrillers and cozy mystery reads.

Lee Child’s Jack Reacher Series is amazing! Please don’t let the movies put you off. Child’s Reacher is NOTHING like the film version.

Another intriguing character is Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon. I am 100% hooked on this series!

A few days ago I discovered that Charlaine Harris is continuing her Aurora Teagarden mystery series! Ms. Harris just… here…take my money, please!

That’s all for December! I’d love to hear about what you’re reading! Tell me in the comments!

Beef Wellington

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Beef Wellington is a special Christmas Eve tradition, a delicious treat looked forward to all year. It looks fancy because it is fancy. There are many steps but none of them too complex and I can tell you from experience that it can all be accomplished whilst completely faced.

Beef Wellington

1 3-5 lb. Whole Beef Tenderloin Roast (approx 5-6 inches long)
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Butter
1 pint container of whole White Cap or Brown Mushrooms.
2 teaspoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
2 cloves chopped Garlic
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
6-8 slices Prosciutto
2 tablespoons English or Dijon Mustard
1 sheet Puff Pastry (defrosted)
2 Egg Yolks

For the Duxelles:
Place the mushrooms, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Grind the mixture until the mushrooms are finely chopped.
Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat and add the mushroom mixture and saute until most of the moisture is gone leaving a creamy paste. Spread the duxelles out on a plate to cool and set aside.

For the Beef:
In the same saute pan you’ve used for the duxelles, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat and brown the tenderloin on all sides. Set aside.
Also, set aside the pan, with all those lovely brown bits, you’ve browned it in to make pan gravy later.

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Next, on a sheet of cling wrap layer the prosciutto so it is overlapping.
Spread the duxelles onto the prosciutto.
Lay the beef on next.
Spread the mustard over the beef.

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Layer the top with prosciutto and then wrap the cling around the meat encasing it all in a neat package.
Twist the ends of the cling film tight then place it into the fridge to rest for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Roll out the puff pastry into a large rectangle (approx 10x 12in) on a floured surface.
Retrieve your beef from the fridge and unwrap it from it cling film.
Lay the beef onto the center of the pastry.
Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg yolk.
Fold the pastry over the beef to encase it.
Turn it over so the folds are underneath and set it onto a parchment lined sheet pan.
Brush the outside of the pastry in the egg yolk and make pretty score marks into the dough.(I go for a swirly pattern)


Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the temp measured with a meat thermometer in the middle of the beef is at 125-130F.
Rest the Wellington for 10-15 minutes before carving into thick slices.

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Serves 4-6 depending on how thick you slice it.

For the Pan Gravy:
Beef drippings from browning your tenderloin.
1 tablespoon Butter
1 tablespoon Flour
1& 1/2 cup Beef Stock
Set the pan on a high burner.
Add butter and whisk with pan drippings.
Add flour and whisk until well combined.
Add beef stock and whisk until smooth and thickened.
Serve over Beef Wellington.

Romantic Films That Aren’t

Some like to stay in for St. Valentine’s Day. Stay in and watch movies that at first glance aren’t really in keeping with the spirit of that particular holiday but trust me when I say that these are really some of the most romantic films I’ve seen in a long time. Not feel good rom-coms but complex studies in love that are morally intricate.

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy New Year!

Hey there Wishers!
I hope the holidays were joyus and your New Year’s hangover wasn’t too bad!
I’d like to take this opportunity before we start in on our annual re-cap to thank you all for the continued support in 2015.
So many new subscribers and lovely comments and emails, you’re a wonderful bunch!
Thank you!

In January we discovered Chateau de Guandes and followed it’s ambitious owners as they patiently nursed the old Dame back to her former glory.
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By September the Waters Family welcomed their first guests when a wedding was held on the grounds.
They are proceeding by leaps and bounds and I intend on checking in on them through 2016.

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This spring we branched out a bit and experimented with a few recipes with delicious results.
Pork Lion Piccata
fruit compote

We also met Slinkachu and Kirra Jamison our in the feature Art is Everywhere.
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Last summer we met the wonderful illustrator Maori Sakai,
tumblr_noe6ftV1O11u3eaqvo1_500Grilled veggies, Grilled Veg and made our own shower scrub.lavender 2

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We thought Fall would never come, but when temps finally dipped into baking weather we jumped right in with Banana Crunch Muffins.IMG_2173
And had fun with Fall fashion, c600x441
And finally in December we made some delicious make ahead dishes to share at holiday gatherings!
Pear & Pom salad

Shrooms & rice

In the year ahead we’ll make more lovely things to eat, explore new ideas in art and fashion and meet inspiring people doing incredible things from all over the world.
Happy New Year friends, may 2016 be a remarkable one!