Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Good Old Days| Thanksgiving 2014

Just as I gently closed the door to put the grocery cart away...I felt that terrible sinking feeling.

OH NO, Oh no, oh no... Please tell me....I did not just lock myself out??!!

But I had done just that.

I locked myself out...

In the blink of an eye, I had locked myself out of my grocery-filled van; fully loaded with all of the Thanksgiving groceries... all of them....
It was a super-deluxe, mega-holiday grocery trip, that started in the early morning, before anyone else was really in the store... That is my very favorite time to shop... when all of the aisles are neatly's like walking through a TV commercial...there isn't a single box of Cheerios out of place...and I have time to get what I need, without the hustle and bustle of being in another shopper's way...
By now, it was 10 am and the parking lot was getting crowded.  Everyone wanted my front row parking space... So, sorry, no keys...

I called my sweet family to come rescue me.

While I waited for the extra keys to arrive...I had a few minutes to just stand still, off to the side, out of the way... I had to... I wasn't going anywhere...
It was so nice to just be still.... I was standing by a stack of twine-wrapped fir trees, they smelled Christmas...I enjoyed the crisp air, filled with tiny snow flurries.... I enjoyed watching the busy shoppers dash into the store carrying little rosy-cheeked children bundled up in coats and mittens ...the hurried drivers searching for parking spaces....

I loved just being still... 

...Soaking in the holiday sights and smells, watching all the busy action, while no longer being a part of the fast paced rush of Thanksgiving shopping... it was so refreshing... I was having a time-out...
Locking myself out, reminded me to be still.  I really need to take time to pause and soak up all of the holiday joy, sights and sounds around me.

I can get so wrapped up in the crazy pace of the holidays that sometimes I think I might be missing out on some very special memories in the making...

These are the good old days after all ... they really are.
The holidays and special occasions we share now are the memories we are making for our loved ones and for ourselves.
Down the road, when I remember the good old days, I want to remember all of the special details, all of the delicious foods and the stories, the laughter and the music...  I want to remember the snow flurries and the smell of fresh cut Christmas trees....and I want to remember that I wasn't too busy to stop and enjoy it and to be a part of it all...
So, I will do my very best to post fun holiday ideas and recipes as often as I can...while taking time to be still... taking time to soak up all that this beautiful holiday season has to offer.  I'm going to be still, and enjoy the "good old days".... before they become a fond memory.
I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving and I hope you enjoyed a peek into ours.... it was a chilly, fun-filled day and I loved every second of it.

Enjoy the rest of your Thanksgiving weekend and remember to take a moment to be still.... you'll be glad you did.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


I feel just like Jimmy Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life... 

I do...

...or as close to what I can only imagine, George Bailey must have felt like... he joyfully ran down the snow-covered streets of Bedford Falls, calling out to his beloved Bijou theater and the Building and Loan...  Hello there....   Hello....

I feel like that tonight.  I feel overjoyed. So touched. Grateful.

So many wonderful friends and family have reached out to wish me congratulations and well wishes on my latest blogging milestone... and it is so exciting to share this adventure with each of them... and now with each of you.

This past September, I visited the Country Living Fair in Columbus, Ohio.  Which --by the way, I highly recommend,  -- it is an outstanding event and such a great way to spend an afternoon with friends.  I wrote a post about my time there, but one post can hardly do justice to the amazing day and fabulous finds that make up everything that is: the Country Living Fair.  Here is the post from September: Country Living Fair Post
While at the CL fair, I had an opportunity to meet the editor of the magazine, Rachel Hardage Barrett. She's lovely. Rachel was so kind to me... Me, being a completely new and very unknown blogger...

I shared with her  a little about my fledgling blog... my baking successes and the name of my blog "Blue Ribbon Kitchen" was a tiny part of our very brief conversation.

Long story, short, ...or at least shortened... Country Living Magazine liked the name Blue Ribbon Kitchen so very much, they wanted to use it to rename the food section of their magazine.

...And they did.

County Living Magazine now has a section called, Blue Ribbon Kitchen... just like me... just like this blog. Blue Ribbon Kitchen is now not only my blog it's also the name of a section of their magazine.
I am still me, just a more overjoyed and deeply touched, version of me... and the blog, Blue Ribbon Kitchen, is still it's own space...we just happen to share the name and the inspired idea of what blue ribbons really mean... We know how exciting it is to have showstopping, prize-winning recipes to share with our friends and family.
In the December/January 2015 issue, Rachel gives me an nod for being the inspiration behind the name change in the magazine... (thank you Rachel!)

And just like that.... I got to see my name, printed in one of my very favorite magazines...of all time.

...Pinch me.

I was telling my kids tonight, when I was about 10 years old, I remember my grandma would peruse the latest Country Living Magazine, while the Lawrence Welk Show was's just something that always stuck with me....
.... and tonight a very old rerun of the Lawrence Welk Show was on and I was in the Country Living Magazine... it was a little surreal and also very thrilling.

(Confession: ... the Lawrence Welk Show, it's a favorite of mine (gasp). I really do love it.  In all it's throw-back, retro style glory... and those outrageous costumes... It was, in a lot of ways, much like the 'Dancing with the Stars' of the 1960's and 70's.... (IMHO)
...please don't judge me too harshly for the LW Show affection--it may be hereditary anyway)

So, a great big thank you to Country Living, I am super excited that Blue Ribbon Kitchen means as much to you as I does to me.  I am so appreciative of this connection to such a great magazine; I am absolutely thrilled and genuinely excited for whatever comes next...
Thank you to all my dear friends and readers of this blog.  You will never know how much your support and encouragement has meant.  Thank you for celebrating this fun milestone with me!

It's a wonderful life!
Dear George:—Remember no man is a failure 
who has friends.
Thanks for the wings!

Thanks for the "wings" friends!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Turkey Day Scavenger Hunt

I like to have back-up plans...

You know, a good plan B, just in case of...anything... just in case.

I think I would have been an excellent Boy Scout since I like to be prepared so much....except that I'm not a boy...but the preparedness part...I have that covered.  

I will gladly take my "Thanksgiving Readiness" patch now... (Ha)
It may be that I am "over-preparing" for Thanksgiving... just a bit...

Any experienced hostess knows: it's always better to be a little over prepared...than being a little under prepared!!

The truth is, the cousins love to be together.  They make their own fun, they play well with each other...they share... they are a good natured bunch and I really don't need any activities to keep them entertained...
But I can't always help my crafty-self from adding a few "planned" activities...
For Thanksgiving this year, I'm hoping our winter wonderland will have long since melted away and the weather will warm up enough for the kids to get to go outside and do a Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt.

I saw a few similar scavenger hunts on Pinterest and I loved that the lists were printed on paper bags. Genius!
The kids can carry their treasures around and the list is attached... love it.
I personalized our list to match what is available in our well as a few items I am going to make sure are available for the kids to find.

The plastic turkey picks are cupcake proof and perfect for my game!
I think the kids will get a kick out of this fun activity... I know I will!!

Linked To:
Savvy Southern Style

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thanksgiving Snack Mix: Turkey Toes and Pumpkins Chex Mix

Today was gorgeous.
In an icy, unseasonably cold for November sort of way...but gorgeous nonetheless.
I ran outside just as the sun was coming up to take a few photos of the snow.
I love the quiet of a snowy morning...before the snow has been disturbed... It's so silent you can hear the snow landing on the trees...

... Ahhh the peace and the stillness....And then just like that...everyone was awake and overjoyed to have a SNOW DAY!!!
We went sledding... I'm at the top of the hill, where the wind was whipping... 23 mph, and 22 degrees...Not sure what the windchill was...but I am sure that I was freeeezing.  They didn't seem to mind the all kids...they could have stayed much longer... if only their mom would have let them....

We also managed to go out to lunch and I had a previously scheduled dentist appointment... such busy day for a snow day...

We drank hot chocolate, we sang songs and played games... AND I made homemade loaded potato leek soup for dinner... a great warm-you-up kind of dinner. And this mom, needed a warm-you-up sort of dinner, after our sledding adventure.

All in a snow days work...
I even had a few minutes to pull together a little snack mix... It's got a salty/sweet vibe going on... perfect for Thanksgiving...
It's basically a Chex mix...all dressed up for Thanksgiving.
I added bugles... they look just like mini cornucopias!!  
I used up some of the leftover Halloween candy corn (turkey toes) and candy pumpkins... it's a super cute snack and the kids like it too.  Craisins, nuts, pretzels and Chex Cereal are the rest of the players.
Here is the Recipe:  Turkey Toes and Thanksgiving Pumpkins Snack Mix
2 Cups Chex Corn Cereal
2 Cups Chex Honey Nut Cereal
1 Cup Chex Cinnamon Cereal
2 Cups Pretzels
2 Cups Bugles Snack
1 Cup Nuts (I used peanuts, but pecans would be great too)
1 Cup of Craisins

Mix in a large baking dish. Set aside.

On the stove top, heat:
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
Once melted add 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, stir.
Let come to a boil.  Stir frequently.

Pour the hot, brown sugar/butter mixture over the cereal/nut/snack mix that is waiting in the baking dish.  Gently coat all the cereal, nuts, pretzels, bugles and craisins with the sauce.

Bake in a 250 degree oven.  Stirring every 15 minutes for one hour.  Let cool.  When cool, add 1 cup of candy corn and candy pumpkins.  Serve.
Here is the end to our gorgeous snow day...
Only three weeks ago...the backyard looked so different...
Still gorgeous... now, just dressed all in white for the holidays.

Savvy Southern Style

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thanksgiving Garnishes for Desserts. Holiday Flair is in the Air!

How many desserts do you have at Thanksgiving??

Two Pies?? Any Cakes? Cookies??

I think we have every dessert represented  in the dessert food pyramid...

 ... Everyone has a different favorite and so we have an abundance of dessert.

A cornucopia of desserts to be exact!

..And to make each dessert special...I garnish them...with a little holiday flair!
I was gifted with a little timely inspiration recently... Good old inspiration doesn't always hang around... but when it shows up ...I try to take copious that I can remember what super-great, really fantastic idea I had... 

Inspiration is there one moment, and gone the next... 

Which is precisely why there are black sharpie scribbles all over the back of my Land's End magazine... I had some inspirational ideas about pie crust while watching TV two nights ago...  

I know-- pie crust... ??  Really??  It couldn't be solar energy inspiration or world peace inspiration...

Nope... my inspiration was all about pie crust.  It might lead to other things... you never know...


Here is my inspiration in pie crust form...
Disclaimer: I am not a food stylist.  Kudos to food stylists around the world, for making food look flawless, appetizing and delicious in magazines and on menus everywhere!  
It is really hard to find a pumpkin pie's best side and the best angle to photograph pie dough...let me tell you...

And the crumbs that can fall off miniature pecans, that are made to look like little acorns... millions... millions and millions...of crumbs... (acorns are pictured below)

Full Disclosure: the pumpkin pie in these photographs is store-bought... I needed a model to shoot my pie inspiration...but didn't have the time to make one from scratch.  So --this just shows what a great addition homemade pie crust cut-outs can be --especially when it comes to fancying up store bought baked goods!!
I love a pie crust cutter.  My pie crust cutters are from Williams-Sonoma.  Retired and older versions are usually available on e-bay if you are not close by a William Sonoma shop.  I use this set of leaf cutters the most.

The cutters come in great shapes, and the plunger, pushes down to create detail in each cut-out.



I love monograms... I love them on the cuff of my husband's dress shirts, I love them on stationery, on rain boots and on shoes.

Who doesn't love a well placed monogram??

--I have not met a monogram that I did not least not yet.
...and now, I have found a way to monogram pie!!
I know... You might think "P" is for pumpkin pie, which would be correct... but it's also for Perry...
And "A" is for apple... but in this case it was for Art, my co-instructor the other night at Blue Ribbon Baking.
I picked up a set of alphabet cookie cutters from a cake and candy store.  You can also just purchase only the letters you need...rather than the entire alphabet.  
What a sweet way to welcome guests to a slice of dessert!
Spoiler Alert: I am making monograms for each of our Thanksgiving guest this year.
When our guests  receive their slice of will be fitted with a cinnamon-sugared pastry dough of their first initial!
 I love it!
Roll out pie dough,  Recipe and Photo Tutorial is here: PIE CRUST 101  Cut out shapes, Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Lightly spray with cooking oil (Pam) and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Bake for 10-12 minutes in a 375 degree oven, until lightly golden and crisp.  Use foil to create dimensional shapes, by laying the pie dough leaves across the foil.  (See above photo)  Cinnamon and sugar pie crust leaves are a great way to finish the pie edges, and added to whipped cream as a garnish.
Thank-you inspiration!!


These cute-as-can-be pecan acorns are inspired by a local chef, Amy Tobin.  She shares how to make them on her web page and a recipe for a pumpkin pie with bourbon whipped cream -- something we always do here at our house around the holidays... yum--bourbon whipped cream!
TIP: Toast pecans in a 350 degree oven for 7-9 minutes.  Let cool.  Use melted chocolate chips to "glue" pecans together.  I used finely chopped salted cocktail peanuts for the acorn caps --and I mean really finely chopped...almost like peanut get the look I wanted.  Then, just dip the top only of the set "acorns" into a little melted chocolate and then roll in the finely chopped peanuts... Hello acorns!!  Hello holiday cuteness!!
I LOVE bourbon whipped cream, it goes especially well with a slice of pecan pie, my all-time favorite dessert.


Not to be out-done with the monograms and the acorns... How about these chocolate turkeys!

These can be made ahead.  Just gently lay the turkey on the whipped cream... Too cute!
I have a post about making these from the other day:
A handy print out of turkeys is available in the Chocolate Turkey Post (link above)...for all of your chocolate turkey making needs!