Willow House

Willow House
Simply Good Design

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Yard in May

Just a quick note to show you why I'm loving my yard this month! Perennials are definitely the way to go...now if I can just keep the weeks away!

Memorial Day place setting

In memory of those who have gone before, whether Veteran or family and friends, Memorial Day is set aside for us to pay tribute. Many put out flags at Veteran's cemeteries and some of our local cemeteries have a "decoration day" for remembering those buried there. Some of us get a vacation day for this remembrance and lots get together for a family and friends meal.

These Willow House pieces might give you an idea for a table setting. I used the Eyelet Ribbon Plate as a charger on a blue placemat and flag print bandanas woven through the "eyelets". If you need a square charger with the same idea, you could use our Dress-Me-Up glass Platter. Or, you could use red, white and blue ribbon and you could also use our Gramercy Ribbon Plate, (which is one you can also write on with a dry erase marker and you could even bake something on it and then weave the ribbon through it!) If you buy one of the Gramercy plates and want to write on it and stand it up, you could get the Galveston Must-Have Holder at half price!

I used the Cinnabar Accent plates and the Portico Accent Plates for that added pop of red and white and then as a centerpiece the Cinnabar vase with white mums and flags. I just love the Amelia Thimble Domes and put one on top of the plates, with plans for a mini-cupcake to be served there! I think I will use a predominately blue frosting to bring a little more blue into this picture. A white Villa mug completed this place setting.

With any Willow House purchase of $39.96 or more you get something that price or less at 1/2 price, so remember that when you want to buy something!

Father's Day place setting

Willow House products all dressed up for Father's Day....

The place setting is on black poster board. (Tried writing on it with chalk and finally used white correction fluid!) The Covington Accent tray is used as a charger with the Verde accent plate, Terrace accent plate and the VerdeAccent bowl holding goldfish crackers to go with my "antique" Avon little-boy-fishing bottle. I used the green member of the Heritage Hurricane Trio with ivy and a Must-Have mini marker to label it for 'Pop". Some willow branches in the apple colored Lady Jane Bottleneck Vase and a glass of "Dad's root beer with a Terrace Cafe' mug complete the setting.

.Extra flatware, napkins and fresh flowers in the Bell Meade Flatware Caddy are ready in case we have more guests!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bunco Party Recipes

Well, I started to say my pictures didn't turn out, but have to go ahead an admit, I forgot to make any! Anyway my Bunco Party this week was fun and several asked for the recipes, so here they are: (We all 12 had a good time, and you can add your own drink recipes--mine went well with the fruit salad!)

Terrific Turkey Enchiladas
1 ¼ cups frozen corn, thawed
1 can (6 oz) chopped green chilies
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
¾ lb. ground turkey
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tb. Olive oil
¾ cup salsa
1 Tb. Cornmeal
2 tsp. chili powder
1 ½ tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp pepper
6 large flour tortillas warmed ( I did 30 seconds in microwave)
1 ¼ c shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
¼ c sliced ripe olives
For sauce, Place first 6 ingredients in a food processor; cover and pulse until blended. Set aside.
2 In large skillet, cook the turkey, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Remove from heat and stir in salsa, cornmeal and seasonings.
Spoon 1/3 cup turkey mixture down the center of each tortilla; top with 2 T cheese.( I used more) Roll up and place seam side down in a greased baking dish. (I used 9 x 13”) Spoon corn sauce mixture over the top; sprinkle with olives and remaining cheese.
Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 5-10 minutes longer or until heated through.
Source; Taste of Home april/may 2011

Margarita Fruit Salad
½ cup Jose’Cuervo Authentic Margarita
3 Tbs. orange marmalade
2 tsp. lime juice
Salad: 4 cups fresh strawberries
4 oranges, peeled and sectioned
1 honeydew melon, cut in small chunks
1 small cantaloupe, cut in small chunks
1 c chunks fresh pineapple
Source; Allrecipes.com

Italian Rice Salad
1 Recipe Garlic Vinaigrette
3 cups cooked, slightly warm basmati rice
1 c. chopped red, green and/or orange sweet peppers
1 6-ounce jar quartered, marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1/3 cup chopped red onion
¼ cup raisins
2 T drained capers
Mixed salad greens and (optional: fresh basil leaves)
Prepare Garlic Vinaigrette; set side
In a large bowl combine rice, sweet pepper, artichokes, onion, raisins and capers. Stir vinaigrette and drizzle over rice mixture; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Serve over a bed of salad greens
Garlic Vinaigrette: In a small bowl whisk together
½ c canola or safflower oil
1/3 c snipped fresh parsley
¼ c white wine vinegar
3 T snipped fresh dill (or 2 tsp dried dillweed)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp snipped fresh basil (or ¼ tsp dried basil, crushed)
1 tsjp. Snipped fresh oregano (or ¼ tsp dried oregano,crushed)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Use immediately or store in refrigerator up to 3 days. Makes about ¾ cup
Source;Better Homes and Gardens Prizewinning Recipes

Chocolate Mocha Gooey Butter Cake
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ c butter, melted and cooled
1 2-layer-size package chocolate cake mix
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 16-ounce package powdered sugar
½ c butter, melted and cooled
¼ c chocolate fudge topping
2 Tbs. very strong brewed coffee
1 tsp. vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13” baking pan, set aside
2. For crust: In a bowl stir together 1 egg and ½ c melted butter, stir in cake mix until completely combined. Press evenly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake 15 minutes.
3. For topping: In a mixing bowl beat cream cheese with electric mixer until fluffy, add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low after each addition until combined. Gradually add 16 ounces powdered sugar until smooth. Slowly add ½ cup melted butter, chocolate topping, coffee and vanilla, continuing to beat on low until combined. Pour onto baked crust.
4. Bake for 35 minutes (center will not appear to be set). Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
Can serve with vanilla ice cream
Source: Better Homes and Gardens Prizewinning Recipes

Lemonade Cupcakes
See http://susanbjones.willowhouse.com for recipe!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pie is the new "Cupcake"


Have you heard that the lastest trend in desserts is Pie? It is apparently the new cupcake! Just when I had about mastered cupcakes! Well, pies are a little different because there is that crust thing... I just prefer homemade crust, but have been known to buy the frozen ones ( a lot more the last few years), but everytime I make one from scratch, I think, "that is really easy, why don't I do that more often?"

I think it may be in the cleaning up afterwards, but homemade is really good ...and easy!

Crust is what makes a pie a pie! The fat is necessary for a good crust and there are "healthier" versious without trans fats, but trans-fat-free shortening won't hold its shape as well due to the lower melting point. (that may be more than you want to know- and you can try substituting 1/2 the butter or regular shortening with trans-fat-free shortening if you are really serious about it)

If you handle it too much it get's tough (it's about developing the gluten, but you don't have to know that either to make a good piecrust!)

You can also substitute whole wheat flour for white flour, but the crust will be "sturdier" and less flaky. This would be good for a meat pie or you can try 1/2 and 1/2 on the flour, too.

I am thinking that if "pie is the new cupcake", then for the popular tasting parties or just dessert for girlfriends, making them in a small ramekin is the "thing"! Helps with portion control, too!

OK, some of that is my former life as a dietitian coming out, but my current life as a dessert-eater likes the pie idea!

Willow House has so many ramekins you can use for little pies: (Whatever your color scheme)

The brown Italian Stitch ramekins are still available on our outlet and so cute! The Verde (green) ones are an oval shape and hold a little more.

Hyacynth ramekins come in a set of 4 colors (that match our wonderful mixing bowls!) and the Cinnabar (red) are called Tidbits and also come in a set of four. Best of all, you can bake in all these!! The little blue bowls are great for small servings and microwaving and also on the Outlet.
My favorite pie crust is:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening

4-5 Tablespoons ice water

Mix flour and salt, cut in shortening until pea sized, add water and mix until just moistened. You can add a little more water if not enough, but don't get too sticky) Form into a ball and let set a few minutes then roll out onto a floured board or pastry cloth. For ramekins use a saucer to cut rounds, you can flute the edges by pinching them or leave plain, easiest is always best.

A recipe that is a little more forgiving about extra stirring and handling is:

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup salad oil

4-5 Tablespoons cold water or milk

Mix the flour and salt and then pour the oil and cold water or milk into a measuring cup, but do not stir and add all at once to the flour and salt. It is best to roll this one between two pieces of waxed paper.

For cream pies you cook the crust and for fruit pies you usually put the filling in the unbaked crust and bake all together.

Seems to me that graham cracker or crushed cookie crust eliminates all this and is good for the little ramekins too.

Pie fillings are so simple. Use a mix or canned filling!

But if you want to make your own filling I'm loving Two-Bite Chocolate Cream Pies from Feb 2010 Sunset magazine:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 12 ramekins with cooking spray. Process about 30 chocolate cookies (such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers -or even Oreos!) into fine crumbs. Blend 1 1/2 cups crumbs with 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1 egg white(save the yolk) and put about 1 Tablespoon in each ramekin, press over bottom and sides and bake until set (about 15 minutes)
Now put 1/2 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate and 1 Tablespoon butter in microwave-safe container and heat in 30-second intervals, stirring often, until melted.

In a separate bowl mix 1/4 cup sugar, 2 Tablespoons cornstarch and 4 tsp. Durch-processed cocoa powder. Pour in a few drops of milk and whisk until smooth, then add 1 cup milk, whisking well. Put this in a small saucepan and heat until thickened and large bubbles appear, about 3 minutes.
Now, mix the egg yolk you saved with 1 more egg and whisk in about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture. Scrape the egg-milk mixture into the milk mixture in the pan and cook, whisking until just starting to boil aboaut 30 seconds and then whisk in the melted chocolate and butter. (hope you have a good whisk, that's what this takes!)

Then just spoon it into the baked chocolate crusts and press plastic wrap over the tops to prevent a skin from forming and chill at least an hour, but up to 2 days! (great! can be made ahead!)

When you are ready to serve, you might "whisk" a little whipping cream (1/2 cup)with 1 Tablespoons sugar and dollop on top of each.

(If you are interested, it's 111 calories per serving, but I don't care at this point.)

Let me know what you think.......