Monday, January 15, 2018

Baked Brie with Cranberry Chutney

I had a bunch of company over the holidays.  I decided to make a baked Brie to put out with crackers for snacking when I was doing other things.  I found one by James Briscone on The Food Network and didn't change it much.  It was great.

One thing I did, that I don't recommend, is I bought a giant Brie wheel from Sam's Club. It was about the same price as the smaller ones you can buy at the grocery store.  Don't get sucked in. It was too big.  Spend more, get less.


Baked Brie with Cranberry Chutney

10-12 ounce round Brie
enough cranberry chutney to cover the brie, about 1/2 cup. Recipe to follow
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 beaten egg

1 Tablespoon flour

Cranberry Chutney

12 ounce bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
1 apple, peeled and grated   Granny Smith, preferred
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of ground cloves
zest and juice of one orange


Combine the cranberries and all the other chutney ingredients in a medium saucepan.


Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Let it simmer until thickened and the cranberries have popped, about 20 minutes.  Set aside to cool.


Line a baking sheet with parchment or use a Silpat.


Cut the Brie in half horizontally.  Take off the top and place about 1/2 cup of the room temperature cranberry chutney on the bottom circle. Replace the top circle of Brie on the chutney.


Place flour on your very clean and dry counter top.  Use a rolling pin to make the puff pastry about 3 inches larger than the circle of cheese.  Cut a bit off the corners to make it mostly round.  Place the filled Brie in the center of the pastry.


Fold in the corners of the puff pastry to cover the Brie.  Brush the edges of the pastry that touch with the beaten egg.  Fold the pastry until it is wrapped tightly around the cheese.

Flip the Brie so it is seam side down and place it on the prepared pan.  Refrigerate the Brie for one hour.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Brush the pastry with the rest of the egg wash and place in the preheated oven.  Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.


Mine got too brown too fast, so I covered the top with foil for that last 10 minutes.

Cool on the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove to a serving platter.


Serve with crackers and the remaining chutney.  Or you could just pick up a wedge of creamy cheese and sweet, tart cranberry with just a hint of flaky pastry and just eat it.  I'm not saying I did that.  But a person could and it would be delicious.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

It's So Cold

It has been so cold!  The weather has been hovering in the teens and twenties.


It is so cold our stream has frozen.


The sunset the other night was so beautiful.


The light on the hills behind the house was so golden, you might not realize that we are freezing here!


But step outside and you will be instantly reminded.  Brrrr!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Ugly Sweater Cookie Decorating Contest

 We had a lot of visitors over the Christmas holidays.  It was so cold that outdoor activities were not an option.  I decided to have a cookie decorating contest.  But not just any cookie.


Years ago I had purchased a large T-shirt cookie cutter.  I think it was for Father's Day.  Now,  I thought it was a good substitute for a sweater and thus was born an ugly sweater decorating contest, but on a T-shirt cookie!


I found a sugar cookie recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction  that looked good.  In fact, it was great, so you can go to her post and make your own fabulous cookies.  I doubled the recipe and baked up a lot of cookies.  I made a few Christmas cookies with the scraps...because...Christmas.


I bought a blue and a yellow tube of frosting.  I also made a buttercream frosting recipe that I divided.  Half was left white and I made the other half green.  I placed them in decorating bags.  One had a narrow tip, the other had a star tip.  I had an assortment of sprinkles and then everyone started decorating.


Two year old Rachel also tried her hand at decorating.


Well, mostly she just ate a cookie.


And made cute faces for my phone.

I wasn't expecting much. I thought someone would make a Christmas tree or something like that. But I was very impressed by the artistic talent and creativity. Some were so good, they didn't really qualify as an ugly sweater.

Like this stained glass design.


And this one with a Christmas tree fire!


This one is nice....unless you went to UCLA (Trista) or Berkeley (Travis), in which USC is hideous!


Two designs involved sweaters that were ruined because of excessive holiday consumption of spirits of Christmas present.


This one started out as a pretty sweater and then the wearer had a bad moment.


This one was a bit problematical.  Trista explained that this was a rocket ship.  I am not sure that I believe her.


I'm pretty sure this is the ugliest.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Wake Up

I just finished The Wake Up by Catherine Ryan Hyde.  I wasn't sure I was going to like it.  It is not the kind of book I usually read.  But then I usually read mysteries and romances, and the occasional biography.  This book is a character driven novel about a man named Aiden who wakes up to the empathy that he had pushed down for most of his life.  In fact, he was abused and such an empath that he became terribly damaged emotionally and so shut off all emotions.  This interfered with his adult relationships.  Aiden called the return of his overwhelming empathic feelings the wake up.  He woke up to all the feelings he had pushed down and it changed his whole life.

He met and fell in love with a woman and then found out she had a young son, Milo, who had been abused.  Milo's way of dealing with his emotions was to lash out and hurt others, including animals.  It took a long time for Aiden to see the parallel to his own life.

The love and trust shown to Aiden as a child by his stepfather helped him to do the same for young Milo.  The emotional journey between man and boy over two generations was a compelling story.  It did not happen overnight and had ups and downs that rang true to life.  The Wake Up was a satisfying and hopeful story that I really enjoyed.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Clay Mask Fun

I had some minor surgery on my leg before Christmas, so a lot of my shopping was done online. (Thank You, Amazon!!)  I don't remember how I came across it, but I found this clay mask that bubbled up and looked terribly silly.  It is called Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask.  I thought it would be a fun girly thing to do over the holidays.  My daughters and daughter-in-law would be here and we could have a girl's night.  Facials all around!
Tara had already gone home by the time we tried the mask, so Trista, Vanessa and I all tried it.  When first applied, it just feels like any silky smooth mask.

Soon the mask starts to tingle and bubble up, until you start to worry that it will burn or take over your whole face!  Don't worry!  No burning or face eating occurred!

As you can see it did become quite silly, though.  The hardest part of this facial was getting it off your skin.  You needed a washcloth to get it all off.  Simply rinsing over the sink didn't do the job.

We all agreed that the next morning our skin felt much softer.  I'm sad to say that none of us looked 10 years younger.

But softer skin and a fun evening was totally worth buying this mask.  Plus, the whole name is perfectly silly, Elizavecca Milky Piggy Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask.  Try saying that three times, fast!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Through the Windows


We woke up to a snowy day.


I didn't want to go outside.


So I took pictures through the windows.


It's beautiful out there.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Quilting Again

Years ago I bought what is known as a jelly roll when my favorite quilt shop was going out of business.  A jelly roll is  a bunch of fabrics that all work together, cut into strips for quilting or other projects.  Then I started making my fabric baskets and the jelly roll sat on a shelf in my craft room.

I have sufficient baskets, so I decided to take a shot at a new quilt.

My friend, Doris, showed me a fun way to use jelly rolls to make a lot of fabulous quilting squares.  This technique was originated by 3 Dude's Quilting by way of Missouri Quilting.  You can see the video here


Take four strips and sew them together.


Cut them into squares.  Place one square with the strips running vertically.


Then cover that square, with the right sides together, and the top square running horizontally.


Sew a 1/4 inch seam around all four sides.


Cut the square from corner to corner, making four triangles.


Press them open and that is the basis of the finished square.


I have been having fun trying different ways of putting these squares together.  I have tried using two squares from different strips.


Next I tried two squares from the same strip set.


I like them all!

I have quite a few finished squares and will spend then next few weeks making up all of my strip sets into quilt squares.


This technique is quick and I am having fun putting them together.


Sadly, now I need to go back to the fabric store to but the rest of the fabric to finish the quilt top.  It is always a risk going to a fab ricin's store.  I may need to buy some extra fabric for more baskets.