Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

"So once in every year we throng
Upon a day apart,
To praise the Lord with feast and song
In thankfulness of heart."
~ Arthur Guiterman

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Memories of Homecoming 2016

Before fall slips away, I must share these lovely images from this year's Homecoming festivities.

Christian and Saylor

I was blessed to spend the evening with these two sweeties, who are a precious pair. Here a few more of my favorite images from our afternoon photo session.

Christian has found a real jewel in Saylor, and I would say she has a treasure in him also. Love these two!

Carson and Rachel

These two starred in Romeo and Juliet recently and attended Homecoming together earlier this fall. They spent a fun evening with a group of friends from show choir, and the festivities included roasting s'mores at this gorgeous home. Here are a few of my favorite shots of these two, who also gave sterling performances in the play.

I did not get a good shot of the whole group, but here are a couple of their best pals.

This year is special for us, with Carson a senior and Christian a freshman. We are cherishing their only year together in high school, but it is going too fast for me.

Oh, how I adore these wonderful boys of mine!

"Son, you outgrew my lap but never my heart." ~ Unknown

Monday, November 21, 2016

Fleming's Giveaway Winner

Thank you to the chefs of Fleming's Prime Steakhouse for sharing delectable recipes for turning leftover Thanksgiving turkey into memorable family meals. If you missed last week's posts, consider these tantalizing entrees for the upcoming holiday season.

This fine restaurant also offered a $100 dining card to a reader of A Little Loveliness. The winner, chosen by random drawing, is Manda. Congratulations, and I hope you will enjoy your visit!

If you are still making plans for this week's feast, Fleming's will be serving delicious fare on Thanksgiving Day!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Leftover Turkey Crepes Recipe and a Free Dinner at Fleming's

This week we have been exploring ways with leftover Thanksgiving turkey, thanks to the chefs of Fleming's Prime Steakhouse. Joe and I have enjoyed dining at The Summit in our adopted hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, but you will find locations across the United States. Along with inventive recipes, Fleming's is offering a $100 gift card to a reader of A Little Loveliness -- a great way to treat your family chef to dinner before or after the holiday feast! And for those looking to dine out, this fine restaurant will be open on Thanksgiving Day. I will announce the winner Monday, so keep reading to learn how to get your name in the teacup. Today's special is an elegant entree perfect for upcoming Yuletide celebrations.

Roasted Turkey Crepes

Makes 4 servings

Turkey Filling:

2 pounds turkey meat, white and dark

1 (3-ounce) onion

1 (6-ounce) red pepper, seeds and stem removed

4 ounces button mushrooms with stems

¼ pound butter

¼ pound flour

1 cup water

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon white pepper

3 cups turkey gravy or chicken stock

2 cups half-and-half

Mornay Sauce:

1 ounce butter

1 ounce onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

½ cup white wine

2½ cups heavy cream

½ teaspoon chicken base

½ teaspoon Tabasco

¼ teaspoon white pepper

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


8 prepared crepes

Turkey Filling (above)

2 cups Mornay Sauce (above)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs

For Turkey Filling: Remove skin from turkey, then julienne turkey into ¼-inch by 1½- to 2-inch strips. Julienne onion and pepper. Cut mushrooms into ¼-inch-wide slices.

Melt butter in a 1-gallon saucepan set over high heat. Add red pepper, onion and mushrooms, and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes. Add flour, and cook for 2 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium, and add 1 cup water, salt and pepper; cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring often until very thick. Add turkey gravy or chicken stock and half-and-half; cook to a slightly thickened sauce consistency, 4 to 5 minutes. Add turkey, and cook for 2 minutes. Spread the mixture on a sheet pan to cool.

For Mornay Sauce: Melt butter in a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add white wine, and cook to reduce by half. Add cream, chicken base, Tabasco, white pepper and salt. Cook over medium-high heat to a sauce consistency, 8 to 10 minutes. Add Parmesan, and blend in with a wire whip. Let cool slightly, then strain sauce into an airtight container.

For Crepes: Preheat oven to  350°, and coat a sheet pan with cooking spray.

Place the browned side of crepes face down. Divide cooled Turkey Filling among crepes, spreading across the center of each crepe. Roll up crepes, and transfer to prepared pan. Bake to an internal temperature of 160°, about 10 minutes.

On 4 plates, place 2 crepes each. Ladle ½ cup Mornay Sauce over crepes. Sprinkle with chopped herbs, and serve immediately.

See Wednesday's post for crowd-pleasing Turkey Quesadillas. Plus, visit Monday's post for a Turkey Fried Rice recipe and your opportunity to win a $100 gift card from Fleming's.

Photo courtesy of Fleming's Prime Steakhouse. Used with permission.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Leftover Turkey Quesadillas Recipe and a $100 Restaurant Gift Card

This week, chefs from Fleming's Prime Steakhouse are serving up recipes for leftover Thanksgiving turkey, along with a $100 gift card giveaway. Today's recipe is one that is sure to appeal to children in your home over the holidays. We tend to do some type of Tex-Mex nearly every week at our house, so I know that my four would enjoy this holiday twist to favorite family fare.

Roasted Turkey Quesadillas

Makes 4 servings

4 (10-inch) flour tortillas

4 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese

4 ounces Añejo (or any white cheese)

1 red pepper, julienned

1 yellow pepper, julienned

4 ounces onion, julienned

½ cup black olives

8 ounces leftover turkey, diced

1 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves picked

1 cup sour cream

1 cup guacamole

1 cup salsa

Place a large cast iron pan over medium heat.

Spray both sides of tortillas with cooking spray. Cook on 1 side until lightly brown, about 1½ minutes, then flip. Immediately sprinkle each tortilla with ½ ounce of each cheese (avoid letting cheese hit pan).

Divide red pepper, yellow pepper, onion, olives, and turkey among tortillas. Top with cilantro leaves and remaining cheese, then fold each tortilla in half. Cook until golden brown, then transfer to a cutting board.

Cut each quesadilla into 4 to 5 pie-shaped pieces. Serve with sour cream, guacamole and salsa.

For your opportunity to win a gift card to Fleming's, leave a comment on Monday's post.

Photo courtesy of Fleming's Prime Steakhouse. Used with permission.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Leftover Turkey Fried Rice Recipe and a Giveaway

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we will soon be gathering with loved ones for a holiday feast. Although traditional recipes reign on the holiday menu, leftover turkey offers endless culinary possibilities. This week, I will be sharing chef-inspired recipes -- along with a $100 gift card for one reader of A Little Loveliness -- from Fleming's Prime Steakhouse. For today's offering, enjoy the fusion of comfort and joy in Turkey Fried Rice.

Turkey Fried Rice
Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
1/4 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 small cloves garlic
2 stalks green onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked white or brown rice
4-5 ounces leftover turkey, chopped
4 tablespoons frozen peas, thawed
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Pinch black pepper

Heat sesame oil in a wok on high heat. Add red pepper, onion and rice, and saute until rice starts to get a bit crispy on the edges, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, green onion, and turkey, and cook for 2 minutes. Add peas and cook for 2 1/2 minutes, tossing all well.

Make a well in the center of wok, and add egg. Stir until cooked, breaking up into small pieces.

In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, Worcestershire, and black pepper. Stir into rice, and cook for 30 seconds. Serve warm.

For your opportunity to win a $100 gift card from Fleming's Prime Steakhouse, leave a comment below. Stop in this week for more ways with turkey!

Photo courtesy of Fleming's Prime Steakhouse. Used with permission.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Stories of Us: Six Years of Costume Fun

Looking back at a few of the family costume themes we have enjoyed over the past six years brings a tear to my eye but a smile to my heart. What fun we have had making memories! Join us for a journey over the rainbow, into the woods, to Neverland, and to Infinity and Beyond.

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Final Chapter: Toy Story Family Costumes

"And as the years go by,
Our friendship will never die.
You're gonna see, it's our destiny.
You've got a friend in me."
~ Toy Story

This year's Trunk-or-Treat has been bittersweet since this is the last time I can be sure that all four children will be home to dress up with a family theme. Carson is a senior in high school, and although he may come home from college to share in this weekend fun, I respect that he will be moving into a different stage of life. As we are reflecting on how quickly he has grown -- with the other three not far behind -- Toy Story seemed the natural choice for our final celebration.

Yes, Carson will be leaving home next fall, so I need to get busy labeling all of his shoes and clothing. In case he gets lost, of course, and so he knows that no matter how far he goes, he will never move further than his mother's love.

Aren't these babies precious? Who knew Bo Peep and Jessie could be such great sisters and friends?

I love Christian to infinity, and beyond!

Mary Ashley as Bo Peep still looks like a princess!

Buzz and Woody, a perfect pair.

Woody's Roundup is never boring with this cowgirl in the mix!

I could not have picked a better gang for this journey of dress-up, imagination and play. Thanks for the memories, my darlings!

Friday, October 28, 2016

From Cake Trouble to Trifle

What do you do when the cookie ... or the cake ... crumbles?

When plans for Joe's birthday cake fell through -- or, quite literally, fell apart when I tried to transfer each of the three layers to a platter -- I wasn't quite sure how to handle it. The hour was late, I had already made his favorite buttercream frosting, and starting over completely would have meant another trip to the grocery store for ingredients.

What to do?

This baking disaster offered the perfect opportunity for turning trouble into a trifle.

Thinking about a slice of cake, I layered parfait glasses with cake crumbles, a thin layer of icing, more cake, and a piped topping. Garnishes of roses and candles added the final touches. You could also include fresh berries, lemon curd, pudding, sprinkles -- even ice cream if you want to assemble the desserts just before serving. Although this wasn't the towering three-tiered cake I had pictured for our celebration, it still tasted good and brought festive flair to our kick-off of the family birthday season.

Has a kitchen disaster ever led you to a clever culinary discovery?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

An Easy Centerpiece of Pumpkins and Gourds

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking successive autumns." ~ George Eliot

How quickly this past month has gone! Once school starts, time seems to speed up for our family. I have some sweet memories of fall to share, so look for some creative ideas and plenty of pictures of pumpkins and gourds over the next few weeks.

Each fall I love to decorate with a vibrant selection of the season's best offerings -- perfect for piling onto a platter or heaping into a bowl. This year, when I picked up a couple of bags of produce, one of the girls exclaimed, "I didn't know you used real pumpkins!" 

For an easy centerpiece idea for our kitchen table, I stacked three white pedestal cake stands atop a ruffled runner. The arrangement needed a little softness, so tucking in a few dried hydrangeas here and there added just the right touch.

For a simple yet lovely view of seasonal abundance.

Congratulations to Joanne of With Endless Grace, who won a copy of Pumpkin It Up! In my next post, look for an easy fix for a cake flop.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Pumpkin It Up! Tips and Cookbook Giveaway

"Oh how we love pumpkin season. You did know this gourd-ish squash has its own season, right? Winter, Spring, Summer, Pumpkin ... . We anxiously anticipate it every year." ~ Unknown

This week we have enjoyed sampling recipes from the delightful new cookbook Pumpkin It Up! I am so pleased to welcome author Eliza Cross.

A Little Loveliness is such a well-written, beautiful and inspiring blog. I love your heartfelt writing style and beautiful photography, and the fact that you’ve been blogging since 2008 is a testament to your commitment and how much we readers love your wonderful posts. I am honored to be here today! 

Thank you, Eliza! Your new cookbook is a delight. Our obsession with pumpkins seems to grow stronger each year. What is the allure of this favorite fall gourd?

To me, the mild, slightly sweet flavor of pumpkin evokes the very best aspects of home cooking: warmth, comfort, tradition—even love. Perhaps that’s why the tantalizing taste of pumpkin stars in so many products right now, from breakfast cereal to yogurt to cookies and even potato chips.

What inspired you to produce a cookbook devoted to pumpkins? 

I’m a pumpkin lover and grower from way back. The first time I learned that pumpkins could be used for something besides pie was when I was a kid and our local dairy offered seasonal pumpkin spice ice cream at Thanksgiving. My mom also baked a wonderful pumpkin bread that was divine. When I was 10, I planted a pumpkin patch in our back yard in Boulder. An early freeze killed most of the commercial pumpkin crop causing a pumpkin shortage that year, but somehow my pumpkins survived and thrived. So I loaded up a wagon and sold pumpkins to all the neighbors, turning my first pumpkin profit! 

During the recipe development phase, were there any surprises you encountered or lessons learned in working with pumpkins?

If you’re accustomed to making pumpkin pie with canned pumpkin, the color will be much more “orangey” when preparing a pie filling with fresh pumpkin. Another surprise was that not all pumpkins are easy to grow. Last year I tried growing Amish Pie Pumpkins, but my thumb wasn’t green enough and we ended up with one precious pumpkin. I used it to make creamy Curried Pumpkin Soup, which reminds me – I’ve been drooling over the velvety pumpkin soup recipe that you shared on your blog, and can’t wait to try it.

Going far beyond traditional pumpkin pie, Pumpkin It Up! offers recipes that range from sweet to savory and options that can be enjoyed throughout the day. How can home cooks make the most of pumpkin season?

I always suggest buying or growing some extra baking pumpkins when they’re in season so you can try new ways of cooking them. You can add chopped pumpkin to a savory Pumpkin, Potato and Bacon Hash, or slice it and make crispy Pumpkin Fries, or even top a pizza with cooked pumpkin, sausage and caramelized onions. On the sweet end of the spectrum, pumpkin stars beautifully in desserts like Pumpkin Cream Puffs, Pumpkin Pecan Pie Bars and Creamy Pumpkin Tiramisu. Pumpkin  freezes really well, too, so if you cook and freeze it you can always have pumpkin on hand to add to a variety of recipes. Canned pumpkin can also be used in many of the recipes in my book. (As a side note, my son and daughter always preferred homemade pumpkin puree to other baby food. It’s pure and natural, and babies seem to really like it!) 

You have certainly given us plenty of inspiration, Eliza. Any other thoughts or advice?

I always remind readers not to discard the pumpkin seeds when they’re scooping out a pumpkin. The roasted seeds are a treat, and they’re actually quite a healthy snack with good fiber and nutrients. Another tip is that if you choose good, firm pumpkins with no soft spots they will usually keep very well. You can often use them in your fall decorating, and then cook them when you’re ready. I love the way you utilized pumpkins in your Thanksgiving table.

Thank you so much, Eliza, for sharing these wonderful thoughts on incorporating pumpkins into our harvest menus and decor!

 For your chance to win a copy of this new cookbook, leave a comment on this post. The winner will be announced in plenty of time for autumn baking.

Gourd photo from A Little Loveliness. Recipe photos and book cover used with permission from Pumpkin It Up! 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Pumpkin It Up! Pumpkin-Caramel Cinnamon Rolls

There is something so comforting about spending a few quiet moments lingering over a freshly baked pastry and a steaming cup of a favorite brew. These Pumpkin-Caramel Cinnamon Rolls, from the new cookbook Pumpkin It Up! seem like the perfect complement to a leisurely Saturday morning -- especially when served alongside a delicious latte. In my next post, author Eliza Cross offers tips for cooking with pumpkin. Stop by A Little Loveliness for our cookbook giveaway!

Pumpkin-Caramel Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 12 servings

1 (8-ounce) tube refrigerated seamless crescent dough
13 cup canned or cooked pumpkin purée
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened, divided
14 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar, divided
2 tablespoons milk, divided
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
14 teaspoon salt
14 cup finely chopped pecans
14 teaspoon vanilla extract
1413 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Unroll the dough and pat into a large rectangle. In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin, 4 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon milk, pumpkin pie spice, and salt; stir until well blended. Spread mixture over the dough and sprinkle with pecans. Starting with the long side, roll up the dough; pinch the seam to seal. Cut dough into 12 equal slices and arrange cut-side up in the prepared pan. Bake for 20–25 minutes, until rolls are golden brown. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan until melted. Stir in the remaining 14 cup brown sugar and 1 tablespoon milk; cook over medium-low heat for 1 minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and 14 cup powdered sugar; beat until well blended, adding more powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. Drizzle the rolls with the icing.

Photos from Pumpkin It Up! Used with permission.

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