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November 30, 2010

Recipes | Homemade Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

My Mom is famous for her cinnamon rolls - she makes them, it seems, on a weekly basis.  The are soft, buttery, gooey and sweet.  They are great to make ahead of time in large batches and freeze for gifts - perfect for hostess gifts or impromptu holiday brunches.

Mom's Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

2 packages of active dry yeast
1 tsp. of sugar
1 cup of warm water
1 can of evaporated milk
2/3 cup of melted butter
3/4 cup of sugar
4 tsp salt
6-8 cups of flour
1/2 stick of softened butter
1 1/2 cups of sugar
3 tablespoons of cinnamon

In a small bowl, combine yeast, sugar and warm water.  Let the yeast activate.

In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine milk, butter, sugar, salt and flour (starting with 6 cups and add more, if necessary).  Stir in yeast mixture.  "Kneed" dough with dough hook on med-low for 5-8 minutes, adding flour as necessary, until it forms smooth elastic dough.  You may need to turn it out onto a floured board and kneed by hand until it is completely smooth.

In a large bowl greased with vegetable oil, place the dough in the bowl and cover with a warm damp kitchen towel.  Let the dough rest and rise for 2 hours in a warm place until it has doubled in size.  Sometimes I'll turn my oven on 250 degrees and let the bowl sit on top of it.

After 2 hours, punch the dough down and let it rest for 5 minutes.  Next, turn it out onto a floured surface and roll it into a rectangle (approx. 15" x 20").  Spread it with softened butter, then sprinkle it with the sugar and cinnamon.

Roll the dough into a log and cut into 1 1/2 inch slices (that look like a pinwheel).  Place them spiral side down into a buttered baking dish - I like to put them in a pie dish - it makes an easy presentation.

Again, let them rise covered with piece of parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray (to keep it from sticking) for about 1 hour.

Take off the parchment and bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes until slightly brown on the edges.

Cream Cheese Icing

4 tablespoons of cream cheese
8 tablespoons of butter, softened
2 cups of powdered sugar

In the Kitchen Aid fitted with a paddle attachment, whip cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar until smooth.  Add a little water, if necessary, to get desired consistency.

Home | Holiday Decorations | Christmas Tree | Classic Christmas Tree Decorations | Burlap, Red Berries

We stared our holiday decorating by taking our annual trip to the Christmas Tree Farm to pick out a tree. I'm thrilled with our selection this year - a Frasier Fur.  It smells amazing.  The entire house is brimming with the smell of Christmas!

On the mantle, I piled magnolia leaves under the TV and hung the stockings.  I love this stocking we got last year for Mr. Darcy.  The lantern on the left side is from my Aunt's floral and decor shop, "Picket Fence."

I'll try to get a better photo of our tree at night - they are very hard to photograph!  I used natural colors with pops of red.  The 'garland' is upholstery strapping made of burlap with a red stripe.

Here is a close up of Mr. Darcy's 2010 dough ornament - I picked it up at the Junior League Holiday Mart.


Some of the details are frosted red balls, the great lantern from my Aunts shop, red berries and burlap strapped.

Entertaining | How to Set Up a Bar | Holiday Cocktail Party | Bar Tips | Self-Serve Bar

If you're entertaining for a small- to medium-sized group, a self-serve bar is the key to a stress-free party.

Tip #1 : Get out of the kitchen... I like to set the bar in a room other than the kitchen - I find that guests like to crowd into the kitchen and setting the bar in the family room helps them to circulate around the house.  

Tip #2 : Help Yourself...  Make sure you have all of the tools you need for guests to help themselves.  I use one type of glassware for wine, beer and water.  You could also include a pitcher of a pre-made holiday cocktail, if you're feeling festive.  

What you'll Need (right to left) : 

*Pitcher for water
*Snack : I have "Sweet & Salty Caramelized Cashews" served here in a silver bowl.
*Chilled Drinks : I use this large pewter bowl to chill a variety of seasonal beer and white wine.
*Wine & Beer Opener
*Linen Cocktail Napkins 
*Red Wine
*Glasses : I like to keep them organized on a single tray to keep the bar neat and organized during the party.
*Flowers : I always like to have something "fresh" in every room.  It adds special feeling to your display.  These are potted paperwhites - which I love because they will last the entire holiday season.

November 29, 2010

Entertaining | Holiday Entertaining | Holiday Parties | Cupcakes & Cake Display | Dessert Buffet

For the Her Life Magazine Photo shoot, I put together this cupcake and cake dessert display buffet.  While it looks like it took a lot of work, it was actually just a couple batches of cupcakes and 2 cakes.  So, for about $20 I put together an impressive cupcake display that would be the centerpiece of any holiday party.

I dressed up the cake stands with red satin ribbon and cards that I printed from my computer.  I used the candy raspberries to add some color to the display.

Press | Her Life Magazine | Mr. Darcy & Jenny Steffens Hobick are featured in Her Life Magazine | Holiday Entertaining

Mr. Darcy and I are featured on the cover of Her Life Magazine's Holiday issue.  Read the entire article HERE to get all of my Holiday Entertaining tips!

Thanks to the Her Life crew and Kdog Photographers for the fun shoot day at our house!

November 23, 2010

My Life | Our Honeymoon in Italy | Rome, Tuscany, Cinque Terre & Florence

Here is a little peak at our honeymoon in Italy - we had the most amazing time!

Rome : Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican  |  Mike at the top of the dome
Me in St. Peter's Square at The Vatican (listening to my Rick Steve's travel podcasts)

Frescoed Ceiling in the Vatican Museum

An adorable bike in Rome - complete with baskets!

Rome : Mike at a Cafe enjoying a cappuccino and prosciutto and fresh mozzarella sandwich for breakfast.  Mike was obsessed with real Italian cappuccinos... and that they only cost $1.20.  The cafe's were so elegant - not at all casual and cozy like Starbucks.  

Rome : Gelato at the Trevi Fountain - it was magical at night.

Rome : The Colosseum 

Rome : Best lunch in Rome... fresh ravioli.  The sauce was so light and flavorful and plenty of cheese on top.

Tuscany : We stayed in a bed & breakfast in this medieval winery village in Tuscany called Fonturetoli.

Tuscany : This is our living room - it was a hunting lodge.

 Tuscany : This is our room - so elegant yet rustic.  I LOVED the oval marble tub.
Tuscany : Bed & Breakfast : Mike loved the bountiful spread.
Tuscany : We rented this little convertible to explore wine country.

Tuscany : the views...

Mike learning about wine.

Very old wine.

Tuscany : Mike exploring a country village.
Cinque Terre : Fishing villages near the Italian Riviera. 

Cinque Terre : Hiking between the villages.

Florence : Our Hotel in Florence - I loved this hotel!

Florence : Was a little rainy, but made it very romantic.

Florence : The Arno River at night.

Florence : Mike testing out the local brew... he became quite the fan.  Look at the decor of the hotel - I was constantly taking notes.  I loved the simple color palate, the mixture of worn and polished antiques, and the framed prints and sketches....

Florence : Our favorite part of the day : Italian Happy Hour : Free appetizers at all of the wine bars!
Florence : We had an amazing dinner in our hotel's restaurant, Borge San Jacopo at The Hotel Lungarno (it is one of the best restaurants in Florence... not a typical hotel restaurant).  I loved the grey flannel upholstered chairs.
Florence : White Truffle Season!
Florence : Again, taking design notes... very understated and elegant.
Tagliatelle White Truffles

Asparagus Stuffed Ravioli

Tuscan Filet
When in Rome... or Florence...

Milk Chocolate Creme Brule.  Unbelievable. 

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