Champagne Gummy Hearts

I have fallen in love with a great candy store named Sugarfina.  I visited one of their boutiques when visiting Chicago recently, and love the branding of this upscale candy. They offer a variety of lovely gummy bears in their stores.

So for my own wedding anniversary,  I decided to try my hand at making champagne gummy hearts, roses and leaves.  They were relatively easy to make.  And, I was quickly able to find a great recipe online. In fact, there are many websites and blogs with recipes out there for various type of champagne or other flavored gummy bears.

Here is how I made my selection of champagne gummy hearts.  First of all, I used my chocolate candy molds and purchased unflavored gelatin.  The other ingredients I happened to have in my pantry.  Many other types of molds are available, but I happened to have hearts, leaves and roses which seemed very appropriate for our anniversary.

Here is what you need:  1 cup champagne, 5 packets of unflavored gelatin which equal about 5 tablespoons, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon strawberry extract, a dot of Wilton pink food coloring, and the candy molds.

In a saucepan, add the champagne and mix in the gelatin.  Allow it to firm up, which will take only a few minutes.  Once the gelatin has set, place on the stove top and gently stir until heated, but not boiling.  Do not cook off the alcohol content by allowing this mixture to boil.

Whisk the contents and then add the sugar and continue to heat on medium-low until all of the sugar is dissolved into the gelatin mixture.  This will take a few minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and add in the strawberry extract and the food coloring.

Use your favorite small cup or a food syringe and fill the candy molds.  Place on trays in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to one hour until set.  Remove the hearts from the molds onto waxed paper, and then store in a sealed container until ready to use.

The champagne taste is very evident, and these candies are so festive for an anniversary party.  The candy treats are also fun for holidays, birthdays, afternoon tea or even for a small sweet dessert.  Serve a couple of them in a champagne glass to your adult guests. They will be surprised that you made them for a fraction of the cost of those in the boutiques.

Cinnamon Biscotti

While relaxing in front of the fireplace this cold winter, why not try a great homemade cinnamon biscotti cookie?  These cookies are crisp and crunchy and are perfect to dunk in a warm mug of tea or coffee. I have made several other biscotti recipes, but this one is one of my favorites.  The cinnamon sugar taste is just perfect and provides just a hint of sweetness.

To make this recipe, gather the following ingredients:  2 cups flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 stick unsalted butter, 2 eggs, 1 egg yolk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with silpat mats or parchment paper. In a bowl, mix flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside. In a mixer, beating 1 cup sugar with butter until fluffy.  Add 1 egg and beat, Add egg yolk and mix into the bowl.  Mix in vanilla and then the bowl of dry ingredients.

     

Move dough to waxed paper.  Divide dough into two sections and roll into 9 inch long logs. With the remaining egg, beat and brush the logs when placed onto their baking sheets.

Bake 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and slice the logs into the biscotti cookies.  Place on their sides and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Bake another 20 minutes until done.

Cool.  These cookies will store for at least 1-2 weeks at room temperature in an airtight container.

 

 

The Tea Book

One of the most relaxing ways to end a dinner party has to be offering a selection of tea choices to guests. Sipping a cup of tea allows for more time to enjoy the table decor, a small dessert, or even just more time to watch the candle flames flicker.  As a true tea enthusiast, I try to have at least 40 different choices as there as so many types and varieties of teas available in today’s marketplace. I have found that every one of my guests seems to have such a different expectation when it comes to tea flavors.

It could just be their mood that day, or perhaps the seasonal blend that entices them, but often it is the taste and variety of tea blend that seems to capture their interest.

Recently I found this product called The Tea Book.  This beautifully bound book displays up to 144 tea bag selections in clear pocket windows. The display allows for easy and clear viewing for any guest at a table, as well as the ease in passing around for everyone to page through and make their own tea bag selection. I love the classic look and feel of this book. The design is timeless and will be a fun way to encourage more people to participate in tea drinking at the table.  As the lovely book is being passed around, how could anyone resist taking a look and joining in with their individual selection?

I am always looking for fun ways to encourage table interaction during a meal, and I believe this unique presentation should be something novel for my next dinner party.

Even better, this tea book can easily be stored on the bookshelf for the next dinner event or evening around the fireplace.  I am so happy to have found this product and to share with my blog followers.

For more information, please follow this link:  http://www.theteabook.com

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Appetizer shells

For years I have used Athens Mini Fillo Shells for many different types of appetizers, both sweet and savory.  Recently, I realized that I could save some money by making my own shells from the company’s phyllo dough which is packaged in sheets. By using this product, I was able to make a very large quantity of the shells all at once and freeze them for a variety of celebrations.

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The steps are very easy and the process works perfectly.  One package of dough makes over one hundred shells.  And, what is even better, a variety of shell sizes can be made from one package.  To make the shells, purchase Athens Fillo Dough in sheets.  Next, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Coat muffin tins with cooking spray. Using about five sheets at a time, keeping the rest of the sheets covered while working, layer the sheets using cooking spray between the layers.  I just use a light spray between every couple.  There is no such thing as a mistake during this process.  Either cut in squares or circles and place into the muffin tins.  Push the layers of dough firmly into the spaces so there will be room for toppings and fillings later when making the appetizers.  Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes based on your oven’s heating.  Watch until the edges are golden brown.  Cool after baking.  Store in plastic containers in the freezer with layers separated by waxed paper.  These shells will last for several months frozen.

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When ready to bake the appetizers, just pull from the freezer and place on cookie sheet. Fill with desired toppings and bake to cook the filling, usually 10-15 minutes.

So easy, time-saving, and cost effective.  Instead of purchasing the Athens pre-made shells, this technique allows me to have shells ready made at any time of year.

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Leaffusion tea infuser

March is here and we still have winter weather in Michigan.  So, I continue drinking tea to stay warm.  I found another cool tea infuser on amazon.com.  This one is styled for a single cup of tea.  They come in a variety of colors too.

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This week I tried a variety of tea blends with my infuser with great success. The stainless steel ball allows for just the right infusion of water through the tool for a perfect blend.  The pure food grade silicone leaf handle works perfectly to handle and clean.

This model comes with a drip tray as well.  I find it very helpful to have a variety of these infusers to use for guests.  Or, if you are a tea drinker like me, to change between them throughout the day when changing tea flavors. Very cute and fun to use.   #leaffusion

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For more information, please follow this link:

http://www.amazon.com/loose-infuser%252713-leaffusion-pot%252713cup%252713tumbler-infuser%252713pitcher/dp/b00pt4jseg/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=utf8&qid=1423449427&sr=1-1&keywords=tea+infuser+leaffusion

 

 


Pemberley Lavender Lemon Tea

As a daily tea drinker, I am always on the lookout for a new tea blend.  This one comes from The Tea Can Company, specialty teas–Inspired by Jane. The tea is blended and packed in the USA.

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Inspired by the manor homes of famous Jane Austen characters, the six-inch tall metal tea tin holds 10 pyramid sachets.  Several tea blends are available.  I chose the Lavender Lemon Tea, and was thoroughly impressed with the flavor.  Out of the tin, the fragrance of lavender is lovely.  So calming and a wonderful reminder of summer lavender growing in my garden.

When the outdoor thermometer is dipping to minus 26, I was thrilled to have this summer fragrance coming from my tea-cup.  The taste is not floral, but a wonderful smooth blend of lemon grass and green tea.  The tea is pale in color and just perfect for today.

I also would recommend this tea for summer iced tea, as I can tell that the blend would be lovely chilled. Served with a lavender sugar cookie, this tea would compliment any afternoon tea party.

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For more information on this product, please follow this link:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/b00t4g5lqo

#janeaustentea

A new tea product: the smart tea infuser

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Since I am a tea lover, I am always on the lookout for new tea products.  I found this smart tea infuser recently, and decided to give it a try.  The size of the infuser is perfect for a 4 cup pot of tea.

The small straining holes allow for using some of the finest tea leaves.  I have found that other infusers allow for the leaves to escape and float in the tea-pot, requiring additional straining prior to serving.  This stainless steel product  is high quality and easy to clean.  The silicon handle and lid are well constructed and securely attach to the infuser. The product comes with a drip tray that could also be used to cover a tea-cup for warmth.

It was a joy to use this product this past week.  Instead of jumping up to my hot-pot every 15 minutes, I simply prepare my water, make a pot of tea and continue with my computer work.  So relaxing and surprisingly the pot of tea is just the perfect temperature for drinking. The infuser is available on amazon.com at this link: http://www.amazon.com/Drinkkler-Smart-Infuser-Stainless-Steel/dp/B00M3CEFBS           # smartteainfuser