happy holidays

by jani on December 28, 2012

I will be taking a little break, but will be back at the beginning of 2013! Hoping your holidays are bright and wishing you all good things in the coming year!

happy holidays 3


There will be lots of great new recipes, exciting travel, family fun and fashion coming soon! So, come back for a visit and in the meantime… enjoy!


Christmas is a time of festivities. One such tradition in our home is baking  Cornish game hens with HB’s fabulous stuffing! Forgive me if I use the term Gamish Corn hens. Unfortunately I made that tongue slip the other day and it seems to have be sticking. HB even suggest we “stew our duffing” after preparing the birds! Very funny, my mister main culinary expert!

This year we plan to enjoy dinner with our son and his family on Christmas day, so we thought individual tiny hens with stuffing baked in these adorable Le Creuset mini cocottes would be just perfect for the two of us! The red and green mini baking dishes work perfectly with our Christmas theme.

Cornish game hens are so easy to bake.  We suggest you thaw them under cold water – season to taste, bake in 350 degree oven and baste with melted butter.  Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted in breast reads 180 degrees (approximately 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours for four hens).

 Stuffing ingredients:
Note 1: You will need less stuffing depending on the number of guests. We adjusted our original turkey stuffing to fit a smaller quantity. In addition, baking the stuffing in the individual mini cocottes enhances the celebratory mood of our Christmas Eve dinner!
  • 1 lb. fresh chestnuts (not indicative of end quantity; often times some chestnuts are unusable after roasting)
  • 1-8oz can sliced water chestnuts
  • 1 cup shelled pine nuts
  • 4-oz (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2  lbs. Jimmy Dean “regular” sausage
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 cups celery, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 8 cups dry French bread cubes, unseasoned
  • 1/4 cup snipped parsley
  • 1-1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 qt. half and half 
  • Salt
  • To roast chestnuts, slash shells in an X pattern with a sharp knife to avoid exploding. Roast on a baking pan in a 400° oven for 24 minutes, cool. Peel and coarsely chop. Set aside. Note: The amount used in the recipe will depend on your taste for chestnuts. Suggested quantity: 1-1/2 cups.
  • Roast pine nuts on baking sheet at 300° for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and set aside.
  •  In skillet, sauté mushrooms in butter until liquid completely absorbed. Set aside.
  • Break sausage into small pieces, in large skillet cook until completely brown. Reserve at least one tablespoon drippings.  Cool sausage, transfer to food processor, chop coarsely. Set aside.
  • In same skillet cook garlic, onion and celery in reserved drippings till tender but not brown. Remove from skillet.
  • In large bowl combine the chestnuts, water chestnuts, pine nuts, sausage, vegetable mixture, bread cubes, the parsley, poulty seasoning, thyme, pepper, and dash salt. Drizzle light cream over mixture, toss lightly until blended and well moistened an and mixture holds together.
  • Spoon mixture lightly into neck cavity of turkey; pull the neck skin to the back of the bird and fasten securely with a skewer. Lightly spoon remaining mixture into body cavity, fasten with skewers.  (Bake any additional dressing in casserole during final 45 minutes of roasting time.) Tie turkey legs to the tail. Brush turkey with melted butter. Place bird breast side up, on a rack in a shallow baking pan. Roast, uncovered, in a 325°F oven until internal thermometer registers 180°F. When turkey is done cover lightly with foil and let stand 20 minutes before carving.
Note 2: The dressing recipe quantities is adequate for stuffing an 18-20 lb. turkey.  Be sure to use a large (covered) circular casserole dish to bake any excess amount in during the last 45 minutes of roasting of the bird. Follow separate commercial poultry roasting instructions.

And now, I want to put in a plug for the lovely Mini Cocotte Cookbook that is available through Le Creuset. I promise you, it will not disappoint!

HB and I wish you a very Merry Christmas… a Happy Hanukkah… a Happy Kwanzaa… or whatever you may be celebrating during this marvelous time of year when we try just a bit harder to love our fellow man. It’s this spirit of caring and giving, that  becomes a true mark of our humanity! I’m grateful to each of you, my readers!  


holiday brandy gravy and fun times!

by jani on December 3, 2012

One of our favorite parts of our holiday meal is this velvety smooth and savory gravy. We’ve adapted it from a recipe found years ago in a Sunset magazine article from beautiful Mendocino’s Little River Inn – a favorite destination of ours!


  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup reserved fats from drippings of cooked poultry
  • 2 cups drippings or chicken broth
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 4  Tbsp brandy

Measure juices from turkey (or other poultry) roasting pan, scraping brown bits. Skim off fat, reserve. Measure pan juices, adding chicken broth to make 2 cups. Set aside. In saucepan combine 1/2 cup reserved fat and 1/2 cup flour until thoroughly mixed. Slowly add reserved juices and chicken broth, whisking the entire time over medium heat. Stir in 1 cup light cream. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly. Stir in brandy (we bring it back to a boil to cook out all the alcohol yet leaving the flavor), heat through. Makes 8-10 servings I always double the recipe or sometimes quadruple it – we don’t like to run out of this gravy!

This can be used when making turkey dinner for any holiday. It works well with Cornish game hens, which we usually enjoy at Christmas.

Most importantly, your dinner is not complete without the usual “Duck-Duck-Goose- Goose” game following the wonderful dinner meal. There’s just nothing quite like the joy of family and loved ones getting together to express love for one another.

This truly is the season of gratitude!

What are some of your favorite family traditions during this marvelous time of year?


polivore – holiday wear

by jani on November 30, 2012

Is it even possible? Is the holiday season upon us? Check your calendars and get ready for all the parties and holiday happenings! Here are a few festive fashions to help you embrace this busy, yet entertaining time of year. It can even be joyful, if we don’t allow ourselves to become too overcome by all the hustle and bustle of this December season. Try to stay in tune with the reason for the season… and enjoy!

Holiday Wear

VILA dressy top
$48 –

Marc jacob

Miss Selfridge lace skirt

Sparkly shoes

Leather clutch purse
$700 –

Jon Richard purple jewelry
$19 –

Tom ford sunglasses
$310 –


Christmas Wear

$45 –

MSGM boucle jacket
$745 –

$39 –

Fossil watch

$340 –



And here’s my wish for you…  happy and festive holidays to all!