Thursday, December 1, 2011


What would Christmas be without a hideous sweaters?


   This comes from www.showtellshare.blogspot.com .  These would look  really great on your Chirstmas buffet and dessert table.  Good luck!

Peppermint Topiary Trees

Last week Stephanie Lynn over at Under the Table and Dreaming invited us to be part of her Handmade Holidays series using STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam. We were super excited to be featured with several other talented bloggers! Here is the project and post I shared with them:

Some of my special childhood memories of Christmas center around holiday candy. Peppermint sticks and marshmallow Santas and those creamy bits of heaven called Lindt balls were stocking standards in our home. I would savor my stocking candy for weeks, trying to prolong the magical taste of Christmas. Santa always left Starlight mints for us among the cookie crumbs on his plate, and although I enjoyed them year round, those enchanted drops touched by The Man Himself always tasted special and different on Christmas morning.

Last holiday season my friend brought a peppermint-covered decoration to our girls' craft night. The sight of her ball brought back vivid memories of Christmas-morning delight and crispy-coolness melting in my mouth. I knew I had to make some peppermint topiaries for my home as well! With her permission, I'm sharing my interpretation of her idea. Thanks Tiffany!

Materials needed:

10" STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam sphere
6" STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam cube
Pot or container for the base
Peppermint candies, about 4 1/2 11-oz bags
Red duct tape
1" dowel
Decorative accents and ribbon as desired

I painted my dowel white, since I wanted a cute, whimsical look to match the red and white candy.

Cut the dowel to 24". Finding the exact center of the STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam cube, gently twist the dowel into the STYROFOAM™ at the center point until it is firmly embedded in the cube, approximately 4-5 inches deep. Secure the cube into the bottom of the container with hot glue.

To hide the white STYROFOAM™, I cut a piece of square cardstock to size and let it rest on top of the cube, cutting a hole in the center for the dowel. Before gluing the dowel into the cube, twist the other end of the dowel into the STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam sphere, about 5-6 inches deep. Pull the sphere back off the dowel.

Using small strips of colored duct tape, cover the surface of the sphere. Be careful to leave the hole for the dowel uncovered. Smooth down any rough edges or wrinkles in the tape, and then glue the sphere onto the dowel.

With a glue gun, begin at the top of the sphere and attach unwrapped peppermint candies to the tape. Of course, you'll have to suck on a few of the chipped mints as you work. Just remember that they won't taste as good now as they will on Christmas morning. After the entire sphere is covered, spray generously with a polyurethane spray to keep the candies from becoming sticky or melting. Down in these parts we've been known to have 80 degree temperatures at Christmas time. That just feels wrong somehow.

I added green tinted glass gems to the top of my cardstock to give some extra sparkle, and a big bow for accent.

Depending on the length of your dowel and the size of your sphere and container, these Peppermint Trees would make a cute centerpiece on a table, a festive arrangement at the base of the staircase, or a welcoming display near the entry. As for me, my trees will be right next to the fireplace, waiting to welcome The Man in Red on his Christmas Eve visit.

Merry Christmas!


This comes from http://www.chow.com/.  Hope you like them.

Pandoro Recipe

Difficulty: Hard

Total Time: 5 hrs 50 mins
Active Time: 35 mins
Makes:8 to 10 servings

Similar to panettone in its sweet yeastiness, pandoro (“golden cake”) is also known as a Christmastime treat. With its long preparation time, special star-shaped mold, and tall stature, it is a bit of a challenge to make at home, but worth the effort. Traditionally, pandoro is flavored with lemon zest or citron, but here we used orange zest.
Special equipment: Star-shaped pandoro molds can be found at specialty kitchen stores or online.

Game plan: Some ovens come with a “proof” setting; if yours does, set it to 90°F. A consistently warm environment will help the dough rise more quickly.

For the starter:

•1/2 cup all-purpose flour

•1/2 cup warm water (105°F to 110°F)

•1/4 cup granulated sugar

•1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

•1 large egg yolk

For the cake:

•3 cups all-purpose flour

•1/2 cup granulated sugar

•6 large egg yolks

•8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature and cut into small pieces

•1 large egg

•1 teaspoon kosher salt

•1 teaspoon vanilla extract

•3/4 teaspoon orange zest

To serve:

•Powdered sugar, for dusting

•Tuaca-Mascarpone Cream

•Toasted, slivered almonds


For the starter:

1. Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk gently to combine. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

For the cake:

1. Coat a large bowl with butter; set aside.

2. Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour to the starter and, using the hook attachment on a stand mixer, mix on low until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar and mix until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add 3 of the egg yolks, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next. Add half of the butter pieces, 1 or 2 at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is sticky and stringy, about 3 to 5 minutes more.

3. Place dough in the prepared bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Clean the mixer bowl.

4. Gently place risen dough in the bowl of the stand mixer. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, remaining 3 egg yolks, the whole egg, salt, vanilla, and zest. Turn the mixer to low and, using the hook attachment, knead until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add remaining half of the butter pieces, 1 or 2 pieces at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is sticky and stringy, about 5 to 8 minutes more. Meanwhile, coat a large bowl with butter. Place dough in the prepared bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

5. Thoroughly coat a 9-cup pandoro mold with 1 to 2 tablespoons melted butter using a pastry brush. Sift flour into the mold to evenly coat, then tap out the excess (make sure to get all of the corners to prevent any sticking).

6. Remove the risen dough from the bowl and transfer to the prepared mold (the dough should fill the pan about halfway). Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm spot until the dough is about a 1/2 inch from the top of the pan, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the lower third.

7. Bake the pandoro for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325°F and bake until the pandoro is dark golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes more.

8. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Gently remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely on the rack, about 1 hour.
To serve:

When the cake has cooled completely, turn it upside down and dust generously with powdered sugar. Serve with Tuaca-Mascarpone Cream and toasted almonds.

Orange Marmalade Truffles Recipe

Orange Marmalade Truffles

Difficulty: Easy

Total Time: 40 mins, plus refrigeration time
Active Time: 40 mins
Makes:About 60 truffles

These truffles are refreshingly simple: Just melt chocolate with cream, stir in all things orangy, let the chocolate set up, and roll into petite bites. Serve them to your sweetie for brownie points, or as a stellar finishing touch at your next cocktail party.
What to buy: Look for marmalade with lots of zest to ensure you’ll have a chewy orange bit in every bite. We like St. Dalfour brand.
Game plan: The truffles can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Their orange flavor diminishes a little each day, though, so they’re best the same day they’re made.


•1 pound bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (about 3 cups)

•1/2 cup heavy cream

•1/4 cup orange marmalade

•2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier

•1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest, from 1 medium orange

•1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder


1. Place a medium saucepan filled with about 1 inch of water over medium-low heat until just simmering. Place chocolate in a medium glass or metal bowl and set the bowl over (but not touching) the simmering water. Add cream and stir until chocolate is smooth and melted, about 8 minutes.

2. Remove chocolate mixture from heat, add marmalade, liqueur, and zest, and stir until combined. Pour into an 8-by-8-inch dish. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

3. Once set, scoop the ganache into teaspoon-size balls. Roll between the palms of your hands to create smooth round truffles, place on a baking sheet, and repeat with remaining ganache.

4. Place cocoa powder in a shallow dish and roll truffles in the powder to coat, shaking off excess. Reroll truffles in additional cocoa powder before serving, if necessary.

How to Make Granola

Homemade Granola
Granola is basically toasted oats. It’s incredibly easy to buy for exorbitant prices, yet incredibly easy to make at home. Here is a super-basic granola base to which you can add whatever dried fruit, nuts, or other tasty bits make you happy. Feel free to tweak this recipe if you like other spices, a little less honey, more salt—it’s pretty forgiving, and customizing your own blend is fun.

Here’s how to make your own granola:

1. In a large bowl, stir together three cups of old-fashioned rolled oats, three tablespoons brown sugar, a quarter teaspoon kosher salt, and a half teaspoon cinnamon.

2. In another bowl, stir together one-third cup honey, a quarter cup canola oil, and a teaspoon of vanilla. Dump this over the oat mixture and combine thoroughly. Get your hands in it to mix everything well, and to coat the oats evenly with the honey mixture. Heat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Spread the mixture in a thin, even layer on a baking sheet and place on the center rack of the heated oven. Bake, stirring after 15 minutes, until the granola is a very light golden brown. It should take 20 to 30 minutes. If you like your granola crunchier with a toastier flavor, bake it a little longer, keeping a close eye on it—if it gets dark it will taste burnt.

4. Cool the granola completely, stirring it around so it doesn’t stick together. (It hardens as it cools.)

5. Once the granola’s cool, get creative: Now is the time to stir in all your extras like dried fruit, raw or toasted nuts and seeds, toasted coconut, etc. (See our sidebar for variations.) Store in an airtight container (this is very important—the granola goes stale easily) and eat within two weeks.

Mix It Up!

• Try adding in other rolled grain flakes with the oats such as spelt, kamut, or brown rice.

• Tropical: Add toasted coconut, macadamia nuts, and dried mango.

• Apple-Cinnamon: Add dried apples and toasted almonds to the mix, and additional cinnamon if you want.

• Date-Nut: Add dried dates and toasted pecans.

• Berry: Add dried mixed berries and toasted cashews.

• Experiment! Use other dried fruits (apricots, plums, raisins, cherries, currants) and toasted or raw nut-seed combos (sunflower seeds, mixed nuts, pistachios) and whatever spices you want.


10. Belfast Christmas Continental Market

A Traditional Continental Market in Belfast

   Belfast one of Europe's biggest tourist destinations will welcome back its wonderful Christmas Continental Market. The fabulous City Hall gardens are transformed into a bustling alpine village providing a great shop around Europe opportunity in the heart of this famous City Centre. The Belfast Continental Market also guarantees a real Irish welcome for all its visitors.

   One of Belfast landmark buildings the famous City Hall with its beautiful gardens provides a wonderful backdrop for the Christmas Alpine Village and is situated right in the heart of the City Centre and its wider retail shopping areas. The Market is situated directly alongside the central Bus link and taxi station so transport and travel are never far away.

2010 - Fantastic shopping experience
   The shopping experience is everything you would expect from a Continental Christmas Market with over 28 different countries represented selling a great range of fresh and hot food, gifts and crafts. With traders from across Europe featuring some very special traders from Russia and the Lapp area of Finland to the Mad Yanks all the way from the USA and Daniel Aguirre from the foothills of Machu Picchu in Peru with his fantastic Alpacca Knitwear making the long journey to work at this market.

To warm you
   The market features some fantastic refreshment areas such as the Continental Bar and Lavery's traditional Irish Bar where you can hear some great live music or wander around the German Gluwein and Bratwurst Stands where you can watch some great Fire Eating displays as well as enjoying a great glass of warming mulled wine.

And more !!
   And if all that shopping, eating and drinking doesn't satisfy you, you can also take the family to visit to Santa in his specially designed Grotto and Magical Forest

Millennium Square, Leeds  christmas market, Millennium Square, Leeds  christmas markets, Millennium Square, Leeds  xmas market, Millennium Square, Leeds  xmas markets

9. Leeds Christkindelmarkt Traditional German Christmas Market

Christkindelmarkt, Leeds - a little piece of Germany in the heart of Leeds City Centre

   Christkindelmarkt, Leeds is one of the most established German Christmas Markets in the UK, with traditional wooden stalls, festive greenery, Christmas carousel rides and twinkling colourful lights all creating a unique continental style festive atmosphere in the heart of Leeds city centre.

   Set in the stylish civic setting of the award winning Millennium Square, Christkindelmarkt attracts many hundred thousands of visitors to Leeds each year and forms an integral part of the city’s annual events programme.
   The market consists of over 40 wooden chalet stalls from authentic German traders providing a wide range of seasonal gift ideas for everyone including; handcrafted toys, jewellery, Christmas cards and festive decorations, speciality foods and traditional German delicacies such as gluhwein, bratwurst sausages, goulash, soups, schnitzels, stollen, gingerbread and candied fruits.

Millennium Square, Leeds  christmas market, Millennium Square, Leeds  christmas markets, Millennium Square, Leeds  xmas market, Millennium Square, Leeds  xmas markets

   To enhance the overall visitor experience of the event an adjoining festive funfair provides fun for all the family including a traditional Christmas Carousel and a selection of children's rides and attractions.
The popular Frankfurter-Scheune Festive Meeting Hall and eatery provides specialist food menu including traditional roasts and regular evening musical entertainment.

by the Abbey christmas market, by the Abbey christmas markets, by the Abbey xmas market, by the Abbey xmas markets
8. Bath Christmas Market

The South West's Premier Christmas Shopping Event

   Each year, the Abbey Churchyard area – a magical setting in the shadow of Bath Abbey and next to the Roman Baths, right in the centre of the stunning Georgian city’s shopping district, is transformed into a Christmas shoppers’ haven – Bath Christmas Market. The internationally renowned festive gift market is set to go ahead in its tenth year and we are delighted to announce that the Bath Christmas Market will run for an additional 7 days this year - a total of 18 days!
   123 traditional wooden chalets full of everything you’ll need to prepare for the perfect Christmas will adorn the streets. If you are looking for something extra special to make your Christmas perfect, Bath Christmas Market is the place you’ll find it, with all of the retailers selling unique, handcrafted items, many of which are made in the local area and the South West, giving the event a very individual identity. Festive food and drink, decorations, jewellery, accessories, crafts and children’s toys are all abundant, and with such a huge range of gift ideas any prospective present buyer will be spoilt for choice – even for those family members who are normally impossible to buy for!

Angel Hill & Town Centre christmas market, Angel Hill & Town Centre christmas markets, Angel Hill & Town Centre xmas market, Angel Hill & Town Centre xmas markets

7.Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre

Something for Everyone at Bury St Edmunds!

   Between 25 November and 27 November, the historic centre of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk will be transformed into a wonderful Christmas market with colourful stalls selling local produce and crafts as well as traders from around the UK and mainland Europe, traditional fairground rides and on-stage entertainment.
   The Angel Hill area of Bury St Edmunds, with its recently crowned cathedral, medieval Abbey Gate and links with Charles Dickens is the ideal setting for a traditional Christmas Fayre. An added attraction is the town’s nearby cosmopolitan shopping centre with its great mix of famous name stores and independent shops plus cafés and restaurants galore. Visitors on Saturday will also be able to sample the delights of Bury St Edmunds provisions market on the Buttermarket and Cornhill while, this year, the date also coincides with the Cathedral’s Christmas Fair and the Medieval Fayre in Moyse’s Hall Museum. There will be street entertainment on all three days leading up into the town centre and more stalls in our new shopping centre 'arc' There really is something for everyone.

Victoria Square, New Street and Chamberlain Square christmas market, Victoria Square, New Street and Chamberlain Square christmas markets, Victoria Square, New Street and Chamberlain Square xmas market, Victoria Square, New Street and Chamberlain Square xmas markets

6.Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market & Craft Fair

Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market & Craft Fair

   Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market has become a huge favourite with both residents and visitors to the city from all over the UK and Europe. Combined with the city’s own Christmas Craft Fair of local traders, it offers a total of over 180 stalls to browse and enjoy.
    Open daily from 18 November to 23 December, 10am-9pm, it is the largest authentic German market outside of Germany and Austria and is arguably one of the most popular Christmas markets in the UK.
   Enjoy the feel of a small village within the heart of the bustling city centre, with picturesque wooden chalets offering traditional handcrafted gifts, including jewellery, wooden toys, dolls and candles.
   Visitors’ senses will be delighted as they are invited to enjoy the Glühwein (German mulled wine), German beers, traditional sausages, meats, sweets, marzipans, breads and pastries.
   A truly continental atmosphere is conjured up by the lights, sounds and smells of this unique spectacle that is imported in its entirety and then installed in the beautiful setting of Birmingham's Victoria Square.
   The whole experience will be enhanced with live music every lunchtime and evening from a traditional bandstand.
   A truly international welcome and a unique shopping experience await all visitors to the heart of Birmingham this Christmas!

Rochester, Kent christmas market, Rochester, Kent christmas markets, Rochester, Kent xmas market, Rochester, Kent xmas markets

5.Dickens Christmas Market At Rochester Castle

   The Dickens Christmas Market will take place in the beautiful grounds of Rochester Castle, overlooking the River Medway and just a few steps from Rochester’s picture-postcard Victorian High Street, home to the ever-popular Dickensian Christmas Festival, attracting more than 80,000 people over the first weekend in December alone !  
   Just imagine the setting, the Castle walls illuminated in traditional Christmas colours,trees filled with twinkling fairy lights, the smell of roasted chestnuts and glühwein fills the air and an array of wonderful German style Christmas market huts selling a range of festive gifts and hand-crafted goods. In addition to all of this, street entertainers and Dickensian characters mingle amongst the revellers, whilst carol singers welcome visitors as they enter the market with festive Christmas carols.

Southbank Centre / London Eye christmas market, Southbank Centre / London Eye christmas markets, Southbank Centre / London Eye xmas market, Southbank Centre / London Eye xmas markets

4.Christmas Market at Southbank Centre/London Eye

Christmas Market at Southbank Centre / London Eye

   Whilst wandering about, look for and find unusual Christmas presents such as amber & silver jewellery, hand crafted toys, fragile glass ornaments for your Christmas tree, hand tatted laces, tin toys, candles in all shapes and sizes, hand-made ceramics or creative metal design.“Bought by you for special people at a special place.
   It will be a typcial German style Christmas Market – app. 60 wooden chalets will be situated between Southbank Centre and London Eye along Queen's Walk.
   The carousel in the centre of the Christmas Market offers younger visitors an enjoyable attraction especially for them. Parents can relax with a glass of “Glühwein” (German Mulled Wine) while listening to traditional Christmas music and watching their little ones enjoying a ride on the merry-go-round.
Other seasonal culinary specialties such as the typical German Sausage “Bratwurst” do not need an introduction, gingerbread hearts for your loved ones, roasted almonds and candies to taste the “sweet" side of life or a delicious crepe.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard christmas market, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard christmas markets, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard xmas market, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard xmas markets

3.A Victorian Festival of Christmas, Portsmouth

Traditional festive fun at A Victorian Festival of Christmas!

A Victorian Festival of Christmas, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Friday 25th - Sunday 27th November 2011

On the first year of Christmas my true love gave to me… a Festival to make you happy! 12 years on and that is still the case as Portsmouth Historic Dockyard will once again step back in time for the delightful Victorian Festival of Christmas.

This family favourite event set in the atmospheric dockyard surroundings, steeped in history, is the perfect way to start your festive season celebrations and preparations!
Be magically transported into a Dickensian-style bygone era of beautiful snowy streets and experience a taste of days gone by with a magic lantern show, Victorian dancing and a host of colourful characters including chimney sweeps, suffragettes, wenches, Victorian gentry and Fagin with his gang of pickpockets.
Browse for unique gifts and festive food at our Christmas Shopping and Hampshire Fare markets and discover how traditional Victorian recipes were prepared and cooked at our cookery theatre with Susie Carter, winner of ITV’s Britain’s Best Dish 2008.
The young (and young at heart!) will delight in visiting the traditional Father Christmas (dressed in green) and relish the opportunity to take the reins aboard his sleigh. And we are sure Mother Christmas will not be short of helpers to look after the lovable baby reindeer, Bubble and Squeak, as they prepare for Christmas Eve.    

Throughout Vienna christmas market, Throughout Vienna christmas markets, Throughout Vienna xmas market, Throughout Vienna xmas markets

2.Vienna Chrsitmas Markets

Christmas Markets in Vienna
   The Christmas Market season starts on Saturday, 13th November as the Advent season descends upon Vienna once more. During Advent Vienna is a city of nostalgia and romance, concerts and nativity displays and traditional Christmas markets. Classics include the Christmas market in front of City Hall, the traditional Viennese Christmas market on Freyung, the markets at Spittelberg, Am Hof and in front of the church of St. Charles Borromeo (Karlskirche), and . The aromas of candied fruits, cotton candy and other delicacies like Christmas punch and roasted chestnuts wafting around the small wooden market stalls still retain their magical power.The Magic of Advent in Vienna during November and December complements the market in front of City Hall. The adjoining Rathauspark is a place of seasonal inspiration with festively adorned trees, pony-riding, trips on the Christkindl Express and fairytale scenes portrayed in artistically-arranged displays.
All over the City christmas market, All over the City christmas markets, All over the City xmas market, All over the City xmas markets
1.Cologne Christmas Markets

Cologne Christmas Market

In December, Cologne offers its visitors a grand total of seven romantic Christmas Markets in the city centre. Each has its own special atmosphere and its own programme. Angels and Saint Nicolases, elves and Father Christmases as well as twinkling stars and the aroma of roasted almonds and ‘Glühwein’ invite you to browse in the festively decorated centre of Cologne.
Experience the Christmas season’s moment of glory at the Christmas Market at Cologne Cathedral. Let yourself be fascinated by diverse arts and crafts, unusual gift ideas and the wide palette of food and drinks on offer.
In the middle of the historic and idyllic Cologne Old Town stands the rustic Christmas market “Home of the gnomes”. According to the famous Cologne legend, this was also the home of the elves who were said to be particularly good craftspeople. Therefore, at this Christmas market you can find a particularly large number of handcraft stalls, where goods are still produced in the traditional way.
Cologne’s oldest Christmas market is the market on the Neumarkt, in the shopping area against the backdrop of the church St. Aposteln. Once again in 2011, as in recent years, the Angels Market glows in pre-Christmas splendour with its lovingly designed houses and unique starry sky.
Just a ten minute walk from Neumarkt, the Fairytale Christmas market is situated at Rudolfplatz. The motto of the sixty huts at the Hahnentorburg is the brother’s Grimm tales.
Therefore, this Christmas market delights particularly younger visitors. From Europe’s largest floating Christmas Market with over forty stalls, you get a truly dream-like view of the Cologne Old town and the Cathedral. The market will take place on the ship “MS Wappen von Köln”.
The Christmas market at Stadtgarten has a far more relaxed village like atmosphere.
The new maritime Christmas Market presents itself in picturesque scenery directly on the Rhine with about 80 stalls in white pagoda tents with roof peaks appearing like ship sails. High-quality products and art craft, dishes and drinks from all over the world as well as a coloured programme with pirates, Shanty and Christmas performances invite for a stay with a tasty mulled wine.
Let yourself be enticed by the Christmas magic and visit the festive holy activities in the Rhine metropolis. A great number of events will make your stay in Cologne perfect: Exhibitions, musicals, opera or concerts – Cologne makes dreams come true.