A Little Claire-ification

bright ideas for the busy & budget minded…

The Holidays At Home – Traditions: Homemade Pierogies

Food - Pierogies FINAL

It doesn’t matter to me how you choose to spell it – pierogi, perogi, pirogi…  just know that I WILL eat them.  Pierogies are a traditional Polish dumpling of sorts that are stuffed with a cheesy potato mixture or sometimes with sauerkraut, ground beef or even fruit (although I have never tried a dessert pierogi!) (yet).  Once they are made, the pierogies are first boiled and then pan fried for a bit with some onions and butter.  We also fry up  some sliced kielbasa and it’s just a heavenly accompaniment to the pierogies but you vegetarians can skip that part, of course.  I’ll eat yours.  😉  Now I personally  am a cheesy potato filling kind of girl (heavy on the cheese, please!!) and I love having pierogies and kielbasa on Christmas morning.

While we are of Irish descent, one of my Mom’s dear friends Helene, who was also my Godmother, was Polish.  Making pierogies with my Mom and Helene was an annual tradition for many, many years when I was growing up.

Helene, her daughter Meg (also my Godmother) and her Husband Steve (circa the late 70s)

I can still remember the flour all over the counter and the dough being rolled out.  We would make TONS of pierogies because they could be frozen and enjoyed all year long, which also made my Dad extremely happy.  Breakfast of champions!!

This year The Husband and I decided to carry on the tradition and try our hand at making pierogies both to serve on Christmas morning and to send home with the family to enjoy throughout the year (I’m just saying that because they might read this… we’ll see if any are left!) 😉  So here’s how we made ours with the potato cheese filling:

Directions (link to the full recipe at the end):

Pierogi Dough
To prepare the pierogi dough, mix together the flour and salt. Beat the egg, then add all at once to the flour mixture. Add the 1/2 cup sour cream and the softened butter pieces and work until the dough loses most of its stickiness (about 5-7 minutes). You can use a food processor with a dough hook for this, but be careful not to overmix. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or overnight; the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Prepare the Potato, Cheese & Onion Filling:  Peel and boil the potatoes until easily pierced with a fork.
While the potatoes are boiling, finely chop 1 large onion and saute in butter until soft and translucent.
Mash the potatoes with the sauted onions and 8oz of grated cheddar cheese (we used white cheddar), adding salt and pepper to taste.
You can also add some minced garlic, fresh parsley, bacon bits, chives, or other enhancements if you desire.  Let the potato mixture cool and then form into 1″ balls.

Prepare the Pierogies
Roll the pierogi dough on a floured board or countertop until 1/8″ thick.  Cut circles of dough (2″ for small pierogies and 3-3 1/2″ for large pierogies) with a cookie cutter or drinking glass.



Place a small ball of filling (about a tablespoon) on each dough round and fold the dough over, forming a semi-circle. Press the edges together with the tines of a fork.




At this point, place the prepared pierogies in freezer bags or alternately sealed containers with the layers separated by freezer paper.  If gifting, make sure to include cooking instructions! We don’t need any microwave incidents with uncooked pierogies!! 🙂

We boil the pierogies (no need to defrost if frozen) a few at a time in a large pot of water. They are done when they float to the top (about 8-10 minutes).


Rinse in cool water and let dry.

Sauté chopped onions in butter in a large pan until onions are soft.  We also sautéed some kielbasa, as mentioned above.  Both the onions and kielbasa are optional, as you can just pan fry your pierogis with butter if you would like.

Food - Kielbasa and Onions cooking

Set aside the kielbasa and onions and then pan fry the pierogies for a few minutes on each side until lightly crispy.  We mixed up 1/2 cup sour cream and the chopped scallions (also optional) and placed a dollop on each pierogi – it was divine.

Food - Scallions and sour cream

So yes, I have already sampled a few. Ok, maybe half a dozen, just to be SURE they were good of course. 😉  They are exactly as I remembered.  Delicious!!  I can’t wait for Christmas morning!

Food - Pierogies FINAL

Here’s the full recipe:  http://alittleclaireification.com/recipes/cheesy-potato-pierogies/

Do you have any traditional dishes that you and your family prepare every year at the holidays?   I would love to hear about your traditions and recipes too!



Linking Up To Some Fabulous Parties!

Saturday Show & Tell @ Cheerios & Lattes


The Holidays At Home – Best of The Weekend #5


Happy Monday and welcome to the “Best Of The Weekend #5”!!  This one going up a bit later than usual today but, hey.

I was wrapping gifts.   (< — she’s lying)

Rats, foiled again!  Well I hope that you are all finished with your shopping because I, for one, am waaaayyyyy behind, this year.  And I will get it done online very soon but I keep getting distracted by wonderful posts like these below!!!

Alright, you know the drill so here we go, in no particular order – a handful of my favorites from this past week!!   As always, if you are featured or have been featured in the past, feel free to grab the button above and proudly flaunt it on your site.  I will be posting this on FB as well, so come on over and “Like” my page so I will know you saw it!  🙂

Edible Snowflakes @ The Mandatory Mooch

How beautiful are these??  And Nichi gives a great tutorial on how to make them.  I think these would look beautiful on any holiday treat platter!!

edible snowflakes

100 Top “Dollar Tree” Decorating Ideas @ Fox Hollow Cottage

Ok, Christmas is about giving and, while my “Best Of The Weekend” normally highlights approx. 10 great posts.. this is like a little gift INSIDE a gift.  A little “nesting doll” (of 100 extra ideas!!) if you will. 😉   And Shannon’s rhymes for each entry made me laugh the entire time I was looking through this post.  Not to mention… HOLY cheap holiday decorating, Batman!  I have not gotten over to the new Dollar Tree that opened recently and I see a trip in my very near future.  As in 10AM tomorrow.


How To Make A Skirt from Ties @ Crystelle Boutique

So you might be thinking “What in the name of Rudolph does this have to do with the holidays?!?”  Well, I’ll tell ya’.  I want everyone to make one for meeeee for Christmas, that’s what!  LOL  I thought this was just awesome.  And how easy are ties to find at thrift stores??  Love this!   It is actually a really cute gift idea for any eclectic friends or hard to please teens.  😉


Peanut Butter Christmas Trees @ Sweet Simple Stuff

Brenda had me at Reese’s… and another fun one to make with kids.  I, however, opt to make them alone so that nobody knows exactly how many are missing…


Book Page Christmas Trees @ Alderberry Hill

The beautiful Miss Sarah is always hopping over there at Alderberry Hill!  I don’t sleep much over here but I am starting to think she might have a clone with as much as she has going on!! 🙂  Here is Sarah’s take on Book Page Christmas Trees  – I just  L-O-V-E the bases!!  Now I am not sure we have any “unused” books in our house, but I do see them all the time for less than $1 at thrift stores so that will be easy enough to find!!  Thanks busy lady!!



{DIY} Pom-Pom Wreath @ Life In Grace

This is such a fun craft posted by an even more amazing gal!!!  To say that Edie is one of the most inspirational bloggers I have ever come across would be such a major understatement.  Right up there with “The sun is hot” and “I like cute shoes”. (Duh).  Whether Edie knows it or not, she has single handedly changed the way I look at life, one post at a time (and she was most likely wearing awesome cowboy boots the whole time!).   Edie and her family lost everything in a house fire just days before Christmas 2010…  her family’s journey to rebuild their home and their lives, as well as her faith in God, is just too hard to describe in words.  {Caveat Salutor (“Visitor beware”):   By clicking the link below, you acknowledge that you may spend hours on Edie’s site lost in all of her amazing posts and wonder where all that time went…  😉 }


Ornament Display @ The Sweet Survival

Ok who else has a gazillion extra ornaments they bought at half off over the years???  Or am I just the only one with a problem here?  Hmmm.  Well if you DO have some extra ornaments, this display by Trisha is Ahh-DORABLE.


Pecan-Praline Cheesecakes @ Crazy For Crust

Is there anything that Dorothy posts that doesn’t make me want to just lick the screen?  I daresay, “NO. No there is not”.   Girl may be “crazy for crust” but her recipes and beautiful photos are INSANE.  Keep ’em coming, Dorothy.  I’ll be fat and happy in my straight jacket… 😉


DIY Mercury Glass Ornaments @ The Frugal Homemaker

I SO love mercury glass.  These are gorgeous!! Thanks Christina – I need to find my 40% off Hob-Lob coupon ASAP!!


{FREE} Video Message From Santa @ Portable North Pole {PNP}

This one is not a blog but I cannot say enough about how cute this is and how much my kids have enjoyed this for three years in a row – I had to share!  This is also not a sponsored link, and I can tell you that the guys at PNP also do NOT spam after you make a video.  This past year I got three emails.  One that included the link to the video I created.  One telling me my 2011 video was about to expire (maybe around March?).  And one about a month ago reminding me to create a new video for 2012 (thank GOD because I would have forgotten!).  Love this and it’s super easy, too – it only takes about 5 minutes or so.  Again, while they do offer some packages you can purchase, the basic video is free! (PS: Unless your child is an absolute SAINT, I recommend choosing the “Naughty/Nice” video.  Talk about keeping them on their toes!!)  (PSS: Since it’s a video template, I show my children their “videos from Santa” separately).


Hope you are all inspired by some of these great posts! Have a great week!




The Holidays At Home – Handmade Holiday (sweater embellished!) Gift Tags

Holiday Gift Tags - FINAL

Hey y’all!!  I hope you have had a great weekend!   We certainly did and I was also very (very, very, very) excited to receive some new holiday baker’s twine and holiday crafty tape from “Pick Your Plum” in the mail yesterday!  It was like early Christmas!! (yes, I have a low joy threshold like that).  Even better, last year after Christmas I bought some holiday stickers and some other holiday craft tape at 75% off  that I had completely forgotten about (I AM my Mother… and I am ok with that).  As I was looking at these festive items all together it made me think about creating some fun gift tags!   Well, anyway it seemed like a better idea than decorating the dashboard of The Teenager’s car as a “holiday surprise”.  😉   Bet he would just L-O-V-E that.  (N-O-T).

Does this not look like a bunch of fun just waiting to happen??



I also had a green thrift store sweater that I bought about 6 weeks ago to make some “holiday sweater trees” and never got around to making them but I was able to put it to great use with these fun gift tags!  I’ll bet you have something in your closet that you just don’t wear or like anymore  – or maybe in your kid’s closet or already sitting in a bag headed to give away  –  that you could re-purpose too!

So grab your hot glue guns, ladies & gentlemen.  Here’s how it’s done:

For starters, here’s my $1 thrift store sweater  – I know it looks kind of cute in the picture but it was actually pretty worn and a bit “nubby” so don’t fret.  It’s being put to good use.  And I only used a few inches so, believe me, I have some other ideas for this material down the road!!


Next, speaking of using things we have on hand, I do love our faux pepper berry wreath but if you have one, did you ever notice some of the pepper berries get a little wonky over the years?

Pepper Berry Wreath


Well I am going to put some of those jacked up  “berries” to good use in a minute! 🙂

To start, I created some gift tag templates (the template is included at the end so you can print as well).  You’ll notice I added “To & From” on some and left some blank for more options.  I printed mine on an off-white card stock:


After cutting out the tags, I snagged paper hole reinforcements from the kid’s school supply stash (that’s right kids, nothing is safe from Mommy on a crafty mission).  Since I only had clear reinforcements on hand, I used a trusty Sharpie to color them red (believe me, if the world should end on 12/21 as per the Mayan calendar, I can help fix it with my glue gun, Sharpies and some duct tape):



And I am sure you can actually buy red reinforcements if you want to save 30 seconds…

Next I took the sweater and cut out some “holly leaves” using my (pink) pinking shears:



I then used some of the crafty tape and started embellishing the tags on the bottom and sides – there is no right or wrong here.  I had so much fun using the different tape patterns.   I used hot glue to place the sweater “holly leaves” and the (wayward) pepper berries, placing the damaged side down and using the red Sharpie again as needed to spruce up any white or damaged areas.  “Pepper berry Botox”, if you will. 😉   I also added some of my red & white baker’s twine and jute twine  for the ties.

Holiday Gift Tags - FINAL

I am so excited at how easy this was and how cute they turned out!   As for the other tag pattern, I placed some of the fun holiday stickers I had to add some holiday “bling” and also added in some green holiday ribbon and green reinforcements (thanks again to my Sharpie addiction collection) along the way.


I finished off the gift tag fun by using some red mini pom-poms I had to create a few Rudolph tags.  I just free-handed it, trying a couple of different things but if you really don’t want to hand-draw anything, you could always print a reindeer image or maybe have your kids do a “thumbprint” Rudolph and then just add the 3-D nose!


I packaged a few of each design in some cello-gift bags to add in with our teacher holiday gifts this year.

Holiday Gift Tags in Bag

Overall another easy holiday craft that you could also do with your kids!  You could use different colors of card stock and whatever crafty items you have on hand.   Just some good old personalized, holiday fun!!

Here is the gift tag template – right click, download and print:

Holiday Gift Tags Template

Hope you enjoy it and be sure to comment and send me pics of any creative gift tag ideas you come up with too!!



Linking Up To Some Fabulous Parties!

Power of Pinterest Pinning Party @ Fox Hollow Cottage

Live-Laugh-Linky Party @ Live Laugh Rowe

I Freakin’ Did It Fridays @ Miss Information

Christmas Inspiration Party @ Top This, Top That

Wildly Original Link Party @ I Gotta Create

Wow Us Wednesdays @ Savvy Southern Style

Nifty Thrifty Tuesday @ Coastal Charm

Handmade Tuesdays @ Ladybug Blessings

Mop it Up Monday @ I Should Be Mopping The Floor

Busy Monday @ A Pinch Of Joy

Clever Chicks Blog Hop @ The Chicken Chick

Handmade Christmas @ Alderberry Hill

Make The Scene Monday @ Alderberry Hill

Sundae Scoop @ I Heart Nap Time

Saturday Show & Tell @ Cheerios & Lattes

Flaunt It Fridays @ Chic On A Shoestring

Christmas Craft Party @ The Nesting Place



The Holidays At Home – Burlap Ornament Banner

Crafts - Burlap Holiday Banner

You recall I mentioned that I had bought 4 yards of burlap in my Burlap “Believe” Pillow post?  So of course I am trying to make all sorts of things since the pillow hardly used any of the burlap at all!

I have seen a TON of burlap banners this year, almost all of them as hanging triangles and a couple using rectangles.  They are all pretty cute and I thought it would be fun to try using an ornament shape with a star on each end.  I’ll include the printable patterns at the end.

First, I traced and cut out 5 burlap ornaments and two burlap stars.



You’ll see I made the top of each ornament slightly longer so I can fold it over the jute twine at the end.

I then used some cute holiday ribbon I already had in my stash to decorate all.  I found it was easier to cut the strips of ribbon slightly longer than the ornament and secure with hot glue and trim off the ends of the ribbon once the glue cooled.



I also used hot glue to attach the little bows to the star shapes.  You could also use jewels or glitter glue or whatever else you have on hand!


I have some letter stencils…


but I didn’t like the font for this, so I printed out my letters to make my own “PEACE” letter stencils.  Whatever word you want to create – this is pretty easy stuff!



I used the stencils to hand paint a letter on each burlap ornament using red glitter acrylic paint.


Once the paint was dry, I laid out the ornaments and stars face down, separating each by a few inches.  Make sure you have the letters backwards in the right order!! 🙂


I cut the jute to give me a couple of feet on each end for hanging.  I then folded over the top of each ornament and secured with hot glue and also secured the stars with the hot glue on each end.




The hot glue dries fast so it’s ready to hang in minutes!  I surrounded mine with holiday cards from friends and family.

Crafts - Burlap Holiday Banner

How easy was this?? I think even a caveman The Husband could do it!!  😉  If you make a burlap banner be sure to send me a picture or link!

Here are the printable patterns:



Remember to add a couple of inches to the top of the ornament when tracing and cutting so you can fold it over the twine!!  Peace, y’all!



Linking Up to the “Better Late Then Never Christmas Inspiration Party @ Top This, Top That

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The Holidays At Home – Best Of The Weekend #4

I hope that everyone had a great weekend!  I know a lot of people said they were in “full-on decorating mode” so can’t wait to see more decorations, pictures and great ideas from your homes.

Ahhh.  The “Holidays at Home”.  There is something to be said for not traveling and just staying put for the holidays, right?  Snuggling up.  Hunkering down.  Nesting.  Whatever you want to call it…  it’s just so nice to wake up on Christmas morn in your own bed and thoroughly enjoy the day with family, isn’t it?

This past week I read more beautiful, inspiring posts.  Posts that just made me want to sit in our big, over-sized comfy chair and wrap up in a blanket and drink hot cocoa while listening to holiday music in front of a beautiful fireplace.  And, if you recall, I live in Florida, so that says a lot!   I love posts that inspire!  SO much talent out there.

So once more – in no particular order – a handful of my favorites from this past week.  If you are featured or have been featured in the past, feel free to grab the button above and proudly flaunt it on your site.  I will be posting this on FB as well, so come on over and “Like” my page so I will know you saw it!  🙂

A Beautiful Christmas Mantel @ The Lilypad Cottage

I just came across Kelly’s blog this past week.  I love this mantel.  You will see that I like a lot of mantels. Kelly also has a lovely “Home Tour” on her blog too!

christmasblog12 105

Homemade Vanilla @ Love Pomegranate House

This is a GREAT holiday gift idea  and I love good vanilla!!  Thanks Talitha!


Sweet Candy Cane Sauce @ Echoes of Laughter

What an easy and sweet gift idea Angie has posted!  I can just imagine this over ice cream!  Yum, yum, yum!

Candy Cane Sauce

Easy Vintage Holiday Decorating @ Number Fifty-Three

First of all – our main tree is all greens and blues and silvers this year so I am WAYYY in love with the look of these vintage ornaments and the way Angela has used candlesticks to display them.  This one is definitely something I have to try out!  Beautiful!


Hanging Greenery Pouch @ Under The Table & Dreaming

I think these would make a beautiful hostess gift!  So pretty and what a great way to recycle cardboard paper towel rolls! Think I will be using some of that extra burlap I have to make a few of these!  Thanks Stephanie Lynn!


Tufted Wool Wreath {Anthropologie Knock Off} @ It’s Overflowing

I love great knock offs.  I love Anthropologie. And I LOVE that Aimee gives a video tutorial on making easy pom-pom balls.

That’s a lot of love.


12 Days of Christmas “6 Geese A-Laying” Ornament @ 52 Mantels

It’s almost too hard to describe.  But as Emily says in her post “Feathers. Pearls. Glitter. Burlap. Lace. Yep, it’s all there.”

Too much fun – as is doing an ornament for each of the 12 days!

52mantels.com six geese ornament2 copy

Printable Reindeer Food Box @ A Typical English Home

This is so cute.  My kids love to sprinkle “reindeer food” on the front lawn on Christmas Eve (for us that is usually a mix of oats and glitter!) so I will have to print this one so we can have “official” reindeer food this year!


Memory Ornaments @ Calico & Cupcakes

This was actually posted in October but I just stumbled across it this past weekend.  What a wonderful idea to do with your kids or even just an annual tradition with your significant other – place all of the best memories from the past year into a keepsake ornament.  I love this!


No-Sew Ruffled Tree Skirt @ I Heart Naptime

This is an adorable project and no sewing machine required!  Think of all the fun patterns and textures you can mix up! Thanks Jamielyn!


Hope you all have fun looking through these creative ideas and if you make any of them, make sure to send me a picture!  I may have to go back and do “reader side-by-sides”!   Have a great week and stay inspired!




The Holidays At Home – Burlap “Believe” Pillow


Happy December!!!  The countdown is really on now – we are busting out the Advent calendar this eve and the boys are pretty excited!   So ok now, let’s have it.  Who is already done with all of your holiday shopping (so I can be mildly jealous of your superior organizational skills)??  I usually try and shop throughout the year but that plan has been an Epic. Failure. this year so I really have some ground to make up.  We are really going to try and keep it simpler this year.  I’ll let you know how that works out.

This little project is super simple if you have a sewing machine.  Decorating with burlap has been all the rage this year in so many of the crafty posts I have read.  It’s cheap, shabby and rustic and you can make so many things that it’s no wonder so many people have been using it for so many holiday crafts!   I bought about 4 yards before we left for Thanksgiving.  It was $3.99/yard and I had a 50% off coupon so at $2 / yard… pretty inexpensive!

While being flexible and pretty simple to use, burlap is also a bit very messy – you definitely want to shake it out really well and get all of the little loose fibers out or your lint roller will become your best friend.  It also has a unique “burlappy” smell (Littlest declared it to be “stinky”) so I shook mine out really well and let it hang outside for a day which helped.

I had some leftover red cotton fabric but not enough to make a whole pillow so I decided to use some of the burlap on the front and the red on the back and it turned out pretty darn cute!

I am kind of a pillow freak so we actually have a bag of leftover throw pillows in the garage that I can’t part with and I used one of those (a 20″ pillow) for the insert on this easy-peasy project.

I started by cutting a 21″ x 21″ square of the burlap.  Then I cut both a 21″ x 16″ AND a 21″ x 7″ rectangle out of the red fabric.


Just like my “12 Days of Christmas” hand painted pillow, I am making a “sham style” cover.  These are so easy to take on and off so they are super easy to store in the off season.  I used my sewing machine to do a zig zag stitch on both of the red rectangles to prevent fraying.  For the burlap, because it is so “stringy”, I actually folded each side over by 1/2″ and did then did the zig zag stitch just to be safe.


I finished off one long side of each red rectangle with a standard , double folded one-stitch hem.


I then printed out the word “believe” and made my own stencil.  Obviously you can do whatever word you want (ie: Peace… Joy… Chocolate – you get the idea).  And you can, of course, buy letter stencils, and I actually have some, but I wanted larger letters for this size pillow.   Additionally, if you have a CriCut or Silhouette type machine (I will not be jealous… I will not be jealous..) that will cut letters for you, you will obviously save a little time there.  But it really only took me about 10 minutes or so to cut out the word.  Besides, with three kids I have all the time in the world, right?? 😉



I centered and taped the stencil in the middle of the burlap square and traced the letters with a thin sharpie.


Then I busted out some red fabric paint and got to painting.  Because there are so many tiny holes in burlap, make sure you place some newspaper down before painting.   Also, it took a few hours to really dry so a bit longer that when I was painting on duck cloth.



Once the paint was dry, I placed the burlap paint-side up and placed and pinned the larger red rectangle at the top finished side down (towards the paint).


Then I laid the smaller red rectangle at the bottom of the burlap (again, finished side down) so that the red fabric overlapped by a few inches and pinned all three together.


Sew the entire perimeter and turn right side out.  Insert your pillow into the cover and there you have it!


Instant rustic, burlappy cuteness.  It was almost too easy so I hope I don’t lose my “crafty card”!  🙂

Anyone else using burlap in DIY crafts or gifts this year?  As always, love to hear your comments and ideas!




30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 29 – Easy Chocolate Peppermint Truffles

Did ya’ miss me?  I am still playing catch up after traveling for Thanksgiving since we stayed a few days after the holiday.  It was wonderful to see our Boston based family and to spend time with old friends and to even meet some new ones!   And yet there is no place like home.

Today I am thankful for my very own comfy bed.   I am also very thankful for safe travels and I hope any of you or your families that were traveling for the holiday are also home safe and sound.

Now let’s talk turkey truffles.  Mmmm.  Truffles.  Oh how I do love truffles.  We often cook up some delicious savory dishes using our (precious) little bottle of truffle oil.

In fact, for Christmas I want my own little pet French pig that can go root around in the dirt and give me a never ending supply of those expensive little things!  (Reality check:   A) I don’t think the City will allow that and B) Like I really need one more “piggy” to feed with three boys!?).   A girl can dream.

Today, however, I am talking sweet truffles.   Those decadent little ganache filled, chocolatey balls of to-die-for yumminess that are sure to bring sheer joy to anyone lucky enough to receive them (sorry. it’s the holidays. you have to share).

There are all kinds of sweet truffle recipes out there ranging from the most simple to the the extremely advanced.  And these are pretty easy so don’t worry.  You got this.  The hardest part is melting the white chocolate, if using.  Not to mention, these will keep refrigerated for 2-3 weeks so make them ahead of time and wow everyone at your next holiday gathering!

You will see some “optional” items on the ingredients list.  I encourage you to read through the whole recipe and you can decide which style of truffle(s) you want to make.  Some have chocolate coating (both white and dark) and I coated some with just cocoa powder or confectioner’s sugar.  I like gifting a variety, but you can also just pick one style and go with that if you prefer.


  • 1/2 pound (8 oz.) bittersweet chocolate (I like the depth of flavor that this adds but you can just use semi-sweet if that is what you have)
  • 1/2 pound  (8 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate (if you have a bag of chips, those are fine too – see how easy I am??)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (sorry, you cannot substitute skim milk here)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp peppermint extract (or 2 tbsp. peppermint schnapps) (even this is optional – you can skip the peppermint if you want)
  • 14 – 16 oz. chocolate or baking pieces for coating (I used 6-7 oz. white baking chocolate, finely chopped  – and 6-7 oz, semi-sweet chips; Definitely use really good white chocolate bars like Lindt as opposed to chips OR use white melting pieces like Wilton; standard white chips do not melt very easily)
  • 2 candy canes, crushed (I put mine in a ziploc bag and used a kitchen mallet)
  • Confectioners’ sugar for coating, if desired
  • Cocoa powder for coating, if desired


Chop both the bittersweet & semisweet chocolate finely (if you are using semi-sweet chips or baking pieces, you’re now ahead) and place into a heat-proof mixing bowl.  Set aside.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it just comes to a boil. Do not walk away for long.  Do not pass go. (DO collect $100 if someone happens to be handing it out in your kitchen).  Otherwise you will be cleaning up a frothy hot mess all over your stove top.   Turn off the heat and allow the cream to sit for about 30 seconds. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate.   Using a whisk, slowly stir the chocolate until it is completely melted.

Add in the coffee (which really enhances the richness of the chocolate) and the vanilla and combine.  Congratulations, you just made chocolate ganache!  Add in the peppermint extract, if using, and combine.  You can even get crazy and split the mixture in half at this point and do half peppermint (half the peppermint extract) and half just chocolate.  I present you with endless possibilities.  Either way, set the mixture aside at room temperature for about 1 hour then refrigerate for 1-2 hours (or cover and leave overnight) until very firm.

Depending on how long you let the ganache chill, you might need to let it sit out a few minutes.  Using a small scoop or melon baller (or even 2 teaspoons if that is what you have), spoon round balls of the cold chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Quickly work each scoop of chocolate in your hands to make a round ball.  It’s like adult play-dough.  I love it.  If the ganache gets too soft to work with, return to the fridge to chill again.  Place the tray back into the fridge while you melt the chocolate coating.

(FYI – I could probably stop right here and just eat all of the chocolate ganache balls “as-is” but, for the sake of posterity, I will carry on)

At this point, I work with one chocolate at a time for the coating.  I started with the white.

The white chocolate factor is the only tricky part to this recipe.  Place the chopped white chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a small to medium heat proof bowl over a pan with an inch or two of water.  You don’t want the water to touch the bottom of the bowl, so that can be your guide as to how much water to add.   Start to bring the water to a boil and stir the white chocolate until it is melted and glossy.  White chocolate is temperamental – you do not want it to get too hot or it will seize up into a clump and there is no going back.  Also, if you get just one drop of water in the white chocolate, it will most likely clump.  If you are using white baking pieces (ie: Wilton – easier, for sure), you can microwave in 30 sec increments and just be sure to stir in between each time!!).  The microwave can also be used for white chocolate but I am telling you in advance it takes some practice and a lot of stirring in between.  Once the chocolate is slightly cooled for a few minutes, remove the ganache balls from the fridge and start dipping.  You will want your candy cane pieces or sprinkles ready as well.  Using a teaspoon, dip each ball into the white chocolate until coated.  8 oz. of chocolate will cover about 1/2 of the balls. (25-30 ish).  Again, since I coated some with just cocoa powder or confectioner’s sugar, I used less of both the white and semi-sweet chocolate coating.

Here I have my candy cane, cocoa powder, powdered sugar and even some sprinkles all ready to go!  And a paintbrush.  Yes, I was going to stripe some of the white coated truffles but ran out of time.  Maybe tomorrow.  Or maybe next Christmas. 😉

While the chocolate is still setting, place some peppermint pieces or sprinkles into the truffles for decoration.  I even dusted a few of the white chocolate ones with a sprinkle of cocoa powder.  Get creative!  Place the tray back into the fridge to chill again.

Now, repeat the exact same process with the semi-sweet chocolate.   Once all of the truffles were coated and chilled again, I placed them into mini holiday cupcake liners.

This normally yields approx. 60 truffles.  This time I ended up with about 50.  I think I made a handful or so larger than usual.  Casualties.  Guess I’ll just have to eat those…  😉

Won’t Martha Stewart be so proud of you??

Again, you can store these in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 weeks as needed.  Enjoy!



Linking Up To Some Fabulous Parties… 

Christmas Inspiration Party @ Top This, Top That

Sundae Scoop @ I Heart Naptime

Make The Scene Monday @ Alderberry Hill

Mop It Up Mondays @ I Should Be Mopping The Floor

Foodtastic Friday @ Not Your Ordinary Recipes

Shine On Fridays @ One Artsy Mama

One Creative Weekend @ One Creative Mommy

Creative Timeout Party @ Mom On Timeout

Wow UsWednesday @ Savvy Southern Style


30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 25 – Best of The Weekend #3

Wow!!!   So many inspiring & creative posts this past week and I am so excited to share some of them here.

First, today I am thankful for those that teach our children.  Teachers are generally under paid and under appreciated.  I am very grateful that my boys have some super teachers this year and that they are all doing so well in school.  Thank you to all teachers!!

Now that does not in any way mean that the kids are ready for the Thanksgiving break to be over, mind you.  🙂

So here we go, in no particular order, with the “Best Of The Weekend” – a handful of the “bestest” and “funnest” things that I have come across this past week.  We’ve been traveling this week so, while I may not have had time to post much myself (I’m asking Santa for better “planning ahead” skills this coming year!), I did still find some time in the wee peaceful hours to hop all over the glorious web and check out some great things!  If you are featured or have been featured in the past (hey, even if you just like the cute lightbulb – knock yourself out), feel free to right click on the button above and slap it right on your (“claire”ly fantastic) post.  Or your fridge.  Whatever makes you happy.

Felt & Jute Christmas Trees @ Living Well, Spending Less

I simply adore these.  Ruth gives a great tutorial with beautiful pictures (as always!).  I may have craft envy. 😉

Beautiful Holiday Gift Wrapping @ Red Head Can Decorate

Julie has some gorgeous gift wrapping tips.  I am currently plotting and scheming a way to convince her to come wrap all of my presents for me!!

Christmas Decorating Inspiration @ Perfectly Imperfect

Well, if you aren’t quite inspired to decorate this might just help.  Shaunna’s amazing style and beautiful pictures would inspire even the grumpiest of elves!  And while you’re over there, make sure to read her posts about her beautiful new store she just opened a couple of weeks ago in Troy, AL.  I cannot wait to visit someday. Gorgeous!

How To Make Mercury Glass Plates @ The Shabby Creek Cottage

I am just in awe of Gina and this post.  Are you kidding me how easy and inexpensive this is??  My head is already full of spin-off ideas (and THAT, my friends, is what real inspiration is all about!!)

Simple 5-Ingredient Homemade Chicken & Vegetable Pot Pie @ Atta Girl Says

Not only do I love pot pie, but Amy’s posts are just plain funny and fun to read.  And, in case you are wondering, I was born under “the sign of pizza” (but you’ll have to read her post to understand!).  😉

DIY Advent Calendars @ The Sweetest Occasion

My kids are already asking when we can bring out the “calendar with the little doors”.  🙂   And I’ve seen several posts about DIY Advent calendars but haven’t seen so many ideas in one convenient post.  Definitely some great ones that I have not seen before!

Ballard Designs Holiday Table Runner Knock-Off @ At The Picket Fence

I bookmarked this a week or so ago and just remembered!  How cute is this runner that Vanessa made?  I absolutely love Ballard Designs – my catalogs are dog-eared (and drooled on) and, as you can tell by my hand painted holiday pillow, I also love great knock-offs, don’t you?

Whimsical Hand Painted Christmas Chairs @ Lake Girl Paints

These just make me want to whip out my brush and paint anything that is wooden and not nailed down.  Deb did a great job on these and who doesn’t need a little holiday whimsy?

Holiday Burlap Bunting @ Shabby Art Boutique

Lots of “Shabby” cuteness in this post, no?   I am just love, love, loving the burlap this year. This is super cute and easy to make.  Thanks Kerryanne!

50 Stocking Stuffer Ideas For Teenage Boys @ Silver Boxes

Being a Mama to three boys, one being a very hard to buy for teenager (yup, I am just surrounded by testosterone on a daily basis), I especially appreciated this post!   And in a more recent post there is also a list for Teenage girls too.  Great ideas, thanks Steph!

Now that’s a whole sleigh full of fun stuff right there, huh?  Hope you enjoy looking through it all and please let me know if you have any great holiday crafts or recipes, etc.  that may inspire me and everyone else who pops in!

I hope you all have a wonderful week, my friends!




30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 23 – Air “Craft” ing 101

Today I am thankful for 14 years of marriage to by best friend in the world.  Happy Anniversary to my sweet Husband.  I am also thankful for safe travels and hugs from family members that we only see once or twice a year.

And yes, that might be a picture of an airplane tray table and I might have been crafting mid-flight.

I have a problem.  😉

In my defense, I DID keep my seatbelt securely fastened and I did NOT run with scissors.


Besides, it kept my fellow passengers amused.  I just can’t believe they wouldn’t let me plug in my glue gun or I might have actually finished this cute holiday craft!  All these silly rules.  😉

So when I return from the family holiday chaos I’ll get this one posted.  In the meanwhile, after the big dinner with 30 family members yesterday, we wondered why the little ones were so quiet…

Blogging at such a young age! 😉

So the “big people” enjoyed coffee and dessert in peace.  For at least 10 minutes.

Hope you all are having a great holiday weekend and maybe nabbing some great “Black Friday” deals too!



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30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 19 – Delicious Butter “Silk” Tart (my FB Contest Entry!)

Happy Monday!  Wish I could have gotten this out sooner but it was not to be.  That’s ok.  I know some of you are night owls like me so maybe I’m just really early!!  🙂

Today I am thankful (as always) for my sweet Husband.  It was another crazy work day for me.  So many deadlines before the holiday and then preparing to come back into projects right after… I need strength.  Or at least more caffeine.   My sweet man has been working tirelessly all day going through the last boxes and tools that need to be organized to get our garage finished.  He’s such an amazing help and is always calm when I get frazzled and feel like my head might explode.

And all of his organizing was amidst Littlest & Middlest “bouncing off the walls” since it’s holiday break.  The Oldest must be so happy that he can finally drive right about now.  I considered texting him 4 little words as he was about to leave to “hang out at Chik-Fil-A” (or do some other important teenager thing):

“Take. Me. With. You.”

Anyway, we made it through another Monday and now here’s the Butter “Silk” Tart!   This yummy custard tart recipe replaces buttermilk with “Silk” vanilla soy milk and there is NO skimping on flavor!  I used a round tart pan but if you just have a pie pan to work with, you will be just fine!

The background story:

Recently, I got an email that “Silk” was hosting a recipe contest.   I am not a vegetarian, but we absolutely love “Silk” Soy Milk – both Vanilla & Chocolate – around here.  And I am not getting paid to say this (I wish!) so when I saw this contest, I thought it might be fun to replace the buttermilk in one of my favorite recipes with Vanilla “Silk”.   Long story short, I signed up for the (again, non-sponsored) contest on the “Silk” FB page!  If you can take just an eensy second to vote for my recipe it would just make my day  month.  I really want to win that $1000 to put towards The Oldest’s upcoming college tuition!  Oy!    Anyway it’s reeeeally simple – all you do is go to the “Silk” Facebook page and click “Like” (if you never have before) and then click on the “Recipe contest” icon, then vote on the “Delicious Butter “Silk” Tart by Claire” entry (as opposed to the “Delicious Butter”Silk” Pie by Claire –  yes, I am clearly a scatter-brained goofball and accidentally called it a pie instead of a “tart” ANNNND the correct entry is now somehow showing twice so just vote for the middle one as I am going to see if they can’t delete the last duplicate entry).  ::sighs::   I am obviously challenged (I promise I am not responsible for any of the voting issues in Florida!).

Anyway, provided they don’t call and ban me from the whole thing for being a dork, and provided that you aren’t snoring by now, thank you (thank you, thank you, thank you) in advance if you can take a minute out of your busy day to do that!!

Wake up!  Back to the recipe.    I personally think that buttermilk pie is better than most custard pies – it’s slightly firmer and tastier in my opinion.  If you like custard pie, you will most likely love this one.  Fun fact:  the mixture of soy milk and a little lemon juice creates a great buttermilk replacement so if you are lactose intolerant, this is the perfect recipe for you!   And if ALL dairy is a problem for you, I am sure you probably have some ideas for replacing the butter in this recipe as well.  I don’t and I should maybe be buried with some fresh bread, cheese and a stick of butter.  And some bacon.  Feel free to share your butter replacement ideas if you have any!

You might remember my easy and super savory tart / pie crust recipe from my “Green Onion & Goat Cheese Tart”?  Well this Butter”Silk” tart  incorporates my favorite sweet pie tart crust recipe, which is a take off of Martha Stewart’s pâte sucrée (AKA “sweet pie dough”).

The Ingredients

For The Tart Dough:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3 tbsp sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into cubes

2 large egg yolks

1/4 cup ice water


For The Filling:

 4 egg yolks at room temperature

1 cup of sugar

2/3 cup flour

¼ tsp. salt

6 tbsp butter, melted

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 cup (less 1 tbsp)  Vanilla “Silk” Soymilk

¼ tsp. baking soda

Making The Tart Dough:

This yields two tart / pie crusts so you will have an extra to freeze for your next recipe or you can double the filling and make two Butter”Silk” tarts!

First, place the flour and the sugar into the bowl of your stand mixer or a food processor.  Process for a few seconds to combine.  Add the chopped butter into the flour mixture and mix or process until the mixtures resembles pea sized crumbs.  This will only take about 10 seconds in a food processor – be careful not to over mix.

In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks and ice water and beat lightly to combine.  With your mixer or food processor running, slowly add the egg mixture JUST until the dough holds together.  About 30 seconds.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide in half, forming two discs  Do not over work the dough.  The chunks of butter staying intact will produce a flakier tart  Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour before baking.

Once thoroughly chilled, roll out one disc of your tart dough on a lightly floured surface.  It is really important to work with chilled tart dough so if you are rushed or busy, do not skip that step!

Lay the dough into the pan and form the dough into your tart or pie shell.

Once formed, place your dough lined pan back into the fridge and chill again while your oven heats.  {Make ahead tip: If you are baking the next day, wrap your formed tart / pie crust extra tightly before chilling overnight}.

Preheat your oven to 400*.

Once your oven is heated, remove the tart shell from the fridge and line with aluminum foil and ceramic pie weights  {Handy tip:  Dried beans can be used as pie weights.  However, as I’ve mentioned in the past, once beans are used as pie weights they cannot be re-used for cooking  / eating, so if you DO use dried beans, grab a mason jar, etc. and recycle them for future use as pie weights in your next recipes}.

Bake the tart shell for 20 minutes then remove the foil and pie weights and bake for 5 minutes more – you want the shell to be a light golden brown.

Making The Filling:

 While the tart is baking, add the lemon juice to a measuring cup;  Add the Vanilla “Silk” until it reaches the “1 Cup” line and stir to combine.  Allow to stand for 10 minutes to thicken slightly.  Add the baking soda to the “Silk” mixture and stir until dissolved.

In the bowl of your mixer, add the eggs and sugar and mix until combined and it is a lemony yellow color;  Mix in the butter, and then add the flour gradually so it does not clump.

Ha!  I happened to also grab a yellow mixing bowl so the egg yolks are almost camouflaged in this picture.  Oh well, there goes my chance at being “The Next Food Network Star” (now I REALLY need help with that college tuition).

Add the “Silk” mixture to the eggs and mix until combined.  This may appear to be slightly curdled – it’s totally fine.   Stay calm.

Place a cookie sheet on the bottom rack of the oven to catch any drippings.  There will be drippings y’all, especially if you are using a tart form.

Pour the filling into the pre-baked tart shell to just 1/4” below the rim of the crust. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 400*.

Reduce the heat to 350* and bake for another 25 -30 minutes.

It should be a beautiful golden brown at this point;  The sugar and the “Silk” creates a gorgeous thin crispy, sweet crust over the top.

Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.   Allow to cool completely (or as long as you can wait!) before releasing from your tart form and serving.


Let me know if you get a chance to make this and have a great Thanksgiving week!



Linking Up to:

Wednesday Extravaganza @ Hungry Little Girl




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