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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Our Favorite Steaks for the Holidays

The Kansas City Steak Company has asked me to partner with them this Holiday season.  Clearly Mike was thrilled at the thought of receiving a sampling of all of their steaks on our doorstep... and it happened to coincide with his Birthday so I was happy to oblige.   They also offered to do a giveaway for my readers (filet mignon! details below), so everyone wins.

I'm excited about this post for a couple of reasons - Beef is always the centerpiece of our Christmas entertaining, AND I love the thought of sending these "Kansas City" steaks to my sister and her family in St. Louis : )

Most of you know that I grew up on a farm near Kansas City (Lexington!) and my family raises beef (along with corn, beans & wheat).  We love high quality beef with integrity.  I especially love it when it comes in a pretty box...

Isn't this such a nice gift?  I was super impressed with the quality of the packaging that arrived on my doorstep.  We plan to give them to my family for our Christmas dinner.  Since we aren't hosting this year, it is our way of contributing!

The Giveaway

This filet mignon is king — butter-tender, cut from the center of the finest aged tenderloin and hand selected from premium corn-fed Kansas beef.

To qualify for the giveaway, leave a commit with your family's favorite holiday meal.  I love hearing what other family's serve for their special Holiday dinners.

It was wrapped like a box of chocolates!

About The Kansas City Steak Company : 

Established in 1932, they are known for the highest quality steaks and luxury gourmet gifts - perfect for gift-giving or as the centerpiece for your Holiday celebration.

In this post, I'll share two separate occasions that we enjoyed the steaks - once as a test run, then once for Mike's special birthday dinner.  On both occasions, I seared them just like this :

The Best Seared Steaks

My favorite way to prepare steaks at home is to pan sear them, then finish them in the oven - especially thick cuts like these Filets.

The Kansas City Steak Company Steaks
-2 tablespoons of butter
-steak seasoning* or sea salt & pepper

*The Kansas City Steak Company includes a seasoning with each box of steaks, used here.  It was delicious.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

I like to use a cast iron skillet for steaks because it gets very hot.  Preheat the skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute.  Season the steaks liberally with salt & pepper, or seasoning packet.  Add butter to the skillet, then add the steaks.

Cook for 3 minutes on high heat on each side.  Put the skillet in the oven for 5-8 minutes until thermometer reaches 125 degrees.  Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.

Before the flip.  Be sure to be generous with the seasoning - especially with very thick steaks like these.

After the flip, I put them in the oven.

Along with the steaks, I made the Barefoot Contessa's Crispy Shells & Cauliflower from her newest cookbook.  So good!  It can be made ahead of time and would be great for entertaining.

Steaks for Entertaining

We serve seared steaks for entertaining all of the time.  In fact, it was my staple when I had a small catering business.  Everyone was always impressed that I could prepare such delicious steaks without a grill.

I really don't like to do much on the stovetop when I have guests - too risky.  So, I sear the steaks earlier in the day or even the day before.  Then, I put them on a sheet pan and keep them in the fridge.  I put them in the oven for about 10-12 minutes until they've reached 130 degrees (medium rare/medium seems to suit most crowds), then remove them and let them rest.  It works perfectly because I usually put the steaks in just before we sit down, then take them out by the time I've poured the wine and served the salad.  Usually the salad takes about 10 minutes, so the rest time is just perfect.

Mike and I were both so impressed with the flavor and quality of these steaks - so, soooo good.

For this dinner, I made a simple greens salad, the Crispy Shells & Cauliflower to go with the steaks.  You can see a sneak peak at Mike's birthday dinner (also another set of filets on the menu) at the end of the post.

Of course, you know who just out of view of most of the photos but snuck in this one!

Down to the last bite.  We enjoyed these so much!

Now for Mike's Birthday dinner : we did a table setting that I felt was "handsome" and special.  I'll walk through the details how how I made the centerpiece and setting tomorrow.

My current favorite combo - Slate Wreath Block Print with my Spode Woodland Plates and fresh greens.

I love how the table turned out.  Everything always looks great with lots of candles ; )

Two more steaks for dinner... we are getting so spoiled.

And homemade truffle pasta!

Thanks to The Kansas City Steak Company for sponsoring this post (and for the delicious samples!).  Mike also thanks you : )

Don't forget the giveaway - I'll announce the winner on Monday morning.

The Giveaway

This filet mignon is king — butter-tender, cut from the center of the finest aged tenderloin and hand selected from premium corn-fed Kansas beef.

To qualify for the giveaway, leave a commit with your family's favorite special holiday meal.  I love hearing what other family's traditions.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Holiday Baking

- See more at:

Baking Collection is 30% Off!

Baking Collection is 30% Off This Weekend
We usually do our holiday baking the week before Christmas in preparation for giving gifts to friends and neighbors - as in around 12/19, this year. That is just two weeks from today, so it is time to stock up on everything you'll need to make darling treats to delight your favorite people.
Baking is so much easier with these essentials :
▪ Parchment Paper Sheets, 100 for $8
▪ Disposable Pastry/Piping Bags,100 for $14
▪ Baking Baskets for Breads & Cinnamon Roll Gifts, $8-16

Cookie Boxes, $8 for 10
Copper Cookie Cutters (that come beautifully wrapped)

Treat yourself to some baking essentials, or build a gift of these favorites for a budding baker on your Christmas list.
30% Off Baking Collection, use code : BAKING-30

More Easy Homemade Gift Ideas, here >

Baking Baskets these Cinnamon Roll Bread Gifts (more details, here)

Copper Cookie Cutters (that come beautifully wrapped)

30% Off Baking Collection, use code : Baking30

Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas Cookies | Nativity Sugar Cookies

Christmas Cookies | Nativity Sugar Cookies

On Friday morning, Emma and I rolled up our sleeves, covered the floors and ourselves with flour and made sugar cookies.  Here is a little photo tour of the newest cookies cutters in my collection - The Nativity Copper Cutters.  I just love how they turned out.  I was worried that they might be too complicated to decorate, but I made pretty, soft colors, stuck with just simple lines and blocks of color.

It was really fun - and the decorating was a quiet, focused 30 minutes for both of us with Christmas music playing and a mess of sprinkles accumulating under our feet.   I didn't worry about doing intricate faces or too many details.  Emma did her own version, along, with a collection of very colorful snowflakes, reindeer and others, too.

The entire Baking Collection (including copper cutters) is 30% off today.  Use the code BAKING-30 at checkout.

Shop the Baking Collection, here >

Mary & Baby Jesus

And for some from my memory books... : )

Shop the Baking Collection, here >

Thursday, December 1, 2016

New Holiday Baking Ideas! Christmas Star Bread & Easy Homemade Gifts

Hello, friends.  It is good to be back here with new ideas for you!   I had intended to make all of these projects last month... but, here we are the 1st of December : )  It was oh so nice to be back in the kitchen today baking and creating after a super busy month with the store.  I hope these recipes and ideas find you with plenty of time to make some beautiful and yummy homemade gifts for your friends, neighbors, teachers, co-workers and family. 

Now, onto my latest obsession...

Christmas Star Bread

Oh my goodness!  I have been itching to make the for months.  I came across it on pinterest from Taste of Home and just had to know how to make it.  Isn't it just beautiful?  I am completely stunned by it.  Turns out - it is the simplest thing in the world.  Not kidding.  As in, I'm hoping to do it as a project with Emma's class soon, so simple.   It is just circles of dough, layered with filling (I used cinnamon, but raspberry jam or Nutella are also great), then cut and twisted.  OMG I am so excited about this!  The step-by-step details are below.  

I also put together some more super simple ideas for easy Homemade Hostess Gifts.  Aren't these lovely?   I used a new product added to the store today - Horizontal Print Tea TowelsAs most of you know, this was my first time designing and ordering hand block printed linens.  Well, I've learned a lot!  One of the "mistakes" was when half of the tea towels showed up with the pattern going horizontal instead of vertical.  Not a big deal, but different.  However, like all great mistakes, they actually make great wraps for gifts.  I just love how they add to these gifts, and then can be used by the recipient.  

Both Options are available, traditional vertical, $8 and horizontal, $6... since they were a mistake : ) 
More details for making these are at the end of the post.  

Now, back to the Christmas Star Bread!

Christmas Star Bread

The original recipe can be found here, Taste Of Home.

makes 2 - 8" stars

1 packaged active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)
3/4 cup warm milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 to 4 cups of flour
3 tablespoons of butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
powdered sugar

Dissolve yeast in the warm water.  In another bowl, mix together milk egg, butter, sugar, and salt.  Add yeast and water mix, then add flour.

Kneed in the mixer (or by hand) for 6-8  minutes until smooth dough forms.  Place in a greased bowl, covered with damp warm towel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled.  About 1 hour.

It starts with a sweet bread dough recipe.  It is very easy to stir together, kneeds in the kitchen aid, then let rise for an hour.  (The full recipe is below, later in the post)

This is the dough after rising an hour.   

Punch dough down and turn out onto floured surface.  

I divided the dough into 2 portions, put 1 half in the fridge to use for another batch, then cut the 2nd half into 4 sections.  Was that too confusing?  Basically, this recipe makes enough for 2 of Stars.  I put 1/2 away to make one later with Emma, and am using the other 1/2 to make one here.

The 4 sections need to be rolled out into circles about 7-8 inches in diameter.  I planned to put mine in the 9" Square Cookie Box, so I made sure it would fit in there.

Start by placing the first round on a Parchment lined Baking Sheet.

Each layer gets brushed with melted butter, then sprinkled with Cinnamon and Sugar.

Sorry for the blurry pic.

This is the pastry brush that comes in the Baker's Gift Tin.  I've never had a round pastry brush, but I really liked it.

I used a measuring cup to make an impression of a circle in the center, so guide my cuts.

Make 12 slits in the dough all the way around.

Twist each section once, turning two pieces together, so they point in to each other.  

See how turning two strips into each other, they create the star?

Repeat again and pinch the points together.

So pretty!

Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Look at all of those yummy layers!

This is the Large Cookie Box, lined with parchment paper.

I mean... so, so cute.

I wrapped mine with Copper Ribbon (sorry, no longer available), a Red Laurel Wreath Tag and a sprig of cedar.  

Products Pictured : 

-Large Cookie Boxes, 5 for $8

-Parchment Paper

-Red Laurel Wreath Tags

-Leaf Tea Towel (I included this with my gift, bundled underneath the box)


-Brown LePens

This is super simple and you don't have to actually make anything - but isn't it charming?

I used got two baguettes (these are from target!!!) and had a jar of my Dad's Blackberry Jam. 

To wrap, I used on the of the new Horizontal Tea Towels, Cream Ribbon, Wheat Laurel Wreath Tags (recently restocked), and a sprig of cedar from our tree outside.

This is an idea that I made for Emma's teacher for Thanksgiving.  Here, I've made another version with a more Christmasy look.  It contains Pumpkin Bread and Honey Butter.  You could totally buy the bread to make life easier.

Products Used : 

Horizontal Tea Towel (Slate Wreath)
Large Baking Basket
Parchment Paper
Medium Kraft Loaf Pan
Ribbon & Tags (Burnt Caramel Tags)

Yum - that honey butter!

For the more Christmasy version, I used the Slate Wreath Tea Towel, Gold Ribbon & Caramel Tags.

Happy Hostess Gifting!
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