Saturday, December 29, 2012

Gingerbread Souffles

I hope everyone is enjoying a Winter Wonderland like we beautiful!  We had a lovely Christmas, just the hubby and I. 

I had back surgery on Dec. 20th, so at this point I'm just past the one week mark of recovery.  It's going to take a full 6 weeks before I can lift anything more than 5lbs., but otherwise, I'm getting stronger every day~I can see and feel my progress.  With any luck, I'll be back walking those trails this Spring and/or Summer!

In the meantime, I'm spending a lot of time reading, catching up on movies I never got around to watching and just resting. 

Here's a nice dessert for this time of year:

Gingerbread Souffle

This impressive dessert isn't difficult, but do plan ahead.  Preheat the oven, and just before sitting down to dinner, pop the souffles in.  When done, serve them all puffed up and gorgeous!

1 C milk
1/2 C sugar
1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 C molasses
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. vanilla extract
6 large eggs, separated
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
Sweetened whipped cream, crushed gingersnaps

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan until smooth.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl, and whisk in molasses and next 4 ingredients.  Cool 15 minutes.  Whisk in egg yolks.

Butter 10 (7 oz.) ramekins; sprinkle with sugar to coat, and shake out excess.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  Fold one-third of egg mixutre into milk mixture until well blendd.  Repeat twice with remaining egg white mixture.  Spoon batter into prepared ramekins, leaving 3/4-inch space at top of each.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until puffy and set.  Serve immediately with whipped cream and crushed gingersnaps.

Note:  You may also bake this in a 2-1/2 qt. souffle dish, if you don't have ramekins.  Bake 55-60 minutes or until pufy and set.

Makes 10 servings

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The magical world of miniatures

                           If you don't have a mantel, make a little scene underneath your tree~

     You may remember me talking about my love of miniature Christmas villages last year.  I have a small collection of the Lemax store shops and residential homes and a few little accessories which, until last year, I would place atop the fireplace mantal and call it a "display".  What can I say?  I didn't have a CLUE how creative one can get with these little buildings and when I look back now I'm sure my presentation looked lame.

     Our new home which we moved into last summer doesn't have a fireplace.  Oh no!!! Where was my holiday village going to go?  We settled on my husband's beautiful hutch which he inherited from his parents.  I used two shelves of the hutch and ended up being pleased with how my display turned out.  This year we purchased a few new buildings at deeply discounted prices and some new accessories too so I've been looking forward to this Winter and playing with my growing collection!

      Recently we were discussing not even setting up my village due to my upcoming back surgery in mid December and of course the recovery period afterwards.   Naturally, the more holiday decorating we do now requires dismanteling later and I knew that work would all fall on Doug.  In the end we both sucummbed to what's become a mutual fetish, and the boxes of collectibles were unearthed from the garage & a card table brought into the office, where we'll be setting the village up.  With the extra buildings purchased this year, the collection has expanded to beyond what the hutch can accomodate. 
     My excitement to set up  my village turned into something else when we attended the local Festival of the Trees last night.  It's been a tradition in my life to visit these festivals in each city I've lived in.  My husband, Doug, had never seen one so we HAD to go even though it's hard for me to physically walk or stand for too long.  Where there's a will, there's a way, right!? true.  Suddenly I could feel no pain!  I should say that we both had read a newspaper article about this festival and knew that there would be a big model train exhibit and that was a huge factor in going.  Since I was a little girl, I've been fascinated by model trains....I'm unsure why, as nobody I knew HAD one, but at some point I discovered them and have always felt a sense of magic when viewing a really elaborate display.

     We began by checking out all the themed and decorated trees which were lovely, as usual.  Then we went to the other floor......the floor where they had the train exhibit.  One very large room was devoted to ONE fellow's obsession.  Doug and I were nearly speechless ~ this guy greeted everyone at the door & it was really easy to see that this is not just a hobby, but that he loves to share it with people and it seemed to make him happy to see folks of ALL ages gaze in wonder at his creative gift.


This is just one area of the room--each table or section of a table had it's own theme
This area was "Back to the 50's" and a favorite for Doug.  We both loved the flat screen tv as the "drive in movie theater"
 There was a carnival theme and a tribute to the Twin Towers as well...can't capture all of it in a picture and pictures don't do it justice anyway!
      To say we came back inspired is such an understatement.  While viewing these displays, we realized that we can use the same kinds of accessories and creative ideas in our Christmas village.  Immediately we were on the computer checking out Ebay and other sources for everything from basics like material used for "roads" and "sidewalks" to die cast miniature vehicles like a postal truck.  I want it all!   The fellow who designed the exhibit told us of a shop in another city where he claims they sell *everything* under the sun for this hobby, so we made a mental note to visit that store sometime soon. We also talked about visiting Santa Claus, Indiana....a little city devoted to Christmas year round, I believe.  Neither my husband nor I have ever been there and we now have justification so perhaps we'll plan a short trip next year! 
      I'm quite certain we won't go to the lengths depicted in these pictures, but it seems we've found another hobby that we can share as a couple and that's always fun.
      I would love to hear how YOU decorate and whether or not you collect Christmas villages or train sets.  How did you develop your love for collecting?  Please share your memories and any tips you may have; I'm sure lots of us would benefit from others' creativity. 
      If anyone knows of a great model railroad catalog, I'd appreciate your posting the information here.  I'm having trouble locating one online that doesn't cost money to receive.  If you're aware of any good websites out there devoted to this hobby I encourage you to post the direct link so those of us interested can check them out.  Told you I'm now crazy for all things miniature........
      Happy Holidays to all my readers ~