Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Wishing my dear readers all the best in 2010
Thanks for following Spiral Style.
I will make every effort to inspire, share and bring pleasure in the coming year.

Last Day of 2009

Hard to believe that 2009 is almost over
I know that when I go home I'll be met by cold and snow.
For now, today is a perfect island day and I am very grateful.

How do you like my sweet bike basket? This was a Christmas gift from hubby. He picked it up from REI

It has a quick release so I can take the basket into the store with me.

I made yummy grilled pizza for lunch

Have a fun New Year's Eve
Be safe!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Images of an Island Christmas

Dear Readers, it has been so long since I have posted a blog. My island internet connection was lost due to a large electrical storm prior to our arrival. All fixed now and I am back to blogging.
Here are some photos of our first island Christmas.
We crafted a wreath from shells gathered on the beach.

This cute little tree worked just fine. Santa found us.

Included among the ornaments were a few sand dollars we found on a previous trip.

A seastar provided a stamp for a tree skirt.

These OXO candela glow set was a great island Christmas present.

A tropical arrangement on the church alter for the Christmas Eve service.

Fun light display in Hope Town.
The lighthouse was also lit from top to bottom with white lights and many boats has lights on their masts.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Party: Part II

We had a huge (for our condo) crowd at our annual holiday party. Guests were neighbors, friends from our old neighborhood, gym friends, workmates and assorted fun people.

I like to serve a signature drink for the evening. This year it was festive Cranberry Gin and Tonics. It was quite popular and I could have made double the amount. Seems these people like gin based beverages rather than vodka.

Rather than an ethnic theme, I mixed flavors for savory finger foods.

Hubby requested a Country Pate.

I can never make enough of these crispy wonton cups filled with an Asian chicken salad dressed with a peanut sauce that includes green curry paste.

Three "flavors" of deviled eggs nestled on a bed of alfalfa sprouts.

An easy crowd pleaser... slices of beef tenderloin on rye slices with horseradish cream garnish.

I guess it is good that there are no leftovers, but I was so busy I didn't get to eat very much. I did crack open a bottle of Cava last night because vacation really started then. As this post is published.. I'm on a plane headed to my Bahamas house for Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Trifle But NO Cookies

Last night was our annual Holiday Party.
After cooking all week, we welcomed more that 50 people into our condo to celebrate the magical holiday season.

The centerpiece of the dessert bar was this Gingerbread Trifle. Click here to see the recipe.

Gingerbread layered with lemon curd, blackberry sauce and whipped cream.

One of my favorite party treats are luscious, classic desserts served in tiny, individual portions.
This year I paired Eggnog Creme Brulee with Chocolate-Espresso Pots de Creme.

Beth made me promise to include the recipe for the Pots de Creme.

2 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream, divided
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
5 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

6 large egg yolks, room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Combine 2 cups cream, and espresso powder in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to simmer, whisking to dissolve espresso powder. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; whisk until smooth.
Whisk egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and salt in large bowl until well blended. Gradually whisk in chocolate mixture.
Divide custard equally among custard cups, tiny glasses or whatever your vessels may be.
Place cups in large roasting pan and pour in enough hot water to come halfway up sides of cups. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until custard is just set around the edges but still soft in the center. Time depends on size of cups. Could be 18-25 minutes.
Remove cups from hot water and chill at least 2 hours until serving.
Whip remaining cream until soft peaks form. Top cups with a small dollop of whipped cream. Garnish with berry or chocolate covered coffee bean.

My dessert bar also included 3 types of brownies and that delicious candy I blogged about Dec 1 BUT NO COOKIES!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vintage Holiday Magazine Covers

Hubby and I have a small collection of Fortune Magazine holiday covers framed and hanging in our home. I love the graphics.

A collection of vintage magazine covers is not difficult to assemble nor very costly. Framing would be the biggest investment. Sort of a vintage, "green" art collection.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bon Appetit: 25 One-Bite Appetizers

I just received my January issue of Bon Appetit.
The feature is a 25 one-bite appetizer Web Exclusive.
Who couldn't use a few new tricks in the appetizer recipe file?
Here are five of my favorites for a party.

Elegance in a potato. Had these at my Holiday Party last year. Delicious

Always popular and something for those with gluten or lactose intolerances.

This is my husband's favorite. Serve with a grainy mustard, cornichons, and rye bread. Heaven! Make it several days before serving and it will keep (if you have any leftover) for quite a while.

These meat ball sliders were a big hit at a "couples" wedding shower.

Grown-up fun food. Puff pastry with chicken sausage.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Countdown

Just 10 days until Christmas. I'm closing my Etsy shop for the holidays.
My shopping is finished and I'm busy preparing for our annual holiday party.

Posted by Picasa
My timing for bulb forcing was fortuitous.
The amaryllis will be in full bloom for the party on Sunday night as will the paper white narcissus. Uncanny how the amaryllis is the same color as the wreath bow.

The remainder of the week will be spent in the kitchen.
I'll be sure to take photos to document the progress and menu.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Chowder from The Common Grill

Hubby and I refer to this soup at Thanksgiving in a Bowl.
Smoked chicken, Sweet Potato, & Corn Chowder
is a favorite recipe from
The Common Grill Cookbook
by Chef Gregg Common, chef/owner of The Common Grill in Chelsea, MI

It is a hearty, flavorful combination of Thanksgiving dinner flavors.
I just made a big pot for later in the week when schedules are hectic. I shared some with a neighbor recovering from surgery and another elderly neighbor lady.
recipe at the end of this post

The Common Grill Cookbook was a Christmas gift to me in 2000.
It is among my favorite cookbooks. I love the Chicken Tortilla Soup, Asian Chicken Salad, Whipped Sweet Potatoes, Hazelnut & Mustard Seed Crusted Black Grouper with Spiced Rum Butter Sauce for examples.

Greg's restaurant, The Common Grill, is a family favorite. No one can resist the baskets of aromatic, buttery, herb rolls.
"The Grill" is housed in a former department store in downtown Chelsea, MI (home to Chelsea Milling, maker of Jiffy Mix and to Jeff Daniel's Purple Rose Theater).

Soup recipe (with some modification by me)
6 strips of bacon (don't you love it already?) chopped fine
1 large Spanish onion, diced
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup flour
4 ears corn, sliced from the cob
1 red pepper, diced
1 lb sweet potato, diced and blanched
1 cup water
6 cups chicken stock
2 lbs smoke chicken or turkey, cut into bite sized cubes
1 1/2 cups whole milk
salt to taste, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cook bacon in large soup pot until crispy. Add onion butter, basil and thyme. Cook until onion is soft, approximately 5 minutes. Stir in corn, red pepper and sweet potato and saute for 5 minutes. Add flour and mix well. Add water, stock and chicken or turkey and bring to a boil. Stir in milk, salt and pepper. Continue cooking until soup has thickened.
Serve hot. Makes 2 qts.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Macaroon Memories

I listened to one of my favorite Christmas CD's today and it took me back to our Christmas in Paris three years ago.

$4.50 on

I started to salivate, thinking about the marvelous macaroons at Laduree. Then I found their recipe for them here.

The first time I had REAL macaroons was at the Francois Payard Patisserie in NYC.
Food & Wine magazine features a lesson in these delectable French cookies by Francois.

Biting into these French treats is at first crunchy and then creamy in your mouth.
The rainbow of vivid colors announce the anticipated flavor, heightened by a complimentary filling.

Once you've mastered the piping bag (not all the difficult) you can assemble a tree for your holiday buffet.

Délicieux! Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Oh (little) Christmas Tree!

I won't be spending Christmas at my home in Michigan this year, yet I wanted a live tree with lights.

This Norfolk Island Pine is a houseplant that will live on after the holidays.
I purchased this plant at Lowes.

Tabletop or mini trees are a great way to decorate in small spaces.
This Martha Stewart tree is decorated with candy.

An elegant tabletop tree by Martha Stewart

This is a mini cypress tree from $41.99
How much more fun than a poinsettia?

Adorable elegance!
Alberta Spruce from White Flower Farm. $55

What cook wouldn't love this fragrant rosemary topiary in a Christmas tree shape?

This video from CBS is all about tabletop Christmas trees and 6 ways to decorate them. Take a few minutes to watch. Sorry about the commercial that precedes the mini-tree segment.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ruffles and Flourishes

I'm loving the trendy look of ruffles.
Very feminine.

Eliza J Ruffle Wrap Dress Nordstrom $158

J Crew $49.99

DKNY Jeans Ruffle Party Dress Zappos $73

Ruffle wristlet by Murwati Etsy $24
Enzo Angiolini Reimel at Zappos $83.56


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