Christmas Cheer

December 19th, 2017

Cookie Brittle

Cookie Brittle is a new treat for Christmas in our house.  The recipe came from one of my favorite sites, Food52.  I will be packaging this up for friends and neighbors.  The butterscotch-caramel flavor of this crispy treat is habit forming so be careful when you make it.  Someone in our house has been sneaking bits of it at all times of day and night.  Think I am going to have to make a second batch.

Shirred EggsThese shirred eggs make a wonderful festive breakfast for the holidays.  They can be prepared ahead and then baked when you are ready.  Make as many as you want.  It was a perfect Sunday morning meal.

Shirred Eggs

Served with bacon and Focaccia Bread Stick for dipping you can’t go wrong.  The recipe is here.

Christmas Card 2017 (1)


Our Christmas card this year.  The Grands are growing up so fast.  Wishing all of you a festive holiday and Happy New Year my friends.

You can find the recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle here.

Butternut Squash Soup

December 6th, 2017


While staying with our family over Thanksgiving, my DIL Kristen made this flavorful soup for our lunch preceding our Thanksgiving dinner. The butternut squash is combined with a few parsnips and potatoes and simmered in chicken broth. Once cooked it is puréed with an immersion blender.  There is no need for heavy cream.  The soup is thick and velvety.  The smoked almonds and chopped scallions add a bit of crunch and flavor.  I will be making this butternut squash soup all through our chilly December.  If you want to make it vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.


We got our tree right after Thanksgiving because our home was on a Christmas Walk on December 2nd. I scrambled to get all of the decorations out before the end of November.  But now it is done and I can sit back and enjoy the season in peace. Here are a few pictures of the results.

Christmas Mantel

The mantel and chairs in their Christmas adornment.


The den, ready for a fire and a good book.


I have been busy making cookies, but on this day the Crock Pot is busy next to the sink making our dinner.  So much to do.


Oranges in my hearth pot next to the fireplace.

Christmas Kitchen

Another view of the kitchen.

Christmas Porch

Christmas porch on a beautiful sunshiny day.

Christmas Lower Porch

Lower porch with my new reindeer pillow.


My talented Mother’s Christmas Carolers.  I think everyone in our small town had a set of her carolers and I have fond memories of her making them in the hundreds.  She “lives on” in many households through her work.


My husband has never grown up.  Fortunately we built bookshelves along the stairwell to our downstairs area.  I have given David free reign with all of his collectible toys.  When the Grands were younger they marveled at all of the mechanical toys (except for the bug-eyed monkeys that scared them).  The shelves seem particularly festive at Christmas.


Enjoy the festive season and this velvety butternut squash soup on the countdown to Christmas. I am happy to have time to relax.



    • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
    • 1 medium yellow onion – rough chop
    • 2 cloves of garlic – rough chop
    • 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
    • 1 medium butternut squash, cut into approx. 1” cubes (3 to 4 cups)
    • 3 small parsnips – cut similar to squash
    • 2 very small yukon potatoes (fingerling okay) – peeled and cut similar to squash and parsnips
    • 3 cups of chicken broth (I prefer making mine with “better than boullion” chicken base – much richer flavor)
    • 3 shakes of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Smoked almonds – chopped/crushed
  • Scallions – chopped

In a medium pan, saute the onions in olive oil with a sprinkle of salt and pepper until the onions are translucent.

Add the dijon mustard and garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes

Add the squash, parsnips and potatoes and stir to combine and coat with oil/onions/garlic. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Season with another sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Add the chicken broth. The broth should just cover the vegetables (too much broth will make your soup more watery/runny). Cook for 20 minutes on a low simmer until all vegetables are fork tender.

Turn the heat off and, using an immersion blender, puree the soup directly in the pan until silky smooth.

Add a few dashes of cayenne pepper to taste.

Serve soup topped with crushed smoked almonds & green onions.
TIP: Root vegetables pair very nicely with Gruyere cheese. If you want a tasty side for your soup, make grilled cheese or crostini with Gruyere.

Printable Recipe

A French Cake and Cookies for Christmas

December 12th, 2016

French Christmas Cake and Cookies

My cottage was supposed to be on a local Christmas Tour this year.  Since it has a country French look to it, we decided to carry the theme throughout the house.  David downloaded some lovely Christmas carols sung in French and I made Eiffel Tower sugar cookies and a French Cake from Mimi Thorisson.  Because of the fire on the mountain, the tour was cancelled . . . so, I ended up with a freezer full of cookies and this delicious cake.

French Christmas Cake and Cookies

The sugar cookies are simple.  Use your favorite sugar cookie recipe.  I used this one from Alton Brown. You can use royal icing or any white icing that you prefer.  Sprinkle with gold sparkles and the Eiffel Towers will glow as if they were lit.  I bought my eiffel tower cookie cutter on line.

French Christmas Cake

I received French Country Cooking by Mimi Thorisson in October.  I had pre-ordered it from Amazon.  This is her second book and it is just as delightful as her first book, A Kitchen in France.  She says about this salted butter chocolate cake “This is the dessert I make when I don’t know what dessert to make.  It sounds like a second choice, but it’s not at all.  It’s the popular choice, the one that I know everybody will always like and that never goes out of fashion.  The salted butter is a subtle touch; you can taste it, but I’m careful never to let it overpower the chocolate, which would be hard anyway, because this cake is just so chocolate-y.  I like to bake this cake so it’s set but still moist, but my kids often ask me to take it out a minute or two earlier so it’s runny and delicious.  The choice is yours.”

French Christmas Cake and Cookies

All of these treats will remain in the freezer until Christmas.  It feels good to have a stash of goodies ready to go for family and friends.


6 1/2 Tablespoons Salted Butter, plus more for the pan
8 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, Chopped
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Fleur de Sel
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
A Handful of Red Berries or Currants
Confectioners’ Sugar for Serving

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease a 9-inch cake pan with butter and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.

Pour an inch or two of water into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Combine the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set on top of the pan of simmering water.  Stir until the butter and chocolate are melted.  Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.  In another bowl, sift the flour and add the fleur de sel.

Stir the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.  Add the vanilla.  Fold in the flour until just combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 30 minutes.

Let cool in the pan for at least 1 hour before unmolding.  Serve topped with berries, if desired, and a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar.

Printable Recipe

Christmas Brownie Mix in a Jar

November 27th, 2016

Brownie Mix Instructions

It may be too soon for holiday baking, but it is not to soon to think about special gifts for friends and neighbors.  The idea of homemade mixes has always appealed to me.  During the busy holiday season I know I would love to get a simple mix like this.  With just a few additions you can sit down to a pan of brownies warm from the oven.

Brownie Mix Label

The labels for the small mouth quart size mason jars came from Evermine.  I ordered  custom large oval labels with instructions on how to use the mix,  small custom round labels for the lid and tags with our names on them to let people know who they were from. Tied with red and white twine you will have a festive jar for giving.

Brownie Mix

You will find all of the information you will need at this Evermine page.  It is just a matter of dumping layers of the ingredients into the jars; flour mix, cocoa powder, brown sugar, white sugar, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and pecans.  I am having fun with this.

Cousins 2

These are a few of the recipients for the brownie mixes; our Grandkids and their cousins.  I am looking forward to the upcoming holiday season.

Oh Christmas Tree

December 22nd, 2015

Christmas Tree Hall

Merry Christmas everyone.  The packages are wrapped, the baking is done and we will be leaving for NC to visit the family tomorrow.  My tree in Florida does not have the precious ornaments that are packed away at the Lake Lure house.  But it does have a few special ornaments that were given to us over the years by Kristen’s family who live and work in the Washington DC area.  Thank you Dave and Darla!

White House overview

Each year the White House Historical Association designs an official Christmas tree ornament to commemorate a moment in history of the yuletide celebrations in the White House.  Pictured above are two of the ornaments.  The Christmas tree ornament from 2008 honors the administration of President Benjamin Harrison.  Inspired by the Harrison family’s Victorian Christmas tree, this 24 karat gold finished ornament interprets the first recorded tree to decorate the White House.  President Harrison doted on his grandchildren and was said to say “We shall have an old-fashioned Christmas Tree for the grandchildren upstairs, and I shall be their Santa Claus myself”.

White House Ornament 2007

The 2007 Christmas tree ornament honors President Grover Cleveland who was the only president to marry in the White House.

White House Ornament 2006

The 2006 White House ornament honors the administration of President Chester A. Arthur.  He brought to the White House a luxurious style that signaled the nation’s return to prosperity after the economic troubles of the late 1870’s.  The design of the ornament is inspired by the period motifs and rich decor of Arthur’s White House, which will be forever distinguished by the early work of famed American artist and decorator Louis Comfort Tiffany.

White House Ornament 2011

The 2011 ornament honors the administration of Theodore Roosevelt.  It reflects the excitement that President Roosevelt and his lively young family brought to life at the White House.  There had been no children living in the White House in years.  With six children that first Christmas was exciting.  The front of this ornament shows the Roosevelt family admiring the Christmas tree.

White Houre Ornament Santa

The other side of the ornament shows Santa and his bag saying “I hear that there are some kids in the White House this year”.

White House Ornament 2010 1

The 2010 ornament honors President William McKinley who was President at the turn of the 20th century.  The nation was in a patriotic mood as the century turned and the ornament depicts members of the United States Marine Band performing on the snow covered North Drive as arriving guests disembark from their carriages.

Christmas Tree Lanai View 2

I wish you a peaceful and joyous Christmas.  Here is a link to The White House Historical Association if you are interested in learning more about the White House Christmas Ornaments.


© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.