Why You Should Make Your Bed Every Day

Post by Tracy Kaler.

Making your bed might seem insignificant, but actually, this simple task can start things off on the right foot and positively affect the rest of your day. Not sure how to properly dress a bed? Head over to this previous blog post I wrote for a little help. For now, though, read on for five reasons why your bed should never go unmade.

You’ll get motivated.
Starting your day with a positive action will put you in the mood to work and accomplish other tasks. Getting motivated in the a.m. is a surefire way to have a successful workday.

One good habit leads to another.
Daily bed-making is an excellent habit to get into, and will undoubtedly lead to other good habits, such as eating a healthy breakfast, keeping to a schedule, and staying focused throughout the day.

Your bedroom will feel less cluttered.
Who would have thought? Taking five or ten minutes each morning to make your bed will leave your room with a more organized feel. That’s a pretty simple fix, if you ask me.

You can have visitors at any time.
Surprise visitor? If you’ve made the bed, you won’t feel embarrassed when your best friend pops in unannounced. You’ll look like you have everything under control (even if you don’t).

You’ll feel happier as you get into bed at the end of a long day.
Looking at a perfectly made bed is satisfying at any time, but particularly when it’s time for bed. Pull down your comforter and sheets, fluff your pillows, and crawl into your nest until tomorrow. Sweet dreams!

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Breakfast in Bed – On the Fly Mini Quiche

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by: Alison Hein

Several years ago I purchased a set of six mini-tart pans. Since then, whenever I make a pie, I’ve gotten into the habit of rolling out any extra dough, plopping it into one of these mini-pans, and storing it in the freezer until I’m ready to use it. This process enables me to impress people with On the Fly Mini Quiches. The frozen shells take mere minutes to thaw, and the small number of ingredients required can usually be found in your cupboards and fridge.

It’s this simple – use the “mother” recipe as a guide – then fool around with fillings, cheeses and spices as you desire. This is a wonderful way to utilize small amounts of extra vegetables or meats.

On the Fly Mini Quiche 2

Earlier this week I received an “on the fly” invitation to visit my daughter-in-law who is home with our brand new granddaughter! She’s tired and busy, so I decided to whip up a few mini quiches that she could use or freeze. I settled on Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato, and Mushroom Swiss (see ingredients below).

To further simplify, purchase pre-made pie dough, or try this easy recipe for pie crust. You can even make crustless mini quiche – just be sure to grease the pan well before baking.

They are so cute! You might want to admire them before tucking into your on the fly breakfast in bed!

On the Fly Mini Quiche 1

On the Fly Mini Quiche

Ingredients

1 4-inch pie crust in pan, unbaked
¼ cup main filling
2 tablespoons cheese
1 tablespoon fresh chopped herb (or ½ teaspoon dried)
1 egg
1 tablespoon cream or half & half

On the Fly Mini Quiche 3

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°. (Thaw mini-pie crusts if frozen.) Place mini-pie crust on baking tray. Spread filling evenly across the bottom of the dough. Cover with cheese and herbs.

Whisk egg and cream together in a small bowl. Pour egg mixture over pie filling until covered and egg mixture reaches just below the rim of pie dough. Do not pour egg mixture above the pie dough rim – extra can be used for the next mini-quiche.

Bake quiche for around 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, and quiche is puffed up and golden.

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Makes 1 serving.

Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Mini Quiche

¼ cup cherry tomatoes, sliced thin
2 tablespoons fresh mozzarella, shredded or sliced thin
1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley or basil

Mushroom and Swiss Mini Quiche

¼ cup sliced mushrooms, sautéed in butter with salt and pepper
2 tablespoons shredded Swiss cheese
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

On the Fly Mini Quiche 8

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Breakfast in Bed – Vasilopita

Vasilopita 12

Breakfast in Bed – Vasilopita

by Alison Hein.

In Greek, the word “pita” can mean pie, cake or scone, in addition to the popular flatbread we know and love. In this case let’s go with “cake”. When you add the term “Vasil” to its front, our cake becomes St. Basil’s Cake, traditionally served at the Greek New Year. There’s a story that goes along with the cake:

The city of Caesarea was under siege. St. Basil, the archbishop, called upon the townspeople to contribute their valuables to stop the siege. The people freely gave all their gold, silver, jewelry and coins, and when the enemy learned of this, he was so embarrassed he called off the siege. St. Basil wanted to return the unpaid ransom, but with no way of knowing the rightful owners, he baked everything into loaves of bread and distributed these evenly around the city. Miraculously, each resident was returned exactly what he or she had contributed.

Vasilopita 1

The story changes with the region, as does the cake. Sometimes it is sweeter, or made with yeast. It may incorporate lemons, oranges, or apples. Usually it calls for “makhlepi”, crushed sour cherry pits that are difficult to find in these parts. The numeric year may be written on the top of the cake with nuts, cloves or icing. Almost always, a coin is wrapped in foil and inserted in the batter before baking – an extra blessing in the new year for the lucky recipient.

On New Year’s Day, the cake is cut and servings distributed, starting with the eldest member of the family down to the youngest. A slice may be cut for St. Basil, the church, the poor, etc. Or, a slice may be cut for a Greek New Year’s breakfast in bed.

Ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος!

Vasilopita 3

Ingredients

½ cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butte
½ cup sugar
3 eggs
1 orange (zested and juiced)
1 lemon (zested and juiced)
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup sesame seeds

Special Equipment

Spring-form pan

Coin wrapped in foil

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Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°. Generously grease a large spring-form pan with the tablespoon of butter and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together remaining stick of butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in two eggs, one at a time, until mixture is thick and glossy. Stir in the rind and juice of the orange and lemon.

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In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into cake batter, a little at a time, until batter is thick and smooth. Pour cake batter into prepared pan. Insert coin wrapped in foil, if using. Use a spatula to smooth top. Lightly beat the remaining egg with one tablespoon of water and brush on top of cake. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of cake.

Place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, until cake is golden brown and cooked through when tested with a toothpick.

Allow cake to cool completely before removing from pan and slicing.

Makes 1 small cake, about 8 to 10 slices

Vasilopita 10

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Bedroom Design: 5 Ways to Define a Bedroom in a One-Room Living Space

Post by Tracy Kaler.

One-room living spaces come with advantages such as more floor space for entertaining and an open feel. However, creating a sleep space can prove challenging unless you implement one of these five suggestions to define the bedroom area.

Bookshelves
Tall bookshelves can easily separate the living room from the bedroom, and act as storage at the same time. If the bookcase is open from both sides, you’ll have a library feel in both spaces. If the case has a closed back on one side, be sure it’s finished and not raw wood. Consider painting the back of the bookcase a fun accent color to add interest.

Screen
A screen or freestanding room divider is the next best thing to constructing a wall, and it’s a lot less messy. Luckily, these accessories come in most every style and color, so you’re bound to find one that’s a match for your decorating style. If not, design a custom screen instead.

Fabric panels
Hanging curtains can create a cocoon type effect for your bedroom and add softness to your living room. Install hardware on your ceiling and hang away. Want light to pass through? Use unlined sheers rather than opaque panels.

Sliding wall
A temporary or sliding wall can turn your open studio space into a one-bedroom. This option is particularly appealing if you live with a roommate or even a significant other and sometimes desire privacy.

The right furniture arrangement
Arranging furnishings in the correct way can designate space. Place living room furniture –– such as a sofa and club chair or two loveseats –– on one side of your room, and place bedroom pieces on the other. Separate the two areas with a desk or credenza, and visually, you’ll feel as if you’re living in two rooms rather than one.

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Breakfast in Bed – Apples en Croute

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Post by Alison Hein.

Congratulations to Kathy Cassel Marino and Bonny Shampang Zalewski, the two winners of our Charles P. Rogers cookbook giveaway! We hope you both enjoy the book, and would love to hear your impressions after you receive your copies!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled blogging…

Apples en Croute 1

Our good friends Nick and Vicky came to our home for dinner last weekend. We hadn’t seen them for a while, so I wanted to do something simple (so we would have more time to visit) but special (because we love them and it’s a festive time of year). We put together a cheerful cheeseboard and Nick’s favorite artichoke dip for appetizers.

Our first course was creamy vegetable soup, followed by a crisp, palate-cleansing tri-color salad. Kevin then prepared an elegant entrée of steamed lobster (growing up in New Hampshire has its benefits J) which we served with drawn butter and lots of cracking implements.

Apples en Croute 2

After much eating, drinking and gabbing, we settled in to enjoy our dessert of Apples en Croute. The French term “en croute” refers to a food that has been wrapped in pastry dough and baked in the oven. When you do this with apples, you get a homey, seasonal dessert – fresh-baked and warm and fragrant. Your friends and family will enjoy eating their own individual, pie-like creation.

Use pre-made pie dough to simplify the process even further. Fiddle around with the types of apples. Experiment with a variety of fillings. Make Apples en Croute after dinner as a homey, seasonal dessert; or first thing in the morning, for a simple, special breakfast in bed.

Apples en Croute 3

Ingredients

Pie crust (recipe below)

3 small, tart apples (about 4 ounces each)
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg

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Preparation

Preheat oven to 325°.

Roll out pie crust and cut into 6 6-inch circles. Place on ungreased baking tray.

Peel and core apples. Cut each apple in half horizontally, so circled core remains intact. Mix sugar and cinnamon together. Roll each apple half in sugar mixture, and place on prepared pie crust circles.

Mix together pecans and golden raisins, and stuff into apple cores. Dot each apple with butter. Bring dough up around apples and pinch together. (You may also tie with baking twine, just be sure to remove before serving.)

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Beat egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush egg mixture all over the dough-wrapped apple. Sprinkle each apple with any remaining cinnamon sugar. Place apples in oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes until crust is golden brown. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream on the side, if you like.

Pie Crust

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
1/3 cup water

Preparation

Crust – sift together flour and salt. Remove 1/3 cup flour mixture and add 1/3 cup water to make paste. Cut better into small cubes and cut into remaining flour mixture. Mix all ingredients together. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 30 minutes. Cut dough in half. Roll out each half. Makes enough for one covered 9” pie.

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