Top 5 Goodies from Paris

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I have always dreamed of spending Christmas in Paris.  Snow gently falling on the bustling streets and shop windows packed full of interesting goodies.

Alas, for now it is merely a dream.  For anyone lucky enough to be traveling to my favorite city this holiday season, or any time of year for that matter, I have assembled a goodie guide for you.

Top 5 goodies to bring back from Paris

1-CHOCOLATE

chocolate from Paris.

Simple bars or carefully curated chocolate morsels, packed in a precious box, travel well and make marvelous gifts.

2- TEA

Mariage Freees tea from Paris

Mariage Freres tea is a lovely gift to bring back from the city.  The blends are crafted much like fine French perfume and are meant to excite and entice the palette.  You can buy loose tea or tea bags; tiny muslin sachets, that make me smile every time I reach for one. My favorite blend is called Wedding Imperial.

3- COOKIES

boxes of French cookies

Marquise de Sable is a wonderful brand of biscuit, or cookie as we call them, to bring back for friends.

French cookies

There is a wide assortment of flavors and the boxes are nice and flat making packing a breeze.

4- Mustard 

Maille French mustard

Maille is a fantastic French mustard and lovely for gifts carried home.

mustard assortment in Paris

It is astonishing the number of mustard flavors available; there is something for everyone on your list.

5- Olives 

wall of French olives

Olives make a nice gift or tidbit to enjoy once you are home.

jar of French olives

French olives have their pit making them much more flavorful.  My personal favorite are the picholine.

Paris in the snow

Is Paris your favorite city too or have you been dreaming of going there?

Join the group and come along with me, A Taste of Paris!

 A Taste of Paris- April 12-18th, 2021

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Christmas decoration with houses and cloches

Inspiration for Your Home

Foyer decoration for Christmas

Do you decorate your home for Christmas?

Christmas decoration with houses and cloches

I enjoy having the halls decked for the season so much, but I’ll be honest, there is a sense of dread associated with getting out all of the boxes and tubs and the mess it makes to decorate.  Once the last ornament is hung, the celebration begins with Christmas cookies and hot chocolate or a glass of bubbly!

Christmas decorations

I think the hardest part is getting motivated.

I want to share a few photos from my sweet friend, Vonda Cloutier’s home.  I am always so inspired when I visit her and I thought you might be too.

Christmas wreath

Wreaths are a major element in Vonda’s holiday decorations.

Christmas decorations

She uses wreaths as the foundation for so many of her decorations and they ground the design. Notice how she creates interest by mixing the style of wreaths.

Christmas decorations

Layered wreaths add fullness to this urn and rose bowl arrangement.

Christmas decoration in mason jars

These darling jars are filled with snow and reindeer!

Reindeer in a Mason jar.

Surprises are everywhere!

Lanterns with Christmas decorations

I love how Vonda uses lanterns on the tabletops and fills them with a mixture of ornaments, trees and houses.

Metal lantern with Christmas decorations

This metal lantern is particularity fetching with sparkly lights; it hangs on the wall near the front door.

Living room with Christmas decorations.

When I look at this picture, I notice that the holiday decor is like jewelry and so elegantly done.

I can’t help but associate Vonda with gorgeous sterling silver jewelry.  She had a thriving Silpada jewelry business hosting in home parties for many years. When Silpada changed their structure several years back, Vonda was one of only a few, invited to be a Silpada Brand Ambassador with an online shop, so if you have been searching for this iconic brand, just click this bit.ly/SilpadaInsiderVonda 

Santa and other Christmas decorations

You can also catch up with Vonda in her latest endeavor; she has an adorable shop called Lovely Jane at the Antique Company Mall in historic downtown McKinney!

Silverplate chalk board with the word Joy

It brings me so much JOY to introduce you all to my talented friends!!

Happy decorating!

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Chateau in the Dordogne region of France.

Audrey’s Frenchie Story

Vintage metal flower pot with pink and blue flowers.

I love introducing you guys to my friends.

Audrey Friedman, owner of French Vintage Home, and I met years ago at an event in Dallas.  We bonded over our shared love and passion for France so we decided to meet for lunch.  We’ve been meeting regularly ever since and have become fast friends.

Audrey Friedman in front of the Eiffel tower.

Audrey has been such a generous supporter of A Taste of Paris and ME and I know you will find her Frenchie story fascinating.

Audrey made her mark in industry by creating, building and then ultimately selling a linen company.  In the midst of her busy work-a-day life she found herself traveling the world to visit family and for adventures of her own.

In 1998, Audrey visited a friend in the Dordogne region of France and fell in love with it.  She began toying with the idea of buying a holiday home there.

Chateau in disrepair before construction.

While looking and working with her agent, she came across at 15th century chateau in a terrible state.  The agent tried to talk her out of buying the property but Audrey had vision and knew the place would be spectacular when completed.

Chateau in state of disrepair.

When Audrey began, there was no running water, no indoor restrooms and a kitchen that was just a hull; cooking had previously been done outside.

Chateau in the Dordogne region of France.

The restoration was done, quite remarkably, in 1 year.  Audrey credits an extraordinary architect for the process going so smoothly.

The chateau was back and stunning as you can clearly see.  During construction, many of the townspeople came to thank her for restoring this magnificent place which had been in ruin for over 100 years.

Audrey pink table

During the busy year Audrey made many friends and had a full social calendar attending and hosting her new neighbors but on Sundays, things were just too quiet.  In small town France, everything is closed on Sundays, except the flea market.

French flea market.

Audrey made a trip to the market and with the first treasure found and purchased a new business was created.

French flea market

Since that time Audrey has been seeking out the very best that the French brocante has to offer.  She imports these amazing goods and sells them in her Etsy Shop and on her website French Vintage Home at very reasonable prices.

vintage linens

I know many of you like myself, are seeking the perfect treasures to go under the Christmas tree for family and friends.

red package

Let me tell you, French Vintage Home is a great place to look but don’t delay, the best is going fast!

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Southwest Turkey Soup

Southwest Turkey Soup

If you’re like me, you still have some turkey meat left from Thanksgiving.  Turkey is such a high-quality protein it would be a shame to waste it. Right?

The good news is, you probably already have the ingredients in your pantry and refrigerator to make this dish and start to finish it’s 20 minutes to table. It’s so tasty, you’ll love it!

Southwest Turkey Soup

Southwest Turkey Soup

2 cups shredded turkey

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

4 cups chicken broth

1 large onion chopped

3 ribs celery chopped

1 cup chopped carrots

2 cloves garlic, pressed

¼ cup faro

1 can green chiles and tomatoes, Rotel

1 4-ounce can dice green chiles

1 16-ounce can tomato sauce

1 15-ounce can black beans

Toppings

Shredded cheddar cheese

Sour cream

Corn chips

In a large soup pot, cook the onions, celery and carrots in 1 cup of chicken broth until they are softened, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.  In a small bowl, toss turkey with the seasonings very well.  Add all remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for an additional 15 minutes before serving with toppings.

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Cornbread stuffed acorn squash.

Thanksgiving Inspiration- 2 Scrumptious Recipes

Cornbread stuffed acorn squash.

Every year I teach a cooking class called The Thanksgiving Table; it gives me a chance to get creative with traditional fall flavors for that big meal everyone is anticipating.

I’m sharing a few of my favorites from this year in hopes of inspiring YOU!

Citrus glazed and roasted turkey breasts.

Of course, the turkey is always the star of the Thanksgiving meal.  If you only like white meat, consider skipping the huge bird and opt instead for a few turkey breasts, either way, my Citrus Roasted and Glazed Turkey is moist, juicy and filled with flavor.

Cornbread cooked in acorn squash cups

These beautiful acorn squash make the ideal cooking cups for cornbread OR your own stuffing recipe!  The key is to pre-roast the squash first so it gets tender, be sure you salt and pepper it liberally too.

Cooking time for the cornbread will be a bit longer than when using a baking dish too, so keep that in mind!

Citrus Roasted and Glazed Turkey

2 large turkey breasts

Salt and pepper

4 tablespoons butter

3 oranges, divided

3 lemons, divided

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, pressed

11 teaspoon ground sage

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 onion quartered

1 cup white wine

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Prepare the glaze by first zesting and juicing 2 of the oranges and 2 of the lemons.  Add the juice and zest to a small sauce pan with 2 tablespoons of butter, sugar, honey, mustard, garlic, sage and herbs and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until mixture is thick, like syrup.  Let turkey breast come to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before slathering with 2 tablespoons butter.  Liberally salt and pepper the breasts. Quarter the remaining fruit and place that along with the onion in a greased glass baking dish.  Position the turkey breasts on top of the fruit and onions and add white wine to the dish. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake turkey until a thermometer reads 125 degrees.  Remove the dish from the oven and baste with glaze.  Continue to baste every 15 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  Let turkey rest for at least 20 minutes tented with foil before carving.

Acorn Squash with Cornbread Filling

4 acorn squash

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 ½ cups yellow corn meal

½ cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

¼ cup butter melted and cooled

1 ½ cups milk

2 eggs

½ red bell pepper finely diced

½ green bell pepper finely diced

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut squash in half and remove seeds.  Bush the surface of the squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for 30 minutes.  Prepare cornbread by combining dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.  Add wet ingredients to a separate bowl along with peppers and mix very well.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix just until combined.  Pour batter into the squash and bake for 28-32 minutes until cornbread is firm and beginning to brown. Allow to cool before serving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Coming UP Roses Tart

apple tart

It’s important to celebrate life’s little victories.

This beautiful apple tart I’ve named, Coming Up Roses, was made in a cooking class I taught last week. Even the picture makes me happy!

The recipe is fairly simple, the hardest part is slicing the apples, best done on a mandolin so they can be cut very thin. The key here is to really pack the apples tightly as you layer them around the tart.

It’s apple season so grab a bushel and serve a slice of this gorgeous tart to the people you love and you’ll be coming up roses too!

Apple Rose tart 4

Coming up Roses Tart

1 sheet of puff pastry

4 Honey-crisp apples

1 tablespoon flour plus more for work surface

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided

3 tablespoons butter

¼ cup apricot jam

1 teaspoon water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Roll puff pastry out to eliminate the creases and so it will fit into a 9-inch tart pan.  Place the pastry into the pan and press it firmly up the sides and on the bottom.  Prick the bottom well with a fork.  Line the crust with a sheet of greased foil and add pastry weights or dried beans to the top.  Bake the crust for 12 minutes until it is beginning to brown.  Remove from the oven and reduce heat to 375.  Prepare apples by slicing them in pieces off the core and cut into very thin slices or use a mandolin and slice through whole apple, then cut the apple shards in half at the core.  Sprinkle the bottom of the crust with first flour then 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Begin arranging the apples on the outer edge of the prepared tart crust.  Place apples peel side up, making rows and winding towards the center. Continue arranging apples very tightly working towards the middle.  Roll several thin slices into a coil to form the center.  The exposed peel will look slightly pink on the finished tart. Sprinkle the tart with remaining sugar and dot with butter.  Place pan on a baking sheet and into the oven for 30-40 minutes until apples are tender and browning on the tops.  Remove from the oven and glaze the top of the tart by heating the jam with the water until it is smooth.  Paint the tart surface with the glaze using a pastry brush. Allow to cool before serving.

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centerpiece

Fall Dinner Party- 2019

Fall decorations and a sign that says happy fall y'all!

Last year I participated in a huge dinner party with The Art of Living Beautifully and Unique Unique Designs, it was a blast so this year I decided to create a Fall Dinner Party Class on a smaller scale.  It was really fun for me to get out my dishes and crystal wine glasses and set a beautiful table for my honored guests.

Copper pumpkins and fresh fruit centerpiece.

For the centerpiece I wanted to use copper pumpkins.  These were perfect to go along with my copper chargers and I thought a little bit of metallic would reflect the lights.  To make them, I bought fresh white pumpkins, the stems were taped off and then sprayed them with copper paint.  Once they were dry, they were ready to be the focal point of the table arrangement.

To complete the design, pears, squash and lots of grapes were added.  Using fresh foods as centerpieces is an idea that has been gaining popularity and it’s really smart because you can eat the arrangement after the party is over!

orange roses in a crystal bowl.

I still had plenty of fresh flowers in the house.

roses and pumpkins make pretty decoratins

I was completely enchanted with these stunning roses that were the color of fire.

Rosemary Grapefruit Sparkler.

The table was set and the guests arrived!

All 12 were greeted with a Rosemary Grapefruit Sparkler, a tart refreshing cocktail, ideal for the unpredictable Texas fall season.

Focaccia bread and spicy shrimp

While we munched on appetizers of Focaccia Bread topped with Caramelized Onions and Fennel and Spicy Shrimp, we had a short cooking lesson.

I shared about my recent experience in Lake Como, Italy and how a special meal there  inspired this menu.

Salad with pears, blue cheese and pecans.

Next up were beautiful salads topped with pear shards, blue cheese and my famous Sweet and Spicy Pecans, recipe below!

My kitchen all set for fall.

Dinner was a Roasted Vegetable Stuffed Pork Loin Roast served on a bed of root vegetables and alongside Fontina Mac and Cheese.  Dessert was Chocolate Lava Cakes with Tuaca Ice Cream and I might have even gotten the bottle of Tuaca out for sampling…I will never tell!

Pumpkin and leaves in an urn.

The night was a huge success and I look forward to hosting many more events like this one!

Pumpkins arranged on a pedestal.

In fact, I have a Holiday Luncheon scheduled for December 13th with only 2 seats left at the table.  If you would like more information CLICK HERE and register TODAY!

Velvet pumpkins on a silver tray.

Registration for all 4- 2021 ATOP trips to France is in full-swing.  Request information TODAY and start to plan YOUR ATOP trip to France!

 

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I hope you are all enjoying the fall season!

Sweet and Spicy Pecans

2 cup whole pecans

3 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon smoky paprika

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large skillet, brown pecans in butter over medium heat.  Add sugar, spices and toss until pecans are coated.  Add vinegar to mixture, stir over low heat until the moisture is mostly evaporated.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Pour pecans onto prepared pan and bake for 5-7 minutes until golden brown and pecans are dry to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool.

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Eating in Paris

Pain chocolate croissant

For me, eating in Paris is a magical experience.

Without fail, I start my day with my favorite bite, pain chocolate.

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I will be in France when this post drops; thank goodness because my cravings for these little gems has been intense!  I don’t worry about calories while I’m there.  I eat what I want within reason and I walk…all day.

baguette sandwhich

For lunch I usually try and find something on the run.  This can be hard to do in a country whose culture supports sitting for meals for roughly 2 hours at a time.

Ham and Cheese crepe.

Usually I grab a prepared sandwich at a boulangerie or a savory crepe eat as I go, very American!

The chocolate counter at La maison du Chocolat.

In the afternoon, I almost always make a stop for a bite at one of my favorite chocolatiers!

Chicken and vegetable in a copper pot.

For dinner, I usually sit and almost always order some version of roasted chicken or fish with vegetables.

Fish with potatoes and vegetables

Ratatouille is my favorite and I get very excited when I find it on the menu.  Full disclosure, fish is rarely served like in this photo.  It’s almost always brought to the table whole; head on!

Lorie at a French bistro in paris.

Want to eat and cook your way through Paris with me?  Registration for travel for 2021 is OPEN!!

A Taste of Paris April 12-18th

Want to just spend A Day in Paris, Cooking?  Join me for:

A Day in France- Bistronomy Friday, November 1st 10:00-2:30 French bistros have changed over the years, many combining the classics along with gastronomic dishes all at affordable prices.  Bringing an haute cuisine experience to the masses, this movement, now decades in the making is called Bistromomy and will be the inspiration for our class. We will enjoy crafting a French Blonde Cocktail, wine with the meal as well as a cheese course. For Petit Dejeuner, I will demonstrate Pain Chocolate, always my favorite, served with Homemade Yogurt and Fresh Fruit Compote and honey.  Le Dejeuner will be comprised of a beautiful Savory Tart and Beet and Goat Cheese Mousse Salad a la Ritz, Paris.  For diner, 2 dishes; sensational Salmon over Hash wildly elegant and Polenta Ratatouille, both will have your taste buds on high and served with Gougeres Swans! Dessert will be a bouquet of Roses, a stunning apple tart AND from Stohrer in Paris, chocolate Cake Stuffed with Cream and more chocolate! Tuition $89.00 Register HERE or by email to lorie@atasteofparis.net

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Roasted chicken at Bistro 31

A Favorite- Bistro 31

Up the stairs to the bar at Bistro 31.

Do you have a place that no matter how many times you go; you ALWAYS have a fantastic time?

That’s how it is for me with Bistro 31 at Highland Park Village.

Coctails at Bistro 31

It all started about 6 years ago when Mark and I had date night here.  We went to the upstairs bar, (hidden at the time) and ordered a bottle of champagne!  What an absolute luxury!  We had an amazing night and Bistro 31 became one of my favorites.

Glass of champagne in the stairwell.

There are so many things to love about this place.

For starters, it is just fun to get “off campus” and do a little people watching.

Patio tabels at Bistro 31.

The restaurant is intimate with a smallish main building and a greenhouse structure with a movable wall.  When the weather is nice, they leave it open so you get an al fresco dining experience.

The cocktails are fabulous, they have a superb wine list and the food is always scrumptious.

Bistro 31 (26)

 Mark always gets the steak and frites but there is something for everyone; seafood, pasta and specials including a chef featured risotto of the day.

 The furnishings are cool and comfortable, upholstered booths and chairs at the tables by the windows.

Burata salad Bistro 31

On this visit I had the Burrata Salad and the Roasted Chicken.

Roasted chicken at Bistro 31

Such a lovely evening!

Lorie at Bistro 31

Bistro 31 was the site for lunch at the ATOP summer event; A Day of Dior.

I hope you will be inspired to give Bistro 31 a try soon, and let me know how you like it!

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Heavenly Double Chocolate Pecan Cookies

Double chocolate pecan cookies on a marble board.

Sometimes a girl just needs a nice hit of chocolate.  Next time that happens to you, try this recipe!

If you enjoy my blog, please share it with friends and family that might enjoy it too!

Double chocolate pecan cookies on a marble board.

Double Chocolate Pecan Cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1 cup dark cocoa

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using an electric mixer cream together butter and sugar until it is pale and fluffy.  Add eggs 1 at a time, add vanilla then cocoa and mix well to combine.  Add salt, leavening and flour and mix just until incorporated.  Stir in, chocolate chips and pecans.  Drop cookies by tablespoons on a greased baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.

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