I begin with a heartfelt thank you for all the support and positive comments on my arts and crafts -- it is a validation to work harder at creating more wonderful pieces for your enjoyment. Because time is of the essence right now, let's make a fast and inexpensive centerpiece for your holiday table:
- One large glass bowl (a punch bowl works)
- One bag of pine cones (regular or scented)
- Red and gold ball ornaments (assorted sizes, 8 each of small, medium and large)
- One can of 24K gold paint (from Wal-Mart or Ace Hardware)
- Two red or gold candles (3 inches or taller)
- Two candleholders (tall or short)
- One red or gold table runner
- One wreath (8-inch or 10-inch to fit bottom of bowl)
Begin by spray painting pine cones with gold paint, let dry. Put runner out on table. In the middle, put the wreath, opening the branches to fit the bowl. Mix together the pine cones and ornaments and fill the glass bowl, add a candle to each side of bowl and you have a beautiful centerpiece.
I found all the materials needed at the Dollar Tree next to Bashas'.
Now let's make a festive cake that will delight young and old. For most of us, cranberries make an appearance twice a year on the holiday table. Truth is, these wonderful tart berries should be enjoyed all year round, so buy extra now and freeze for later. Called a Yankee Cranberry Upside-down Cake, this is a lip-smacking treat when served with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream. It also makes a lovely coffee cake.
Yankee Cranberry Upside-down Cake
Topped with tangy cranberries rather than the traditional sweet pineapple, this recipe lends a distinctive New England flavor to old-fashioned upside-down cake.
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup buttermilk
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and pour it into a 9-inch springform pan.
In a mixing bowl, combine the cranberries and the brown sugar, then scatter the mixture on top of the butter. Sprinkle on the pecans.
Beat the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and the sugar at medium speed in a medium mixing bowl until well-blended. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the vanilla extract.
Combine the flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a small bowl and stir well. Beat a third of the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk. Continue alternating in this way until you've beaten in the last of the dry ingredients. Spoon the batter evenly over the cranberries.
Bake the cake until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let it cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then invert the cake onto a serving platter and remove the pan. Serves 10.