Holiday Tablescapes – Part I

Holiday Tablescapes - Part I

Holiday Season Tablescape

Hello, friends! I have some great news to share with you. Please meet the exciting new project on my blog – the AZ Tablescapes series. I’d been thinking about this project for the longest time, and finally the time has come to bring the idea to life.  My friend Viktoria, who is quite crafty and creative, and has awesome decorating ideas, will be helping me in this new endeavor.

Here we’ll be dressing up our tables with beautiful themed decorations for various occasions, sharing tips, DIYs, and many more. We believe that beautifully set tables are not only pleasing to the eye but are also inviting and make guests and family feel special. And we all deserve to feel special, don’t we?

So, are we ready? Let’s begin.

Holiday Season Tablescapes

The very first tablescape in the series coincides with the holiday season – Christmas and  New Year are just around the corner. So let’s get in the holiday spirit. And let’s get decorating. You can get some ideas from this table setting for either of the holidays, or both.

We wanted to give our holiday table a big splash of  colors – red, golden, and green. Warm, yet luscious and rich. We love these beautiful leaf-shaped plates from Pier 1 Imports – such an eye candy. Speaking of candies, notice a candy cane to the right of the table. Just right for the theme.

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Creamy Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

Creamy Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

My typical simple formula for mashed potatoes is usually: boiled potatoes, butter, and milk – mashed together and that’s it. Recently I’ve been adding another ingredient to it – cheese. It instantly becomes another kind of mashed potatoes – creamy and more flavorful. The cheese is added at the very end and the puree is cooked on the stove until the cheese melts into the potatoes. Yum! I saw this trick once at my friend Aysun’s house, an amazing cook. I made this dish a part of our Thanksgiving dinner this year. Can’t wait to make it again, for another happy occasion.

A few pointers to guide you in your mashed potato making adventure. You’ve probably seen many recipes for mashed potatoes before, most calling for peeling the potatoes then boiling them. This is a no-no for me. I don’t like to do it. Because, first, the skins keep the flavors inside, and second, the skins will prevent the boiling potatoes from absorbing a lot of water thus loosing most of its starch. So I say keep the skin on and peel it later.

About cheese: I use Turkish Kashar cheese (a local Turkish grocery store carries it), which is more known as Greek Kasseri cheese in the US. It is a mild milk cheese with a slightly salty flavor. The closest substitutes would be Provolone or mozzarella cheese. Or a combination of the two. Here’s Kasseri cheese, pictured below.

Kasseri Cheese

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