Merry Christmas!

Vintage Modern Christmas
Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

My husband just taught me this maneuver where you spread out a throw or blanket onto the couch with the entire surface as covered as possible. Then you lay down on the sofa and wrap the blanket completely around you with just your head exposed for movie watching. He calls it a couch taco. Sometimes that’s exactly what a cold winter night calls for!

Here are a few of my favorite throws from West Elm that will help you create the perfect couch taco. The best part? All throws are 40% off until December 20th!

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Chicken & Carrots

Chicken and Leek Soup_1

I love picking up a chicken to roast. It’s such an easy meal, just glaze, roast, eat. But with only two people in the house, we usually have quite a bit of meat leftover. So, inspired by Yolène’s Leek and Carrot Quiche, I simmered up a batch of soup with leftover chicken from a roast.

The flavor comes from white wine and cream. Let the veggies simmer in the wine as long as you can, you’ll be glad for it at the end. If you like a thicker broth, pour the cream into a small bowl at the very end, whisk in a spoonful of the soup and a tablespoon of cornstarch or arrowroot powder. Pour it back into the soup, and voila, a thicker soup.

Chicken and Leek Soup_2

Chicken Soup with Carrots and Leeks

Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 1 hour
Meal type Soup
Misc Freezable
A simple chicken soup made with leftover shredded chicken, carrots and leeks.


  • 1 knob butter
  • 1 Large leek (halved and thinly sliced)
  • 2 Large carrots (halved and thinly sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cups cooked chicken (shredded)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or milk
  • salt
  • pepper


1. In a large pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, carrots and parsley, and saute for a few minutes.
2. Add the white wine, bring to a simmer, and let cook for ten minutes.
3. Add the shredded chicken and broth, bring to a simmer, and let cook uncovered until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.
4. Reduce heat to low, and add the cream or milk, stirring until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. (Optional) Garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

Lemons & Blueberry

Easy Lemon Tart

Is there anything in the kitchen more beautiful than a well made tart shell? I don’t think so! Which is why I was so excited when my friend Yolène passed on her recipe for standard pastry crust. I’ve made several batches, and each time it bakes up so beautifully. There’s no need to pre-bake the shell (that’s what makes a pastry crust overcooked). Just press in, chill for a few minutes, and fill with your favorite tart or quiche recipe. The tartness of the lemon filling is complimented perfectly with the sweetness of blueberries. I’ve made it three times in the past week, to give to neighbors and serving at a holiday party.

If you have extra of the mixture, it freezes well. Pour it into a baggie, remove the extra air, seal it, and lay it flat in the freezer. It will keep for a few months. Although I have heard that raw eggs can be frozen for up to a year.


Pastry Crust

Serves 2
Prep time 15 minutes
Meal type Dessert
Misc Freezable
Use this simple pastry crust recipe as a base for pies, tarts, turnovers, and more. It's a fuss-free baking staple.


  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup butter (chilled and diced)
  • 1/4 cup cold water


1. Pour the flour into a large bowl. Drop the butter into the bowl, then mix with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
2. Add the water, and continue mixing with your hands until dough begins to form. Knead in the bowl until all of the flour and butter is combined into a dough bowl, about 6 times.
3. Wrap the ball in cling film, then place in the refrigerator. Dough will keep for up to 2 days. You can also freeze it for later use.


This will make the equivalent of 1-9" round pie crust. The recipe can be multiplied as needed. If you want a sweet crust, add a tablespoon of sugar in with the crust. You can also flavor it with lemon zest, vanilla bean, and more.

Lemon and Blueberry Tart

Serves 8
Prep time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 2 hours
An easy lemon and blueberry tart that will have your guests puckering up for more.


  • 1 Batch pastry crust
  • 4 Large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2 Large lemons (juiced)
  • 1 Zest lemon
  • 1/2 cup plain flour (heaping)
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar


1. Make the pastry crust and refrigerate for 1 hour. When chilled, roll out in a circle about 2" larger in diameter than the tart pan. Press into the bottom and edges of the pan, trim the excess off, then prick the bottom of the crust with a fork. Place back into fridge while you make the filling.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar for a minute or two. Add the lemons and zest and whisk until sugar is dissolved completely. Add the flour and whisk until combined. Pour into the tart pan until 3/4 full. Scatter the blueberries over the top. Place into the oven and bake for 45 minutes, until middle of tart is set.
4. (Optional) Remove from the oven and sprinkle the top with sugar. Place under a broiler until sugar is caramelized, or you can use a kitchen torch.

Cranberry Shortbread

Ah, Christmas baking. I’m definitely putting my time in at the oven and hob (such an Irish word to use!). We hosted a small Christmas party for our team last night, which gave me the incentive I needed to try out a few ideas. This recipe for Cranberry and Lemon Thyme Shorbread was inspired by a favorite place of mine to have tea. Each cup comes with a little tiny shortbread cookie with a perfect dried cranberry placed in the middle. It adds such a tasty flavor to the classic cookie.

I grow lemon thyme, a hardy little herb, in my garden year round. It makes a beautiful shrub or border plant (mine is in a spare container, planted as an afterthought). The plant is easy to find at a garden shop, both in Ireland and in the States.

My original batch was made in bar form, for the second I rolled into a snake and cut into rounds. I prefer the second method, which is easier to cut and to freeze. If you aren’t a fan of cranberries, simply omit the fruit and keep the lemon. Or switch it out for your favorite dried fruit.


Cranberry and Lemon Thyme Shortbread

Serves 24
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 55 minutes


  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon thyme (finely chopped)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 cups flour


1. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugars, and salt together until fluffy. Add the remaining ingredients and beat for 20 seconds until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Let sit for a minute, then begin to mix the dough by hand. Knead until dough forms. Let sit for another minute or two.
2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
3. If you want bar cookies, press dough into a 9x9 pan, making sure it is evenly distributed. Bake for 45 minutes until top is lightly golden. Remove from oven and cut into slices when shortbread is cool.
4. If you want round cookies, roll dough into a long snake (about 1.5" thick). Cut into .5" slices. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes until tops are lightly golden brown.


You can freeze this dough for about 4-6 weeks until ready to use. Double wrap the dough in cling film and write the date on the outside. When ready, remove from the freezer, thaw completely, and bake as instructed.