Saturday, January 29, 2011

Valentine's Special Dessert - Which one would you like me to serve?

For Valentine's Weekend (February 11-14. 2011), everyone enjoys some type of dessert with chocolate in it!  I have several in mind and would like your input as to which one I should make at The Buttonwood Inn and serve to our guests.

1)  Turtle Brownies - dark chocolate brownies with caramel swirling through them and glazed on top with a whole pecan decorating each square.

2)  Texas Sheet Cake - a thin, moist cake (the height of a brownie) containing two kinds of chocolate (making it almost black since it's so chocolatey) covered with a chocolate ganache icing and chopped pecans.

3)  Chocolate Cupcakes - a chocolate cupcake (with three times the chocolate) that is baked with a chocolate ganache filling on top, then iced with a creamy chocolate frosting (not too much chocolate, in my opinion).

4)  Chocolate Malt Sandwich Cookies - a double cookie sandwich with a malt flavored chocolate filling in the center.

You tell me...hard choices, I know.  Email us at with your Number 1-4 choices in order of preference.  The second place winner will be made for the Chocolate Festival during February 25-27, 2011.  First and second place winning recipes to follow!

March Maple Madness - Buttonwood Delectable Ice Cream Treat & Recipe!

Come join us and stay at The Buttonwood Inn March 25-27, 2011 for March Maple Madness touring various inns sampling maple-inspired treats.  We will make homemade ice cream this year for participants who will also have a chance to win a stay at any one of these inns as just one of the prizes.

Please check out our March Maple Madness package and book on-line or call us at 1-800-258-2625 to reserve.

Here's our recipe for Maple Pecan Ginger Ice Cream--enjoy!


Yield: About 4 cups

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

2 cups half and half

5 egg yolks

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup pecans, lightly toasted and chopped

½ cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

In a saucepan, heat the maple syrup and half-and-half until scalding. Whip the egg yolks with the sugar until the mixture is starting to foam, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the scalded cream mixture while whipping rapidly. Place the combined mixture back into the saucepan and continue to cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in heavy cream. Let the custard cool, stirring every 5 minutes, to prevent a skin from forming. After slightly cooled, cover with plastic wrap setting it directly on the custard and up the sides of the bowl to prevent the skin from forming. Allow the custard to chill in the refrigerator for several hours. Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Towards the end of freezing, stir in the pecans and crystallized ginger. Store covered in the freezer.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Year's Eve Celebration - 2010

For the past several years, we've had guests stay at The Buttonwood Inn on our New Year's Eve package, which includes New Hampshire made chocolates on arrival. 

On New Year's Eve, champagne (or sparkling cider) and appetizers made by Paula are served in our Living Room by the fire followed by a 5-course dinner at the Thompson House Eatery.  At breakfast the next morning, our guests raved about the 5-course dinner because they were able to order from a variety of appetizers, entrees, and desserts and the servers were friendly and attentive.  The majority also exclaimed it was possibly the best meal they've ever enjoyed!

When our guests arrived back at the inn, if they were still in the celebrating mood, they could have watched the ball drop at midnight in NYC Times Square on our big screen TV in the Mt. Surprise Room by a toasty fire.

Here's a recipe for the crab strudel appetizer that was a big hit, among the other tasty appetizers:



12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided

3 scallions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 pound lump crabmeat, drained and picked to remove shells

2 teaspoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 lime, juiced

Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10 sheets phyllo dough (such as Pepperidge Farm)

1/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saute pan, add the scallions and garlic and cook over medium-low heat until the scallions are soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and stir.

Shred the crabmeat into a bowl and mix with the parsley, lime juice, salt, to taste, and pepper. Add the crabmeat to the scallion mixture.

Melt 10 tablespoons of butter in a small pan and set aside.

Unfold 1 sheet of the phyllo dough. Brush the sheet with melted butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Repeat the process by laying a second sheet of phyllo dough over the first sheet, brush it with melted butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs until 5 sheets have been used. Spoon a 1-inch wide row of the crab mixture along 1 edge of the phyllo dough. Roll it up. Brush the top with butter and set aside. Repeat the entire process using the all the phyllo dough and crab filling.

Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper. Score the crab strudel diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces and bake for 12 minutes, or until the top is lightly brown. Slice and serve.

Polar Express Families - 2010

As I take down the Christmas tree, I'm reminded of the weekends that we had families stay at The Buttonwood Inn for the Polar Express event.  After returning from our vacation visiting our children in NYC and NJ, we quickly erected the Christmas tree and decorated the inn inside and out for the first arrival of children and their parents the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  I decorated the tree with hand-painted ceramic Christmas ornaments of mice in holiday attire, Peanuts, and Sesame Street characters that I made for our own children's tree when they were babies.  

On the first day of the family's arrival, I baked mini cupcakes decorated with light-green frosting sprinkled with shiny clear sprinkles, resembling freshly fallen snow.  After searching through my huge tin container for the Christmas cookie cutters, I made hand-rolled sugar cookies decorated with Royal icing in seasonal colors, sprinkles, and piped designs.  These cookies were served as a special treat for the children to enjoy dressed in their pajamas in the Mt. Surprise Room watching the Polar Express movie before they boarded train that evening.

Though all of the families expressed that they had a wonderful experience on the Polar Express and visiting Santa at the North Pole, there is one family that made it a complete surprise for their two young children.  Thus, the parents and grandparents were able to observe the surprise and merriment of the children when they finally met Santa Claus.

Another family on the last weekend comprised two mothers with four older children who simply wanted to experience the "magic" of riding the Polar Express, drinking hot chocolate, and singing songs on the way to meet Santa.   After the last family left The Buttonwood Inn, we read their comments in our room guest books writing that they not only felt the majic of visiting Santa at the North Pole, but also felt the majic of The Buttonwood Inn.

This is why Bill and I work very hard to make each families experience memorable and enjoyable allowing us to experience the true spirit of Christmas.                            

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ladies Shoppers Weekend - November 2010

Bill and I enjoyed hosting the fourth year of the ladies shoppers group during the second weekend last November. From the moment they arrived usually by noontime, they began their shopping excursions and girlfriend lunches catching all of the major sales before the Holidays. We reserved a group dinner (22 ladies this past year) at Vito Marcello's Italian Restaurant on Friday night where they arrived via a taxi van.

The next morning, we put out coffee early for them so they were all able to gather in the Living Room in their PJs and talk and laugh before breakfast. Afterwards while Bill cleared the Dining Room, I chatted with them about the good buys they got on clothing (to which Bill retreated to the kitchen). Then the ladies were out the door by 10 am off shopping and lunching in smaller groups.  Bill and I provided them with shopping handbags that had "survival" provisions (drinks and snacks) and the VIP coupon good at most stores.

At the end of the day on Saturday, they came back to the inn to wrap gifts and prepared for their party in the Mt. Surprise Room. They rearranged the furniture so they could all sit together to enjoy drinks, appetizers, stories, and games. Bill and I retreated to our owners quarters and saw them at breakfast the next morning.

So if you would like to reserve The Buttonwood for a shoppers weekend or any other type of group gathering any time of year, we can accommodate your needs in our spacious common rooms and idyllic location nestled in the mountains very near North Conway.