February 26, 2010

in my recipe box: homemade granola

Crunchy bites of oats and almonds with just the right amount of sweet.

A perfect bowl of granola is a great way to start the day.
(Or end it, if you're anything like your's truly)...

Homemade Granola
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup raw almonds, chopped
½ cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp turbinado sugar
Good pinch of salt
6 tbsp mild honey
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 300°F.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, coconut, sugar, and salt. Stir well to blend.
In a small saucepan, warm the honey and oil over low heat, whisking occasionally until the honey is loose. Pour over the dry ingredients, and stir until well combined.
Spread the mixture evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden, stirring halfway through. Let cool on pan and stir well to keep it from forming into a solid mass. (You can still break it up with your hands if this happens.)
Store in an airtight container.

(Original recipe via Orangette. Slightly modified. And yes, I realize that I didn't include the bittersweet chocolate (what? who AM i??)... I plan to! Just not this week.)

February 25, 2010

spotlight: three red apples

It's a good day! I stumbled upon an Etsy shop that I simply adore.

Annabelle, the brilliant busy-bee shopkeep, creates fantastic goodies using snippets of old and new fabrics and lovely embroidered messages.

That "Love Life" pillow up top? I really really want it.
(How can I wait until April? This shopping hiatus is a thorn in my side!)

(From top: pillow * ornaments * bags)

For mass quantities of inspiration check out Annabelle's flickr.
She's also got a great blog.

February 24, 2010

eye candy: flickr interior styling pool

I meant to go to bed early tonight... but then I started looking at the utterly drool-worthy photos in this flickr pool.

Endless inspiration. To the point that my tired, red-rimmed eyes can take no more. And so I'll have to finish ogling tomorrow.

Five of my favorites...

I'm off to bed, my Lovelies. Sleep tight, and I'll see you in the morning.

(From top: Kitchen Shelf II * Selflessness * Untitled * Being Handy * P1060299)

February 23, 2010

design inspiration: layers of gray (+ a bowl of granola)

It snowed again today. I think the weatherman said it's going to snow almost every day this week. Winter has really dug in its heels. But that little bird I heard chirping while I was out walking Lulu this morning? She reminded me to hang in, for Spring is on its way. Even if it's not coming as quickly as I might like.

I made granola today. Can't wait to try it tomorrow morning over my can't-get-enough-of-it vanilla yogurt and strawberries. I swear I am such a creature of habit. I get a taste for things and then am happy to eat it week after week after week.

If I was here... I'd snuggle up with a big bowl of that granola, a cozy quilt and a stack of magazines. And I wouldn't come out for hours.

I'm really loving all the gray tones. Quiet and subdued. Just the way a lazy afternoon should be.

That's all.

(Recipe via Orangette (I modified it just a bit and will post the recipe later this week); photo via Delight by Design)

what's cooking: last week's menu

What a tasty week!

Monday - leftovers from our Valentine's Day feast
Tuesday - Creamy Rigatoni "K" (I actually made up my own recipe! It's below.)
Wednesday - Butternut Squash Flatbread
Thursday - Pork Chops with Sweet Potato Fries (see below) and Wilted Arugula
Friday - Vegetarian Chili* with Rosemary Biscuits (see below)

Favorite? It's a toss up: either the rigatoni or the flatbread. Both were so good. And they heated up just as well the next day for lunch. Mmm... I'm hungry just thinking about them!
Worst? Wilted arugula. I forgot that I hate steamed greens. I managed to choke down 4 bites before I had to throw it out. blech blech blech

*I omitted the turkey because it was a Friday during Lent (no meat!) and instead added a third can of beans plus 1 canful of frozen corn.

(From top: Rigatoni, Flatbread, Chili)

Creamy Rigatoni "K"
It seems like there's a lot going on at once, but this dish really is simple to put together.

Start by boiling a large pot of salted water and cooking 1 lb of rigatoni until just before al dente. Return pasta to pot and set aside.

Meanwhile, make Mario Batali's bechamel sauce. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place 2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts on a foil-lined baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Slice into bite-size pieces and set aside.

While chicken is cooking, saute one package of sliced white button mushrooms in 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper and saute until soft and fragrant. Set aside on a papertowel lined plate.

Grate 2 cups of asiago cheese, reserving 1/2 cup. In a large bowl, combine asiago, 1 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1-1/2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary.

Now it's time to put it all together...

To the pasta pot add: the cooled bechamel sauce, the chopped chicken, the mushrooms and the cheeses and rosemary. Toss together so everything is combined and pasta is evenly coated. Pour into a greased 13x9" casserole dish. Top with the 1/2 cup of grated asiago. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until cheese is golden. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.

I hope you enjoy! Let me know if you try it!

Roasted Sweet-Potato Fries
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Scrub 2-3 medium sweet potatoes and pat dry. Halve lengthwise; quarter each half lengthwise. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss sweet potatoes with 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp coarse salt, 1/4 tsp ground pepper and 1 tbsp olive oil until coated. Arrange, cut sides down, in a single layer. Roast; turning potatoes halfway through until tender and browned about 30 minutes.

Rosemary Biscuits
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, 1-1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp crushed dried rosemary, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Make a well in center, and add 4 tbsp melted butter and 1/2 cup milk. Stir just until dough comes together. Divide dough into 6 mounds on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 10 to 12 minutes.

(Both recipes are adapted from Everyday Food magazine)

February 22, 2010

10 things: getting to know City of Dionne

This blogging community is full of some pretty lovely women. Their blogs - woven with thoughtful words and beautiful images - inspire me to create, to bake, to write, to make and most important, to appreciate. All this on a daily basis. And it seems that the more I read, the more charmed I am.

So I've decided to add a new series... it's all about getting to know some of my favorite bloggers just a bit better. In 10 new ways.

Up first? The very talented and super sweet Dionne of City of Dionne. I'm a huge fan! It's easy to see that she appreciates the sweet side of life. Her writing, sketches and photography are whimsical, full of spirit and leave me feeling like I have a little spring in my step.

Let's see how Dionne answers her 10 Things...

The last thing I do before sleep: Floss like crazy and brush my teeth. I hate to admit, but I wasn't really a big flosser until I got married. I would floss once a week at best, but now I floss once or twice a day! My husband Brian has the most emaculate movie-star teeth ever, so now I am putting extra effort into taking care of my teeth, because in photos with him I feel like I have ugly teeth compared to his perfect teeth!

I could spend the whole day: Playing boardgames with my family. I have always been really close to my family. My parents are my best friends - I can tell them anything. Growing up, they were always the 'cool parents' - me and all my friends would always hang out at our place. Now that I am almost 30, my friends still stop by to have dinner with them - even if I am not there!

You'll always find in my pantry: Flour and sugar. I love to bake, so these two ingredients are constantly well-stocked in my pantry for my spur-of-the-moment baking frenzies.

I feel most like a kid: when I am with my younger brother Symon. He's 20, and has Downs Syndrome, so he is more like the age of 12. We have such fun together!

My dream kitchen: A big open space with lots of storage space, big windows and a big island in the middle. And I've always wanted one of those copper-pot hanging things to be above the island. I love those!

When I grow up, I want to: Have an event planning business. At the moment I am loving Graphic Design, but some day it would be nice to delve into the world of wedding planning. I love weddings!

I feel my prettiest: When I wake up in the morning, and my husband is watching me, smiling.

My signature dish: I am known for my desserts :) Anything sweet!

I never tire of: Frank Sinatra. He's one of my faves. I could listen to Fly Me To the Moon over and over and over and never get sick of it.

On my coffee table: A Donna Hay magazine and a custom flower arrangement by Christina at Flores Del Sol.

Thank you so much for sharing, Dionne! Your photos - as usual - are gorgeous. And your sweet tooth? I knew there was a reason I liked you! ;)

In case you haven't already, be sure to check out D's etsy shop, too!

PS - feel free to comment with any of your answers to the above 10 Things. I'd love to hear what you have to say! And check back next week for our next blogger.

February 19, 2010

design inspiration: it's complicated + curtain-front cabinets

Have any of you seen It's Complicated?

What'd you think?

We saw it a few weeks ago, and I thought it was pretty cute. It gave me everything I needed in a rom-com - plenty of laughs and just the right amount of love to make me feel a bit schmoopy. What I wasn't expecting was that it would give me one thing more...

a big old case of house envy.

I mean seriously. I was oohing and aahing all over that house and probably missed half the lines in the movie because I was yammering on and on... Look at those gorgeous chairs! I want that bathtub! That dining table! She's a pastry chef, too?!

And then there was the kitchen. ohmigod. Wasn't it just perfect? One particular design feature caught my eye... curtain-fronted cabinets. Very country chic. Very French casual. And very much on my radar as of late.

(The two photos above are of the actual movie kitchen -- and my inspiration.)

I should have known this would happen. I mean, it was directed by Nancy Meyers - director AND interior designer extraordinaire. Her taste is impeccable. I want to live in every. single. house. she makes a movie around.

(From top: Photos via Traditional Home * Life in the Fun Lane * Country Home * Decorology's Flickr

February 18, 2010

design inspiration: a cabinet dressed in white

Oh, golly!

Please just wrap it up and send it on over. I promise, promise, pinky-swear to take very good care of it...

I just keep gazing wistfully at this lovely cabinet chock full of white dishware, each piece just as lovely as the next.

PS... the owner of this stunning display? She's from Wisconsin. I knew there was a reason I liked this house!

Via Country Living

February 17, 2010

time for some serious willpower

As if the shopping hiatus wasn't enough, Lent starts today, and I've decided to... give up sweets. (but I'm whispering because I haven't told my sweet tooth yet. Not sure how to break the news. She'll be devastated.)

So, no cookies, cakes, chocolates or candy for me for the next 40 days. Not even ice cream.

Easter cannot, will not come soon enough.

A few photos of drool-worthy, delectable sweets...

Now, isn't that just pouring salt on the wound?

Photos via three of my favorites: Canelle et Vanille * Smitten Kitchen * Bread & Honey

February 16, 2010

a few recipes by request

A few of you have asked, so here you go!

Baked Ravioli with Chicken Sausage
(from Real Simple magazine - February 2010)

In a large skillet, brown 2 sliced fully cooked chicken sausages (12 ounces) in olive oil over medium-high heat. Toss with the ravioli (16-18 ounces fresh or frozen. thawed, if frozen) and 2 cups marinara sauce. Transfer to a shallow 2-quart baking dish and sprinkle with 1 cup grated mozzarella. Bake at 375 degrees until golden and bubbling, 35-40 minutes.

*To get more veggies, I grated 2 carrots and added that to the sauce. I also wilted 1 bag of spinach (10 ounces) in a bit of olive oil and mixed that in as well. And top with a few fresh basil leaves.

Sweet Potato Casserole
(my sister's recipe)

In a large bowl, mix 1 can (40 ounces) sweet potatoes or yams in syrup, drained; 1/3 cup granulated sugar; 1 tsp salt; 1/4 cup egg beaters; 1/4 cup skim milk and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Pour mixture into a greased 8 x 8 inch pan.

In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup brown sugar; 1/4 cup flour; 2 tbsp butter; and 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Top potato mixture with pecan mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

February 15, 2010

what's cooking: last week's menu (+ a weekend recap)

What a wonderful week we had!

Monday - Lemon Farfalle
Tuesday - Italian Potpies
Wednesday - Corn & Black Bean Pizza
Thursday - leftovers
Friday - Flank Steak over Arugula Salad with Mashed Sweet Potatoes
*Saturday - Flank Steak Sandwiches (on crusty baguette with a bit of sweet potato mash spread on the bread. So, so good. Don't knock it until you try it!!)
*Sunday - oh, how we ate! Waffles for breakfast! Chocolates at lunch! Sugar cookies all afternoon! And Croque Monsieur for dinner. And to top it all off? Chocolate Mousse with Whipped Cream for dessert. My stomach still hurts.... ;)

Favorite? Croque Monsieur. Salty, smoky ham, smooth gruyere cheese, and a dash of dijon piled high on crusty Italian bread and baked until bubbly and golden brown.

There is most definitely not a worst this week.

We had such a lovely weekend. It was quite quiet, actually, for we didn't have any plans. But it was perfect in that the days seemed endless, and each moment unfolded exactly how I might have liked to have planned it, if I had tried. On Saturday we made and decorated sugar cookies (which we've been noshing on ever since!) and we took a trip to the French Market to pick up the ingredients for our Sunday Valentine's dinner. (And of course, nibbled on chocolates while there!)

Sunday began with some fabulous homemade waffles by dear Hubby (I'd say it's his signature dish!) and included a family walk in the bright sunshine around the neighborhood that afternoon. We dined on Croque Monsieur over candlelight and then had to.die.for chocolate mousse for dessert. Each bite a melt-in-your-mouth cloud of rich chocolate.

To me, it really was the perfect weekend.
And I hope that your's was quite the same.

*I know I usually don't post what we ate on the weekends, but this time I just had to give our whole week some screen time!

(From top: farfalle, potpie, monsieur, mousse, cookies, and our dearies two - henry & amelia)

To see more pictures of cookies and the kiddos, click here.

french inspiration

This is most definitely what they mean when they say room with a view...

Could you imagine?
I'd do nothing day after day but gaze dreamily out the window.


And my love affair with the City of Light continues.
Found via Sweetie Pie's Interior Infatuations via ktkatherine.

February 11, 2010

crafting: valentine's cards

Sew cute...

Click here for close-up photos and a handy step-by-step to make your own homemade cards at The Purl Bee, one of my favorite places to go for crafting inspiration.

February 10, 2010

decorating with paper garlands

We did a little Valentine's decorating...

It was simple enough... I just used some scrap paper that I had from a project I did for Amelia's room and a few ribbons I had lying around in my craft bins. I traced three different sized glasses for the circles and cut out different sized and shaped hearts from construction paper.

And though the garlands have only been up a few days, I'm beginning to think that this house could use a little more pink!

February 9, 2010

what's cooking: last week's menu

And away we go!

Monday - Baked Spaghetti and Meatballs
Tuesday - Chicken with Olives and Carrots
Wednesday - Veggie Enchiladas
Thursday - Turkey & Sweet Potato Turnovers (I used ground turkey in lieu of beef)
Friday - Bruschetta Two Ways (Honeyed Ricotta with Figs and Tomato, Red Onion and Feta) and Arugula Salad (aka "the kristin salad" because I make it that much)

Favorite? Veggie Enchiladas! Bonus - the recipe makes two batches so we've got another ready and waiting in the freezer.

And I'm noticing a bit of a trend here. It seems that if I see the words "puff" or "pastry" in an ingredient list, odds are I'm going to make it. I guess puff pastry is the avocado of '10. (Don't worry, darling avocado, there's room for both of you.)

Top: Turnovers
Bottom: Chicken with Olives and Carrots

pretty pink and white

Because a little bit of pink and white does wonders on a wintry day...

Lovely images by BitterLemons, found on Flickr.

February 8, 2010

spotlight: little aviary (+ a week of love!)

I'm throwing a party, and you're invited, my Lovelies. We can decorate paper bag mailboxes with doilies and glitter and then hand out Valentine's to each other. Just to show how much we care.

These will do nicely, no?

From Little Aviary's Etsy shop.

PS - this kicks off a week of Valentine's themed posts... Stay tuned!

February 4, 2010

design inspiration: fresh flowers

It's simple, really.

Line up baskets filled with bunches of fresh-picked* flowers on a windowsill, and you can brighten up even the grayest of days.

(from House Beautiful)

*Yes, fresh-picked from the grocery store count, too! For those of us still donning snow boots...

February 1, 2010

what's cooking: last week's menu (and a whole new me)

There's a bit of a transformation taking place. What started as a simple new year's resolution to eat healthfully and make dinner every night has evolved into me really enjoying cooking. It's become more than just a means to an end. And I'm finding that the more I do it, the more confidence I carry with me into the kitchen. Like a lucky rabbit's foot in my pocket.

My Sunday nights go a little something like this: hunker down on the sofa (glass of wine optional, but likely), stacks of cookbooks teetering by my side and my trusty brown file brimming with clipped recipes perched on my knee. Pen and notebook in hand, I start planning next week's menu. I page and mark and sort and finally narrow it down to four or five entrees and sides. As the menu takes shape, I find that I'm genuinely excited to make each meal and imagining that look of happy contentment on Wade's face as he finishes his last bite and wonders aloud if there are seconds. That makes me smile. Every time.

Here's last week's...

Monday - Gingered Pumpkin Soup with Pea Pesto Crostini
Tuesday - Baked Salmon* with Green Bean & Fennel Salad and Baked Polenta Fries
Wednesday - Three Cheese Calzones and Chocolate Shortbreads
Thursday - Baked Chicken Breasts with Sweet Potato Bake
Friday - Leftovers

Favorite? Ooey, gooey, cheesy calzones. Heaven in a pizza dough crust. (Wade clapped. I beamed. ;)
Worst? Ginger Pumpkin Soup (aka Boring Pumpkin Water). Blech. What a waste of a good can of pumpkin. It was destined for muffins, poor pumpkin. Thank goodness the pea pesto was Awesome. (Yes, that's a capital A.)

*Why's the salmon marked, you ask? Because the intended main course seemed a little "fishy" (no pun intended) and so it went in the trash. On our plates instead? Grilled cheese sandwiches. Here's to being flexible!

I'll try to start providing links to recipes (like above), but it all depends on how much time I have to track them down since most recipes I use are hardcopy. But you've been requesting, so I'll do my best!

xo, Kristin

Three Cheese Calzones (top) and Baked Chicken with Sweet Potato Bake (bottom)