Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Heart Fancy Flours

While I was poking around the internet today I came across Fancy Flours, my new favorite baking website. Their decorative muffin liners are just the cutest ever and they have a pretty decent selection.





Equally as terrific is their selection of vintage wedding cake toppers and baking embellishments. I so can't wait for the next party I have so I can order up some goodies from there!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

French Macarons and a Lovely Blog

I am so obsessed with Aran's blog, Cannalle et Vanille, and while perusing this afternoon, I came across her ridiculous recipe for chocolate macarons with salty peanut butter filling(not to be confused with the icky, saccharine sweet coconut macaroons we Americans are used to). I am so praying my butt off that a miracle will occur and I will be successful at making this recipe. Here's a gander at the loveliness:



Go here for the recipe. If you score a good batch, shoot me a line and some photos; we'll compare notes!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Deep Dish Pumpkin Pie Bars

Fall is around the corner. While I mourn the loss of summer, there is something about fall that really warms my heart. One of my absolute favorite treats are these deep dish pumpkin pie bars. The basis of the recipe came from the Eagle Brand Cookbook, but I made some changes that I feel definitely improve upon it!

After my little sister graduated college, she came to live with me for a few months. She made plans with some of her friends to go camping in Vermont for a week. Being the oldest, a bit doting, and totally old fashioned for my age, I packed her a large vintage metal tartan picnic basket with sandwiches, cookies, and these wonderful bars. While at the time my sister found my gesture to be somewhat lame and embarrassing, she credits it for encouraging her to learn how to cook and bake herself.



Ingredients
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cup cold butter or margarine, cut into small pieces
2 cup chopped nuts
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin (2 cups)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, combine flour and sugars; cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in nuts. Reserving 1 1/2 cup crumb mixture, press remainder firmly on bottom and halfway up sides of greased 13x9-inch baking dish.
In large bowl, combine pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt and vanilla; mix well. Pour into prepared dish. Top with reserved crumb mixture. Bake 55 minutes or until golden. Cool. Serve with ice cream if desired. Store leftover covered in refrigerator.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Breakfast at Home

Breakfast is my favorite meal (when it doesn't consist on eating a stale donut in the car). I long to have a house with a cozy little breakfast nook where I can start my day properly. It's a room I'd imagine spending a good amount of time in, considering I work from home.

Vintage china, lacey table cloths, a simple arrangement of flowers from the garden, and a tray of scones; what could be better? A few cozy chairs, a nice bright window, and a pot of coffee close at hand would make anyone content with beginning the day on a happy note.





Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This is where I want to be...

I have missed blogging here! The past few weeks have been so busy, I'm afraid I've neglected my beloved "at home" blog. But, I'm back and ready to post away.

There are few things that make me happier than a cozy porch. In this respect, I believe I am a Southern girl at heart. One of the criteria which needs to be met in order for me to settle on a home to buy is that it has a porch, screened in preferably. I believe I would spend half of my life on it. Here are a few that make my heart pitter patter:






Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pico de Gallo

I don't bother much with salsa these days. Sure, it may be easier to make; throw all of the ingredients into a food processor and voila! Perhaps that is why I get so much pleasure out of eating pico de gallo; it ain't that easy. Getting you knife sharpened, because we're doing some chopping!

image from www.mexicanfoodandmore.com

Here is what you'll need:

5-6 roma/plum tomatoes, chopped
1/2 of a large sweet onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped or grated
1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
juice of one ripe lime
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
couple dashes of Cholula hot sauce
kosher salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and cover. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Tastes best when it sits over night!

If you've never made homemade tortilla chips before, you are truly missing out. It's super easy and worth the little bit of extra time.

You will need:

1 bottle vegetable oil
1 package small corn tortillas (usually found near cheese and butter)

Pour bottle of oil into a wide pot (at least 10 inches). Turn heat to about medium. If you have a thermometer, great. You want the oil to reach 350 deg. If you don't have a thermometer handy (which I never do), allow the oil to heat up for a few minutes and test with a piece of tortilla (use tongs!).

While oil is heating, take 6-8 tortillas and cut into quarters (one horizontal and one vertical cut). Cut as many as needed. I figure half a package of fifty usually is enough for the amount of salsa prepared above.

Carefully place about 8 "chips" at a time into the hot oil. Once the color of the chips darken and the bubbling of the oil slows down, they are ready. Remove and place on layered paper towels or brown paper bags.

You can salt if you'd like, but it isn't necessary. This is a delicious summer treat, and the possibilities of it are endless! Enjoy!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Best English Scone Recipe!




I've had my fair share of scones. Some good, some were like eating hardened mud. Of all the recipes I've tried though, this one is my absolute favorite! The trick is to use COLD butter and a hand pastry blender.








Here is what you'll need:


from top left: two bowls, measuring cups, measuring spoons, pastry blender, sifter, pastry stone, hands



2 cups flour












5 TBS sugar










2 tsp baking powder











1/2 tsp. salt






1 stick of cold butter, cut into 1/2 cubes (approx)








Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pastry stone in oven (if using baking sheet, omit this step).

In a large bowl, sift in dry ingredients. Working quickly, add cold butter to the mix. With pastry blender, cut butter in until the consistency is similar to coarse meal. Set in cool place.



2 medium eggs, room temperature













1/2 cup of sour cream













1 tsp. vanilla extract









In another bowl, beat eggs. Stir in sour cream and vanilla. Add to the flour and butter mixture'
With hands, and working quickly , combine wet and dry ingredients until moist ONLY! Pat dough ball into an 8 inch round. With a large knife, score the round (without cutting all of the way through) into 8 wedges and place on pastry stone (or well buttered baking sheet). Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool only slightly. Serve with Devon Cream and preserves (recipe to follow). Enjoy!

Kitchen Inspiration




Everyone is updating their kitchens to be more modern and efficient. Many times, the end result is a very sterile, cold look. This kitchen is my inspiration for a fun 1950's vibe.







Here are some products that will give you the same effect without sacreficing convenience.





KitchenAid appliances in Martha Stewart Blue. Available at Macy's.




Vintage fruit and flowers tablecloth. Scour flea markets and antique stores, or if you would like a new reproduction, check out Tabletop Couture's online store.




Another flea market favorite is the enamel/porcelain top table. The one pictures is from Ebay. There are so many different styles and colors available. Most also come with leaves. Perfect for a breakfast nook or use as an island.




Toleware chandeliers are making a comeback! The new ones look authentic, with the exception of possible wiring issues! This one with pretty yellow daisies is from Posh Living.



Last but not least, Anthropologie. Their selections of kitsch is dependable. These are just a few of my favorites. If you are lucky enough to have a store within driving distance, it's worth checking out their sale section every few weeks. I've found killer juice glasses and frames for a quarter of the original price!



Friday, June 19, 2009

Bee Happy

The French have praised the mighty bee for centuries. There is a significant history with the bee and royalty, but it is said that its popularity reached a peek when Napoleon Bonaparte took up residence in the Royal Palace at Tuileries. He refused to spend a franc on new decor, but couldn't live with the drapes covered in fleur-de-lis, a symbol of French Royalty. Therefore, he had the drapes turned upside down, which resulted in the symbol taking on the form of the bee.



I am not French nor am I of royal descent, but I am captivated by the bee, often seen surrounded by a laurel wreath. As with anything, too much is a bit hokey. But a bee here and there in a home is lovely.



My first and favorite find is the Laguiole flatware from Horchow. On the handle of each piece sits a stainless steel bee. 20 piece sets with your choice of stainless or wooden handles is on special for $99.90. Often I receive emails for an additional 30% off all items, including sale! Williams-Sonoma sells the very same thing for $279.








Ballard Designs has a selection of glassware from La Rochere. I love the little juice glasses and carafe for breakfasts in bed!




Another lovely is this Royal Jelly bee soap from Gianna Rose. How beautifully it displays in the bathroom next to a pretty little guest towel!



Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Summer Salads

I was a vegetarian for 14 years, so salads were a staple of my diet, and still are today. I was always coming up with new concoctions, like a mad scientist, and the kitchen was my lab.


Here is a super easy recipe I came up with a few years ago and at for almost a month straight! If you must have a protein, grilled chicken would be alright, but honestly, the recipe is better without it.




1 bunch of Arugula
If you are fortunate to have a little plot of tilled dirt outside of your back door, grow this. It doesn't require extra care and the rewards a many. The taste is peppery, verdant, and a compliment to all salads.

Tear off the very bottom of stems if they appear discolored.







1 small head of Radicchio
Radicchio has crunch that is able to hold up in most salads.

Use about half a head, cut in quarters, and give it a rough chiffonade.





3 medium sized Carrots
I always buy organic carrots in a bunch with leaves on. It gives you a pretty good idea of how long they've been out of the ground. If you're in a pinch, 1 pre-shredded bag of carrots will work fine (use about 1/2 of the bag).

Shred the carrots with a box grater. If your carrots are on the small side, shred 4.





1 cup of mixed Olives (with their oil)
I get mine from the olive bar at the grocery store and mix the different
varieties. If you want a little kick, get a few of the marinated Greek olives with red pepper flakes. Spoon in some of their oils too. Pit in or out, depending on how much of a purist you are.





8 ounces of good Bleu Cheese or Gorgonzola
I buy chunks and crumble myself. I don't know if this really has anything to do with the end product, but it makes me feel a little less Sandra Lee.
I like Maytag and farmhouse buttermilk bleus.





4 medium sized Sun dried Tomatoes (packed in oil)
Just give a rough chop and reserve some of the oil.

In a serving bowl, add your bleu cheese, olives (with 1tbs oil) and sun dried tomatoes (with 1/2 tbs oil). Give it a toss. Add the carrots and radicchio and toss again. Pile on top of the arugula just before serving.


You can make this recipe a day or two before hand, omitting the arugula. Add some mild herbs like parsley or chervil with a squeeze from a lemon quarter.
Serves about 4 as a side. Double amounts for a dinner get together. Perfect with a vodka martini!

Strawberry Fields

Anthropologie is constantly blogged about, and for good reason. June is California Strawberry month, and to pay homage to my favorite berry and store, I present you with a few selections you just have to check out.



Strawberry Citrus Reamer, $10



Fruit Stand Apron, $32

Fruit Stand Pot Holders, $12

De Vincennes Strawberry Dinnerware, $16-$24

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Second Time Around

Most people consider vintage items to be old and smelly objects which are at best are locked away in a curio cabinet. Those folks just don't know what they are missing! Years ago, I was told the secret of how something old can make a house look like a home.


One of the first things I started collecting was seltzer bottles. Check out some of the ones I found:









Check out Ebay, Etsy, your local antique stores, auctions and estate sales. Beautiful bottles can be found for as low as $10! Seltzer bottles will not only add a dramatic touch of color to any room, but also give it a nostalgic feel from country style to art nouveau homes.