Thursday, November 19, 2015

Ribbons and Bows

We all know that making great bows is fantastic for wrapping up your cookie trays and gift baskets, but you can use those ribbons and bows for so much more during the holidays!

But let's learn how to make those great bows first!

I took an old pair of ice skates I had laying around that were going to only lead to broken bones and I decided to make them in to a decorative item.  You can also purchase some old ice skates at a thrift shop.  I clip some greens off of one of our trees outside since we have an artificial tree and slip those inside the skate.  Then I just add one of my big bows!!!  That's it!!!  Easiest decoration ever!

There is nothing I like better than to finish off my banister with a really massive bow!  I always leave the tails of the bow long so they trail down the sides of the newel post.

Did you ever think about decorating your kitchen cabinets for Christmas?  Well they are a great big area to decorate and to use for a very specific purpose that tends to give people a lot of trouble during the holidays.  So here is a very simple, elegant way to decorate them. Wrap the 2 1/2 to 3 inch wide ribbons around them and staple the ribbons ends to each other forming the ribbons into one large loop around the doors.  

Now, how to put them to good use.  When you get your Christmas or holiday cards and you don't know where to put them, staple the cards to the ribbons!!!  They make a great, festive decoration and it keeps them from falling all over your mantle, table, whatever every time the door opens and breeze comes in.  

I also love to make a nice bow to add to my floral arrangements.  It just adds a touch of elegance.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Easy Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce

Found on Facebook

This recipe looks so simple and easy!

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce

Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes, plus cooling

Follow these easy instructions to create sweet salted caramel sauce at home. Perfect for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, cheesecake, sweet breads and more!

•1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
•6 Tablespoons (90g) salted butter, cut up into 6 pieces*
•1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream*
•1 teaspoon salt

1.Heat granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a high heat resistant rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
2.Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.
3.Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added.
4.Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes.
5.Very slowly, drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream while stirring. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble and/or splatter when added.
6.Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.
7.Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to cool down before using.
8.Cover the caramel tightly and store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Warm the caramel up for a few seconds before using in a recipe.

Additional Notes:

*Unsalted butter may be used instead, though I prefer salted. No other changes need to be made to the recipe if using unsalted.

*Heavy cream (approximately 36% milk fat) may also be sold as whipping cream. Light whipping cream (30% milk fat), or double cream (48% milk fat) may be substituted.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Great Summer Appetizer

Caprese Bites

  • 1/3 cup(s) of Bertolli Olive Oil
  • 4 Plum Tomatoes sliced
  • 3 cloves Fresh Garlic minced
  • 1 tsp. Seasoned Salt
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper
  • Loaves of 2 inch diameter bread sliced in ¼ inch slice
  • 24 Large Fresh Basil leaves
  • ½ lb. Mozzarella cheese 
  1. In a large mixing bowl mix together garlic, seasoned salt, black pepper and Bertlli olive oil.
  2. Gently mix in tomatoes. 
  3. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  4. Slice bread on a diagonal about 1/4 inch thick.
  5. Remove tomatoes from olive oil mixture and set aside.
  6. Brush tops of bread slices with Bertolli olive oil mixture.
  7. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in oven for about 5 minutes.  Until just toasted. 
  8. Place a large leaf of Basil on each slice of bread and top with a slice of tomato.
  9. Scoop mozzarella cheese with a tablespoon size measuring spoon and top tomato slice with mozzarella cheese. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Chicken Salad Supreme

Chicken Salad Supreme

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
¼ cup diced white onions (small dice)
¼ cup diced celery (small dice)
¼ cup mayonnaise
Fresh Ground Pepper, Salt, and Garlic Powder to taste
Olive Oil (for cooking chicken)
Serve on a bed of Arugula and Tomato wedges
Brush Chicken breasts with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.  Grill on a hot grill for 10 minutes per side. 
Allow chicken to cool completely and cut in to a small dice.  Add chicken, onion, celery, and all spices in to a medium size mixing bowl. 
Add mayonnaise into mixing bowl and fold in to chicken salad until will combined. 
Tear leaves of arugula and place plates.  Slice wedges tomato and place on top of arugula.  Salt and pepper the arugula and tomato wedges.  Scoop chicken salad on top of arugula and tomatoes.
Serves 4.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Multi-functional Closet

This was a completely open alcove with the exception of the washer/dryer combination unit.  We put in two shelves, two wood poles (one for the curtain and one for hanging clothes) and a battery operated light.  

This has made use of the very high space that was going to waste.  It gives us room to store our comforter, a blanket, all of the laundry supplies, and hang clothes!  

In a tiny condo that has no other closets, this is a major improvement.

The curtain, just for reference, was one that I was sort of hording.  It was one I had in my other house, but couldn't use in this one.  I refused to throw it out because it was silk and cost me a good bit of money.  It was laying in my basement in a plastic zippered bag for a few years.  So I decided this was the perfect place to use it.  

Friday, April 24, 2015

Coastal Design

Crossed Oars

I made these to hang in the condo at the shore above the TV in the living room.  There is a big blank space and I don't want to write anybody's name (sorry, I couldn't resist).  I was looking for an old oar online, but they were either too expensive or too far away to get.  

I found these smallish oars at Joann's Fabric for about $6 each.

I had some of this paint left over from the Salty Kisses stools, the color is "Serene".

Yep, some of this still laying around too.

I also had some white spray paint leftover form the lamp makeover I did a while back.  So I used up a bunch of leftovers on this one!

The only thing I bought for this other than the oars was some rope.

Here's my inspiration:

It's from Pinterest

Here's how I did it:

First just a coat of white primer, I am going to sand this later to look beat up so not need for a finish coat.

Next, some painter's tape and a coat of the blue paint.

Remove the paint and sand the edges.  Sounds easy, but there is a lot of elbow grease involved in this one and you can easily over do it!  Be careful in this step.

Subtlety is what you are after here.  

Then you want to cross the oars in the way you want them to sit and mark the spot.  You will then use a wood screw to attach them.  I then tied them with the rope and used some hot glue to make the oars steady and the keep the rope from untying.  I also put a little hot glue around the ends of the ropes to stop them from fraying.  I drilled holes in the corners of the oars to put rope through for hanging them.  One hint is is to make sure that you have the right size drill bit before you drill the holes  I made a mistake on the first one that is now covered up with the knot of the rope.  

I can't wait to see it in place.  Stop back for an update!


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

By The Sea

This is a little stool (one of 2) that I made for our condo at the shore.  (Here in the Philly area we go "down the shore" and not "to the beach".)  They are for our Maltese who, for whatever reason, believes he can't get up and down off the sofas and chairs.  This is despite the fact that he jumps up on to the back of the sofa just fine which is a higher jump.  *sigh*

The picture above is not the final look, but I didn't get a photo of it after I sanded it down to make it look worn.  

Here's what I started with:

You can see the stamps I used on the sides.  I got an alphabet stamp set and a seashell stamp.  

This is the paint I used:

I found it easy to apply and it was nice and thick and covered easily.

After I was done sanding it all, I sealed it with this:

We are going "down the shore" this weekend and I will try to remember to get a photo of the finished product in place in the condo.  I will update when I have it.  

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Under Sink Fix Up

Under Sink Fix Up

So, the black hole that was under my sink, was really starting to bother me!  So I decided to get some loose tiles and lay them in there to cover over the warped wood.  There had been a slow leak at some point in time and the wood is a mess!  


This is what I was working with!  Yuck!  Add to the warped wood pipes that come from everywhere and it's just a mess!!!  I tried to lay 12x12 tiles, but the pipes were in my way.  I could only lay 1-12x12 tile in there and have it lay flat.  So I had my husband get some 6x6 tiles and they did the trick!

This was the disaster that happened with the 12x12 tiles.

This is how the 6x6 tiles cover everything.  Much better!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Getting a Clean Oven

I found this helpful hint on Pinterest as to how to clean your oven without the super smelly and caustic oven cleaners.  I pinned it and I just got a chance to try it out.  Here's the Link:

Full disclosure, the baking soda did a fair job at scrubbing off some of the curd.  I inherited this stove with the house and it was not in good condition when I got it.  I am use to a self-cleaning oven and so I hate doing this!  So I definitely let this get out of hand.  I also used baking powder with the vinegar on the door and window.  That's the combo that your kids use in a volcano project to make it erupt.  This combo makes it fizz and really gets things to loosen up!!!  After all of that, I still wasn't happy, plus the racks needed cleaning.  So I resorted to my go to when things are REALLY dirty and I have tried everything else!  I got out the Dollar Tree cleaner called Awesome (which lives up to its name) and a Brillo pad.  This final step got a good bit more off.  The Awesome and Brillo also did a fantastic job on the racks!  More on that later.

I would say, if you keep up with your oven and/or you have a self-cleaning oven that can't have regular oven cleaners used in it, I would use this technique.  

After this experience, I have come to two conclusions.  First, this is as clean as my oven will ever be.  Second, I need a new stove with a self-cleaning oven because this is just too much on my back!

Now, for the racks.  Here are a few pictures of the racks.  I'm not sure you can tell just how good they came out.  

Left is the clean one and Right is the dirty one.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Dollar Store St. Patrick's Day Wreath

St. Patrick's Day Dollar Store Wreath

I made this wreath from items I got at the dollar store!  I used a floral foam ring, some garland, and glittery shamrocks.  I also added a pipe cleaner loop for hanging.  I think it's adorable!  I would cost you maybe $5 to make.  

If you can't find something at the dollar store, improvise!  You can always wrap the ring in crepe paper and add other embellishments that you find.  It's all up to you!!!  Have fun with it!!!  Let me know if you make one and send me a photo!  I'd love to see what you do!!!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Gift Basket

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This is a picture of my oldest grandson from last year.  We do St. Patrick's Day big around here!  This year we have another little one to join in the fun.  

I love to give them little gifts baskets with treats in them.  

Here is a video tutorial on how to make a little gift basket that is sure to make your little leprechauns happy!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Crock Pot Blueberry French Toast with Fresh Blueberry Syrup

Crock Pot Blueberry French Toast

I found this recipe on Pinterest.  I added some extra cream cheese, using 2 full bricks, and I put cinnamon sugar on the top.  I think those changes really made this just that much better!  I also served some cinnamon sugar on the side as an additional topping.  

Here are the recipes as I made them:

8 eggs
½ cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 loaf French bread, cubed
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 bricks of cream cheese cubed
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, sour cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Gradually whisk in milk and maple syrup until blended. 
Place half of the cubed bread in a greased 5 to 6 quart slow cooker, layer with half of the blueberries, half of the egg mixture and half of the cream cheese.  Repeat layering.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove from fridge about 30 minutes before cooking.  
Cover and cook on low 3 to 4 hours or until a knife inserted in to French toast comes out clean.  Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on top before serving.
Serves 6 to 8.

Warm Blueberry Syrup

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup cold water
¾ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
In a small sauce pan, combine sugar and corn starch; stir in water and sugar until smooth.  Add ¼ blueberries.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir until the berries pop, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice, butter and remaining berries.  Serve warm with French toast!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Making A Poster

This is one of my favorite photos of my daughter and my oldest grandson.

I used Picmonkey to create this "poster" and then I had it printed at Staples in a 24 by 36 inch size.

I ordered the poster size frame online.

I absolutely love it!!!

So, go through your family photos.  Find something you love and crop it so that it's just focused on the people in the photo and maybe make it black and white and see what you think.  You just might have something you would want to make a poster.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Lamp Makeover

Breathing New Life Into An Old Lamp

I needed a lamp for our new shore condo.  I have done a ton of shopping and I am just about out of money with buying all new furniture for the condo.  So spending another $50 to $75 for a lamp was just not sitting well with me and I wasn't finding anything I liked for less than that.  But I had the lamp above sitting around doing nothing.

That lamp was a thrift shop purchase that I got for staging our previous home for putting it on the market.  It is a sort of gold-y, bronze-y color glass and the shade (while pretty) has seen better days. 

I got this Rustoleum primer and paint at the hardware store.  I think it was $8 for both cans of paint.  I also bought a cute burlap covered lamp shade for about $15 and then added a little twine to it.

After a coat of primer and two coats of paint, I love how this came out!!!

A much more casual lamp that will fit right in with our beach-y condo!

Here is the lamp in the condo.

It really fits just perfectly.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Valentine's Day Chocolate Dessert Roundup

 The Ultimate Guide to Valentine's Day Dessert

Easy to make yet very impressive!

Decadent and rich!  This one is made in minutes.

Definitely the most complicated for the recipes, but it is so worth it!  This has a very delicate flavor.  The pears end up very tender and sweet.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Crab Cakes Over Polenta Cakes with Garlic Basil Aioli

I just finished taking my Culinary Boot Camp.  I learned some things, but it wasn't hands on, AT ALL!!!  So I was left to do a lot of cooking at home.  My husband was happy.  

He was especially happy with this dish.  I combined three of the recipes that we were given.  I made crab cakes and served them over polenta cakes (my husband thought he didn't like polenta as did I) and I topped it all with a garlic basil aioli.

It was really good!!!  The asparagus recipe I will post at a later time.

Crab Cakes on Polenta with Garlic Basil Aioli

2 cups whole milk
2 cups chicken broth
1 small onion diced
1 bay leaf
1 cup polenta – coarse corn meal
¼ stick butter
1 large egg yolk
Juice of half a lemon
½ tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
½ tsp. Garlic powder
3 fresh Garlic grated
2 tablespoons water
½ cup corn oil or vegetable oil
2 tablespoon fresh basil chopped
Crab Cakes:
1 large egg
2 ½ tablespoons mayonnaise
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
¼ cup finely diced celery, from one stalk
¼ cup finely diced onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1 lb. lump crab meat
½ cup panko
Spray a 13xx1 inch baking dish with cooking spray
Saute the onion in a pot large enough to accommodate all of the liquids, add the milk, stock and the bay leaf to the sauted onion and simmer in the heavy sauce pan.  
Remove sauce pan from heat. Discard the bay leaf.  Bring liquid to a boil. 
Gradually add polenta, whisking constantly until smooth. 
Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until polenta is very thick, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer polenta to 13x9x1 inch backing sheet.  Using wet hands, press polenta evenly over the sheet to the edges.  
Chill until firm, at least 3 hours.   Remove from oven and fry on both sides for about1 minute on each side.  Use the oil that the crab cakes have been cooked in to fry the polenta after the crab cakes are done.
In a metal mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolk, 2 tablespoons water, garlic cloves, and a pinch of salt until blended.  Whisking constantly, slowly drip in the oil, 1 teaspoonful at a time, until sauce is thickened and emulsified.
Whisking constantly, add in garlic powder, additional salt, black pepper, basil and lemon juice. 
Crab Cakes:
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Combine the egg, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire, Old Bay, salt, pepper, onion, celery, and basil in a large bowl and mix well.  Add the crab meat (be sure to check the meat for any hard and sharp cartilage) and panko; gently fold mixture together until just combined, being careful not to shred the crab meat.  Shape into 6 crab cakes (about 1/3 cup each) and place on prepared baking sheet.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 
Preheat a large non-stick pan to medium heat and coat with vegetable oil. When oil is hot, place crab cakes in pan and cook until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes per side.  Be careful as oil may splatter.
Keep crab cakes warm in an oven on low while you fry up the polenta.

Stack crab cakes on top of polenta and spoon aioli on top.  Serves 4 to 6.