Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sweet & Easy

The easiest sugar cookie recipe ever!  No need to break out the Pillsbury dough roll when it's time to make cookies this holiday season. Try this recipe:

1 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
 2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Mix butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, almond extract until smooth.

Blend in flour, baking soda, cream of tartar.

Roll into a ball (or multiple medium size balls).  Cover the ball(s) with plastic wrap and chill for 2-3 hours.  

Divide dough in half and roll on a floured board or table top. 

Cut out design with cookie cutters and place each on greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees until very light brown on top.

Enjoy & Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Gifts Fit For A Cook (From Houzz)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Food Glorious Food

If Kleinfeld is the bridal mecca, then Williams-Sonoma is most certainly the cook's mecca.  Which makes it the perfect place to talk about during this month of the cooks and foodies' holiday -- Thanksgiving!

I love food, all kinds of food.  So you would think that Thanksgiving would be my favorite holiday.  But it's not. Well it is because of my time with my {large!} extended family, but it isn't because of the food.  For some reason THAT much food just turns me off.  It's too overwhelming I think. I wind up eating very little and mostly just dessert :)

If I were solely in charge of Thanksgiving dinner, I would fill it with a mixture of small plates and larger entrees that are unique twists on traditional fare.  Like the Sausage-Leek Corn Bread Stuffing recipe below....yummm!

Williams-Sonoma's Holiday Guide is a great companion for your holiday cooking plans.  It's filled with delicious unique recipes and great cooking tips to make your holiday cooking quick and easy.

Enjoy and eat well! 


3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and light green portions
1 Tbs. chopped fresh sage
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 1/2 lb. mild Italian sausage, casings removed
1 package (1 lb.) La Brea Bakery corn bread stuffing
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 garlic cloves, roasted, peeled and smashed into a pulp
3 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, warmed

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart baking dish.

In a large fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, celery, leeks, sage, salt and pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the onion mixture to a very large bowl.

In the same pan over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, breaking it into large chunks, until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the onion mixture, add the stuffing and parsley, and stir until well combined.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk the garlic into the broth until combined. Stir the broth mixture into the stuffing 1/2 cup at a time, making sure it is completely absorbed into the croutons and does not pool in the bottom of the bowl. Taste a crouton; it should be moist throughout but not crunchy or mushy. You may not need all of the broth.

Transfer the stuffing to the prepared baking dish. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes more. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 10 to 12.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Artsy Smartsy

I LOVE taking pictures.  In fact, I think I'm even some of my friends and family members' unofficial official family photographer. Thanks to the digital camera revolution I can just snap away all the time without any additional cost.  I don't get paid, but I don't mind.  Because the photographic storybook that I have is irreplaceable.  {That's why I have it backed up in 2 separate places!}

But that's not the topic of this post.  When you take as many pictures as I do, it really is a waste unless you have some way to see them and use them.  Photo albums are great --- LOVE MyPublisher for that -- but unless you have lots of coffee tables, you won't be pulling them off the shelves often.  Framed photos are wonderful too, but they can get a little boring and predictable.  

Artsy Couture has a fabulous alternative to the average framed photographs -- Gallery Blocks!  Gallery Blocks are "professional photographic prints adhered to solid wood with perfect 90° corners." They come in both single sizes and multiple floating images {like the one in the picture above}.  The floating blocks are my favorite because it's so hard to choose just one!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cover Your Alcove

I admit, sometimes it is difficult for me to make a decision.  Especially about things that either cannot be changed or would be costly/time-consuming to change.  I think about what-ifs.  What if I hate it later.  What if it goes out of style.  What if I find something better!

It took me forever to decide on my wedding dress.  I went back and forth between two dresses until I just went with my gut.  It turned out wonderfully.  I was happy and until this day I have no regrets.  In fact, I think I would have regretted going with the other dress.  But I digress...

When you're redecorating or decorating your home, there's always this tension between decorating based on what's popular at the moment --- like wood paneling of the 60s or the black and white & abstract art style of the 80s -- and decorating and painting with a future sale {or your future taste} in mind.  Considering I've bought and sold more houses in my young life than I care to think about, I'm always thinking about "what happens when we sell?" as I am designing. 

But who wants non-offending various shades of beige walls throughout their house?  {Been there don't want to do that again}  That's why I love LOVE my latest find Casarttm Coverings

Casarttm Coverings are removable hand-painted murals and decorative finishes. The murals are printed on canvas-like vinyl with a repositionable, adhesive backing.   Essentially "Magnet-like slipcovers for your walls"!  You can change your wall covering seasonally or whenever you want a new look!  But without the usual paste and mess of traditional wallpaper.  I'm soooo getting some of these.

Pink Designs modern bedroom

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Apple Pie, Apple Crisp, Apple Jacks, Apple Sauce, Apple Muffins, Apple....

If you didn't know already, it is APPLE Season!  Apple picking, bobbing for apples, all kinds of apples on sale.  So if you go apple picking, or win a bushel of apples at a fair, or just can't resist a sale --- what to do with all of those apples {see a pic of our deep deep sink at the end of a day of apple picking below}.
The easiest use for a whole bunch of apples at one time is to make apple sauce.  It's really easy and you don't even need a recipe.  First you peel the apples {or keep the skin on as I like to do so that you get all the fiber along with all of the sugar} then slice them in medium size slices.  Slice around the core, of course, or -- if you are lucky and have one of these apple core gadgets -- first core the apples, then slice them.  Add lots and lots of apple slices to a deep stock pot, then add cinnamon and nutmeg to taste.  You can also add a little sugar if you need it, but most apples are pretty sweet on their own.  Turn the pot on low, cover and let the apples cook on low for a long long long time {that's technical kitchen jargon there} stirring every now and then to keep the apples from sticking.  You'll know they are done basically when the apples start looking like apple sauce!  Don't over cook because I don't know what apples turn into after that :-O

If this doesn't sound easy {or appetizing} to you, try this delicious recipe:

Cinnamon Apple Crisp
Bon Appétit | March 1993
by Fran Love Taylor: Raleigh, North Carolina
Yield: Serves 10

1 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 450°F. Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in large bowl. Add apples and toss to coat. Transfer apple mixture to prepared dish.

Combine flour, 1 cup sugar and butter in medium bowl. Using pastry blender or fingertips, blend ingredients until coarse meal forms. Spread flour mixture evenly over apples.

Bake crisp 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake crisp until apples are tender and topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. © Condé Nast Digital, Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Smart TV

Cable/Satellite TV is sooooo 2000s. Even DVR is becoming a bit irrelevant.  Every show {and movie when I have time} that I watch is available on the network's website, and with limited commercial interruptions.  So tell me again why I am paying Verizon a billion dollars a month for Fios {oh yeah for football/sports that's why...smh}?!?  But seriously, if I could easily get the internet on my TV and watch it with limited connectivity issues, I would totally switch. I don't think we're truly there yet, but we're close.  

Google now offers Google TV {and Apple has been offering Apple TV for some time now, but to little fanfare}.  I love everything Google so I had to check it out.  It seems like all that you need is a Logitech Revue Companion Box or something similar, and an internet connection {and a TV of course} and you're good to go!

Amazon is also offering Amazon Video which allows you to "rent" movies and TV shows on demand.  You can access this using Google TV or even straight from your laptop.

While the price tag is a bit high -- $299 for the Logitech -- think of all the money you'll save not paying for cable every month and it will quickly pay for itself. 

I haven't tried it yet, but I'm itching to. I would LOVE to stop paying Verizon all that money for practically nothing every month.  My only worry is that accessing your TV over a wireless network may get a bit annoying.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Houzz It Look?

Houzz- Kitchen Design, Bathroom Design and More»

I love love LOVE this site!  We are in the process of moving and will hopefully be building a house and this site is the perfect place for me to look for and collect design ideas.  I still enjoy leafing through magazines, but if you're going to do multiple spaces {or a whole house!} the cutting and collecting can be a bit overwhelming and cumbersome.

Houzz has some great design ideas AND you can add your own. Just install the browser plug-in.  So if your browsing the web and come across a picture of a space that looks great, you can add it to the Houzz Community {and your ideabook}. 

The feature I like best is the ability to search by geographical area. I assume what that does is to show you designs for houses in your area of the country.  For instance, while I would love a full outdoor kitchen and an open sunroom off my living room, I don't think that will work in the northeast {do those palm trees come with the stone patio?!?}.  You can also search by style -- traditional, contemporary, eclectic, farm, etc. -- and by the room in your home -- kitchen, bath, bedroom, etc.

Here's a link to my's a work in progress :)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

You MADE that?!?

I love to eat and love to cook on special occasions.  But now that I am home with the kids I feel obligated to cook almost every night.  So I'm always on the lookout for delicious easy/quick recipes {i.e., does not require chopping up 10 different ingredients}.  

This recipe fits the bill, it's delicious and it tastes much more fancy than it is.  The feta adds a nice twist and the secret ingredient is the cinnamon.  I had no idea that cinnamon could create this flavor {cinnamon and lamb? trust me you will like it}.  You can add your own twist to it as well.  I prefer rotini pasta to penne and instead of parsnips, I use portabello mushrooms.  Love it.  But anyway you slice it, this is a dish that is sure to impress anyone you make it for.
Greek-Style Penne with Lamb, Parsnips, Tomatoes, and Cinnamon
Bon Appétit | November 2009

by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen
Pasta in the Greek style, with an added surprise: parsnips.
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 very large onion, halved through root end, cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick slices (about 4 cups)
12 ounces medium parsnips (about 4), peeled, cut on slight diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick slices
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces ground lamb
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 14 1/2-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
12 ounces penne
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Crumbled feta cheese

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and parsnips and sauté until slightly softened and deep golden brown around edges, about 9 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add lamb and sautéuntil no longer pink, breaking up with back of spoon, about 2 minutes. Stir in cinnamon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes with juice; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until parsnips are tender, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot. Add lamb mixture and enough cooking liquid to moisten; toss. Add parsley. Transfer to plates and sprinkle with feta. © Condé Nast Digital, Inc. All rights reserved.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

It's the little things

There's nothing more perfect than the smell of fresh cut flowers in your home.  Now imagine having this smell 365 days a year! {my favorite flower vendor outside of Flower St. in NYC} will send you fresh cut seasonal flowers every other week all year long.  It's the perfect little touch to make your home always feel special {and of course show up the competitive ladies in your circle}.

If you can't afford to have fresh cut flowers all year round, you can afford to splurge every now and then and grace your home with the exotic smell of Conca D'Or lilies or the lush beauty of pink peonies.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This isn't your mother's "wallpaper"

I love staying in hotels {well 5 Star hotels}.  Outside of the daily maid service and food on demand, I think I love the plush bed with the big snuggly pillows. It just makes you want to lay down and relax your entire trip.  I've tried a lot of different things to make my room at home as comfy.  A big fluffy down comforter, 5 kazillion feather pillows, and 1000+ count sheets.  Still just isn't the same.

Now this idea from jonathan fong style may get me a step closer.  Fluffy fabric wall panels! You can pick your own fabric styles -- fake fur, ruched satin, luxurious cotton quilted -- combined but all in white {or another color of your choice}.  Each fabric style is stretched around a foam core and attached to your wall in a grid pattern with Velcro.  So if you get tired of it and want a new look it's easy to change.  Now this is a DIY project I can get behind.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's All In The Pot

Le Creuset

I love cooking, but if you're doing it every day it can become a little mundane. That's why it helps to have cute professional-looking cookware to give you a boost.  What more could you ask for than cookware that coordinates with your kitchen decor.  Le Creuset comes in so many amazingly vibrant colors {teal, purple, sky blue, yellow, orange, green apple} but of course my favorite is the red cookware.  But I'm becoming a little partial to the eggplant purple color {see below}.

The cookware also pairs lovely with the KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer.  And of course they are great to cook with. The cast iron cookware distributes heat evenly and because it can go from the stovetop to the oven, you can cook certain recipes all in one pot keeping the flavors from being washed away or left behind.  Like in this delicious dish:

Moroccan Lamb Stew
4 Tbs. olive oil
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 lb. cubed lamb for stewing
1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1⁄4 tsp. saffron threads
1 Tbs. peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 1⁄2 cups beef stock
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 cup chopped dried dates
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the onions and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and cook until slightly softened, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Pat the lamb dry with paper towels. Place the flour in a large bowl or sealable plastic bag and season with salt and pepper. Add the lamb in batches and stir or shake to coat thoroughly with the seasoned flour.

Warm the remaining 3 Tbs. oil in the pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches to avoid crowding, add the lamb and brown on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes for each batch. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Return the onion mixture and the lamb along with any accumulated juices to the pot. Add the garlic, cumin, saffron and ginger and stir to coat the meat and vegetables. Add the stock and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Add the tomatoes, dates, and orange zest and juice and bring to a boil over high heat.

Cover the pot, transfer to the oven and bake until the meat is tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If the sauce seems too thin, using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat and vegetables to a bowl and boil the sauce on the stovetop until thickened. Return the meat and vegetables to the pot. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Transfer the stew to a serving bowl and garnish with the parsley. Serve immediately. Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Soup & Stew, by Diane Rossen Worthington (Simon & Schuster, 2004).

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Culinary Delights


I love to cook but I would love it more if I have my own sous chef.  It seems that every healthy, but delicious, recipe I want to make calls for endless chopped veggies or minced garlic or chopped herbs.  The chopping alone seems to take me hours and it makes cooking wholly unenjoyable.  So I was so excited to find this quintessential addition to any kitchen.  The VeggiChop is completely manual {no batteries, no plugs} and has only a few parts.  And better yet, everything is dishwasher safe!  The pull action, while manual, is so fun you can even enlist your kids to chop for you {or count it as an upper body workout}.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

D.I.Y. {or have someone else do it}

Not many people are flipping houses today -- which would make this economical way to refinish hardwood floors a great find if you were -- but we are still in a reces... um I mean, economically-challenging time.  That's why when we decided to pull up all the carpet in our new home and expose the wood floors underneath, we called Mr. Sandless.  We had a newborn and were anxious to move-in quickly, and the thought of all the dust from, and the long process of, refinishing our floors the traditional way was just too much for us.  In my search of an alternative I found Mr. Sandless.  

Two guys came out and in one day they had completely transformed our floors from spotted, dull and motley, to gleaming new looking wood flooring.  Three years and two kids later, our floors still look fantastic!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Shhhhh....Mommy's sleeping

shi shu blankets

I first learned of these blankets when I found their baby blankets at Giggle {here's a link to my post on M.O.M.S. Baby}.  I initially picked up the baby blanket because it was pretty.  But when I finally pulled it out to pre-wash it before my second little one was born, I felt it for the first time and fell in love!  It was the softest baby blanket I had ever felt {and I am always on the lookout for the perfect baby blanket...thus, I have TONS}. 

When I looked up the company I was so excited to see that they made an adult size version!  The throws are made of 60% cotton and 40% bamboo.  The bamboo is what makes these throws so luxurious.  {I hear they even made it into the gift bags at the Golden Globes last year!}  These are the perfect throw for cuddling up with on a chilly fall night.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The next addition to our walls...

Name Your Design

Modern Personalized Art

I love almost anything personalized; like monogrammed pillowcases, towels, place-mats, soap, measuring cups...okay really anything.  So when I stumbled across this company, I fell in love with everything.  They have the cutest silhouette prints of your little one.  And if you're newlyweds {or just don't have little ones} they have great personalized wall art just for families of 2!