Monday, January 31, 2011

Productive Weekend

My weekend got off to a great start with an impromptu dinner with friends.  Rather than going out to dinner, I put together a light meal with on-hand ingredients.  Shrimp chowder, fennel/orange/onion salad and then topped it off with a chocolate cake.  Our guests brought a bottle of Veuve which is a great way to start a weekend.  

Table set with a blue theme.

I've been wanting to try making English Muffin bread for quite a while and I got around to doing so on Saturday.  Couldn't be easier.  It's made in a mixer.  No hand kneading or proofing yeast.  It rises in the same pan in which it is baked.  I got the recipe from the King Arthur Flour Company website.  If you've never worked with yeast, this recipe would be a good start.

The English Muffin bread makes wonderful toast.  I served it with egg cups, a recipe from The Lifestyle Maven.

Never did make it to see The King's Speech.  I seemed to be busy the whole weekend.  

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Weekend Plans

I'm ready for the weekend.  
I hope to see The King's Speech and meet up with some friends for dinner.  There is snow in the forecast so I foresee making some comfort food, maybe in the form of Osso Buco.  

I'm adding some Valentine pendants to my Etsy shop.  
Free-form silver heart.

Silver heart, wire-wrapped with seed pearls.

What do you have planned for the weekend?
Relax and enjoy and see you Monday.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Flavor of the Week: Fennel

Fennel Facts
  • Fennel is often mistakenly called anise.  Fennel has a milder, licorice flavor than anise.
  • Fennel is used to flavor many liqueurs 
  • Fennel is rich in vitamin A
  • Fennel is in the same species as cumin, parsley and caraway
  • Fennel seed is used as a digestive
  • Fennel pairs well with beef, beets, breads, carrots, celery, cheese, chicken, corn, cucumbers, eggs, meatloaf, onions, pasta, peas, pork, potatoes, rice, salads, salmon, seafood, squash, tomatoes, turkey
  • The ancient Greeks used fennel seeds as an appetite suppressant

  • Florence fennel or finocchio, is the broad, bulbous based plant used as a vegetable.  Base and stem can be used raw as in salads or braised, sauteed or grilled.  The feathery greens can be used as a garnish as you would use dill.  
  • Common fennel is the source of fennel seeds used in cooking.  The common fennel plant is totally edible but is bulbless
Using finocchio fennel
Substitute fennel for celery
Roast fennel along with root vegetables
Grill fennel as a side dish with fish
Pair raw fennel with oranges and onions in a salad

Using fennel seeds
Toast seeds and crush with other aromatics and use as a rub on fish or pork
Add to whole grain breads
Pairs well with carrot
Often used in Indian and Mediterranean cuisines 
Common ingredient in sausage

Fennel-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Fennel Wedges
My dear friend, Cyndy, shared this Epicurious recipe with me.  Fennel is a natural with pork and this recipe uses both fennel seeds and fresh, gnocchi fennel.  
Crushing fennel seeds with a mortar and pestle releases the aromatics for a fragrant pork rub.
Sauteing fresh fennel sweetens will sweeten its flavor.
Top the sauteed fennel with the crispy, crusted pork tenderloin and roast all in the oven for 15 minutes.
Slice the pork.  Toss chopped fennel frond in with the sauteed fennel. 
Plate it and then savor the delectable pairing of fennel and pork.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Adoring Vietto

I just found this ETSY shop, Vietto, from Helsinki, Finland.  Vietto upcycles leather and other materials.  You'll find clothing and accessories in the shop.  I am fixated on the cozy neck warmers.
Hand knit cowl with wooden buttons.  $38

Fleece collar with leather and snaps  $38
The design of this collar is ingenious as it allows for variety in the way it is worn.

This Circle Scarf with snaps is definitely a unisex item.  $35
Snap it up for a tighter, warmer fit.

There is lots of winter left.  Stay warm!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Need a Hug Today?

Similar to the Hallelujah Chorus "flash", it seems Free Hugs are another phenomenon popping up around the world.  Here is a You Tube from Sondrio, Italy.  Enjoy, and consider yourself hugged.

So, would you hug a random stranger?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Cold Weather Arsenal

We've had some mighty cold weather here in Michigan this past week.
 My skin takes a real hit with the cold.  I love the Soy Milk and Honey products from Kiehl's.
These products are gentle and help retain moisture in my skin.

This trio puts moisture back in my skin.  The Creme de Corps keeps legs and arms from becoming dry and scaly.  I love the Ultimate Strength Hand Salve and hubby is hooked on the Imperial Body Balm for his hands.
What are your favorites for keeping your skin moisturized and soft?

Happy Monday

Friday, January 21, 2011

Food Lover's Companion

Rather than a flavor of the week, I thought I'd share a book that all food lovers should have on their shelf.
I have a whole bookcase devoted to cookbooks in my kitchen, not to mention all the recipes stored on my computer.

As it states on the cover of this book, it contains "comprehensive definitions of over 6000 food, drink and culinary terms".  These definitions are of food related terms from world-wide cuisine.  You'll also find explanation of cooking tools as well as some descriptions of food preparation.  Ever wonder what salsify is?  Did you know nijisseiki is another name for Asian pear.  Food Lover's Companion will answer those questions.  

Just as important as the definitions is the appendix of the book with charts and guides.  Here are some examples:
  • Ingredient Equivalents 
  • Substituting Ingredients 
  • Safe Cooking Temperatures
  • Smoke Points of Popular Oils
  • Pasta Glossary
My favorite is sections is Seasoning Suggestions.  Look up the food you are preparing and you'll find all the spices and herbs to compliment that food.

With Food Lover's Companion  on your shelf you'll feel more confident to experiment with food preparation and seasoning.  
Have a spicy weekend.  See you on Monday.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Good Looking Bags to Feel Good About

Chained-to-Me Clutch - Silver $31.50
I saw this bag on msnglo so I checked out the website Rebagz and was delighted to find some very cool bags and accessories made from recycled materials under fair labor conditions. 

Cozy Coin Purses $15

Mini Bag - Red $24

Limited Edition Messenger Bag - "Sazi" $68

Large Tie Totes $90

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Salad Dressing

If you make your own salad dressing, you'll never buy bottled again.  The taste is so much fresher and lighter than the purchased fare.  I keep all my vinaigrette ingredients together in a silver, rimmed tray on the counter.  
A French woman taught me to make vinaigrette in a wooden salad bowl before adding the lettuces and other ingredients for the salad.  
In the salad bowl:
  • pinch of good sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • a pinch of sugar
  • good dollop of Dijon mustard
mix these ingredients together to blend 
  • add a generous tablespoon of vinegar (such as balsamic, sherry, red wine, champagne)
  • add 2 - 3 tablespoons of good olive oil and mix well until all ingredients are combined
Add salad greens and ingredients and toss well.  

Apple cider vinegar and maple syrup instead of sugar
Use honey in place of sugar
Substitute orange juice in place of vinegar and eliminate sugar
Substitute lemon juice in place of vinegar
Try flavor nut oils  ( peanut oil, rice vinegar, honey is a nice light combination)

For a more specific recipe, try this one from Barefoot Contessa Family Style
Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature (may substitute 1 tablespoon mayonnaise for yolk)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

In small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, garlic, egg yolk, salt, and pepper.  While whisking, slowly add the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Flowers for Tuesday

The sun lit up these flowers and I love the way the photo turned out. 

It is supposed to snow and be icy today so I planned to stay at home and paint some walls that needed a fresh coat.  Let's just say I'll be happy with clean walls but not looking forward to the work.  
I need to correct the quote from yesterday that I attributed to Mies van der Rohe.  He really said, "God is in the details".  My architect brother-in-law went nuts when he saw my mis-quote.  Sorry for confusion and misrepresentation.  I still love the paint color in that bathroom.  

Monday, January 17, 2011

Decor Inspiration from Lonny Magazine

I am totally smitten with this bold powder room I found in the latest Lonny Magazine.
The deep turquoise paint paired with bright, white wainscoting looks so fresh.
As Mies van der Rohe said, "the devil is in the details".   From the starfish to star light fixture in the ceiling, and amazing art work, this room oozes with panache.  Notice, there is no mirror over the sink or anywhere in the room!    

Check out Lonny Magazine (its online!) here for more inspiration.  

Happy Monday!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Meyer Lemon Gnocchi: Winter Weekend Project

I've always wanted to make gnocchi.  While looking for Meyer lemon recipes last week I came across a recipe that uses Meyer lemon zest in the gnocchi recipe for a subtle lemon flavor.  Recipe follows photos.
photo - Food & Wine
Turns out making gnocchi is not difficult.  It is a fun, winter weekend activity for a couple or a project to do with kids.

While the potatoes are cooking, mix egg yolks with lemon zest, oil and salt.
On a rimmed baking sheet, rice the potatoes with a ricer or mash thoroughly with a fork.  Top with flour and egg mixture.  Gently mix all together to form a dough.
Gently knead the dough a few times and then form into 4 ropes, 1/2 inch thick.
Slice ropes into 1/2 inch pieces and then roll each piece on the tines of a fork to make ridges.

I served the gnocchi with veal scallopini.  My "gnocchi rolling" needs some practice but the flavor had a lovely hint of lemon and the texture was extremly tender, like eating little pillows.

Meyer lemon gnocchi   adapted from Food & Wine
  1. 1 pound baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  2. 3 large egg yolks
  3. Finely grated zest of 2 lemons, preferably Meyer lemons
  4. 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  6. 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  7. 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  8. 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
  9. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  10. Salt
  11. Snipped chives, for garnish


  1. In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately high heat until the potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the potatoes, then return them to the pan; shake over moderately high heat until dry.
  2. Working over a large rimmed baking sheet, rice the hot potatoes in an even layer. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the lemon zest, 1 teaspoon of olive oil and the salt and pour over the potatoes. Sprinkle the flour over the potatoes and stir gently just until a dough forms.
  3. Gently roll the dough into four 1/2-inch-thick ropes. Using a sharp knife, cut each rope into 1/2-inch pieces. Roll each piece against the tines of a fork to make ridges. Transfer the gnocchi to the baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  
  4. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the gnocchi until they rise to the surface, then cook them for 1 minute longer. Gently drain the gnocchi and add to a sauce, top with a sauce or toss with olive oil or butter and serve. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thank you, thank you very much

I am honored to say that I have be awarded the Stylish Blogger Award

ta da!
My blogging friend, Angela Q at 365 {small details}  bestowed this lovely honor on me yesterday.  Please stop by and visit Angela's very stylish blog.  Now, I have responsibilities involved with the acceptance of this award.  I must:
  • link back to the person who presented me with the award...just did.
  • share 7 things about myself
  • award recently discovered great bloggers
  • contact the bloggers and let them know about the award
7 things about me
  1. I like vanilla better than chocolate
  2. I'm usually in my bathrobe by 8 pm during the winter months
  3. My favorite accessory is a scarf
  4. I lived in Japan for a year
  5. Kickboxing is my favorite way to exercise
  6. I always have an audio book in the car and another in my studio and a book on my Kindle.  
  7. I get my haircut every 3 weeks and drive an hour to get to my salon.  
And the award goes to:

Congratulations to these 4 fantastic bloggers.  I'm going to let them know they are winners.  Please check out their fun blogs by clicking on the names above.  

Have an award winning day everybody.  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Quick Comfort Food

It is snowing tonight and that makes it a perfect night for comfort food.  

Nothing spells comfort better than pasta...and melted cheese.
deconstructed lasagna
Quicker than baked ziti or lasagna, this pasta dish is assembled in a skillet and then individual portions are placed under the broiler to melt a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella.  Speedy dinner for a busy week night.

Deconstructed Lasagna     makes 8 portions 
1 lb rigatoni
1/2 lb spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 26 oz jar marinara sauce
1 teaspoon dried, crushed red pepper
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese (or more!)
1 cup ricotta cheese
optional chopped fresh herbs such as basil, oregano or thyme

Cook rigatoni in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente.  Drain pasta.
Preheat broiler.
While pasta is cooking, brown sausage in heavy pot over medium-high heat, stirring frequently and breaking up large pieces with the back of a wooden spoon.  Add garlic, red pepper, and chopped fresh herbs if desired and saute until soft, 1-2 minutes.  Add marinara sauce and ricotta cheese.  Combine.  
Add drained pasta and mix until pasta is coated.  
Using oven-safe bowls, divide mixture into individual portions.  Top each bowl with shredded mozzarella.  
Place bowls under broiler and allow cheese to melt and turn slightly brown, about 1 1/2 minutes.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How to Wear Gray

It is gray outside and I find I'm wearing a lot of gray.  Gray needs a punch of color. 

 I found this color chart for wearing gray from Trinny and Susannah of the BBC, What Not To Wear  tv show so I put together two outfits utilizing the chart. 
Gray and warm colors

1 Camel cable knit cowl jumper $46 
Tahari by Arthur S. Levine Crepe Sheath Dress $58
2 Midnight Runner Tights $18

Taylor hobo $995
4 Nymph Net Necklace $30
5 Ivy & Moon Cardigan (Big Girls) $9.90
6 Bruno Magli 

What do you think?  How do you wear gray?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Color Inspiration

Post-holiday color palette
pillow covers and vase Pottery Barn
antique silver tray and late-to-bloom amaryllis

Happy Monday

Friday, January 7, 2011

Flavor of the Week: Meyer Lemon

I'm a big fan of Meyer Lemons
These citrus beauties are available November through May
Thought to be a cross between a lemon and an orange, Meyer lemons are less acidic and sweeter that a than a regular lemon.  Meyer lemons have smooth, deep yellow skin and are very heavy with juice.  These lemons have a bit of a floral taste.  When substituting Meyer lemons in a recipe, use less sugar than called for.  

Try Meyer lemons:

  • in salad dressings
  • squirt juice on fish or vegetables
  • use in baking
  • make a Meyer lemon martini
  • place slices of lemon under the skin of chicken before roasting
  • use Meyer lemons in baked goods
I am so excited to share two recipes with you.  One is for potatoes and the other is for muffins.

Lemon Potatoes  Food Network
I made this recipe for Lemon Potatoes on Tuesday with roasted salmon.  Hubby loved them and told me he was thinking about them on the drive home from work on Wednesday.  How's that for a recommendation?  Prep time is about as long as it takes to peel the potatoes and then roast for 30 minutes.  They are crispy on the outside and creamy smooth inside.  They'd be fabulous for brunch and were perfect with fish.  You've got to try them

Lemon Potatoes
Slice 4 peeled potatoes into 1 1/2 inch rounds.  Toss in an ovenproof skillet with 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, 4 smashed garlic cloves, 4 oregano sprigs, and salt and pepper.  Add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the potatoes.  Cover, bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes.  Uncover and roast at 500 degrees F, 30 more minutes.  Serve.

Ricotta and lemon is the winning combination in these fluffy delicacies.  Click here for the Giada De Laurentis recipe called Nonna's Lemon Ricotta Biscuits.  Not a traditional biscuit, they are more of a cross between a muffin and a cupcake.  They are a wonderful treat with tea or coffee and would be great  for brunch.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Colorful Organization

Probably one of the top New Year resolutions made each year is to become more organized.  I decided that the beginning of 2011 would be a good time to re-evaluate my record keeping.  I purchased some colorful office supplies to make the task more pleasurable.  Office Depot markets a line of otherwise mundane office products in vibrant hues and patterns.  Fuchsia rubber bands, teal paper clips, orange binder clips, and animal print magnets are just a few of the tempting options.  
What are your tricks for being organized?


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