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February 28, 2011

Braised Short Ribs Tuscan Style | Recipe Short Ribs


Tuscan Short Ribs

This is the feast we enjoyed last night while we watched the Oscars.  I know, it isn't fancy or elegant, but it is the sort of rustic, flavorful and decadent dinners we like on a Sunday night.

It was a HUGE hit with Mike... the ultimate meat and potatoes man.  It combined all of our favorites - beef, olives, tomatoes, mushrooms (ok, I'm the only one who likes mushrooms) and potatoes.  Great for a Sunday, it braises all day in the oven and makes the house smell terrific. 

Tuscan Braised Short Ribs
Serves 2

4 short ribs (bone-in optional)
2 cups of white wine
1 cup of water
1 cup of whole olives (kalamata and green)
6 cloves of garlic, rough mince
2 sprigs of rosemary
4 sprigs of thyme
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
................
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 leek, sliced (white & light green part)
1 cup of mushrooms, halved
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
.................
mashed potatoes
and/or french bread


In a dutch oven (or any pan that can go from stove to oven) place short ribs.  Pour in wine, water, olives, garlic, rosemary and thyme.  Sprinkle in salt & pepper on short ribs.


With the lid on the dutch oven, cook in a 250 degree oven for 4-6 hours, until the meat is tender.











Remove the short ribs, cover them with foil and set it aside.  Pour the sauce/liquid from the dutch oven in a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.  

This will make it easier to separate the fat off of the top.  After it has chilled, skim the fat off of the top of the liquid.  **Tip : Sometimes I put 6 cups of ice in the liquid.  This 'freezes' the fat to the ice cubes.  Then I remove the ice and fat.  It might take a little more reducing to rid the liquid of the extra water.

Place the dutch oven on top of the stove.  Pour in olive oil.  Saute leeks and mushrooms for 2 minutes.










Pour in the wine sauce/liquid back into the dutch oven with the mushrooms and leeks.  Simmer at medium high until the sauce has reduced (about 10-15 minutes).  **This is a good time to start the mashed potatoes & bread!
 Reduce heat and add in cherry tomatoes.


To serve, place either mashed potatoes or crusty bread into a shallow soup bowl.  Ladle in the sauce.  

February 25, 2011

Shrimp Spring Rolls Recipe | Peanut Dipping Sauce Recipe | Simple Thai Recipes


As I mentioned in the Peanut Sauce Recipe, I am not an expert in Thai food.  But, I've become a fan lately - especially Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce.

At first, I was intimidated by the rice paper and rice noodles used to make the spring rolls, but after easily finding them at my neighborhood grocery store and reading the instructions... boil in water for 2 minutes/soak in hot water for 20 seconds, respectively... I decided I could manage.  

The spring rolls themselves can be filled with anything.  I prepared a traditional shrimp spring roll with carrots, red pepper, rice noodles and basil (I swapped the cilantro for basil - not a cilantro fan) wrapped in rice paper.

Shrimp Spring Roll Recipe
8 rolls



1/2 package of rice noodles
8 rice paper wrappers
1 red pepper
24 medium cooked shrimp (1 pound of 24 count shrimp)
1 cup of carrots, julienned
8 fresh basil leaves
Peanut Sauce Recipe>>

Begin by boiling water in a sauce pan. When the water boils, pour half of the water into a shallow bowl that is large enough to soak the rice paper wrapper.  Cook the noodles in the sauce pan with boiling water for 2-3 minutes.  Remove them from water and place them in a bowl.

Soak the rice paper in the shallow bowl filled with hot water for 20 seconds.  Remove it from the water and place it between two layers of a clean kitchen towel to make it sticky.  Peal the paper away from the towel, being careful not to tear it.  

Place the paper on your work surface.  Start by lining 3 of the shrimp up in the center.  Add carrots, peppers and basil.













Top with some of the cooked noodles.
 Fold in the sides, and roll it together snugly.

















Peanut Dipping Sauce

This no-cook sauce takes just seconds in a food processor. 

Get the Peanut Dipping Sauce Recipe >>

Peanut Dipping Sauce Recipe | Recipes | Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce | Simple Thai Recipe


Peanut Dipping Sauce for Spring Rolls

I am, by no stretch, a Thai food aficionado.  I do know that I like a little bit of curry and a lot peanut sauce.  Fresh spring rolls dipped in peanut sauce is one of my favorites.

Peanut Sauce is also great to keep around the house - drizzled on chicken, seared flat iron steak.

Peanut Dipping Sauce Recipe

1 cup of crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1 clove of garlic
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 limes
2 teaspoons of chili sauce (I like Sriracha or "Rooster" sauce, as it is called)
1/2 cup of hot water
chopped peanuts

In a food processor, combine peanut butter, soy, garlic, brown sugar, limes and chili sauce.  Pulse until combined.  Pour in hot water and pulse until creamy.  Stir in chopped peanuts.  Store in refrigerator for 2 weeks.










Spring Rolls :

At first, I was intimidated by the rice paper and rice noodles, but after easily finding them at my neighborhood grocery store and reading the instructions... boil in water for 2 minutes/soak in hot water for 20 seconds, respectively... I decided I could manage.

Spring Roll Recipe & Directions>>

February 24, 2011

Kitchen & Hearth Inspirations

My sister and her husband are building a new home, so I've been actively stopping by my favorite online spots creating 'virtual' tear sheets.  Here are a couple of my recent favorites I found at Victoria Hagan Interiors. 

 
I love this kitchen - warm and traditional, but it also has a commercial feeling with the industrial lighting.



This is about as elegant as I could get in a living room - I'm typically not a fan of strictly 'sitting rooms' because I think a real home is cozy and comforatble.  This room has it all - elegant and cozy.








I love this grey/cream painted trim.  It is clean and elegant, but not as sterile as all white woodwork.

February 23, 2011

Herb Pots | Zinc Spray Paint | DIY Project

 I needed a little Spring pick-me-up this week.... so, I put together some large indoor potted herbs.

I bought the basic terracotta pots Lowe's for $6 each and sprayed them with this grey, flat, zinc spray paint.  It gave the pots a soft, powdery grey texture and color.

I planted basil, rosemary and thyme - all of my favorites... I do need to do a couple more for flat leaf parsley and chives, too.


February 18, 2011

Peaches : Weekend with Sam


Last weekend we spend time with Samantha, my niece.  Here are some of the snapshots I took - she's changed so much since I last posted about her!

Sam loves the dogs... in fact, we think her first word was "da," which we translate into 'dog.'  


One year ago (in January) I threw a Baby Bird Baby Shower for Jill - see the photos, baby bird sugar cookies, menu & recipes here!

February 11, 2011

My Work on Kevin Sharkey's (Home Design) MarthaStewart.com Blog!

When I got up this morning (like every morning), I checked my site traffic... this morning, I was so pleasantly surprised to find traffic from marthastewart.com!  Specifically from Kevin Sharkey's Blog, http://homedesign.marthastewart.com/2011/02/valentines-day-flower-inspiration.html.  Kevin, Martha Stewart Living's Editorial Director, has great style and THE most artful eye.  He is known for arranging simple and beautiful floral arrangements, giving creative and thoughtful gifts (to Martha - not me!) and is one of the founding developers of the "Martha Stewart" style. 

Kevin's Blog is a great daily read... everything from clever gifts to home design!


Kevin - Thanks for sharing my work on your blog... it is an honor!

Here are some of the ideas that Kevin shared :

Valentine's Day Flowers
Cupcake Box Creation



Chocolate Tulip Cupcakes

February 10, 2011

Valentine's Day Flowers | DIY | DIY Valentine's Day Flowers




I like a nice store-bought gift, but I LOVE a homemade gift.  I also LOVE to make homemade gifts.  Valentine's Day is one of those holidays that the thought really does count.  The holiday is right after The Holidays and I still haven't come down from our over-indulgent Christmas season.  I am in the mood for simple and sweet.  These two projects are beautiful and inexpensive.  I think anyone would be thrilled to receive either one... or both.  Me?  I would like both.



Burlap wrapped tulip bouquet with homemade Valentine's Day label.

 You'll Need :

1 bouquet of 6-12 tulips ($6 at the store)
1 square foot piece of burlap
1 yard of satin ribbon (paper-source)
1 valentine's day label/card
1 piece of double stick tape (or zot)

TIP : When you pick up your bouquet at the grocery store florist, ask them for some water tubes.  It will help to keep the bouquet fresh.  It is not absolutely necessary, but it will help if they will be out of water for more than an hour.

"Have a LOVELY Day" Label :

You can print the Lovely Day label template here!  


TIP : I like to print of ivory textured cardstock from Paper-Source.  It is an automatic upgrade for a homemade card.



More Homemade Valentine's Day Ideas : 


Valentine's Day Cupcakes & Flowers - Get the step-by-step directions here!
Valentine's Day Boxed Cupcakes - Get the step-by-step directions here!










 Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies - Get the step-by-step directions here!

Valentine's Day Card Template | Valentine's Day Label Template to Print



I love Valentine's Day.  I love that it is officially a holiday where homemade gifts for friends and family are welcome.  I love homemade gifts that don't look "homemade."

Create a homemade gift with a professional look with these Valentine's Day Cards & Labels templates you can print yourself.


 Download them here, to create your own goodies!




Here are a few ways I've used them :

Use the "Have a SWEET Day" label to create this cupcake gift.  For step-by-step directions for making the cupcake gift box, click here.


Wish your friends a "Lovely" Valentine's Day with this little grocery store bouquet of tulips. 


More Homemade Valentine's Day Ideas : 



Valentine's Day Cupcakes & Flowers - Get the step-by-step directions here!


Valentine's Day DIY Flowers - Get the step-by-step directions here!










 Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies - Get the step-by-step directions here!

Valentine's Day Cupcakes | Cupcake Boxes | Cupcake Packaging


Valentine's Day Cupcakes & Cupcake Boxes



Yes, boxes of candies are nice. I think I'd rather receive this beautiful box of cupcakes for Valentine's Day.  Both simple and special - this is a great gift for friends, coworkers or that certain someone.  If you like the Valentine's Day card/label, you can download and print the template here!

Here is a link to my store where you can find boxes like these for your cupcakes!  Note : the boxes in the store have a kraft interior and exterior vs. the white interior pictured here.

Buttercream Frosting :

4 sticks of butter, softened
6 cups of confectioners sugar

In the kitchen aid fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter and sugar together for 5 minutes until it has transformed into a white fluffy frosting.

To color a soft pink, add 3 drops of red food coloring, 1/2 drop of orange, and a 1/2 drop of green.  Add more red for a brighter color.  The orange and green help to soften the bright pink, creating a more sophisticated color.  For more icing tips, watch my cupcake decorating video

 Cupcake Box Directions :

1) With a piece of parchment paper or tissue, create a scallop along the edge by tracing around half of a small juice glass, and repeating along the paper.
 2) Fold the paper in half and trim it down on the sides to fit the box.  Cut along the scallop lines.
 3) Unfold the tissue/parchment inside the box. 
 4) To make the label, print out my valentines day templates.  You can download them here.
 5) Trim the label down to size.  I like to use this paper cutter for really straight lines, but scissors work great, too. 
 6)  Use double-stick tape or these Zots to mount the label on the inside of the box.
7) Insert cupcakes.

TIP: Before I put the cupcakes in the box, I like to refrigerate them for an hour.  The chilling makes the icing hard so it won't be damaged when you put it into the box.  Then store them in the refrigerator until you give them away... or eat them.










You can download the free printable labels, here.





































More Homemade Valentine's Day Ideas : 



Valentine's Day Cupcakes & Flowers - Get the step-by-step directions here!



Valentine's Day DIY Flowers - Get the step-by-step directions here!










 Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies - Get the step-by-step directions here!
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