Friday, April 29, 2011

risotto cakes

This is an Ina Garten recipe from her "Back to Basics" cookbooks. It's one of my all time favorite dishes and it's really very easy to make!

picture from Ezra Pound Cake- because I'm a BAD blogger and
ALWAYS forget to take pictures while I'm cooking!

What you’ll need
Kosher salt
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon minced fresh chives
1 1/2 cups grated fontina cheese (5 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (they are right next to the regular breadcrumbs in store but SO much better)  
olive oil

Bring a large (4-quart) pot of water to a boil over medium-low heat and add 1/2 tablespoon salt and the Arborio rice. Cook, stirring rice occasionally, for 20 minutes. The grains of rice will be quite soft. Drain the rice and run under cold water until cool. Drain well.

Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, chives, fontina, 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper in a medium bowl. Add the cooled rice and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I’ve fibbed on this and it’s still okay- but it definitely helps keep them together!

Spread the panko in a shallow dish. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Make risotto into balls using either a spoon and your hands or an ice cream scoop works really well. Pat the balls into patties about 3 inches in diameter and 3/4-inch thick or so- does NOT have to be perfect.

Place 4 to 6 patties in the panko, turning to coat.

Place the patties in the hot oil and cook, turning once, for about 3 minutes on each side until the risotto cakes are crisp and nicely browned. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and keep warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Continue cooking in batches, adding oil as necessary, until all the cakes are fried.

Arrange on a serving platter and serve hot.

These are a really easy side dish to make that ALWAYS impresses people- they are beautiful- the crispy browned crust with the soft and gooey centers are amazing. And it’s really easy, especially if you prep everything the day before you want them! Oh and if you don’t have fontina you can always substitute another soft cheese- like Monterrey jack!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Get your shopping shoes on!!

If you are in the Houston area- the Super Target on San Felipe just inside the Loop is putting Calypso home goods out as we speak!! I was just there and they had pillows, a few silver vases and the tie dyed cake stand in the aqua color!! Totally cheating the May 1 date. ..  but WHO CARES!! AWESOME!

Have you heard??? Calypso is coming to Target, and SOON!!! I seriously couldn’t be more excited. What’s better than custom cabinets for a builder grade price! Starting May 1, Target will be carrying Calypso St Barth clothes, accessories, shoes, home goods and decorative pieces!! STELLAR my friends- I promise you will love it. AND after reading several reviews on Racked and other websites- it’s supposedly really good quality still which is just the icing on the cake!  I mean – just look at this stuff

I NEED this skirt
And these wedges

Or any of these dresses:

And look at these accessories
LOVE this necklace

fun and funky

love the belt too!!

And of all of these clothes and accessories- the highest price was $39.99 for the dresses.
Oh and the tie dyed dessert stand- could you not die? So scrumptious

Then check out the home goods-

AH! the famous Calypso poof- $300 + at their stores, but a mere $79.99 at Target- what a fun way to liven up a room!!

So much goodness I can’t wait! This line is supposed to be in stores and online-so check it out. You owe it to yourself! OH! And as of right now- they will only be carrying the line through June 11th. I think it’s a test run- so DON’T miss it- you’ll be sad if you do.

Monday, April 25, 2011

landscaping fun- part 1

So April has finally come (and almost gone) and we have some new landscaping! After thinking long and hard about what is best for us right now and really what is best in terms of resale value, the mister and I decided to just re-do the plants and the beds in the front yard, and not worry about removing and re-pouring the concrete sidewalk. We may do it eventually, but right now it was just too much and not really necessary to make a BIG impact on the landscape. So we went back and got quotes from many different companies and ended up with one that we really felt knew what they were doing and listened to what we were looking for.

So we signed on the dotted line and started up. . . but just as a reminder, here is what we started with:

as the workers take out the bushes
see that line of bricks? that is the drip line from the roof of the house- we always assumed that it was individual bricks laid across the bed. . . not so much- they dug up small walls of brick and mortar almost 18" deep!!!

the bushes from in front of the house- JUST on the left side of the house

WOW! look how open it is- you can actually see the brick under the window now!!! already so much better and there is nothing there!

Also notice how the bed has been curved out to meet the end of the sidewalk- just that small change makes an amazing difference in updating the whole look of the house.

new plants!! PRETTY

This is after they have tilled and aerated all the soil along with adding nutrients to help our new plants thrive and we are playing with the layout of the bushes

So clearly, these plants are not in the ground- and we are missing the annuals and other small color but still- what a difference right?

Then they came and pulled out the big bushes in front of the living room windows. They didn't have time to remove everything else, but they will be :)

This was all on a Saturday afternoon! I was amazed at their efficiency and just how much work they did for us. They will be back this week to finish everything up on both sides- including raising the sidewalk to grade out and away from the house, which will help enormously with our rain issue so we are PUMPED!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter egg cookies

Well, what is more fitting for Good Friday than Easter egg cookies! P and I made these this week to take with us to Beaumont for Easter with his family. So fun and easy. This cookie recipe comes from one of my oldest friends. I'm not sure if it was her mom's or where it came from, but I got it from Amanda probably in middle school! They make for a very soft and chewy sugar cookie which is just how I like them!!

You'll need
1 C butter
3 oz. cream cheese
1 C sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 C. flour

Cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add in yolk and vanilla and and mix until combined.

Then add flour slowly until completely incorporated.

Dump the dough out on to a piece of saran wrap, roll it into a large ball, then flatten it, and put into the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes to an hour.

After chilling, roll out the dough to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and cut with cookie cutters.

Bake in oven preheated to 350 for about 15 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to turn golden on the edges. Let cool on pan for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before icing.

Ice and decorate however you like:
for a quick buttercream, you could use this great recipe for "the best frosting I've ever had" from Tasty Kitchen

Or if you want a more designer look- where you flood the cookie with icing that becomes hard and smooth go with a fancy, but really easy to make royal icing from Bake at 350

OR, The icing we used to use, which is the EASIEST version of a royal icing
Just mix together 1 egg white with 2 cups powdered sugar and 1/4 tsp lemon juice.
Whip together for several minutes adding more sugar if needed. It will be done when a knife leaves a clean path through the icing.
This will be what you use to outline the cookie- if you don't want the icing to fall over the edge ( a personal preference) or you can thin it with milk or lemon juice a little at a time- till you have something that is thin enough to spread easily over the surface of the cookie!

Lots of options to make your cookies as cute as can be!
Enjoy and Happy Easter!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

crying in my paint can

That might be a little bit of an exageration. . . no tears were really shed, but I was seriously close.

So- as promised- I painted my dining room accent wall. It's not quite the blog post I was hoping for but in the effort for the complete picture (not just the pretty stuff) of our life behind the ivy, read on. Apparently, I should have paid a little more attention to the NEON color in the Sherwin Williams color visualizer.

 The goal was to brighten up the space by going from the ashy dark blue color we had to a pinky coral coral. I started off strong- and basically spent all of last week painting. I really didn't want to have to wait until the weekend so I started during the week. After having different paint samples up on the wall for about 4 days

 P and I decided on one (the bottom sample, I think it was Sunset Rose- by Valspar- I think. . . ) and we were ready to go- full steam ahead. I even came home from work on my lunch break and taped everything up and started priming. Crazy, I know. . .

I did two coats of primer

and the next night I was ready to go- paint in hand.
Wednesday night while P went to the Astros game with work people, I painted. And it wasn't so bad- a little bright but it wasn't dry yet and paint dried darker, right??

Super nervous at this point- this was my major "take a risk" attempt and it didn't seem to be going well. It was SO bright- and SO orange. . . like NEON, but at multiple people's advice, I slept on it and went to look the next morning and I wanted to cry . . . it was BRIGHTER! Trust me- even if you are thinking it doesn't look that bad here, IT DID!

OH NO- I now have a neon orange wall in my dining room. WHAT was I going to do?? How was I going to fix this?? how much more primer am I going to have to slap up there?? UGH! deflating- and totally distracting that day at work needless to say.

especially disliking the meeting of the tan and the orange in the corner- YUCK!

Side note here- I am completely A type, must finish the project at hand, hate having things out of order type  person so this was KILLING me, it was seriously all I could think about and I'm pretty sure poor P (along with my sister and best friend) were talking me down about what a non-issue this was. I'm a little dramatic sometimes, I do actually realize this- usually after the fact!

Anyways- I came home last Thursday and it was still as awful as before. But hey, I definitely brighten up the room! Just not in quite the way I was going for!! The most frustrating part to me is that it just wasn't the color I was going for at all. I still think that maybe the girl mixed the color wrong because the sample paint was reading PINK not orange at all. And I kind of wonder if pink would look good in the RIGHT shade but after living with it for a day or so- I just realized it wasn't really how I wanted to add the brightness- and it didn't go with the rest of our house AT ALL! I don't know what I was thinking really- I still love my original inspiration photo here
Tobi Fairly via The Mustard Ceiling

but I'm thinking I'm going to try to add some coral/ pink accents in smaller ways now. In the meantime, I have re-primed the wall and I'm trying to figure out just what we are going to do with our little accent wall.
Oh and to add insult to injury, I had also put up paint samples on the entry wall (which has been a light blue)

and then I couldn't find the paint for that wall or even the name so I had to go buy new paint and repaint that WHOLE wall as well. . . needless to say- I have been painting pretty much everyday for a week straight now- and I'm ready for a break!
So for now, I am content to have learned my lesson, not to avoid risk, but being okay trying new things, knowing they won't always work, and learning to be okay with that! (that's the hardest part for me!)
I have several ideas now for our little accent wall, but have not committed to anything yet. I'm thinking:
1. Adding horizontal stripes a la Emily Clark

We've got two shades of tan in the house as is so I've already got the paint to do it

2. Paint the wall back to a rich blue, but more of a true blue and less ashy, and then add some wainscoting along the bottom a la Gus and Lula

3. Just scrap the accent wall all together and paint it back to the original color (just not on the ceiling- think we'll stick with white there. . .)
pic I took with previous home owner's furnishings- we painted that wall before we moved any of our furniture in!

Which do you think would work best?

Monday, April 18, 2011

dining room color

So clearly- I've dropped a few hints that I'm really liking the coral/ pink accent colors I've been seeing all around.
Like this:
In a post about Pops of color: CORAL!! Woo HOO!! LOVE IT

and then I saw this:
Tobi Fairly via The Mustard Ceiling
and I'm pretty sure I fell in love! I realize this is an entry way but I want my dining room to look like THIS! Just like this! LOVE the blue and white rug with the coral- it makes it a little more fun and relaxed

I was sitting on the couch in the living room a few nights ago and it hit me. Why am I trying to find a bright rug to put in the dining room (which won't be cheap and I might not love in a few years) when I could just PAINT the accent wall. HELLO!! I've already done it once! It was this mind blowing thought for me though. Clearly- I'm not the brightest little bulb!
 Just wasn't working for me anymore. I love the color on that wall but the whole dining room looks so drab to me- its all dark, and mostly brown, so the dark slate color just wasn't working. I need something cheerier. So I decided on pink (well let's call it coral so P doesn't freak out... ) But since then I've been on the war path trying to find the perfect "coral" color but it's hard!

I found what is seemingly a PERFECT choice

Bloom by Sarah Richardson paints . . .only available in Canada.... sad.

Seriously sad because look at all these fun colors

So I've begun my search back here in the US. AND I found this paint visualizer tool on Sherwin Williams website which is fun- but take it with a grain of salt because the colors I was picking are actually pretty and this is what they were looking like on the computer...
a little neon- I realize- but actually it's pretty nice in person.

I've got the paint swatch sitting up on the wall right now, trying to decide how dark I want to go. But anyways- isn't it a fun tool? To get an idea of what your actual room will look like? I thought it was

Next step painting a few swatches on the wall to see which looks best and then I'll pull the trigger!

I've also found this rug at West Elm that might be in the cards for us as well.. . .

I just worry the end stripes will look too red- I'm going to the store soon though to find out!!
Dining room overhaul coming to a blog near you...and soon :)