Friday, January 29, 2016

Friday Obsessions....

Large cupboard in bathroom...
 Caramel cake....
 Nike sweats....
 Beautiful finish....
 Quinoa, kale, protein power salad....
Have a great weekend....


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Snow Snow Snow!

What else do you do with almost 3 ft of snow?  You sleep and eat and sleep and eat....and look at projects and then go back to sleeping and eating.  Need I say more?  It's been a wonderful 5 days of homebound nothing.  Living in the South, I missed the snow, so our first snowfall up North did not fail to meet expectations.  It did however put some projects on hold....  :)   But it did help inspire me for things I want to find and re-do. 

I can't wait for Spring where I can start looking for old things to re-do.....  How about you?

Have a great week!


Thursday, January 21, 2016

What's Trending......

Furniture and clothing are very similar.  Styles come and go.  Vintage is in.

So what's trending these days?  I've been to some beautiful homes lately that have farmhouse pieces and high gloss pieces. Wood pieces and painted pieces.  It really depends on your style and how you put things together. Here is what I see showing up everywhere....

Black Matte...
High gloss and color....

Marble pieces....

Black and gold...


Gold accents...

The great thing about furniture is that you can always reinvent what you have.  And if you pay attention to pictures and magazines of homes and all works.  It's really how you put it all together.

We are getting ready for a blizzard!  Bring on the snow!

Happy Thursday.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Blueberry Mascarpone Cake

I come from an Italian family and we love to eat.  We love to eat any and all kinds of food and desserts.  But...for it to get the "grunts of  approval" (where my family makes sounds of happiness while they are chewing and can't talk), the recipe has to have really good ingredients.   It can be meats and vegetables with fresh herbs and spices or it can be home made desserts with real cream and butter.  Rarely, if ever, does "boxed" ingredients come into play.  However....

My mom recently celebrated her birthday and I decided to make a Mascarpone Cake for her. This is a light white cake with a whipped cream and fruit filling.  If you want to make a special cake for someone....this is it.  My dad, "Papa Rudy" said this might be his favorite.  Holy cow!  You have to know my dad to know what a compliment this is.  It must be the real deal cuz he loves desserts.

This recipe actually starts with a boxed white cake mix and then it adds fresh ingredients to it. Don't look at the recipe and think it's too long and too complicated.  It's a few simple steps and it's well worth it.
When baking the cake, it is really important to watch your oven and test to see when the cake is done.  You don't want an over baked dried out cake.  Some ovens are different and cook faster or slower.  When it has a "slight" spring back - take it out and take it out of the pan.  It will almost look like it's not done - because it's white (no browning)
While the cake is cooling, puree some blueberries and mashem with a a spoon to get most of the water out.
Make your filling - which is basically fresh whipped cream with the pureed fruit.
Look how pretty the fruit filling is and how well it stands up with the cake layers.
Now, what makes the frosting so so yummy, is this fabulous mascarpone cream.  This is basically cream cheese - on crack.  It is sweet and creamy and when blended with fresh whipped is amazing.
I added food coloring to the cream on this cake to make it prettier but you don't have to.  I've also made this before with strawberries which you can see here.

Preheat Oven to 325F Degrees

1 box of white cake mix, sifted
1 c. cake flour, sifted
1 c. sugar
1 1/3 c. whole milk
1 c. sour cream
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 egg whites

1 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp of white sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
2 cartons of strawberries (or 1 large carton) 

12 oz. of mascarpone cheese (1 1/2 containers)
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar, sifted
2 c. heavy whipping cream

For the Cake:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, whisk together cake mix, flour and sugar. Then add in milk, sour cream, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. Scrape down sides and mix again until well incorporated. Finally add in egg whites. 

Grease 2-9 inch round pans (I used Pam). Divide batter equally in the 2 pans. Bake for 30-minutes until the top of the cakes are slightly golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Do not over cook.  You want the cake moist! Allow the cake to slightly cool. Then turn them out and let cool completely. 

For the Filling:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip heavy whipping cream, on high speed until stiff peaks form.  Add sugar and vanilla.  Whip to stiff peaks.   Set aside in refrigerator.

Using half a carton of blueberries sliced in half, set aside.

Then, place one carton of blueberries in a food processor and pulse until the appearance of a "chunky applesauce." Using a strainer, push the puree through- to get rid of excess water. Fold strained blueberry puree (i.e., puree minus the water) into the whipped cream. The whipped topping will become a purple color when puree is well incorporated. Then fold in sliced blueberries.

Keep in refrigerator until assembling cake. Reserve 1/2 carton of blueberries for decorating.

For the Frosting:
In a medium bowl, whisk together mascarpone cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar with a spatula until well blended and smooth. Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip heavy whipping cream, on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in whipped cream into the cheese mixture. I actually blend this on low to make sure it is mixed well.  

Assembling the Cake:
Place one 9-inch round cake on serving plate. Place a large, heaping scoop of strawberry filling on top(you may not use all of the filling). Using a spatula, spread the filling evenly.

Gently place the second 9-inch round cake directly on top of filling, slightly pressing down and making sure the second layer of cake is perfectly aligned with the second. Cover cake with mascarpone frosting. Decorate as desired using the remaining frosting and berries.

Trust me...if Papa Rudy says it's one of his are in for a treat!

Try it and let me know what you think!


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Vintage Furniture - You Might Have Some and Not Know It

Before you throw away that old dresser or night stand...look around and imagine what your hidden or out in the open pieces can become. Some of the old pieces you have currently in your house or in your garage, attic or basement may be the perfect pieces that you have been looking for.  Look at these beautiful vintage pieces gathered from Pinterest that have been restored....

Take a second look and see the treasures you might already have in your home.  It's so easy to transform pieces today.  


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Falafel - Give It A Try

I am trying to find some new dishes to make these days.  I get on a roll with exciting and fun dinners and then I seem to fall into the pattern of same old same old.  Does that happen to you?  So with my creative new year endeavors, I have decided to try Falafel!  It's basically chick peas in a food processor and then lightly fried.  Oh gosh...I said the "fried" word.  Stop it.  It's lightly fried and has to be good for you.  I have seen falafel but have never tried making it.  I want to blog about it today so it will force me to make it this week.  What do you think?  
One of my new favorite sites for food is Gimme Some Oven.  She has some great ideas and this is one of them.

Look at this food processor full of fresh ingredients; chic peas, cilantro, garlic and herbs.  Doesn't it look yummy?
Check out the recipe on the link above or follow below.  
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups fresh parsley leaves, tightly-packed
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, tightly-packed
1/2 cup diced white or red onion
1/3 cup white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4-5 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or another high-heat oil, such as canola or vegetable)
for serving: pita bread, chopped Romaine lettuce, thinly-sliced red onions, diced tomatoes, tzatziki sauce and/or hummus

(Note: This recipe requires 10 minutes prep time, plus 1-2 hours time to chill the falafel before cooking.)

Add garlic, chickpeas, cilantro, parsley, onion, flour, lemon juice, baking powder, salt, cumin and black pepper to a food processor.  Pulse until smooth and evenly mixed, stopping partway through to scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed.  Transfer mixture to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, so that the plastic is directly touching the top of the mixture (so that no air can enter.  Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until chilled.
Lay a large sheet of parchment paper out on a work surface.  Remove the bowl with the chilled falafel mixture.  Then measure out 2 tablespoons of the mixture, and roll the mixture into a ball with your hands.  Place the ball on the parchment paper, and gently flatten the ball slightly with your hand so that it is a little under 1/2-inch thick thick.  Repeat with the remaining mixture until all of the falafel disks are prepared.
Heat oil in a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until it is shimmering.  (If you add a drop of water to the oil, it should sizzle.)  Carefully transfer 4 or 5 falafel disks to the hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes per side, or until both sides of the disk are browned.  Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.  Then repeat with the remaining falafel disks, adding extra oil to the pan if need be.
When all of the falafels are cooked, remove the pan from the heat.  Then serve the falafel warm however you'd like.  (You can eat the falafels plain, served with hummus or tzatziki, in a salad, in a gyro, or in a simple pita sandwich as pictured above.  To make the pita sandwich, fill half a pita with chopped lettuce, red onions, diced tomatoes, a few falafel, and then top with tzatziki sauceor hummus.)

Have a great week!


Monday, January 11, 2016

Graphite Continued

Last week I did a post on Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and her color Graphite.  I was surprised to receive so many emails in response to this post.  Here is the original post from last week.

Graphite is not black.  Many of you were disappointed because you thought it looked black but when you started to paint, you realized that it is more on the gray side.  Here is the lid with what I think is a pretty true look at the color.  It will be darker or lighter depending on where you put your piece.
Last week I started to paint a tall dresser.  It use to be a sweet little piece for a girls room, but it was pretty beaten up with a broken drawer on the bottom and a drawer that didn't close very well.  My son needed a dresser in his bedroom so I thought I'd do a quick makeover.
I started out with a quick coat of graphite.
With a pale wood to begin with, the first coat didn't look so great.  But don't the time you do a second coat, all will be well.
Ahh.  Second coat and my son will be happy that the flowers are gone :).  I love the dark color and the transformation.  Now, in this room above, it looks pretty dark.  Almost black.
But in the bedroom, under a light.....the Graphite comes true to it's name.

I did this piece in one afternoon.  Chalk paint is so easy to use.  Remember, you don't have to prime and it dries very quickly.  It's one of the benefits of using it.  :)

Hope you have a great week.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Graphite or Black

When painting with Annie Sloan chalk paint, you need to make sure you understand that the not black.  It is close to black and looks like black with certain colors and backgrounds but it is not black.  It's more like the color of a lead pencil. Check out the lid below.
Clearly, this does not look black.  And, if you choose to paint with Graphite, be aware that this will look darker or lighter depending on where this sits in your house.
I worked on creating a french dresser above awhile ago and paired this with gray and white.  So yes, the graphite looks black.  I was super happy with the depth of the graphite because I wanted it to look black.  Look at it below.
I brought the dresser into a room with yellowish beige walls....and it still looks black.  But, Graphite is not black. I pulled some images off of Pinterest of Annie Sloan Graphite and here you can really see the differences.  This first piece looks more gray or "lead" like.
 This piece in a darker room against cream, gray and green...looks black.
 With sanded edges, this looks black to me.
With silver accents, I see more grey.  Look at the legs where the light hits it.  Grey.
These headboards from the "Rustic Pig" really show the Graphite as more gray than black - right?
I'm working on a piece this week in Graphite and I'll show you how different lighting can really change this color from somewhere in between gray and black.  If you are looking for black and choose to use graphite beware. 

I would recommend visiting your Annie Sloan stockiest before you choose Graphite.  You will want to see this in different lighting before you start your piece.  

Happy 2016!